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Trip Report Thanks to Fodorites for help planning Paris/London trip

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Have been back from my Paris/Bayeux/London trip just over a month, and just haven't found time to write a good report. For now I want to thank everyone who offered advice for what turned out to be a magical 25th anniversary trip for both my husband and me.

We flew into Heathrow and then took a commuter flight to Charles de Gaulle (per Fodorites' advice against spending the night in London and then catching the Eurostar). GOOD ADVICE! The flight wasn't expensive and we didn't waste any time but were able to hit the ground running in Paris. (Why we flew into London over Paris in the first place is another story I won't get into.)

Having lived in Paris for several months, I was sure when my husband and I arrived via the metro from CDG, I wouldn't have any problem whatsoever finding the Hotel du College de France. WRONG! As some of you know, a metro station can have several exits. I thought we would pop into Paris smack dab in front of Notre Dame, but we instead emerged on Boulevard St Germain. I was struck with confusion right out of the chute. (It has been 30 years since I lived there!) I had pre-zoned in on a map of our hotel on my Kindle, which I showed to a couple different folks on the street and asked for directions. Thanks to the wonderful, friendly Parisians I encountered everywhere we went for the duration of our stay, we were steered in the right direction.

My biggest worry for this trip was that all the wonders of French (and British) culture would be lost on my husband. I have been married to the man for 25 years, and not once has he ever showed the slightest interest in art, architecture, or other cultures. I have heard him say numerous times how he hates old buildings. Europe IS old buildings! My greatest hope was that he could see and experience the France I grew to love as a young woman. We walked to Notre Dame the first evening (only a few blocks from Hotel du College de France). When he first laid eyes on the cathedral, he was overcome with awe and exclaimed, "WOW!" I was smiling ear to ear. I had an inkling that there was hope for him. Because he loves onions so much, I also knew he must try true French onion soup, and he got some the first night as well. (He would follow up with two more bowls while in Paris.) I was getting him primed. We were off to a great start!

We bought a couple carnets as well as a Paris Museum Pass and both were good ways to go. I introduced my husband to baguettes, cheese and sausage, fresh food at neighborhood markets, narrow cobblestone streets, tartes aux pommes and abricots, and other lovely things. What I wouldn't give right now for a torsade au chocolate. Heaven! He was blown away by seeing things that are hundreds and thousands of years old. What a wonderful eye-opener for him! He is still bummed that we couldn't see more of the Louvre. I'm still in this the man I've been married to all this time? He fell in love with France straightaway, and Paris was just the first leg of our trip.

Per Fodorite advice, I scrapped trying to go to Southern France on this trip, and we stayed in Bayeux for three days. What an absolutely beautiful, charming village, untouched by the bombing of WWII. We took the train from Gare St. Lazare (I prepaid and printed tickets at home in the US), and the train ride was also an enjoyable part of the experience, watching the beautiful Normandy countryside go by. We took a D-Day tour with Overlord, and Collin did a fantastic job. I had also prepaid for a day trip to Mont St. Michel, which I have seen but my husband hasn't. We were so tired, and we also wanted to simply enjoy a day hanging around and shopping in Bayeux, that we ate the cost and didn't go. I would recommend to anyone who goes to Bayeux, leave some time to simply enjoy the village. We were there right before the 70th anniversary of D-day, so we saw lots of preparation and regalia. I will never forget seeing an American military jeep with American military men buzzing around, only to hear the men speak French. They were re-enactors. Funny! Thank you, Fodorites, for the advice to stay in Bayeux. It was just incredible. We stayed at Le Lion d'Or. Our particular room was nicely done and we enjoyed it.

After three days in Bayeux we took the train back to Paris and caught the Eurostar to London. I had prepaid and printed those tickets from home as well, and I'm so glad I did. We were lucky enough to get into Fleet River Rooms; again this was due to advice here on Fodors. The rooms (studio apartments) are in an absolutely fantastic location, just seconds from the Holborn tube staion, and within walking distance of anything in Central London if you're so inclined. I was on a mission to discover medieval London and therefore we took a bit of a non-traditional track while there. I had ordered the book about discovering Tudor London also recommended on Fodors--another thanks. We saw many standard tourist sites as well--the British Museum, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. Personally, I would recommend taking one of the open-top bus tours when you first get there, if only to get your bearings. We took the tour after being there a few days, and regretted not doing it sooner. We would have had a greater sense of the town if we'd done it at the beginning because, as a Londoner told me, everything looks the same!

I spent a few days alone in London after my husband left, and felt totally safe at Fleet River Rooms, as well as walking around London. And I had the chance to see Les Miserables--definitely a first-class experience. Many of you know if you buy tickets the day of, you can get them at half price.

I would recommend eating the traditional British roast beef dinner at Ye Olde Cock on Fleet Street--best meal we had on our whole trip, and in a tavern that dates to the 1500s. We also enjoyed the fresh Japanese food at Wagamama. I tried to hone in on a good Parisian restaurant before we left home, and just couldn't settle on one. The restaurants in the Latin quarter where we stayed seemed to cater to tourists and served only mediocre food--not the true French multicourse meal I was hoping to show my husband. Guess we'll have to go again--shucks!

So, I apologize for this little trip summary written in extreme haste, but I wanted to thank everyone who gave me advice to help me plan this trip. I used most of the advice I received, from buying a rail pass at St. Pancras to carnets in Paris, to staying in Bayeux and everything in between. My husband and I had the time of our lives. He fell in love with France and can't stop talking about going back. I take a little of the credit for that (tee hee), but a lot goes to the help I got from Fodorites.

Back to a person, all the French people we interacted with were so kind, friendly and helpful. I only say that because I feel so many Americans have misperceptions. A French waiter even asked me if I wanted the restaurant's onion soup recipe, and I have the best picture of the waiter with my husband, the bowl of French onion soup in the foreground. I kept telling my husband, "See? See? They're wonderful." J'aime la France! Maybe it helps that I speak some French. But wouldn't you be annoyed with foreigners coming to your country, expecting you to speak your language, and criticizing their customs?

I could gush on and on about our trip, but for now I need to wrap it up. Wish I could have done better justice with a trip report, but my conscience feels a little lighter now that I have at least offered thanks where they're due! :o)

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