The Last Gasp ? Nukesafe in Paris Again

Old Jun 10th, 2014, 03:41 PM
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The Last Gasp ? Nukesafe in Paris Again

After our last trip to France a couple of years ago I did a rather long trip report called “Nukesafe's Last (?) Huzzah”. which detailed our two week stay in Paris and a overnight trip to Besancon. I chose that title as I figured, being in my 80's, it might really be the last such trip we might be able to make together.

Well, we have now managed yet another trip; so there, old age!

After all the unselfish help and encouragement I received on line, it would be ungrateful of me not to post a trip report, if only so those kind souls can see how I either missed or ignored their advice.

We are a retired couple. I'm now 83, retired from the US Federal government some time ago, having worked for a number of Government agencies, the U.N. and private industry in the nuclear safety sciences; hence my web name. Annette, my lovely wife, retired from teaching chemistry, and is now a recognized glass artist in the Pacific Northwest. She is much, much, younger than me. Prettier, too.

Having had a lifelong interest in art and, given Annette’s growing involvement in the arts, much of our two weeks were spent in art galleries and studios. The fact that we are both pack rats, and spend a lot of weekend time at yard sales, flea markets and auctions, explains why we spent a lot of time visiting similar venues in Paris.

Our last two time to Paris we have flown Icelandair from Seattle. It is the least expensive and also the shortest duration flight. With one stop in Reykjavik, it takes about ten and a half hours. Miserable hours because of the hard seats and lack of any amenities. This time we flew Air France (Delta operated) nonstop. That flight takes about ten hours fifteen minutes, but is much more comfortable in an Airbus 300. Costs more, but on this trip we chose a bit of comfort.

We stayed in an Airbnb apartment in the 10th, very near the Canal St. Martin. The apartment was not as advertized and we would not recommend it to others. Here is a link to the apartment so you can see our long review. Being Airbnb hosts for a guest room in our home in Anacortes, Washington, we were reluctant to leave a negative review, but if the Airbnb, or any booking system is to work the reviews have to be honest.

The area near the Canal where the apartment is located, only a block from the Pont Dieu, is really lively and fun. We would stay in the area again, but perhaps a bit further up into Belleville-Menilmontant. I also would look for a place nearer a Metro station and/or a bus route. We were about a 10 minute walk from Republique, and though a bus stop was only a block or two away, the line didn't go anywhere we wanted to go or make good connections. More planning is called for.

BTW, since we had to walk to Republique several times each day, I should comment on how vibrant the place has become since the renovation. Something is always happening. Almost every day there would be new activities, from demonstrations, to rock concerts, from bicycle rallies, to poster
displays. Some sort of interesting stuff was coming down. We did not try the small cafe at one end, but the wide flowing water pool, only a centimeter or so deep was fascinating on warm days when the children would romp through, getting wet and laughing.
I found one of the most interesting things was the erection and taking down of exhibits and venues. Teams of people would be there early in the morning, putting together a sound stage, for example; hammers and staple guns going at a great rate and folks laying cable and mounting speakers. The stage would be full of bands belting out music, sometimes different ones at opposite ends of the square, by afternoon. In the morning the stages would be gone, and something else going up in the space. A real marvel of well organized chaos.

I have some lung problems and have difficulty with stairs, hills or walking too fast, but we had few problems getting about, mostly by bus. Annette could have visited twice the number of galleries as she did if she had not had the patience of Job while waiting for me to catch my breath. We did use the Metro on occasion and took a couple of cabs, but walking at a measured pace, and frequent stops for refreshment, made for trouble free transport. We walked a lot. I mean a LOT! Slowly, it is true, but a lot. I had a favorite pair of Mephisto shoes I wore this time and I wore them out. The heels were worn over and the seams in the uppers started splitting toward the end of the week. I threw them away after we got home. We had Navigos, took RER-B to and from CDG, and the train to Chartres.

I will do my best to keep this report short by just listing, in no particular order, the things we saw and did during out two weeks in mid May and add a separate list of some of the places at which we ate. I'll add links when I can find them. My plan is to post those lists at the beginning of the report. Further in the report I'll write a short (or long) description of that particular adventure. If you have an interest in any of them you can skip through the stuff that doesn't turn you on and only read those. I'll be happy to answer questions.

Destinations/Excursion List:

Paris Greeters Stroll.
Saint Sulpice.
Art Galleries. (numbers beyond counting)
Marais Annual Flea Market.
Druout Auction House.
Petit Palais.
Richard Lenoir Saturday Art Market.
Canal St. Martin/Bassin Villette.
Salon Antiqites Brocante at Bastille.
Ave. President Wilson Market.
Buttes Chaumont.
Paris Fan Museum.;%C3%89ventail
Musee de la Armee.
Jacques Borker Studio.
Movie (v.o.)
Bercy Village.
Paris By Mouth Cheese Tour.
Musee de Erotisme.
Baccarat Museum.
Albert Kahn Museum and Gardens.
Museum of the 1930's Boulogne-Billancourt
25th Des Ateliers d'Artists de Belleville Studio Tour http://ateliers-artistes-belleville....ertes/edition/
Hammam Pacha.
Musee Arts Decoratif.
Rue Montorguiel.
Fashion Saturday at the Bristol Hotel.

Eating List:
Comptoir de Relais
Le Marine, 55 Bis Quai de Valmy
Vielle Maison, Chartres
Le Grand Vefour
Le Cafe de l'Industrie 16 Rue Saint-Sabin 75011 with Claude.
Le Saint M' Bercy Village
Le Centenaire 104 Rue Amelot, corner of Rue Oberkamph.
Brasserie Jean-Baptiste, Boulogne-Billancourt
The Crystal Room.
Le Saint Marthe
Le Verre Vole 67 rue de Lancry
Jacques Genin.
Chez Adel. 67 rue Bicha


Chartres. Up early one rainy/blowy Friday morning and off to Gare Montparnasse to catch the 9:06 train. Easy as pie to get tickets and catch the train that got us to Chartres shortly after 10:00. That was good because we had time to stroll around the town a bit and to visit a “Glass Museum”. It was actually a shop that had some reproduction stained glass (probably Chinese), the usual tourist schlock, but also some interesting original works by local artists. Our early arrival also gave us time to walk the Labyrinth in the Cathedral. They move the chairs out of that area of the nave on Fridays. We were able to walk the walk almost alone, as the cathedral was practically deserted. Later, the crowds arrived and turned the walk into what appeared to be rush hour on the Metro at Chatelet. Ours was a rather moving experience in that vast space. Theirs must have been like Bumper Cars.

We met Malcolm Miller at the gift shop where he appeared promptly at 12:00, took our €10, led us to the headphone stand, and started the tour after making sure we could all hear him. That was a really good thing because I'm a bit hard of hearing and his Bluetooth microphone made every one of his plumy upper class British accented words understandable, even with a group that approached 30 people.

The tour/lecture was fascinating, as you might expect, but I found the man equally so. If you don't know about him, he wrote a paper on Chartres while in university, became fascinated with the Cathedral, kept coming back, and then started giving tours. He has been doing that for 57 years, now, and swears he will continue until they bury him. I think that won't be for a long time as he is still a young man – several years younger than me, actually. I noticed a couple of those meaningful colored threads that some accomplished Frenchmen wear on their coat lapels, and after the tour asked him what his represented. They are two of the highest French civilian honors; Knight of the National Order of Merit, and Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.

I also asked him for a recommendation for a nice place for lunch and he suggested the Vielle Maison where I had a quite nice piece of Guinea Hen, and Annette enjoyed some rosy duck.

Paris Greeters Stroll. This is our second time taking a stroll with the Paris Greeters, the first being of Belleville/Menilmontant with a charming lady, Claude, who later became President of the organization for a few years. In any case we put in a request that asked if one of their (over 400) volunteers might be familiar with the art scene and arrange a stroll that might look at glass art by French artists. We had tried a few years earlier on our own, and had come up dry. This time the most charming of all French women, Marie-Claire, took up this challenge and heroically researched the glass art available in Paris and came up with the same conclusion we had reached, i.e., almost nobody in Paris does any sort of art glass, and the only place in France much is done is in the South of the country. None the less, she managed to find the single gallery in all of Paris that showed any serious pieces, and found a few other artists in Paris whom we could contact on our own. We began our stroll with another American couple from Michigan at the “Galerie Class 41” where there were a number of pieces shown by Yves Trucchi. Coincidentally, we had purchased one of his pieces at an auction at Drouot a couple of years before.

We then continued through the Marais, where Marie-Claire took us to see things and explain the intimate history of the area that very few tourists usually see, much less understand the significance. She obviously loves her city, and her enthusiasm made for a wonderful tour for all of us. We also took a bus to the Promenade Plantee, where we walked a short part of it before exploring the artisan workshops in the arches beneath.

As you know, the Paris Greeters will accept no tips; we could not even get our first stroll guide, Claude, to even accept a drink. One can make a donation directly to the organization, however. Marie-Claire did one better by ending her tour at the shop of the exceptional chocolatier, Jacques Genin, where she treated all of us to hot chocolate, tea, coffee and pastries. I made a pig of myself with one of those sinful Paris-Brest artery cloggers. Oh Bliss, Oh Joy!

We HIGHLY recommend the Paris Greeters!

That's enough for today. More later.
nukesafe is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2014, 04:03 PM
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What a wonderful report! Looking forward to more. I hope I'm still traveling to Paris at 80! You are an inspiration.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 04:31 PM
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Ditto to what Kathie has said!

I may be mixing my trip reports, but a few years ago someone purchased a lovely glass piece at auction and it never arrived or arrived broken. I'm hoping that was not your reference with Drouot.

I've been to Paris many times but never used Paris Greeters. I will need to try them next time.

Thank you for writing this report. Can't wait for more.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 04:36 PM
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Waiting anxiously for more...sounds like a lovely trip!
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 04:56 PM
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Great so far, thanks!
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 05:09 PM
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I, too, am waiting for more! So far a very interesting report.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 05:18 PM
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I am loving your report do far. We will be going to Chartres on our next trip. Paris greeters sound really great and we will try to get with them as well. I appreciate all the websites you included for places.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 05:26 PM
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Yep, Paris1953, that was us that bought the huge art glass piece at Drouot. AmEx dropped the 150 pound piece and broke it into two pieces. We eventually got the fragments, so we ended up with two for the price of none. Good story to tell guest, though.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 05:42 PM
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Excellent lists. I'm sure they will help many travelers to Paris. Since we have never stayed in the Canal St. Martin area it was nice to read your take on it.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 06:03 PM
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Thank you for this report. Just looked up Paris Greeters and forwarded to my husband. We'll be there in Sept. and I certainly intend to take advantage!

Praying to be able to travel like you do 20 years from now!
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 09:14 PM
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You are already giving me great ideas for our next trip. I am looking forward to reading more. Thank you for your report!
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 12:30 AM
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You give me hope, nukesafe! I came late to travel (due to circumstance, not lack of interest) and am well aware that I will not be able to keep traveling forever. It is wonderful to know that you are still going abroad and taking pleasure in it! Thanks so much for the inspiration!
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 05:40 AM
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Yes, you are an inspiration! I love all the links you are providing. Also, I am using your excellent Besançon information from your previous report in my current trip planning. So, thanks for that, too!
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 06:26 AM
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This is why you never say never!
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 07:25 AM
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I'm signing on for the duration. Wonderful start, nukesafe!
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 07:40 AM
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Good for you, Nukesafe. I am inspired to know you have made another trip. Can't wait to read more. I worried that my trip to France last year would be my last at 73, but you have given me new hope! Thanks!!!
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 08:11 AM
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You are welcome, Travelchat. A always happy to help a young kid like yourself.

nukesafe is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2014, 08:19 AM
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I hope there will be even more trips to Paris in your future! ;^)
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 08:36 AM
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What an inspiration you are. Although I have absolutely no desire to visit Paris I am looking forward to reading more about your trip.

I loved Anacortes when we visited so I am a bit envious of you living there. Love your good lady's glass work too. If I had found her when in Anacortes a piece of it would have been heading to the Netherlands with me.
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 08:51 AM
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Wow, just wow!
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