Holiday, Paris

10 Days in Paris – Part 2

Dear Readers-
A special treat, my friend, Stella, recently visited Paris. I’ve asked her to share with us her adventure. Here’s her post about days six through ten. 
-Sophia

Though the Fog
Though the Fog

Day 6
Wednesday, Jan 7th – We noticed a briskness about the Parisians as people went back to work in earnest. The Metros were a tad more crowded. We started our day at the Cluny .

[jump to part 3]

"Devisement du monde" 1298 travel guide compiled from Marco Polo's notes. Though beautiful, I'll take my Rick Steves's "Paris" in my purse.
“Devisement du monde” 1298 travel guide compiled from Marco Polo’s notes. Though beautiful, I’d rather take Rick Steves’ “Paris” in my purse.

We had a special treat with a special exhibit on travel in the middle ages. It was amazing to see the maps and guide books produced during this time. This museum houses the famous Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries. Less well known, but just as fascinating were the tapestries telling the story of St. Stephen. We, once again, rented the audio guide with info on the whole museum. I enjoyed hearing St. Stephen’s story, one I knew nothing about beforehand, as we viewed each of the twenty-three scenes. We then went to the

Details that are often too high up to see are brought down to viewing level
Details that are often too high up to see are brought down to viewing level

Monuments and Architecture Museum at the Tracadero. Here are housed reproduction of many famous French Monuments and the facades of notable buildings, and parts of the interiors of others. It’s quiet fascinating to see how they reproduced some of these large treasures of France. It is also a good way to see places that, because of limited time, are beyond your travel plans.

beautiful flower shops dot the city
beautiful flower shops dot the city

As the work day ended we headed to Rue Cler, a pedestrian shopping area. I noticed on the Metro the people were even more subdued than normal. There were no musicians playing and hardly any murmured conversations. Everyone seemed a little on edge. I chalked it up to the holidays being over and the grind of work weighing on everyone. We poked around in a few stores and enjoyed dinner at the busy, but tasty, Cafe du Marche.

We returned to the apartment and logged on to the WiFi. My phone exploded with messages. One was a news link. I opened it and called to Devlin as I turned on the TV. We watched the news: Paris, the focus of every news channel around the world. Just three-fourth of a mile from our apartment was the shooting at the Charlie Hebdo offices.
As I write this, weeks later, it still brings tears to my eyes – to see the reactions of the Parisians, their solemnity and their respect for those who lost their lives and their respect for the victim’s families and coworkers. And the way the people and the government came together. No calls for revenge. Just a sense that even if we don’t agree with what is being said everyone should have the right to free speech. A few days later we had a conversation with some mid-20s young men. They find America’s whole “political correctness” to be a joke and that the American people are being muzzled by social policies designed to stifle freedom of expression. It was interesting to see this view, albeit just by two men, of modern American society.

Day 7
Thursday Jan 8th – the Louvre – all day from the time it opened until it closed. We again

under the pyramid
under the pyramid

did a guided tour with a lively guide. We learned some interesting facts. At noon I found myself under the pyramid. I hadn’t realized the time until the announcement for the call for the national minute of silence came over the speakers. As soon as the minute started a hush fell over the museum. Not a shuffle, not a sniffle. Everyone stood respectful and still. At the end of the minute the crowd drew a breath, but quiet for a moment. Then, starting soft and slow, and rising to a rippling crescendo came applause. As if on cue the applause cut off, just the echo ringing down the halls and people started to move about again.
I would love to have a few more days in the Paris so I could spend more time at the Louvre.
We ate dinner tonight at home – fresh bread with melted farmers market cheese and a little soup. Perfect.

Day 8
Friday January 9th – a quiet morning. We went to the Jaquemart-Andre House . This

staircase at Jaquemart-Andre House
staircase at Jaquemart-Andre House

is unique among all the museums we visited unlike Fontainebleau or the Louvre, which were also homes; this is a house you can actually imagine people living in. Wife and husband, Nélie Jacquemart and Edouard André, were art lovers and they filled their home with wonderful pieces brought back from their travels, mostly to Italy. They even brought back a carved wooden ceiling for the smoking room. As a couple they made plans to turn the home over to the City of Paris as a permanent museum an act that Nelie followed through on several years after Edouard’s death. It is worth a few hours to visit their home. The professional audio tour provided enough information to be interesting and not so much as to overwhelm you.

Je Suis CharlieAs we walked the streets today we noticed many shops had put simple black placards in their windows with the words Je Suis Charlie printed in white. This is phrase being used all over the city, in the news, and on social media feeds. “I Am Charlie” with what I took to mean two ideas: a show of unity and sympathy for the victims and a warning that if we are not careful any one of us could end up with our freedom of speech being stifled. Chez Janou

For dinner tonight we had a special treat and went to Chez Janou at 2 Rue Roger Verlomme. Ah, delicious. A taste of Province. Each dish was so perfectly prepared. The servings were large, but the flavors so good we ate it all.

Day 9
Saturday January 10th – Another lazy morning. We left the house around noon and made our way to Saint-Sulpiece. Saint-Sulpiece is a beautiful, peaceful cathedral and I could see it as a place the faithful would come to worship each week. From there we made our way to Montmarte area. Sophia’s mom has some friends in southern France whose son, Nans (the ‘a’ is pronounced like in gnaw), had recently started working in Paris. And as you know friends of friends are like family so of course we met up with Nans and his friend Beniot. We started with drinks at a little café and visited for bit. Then we invited the young men to join us as we trekked up to Sacra-Cour. Of course, because of our late start, it was

Sacra-Cour
Sacra-Cour

getting dark by now and the day that had been predicted to be sunny and warm had turned cold and drizzly. Still, Sacra-Cour dazzled, shining white on the hill the rain making sparkles in the light. After a slow tour of the very crowed, but fairly hushed, cathedral we ordered a driver and went to the Champs-Élysées near the Arc de Triomphe. We made our way out of the drizzle and stopped for refreshments and talked about the day’s news, the shootings in the Jewish market and the further man hunt for the terrorists. A large black banner hung over the Arc de Triomphe proclaiming Je Suis Charlie.

Day 10
Sunday Jan 11 – Our last full day in Paris. All our plans went screwy, but it turned out to

Bastille
Bastille

be a pretty neat day. Once again we didn’t leave our apartment until late. This morning Devlin drawled around. We finally left the apartment walking down to the Bastille and the large outdoor market arriving there just before noon. We’d been told the market stayed open until one and figured we must have gotten the timing wrong. A sunny day – finally – so

Finally a sunny day there would have been lovely views from the top. Will have to go to Paris again.
Finally a sunny day. There would have been lovely views from the top. We will have to go to Paris again.

we headed to the Eiffel Tower getting their just before one, and it was closed! Also, the Metro’s were free. Something was up and I overheard a Parisian explain to another tourist that all monuments and museums would be closed for the afternoon because of the demonstration. I’d heard about Paris demonstrations and knew they could get a bit rowdy. Not wanting to face chaos Devlin and I headed back to the apartment. It took us two tries to get on the

Unity March
Unity March

Metro because they were so crowded with thousands of people pouring into the city. The Metro looked like the type you see in Japan where the people are packed in with no room to turn around or breath. Above ground, at our Metro stop, Saint James, the streets were getting full with people walking not just on the sidewalks,

France - Peaceful, Strong, Unified
France – Peaceful, Strong, Unified

but clear across the street. The cars went slow weaving between the crowds. We turned on the news (maybe we should have been checking it more often) and found out about the peaceful, Silent March of Unity. Back out into the city we went winding our way through the streets of Marais and enjoying the feeling of being part of the place. As requested it was a silent march with people walking along in small groups, voices subdued and everywhere you turned pins or placards saying “Je Suis Charlie”.

Quite a way to end our stay in Paris.

(Next post – tips, tricks, and links to artisan chocolate)

Holiday, Paris

10 Days in Paris – Part 1

Dear Readers-
A special treat, my friend, Stella, recently visited Paris. I’ve asked her to share with us her adventure.
-Sophia

Effiel Tower

Sophia – Thank you for letting me be a part of your blog. I’m so excited to be featured here. I took a page out of your book and planned out each day. (Sorry for giving you a hard time with all your lists and things.)

Oh – my – gosh! Can you believe, for Christmas, Devlin gave me, us, a TEN day trip to Paris?

[jump to part 2]

We left New Year’s Day at 8 p.m. British Air Business Class – oh yeah! Comfort. Lay flat seats and real glasses, plates, and silverware to eat with. Totally spoiled.

My main goals on this trip – aside from a wonderful time with Devlin and seeing all the typical sites in Paris – was to ride a Ferris wheel and a carousel, and try as many artisan chocolate places as I could find. All objectives were met.

Winter Weather and Wardrobe
As my Swedish friend says, “There is no bad weather, just bad apparel choices”.

I found the weather to be remarkably similar to Portland, Oregon. Cold (mid-30s to mid-40s) and damp. It’s the damp that gets to you so layers, baby, layers. And a good scarf or two. Everyone wears scarves. Men, women, children, dogs (okay, not the dogs but some did have little rain coats on).

Though I packed footwear for all occasions, my go to shoes each day were Teva de la vina low boot. They are warm, waterproof, and comfortable. I also appreciated the good tread on the slippery marble steps and uneven sidewalks. Whatever shoes you bring, make sure they are well broken in. You don’t want any surprise blisters.

Smartwool or REI wool socks – soft and warm, but not bulky, and they come in fun colors.

As I said layers. Start with a thin under layer of a lightweight thermal. For luxury get silk though Cuddle Duds long underwear from Kohl’s also work quite well.

Top it all with a good coat. Waterproof (or sprayed with water-repellent before leaving) is a bonus. Remember hat and gloves. Though much time will be spent indoors at museums, you will still be walking quite a bit outdoors and the metro stations are cold. Besides you can have a lot of fun with these accessories. I also found an umbrella to be useful.
One other item to pack that is often overlooked, but very useful to have – binoculars. These are especially handy in cathedrals to get a good view of the high up stained glass.

Where to stay

quiet street view from the apartment
quiet street view from the apartment

There are oodles of web sites listing all sorts of accommodation. I’ll let you search those out. Devlin rented an apartment through Paris Nice Homes . We stayed in the Saint-Paul apartment. Pascal, the manager was a huge help in getting us oriented that first day. I loved being located in the Marais area. There is a ton of shopping in this region, a delicious patisserie (on the corner of Rue Tiron and Rue Francois Miron), and a real feeling of being in a neighborhood.

The Itinerary
This is the plan that worked well for Devlin and me. Of course, being a romantic getaway we did have a few lazy mornings and a few special dinners out.

Day 2 – Our first full day in Paris was Saturday Jan 3rd. We started out the day slow and eventually made it out of doors and wandered over the patisserie I mentioned. Fun little happening: While waiting at a small table in a tiny room packed with small tables as Devlin to place our orders, I watched a French family, mom, dad, three teenage kids, animatedly discussing plans and looking at a map of Paris. The mom turns to me and in rapid, but beautiful French, asks for my help. I felt flattered that I looked Parisian enough to blend. But being that I’d been in the city less than 24 hours and knew no French, I wasn’t any help.

We spent this day wandering the Marais area, picking up food for our kitchen at the

Intersection in Le Marais
Intersection in Le Marais

farmer’s market, and getting a feel for being in a city where we couldn’t understand anything around us. We had a fun and beautiful and surprising day. Surprising because everything I’d heard about the French and especially Parisians being rude was so not true. In every shop we visited, of course we always started out with a few polite French phrases, the clerks were smiling and helpful. Well, except the jewelry store, but isn’t that the way in all upscale jewelry stores?

Day 3
Sunday Jan 4th – lazy morning
We wandered along Ile Saint Louis with a stop at a crepe place for lunch. Then headed over to Ile de la Cite with a stop to watch street performers before getting in line for Notre Dame.

Even flowers bloom in winter in Paris
Even flowers bloom in winter in Paris

Notre Dame was as grand and beautiful as we expected. What I didn’t expect was the noise and jumble. So many of the side chapels were filled with storage and displays lined so much of the edge of the isle that it took away from the Cathedral’s intended purpose to house the worship of God. It felt so much more like a commercial enterprise. On other days we visited more cathedrals and these were calmer and more what I expected to see and feel.
After the cathedral we stopped at the tourist kiosk on the corner of Rue du Cloitre Notre Dame and Rue d’Arcole. Here we bought a Museum Pass that once activated will be good for six days.

From there we wandered along the Left Bank and lost (not literally) ourselves in the twisty maze of streets.
Late afternoon found us on the Metro headed to Jardin des Tuilaries. We got off at the Concord Metro stop and wandered around this area a bit. At sunset we caught a ride on the Farris Wheel where the DSC01537young couple who shared our basket became engaged – so sweet. We tried not to watch but you couldn’t help seeing it out of the corner of your eyes.

ferris wheel

Le Loir
Le Loir

For dinner we sought out a little place around the corner from our apartment on Rue des Rosiers called Le Loir. It is a tiny place run by a husband and wife team with Monsieur up front at the bar and Madam doing the cooking. Amazing food with a North African flair. They didn’t speak any English, but we could make out the menu, written on a chalkboard. In fact, with my pronunciation being so bad Monsieur picked up the chalkboard and brought it to me so I could point to what I wanted. We all laughed about his action. [photo]

Day 4
Monday Jan 5th– (Today we activated our museum pass.) We were up early and to the

A portion of Fontainebleau
A portion of Fontainebleau

Paris-Gare de Lyon train station to head to Fontainebleau. It’s a sweet little town with one of the oldest castles in France. The Chateau’s amazing architecture ranged through several time periods. Using the very detailed audio guide we toured the castle. We ate a late lunch at Le Delice Imperial (I had the salmon crepe) before catching the train back to Paris.
We ended the day at Musee de l’Oragnerie viewing Monet’s Water Lilies.

We ate dinner that night at the much touted Les Philosphes. The food was good, but my Mama’s French Onion Soup is better. Just sayin’.

Holiday Lights
Holiday Lights

Day 5
Tuesday Jan 6th – This day marks the day of Epiphany and the formal end of the holiday season in France. For our first four days in Paris the doorways and streets were strung with lights, baubles, and garlands.
Today we headed back to Ile de la Cite. Our first stop was at Saint Chapelle . Don’t forget the binoculars, as the stained glass windows tower about 50 feet over your head. The ceiling is a soaring 139 feet high. We used the well-produced audio tour for this cathedral. It provided a brief history as well as explained the stories depicted in each window.
Next we stepped down into the Archaeological Crypt.lights 2 To reach this you go down a nondescript stairway near the street in front of Notre Dame. Below ground you will find remains of Roman baths and other ancient architecture that forms the foundation of Ile de la Cite.
Our final visit for the day was Musee d’Orsay. This is housed in an old train station with beautiful architectural decorations. We did a guided tour. Our guide was quite lively and funny.
We had dinner at Le Rivolux next door to our building. I had a salmon fettuccine and we shared a salad. Quite good, but a lot of cream and pasta. Good thing I’m walking so much.

Fredric Moreau
Fredric Moreau

This night we went to a concert featuring Fredric Moreau and the Orechestre Les Violons de France. Amazing!! If you are planning a trip to Paris check out his schedule and see if you can fit in one of his performances. We saw him at the Madeleine a catholic church built in the Greek Parthenon style. The Madeleine is a wonderful venue. Mr. Moreau also tours the U.S. so maybe you can hear him close to home.

garlands

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at Fontainebleau
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a wood floor at Fontainebleau
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the Seine
DSC01606
a ceiling at Fontainebleau
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hall at Fontainebleau
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Paris at sunset
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ceiling at Saint Chapelle
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floor at Saint Chapelle
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Roman Bath ruins at the Archaeological Crypt
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Sunset in Paris
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A little music on the Metro