What to wear/pack...Part 4

Old May 7th, 2007, 07:36 AM
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I want details on what the hotel did to make things right!

I don't know if this is an option in Paris (can't recall LOL!) but in the US when I leave a hotel room "unattended" for a few days I usually stick out the "do not disturb" sign. Seems to keep the maids out LOL!
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Old May 7th, 2007, 08:47 AM
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I don't know whether the "Do Not Disturb" sign would have kept my room intact, CarolA, but in future I will definitely be informing housekeeping and management in advance if I happen to be spending a night away from my room.

As for what the hotel did to make things right, I'll reveal events as the occur.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 12:37 PM
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Day 4, suite:

Long lunch of largely undistinguished food but pleasant company at Cafe de la Paix finished, I head home via metro to deal with the hotel and my lost items. It is only while en route that I recall that the camera charger is missing. Figuring that a face to face is likely to be more productive than a telephone call, I go down to the front desk and ask (in English) to speak to the manager. I am referred by a frightened-looking (apparently I can look pretty intimidating) man to the duty manager. I present the situation (in French, as my French is much better than her English). We chat at some length, she gives me some forms to fill out (there are always forms to fill out in France, and this one was four pages), and I return to my room to try and recall what's actually missing.

I return the forms to her, she assures me that an investigation will be carried out, and I head out for the evening. I've changed into gray dress trousers, a black cotton blouse, and black boots. It's still warm out, so I carry my black blazer for later.

First stop was Parc Monceau, where I stroll for a bit and sit on a bench and don't read a book. I don't read a book because I don't have a book, the novel I'd planned on reading while in Paris ("Qui non riposano", a book that takes place near the location of my next holiday in Italy) having gone missing from my room. And since it's May 1st there aren't any bookstores open, or even a Monoprix or newstand. So no picking up soap or shampoo en route either.

I then head out for the Arc de Triomphe, and then proceed down the Champs-Elysees, stopping for a glass of wine at Flora Danica (and once again don't read my book, and instead study the crowd and my map) and then on to the Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries (closed by now). Intending to go back up by the Comedie Francaise and up to Opera, I walk along Rue de Rivoli, pausing to check out the windows in the posh shops.

Suddenly I stop, completely taken aback at the realization that I've have been struck by an egg. Yes, an actual raw egg. It's splashed all down the front of my trousers, and the remains litter the sidewalk in front of me. An older couple approaching from the other direction is as shocked as I am, and points out that it was apparently thrown from a car. It struck me hard enough to hurt, but not hard enough to leave a bruise.

I skipped dinner.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 01:36 PM
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This trip has me on the edge of my seat. Missing items, being egged. I am REALLY hoping my upcoming trip to Paris is much less "eventful" LOL!
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Old May 7th, 2007, 05:39 PM
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Oh Dear - what else can happen????
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Old May 8th, 2007, 04:19 AM
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On the face of it both the missing items and what I'll refer to from here on out as "the egg incident" might seem like big deals, but in both instances I pretty much brushed them off as part of the whole experience. True, the missing camera charger meant that I watched my camera battery pretty closely, but it lasted the whole week. And true, the book in Italian is not easily replaced outside of Italy, but I'm going to Italy in a month so can find it once I'm there. And true, among the missing items was a pair of hand-made earrings, a gift from a friend in Lisbon, but the sentiment behind the gift is intact.

So, really, they were just things.

Lest you find yourself marveling at my pollyanna-ish view of the world, I'll point out that I comforted myself over the egg incident by musing that the perpetrator(s) were very likely going to end up in a French prison one day, not for this sort of thing but for the other idiotic decisions they'd likely be making at some point in their lives, and French prisons are not pleasant places.
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Old May 8th, 2007, 09:29 AM
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Day 5:

I slept in a bit on Wednesday, as I knew I'd be pretty busy in the afternoon and evening. I did go out mid-morning and do a bit of shopping on Rue Ternes, picking up perfume at Marionnaud, toiletries at Monoprix, and shoes (nearly flat black velours/velvet slingbacks, perfect cocktail party shoes) at a shop called (I think) Henri Phillipe. A lunch date at Les Fables de la Fontaine (really lovely small place, great food) at 12:15 for which I wore dress black trousers, black boots, and a wrap-around white cotton blouse with a cut-out embroidered detail around the hem and cuffs, and carried my black blazer.

Normally I'd have worn either a skirt or dress for the lunch date, but I was leaving directly from lunch to catch the train to Rambouillet, where I was met by an ex-pat friend from high school who lives out in the country with her three beautiful children and husband. Dinner outside in the garden (and it got chilly, so I was very glad that I'd worn trousers and had the blazer), and then the last train back to Paris.
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Old May 8th, 2007, 11:27 AM
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Day 5, suite:

All the while I've been larking about Paris and environs, the management staff back at Le Meridien Etoile has been trying to find a replacement charger for my camera. The young woman who is dealing with the details keeps me posted via voicemail messages, and on Wednesday night, having returned to Paris via the last train, I find a nice tray of fresh fruit, a bottle of Evian, and a fancy chocolate bar (printed with pictures of Paris and the hotel) on a tray in my room, all with the compliments of the manager.
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Old May 8th, 2007, 12:32 PM
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topping...I can't wait to see what happens next! Therese didn't wear all of her clothes AND one outfit was egged-now that is excellent packing!
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Old May 9th, 2007, 07:53 AM
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Day 6:

Thursday, and for once I've got nothing planned socially (having turned down an invitation for drinks from a friend, as opposed to an invitation for drinks from one of the random French guys who proposed them all week---I'd forgotten the charming French custom of "draguer&quot. I sleep in a bit, eat some more of the complimentary fruit baskets, and head out for a day of shopping and sightseeing. I'm wearing the black jeans again (which I'd refreshed with Febreze and hung in my closet for a nice airing after returning from Normandy on Tuesday) and the black boots and some sort of shirt. I can't recall which one, and there's no photo documentation to help as I was alone. Something clean in any case.

I start out taking the metro to Sentier to check out Rue Montorgueil and dine at a restaurant that I'd been to previously with my children, a creperie called La Dentelle (meaning "lace&quot that I quite liked, and was revisiting to some degree for sentimental reasons, as it reminded me of being there last year with my children. I was early-ish, so took some pictures of the dining room to show to the children. Fortified with crepes, chouchen (a honey-based aperitif), and cidre brut, I headed down Rue Montorgueil and did a bit of shopping.

Next stop was the Centre Pompidou to see what sort of thing was on for the evening, and I was in luck: a showing of Atom Egoyan's "Citadel" at 8:30. So I bought a ticket for 5.5 euro, did some shopping at the very nice bookstore there, wandered around a bit and then headed over to internet cafe (being sure to request an English keyboard) to catch up. Bought another pair of shoes, a really perfect pair of nearly flat black leather mules with a somewhat (but not too) pointed toe, ideal for plane travel.

Headed back to Le Meridien Etoile to meet with the lovely young woman in charge of my case. They've identified a vendor for the camera charger, but need another piece of information, and given the relatively late hour (it's about 3:30 or 4:00 at this point) she'd not sure they'll have the time to get over there and pick it up before the shop closes, and of course I leave the next morning.

, with a pre-show talk by him (which I managed to miss, as I was towards the end of the line and there were too many members of the press there to permit us all in the hall at the same time, and there were firemen there to enforce the rules), and a reception afterwards that featured lots and lots of
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Old May 9th, 2007, 09:26 AM
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Please ignore that last nonsensical paragraph---that's information that comes later.
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Old May 9th, 2007, 10:06 AM
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Hi Theresa. I would like some more information on the hammann. Is it female only? What kind of treatments did you get there? Thanks.
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Old May 9th, 2007, 10:55 AM
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Nice spelling, Jen. That would be Hammam.
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Old May 9th, 2007, 12:04 PM
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The place we went is called Hammam Medina Center: http://www.hammam-medina.com/ Lots of nice pictures and info, all of exactly accurate. I emailed to make an appointment, but that's only necessary if you want one of the more elaborate packages (described as "sur RDV" on the site, which means "sur rendez-vous" or "by appointment&quot. I was actually called (here in the U.S., in my office) in response to my email, so very responsive customer service, etc.

As it said upthread, it's a short walk from where the Canal St. Martin cruise stopped at Villette, and we headed there directly for lunch. From the outside it looks a bit forbidding---floor to ceiling windows that have been blocked with paint or a film, but inside it's fine. I'd booked the "Forfait Floral" at 139 euro for entry to the hammam, gommage with sesame seeds (which was not much of anything--the regular gommage is likely much more vigorous), wrap in argan oil with fresh rose petals (during which the woman doing my treatments offered to do a facial as well, off the books, for 20 euro, which I did), and a very nice massage. My treatments took place separately from the open hammam space, in a fairly large room that had one other bed for treatments. The two women giving treatments spoke to each other quite a bit, and I could hear people outside the door (it was right off the restaurant area, and there was a screen instead of a closed door), but I didn't mind as I couldn't understand it (not French, except for the customers in the restaurant area). My friend had gotten a more basic package (Forfait Detente, at 55 euro), but says that her massage was also in a semi-private room.

The hammam space is very nice, downstairs from reception and locker room. There's a pool, a heated platform ("pierre chaude&quot, large steam room, sauna, and various showers and sinks. The usual gommage takes place along the side of the room on tables.

It's open every day to women, and on Saturdays only is mixed. Most women wore bikinis, a few dropped their tops (I was there on Sunday), and I was probably the only one wearing a full-length bathing suit. Since my treatments were in a private room I just got rid of the suit entirely.

The lunch selection is limited. I had a salad plate with tuna, hard boiled egg, and various raw and blanched vegetables and my friend had tabouleh. Bread and water were included. At some point during your treatment you get mint tea and a pastry.

Everything perfectly clean. It got crowded (to my taste) by late afternoon, and according to the woman at the desk it can get even more crowded.

Overall a very nice experience, and one that I would repeat.
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Old May 9th, 2007, 12:06 PM
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Oh, lots of other things like epilation and manicure also offered. Just check out the web site. I'm guessing a weekday would be better from a crowd point of view.
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Old May 10th, 2007, 02:59 AM
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Day 6, suite:

I still need to get some last minute gifts, and food for dinner as well as the next day, so once again head for Rue Ternes. There's a Monoprix on Rue Ternes, but there's also a Champion grocery store that's a bit closer. I buy cider, cheese, ham, radishes, yogurt, and madeleines for myself, and candy for others. I usually buy an alcoholic beverage that I've never tried before to take home, and this time it's Picon Biere, an orange bitter that you add to beer.

I don't find bread at Champion, and finally while in the check out line ask the man next to me where he found the two pretty baguettes that's he clutching, and he tells me that they're from the boulangerie next door. And indeed there is a lovely little place right next door that sells me a still warm baguette for sixty cents.

Dinner chez moi of bread with cheese, ham, and radishes, and then it's time for my evening out at the movies.
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Old May 10th, 2007, 04:40 AM
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I find I need to bring conditioner. They give you shampoo at hotels, often one little bottle for both shampoo & soap. But conditioner is not common in Europe. I recently saw some "apres shampooing" at a hypermarche near Paris, but don't expect it at the hotel or even the little grocery around the corner.
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Old May 10th, 2007, 05:40 AM
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Exactly which hair products I take with me (re nutjobz comment about conditioner/apres shampooing) depends on how I expect to wear my hair, how often I expect to actually wash my hair and/or get it wet. My hair is naturally curly, and using shampoo on it every day dries it out and keeps it from curling nicely (which requires either some natural oil, or the addition of exogenous oil, which is never as good). Instead I just shower normally, relying on the hot water to distribute the natural oil throughout the hair (rather than leaving it all next to my scalp). Big bouncy curls (with the help of some styling product, my favorite being Bumble & bumble Curl Conscious, which I describe in my packing list as "hair balm&quot.

As you'll note in my packing list, I also use a flat iron to straighten it some days, and again that means that I won't wash it for at least one day and often two days, and of course don't even get it wet, using a shower cap to keep it dry (hmm, not sure I included that on my packing list---I did take one just in case, but ended up using the one supplied by the hotel). Because I'm not getting it wet or re-styling it I do have to consider the question of oily roots, and that's where hair powder or dry shampoo come in very handy.

Until recently Bumble and bumble made a really great product called hair powder. It came in several colors (brown for me) and was a dry powder that you sprinkled into your hair as needed to absorb oil and give extra volume (lots of extra volume). Unfortunately they've changed to a spray formula which is, frankly, spray-on hair. It's messy and it makes my scalp itch. Bleah.

So one of the things I was specifically looking for while I was in France was dry shampoo ("shampooing sec&quot. Klorane makes a variety that I did find, and did like. Unfortunately it's white (and while I'm thinking about it, corn starch works just fine as a dry shampoo), so after you sprinkle it in and let it sit for a few minutes you have to brush it out, and very thoroughly if you have dark hair.

The other hair product that I did not take with me as I knew I'd be buying it in France is a product sold under the Elvive label. It's a straightening balm, and I've yet to find it in the U.S. (although other Elvive products are sold here), so I buy it whenever I'm there.

I wore my hair straight for the flight over, fluffed it with brown hair powder the morning I arrived, and then washed my hair to wear it curly on Sunday as I knew I was going to the hammam and it would be curly and oily as a result in any case.
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Old May 10th, 2007, 06:34 AM
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Oh, and conditioner/apres shampooing might not be available at the corner grocery, but it is widely available at larger grocery stores, places like Monoprix (where the selection is enormous), and "parapharmacies." Usually a place that sells shampoo will also sell conditioner.
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Old May 10th, 2007, 10:02 AM
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Day 6, suite, deuxieme partie:

Shopping and a light dinner out of the way, I change clothes for the evening out. I choose a skirt, not because I'm particularly interested in being very dressy, but because I'm claustrophobic, and there's every chance that the cinema at Centre Pompidou will be (a) crowded, (b) hot, or both. So I choose the black cotton skirt, a green Zara V-neck camisole, black cotton cardigan, and a scarf (to make the V-neck less V-neck should the circumstances demand), along with the black mules.

The show (Atom Egoyan's "Citadel" in case you missed it upthread) included a pre-show talk by him (which I managed to miss, as I was towards the end of the line and there were too many members of the press there to permit us all in the hall at the same time, and there were firemen there to enforce the rules), the film itself, and then a reception afterwards. The film was in English, subtitled in French (so really two movies in one for me, and it's always interesting to see what's included and what's left out by the person doing the subtitling). Room absolutely packed, so I was happy to have gone with a skirt instead of trousers in the interest of keeping my claustrophobia under control. The woman next to me insisted on speaking to me during the film, such that I finally had to tell her to please stop, that I didn't want to disturb those around us, and in any case I wasn't French so couldn't catch quite everything she was whispering to me. She was initially quite pleased to hear that I was something other than French, and asked if I were Armenian (as the movie's about Armenians). I answered no, and she asked where I was from, and I answered "Etats-Unis". Her reaction to this information could not have been more extreme had I taken mace from my purse and sprayed her, but at least it shut her up for the duration of the film.

The reception was downstairs, and included red wine in plastic cups, cherry tomatoes, cheetos equivalents, and foil-wrapped cubes of cheese spread. But for 5.5 euro all in I couldn't really complain, and I had some nice conversations (avoiding the crazy woman who'd been seated next to me).

Home at about midnight to find a voicemail message from management to meet with a certain M. Habib in the morning about my missing property.
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