TripRep: 7daysParis-2 Days Brugge

Apr 4th, 2006, 08:17 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 629
TripRep: 7daysParis-2 Days Brugge

Brief Itinerary::
We stayed in the Latin quarter, so many of the references herein are to sites immediately around places familiar to anyone who has been to this area of Paris.
Fri, 3/24 Aircraft arrived at CDG parking spot on time 0630. Aircraft doors finally opened at 0650. Busses from aircraft to terminal started to move 0710. Arrived in terminal: 0730. Cleared customs, got bags, found train station: 0810 Arrived Paris, Luxemborg RER station 0845. Failed to find taxi. 8 block walk ed to hotel with bags (Pant) dropped bags off, metro to Roland Garros Stadium, (French National Tennis Center, site of French Open) arriving at 1030. Strolled grounds of Tennis center, and viewed French only Tennis museum for 30 minutes. Started private tour at 1100. Roland Garros personnel run an English tour at 1100 every day. Really interesting recommended for sports fans who get burned out on art museums, but if you don‘t get tennis, this place will have no value to you. Ate at a local corner brasserie, accidentally ordered a plate of little calf kidneys. No problem - washed it down with an extra glass of rose wine, then just rode around all of Paris on their bus system to get a feet of how the city is laid out. Walked all around Place de la Concorde. Returned to Hotel, napped. Walked Rue de Buci street, found a little creperie which some locals insisted were the best in Paris. After eating these, we had a hard time arguing with their opinion.
Sat . 3/25 Brief walk of lower French quarter, including a 4th century BC Roman arena called Arenas de Lutece. Then went to Notre Dame Cathedral, including tower (422 steps) Found a nice creperie called Creperie Cat’man ( which must be a play on some French words) had a lovely lunch of Seafood Crepes - then to BHV department store. Wife got lost in the store.! Brief visit to Opera Garnier where we found that an opera we wanted to see (Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro) and a ballet (based upon the choreography of Rudolph Nureyev) had been sold out for ten weeks.
(Hmmm. I don’t supposed extending the run is an option?) Settled on tix to Opera Comique (see next)
Sun 3/26 Overslept - spent 90 min at Musee D’Orsay- much too little, but we had make a 3 Pm showtime at Opera Comique. Saw the 1937 operetta Trois Valses (Three Walzes) by the French composer, Oscar Straus, based upon the Waltz music of the Strusses (no relation) . All sung and spoken in French. Very interesting and entertaining. Then went to Arc de Triomphe (288 steps) Caught sunset from the top (Recommended) Waled about ½ way down Champs Elysee, until we couldn’t take it any more and just crashed into our hotel
Mon 3/27 Our Louvre day! Spent about 6 total hours there and only saw about a ¼ of what we wanted to see. Ate at an intriguing Jewish Dairy Restaurant called Ptizman. Run by just about the friendliest family I’ve ever met. Dad loved to talk to us in his halting but respectable English while the daughter and wife kept reminding him in alternating French and Yiddish to get to work! Returned to Louvre stayed until feet hurt too much. Checked out French shopping mall called Italie 2 got there as stores closed. Proceeded to Eiffel Tower. Went to all the way to the top; crowds were not too bad, suggest doing the tower at night. View is very pretty and crowds are less.Returned to hotel completely famished late at night. Found neighborhood brasserie late at night still full with clientele completely hopping.
Tues 3/28 - National Strike day. Saw Hotel Invalides. Saw lots of Medieval Suits of Armor in French Army Museum. Viewed Napoleon’s Tomb. Then went to an attached museum called the Musee des Plans Reliefs. This was a collection of scaled models of towns and fortifications that Napolean had his engineers design so that he could plan his strategy. This was highly interesting to all in my group. Finished with visit to Musee Rodin. Loved this small, peaceful museum, so different to the hustling-bustling Lovre/D’Orsay/etc. For most of the day we had no trouble getting around until the afternoon rush hour. Could not enter one Metro car because it was just too crammed with people. Returned to mall near Place d’Italie and watched a large labor rally, which broke up suddenly when the protestors realized it was time to hit the brasseries before the end of happy hour. Had dinner at one such brasserie. Very nice.
Weds 3/29 Attempted to visit a small museum at the Institute Marie Curie, because of my interest in radiation therapy, but the opening hours were limited. Proceeded to St. Chappell, incredible, indescribable stained glass. I’d list this as an absolute must for any visit to Paris. However, this chapel is inside the facilities of the French Justice Ministry, so the wait for processing through security was as onerous as any airport. After that, because of a promise my daughters made to friends back home that they would get photographed in front of the Moulin Rouge, we proceeded to the Sacre Coeur/ Montmarte area. Rode the funicular. I found the tackiness of the souvenir shops along Rue de Steinkerque to be repulsive, but my daughters loved it. We all liked the view from in front of Sacre-couer. Got the Pix in front of Moulin Rouge. Then, because of the proximity to our hotel and because of my interest in military medicine, we visited the Musée du Service de Santé des Armées (Museum of the Armed Forces Health Services.) This was potentially an interesting museum, but it was entirely in French. Still, neat displays about health care on 18th Century frigates, desert operations, the war in Indochina, etc. This museum is co-located with the Chapel of the Abbey Val-de-Grace, which has an impressive frescoed dome and huge ornate Baroque style marble canopy over the altar. Beautiful. But the place was hard to find an this was one place where we found a staff unable to speak any English. So this would be recommended only for folks fluent in French and/or for someone with a specific interest in this site. Ended the day with a traditional Savoyard Fondue meal at a lovely little spot just north of the Pantheon.
Thurs 3/30 We had intended to go to Versailles early after a breakfast at “Breakfast in America” Technical difficulties caused the meal to be served behind schedule, then we noticed that the Place Maubert street market was up and running, and we really wanted to hit this. Enjoyed that market well, then walked to the RER train station for trip to Versailles. Got to Versailles at 11am, which was about ½ hour after all the tour buses did. <groan> So we stood in line for a while. Saw the main chambers and a special temporary exhibit on the Court at Dresden (Saxony) Caught express SNCF train back to Gare Montparnassee - had lunch in the station. Then went to Catacombs, which is a must or any family with teenagers. Seriously. (On the flight home we asked the kids what they remembered the most? Answer: Eiffel Tower and the Catacombs) Ate at a highly recommended restaurant, Chantairelle, which served Auvergne style cuisine, also just north of the Pantheon. Kids all turned down desert because they didn’t want to lose the flavor of the main dish on their tongues.
Friday 3/31 Walked Rue Moffetard Shopping street, bought a picnic lunch and caught a street market at Place Monge. Ate lunch at Café Contrascarp, which seemed to be popular choice of many locals. Checked out of hotel , then took taxi to Gare du Nord. Because of Paris taxi laws, we had to split into two taxis. I rode with 2 younger daughters in 1st, follow by wife and eldest daughter in second. The second taxi got delayed by ten minutes. So for ten minutes I stood at the front entrance to the very busy Gare du Nord train station, not knowing what happened, and realized we split up WITHOUT A BACKUP PLAN. If wife and daughter did not show up, I had no idea what to do. Luckily they showed up, and we took the TGV to Lille, then a small local commuter train to Brugge. At the Belgian border, a Flemish train conductor came on-board and entertained us by speaking French and English with different versions of French and American. Snacked on our picnic dinner the whole trip. At Brugge, could easily find a 7-pax minivan taxi, THANK GOD!! Checked into our B&B. Walked around Brugge at night.
Sat 4/1 Brugge is such a tourist friendly town we did something we felt we could not do in Paris. We all split up and took off to explore the town individually. The shopping there is, in my opinion, a much better value than shopping in Paris. Ate a traditional Belgian Pannenkuchei, which is sort of a thick crepe. Very, very tasty. Took the 30 min. canal boat tour. (a must) While in town, spoke to numerous English speaking tourists, who said the climb up the church belfry was also a must, but we didn’t get around to it. Ate at the upscale restaurant Calis restaurant on Hoogstraat, just north of the Burg square. Best meal we had on the whole trip. Sorry, Paris, the best meal we had was in Flanders.
Sun 4/2. Taxi to the Brugge train station, IC train to Brussels, quick run around the nice Brussels-Zuid train station picking up some last minute Belgian chocolates to take home, then caught the Thalys train to CDG. Unfortunately, because of rail schedule disruptions on that particular Sunday, we had to catch a Thalys that arrive at CDG 3.5 hours ahead of our departure time. No big deal, the kids finally started to think about cracking their homework assignments they brought along. Flight left remarkably uneventfully.
That's it in a nutshell. Will post more about lessons learned and specific suggestions at specific sites later.
docdan is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 08:32 PM
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I loved it! Thanks so much for posting. All this talk about crepes and chocolates~sigh
My daughter goes to Brussels every year and I get lovely boxes of chocolate, I bet you are missing them now lol.
I am glad you got to see the Opera Comique, although, anything is good, just to be able to sit in that Opera House !
Scarlett is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 10:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
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We'll be in Brugge for the first time in a month and we are really looking forward to it. If you recommend it, where did you have the pannenkuchei? Also, what did you shop for there (and where)? How about a recommendation for where to buy chocolate in Brugge?

Thanks for any help you can provide.
Mediatorr is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 11:57 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 978

Pannekoeken, flemish for 'crepes' are as common as cobblestones in Brugge. You couldn't avoid them if you wanted to!
Chocolat; you have the well established brands such as Leonidas, Neuhaus or Godiva. You'll find also other brands and shops allover town. If you want to take the chocolats back home, you'll also find the 3 beforementionned in Brussels airport.
baldrick is offline  
Apr 5th, 2006, 12:42 AM
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Hi doc,

Thanks for sharing your interesting visit.

>..a 4th century BC Roman arena called Arenas de Lutece.

I fear you were misinformed. The Arenes de Lutece is from the 1st C AD.

That's still pretty old.

ira is offline  
Apr 5th, 2006, 07:26 AM
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ira, baldrick - I stand corrected on spelling and dates. Baldrick's comment on finding good food and chocolate shops is well said. Good food and chocolate shops were just about everywhere. The value of the chocolates in Brugge is better than at the train station, but when time is short and you still have a few euros in your pocket . . .
Women's fashions shops are plentiful in Brugge, especially in the streets that extend south and west of the main "Markt" square. I can only tell you the excellent advise European friends told me when I attempted to ask them specific information about Brugge: "You'll see. Just go."
docdan is offline  
Apr 5th, 2006, 10:25 PM
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Thanks baldrick and docdan for the shopping information.
Mediatorr is offline  
Apr 6th, 2006, 03:53 PM
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The *best* chocolate in Brugge is made by a family chocolatier, Dumon. There are 2 locations in Brugge. One is very close to Markt on Eiermarkt 6. Get the caramels -- they are phenomenal.
beanweb24 is offline  
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