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Paris in SeptemberAuthor: Barbara D. (More Trip Reviews by Barbara D.)
Date of Trip: September 2009
On September 3rd we drove to ATL in preparation for our transatlantic flight to Paris tomorrow. I chose to stay at Court Yard Marriott for 2 reasons; free parking when you stay Marriott points...The hotel was clean, friendly staff and comfortable rooms. The free Wi-Fi is also a great perk for Marriott customers.
Our flight was on time in ATL, but delayed leaving Charlotte, NC by almost an hour. The plane was a US Airways Boeing 770, and as with most coach seats, lots to be desired for leg room. The overnight flight was uneventful.
9/5/09 - Saturday Bon Jour from Paris....oh is this a grand place....we flew into Charles DeGaulle, had a private car pick up(was about 2x price of bus ride in, well worth the euros) and deliver us to our rented pied-a-terre.
The smell of the food, the bread, pastries; the beautiful architecture...aaahhh we are in Paris. After we met with the sup, got our keys, it was time to explore. Our flat was three blocks from Notre Dame and the Seine. We began our exploring with a river cruise aboard one of the many launch sites dotting the Seine River. The tour did a loop from the Ile de la Cite to beyond Notre Dame turned around and cruised past the Louvre, Place de la Concorde, Grand Palace to the Eiffel Tower and then went back to the starting point. We head back to the Latin Quarter for supper at a local brasserie.
The apartment inside window opens to a charming center courtyard and has a built in health program...78 stairs to get to the apartment ...no lift. The building was from the 1500s and on the bottom floor were restaurants with pleasant aromas wafting up in the evenings, charming.
9/6/09 – Sunday A little jet lagged, so I was awake before dawn…went down to purchase fresh bread, tomatoes & cheese for breakfast. The bread was so good, a white loaf encrusted with sesame seeds. The local market is in the same block, as is the bakery. I chose a soft white cheese from the Loire Valley and was wonderful tasting.
The temperature was 70's by day...50's at night, very pleasant. You sense an appreciation for this city from the people strolling along the streets or by the Seine.
Today was lovely we went to the Louvre early, it was free...yes free on the first Sunday of the month. The Louvre is huge; you enter through the glass pyramid in the center courtyard and go down an escalator to access the exhibits. Our main mission was the Italian painters and a glimpse of Mona Lisa. Along the way was masterpiece after masterpiece, sculpture and the building itself is just fabulous.
We walked thru the Jardin des Tulleries to Place de la Concorde (place where the guillotining of most of the aristocrats occurred during the French Terror) enjoying the flowers, people soaking up the afternoon sun and sailboat pond with children launching their rented sailboats.
We caught the Batobus at the Place de la Concorde (we bought the 5 day pass which is the best travel bargain in Paris) and hoped off at the Eiffel Tower. The line is frightful to ride to the top or to the middle of the tower. Queues of more that an hour…but if you get a ticket from the restaurant booth, there is no wait and the price is the same. Ate lunch at "54" which was good, a fixed price for 23€, road up to the next level and thoroughly enjoyed the view of Paris the tower provides.
Across the River Seine from the Eiffel Tower is Trocadero, another example of the quality of life Paris offers. Trocadero is a public area with a large fountain flanked by grassy hills for relaxing in the sun. At the street side of the square are steps leading to the the Musee national de la Marine (naval museum) on the left and the Musee de l'Homme (ethnology) on the right. We camped out there, enjoying ice cream and chocolate banana crepes from a street vendor, while waiting on the sun to set to watch the tower sparkle. What a show it does give, at dusk the lights to the tower come on and then at the top of every hour beginning at 9PM the flashing lights sparkle for 10 minutes....again fabulous.
We caught a taxi back (note the Batobus in the fall does not run late on weekends as the brochure states) to the Latin Quarter for supper...we feasted upon a Lebanese tasting menu....yum. A local restaurant found in the block of our flat.
9/7/09 - Monday Today Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, shopping and finding our spot to meet for our tour to Normandy on Wednesday, then tonight the Louvre after dark for pictures. The bakery is closed on Monday...so no bread for you. Well then dear hubby is fooling with his laptop...plugs in an adaptor....poof the power is gone. I call the sup & he is to correct.
So we head out, catch the Batobus, hop off at the Grand Palace and walk toward the famous Champs Elysees. At the opposite end of the Place de la Concorde is the Arc de Triomphe. Along the way are the many grand shops, cafes and hotels that dot the boulevard. We stop at LaDuree for macaroons and fill our eyes with the beautiful pastries for which France is famous. We make it to the Arch and brave the 285 steps to get reach top. What a view of Paris, the Louvre, the sycamore trees so neatly quaffed flanking the wide boulevard, the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur. We learn there is a lift after reaching the top, oh well I don't feel quite so bad that I ate the extra macaroon.
Our intended next stop was the Marais district and Place de Volgas. Along the way we stop at a bank to cash the 500€ bill I exchanged dollars for at the airport...well no local bank will cash. Seems there is a big problem with the counterfeiting of big bills. Finally we found a BBVA; which is our bank at home. The cashier reluctantly changed our bill into 10 - 50 Euro bills. So I have all my euros in useable form; Lesson learned; never allow any exchange to give you a bill larger than 100€.
So we head down the Seine after we have had an afternoon rest...people strolling, sitting at the rivers edge, with a bottle of wine enjoying the setting sun. As we cross the foot bridge over to the Louvre, it is evident the evening meals are shared with friends out of a local market sack. The common theme is wine, cheese, baguette and some times chips. Small groups dot the bridge, talking and laughing, this scene is repeated night after night. As we get to the right bank, a clarinet is softly playing, such a nice sound echoing thru the alcove leading into the courtyard at the Louvre. Crossing the yard toward the main courtyard where the pyramid is located the sound of a cello comes into earshot; such mellow tones that reverberate across the courtyard. In the distance a violin is also playing, these budding artists are practicing their craft in a perfect setting. This fills both of us with awe, such a perfect way to watch the day slip into the horizon. Surprisingly food prices are comparable to US pricing, where a great different existed was in the price of beverages in the restaurants. Beer and wine are 8 – 12 Euros per glass, sodas are also 8 – 10 euros…from 11 – 15 US dollars; ouch! A beer stein on Saturday evening was 14,50 Euro, about $21.00 US. Bargains are found in the markets, lovely red wine for 2,50 euro, 1 liter sodas 1,25 Euro. Cheeses are 1 – 2 Euros and reasonably priced fresh fruits and veggies straight from the farms.
9/8/09 We made it to the Places des Volges today, where the aristocrats spent their summers to escape the heat of the palace. Mind you at best it is 10 miles from the Grand Palace. The Volges is a square of three storey houses joined together surrounding a very pleasant park area with calming fountains, groomed trees and hedges. Every neighborhood passed have wonderful patisseries, bakeries and cafes.
We ate lunch today at Angelina on Rue Rivoli. The food was classic French cooking served in opulent setting. The tableware is crisp white porcelain with simple stamp of the shop name.
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