Days 1-3 Paris Untour 2014
Well we have recovered and are back to the usual days, and it is getting much colder out, so I finally have time to do a report about our trip to Paris. It's a big city! I had no time, or inclination, to blog after each day as I have done in the past, but I did make notes and took 674 pictures and a few movies, so here goes:
We arrived at CDG at 6 AM, due to a schedule change by our airline. It made our arrival inconvenient, as Untours checkout time is 9 AM. Thank goodness it wasn't raining or cold, because we ended up having to wait until 10:30 AM to park our suitcases in the apartment and waited till 12:30 for it to be cleaned. This meant that from 8-10:30, we sat in Republique square, with suitcases (because I mean, who wants to haul cases around after you on a cobblestone walk anyway?? And many places on the main square were not even open!) We felt this was poor planning on the part of Untours and the rep, there just has to be something else other than put you in a car with instruction to find a cafe somewhere! If we were less mobile or older, or if the weather had been bad, this could have been a real problem. As it was, the flavor of our first days was definitely off.
At 12:30, grateful for a place to put ourselves and feeling quite grumpy, we finally got into our apartment, Beranger. We met the landlady's mother, and despite our lame French and no English on her part, we understood the instructions about the keys and internet. It was a charming place, quite large for city standards, and we enjoyed all of it. The balconies were especially nice. And we enjoyed the Nespresso machine, which we immediately used to perk our tired, bedraggled selves up. Since we were without luggage and totes, we went for a nicer walk around the neighborhood, discovering the monoprix not far away, and the Marche L'Enfant Rouge very close too, as well as a delightful patisserie. We settled for a soup and salad meal and an early night.
Day 2, Thursday October 2, 2014
Today was our afternoon meeting with Untours rep Jane and the other Untourists here in Paris, at a restaurant called Le Navigator across the Seine from us. We wandered the neighborhood some more, finding a famous caramel shop (Jacques Genin) and then decided to see if we could walk to the Left Bank from our apartment. This turned out to be no problem for us at all, it is a lengthy walk, but so many interesting things to see along the way. We walked through Place de Vosges, a beautiful square full of lovely shops and hotels. The gardens were still stunning, even this time of year. We walked past Hotel de Ville, which would become quite familiar to us over the next two weeks. And then we crossed the Seine for our first sight of magnificent Notre Dame in all her glory. It is quite stunning, one of those things you see pictures of, but never dream to see for yourself. After strolling this area, we became a little lost, but righted ourselves in time to meet at the appointed hour at Le Navigator. Our orientation was short, and we soon were back out strolling back toward Notre Dame to while away an hour or two until supper. Pont St. Michel was busy and thronged with tourists, but once off the main drags, we could stroll along and enjoy the sights and windows. The food was beginning to look good, and it was time to go back to the restaurant for our Untours meal. The staff there were so friendly and proud of their place, and their food. And the food was delightful. We both had duck in two different ways, and wonderful apple tart for dessert. We enjoyed meeting the rest of the Untourists again and talked and laughed over much wine and coffee. We made our way back to the apartment with no problem using the bus so we could see some of the lovely evening.
Day 3, Friday October 3, 2014
It was a beautiful day again, and we decided to take advantage of it and walk down toward Bastille. Along the way, we happened upon the Richard Lenoir market, a huge market close to Place de Vosges. It was wonderful, the most perfect fish and seafood, bread of every kind, cheeses stacked up, flowers everywhere, herbs, locals shopping, scarves, overwhelming!! Everything was beautifully arranged and smelled and looked wonderful. We continued along our way to Pere Le Chaise cemetery. We actually had no problem locating the famous (and not-so famous) people who are buried here. I had pages from a Rick Steves guidebook and used his map and guide. It was rather warm so we decided to not do it all, but still we were impressed with how quiet and peaceful it was there. The war memorials are sobering, and some of the stones were pure art. It was unlike other cemeteries in that it is pretty crowded, but still a beautiful place. Good restrooms too!. Our next place to visit was a quite noted guitar maker (my husband is a luthier too) called Dupont. We found his shop easily and Rhea spent a while talking to the nice young man there and looking and playing the beautiful guitars. He had a number that were hard to resist!
After a coffee and a rest, we decided to take the bus 69 up toward the Louvre and walk around that area. We were mainly riding buses because, never having been to Paris, we felt it would be more fun and slightly less disorienting to see where we were going and had been. We walked and walked, and ended up again in the area of Notre Dame, seeing the beautiful flower markets, St. Chapelle from the outside, watching street performers, and admiring the Art Nouveau ironwork at the metro stops. We decided to go back toward the Marais and find L' As de Falafel (the Ace of Falafel) that I had read about, on Rue Rosiers. That was the best falafel sandwich I have ever had! We ended up eating lunch or a late lunch here three times, and only once did we get anything different. If you are in the area, you must try it!