Category: Trip Reports

Trip Report to Paris – 2013 (Days 1-5)

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Day 1 – I flew Air France out of Chicago/Detroit to Paris in 2013. I really like that airline. Staff is efficient and the food is really good for airplane food.

As we were coming into Paris, we were met with a pretty bad storm and some hail. The pilot got on the PA and said, “Well, uh, the weather in Paris is not all that nice, so, uh, we probably ought to prepare for it. “ He then proceeded to tell us to all sit down and buckle up. I wondered if he was uncertain about the weather situation or if he just wasn’t very fluent in English. I was sitting right behind the wing and watching the flaps. However, I really kept my attention on the man sitting beside me by the window. He was a flight engineer and I figured as long as he didn’t seem troubled, it was ok.

Arriving in Paris from the US is quite different from my last trip flying in from Dubai, partly because I checked luggage.  I had checked one bag and just kept my personal item with me because the airline people were really begging people to check luggage because the flight was so full. Once I arrived at the airport, the walk to the baggage claim seemed like miles. None of us United States citizens really knew what we were doing. I managed enough French to find out from an older French couple that we first had to ride the train to one point and then walk a lot further. As I got off the train, I followed in with a mother and two children who had been on our plane and spoke perfect French. She is native French but lives in the US and spends every summer in Paris. She was also pretty lost for a while and then spoke with the French director of the area and found out where we were to go.

I had a bad experience in 2011 when I had reserved a shuttle from the airport into the city. My hotel this time was offering to connect me with a private driver and I agreed. As I arrived at the private driver pickup room, there were many drivers holding signs. My name was not on any of them. They supposedly keep track of landing times so they can be there once the traveler gets through customs and passport control. I was beginning to wonder about this method of transport, but my driver arrived about an hour after I got to the room. He apologized profusely for his tardiness and blamed congested traffic.

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Hotel de Londres Eiffel

Once I had settled into my hotel, Hotel de Londres Eiffel , at 2:00, I went to the grocery next to me and bought food for a picnic and walked to the Eiffel Tower and sat on a bench and had lunch. I had only one person stop and ask for my food. I returned to the hotel, stopping at my favorite ice cream place, Amorino.

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Room view

The hotel clerk, Cedric, had made dinner reservations for me at FL (the fancy restaurant next door) for 7:30, which is early supper for the French.  I returned to my room to rest up from the overnight trip. The meal at FL was amazing, but I am sorry to say that by the time I returned in 2015, it had closed.

Day 2 – On the second day in Paris, I slept in a little bit and, after the hotel breakfast, headed out to the Arc de Triumph. It was 71 degrees when I left the hotel and a beautiful day. When I arrived at the arch, I found what I had read about access to be true – short lines for access to the climb to the top. They actually have a huge tunnel under ground to walk from the other side of the street to the arch since there is a “driving circle” around the arch. Now I know, though, why they have elevators in the Eiffel Tower. The climb goes up a single person wide concrete, winding stairway. It is very steep, but there were places along the tight circle where one (namely me) could scoot over and let people pass while one catches her breath. There are 284 steps, but feels like more.

By the time we got to the lobby upstairs and thought we were done climbing, we were all drenched in sweat and breathing hard. There were seats and everyone rested when they reached the top and let out the one universal word around here “whew!!”

Then we had to follow the sign that said “terrace” (top). That sign led us to another stairway, probably less than 100 steps in this one. What a beautiful sight! The panorama of the city was great. It is fun to watch the cars drive the circle below. There are no lanes. Everyone just squeezes into this 4-5 lane wide road as he wishes. It reminded me of traffic in India.Paris 2013 (I) 057

When I came outside and was taking pictures under the arch, I saw that the flag that usually hangs from the middle of the inside of the arch was lying in a heap on the ground. I took a picture, thinking, “You wouldn’t find an American flag lying in a heap on the ground.” A little later a couple of workers came, and, come to find out, the place where the flag attaches had broken. It was neat to get to video them raising the flag again.

I then made my way down the Champs Elysees. I made a small purchase just to have something from there and made my way on to a restaurant I had read about online, La Mere Michele (not to be confused with the one by the same name in California).

I was hoping they were still open for lunch since it was 1:45. I arrived about 2:00 and they were open so I sat at an outside table. The manager was very friendly and we talked a long time about travel and his trips to the U.S.  Lunch was great. It consisted of cold melon soup, and a hot/cold dish of cold pasta salad topped with herb-cooked beef. Dessert was what we would call a chocolate lava cake, raspberry sorbet, a lacy cookie, a guava, sliced almonds and some kind of crumbles. After I paid the bill, I was brought a small glass of candies. I popped my head in the door before leaving to assure the man that I would be back. He gave me his card and reminded me to reserve ahead of time if I came for dinner. (More on this place later.)

It didn’t take too long to eat lunch, but I am learning to eat like the French, taking my time and doing some people-watching. When I am home and eating alone, I usually eat quickly and leave – not exactly healthy physically or mentally. A Parisian I met at the Detroit airport said the only reason to leave a café in Paris where you are drinking coffee and people-watching is to move to a different café to do the same thing.

I had mentioned before I left on this trip that I wished I could buy a pair of shoes in Paris, and I found the perfect ones on the way back to my hotel. Imagine – me in a pair of shoes from Paris!

As I had walked around the last couple of days, I had noticed some interesting things. A large percentage of French women, regardless of age or social status, seemed to wear their dresses to where they just barely cover their underwear on their backside. Also, women on the street here smoke while walking around. Since smoking is done more in Europe, the amount of smoking did not surprise me. However, it did surprise me that it seemed to be only the women who walk around smoking. The only men I have seen smoking are sitting outside at a café or a couple of times someone standing on a curbside, apparently taking a break at work.

Paris 2013 II 068I walked around in the evening until I found somewhere that looked interesting for supper. La Terrasse is great and you will hear a lot more about it this trip and in my 2015 trip. It has become a regular “go to.” When I arrived, I was rather tired and, instead of sitting outside, I asked to sit inside where there are red velvet stuffed chairs. I sat right next to the window so could still do my people-watching. This is a busy intersection with a metro access and a newsstand so there was lots to watch.

Later in the day, I stopped by my local grocery and purchased some plastic spoons. While shopping on the Champs Elysees, I discovered that the Publics store had delicious looking carry-out food. However, they did not have utensils to use for eating it. I would be ready next time.

I really missed American coffee. When I went to the grocery, I also bought some Nescafe instant and mixed it with hot tap water and no milk. It was still better and bigger than I could get anywhere else I had found in Paris.

Day 3 – On day three, I walked from the hotel up to where I left off (east and west wise) on day two. This put me on the eastern part of the Champs Elysees. I started there, at Franklin D. Roosevelt Street, and walked east toward Place de Concorde, the Tuileries Garden, and the Louvre.

Place de Concorde is the area that used to be home to the famous guillotines. This circle now is the home of a monument and a couple of beautiful, huge fountains. This is also located right at the gates to Jardin des Tuileries. The Tuileries garden was landscaped this way in 1664. It is adjacent to the Louvre and Musee L’Orangerie is on the garden grounds.

I sat for quite a while by a pond in the Tuileries garden – many chairs provided. I not only watched people, but also birds. Paris life must be hard on birds. The birds I focused on had legs with three prongs on front and one in back. All birds may have this; I don’t know. Anyway, the interesting thing about the birds here was how many were disabled. One had only two prongs on his right foot and on his left had a club foot. I was really feeling for him and other birds missing prongs until I saw the one who only had one leg. However, he seemed to get around just as well as his mates.

I walked around the garden for a long while, taking pictures and then headed across the bridge to Isle de Cite, where Notre Dame is.

Once on the island, I stopped for a lunch of Warm Goat Cheese Salad. I had seen it on various menus previously and decided, as much as I love goat cheese, it was time to try it. It was a plate of mixed greens, topped with pancetta, walnuts, and tomatoes. On top of that the chef had placed three half slices of toasted bread. On top of each piece of bread was a slice of goat cheese, very thick and about 4 inches in diameter. The cheese on the bread had been toasted so it was brown on top and nice and creamy in the center.Paris 2013 (I) 155

Paris 2013 (I) 156As I approached Notre Dame, I was really thankful that I had taken good pictures in 2011. They were celebrating Notre Dame’s birthday and had many tents and temporary walls build up in front of the church.

I stopped for some Berthillon ice cream when I passed a shop. I had tried to get some of this ice cream, which they make on the neighboring island, Isle St. Louis, in 2011, but I had been in this side of town too early in the day.

IMG_9488.JPGI was now a little over 3 ½ miles from my hotel and quite tired. I had been walking for 7 ½ hours already so I decided to take the Metro home. I bought a carnet of tickets. This is the cheapest way if you will be taking the Metro at least 10 times during your visit. You can buy a carnet of tickets (10 separate tickets) for the price of 6-7 single ticket purchases.

I was reminded quickly that, when one is leaving the Metro, it is important to choose the proper exit because they are labeled as to which street you will emerge on. I was not thinking and just exited. I started walking what I thought was west, trying to see the sun trough the tall buildings, but I had to finally admit I was lost.  However, I had my map. I looked to see where I was on the map, but the streets at that intersection were too small to be on the map I had. I knew continuing to walk and having no idea which direction I was walking was not wise.

This intersection was a rather round area of shops with six roads going out like spokes. I saw a florist out in front of her store with a customer. I stepped up and excused myself, opened my map, and asked in my best southern Illinois French for them to show me where on the map we were. They explained in part French and part English when I told them I wanted to get to the Eiffel Tower. I knew how to get home from there. They said to take Rue Laos. “Laos Street?” I thought. “I am really far away.”  After walking a few blocks on this street, I could see the ET through the buildings. I was excited to find that I was approaching it from a different way than ever before. There were several large playgrounds and lots of stuff for kids to do.

After getting to the hotel and resting a while, I noticed that the weather was getting questionable. I checked my computer and found that a major storm was headed for us from Africa. I had some time before the arrival of the storm so went to my grocery and got a picnic meal to eat at the hotel.  I was snug and dry and enjoying my picnic about 5:30, while watching an old movie on the ipad, when the storm hit. I then napped until 8:00. I was still hungry and noticed that the next wave of the storm would be in within the hour and decided it was time for the neighborhood artisan bakery for a treat. IMG_1738I purchased a Paris Brest. This pastry is so large, I only ate about a fourth of it and saved the rest in the fridge for a few other days’ treat.

Day 4 – After breakfast on day 4, I walked to the Eiffel Tower and roamed around for a while. Then I walked northwest of the ET, going west on the river side. I remembered that somewhere out that direction there was a small replica of the Statue of Liberty. I had taken a picture of it in 2011 while I was on a dinner cruise. I wasn’t sure where the statue was, but thought it had to be this direction so kept on walking. Once I came to the Pont de Bir-hakeim and noticed it crossed the end of a very skinny island, I was pretty sure that had to be it.

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Ile aux Cygnes

I started crossing the bridge and found that, indeed, there was a stairway that led down to the island. I started walking down the island and found it to be a long path, mostly tree covered. This island is a little more than a half mile long and 36 feet across at its widest place.

Just as I stepped under the tree canopy, it started raining really hard. I also had my umbrella, but the trees helped a lot.  I didn’t know at the time how long the island was and was just hoping that, once I got to the end, it would have the statue and would have a way back up to the mainland.

When I got to the furthest end of the island, there was a ramp of sorts back up to a bridge for that end of the island. To the side of the ramp was a stairway down. At the base of the stairs, and under the bridge, there was a really large outdoor exercise/workout room. IMG_1764Beyond that, on the other side of the bridge, in a small space on the point of the island, I found the small Statue of Liberty. It was raining so hard and the wind was blowing so strongly, I had to stay back under the roof of the workout room to take a picture of the statue, so I only got a picture from the back. (Fortunately, I went back in 2015 in the dry.)

I went back up to the bridge and the water flowing down the steps looked like Niagara Falls. I was really wet from the knees down and water was squishing in my shoes and socks, but there was more to come. I headed back to the left bank, the side of the river where I had started. There was a lot of construction as soon as I got to the street, Quai Branly. I could still walk on the sidewalk heading back east, but could not cross the street for another block. The only problem was that the sidewalk was right against the road and there was a construction fence along the other side of the sidewalk – no way to move back from the road. Only one time did a bus hit the puddle right beside me. It created an often seen scene in movies where the innocent young lady gets splashed big time. This gave me a good soaking. I crossed the road and asked myself aloud, “What would Gene Kelly do in a case like this?” I knew the answer and smiled and started singing “Singing in the Rain.”

Later in the afternoon, after lunching at Iolanda Café and going to the hotel for a dry wardrobe and a rest, I headed out the Galleries LaFayette. This is the Paris version of a mall. Actually, there are two buildings, but they are several stories high and all enclosed like malls in the U.S. The architecture is fantastic and really impressive to see. However, there are many stores that are so exclusive (i.e. expensive) that there are guards at the entrances and they only let a few people inside the area at a time. The bottom floor, where these vendors were, was a mad house. It reminded me of movies of New York department stores on the day after Thanksgiving with the sales. It was really wild and I didn’t stay long.

I took the metro home, arriving about 6:15.  A little after 7:00, I decided to walk to Rue Cler for supper. I had read that having dinner at Cafe du Marche was impossible without a reservation. However, I arrived at 7:15 and got right in – front row patio and my waitress spoke English like she was from my hometown.

Paris 2013 (I) 195.JPGI had Confit du Canard (fried duck leg). I understand that the Café du Marche makes some of the best in Paris and I had never tried the dish so now was the time. It was fantastic and was served with round fries and a salad. I had a crème brulee for dessert. I decided as much as I like crème brulee, I needed to try the French ones and see if they are as good as those in the U.S. J It was the best I had ever had. It started raining while I was eating and the café automatically extended its awning to cover all of us. I stayed there until about 8:45 watching people. The difference in eating at a French café and at a restaurant in the states is that in France, one is expected to linger and enjoy the repas (meal).

Day 5 – Day 5 was a Friday and I ventured to the Marais. This is the neighborhood north of the Nortre Dame island. There is a huge Jewish and Muslim population in this area.

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I first stopped at the Bastille, which is where I got off the Metro. This is famous for its part in the French revolution of 1789.  The fortress that used to be here (nothing here but a monument now) once symbolized tyranny, but is now a symbol of Paris emancipation. It was the big uprising of “the people” here on July 14, 1789 when citizens stormed the place and set prisoners free that is the cause of their “independence day” on July 14. This day used to be called Bastille Day, but is now called Fete Nationale.

My next stop was at Place des Vosges. King Henry IV built this in 1605 and his son’s statue is in the middle of the square. Henry planned that this building would turn Le Marais into an exclusive neighborhood in Paris. This is a huge square with a park/garden in the middle of the square.  The buildings are hooked together and are identical except that two sides are taller. There is a sheltered walkway all the way around on the courtyard side of the buildings. Each side of the square is about the size of a city block and each side contains 9 buildings. The two tallest sides of the buildings were for the king and queen but were never used.

In the corner of this square is Victor Hugo’s home. I visited there and it is free. It was interesting that there was a school field trip in Hugo’s home and each student had a book of questions to complete as s/he toured the apartment.

I then made my way to Rue Rosiers and to L’as du Fallafel, the most famous fallafel joint in the area and supposedly the best. It is so famous that the lines stretch on and on. I got there at 2:00 for lunch and still long lines. There was a man out front to ask each customer if he wanted to eat in or eat out. There is a separate line for each. Those doing take out give their order to the man and pay him and he offers a receipt. About 15 minutes later, I arrived at the window and watched the men assemble my fallafel.

I then walked to the Pompidou Centre (modern art museum). This magnificent building is built with the infrastructure on the outside (pipes, drains, heating, etc.) Beside the museum, there is a large concrete area about the same size as the museum’s footprint. Artists and musicians were working with their talent, some for selling and others just for entertainment.

Across the street is a modern art park named for Stravinsky. The sculptures are in a water fountain and most are in motion. There was a group of school children visiting the Stravinsky Fountain and drawing their favorite sculpture. One man was creating a large picture with chalk. It pained me to think that it would disappear with the next rain.

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This day was the special day in June in Paris which is a 24 hour music festival. So as I walked along this day, I saw many musicians on the streets and in the metro tunnels and on the metro cars offering entertainment.

 

I left for a grocery about 7:30 and bought picnic supplies. I took my dinner down to the Seine. When I was here in 2013, this particular area had a highway that came down close to the river. However, that road has been eliminated and they have turned this area into a wonderful pedestrian playground. There were now several 50 ft. pontoons that were turned into green spaces with trees and various flowers and plants. Back on the river bank are many areas for families to play – skateboard park, playground, wall climbing, assorted games.

As I left this area, I directed myself past The American Church in Paris, where I planned to go the next morning. I then made it over to the Eiffel Tower to be there for the 10:00 lighting of the sparkling lights. I met some folks from Minnesota and South Carolina while waiting on the lights and we took turns taking pictures of each other – remember daylight lasts until late in the evening here.IMG_1845.JPG

 

BLOG REPORT FOR THE LAST FIVE DAYS OF THIS TRIP WILL BE LINKED HERE ONCE IT IS PUBLISHED.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trip Report – Paris 2011

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Emirates Airlines

Day 1 – I traveled to Paris directly from Chennai, India and flew on Emirates Airlines. When I got on the plane, I was shocked. Very nice and spacious! Lots of head room once cubbies were closed. I had an aisle seat and no one beside me. Before the plane even got pushed out to the runway, the flight attendants were passing out hot towels and lime juice. Mind you, this is economy class. As soon as we were in the air, the breakfast menu came. There was such wonderful food and so much I could barely hold it. However, since it was a long double flight and I thought there was to be only one meal served, I ate everything on the plate.

I had a stopover at the Dubai airport on the way to Paris. I walked into the Dubai airport and noticed I wasn’t anywhere near any departure gates and mine was number 231. Yes, 2 hundred gates down the way. I stopped to check with one guy to make sure of my gate number because my boarding pass said 202 and the screen on the plane said 231. He said it was 231 and I asked if this was the way and pointed. We were dealing with a bit of a language barrier, but he was very helpful. He said, “Come, I will take you.” He had a cart full of people already sitting to the side with the front passenger seat still open. I hopped in and off we went. He stopped and said to go through customs here and then go upstairs. When I went up the escalator right behind customs, I was right at my gate. What service! The sign at the desk said, “gate open.” I thought it was strange that is was open so early, but went ahead and checked in. As soon as I did they directed me to a special quiet waiting room totally blocked off from everything else. Very nice!

I received more of the great Emirates service on this second flight. Hot towels came immediately upon boarding the plane (no dirty hands and faces on Emirates planes). Shortly after, came the menu. It had a list of breakfast and lunch options. I knew it was early, but figured we could choose according to what time it was for us. The girls next to me had already had 3 breakfasts that day. They were coming from Tokyo. I ordered a lunch and was told that lunch would come later, that I should choose a breakfast now. It was only 9:30, but I chose the deli plate (a breakfast option). Oh, SO MUCH FOOD! Later they came with snacks and later came lunch. I let them serve me lunch, but could only hold one small dessert.

As we got through immigration in Paris, I followed the crowd to what I assumed was customs. There were two tables with men unpacking people’s suitcases – undies and everything on the tables. I didn’t know what to think. I noticed everyone in front of me kept walking between the two tables and not saying anything to anyone so I did the same.

I got to the lobby of the airport and called my shuttle service and she said it would be there in 40 minutes. The shuttle was reserved, but I was to call when the plane landed. I got cash at the ATM and sat to wait. About 10 minutes early I went to where I was instructed to meet the shuttle – terminal 2C, exit 7. After waiting 80 minutes and making many calls to the shuttle company, I asked a man who was wrangling luggage carts to verify my terminal and exit number. I told him what was going on and he said to go in to the information desk and ask them to call the company. He said they would (in my words) grouch at them and tell them to get there NOW.

The man at the information desk called and said they would be there in two minutes. In just a few minutes, a man came from an unmarked gray van parked about a block away. The company is called the Yellow Van Shuttle Company – wrong color, no sign. He verified that I was his rider and I told him I had been told to wait at the exit 7 door. He said that he wasn’t allowed to go in that lane. However, several other van shuttles did and had stopped to ask if I was the passenger they were looking for. However, he finally got me to my hotel. IMG_4931

I checked into my hotel, Hotel Beaugency, and emailed home to tell everyone I had arrived safely. I then walked around the neighborhood. Restaurants in Paris are all required to post their menus outside. The first one I saw that said steak and fries, I stopped. I hadn’t had meat since leaving the states two weeks ago. I also got a free hat in the deal as they were advertising a new drink that night.

Day 2 – I had breakfast in the hotel, visiting with other U.S. tourists. One couple was from Oregon and the other from Texas.

I had scouted out how to walk to the Eiffel Tower (about 10 minutes away) with the little Google map man ahead of time so I knew the route like the back of my hand. However, that route was under construction for the big celebration stage for Bastille Day so I had to go cross country and feel my way along. I felt like Gene Kelly, walking in the rain in Paris. It was a cool, rainy morning, but I had been in VERY HOT India for two weeks so I tried to soak up as much cool as I could.

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My first picture of the Eiffel Tower
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View from the line under ET

I joined the line at the Eiffel Tower at 8:00. Ticket booth opens at 9:00.  The people in front of me were from South Dakota. He lived in New Delhi for a couple of years working so we discussed a little of India. When his wife went to the restroom and came back saying how clean it was, I asked if it was sitting or standing. He laughed and said, “You are back in civilization now.” After visiting all floors of the ET, including the café for hot chocolate and a pastry, and the souvenir shops, I headed toward the Orsay Museum. I arrived at noon and only had to stand in line an hour. It was well worth the wait.

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Musee d’Orsay

After seeing it all, I stopped outside at a crepe stand for lunch. I decided to head back toward the ET where the tour boats for dinner cruises are docked. I got to the boats about 3:30 and there was still room for me on this evening’s 6:00 cruise. The girl who sold me the tickets is from the U.S.

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The food on the cruise was quite delicious. By this time the sun was shining again and there was a nice cool breeze. I arrived back at the hotel about 8:45.

Day 3 – I woke this morning about 3:00 and never got back to sleep. My plan for today was to do the islands and the Latin Quarter. It would be a hard day but I wanted to try to get “everything” into this trip. I returned to my room after breakfast, deciding that I had definitely overdone it the day before. Today was Bastille Day, a holiday for everyone in Paris and it should be for me too. I returned to bed for a short nap and decided, when I awoke, to just take off walking at a slow pace and see where I ended up. It was at this time I decided that I couldn’t do everything in 6 days and that I would be coming back to Paris.

I first stopped at the fruit vender for my daily banana. Ohhhh, the French bananas! They are the most delicious I have ever tasted. I have decided that a banana is the perfect walking tourist food. You don’t need clean hands and it provides nourishment and water. I also refill my water bottle every morning and put it in my day bag.

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One of my favorite pictures of the Seine

I decided to take a different route than yesterday to the river specifically to check out a Basque restaurant that I had read about online. As I arrived at the river, there were many planes flying overhead with red, white, and blue stripes coming from them. The celebration and the parade had started.

As I approached the area of the parade, I saw that they had several army tanks and trucks lined up on George V Street for children to climb on and in. This was definitely a military celebration. 450There were large metal fences placed along the parade route and another line of fencing several feet in from that.440

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Notice the two rows of fences between the boy and the road

No one was getting on to that road until the parade was finished. I guess that means no parade candy in Paris.

Walking toward the Arc de Triumph after the parade was like being in a herd of cattle. I finally made it there and took some pictures.454

I then found a less busy street to walk back south across the Seine toward my restaurant. There were many holiday food venders out, cooking on the street. Many were making kabobs in huge skillets. It smelled so good but I had promised myself Basque food for lunch.

659As I walked into Chez L’ami Jean, the lady at the door and I tried to communicate. I asked in French if she spoke English. She said no, but she would find someone who did.

Very soon, a waiter came to my table. I asked him to tell me about the menu (since it was all in French). He shook his head and said, “No, it is not all on there. The chef has created a new menu just for the Fourth of July (I guess he thought I would compare Bastille Day to our holiday). It is 42 euros and it is two starters, a main dish, and two desserts.” That sounded right up my alley. Then he said, “Ok, I will bring you soup and then tuna. You like tuna?” I asked if it was cooked or raw and he said, “No, not cooked. I will bring you something else instead of tuna – I tell the chef to make you something different. Then I bring you a baby pig with vegetables.” I said ok, but thought a whole pig just for me???

470The soup came and it reminded me of Moto in Chicago. There were very tiny little bits of veggies and meat and when it came to me, they then added the broth. I think it was foie gras broth. It was very good. Before long, he brought the tuna, pretty raw. The waiter said the chef went ahead and made this but I can have it cooked more if you want. I said, “Oui, merci.” He talked to the chef. (Everything in the kitchen can be seen in the restaurant and it was obvious who was the boss.) He came back and said that the chef said it would not be good cooked a second time and he would make me another dish. I thought this meant something else, but I got another dish of tuna cooked more to my liking. It was also good. I then got another starter (that makes three). It was a flat bowl with rich beefy broth and an egg with solid white and soft yellow and lots of tiny mushrooms and what the waiter called “some, ah seafood.” Again, good, but by this time I was really getting full.

I had asked the waiter if they had their famous rice pudding today. They don’t make it every day and that was one of my main goals for coming here. He assured me they did.

Then came the main dish. One flat bowl with a large hunk of pork. Then came a turrine with three chunks as big as my fist and a few veggies. I ate, but not too much as I knew dessert was still coming. The waiter and two busboys kept asking if it was good and I said, “ Yes ,it was very good but just too much food to eat it all.”

At one point the chef walked across the restaurant and patted my arm and smiled as he passed.

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That is a serving spoon in the picture, not a teaspoon.

When dessert time came, the waiter brought me a huge bowl of pudding – the same size they were putting in front of families of four. With the pudding comes a dish of toasted nuts and largely grated coconut and another dish of almond flavored stuff  – all to garnish the pudding. Then he brought two more desserts before I had a chance to start on the pudding.

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Assorted desserts

I ate all I could hold and wanted to go on eating pudding the rest of the day, but could not possibly hold another bite. I told the plate removal guy that, but he smiled and I knew he didn’t understand. My waiter rushed over and said, “You told my colleague something and he doesn’t know what you said. Is there a problem?” I explained that, no, it was all great and I would like to go on eating pudding the rest of the day but couldn’t hold any more and that I was ready for the check.

We did the bill and I personally handed the waiter a quality tip. Gratuity is included with the cost of your meals in Paris, but this guy really went out of his way for me. As I left, I said my only regret was that I couldn’t eat it all. He said, “Yes, yes. Oh, and chef is outside; you must speak to him.” He went out with me and interrupted the chef’s conversation with someone. I said how good the food was, but there was so much. (I did not want him to be offended because of so many leftovers.) I commented specifically on how great the pudding was. He shook my hand, hugged me, and kissed me on both cheeks.

I said my goodbyes and went on down the sidewalk. Soon, one of the waiters was running down the street calling to me. He had my leftover pudding in a bag. The dish was about 6”x4”x3” and full to the brim with pudding and all the trimmings. Fortunately, I had a refrigerator in my room. I had eaten for two hours (well, some time between courses) and felt like I may never need to eat again.

After lunch I returned to my room to rest. There would be fireworks tonight, the only time of the year they are used in Paris. It doesn’t get dark until 10:30-11 and I wanted to for sure be back out for all of that. I napped for 4 hours, and was ready to go when I woke up at 9 to head out again. No supper needed that night.

I had checked ahead of time and found what I figured would be my best seat to see both the fireworks and the ET without having to get into the crowd at the base of the tower. I found my planned spot by the river empty when I arrived and was able to sit on a light pole base. Soon others arrived and the celebration continued.

Fireworks were over about midnight and I walked back to the hotel. The city was well lit and lots of people around so it didn’t feel uncomfortable at all to be out walking this late at night.

Day 4 – I had two great confidence victories today.

I took my first trip on the Metro. I had been told how it works, but nothing prepared me for something I had not seen before. However, once I entered the Metro tunnel, it was all as I had been told and very, very easy to maneuver. I had planned ahead and knew the colors and numbers I was looking for because I knew I would have to change trains on the route to the eastern part of the city. Everything worked perfectly and I came out of the Metro exactly where I wanted to. I felt like I could do anything now.

As I came out of the Metro, I was across the river from Notre Dame. I visited inside and out of the cathedral. Notre Dame is on the Isle de Cite.

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Notre Dame in the early morning mist

My next stop would be on the neighboring island, Isle St. Louis. If you are going to Paris, be sure to check out tomsguidetoparis.com. Tom has a tremendous amount of information on his site. Many links, like “strange and interesting walks,” take one to places that most tourists never find – at least on their first trip to Paris.

Tom says you are a wimp if you can’t walk all the way around Isle St. Louis. So I took that as a challenge and did just that. There are many buildings around the perimeter of the island that were build in the 15th century and plaques that tell the famous people who once lived there. It was so quiet and peaceful. 535531

Other popular spots on Isle St. Louis are the Berthillon ice cream factory and outlets. I intended to partake, but they weren’t open this early in the morning.

I decided to stop at the post office where I could get stamps to mail post cards. Once in the post office, I asked if the clerk spoke English and it was obvious she didn’t speak any. So I managed the entire purchase and finding out where to deposit the cards in French. Yeah me!

I followed Tom’s directions back across the river to the Latin Quarter and found the Rue de Bievre, a street that used to be a river until they put the river underground. The buildings there are said to have several layers of basements down as low as the bottom of the Seine. Within the next couple of blocks, I purchased the required Paris T-shirt and, of course, my Paris snowman Christmas ornament. I next visited St. Julien le Pauvre church. This church was built in 1165, almost 200 years before Notre Dame was open for business.

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St. Julien le Pauvre

There is a beautiful garden nearby and a pleasant place for a rest and a snack.

In the same area is the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, which is worth looking up online.562

The next big thing I wanted to see in this area was the Arene de Lutece, a genuine Roman Arena. As I started walking far away from where I had been, I wondered, does Tom really know what he is getting me into? Will there be any people there? Will I really want to be in that area? I decided that Tom wouldn’t have sent me there without warning if there were a problem and, if I felt challenged, all I had to do was turn around and go back the way I had come. However, it was easy to find and many others had found it also. There were people sitting and reading, family picnics, and children playing inside the arena. What a find! So much history here!

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I was getting tired so studied the map to find the short cut to Luxembourg gardens. I sat there and rested for a while and watched children playing with toy sail boats in the pond.610

 

 

 

 

Day 5 – Day five was a Saturday. I spent the morning walking around without a map and seeing where I ended up and finding my way back to the hotel feeling very confident and proud of myself. I also made one last visit to the Eiffel Tower.657

Then it was time for the most important thing on this trip – second only to the Eiffel Tower. On this day I was going to Giverny  – Monet’s home. I had reserved a mini van tour and there were only 3 other ladies on the trip (from Australia, Arizona, and Florida). It was a wonderful trip to Giverny. I did visit the home, but actually spent most of my time in the gardens and at the water lily pond.

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Day 6 – Time to head home. This was a dream come true and I couldn’t wait to go to Paris again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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