“What did you do in Paris over Christmas?” people ask. Well it sounds pathetic to say “not much, we just meandered” but that is what we did.
“The weather is bright and dry, so feeling very refreshed after our very good sleep, and hearty breakfast in the hotel, we wander through Paris, just enjoying being with each other and the city.
Michael remarks that without the traffic and the crowds you can really appreciate the beauty of the city and we find ourselves noticing things we knew, but had stopped taking notice of. As though we are looking at Paris with fresh eyes.
We wander down Boulevard St Michel, where about 20% of shops are open and through the quaint cobbled streets of the Latin quarter. Admiring the church of St Julien-le-Pauvre and I tell him this is the allegedly oldest church in Paris and a legend I had heard on a guided walk.
According to the legend, St. Julien The Poor mistakenly killed his parents. To atone for this sin, Julien built hospitals near a river where he and his wife cared for travellers and ferried them across. One of these travellers happened to be Jesus disguised as a leper, and forgiveness for Julien’s sin was granted. Fittingly, St. Julien is a patron saint of travellers and ferrymen.
As we get close to Notre dame, we can hear the melodic strains of “Silent Night” from what must be the best choir in the world. This adds to our sense of a magical Christmas we are sharing.
Everything around here is open as usual, shops selling tourist souvenirs, cafes and restaurants. So we notice anew the buttresses and the gargoyles and the intricate detail on the walls above the doors of the cathedral.
We get ripped off in a cafe opposite Notre dame, paying an extortionate sixteen euro for a small coffee and tea, ( we should know better!), before we continue over the bridge to stand for a while watching the skaters outside Hotel de Ville. Also appreciating the beauty of that wonderful building.
We catch the metro to the Champs Elysees, where I have the idea that we would be able to see the Christmas lights….in the sunshine! duh!
Still it is nice to stroll along. Most of the cafes and restaurants are open , the arcades and car showrooms.
You can say what you like about McDonalds. all for less than ten euro. you can get a good Viennese chocolate chaud and pastry for two.
I think McDonalds in Paris serves much better quality food than in the UK and people walk around with SALADS on their trays!
and ( most importantly) you can always find a toilet there when you want to!.
The Christmas markets at the end of the Champs Elysees are open and I sit for a while nursing my back while he goes off to buy gifts. He returns, pleased with himself because ( on top of everything else) he had bought me a picture. A view of Paris, from Tour Montparnasse. Why is he so attentive? is there something he is not telling me? and I get a niggle of concern.
We return to Note Dame for a wonderful uplifting organ concert at 1630h,
before heading back to the hotel and out to dinner at Chez Julien on Rue Foubourg St Dennis. This market street is in full swing, the butchers , greengrocers and supermarkets are all open, even at 1930 in the evening.
We realise that our panic reservation for somewhere for a Christmas day meal had been unecessary and we could have eaten at any of the local bistros, but decide to go anyway.
Chez Julien is a traditional Parisian Brasserie, founded in 1903. with the original pretty Art Nouveau interior.
The staff are also traditional and we got good attention but I mourn the closure of Le Relais d’Isle, my favourite family run restaurant, where I got exceptional food at a reasonable price. and which was the only restaurant in Paris I would ever consistently commented on.
Nevertheless we enjoyed the meal and here are some pictures.
My mushroom, egg and spinach stater
My fish main course. Michael had Chateubriand.
and of course the desserts!
One of those chocolate puddings that are gooey in the middle for me and a twist on caramelised apples for Michael.
Afterwards we finish the evening by wandering around Rue Mouffetard, which also is open and in full swing and finish up sitting on the steps where Gil was picked up in Midnight in Paris listening to a man playing a saxaphone.
Much better than sitting at home watching the 35th rerun of Morecambe and Wise!!
Glad you had a lovely time. I love that restaurant interior! Ouch on the prices, I remember once paying 8€ for a glass of Sprite in a café on the Ile de la Cité years ago and vowing never again to order without checking the price. At the time I was living in the north of France and you might pay 2€ at a café for a (bigger) can. That’s Paris I suppose!
Ok I will name and shame, it was Le tours de Notre Dame, directly across from the entrance to the climb up the towers of Notre Dame.
I never understand why tea is so expensive in Paris, after all it is just a cup of hot water and a tea bag! not even brewed properly in a poyt!. They also charge extra for milk if you want it “Anglaise”. we made up for the rip off at McDonalds. Who actually do a good cup of tea. At least they brew it properly buy putting boilingwater ON the teabag.
We should have known better though than to call in somewhere so obviously touristy.
The restaurant meal was 42 euro for aperitif, or (friuty cocktail in our case)three courses and wine (or soft drinks in our case) and I think my decafff coffee alonge was 2.50 euro, so not bad.
Oh Denise! How lovely it all sounds. Just wonderful!
Hi Happy, hope you had a good Christmas too…love to Maureen and the cat!
What a wonderful time you two had – just perfect in every way – nice to know that so many places were open on Christmas Day – I had thought that most would be closed! And, what a nice gift from Michael – I know you like the views from Montparnasse – now you’ll have to find a special place in your home for the picture!
Hi Sandy….yes finding a place for the picture will be difficult, I think it will replace the Eiffel Tower in my bedroom so It will be the first thing I see when I wake up.
England is totlally closed on Christmas day. It being illegal to trade, so there is no public transport and only the odd very small convenience store open. So Paris seemed very lively and open to me.
it sounds like the perfect Christmas holiday to me Denise, (except for the prices at the cafe near Notre Dame!). How lovely to get an extra gift as well, I’m so pleased that you had such a lovely time, just what you need after all the stress at work.
Hope you had a good Christmas Janet. See you soon. We MUST do the Lowry!
Yet again a brilliant and very interesting read.Pictures great so proud of you.
Syllvia.Hope you enjoyed your unconventional Christmas dinner! Thanks for the text. made me feel connected. Love to you all.
16 euros for coffee and tea?!?! I do find tea to be egregiously expensive here and really don’t understand why. Perhaps it’s a luxury item? But 16 is outrageous!
Okay, I’m just going to come and out say it. I love McDo here in Paris! I get so much heat for it but it really is good. I love their espresso drinks like the one that you just featured! I’m glad to know that I’m not alone. : ) Thanks Denise!
It looks like you two spent a lovely trip together. The city really is special when it’s quiet, isn’t it?
Happy New Year!!!
Hi Ella. Belated Merry Christmas to you. Glad I have found a fellow McDos fan. I never eat the food but for drinks you can’t beat it. If I am just getting a teabag and hot water I would rather pay 1euro 10c than extortionate prices! It is all the same. The special counter where they do more upmarket stuff seems fine. The tarr au citron was delicious.
The quietness is one reason I always have a January ip. I will be back in 12 days.
Again I will name and shame LE TOURS DE NOTRE DAME! Avoid.
Happy 2013 Denise!
You made me feel I was in Paris with your photos and description of the places.
What a lovely trip!
Thanks for your comments Sylvia.
I’ve enjoyed your Christmas report. Sounds like it all went well.
>> We get ripped off in a cafe opposite Notre dame, paying an extortionate sixteen euro for a small coffee and tea <<
LOL – I fell into the same trap myself at probably the same cafe. I felt the urge to sit and contemplate at the time, so I did not mind so much.
What a way to spend Christmas!
I think I sat at that same cafe you had your overpriced drinks. I paid 10 euro for a coffee and croissant. Even though I knew I would pay a premium, even I was shocked at how much it cost.
Hi Mez…..I clicked on the bog link. Are you setting up your own blog? That would be great. I am sure you have lots of tales to tell and I know you write well from your trip reports……have a go.
I just write for myself, not trying to win any Pulitzer prizes and have stumbled along the way, but it is nice to look back on.
I get plenty of hits from goodness knows who, so somebody finds my musings interesting!
We too knew it would be expensive and eight euro doesn’t sound that bad but when you double it, SIXTEEN EURO! is a lot of money especially for a tea bag and hot ,( not boiling as it should be mind) water…. we could have got a formula lunch for that! OR gone to Geaorge V. at least they give you chocolates and biscuits with the tea and as many top ups as you want, plus they are NICE!
To name and shame again it was the TOURS De Notre DAME on the corner!
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