Wonderful Paris trip

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May 28th, 2005, 10:27 PM
  #1
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Wonderful Paris trip

Hello :

After reading all I could on this site and asking questions, we are glad to announce that we survived our May - one week trip to Paris quite well. We took a couple of quick Private French lessons but really gave it up quickly. You can get by if you don't mind making a fool of yourself and laughing at yourself.

We thoroughly loved it and the moment my husband stepped off the metro that we took from the airport, he announced that he was going to want to live in Paris. Many smokey cafe's and espresso's later, he announced that the smoke is killing him and he misses his cafe americano at starbucks !

I will give a few quick tips to help other fellow travellers to return the favor as many have been so helpful.

We stayed at the Castex Hotel on Rue Castex which is a throw from the Bastille tower and a very short stroll to the Seine river. The hotel is very small, clean and quiet. The non smoking rooms do not smell and there was a smoke detector inside and outside the hallway which was nice. I thoroughly recommend it (cost us $95 Euro) booked through www.venere.com It was extremely convenient - there were about 3 metro stations in this little area with ATM machines and restaurants and bakeries nearby.
It is on a very quiet street and single travellers should feel very safe. It is between the 3rd and 4th AR which was great.

Its true that you should pick your museums carefully if you think you must go to a museum. The big ones are too time consuming if you are not an art buff. We went to the Picasso-within walking distance to the hotel and the Dali museum.

We did not know enough French to do fine dining too often but we got by fine. DO NOT order the Andouette sausage AAAAA that you see on menu's often. It stinks of unwashed intestines. We could have subsisted on pastries and coffee - well, for a few days -Pastries are to die for.

And the shopping !!! We were on a shopping spree - not for designer stuff - but more creative stuff - so I was in heaven with heaps of stuff - I forgot to mention that I went to Paris to check out the fashions as it was part of my business. So it was too much fun.

Yes, watch out for pick pockets - My husband big strapping guy of 54 years was accosted twice but I was on the lookout and told them off loudly that no we do not speak French and kept walking. We did not carry anything in our pockets and I did wear a travel pouch. So what if it wasn't a fashion statement - My credit cards and money was safe - oh the hotel had a safe too !

Oh, and one important thing, when you want to get your VAT money back, make sure you have your purchases with you. We had an electronic ticket but they wanted to see our boarding ticket so we had to check everything in and then went back to the window only to be told that we need to show our purchases. We had about $200+ in VAT - so much for all the hassle of standing in long lines at Galleries Lafayette and Printemps.
My only regret - why did I wait so long to see Paris...
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May 28th, 2005, 10:55 PM
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"DO NOT order the Andouette sausage AAAAA that you see on menu's often. It stinks of unwashed intestines."

OMG, you are so right! At our last meal in Paris a couple of months ago, that is exactly what my husband ordered. Seated across the table from him, I was blissfully swooning over my fabulous duck dish when an appallingly nasty odor insinuated itself into the air.

I gave my husband a troubled glance of inquiry, wondering if he, too, had noticed that one of our fellow diners had evidently begun emitting noxious fumes from his nether regions.

Grimly, my dinner companion pointed his fork at his plate.

"You're kidding!"

"Nope," he replied, "I'm eating a thirty dollar plate of french fries."

We surmised the stinking sausage was the chef's revenge for our having sent back the appetizer, charred chicken livers, and dared not request a change of meat for fear the insulted chef would obtain his next offering from the nearest graveyard.

Instead, my husband just ate his thirty dollar french fries and muttered, "You better warn the people on Fodors about this place."
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May 28th, 2005, 11:10 PM
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Ha, Ha, it was funny after all wasn't it. We thought it was just a French version of Andouille sausage. WE were starving at about 10 pm - a whole day of sightseeing but your husband is a braver man than we were. We left it - $30 dollar plate and all.. The next two meals were right across from our Hotel Castex - Petite Auberge, It was IndoChine food - Like Chinese but more like Vietnamese . SO VERY VERY good - and so very inexpensive . Mind you we are used to this kind of food in California but everything was so good and well prepared. The only waiter there was very attentive even at 11 pm. So if anyone should stay at the Castex, it is just 10 steps across from the hotel.
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May 28th, 2005, 11:12 PM
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We too have been suckered in by the thought of delicious Andouette. My son who was 10 at the time was tired of French food. He ordered Andouette sausage thinking it would be like home. Well that first bite hit the plate faster than you can blink. I told him it couldn't be that bad so I took a BIG bite. Yes, it could be that bad, the BIG bite also hit the plate. (I know, ugly Americans!) He finished off his very expensive plate of french fries. And you know, 7 years later, he still won't eat sausage. Go figure! I hope the rest of your meals were delicious, but heck this one makes a good story.
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May 28th, 2005, 11:21 PM
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OMG, I think you all must post a thread entitled DO NOT ORDER THE ANDOUETTE SAUSAGE. Your stories are too funny. But I am sure they were not to all of you. Ick and yuck!

Jazzd, hope you have more segments to post, I am enjoying your trip report.
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May 28th, 2005, 11:33 PM
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jazzd, would love to hear about the "more creative stuff" you bought. I design clothing and I would love to hear what's hot in Paris.
Thanks for any tips.
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May 29th, 2005, 01:20 AM
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Thanks for the sausage tip!!! Too funny. My sister-in-law ended up with pancreas or some such thing in Germany. Sounded a lot like your husbands sausage. Now, please report on the most important thing...shopping!!!!!!
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May 29th, 2005, 03:31 AM
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I don't care for andouillette, either, but they are not made from "unwashed intestines." Andouillette consists of long strips of pig stomach cooked with seasoning (onion, parsley, other herbs) inside a length of (washed) large intesting of a pig. The whole of it is cooked for several hours. A lot of French people like it, but a lot of French people don't like it, either. It's essentially pig stomach + pig large intestine, cooked with seasoning.

Another type of sausage frequently encountered is blood sausage or boudin. It's roughly the color of chocolate. It's made from blood from pigs with pork, stuffed into intestines; in English it is called black pudding (because the French aren't the only ones who make it). Boudin noir (noir means black) should not be confused with boudin blanc, which is white and contains only meat (pork, chicken, or veal), not blood.
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May 29th, 2005, 03:38 AM
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I used to eat boudin, fried, on a regular basis when I was young and living in Quebec. Now that I think about what it is, I can't believe I ate it...though, while I'm in Paris this fall, I'm considering trying it again...just for the heck of it...
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May 29th, 2005, 05:07 AM
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ira
 
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People should never discuss the making of sausages or laws.
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May 29th, 2005, 06:32 AM
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Jazzd,

Me too! Would love to hear more about the SHOPPING, less about the sausage!

I'm leaving for Paris next Tuesday and staying at the Marais...

THANKS!
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May 29th, 2005, 08:42 AM
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Sorry, betty-
Just to give a different opinion, my DH had andouillette at the Bistro Mazarin on our recent trip to Paris, and he really liked it.

When he was about halfway through his meal I told him what it was made of, and he wasn't very happy with me for telling him before he had finished!

Ira- You're right -- there's such a thing as too much information.

In spite of that, he ate it all, and would probably order it again. ( Keep in mind that he likes blood sausage, too, and didn't think Haggis was too bad! )




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May 29th, 2005, 06:44 PM
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"My only regret - why did I wait so long to see Paris..."

jazzd, it is never too late to see Paris! And now that you've been there, you'll yearn to be back there again. You'll find in future unrelated conversations with your husband that one or both of you will suddenly recall something you saw or heard in Paris and that shared memory will bring immediate smiles to both your faces. Aren't you so glad you went?

marcy: Good heavens! If you sat next to your husband while he ate that odiously odoriferous sausage and then spent the night with him afterward, you deserve the "Loyal Wife Of The Year" award! Way to go, kiddo!
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May 29th, 2005, 09:24 PM
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Jazzd, I'd like to hear more about where you shopped.

Many smokey cafe's and espresso's later, he announced that the smoke is killing him and he misses his cafe americano at starbucks
Hilarious! Don't agree but it's funny, nonetheless!
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May 30th, 2005, 01:29 AM
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Hee, Hee, aren't stinky sausage posts fun ? My hero of a husband did not tell me what he thought of the stench so he quietly pushed it to me. And I took a bite and gagged in the dark and pushed it back gently at him. A few minutes of it sitting there stinking away - we kinda both confided that it smells terrible and I think I know what it is and we both burst out laughing that we tried to gently make the other person eat it ! I have to make him read this.
The bum is off on a sailing "Class" to the Bahamas. Why do men need so much "me" time.

About shopping... Yes, glorious shopping. Sorry, non shoppers - this may be boring. So, within a few hours of arriving in Paris we stumbled into the Marais area - Oh, how convenient for me - steering the hubby towards all those charming little buildings. For those who want to try to get there,just head towards the Picasso museum and walk around you will see lots of boutiques. The shops open LATE about - 10:30 or 11 am - cutting into my shopping time ! It seems very funny, there are streets selling mens stuff and then you will see a bunch of streets selling women's stuff. So, happy day - my husband wasn't at all interested in mens clothing so we hurried away to the next street.These shops could be a bit pricey boutiques but for the creativity and the different styles that you don't necessarily get back home or in NY , it is worth the little bit more you pay. You ain't going to see it in some JC Penny or Macy's even. Sometimes I think it is comparable in prices in some upscale trendy NY boutique. I found jewelry, clothing etc that is so cleverly put together, pieces of fabric pieced together, beaded, strung, what have you - some stuff I saw had a very Museum of Modern Art (MOMA type of feel. I wanted to buy stuff to support the designer but ouch, let's just support in spirit in some cases. But I took mental note of commercial fashion that the media tells us compared to the other side of the pond where there are designers that think "if it is pretty".. so what if it is not trending...

For the budget conscious,there are some WHOLESALE (look for the word Gros - meaning wholesale) around these streets.
You can tell as they are not terribly boutiquey (no dim lights and nice smelling stuff) but you can get some pretty nice stuff for less than $20 Euros - handbags and such- I didn't see wholesale clothing or I would have gone giddy. Case in point - those sequin scarves that I just saw in this months fashion magazine for over $50 - I jumped into this store and got a Fuschia one with all over Fuschia sequins for $10 !! AND I saw the same thing in the Paris Dept store for 3 - 4 times more a few days later. Quality is very comparable. But some of these Gros may be reluctant to sell you ones or two's but it seems that they sold it to us. OK,we bought about 10 "research" samples a

If you want to see some individuality of lesser and more creative designers try this route. IF not just to admire
other designers thought process..
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May 30th, 2005, 01:49 AM
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Sorry, I hit the button by mistake...
I was at :
Gros may be reluctant to sell you ones or two's but it seems that they sold it to us. OK,we bought about 10 "research" samples but they will sell you one piece if you ask nicely or pretend you don't know what "Gros" means. What the heck - you don't speak French, remember ?

The fashion in the department stores were very surprisingly - same as out here in US. Meaning very ethnic - VERY Bollywood (east Indian), colorful, embroidered/beaded tunics. Totally delicious, decadent and so girly.
At Galleries Lafayette, there was Bollywood everything but anyone going soon MUST look at the windows of Printemps - right across crom Galleries.
ABSOLUTELY stunning costumes. Really worth it just to gawk.

But everything, not just clothing was such a pleasure to see. There was a home goods store right across the street from Galleries - don't remember but it starts with a "B" has such a lot of home goodies - much better than the home goods chains here in terms of display and product. Not not French country stuff but some modern stuff.

Maybe the French are a bit stuffy and rude (if they got tips things would be different - maybe..) but they sure have some style and a sense of what is beautiful. Oh, one thing I REALLY REALLY REALLY NOTICED AND IT WAS NOT DIFFICULT - there wasn't a lot of French nails (I don't even know what its called) or Blonde streaks in the hair every where. It was nice that people there stayed somewhat natural. I am amazed at the number of nail salons in US and the pre-occupation with Blonding the hair. Instead most women were trim and held themselves up nicely so that whatever they were wearing look OK. I actually had a long discussion with my husband on this and I think they know something that we also do but we find it easier to do the nails and color the hair. So, so sorry to babble away. Goodnight.
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May 30th, 2005, 01:54 AM
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Beatchick, we learned to accept Expresso and Cafe Creme quickly because of all the wonderful frou frou pastries.... I actually finished every drop of ALL my Cafe Creme's because there was so little (and so much pastry..) but even my French friends say that Starbucks is gaining in popularity because they don't all serve Expresso. AND DO TAKE NOTE IF YOU ARE GOING TO PARIS - Starbucks has nice toilettes - and no one will ask any questions and many speak English ! thank God they did not translate the menu - Frappachino is still a Frappachino. You may think it is a minor thing, but cups of Expresso and wine here and there and you will quickly find that rest rooms are not as convenient as in US. I didn't believe that other posters were asking about availability of toilets when out gallivanting around town but it was testy some days. Another thing is - Nice hotels, there's always a restroom in the lobby.
Just walk in like you live there and look around casually for the signs. The guy at some MacDonalds won't let you upstairs (additional dining and also where the toilet is) unless you have food in your hand.

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May 30th, 2005, 05:14 AM
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Hi Zazzd,

Andouette falls into that category of things that the French call "special" -- a travel memory that isn't likely to leave you, even if you wish it would.

I was wondering, in the mention of pickpockets, you wrote of your husband being "accousted." If you mean that litterally -- spoken to -- those weren't pickpockets; they were "clochards" -- bums looking for a coin or a cigarette. Pointing out that you don't speak French doesn't always help. Sometimes they switch to very serviceable English. Either way, they mostly don't insist too much. I just shake my head ever so slightly "no," though once in a rare while I give.
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May 30th, 2005, 07:32 AM
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Jazz'd: Thanks for your shopping update! So it sounds like you enjoyed exploring the Marais boutiques. They're open late? FANTASTIC!

Did you take advantage of the 10% tourist discount and tax refund at the big department stores? (Just to let you know: I bought a sexy, not-too-expensive dress in Galeries Lafayette in 1988 -- when I was 18 years old -- and it still looks HOT now in 2005! Vive French design...whoo, whoo!)

Sorry, I'm just passionate about French designers. I simply can not find the same level of price-quality ratio here in NYC. I don't care what anyone says about shops in NYC...blah. blah. blah.

Starbucks invading Paris...YUCK!

Cheers,
Betty
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May 30th, 2005, 08:48 AM
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Jazzd, thanks so much for the shopping tips, I'll definately save your post for my next visit.......being a designer who loves to use old fabrics and colors combined in new ways, I was also struck in a few places in Scotland and Ireland (Ragamuffins in Edinburgh and Isle of Skye; Cleo in Dublin and Kenmare) with interesting combination of fabrics pieced together, funky but beautiful.
Betty, I think jazzd meant that the shops OPENED late (10:30-11) and that cut into her shopping time, NOT stayed opened late (or maybe they do). Jazzd maybe you can clarify. Thanks.
Keep writing!
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