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Paris trip report.

Just got back from another Paris trip last night. Here is my TA report.

day one, Saturday 4th June.

We arrived to hot and sticky Paris and after dropping our bags in the apartment on rue de la Roquette near the Bastille we headed out in search of lunch.

Lizzie does not eat meat, so I have decided to explore the options for vegetarian food in Paris on this trip.

Couscous and vegetables, with mint tea was our first meal at Le Souk on rue Keller. Total cost for two was 36.60.

Lizzie wanted to visit Pere Lachaise cemetary. Last year my husband and I went to Pere Lachaise, on a cold and windy May day and I have said before that after about ten minutes we said to each other ” what are we doing looking at graves in a foreign language when we go to enough funerals at home?” we just didn’t get it.

Still, being the good friend I am (TIC)! I said I would give it another go. We caught the 69 bus to Gambetta.

It was a sunny day and we got a map from the flower shop across from the entrance on Ave de Pere Lachaise.

Lizzies words about Pere Lachaise ” It was a unique. It was like an encapsulated town with interesting side streets. At any moment it seemed that somebody should pop out of the tomb doorways and say hello”! Lizzie enjoyed it immensly.

It was interesting to seek out the tombs of Oscar Wilde ( interesting graffiti!) Edith Piaf, ( well kept and adorned by fans ) Jim Morrison (sadly neglected and vandalised) Proust and others.

We were surprised by the war and holacaust memorials and I was VERY upset by them, although I could appreciate the art of the sculptures. The cremation plaques were also interesting and artistic.

However, I still would not go back and feel that looking around memorials to dead people is not my idea of fun. Probably because I go to too many funerals and tend to too many graves at home.

In the evening we caught metro line 11 up to Pyranees and walked past the doorway where Edith Piaf is supposed to have been born left onto rue Piat and along to the Bute de Parc de Belleville, with it’s fantastic panorama of Paris.

We were hoping to find some music at the cafe bar across the road, but we were out of luck so we crossed the road again to Rue Envierges and had a lovely evening at the sing along cafe, Le Veiux Belleville, where the lovely lady plays an accordian and the patrons sing traditional French songs to song sheets. The finale being a loud rendition of “Je ne regret rien”.

Therewere no meat free dishes on the menu, so we asked for a vegetarion dish and the chef rustled up a tasty kind of pesto pasty, with goats cheese on top, salad and frites for 13.50 euro.

Just before 2300h we came out of the cafe in time to see the Eiffel tower start to twinkle in the distance. A magical moment, followed closely by a spectacular electrical storm in the sky to the west.

A ferocious thunder storm followed which cleared the air for a while.

Denise and Lizzie.

Love from Paris

Day two. Sunday 5th June

We awoke again to a hot and sticky day, although the morning was overcast.

After breakfast we set off for a rendezvous with TA member

nyc_girl7664 on Rue Monge, only to find the metro line one was closed till 1000h for maintenance and line 5 is closed for long term.

So we walked over the river to Rue Monge, and spent a lovely hour chatting to the charming and lovely nyc_girl7664.

We then had planned to follow a Literary walk we had found in the Guardian newspaper, starting with 71 rue Cardinal Lemoine where James Joyce finised editing Ulysses. then as follows.

74 Rue Cardinal Lemoine, Hemingway lived there form 1922-23

39 rue Descartes. Hemingway worked in a garret and poet Paul Verlaine died in 1896.

Rue Mouffetard and Place des Contrascarpe

Cafe des Amateurs (now renamed as Cafe Delmas) desribed by Hemingway as a “cesspool” in A Moveable Feast.

Of course I had to stop for Amorina on rue Muffetard!

Rue Pot de Feu. full of cafes, George Orwell worked as a pot washer at number 6 in Down and Out in Paris and London.

Rue Tournefort, where most of Balzacs novel Pere Goriot is set…

Then we did a detour from the walking tour, to spend an hour at the bottom of rue Mouffetard, Singing and dancing with the locals, as they do every Sunday around midday. Great time was had!

Next we visited the beautiful Jardins des Plantes and Mosque de Paris nearbye for more refreshing mint tea. The sun was now shining and the temperature was rising. It was pleasant and relaxing to sit in the shade of the Mosque garden under the trees.

We caught a bus along rue Monge back to Cardinal Lemoine to a vegetarian restaurant we had noticed, only to find it closed! So we ate a very acceptable vegetarian platter of Hummous, tabauleh, samosa,some sort of lentil and green beans with pitta at LE CEDAR, 6 rue Mouffetard.

The church of St Etienne de Mont was our next stop with its lovely staircases and windows and then on to the Pantheon, where Lizzie found more dead people to visit!

I went to a cafe and read my book!

It is always the unexpected that I love in Paris. Passing the Luxembourg gardens, we heard music and we were treated to a fantastic big band concert from the bandstand for about an hour.

The Park was beautiful in the sunshine with the flowers out and the children sailing boats on the lake, people relaxing chairs , reading and chattintg.

The air was getting heavy and it seemed like it may rain, so we hurried to the UGC Danton cinema near the Odeon metro as I wanted to see “Midnight in Paris” the new Woody Allen film.

For anyone who loves Paris, the locations are entertaining enough but I don’t have the words to describe how clever I thought the film was, with its cynical but gentle fun making of Americans and Parisophiles. (including myself)

We both loved the film and would see it again, but talking to two American ladies later at the cafe des Flores ( more of the literary walk!) we realised that they just did not “get” the film as we did and just thought it was “funny”, not really a word I would use to describe the film. . I suppose everyone sees different things in a film.

Dinner was nearby at L’ INSULAR on rue Gregoire de Tours. Avocado salad starter and Onion tart was provided, again off the menu, on request for a vegetarian option, by the proprietor.

Another fantastic thunderstorm, which temporarily flooded the street and kept us in the cafe talking to our interesting neighbours from Florida till after midnight.

Ahh …..But as he keeps saying in the film….Paris is beautiful in the rain!

Denise and Lizzie

Love from Paris

Day 3. Tuesday 6th June.

The beginning of June seems a good time to visit Paris. I have been struck by how uncrowded Paris is and the weather is pleasant.

Today at the Eiffel tower around 1400h the queue was probably less than 15 minutes ( Lizzies description is ,” less than the toilets at a cinema!”)

We had a late start as stated earlier , the weather was overcast and damp so we took the leisurely 69 bus to Champs de Mars. Passing the Louvre, St Germain and Musee d’Orsay.

Lunch was a grilled cheese and tomato baguette, bought from a sandwich shop near the bus stop on rue Desaix. The pleasant and kind man also supplied us with large cups of coffee. We strolled the Champs de Mars and the Trocedero. I think the view of the ET is much better from there.

We had planned to take a free Discovery walk today, here is the website

http://www.discoverwalks.com/paris/

but unfortunately the day has been frustrated by the fact that our door jammed this morning when we went out and we knew we could not unlock it . So I contacted centreparis who sent a technician to fix the problem. We then had to go all the way back to our apartment to make sure we could open the door. So any other plans were interupted.

We were late going up to Montmatre but managed to salvage some of the day. Unfortunately we were too late for the Dali museum. So we browsed around Montmatre, having fun spotting Grecos faces in the walls and the space invaders. I also spotted some new street art that I had not seen before. I wondered which Greco face belongs to TA member Ouiparis?

We had hot chocolate on the the terrace of Le Relais de Butte on rue Garret overlooking the city, listened to buskers and wandered up the hill to place de Tertre and Sacre Coeur doing the tourist thing at looking at art , shops. and the wonderful view.

I had booked a restaurant but when we looked at the menu, we did not fancy the place, so we went to Au Clariron des Chasseurs at 3 place de Tertre as I had heard it had good gypsy jazz music.

The gypsy jazz was excellent, played by what what we guessed was very talented father and son, but shame about the service and food!

The surly waiter, rudely refused to give us anything off the menu, even when we asked for simple egg and chips, which were on the menu, but in separate dishes, he refused. We finally had an omelette and a croque madame, which was not good. I had to ask three times for a carafe d’eau, again he refused and said I could only have a glass of water. The price of drinks was exorbitant , 8 50 euro for a small beer, so we reluctantly left the wonderful musicians and gave them a good tip.

We managed to reach the Arche de Triomphe at sunset and Lizzie was wowed by the lights on the Champs Elysees and the sparkling Eiffel Tower, The we metroed to the Louvre to see the pyramid lit up, but were disappointed. Can anyone tell me why the lights on the pyramid are dimmed this year? I thought in January the lights were off for maintenance, but six months later?? how long does it take to change a light bulb?

So not a good day on the vegetarian front. Thanks for the recommendation for Maceo, deadtired, we will try to check that out…….deadtired is the right word. Need my sleep now , tomorrow we plan a day out to Provins.

Sojoh and Phylis, I will PM you the full literary walk when I have the time

Denise and Lizzie

Love from Paris

Day 4. Tuesday 6th June Day to PROVINS

Me and trains do not get on…. there is always some mix up!

I had my instructions, thanks to visitingfromUS and sunshine.

!. Train to Provins from Gare d’Est at 0945h 10.45h etc. around platform 19-24……OK

2. Use mobilis day pass…….actually used Paris visite zone 1-6…..OK

3. Provins is the terminal…..OK

BUT the train stopped for a while at Longueville, three stops from Provins, then started going BACK in the direction it had come towards Paris!!!

We were the only people left on the train, so thinking there was someting wrong we jumped off at the next stop, a sleepy village called St-Colombe-Septveilles.

Then we realised that the train does a little detour to Longueville, waits for a points change, goes back on itself, and joins another track to Provins!

We had another hour to wait for the next train, so we called in the nearest cafe, which probably hadn’t changed in thirty years. We had a coffee, studied seriously by the locals. Nobody spoke. It was like something out of a mysery film!

I used the (Turkish) toilets, while Lizzie paid the bill and when I returned, Lizzie, who talks to anybody! , had explained the situation to Madame and Monsieur and the stereotypical elderly French lady from the cafe, had offered to give us a lift in her car!

Much against my better judgement, I climbed in the strange French ladies car ( after all there were two of us and one of her) while she drive us down the road to the town of Provins. It was a rather hair raising journey, as she wanted to practise her English, but every time she talked she gesticulated with her hands and the steering went all over the place! but we DID arrive in one piece.

We thanked the lady profusely for this show of French kindness to strangers.

Wasn’t that really nice!!

So to Provins. A UNESCO heritage site. There is a Tourist centre just outside the gate where we got our information, a pass for four attractions, discounted to 5.50e with the Paris visite, and a ticket for the tourist train that ran around the town. for 4.50e.

Provins is a well preserved pretty medieval walled town, as you would imagine it to be, straight out of a film set. There are lots of cafes, all with discounted offers with the pass and we settled on La Fleur de Sel at 3 place de Chatel the main square.

We had a delicious and inexpensive lunch of Salad leaves, tomato, tuna, smoked salmon, slices of gallette and egg for me and a kind of omelette filled with a mixture of tomato onion and cheese for Lizzie, with salad. I also had pancakes with caramel sel beurre, yum, yum,! The service was very pleasant and I would recommend the place..

THEN suddenly, from being hot and sunny, the heavens opened and there started a torrential thunderstorm that lasted for about an hour and a half! All the customers in the cafe were trapped, nobody was going anywhere.

We finished the afternoon by visits to the Tithe barn, the Ceasar tower,and the museum. All very interesting and well worth it. Also we visited a exhibition of local art in a large mansion in the centre of town.

We caught the mini bus back to the station and dozed through the 80 minute journey back to Paris.

A great day trip, and would be great for children. There are various events through the summer. They were preparing for a festival on 18th 19th June.

A nice dinner at Au Relais du Massif Central 16 Rue Daval. One of our favourite haunts. A traditional, family run, unpretentious local cafe.

This was followed by a stroll down Bol Henry IV and along the Seine. Sadly the tango dancers on the Quai St Bernard have been sent away by the unpredictable weather .

We strolled through the Ile St Louis to Notre Dame as the lights in the city came on. The Eiffel tower was twinkling at 2200h. Then we caught the bus back home.

Already I am feeling sad that tomorrow is our last day.

Denise

Love from Paris

Wednesday 8th June 2011 L:ast day. (sadly)

Started early and dropped our cases off at the Consignes at Gare du Nord.

Our flight was not till 2200h, so we a had a full day.

On the way to the station I told Lizzie about my husbands experience with some failed pickpockets a couple of years ago, and blow me! as we changed metros, the very same thing happened to Lizzie.

As we boarded the metro train, a young girl stopped suddenly in front of Lizzie, and another one jostled her and pushed her . In annoyance, Lizzie pushed the girl back hard causing the girl to stumble. Lizzie realised afterwards that ,at that moment the girl had her hand in Lizzies bag and Lizzie must have pushed her hand away, when she pushed the girl.. There was also a young boy standing by.

I was following, and was suspicious of these three, not realising Lizzie had already been targeted and was trying to warn Lizzie with facial gestures.

The three got off at the next stop and got into the next carriage. At that point Lizzie realised that her bag had been unzipped and her wallet, which was at the bottom of the bag, pulled towards the top, but the girl must have lost hold of it when Lizzie pushed her back……..

All part of the Paris experience and a reminder to keep valuables where they are not easy to get at.. I always think that, though it is inconvenient, if I cannot get to my money easily then neither can a thief.

I wanted to do a self guided walking tour about the “female experience of the city” which was part of an Invisible Paris walks, app for iphone and ipad. My son had sent me several of theses walks as a christmas present.

…apple.com/us/…

Lizzie wanted to ride a velib.

So we combined the two and tried to do the tour by velib. Going backwards on the tour fromGare St Lazare to St Rita, a little church opposite the Moulin Rouge.

Lizzie now says that, “velib is the way to see Paris” and I agree, I have used the velib a lot in the past. Paris is so cycle friendly.

We cycled down to the Foyer de Madeline. A canteen like place underneath the Madeline church where you can get a reasonable three course meal for 7.50euros, and the 5euro yearly subscription.

This is not haute cuisine. The atmosphere is very canteen and you chose a starter out on the table, today I chose a potatoe salad. You sit with other people, but this can be interesting as everybody talks to each other.

The good ladies of the church came and serve you the main course, usually there are three meat or fish choices. Last visit we asked for vegetarian and they happily provided pasta and tomato sauce. Today there were lentils, buttered carrots and rice available so we chose that. For me this turned out to be the best meal of the trip. Dessert was raspberries and cream, yoghurt or a kind of chocolate pot. or fruit and cheese plate..

The coffee is served separately in a lounge, and two large cups of cafe “Anglais” ie. espresso in a large cup topped up with hot water, and a chocolate each, cost 1euro 40c!

Back on our velibs and we cycled down Rue Royale to the place de la Concorde. We WALKED our bikes across Place de la Concorde! ( we have no death wish!) then we cycled in the cycle lane along the river, I think it’s called Coers de la Reine and Cours Albert, to Place de Alma . We then spent an entertaining couple of hours in the Musee d’art Modern. de la Ville. Where there is a whole room of an impressive mural by Raoul Duffy, very much in a similar style to the Cagal ceiling in the Opera Garnier and the calmness of the Monets waterlilies .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mus%C3%A9e_d’Art_Moderne_de_la_Ville_de_Paris

There are also Piccassos, Matisse and my favourite. Suzanne Valadon. I love her paintings of real women, not influenced by any male fantasies.

This is one of my favourite art galleries in Paris, not just for the art but also for observing the people there. Smaller and more intimate than the Pompidou it is more suited to my limited attention span, it is less crowded… and it it’s free!

Sadly the time was approaching when we had to leave for the airport. So we sat with a last pot of tea and a tarte au citron on the terrace of the Palace de Tokyo overlooking the Eiffel tower.

Best bit for me was the cycling today and the sing along at Belleville.

…and Midnight in Paris, and the kindness of the old lady giving us a lift to Provins and…. and …

worst bit… The rude waiter at Place de Tertre.the frustration when the door jammed and we had to waste time going back to the apartment when it had been repaired.

Best bit for Lizzie was Pere Lachaise and the cycling and midnight in Paris

Worst bit…???

Lizzie has just sent a copy of a text she sent to her daughter this morning

“I am home now how r u? Had an enormously, brilliant time. Exceedingly busy for 2 middle aged ladies. I am not sure that a young pup would have kept up with us.”

Thanks to you all on TA for sharing this trip with us.

Denise and Lizzie

Love from England

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