Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Slightly delayed PARIS trip "run-down": June 1-8, 2005

Slightly delayed PARIS trip "run-down": June 1-8, 2005

Jun 28th, 2005, 07:31 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,401
Slightly delayed PARIS trip "run-down": June 1-8, 2005

Hi All,

I decided to post a more complete summary of a one-week PARIS trip from early June. (There are some bits of information that I've included in previous Fodors postings, but a bunch of new comments and recollections as well.) ENJOY!

This is not going to be a trip report which unfolds in a logical time frame, but rather a recap of our highs and lows during a seven-night, eight-day Paris trip in the beginning of June 2005.

We've already been home a couple of weeks now from our trip, and frankly, I can't remember what happened when! (When we got back home to NYC, I needed time to have our memories percolate a bit before sharing them with all of you.)

If at times, I lapse into stream-of-conscious writing, forgive me! That is how my mind is currently working.

THE MARAIS (4th arr.): We truly enjoyed staying in the 4th arrondissement. Winding, cobblestone streets. Decadent mansions. Notable museums (including Picasso). Funky fashion boutiques. Endless wine bars and restaurants. Central location. I'm not a "grands boulevards" kind of person so this neighborhood suited me just fine. For 82 euros a night, GRAND HOTEL JEANNE D'ARC became our home for seven nights. From both our bedroom and bathroom, we had a view of Paris rooftops. Positives about our hotel: GREAT PRICE, cozy and quirky--like a home, safe and fun location, working elevator, clean; Negatives: Beds were short -- expect dangling feet; They are booked several months ahead of time; The staff were competent and business-like; I would not exactly say "friendly", but then again, we did not exactly engage them in conversation either -- We were always off and running...

We did not breakfast at the hotel, but preferred to search every day for THE ULTIMATE PATISSERIE. We went to MISS MANON Patisserie/Boulangerie a few times on Rue Turenne, but then realized there was one miserable girl working there (very rude), and found other places instead; our favorite patisserie was on rue de BLANCS MANTEAUX, but it did not have a special name; just said "Boulangerie---Patisserie" on the storefront. Sweet people working there; excellent croissants, fruit tarts and sandwiches!

ONLY BAD THING ABOUT THE MARAIS: Coffee was always expensive (often 4 euros) and not necessarily good. But I liked just about everything else about this area. It has a young and fun vibe to it. If you are walking around there and come across a cafe-restaurant "PAGE 35", AVOID AT ALL COSTS...BIG TOURIST TRAP!

MARAIS HIGHLIGHT: Taking a two-hour walking tour with PARIS WALKS. For only 10 euros each. Our British tour guide had a wickedly good sense of humour. He looked like a cross between British actor Kenneth Branaugh and American comedian Robin Williams. (Thank Goodness: He wasn't hypher like Robin Williams!) He educated us and made us laugh at the same time. We wished we had time to do PARIS WALKS' Montmartre tour, but our schedules did not work out that way. Next time...

OTHER MARAIS HIGHLIGHTS: If you enjoy checking out the goods of young, up-and-coming designers, this is a great place. I won't bore you here with the details of all my shopping, but I found some beautiful, unique items here (clothing, jewelry, handbags). If anyone is interested, you can read my separate post on shopping. Overall, I found salespeople here to be polite and friendly, but not pushy. Some were very sweet.

WORTH NOTING: Restaurants here require reservations. Don't always assume you can walk in at the last minute. Popular restaurants even fill up on a Tuesday night, so plan ahead...

GREAT RESTAURANT EXPERIENCES:

1) GEORGES: After hearing quite a few "horror stories" about mean service and terrible food, we were a little tentative about coming here. On the 5th floor of the Georges Pompidou Centre (modern art museum). IT WAS A BLAST! The waitstaff was gorgeous, but still sweet (unlike in my hometown of NYC). The food was simple, but tasty. Even the bathrooms were sexy! What a view! Ask to sit by the window -- or outside on the terrace in good weather. WOW!

Plus, the Pompidou building is so unusual and modern...well, my husband and I decided to shoot a short action film right in the passageways leading up to the restaurant's entrance. This place will make anyone feel like JAMES BOND. And none of the "security guards" seemed to notice or care what these two crazy tourists were doing. (Again, very unlike NYC.)

2) LE COUPE CHOU: Gosh, even if I came here with someone I hated...by the end of a meal here, I think I would propose to them! This place is the epitome of romance and mystery. Candelight everywhere. Dark wood. A definite medieval ambience, but in a GOOD way. And did I mention the satisfying food? In the Latin Quarter (5th arr.) on rue Lanneau.

3) L'AS DU FALAFEL: In the Marais, falafel (fried chickpea) sandwiches that are a work of art! If you've ever had falafel in NYC, you're in for a real treat. These are bursting with colour and flavour. They have nice grilled lamb sandwiches too. Eat in or take out.

NOT-SO-GREAT RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE:

Bistrot de Breteuil: In the 7th, not far from Tour Eiffel. They offer such a reasonable, generous prix-fixe menu including a bottle of wine. The mood there is festive. But the food just isn't up to snuff. Oh well. Life is too short to have a mediocre meal in Paris...

A SEMI-STRESSFUL BOAT RIDE (Pont Neuf):

What could be more magical than a boat ride with your soulmate at dusk, leaving from Pont Neuf, steering you across the Seine towards that sparkling Eifflel Tower at night, right? Well, fine... if it weren't for the 85 hypher French grade-school kids on the boat, sitting right next to you, screaming! There were a group of 12-year-old French boys perched right next to me, who decided to engage in a spitting contest -- they spat vigorously and repeatedly into the river, but still...I wasn't taking any chances. Angered about being cheated of my romantic outing, my limited French came tumbling out of me. I looked one lad straight in the eye and pronounced, "S'IL VOUS PLAIT....ARRETE!" (Translation: "PLEASE...STOP!)) I shocked myself actually. But, can you believe it, the kid actually looked like he felt bad about it?! And furthermore, HE IMMEDIATELY TOLD ALL HIS MATES TO STOP SPITTING TOO. Wow, I thought to myself...American kids would never have paid any attention to me. Romance RESTORED!

FAVORITE GIFTS I BOUGHT IN PARIS FOR OTHERS (and myself) -- Sorry, if you've read this list from other posts already; it's repeated:

1) A 12-inch Eiffel Tower that not only lights up, but transforms into 5 different shades of gorgeous, vibrant color (fiber optic technology?) -- It was midnight, and we were trying to get our Ultimate Nightime Photo of the Eiffel Tower. We actually came across a street vendor. He wanted 15 euros, but I bargained him down to 11 euros. My Italian nephew (10 years old) now has it, and it is his nightly ritual to watch it change colours before he goes to bed.

2) Inexpensive chocolate bars that I found in the local supermarket -- I ended up feeding a lot of my co-workers. They loved it and thought I spent a lot of money on French chocolate -- our little secret!

3) A bottle of CHINON red wine from a local market for 5 EUROS! Sorry, I kept this one for myself and hubby. Fine wine. Excellent reminder of France for when we were home!

4) A gorgeous mini oil-on-canvas painting from a Montmartre street artist. I know, I know...that's sooooooo touristy. But it is lovely. Mostly in blue oils. For my dad.

5) A bag of rose potpourri from a scent shop Rosemarie Schultz in the 9th arrondissement for my Italian sister-in-law. (Seems to be potent and long-lasting.)

6) Duck pate and foie gras from JO GOLDENBERG deli in the Marais. Anything duck-related in France is so yummy!

MY ONE CELEBRITY ENCOUNTER:

I was browsing yet another funky boutique --this time, in the 6th arrondissement-- and suddenly, the French actress Julie Delpy springs out of one of the dressing rooms, trying on a white, country-style summer dress.

She was the actress in "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset" with Ethan Hawke. She looks just as lovely in person as onscreen. I'm not into celebrity stalking though. I continued shopping.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT FRANCE:

1) The fact that you can get tasty food in the most unexpected places.

For example, during our late-night photo session at the Tour Eiffel (around midnight), there was actually a crepe stand open right nearby. And the crepes were actually very good! I had mine with Nutella (chocolate-hazlenut spread). Also, when we did a daytrip to the CHENONCEAU chateau (Loire Valley), they also had a food kiosk nearby. Now I'm from NYC, and whenever there is a food kiosk in a very touristy area, you can bet the food will be bad (i.e., hot dogs or a stale pretzel). But at the Chenonceau food kiosk, I had a WONDERFUL croque monsieur sandwich, which is their version of a grilled cheese: Only they use a heavenly gruyere cheese (instead of fake processed American cheese), a decent-quality ham and that lovely, decadent bechamel sauce-- all pressed together...yes! That's how to live.

2) The METRO comes very often.

We rarely had to wait very long for a subway to come -- very unlike NYC.

3) Clean streets.

Again, I'm making this overall comparison next to NYC. They seem to handle public garbage much better. (The only exception: Yes, we did see a lot of dog poop. The Parisian government needs to crack down on this. But otherwise, much cleaner than Manhattan.)

4) More polite people working in stores and restaurants.

They say "Hello" and "Goodbye." They are helpful and knowledgeable in stores without being annoying and pushy. (Of course, we did not go to places like Hermes, Chanel, etc. I'm speaking mostly of the smaller, trendy boutiques.) We did not encounter snobbery or nastiness in restaurants either.

5) BY THE WAY, DID I MENTION THE CUTE GUYS?

Well, I have to say: I saw a fair share of extremely handsome lads in Paris. Has anyone else taken notice of this?! (Be honest!) They were everywhere. There was this one tall gentleman on the Metro with large, hypnotic blue eyes. I made eye contact with him briefly and turned away...yikes! I'm HAPPILY MARRIED, but it was sure fun to notice these things...

Usually I notice when there are beautiful women too, but for some reason, this time I only saw the guys.

WHAT I WISHED I HAD TIME TO DO, BUT DIDN'T

1) Saint Chappelle: I had wanted to see the stained glass in Saint Chappelle change as the sun goes down in Paris, and also to catch a classical music concert here, but the weather was not cooperating, nor was our schedule. I felt a little better having read another Paris trip report from a guy who DID have a chance to attend a performance of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" at St. Chappelle. He said the musicians were actually quite bad -- and at one point, one musician stopped playing because he made some big mistake, and was busy laughing about that DURING the performance! (That made me feel A LITTLE better about missing out.)

2) More clubbing: I enjoy going out dancing in Europe; I love to see people get all dressed up; I love the music, but this time, we did not make it. A good reason to return SOON.

3) Palais du Tokyo: I love bizarre, quirky art. This temple to modern art was closed on the only day we could go...RATS!

4) Guimard's Art Nouveau in the 16th arrondissement: We were looking for Guimard's buildings, but for some reason, NO ONE LIVING IN THE 16TH SEEMED TO KNOW WHERE HIS STRUCTURES WERE. We were very disappointed that more people do not know about Guimard. We were also so tired from running around here, looking for his works--to no avail.

CLOSING NOTE: I enjoyed practicing my French whenever I could. Even when people were speaking to me in English, I would still attempt to respond in French. (Studied for six and a half years, starting from 7th grade.) They did not seem to mind -- no one corrected me, nor did they roll their eyes, for example.

Hope you enjoyed this brief run-down of my short, but still decadent, trip to Paris (which included a daytrip drive to the Loire Valley).

Good Night!
--Betty

bettyo70 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2005, 07:36 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,995
Bettyo70, agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts on Le Coupe Chou-- and Bistro de Breteuil! Just loved LCC and wonder why it isn't mentioned more here.

Admire your high energy style of writing!
grandmere is offline  
Jun 28th, 2005, 07:40 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,738
Ahhh betty, a perfect summation of your time in Paris..thank you!
Yes, the rose pot pourri will smell for years and years LOL.
Yes, I agree, there are some quite handsome men in Paris/even if one has a handsome man of ones own
How great that the little spitters stopped when you told them too! How great that you said the right words! When I get agitated, I use all the wrong words and usually make people double over laughing..sometimes that is ok too
I do love shopping and the Marais is indeed perfect for discovering some small treasure..describe the handbags and jewelry please?
I have shopped in Hermes, they are just as polite and pleasant as small no name shops .. at least they were to me, during business hours
I have so much moving and travel to do and here you make me long to jump on a plane back to Paris!
Thank you
Scarlett is offline  
Jun 29th, 2005, 06:57 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,401
Hi, grandmere!

Scarlett: Well, I wish you could have been there to see my expression during the whole "boat incident"...LOL!...It was SURREAL!

Regarding my Marais shoppping discoveries -- I had written some of this list on another post, but will cut and paste a complete version here:

MARAIS BOUTIQUES:


1) KESSLORD: I loved the leather handbags here, all beautiful and well-priced. I purchased a bag here for 110 euros that I currently use everyday, and get many strangers looking at it on the metro, etc. It is a handbag that has an interesting texture, which looks like it could be snake/python skin, but is actually painted leather. (I don’t know if they have this label in NYC; I haven’t seen it yet.) The salesgirl was very friendly;

2) ANNICK B.: Pretty, minimalist silver jewelry. The jewelry designer’s name is “Sidney Carron” (speeling?) I found some great silver earrings here – long, a simple design – but very beautiful. The saleslady was very sweet. 30 euros for earrings;

3) TARZITA: A small boutique run by a nice, young Japanese woman. Japanese-inspired designs with a modern twist. I fell in love with a beautiful lavender-coloured half-sweater, very feminine and flattering for the neck and shoulders. I’M REALLY FALLING IN LOVE WITH KNITS: knit summer dresses, knit skirts…I think Japanese designers do knits very well. 135 euros for one-of-a-kind knit;

4) BARBARA BUI: Speaking of knits…Barbara Bui had a beautiful, light-beige, full-length knit dress in their window, very sexy, but OUCH! 675 euros was too much. Maybe I can find a similar dress somewhere for much less. Nice merchandise, but overly pricey;

5) CREA CONCEPT: Pretty sweaters/blouses in some avant-garde designs. My Italian family loved this pale-pink sweater-knit with wrap design that I purchased for my mother. Nice girls working here. 135 euros for the blouse;

6) MELLOW YELLOW: A store with feminine and trendy shoes (for teens, 20s and anyone who likes flirty shoes). Fair prices -- Are they made in France??! -- I bought a pair of pale-pink leather flats which resemble ballet slippers. 69 euros – a deal in this pricey neighborhood!;

7) L’ECLAIREUR: I had heard a lot about this boutique, but I did not like the merchandise displayed in the window. It looked too “earthy” for me, with a lot of dark browns and forest greens. Just not my style.

8) PAOLA FRANI: Again, not really my style. Found the overall look kind of "heavy." (Wasn’t crazy about the fabrics they use in their clothes.)

9) PAULE KA: Charming, well-tailored clothes. Pricey. Reminds me of a funkier agnes b. (Did not find anything here, but definitely worth a look.)

BOUTIQUES IN OTHER NEIGHBORHOODS:

1) VANESSA BRUNO (with branches all over Paris): Beautiful, unique blouses, shoes and lingerie. Very Parisian. Nice tailoring and colours. Soft and feminine, but with an edge. Pricey. They now carry her line in Saks Fifth Avenue (NYC). This is a good place to find that one-of-a-kind piece that you splurge on to energize your wardrobe. I did not buy anything in the Parisian boutique, but will keep an eye on her pieces in the future;

2) PAUL et JOE (6th arr.): Young, cute and sporty. I did not see anything that stood out when I was in their store, but it seemed very popular with young Parisians. I have also seen their merchandise at Saks Fifth Avenue;

3) STELLA CADENTE (6th arr.): Some pretty dresses. This is where I bumped into French actress Julie Delpy. I did not find anything there, but would definitely keep the label in mind for the future. Feminine, unique styles. Medium-pricey;

4) CLAUDIE PIERLOT (6th arr.): I bought a wonderful top of CP in a rich mauve colour from Barney’s Co-Op in NYC. It is soft, pretty and modern. (I did not find anything in the Paris store though.);

5) MARCEL MONTORGIU (spelling?): Was recommended to me by a Parisian lady. I did not have any luck here. Seemed more conservative than I expected.


PARIS DEPARTMENT STORES:

Well, I think it may be a sign that I am getting older or something, but I DO NOT LIKE TO SHOP IN LARGE DEPARTMENT STORES ANYMORE. They are so big and crazy – I get a headache whenever I enter one. They take a lot of time and patience to explore. I entered Galeries Lafayette and was overwhelmed. I left soon after. As I approached KENZO, the same feeling occurred: It just felt like OVERLOAD (which is a shame because I was curious about the KENZO store)! I did not even attempt BON MARCHE because I knew I would boderline-pass-out!

Also, I did not have the time to look for lingerie on this trip (sniff!). Maybe next time…

Cheers, Betty
bettyo70 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2005, 02:18 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,473
Hi Betty!

Thanks for the great report. It's funny how your perception of a trip evolves over time, isn't it?
Jocelyn_P is offline  
Jun 29th, 2005, 03:34 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,401
Thanks, Jocelyn!

Sometimes I like to write the trip report right away while it's still fresh in my mind. But then I'm fighting with jet lag!

When I wait a little bit, I start remembering more details and incidents better.

Anyways, Cheers!
bettyo70 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 05:54 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,286
Betty, I can't find your shopping report on the Marais you refer to. Would love to take a look at it. Would you mind posting the link here? Thanks.
Ronda is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 06:30 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,738
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34633089

Here it is Ronda! A good list
Scarlett is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 08:08 PM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,401
Thanks, Scarlett! Enjoy, Ronda!
bettyo70 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 09:37 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 33,777
I am always soooooo happy when someone reports on shopping. Oh yea..sometimes I get embarrassed to ask because I'll seem shallow. I can't help myself. I never shop at home, I just don't have time. We have new stores all over the place here in Reno, and more on the way and I haven't been in any of them so when I travel it's like a pent up dam bursting. In the Louve..oh yes, the Mona Lisa..lovely..well really? NOT..so where's the gift shop?!!!! I know, I know, I'm sorry, but that's how it is. Bettyo, thanks for the list!!!!!
crefloors is online now  
Jul 2nd, 2005, 03:56 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,401
crefloors: I think it's great that we're both in touch with our Inner Shopping Demon, isn't it great? Nothing to be ashamed out (giggle, chuckle...)!

I'm glad the list is helpful to you. I have to say...I live in NYC but I enjoy much more the shopping n Italy and France. I think it's because I find the salespeople much more friendly and knowledgeable -- and I never feel them truning on the sales pressure.

I usually stick to the smaller, trendy boutiques, though. No Champs Elysees for me!

Also, I NEVER regret what I bought in another country, because every time I see or use the product, I am reminded of a lovely trip.

Cheers, Betty
bettyo70 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2005, 07:49 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,738
crefloors, there are some people who just cannot shop, then there are those who do it exceedingly well
We should all celebrate what we do well LOL
Scarlett is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2005, 04:45 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 33,777
Oh thank you, thank you. I feel so much better now!!!!
crefloors is online now  
Jul 4th, 2005, 02:33 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,401
Yes, SOMEONE has to keep this economy going, right? (chuckle...)
bettyo70 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:30 PM.