Reflections on our Fall 2012 Trip to Paris
The Eiffel Tower as seen from place du Trocadero
Parisians are warm and helpful folks!
Au contraire’ you say?
Here are some examples:
On arrival day – after traveling for 12 hours and through many time zones – we are delivered sleepily to our apartment building on rue Magisson. The code to get in the main door works – but when we ring the apartment to get the cleaning woman to let us in the next door – no response! A tenant enters the building and lets us in the inner door which allows me to take the elevator up to the apartment to ring the bell and knock on the door – no response! Back in the lobby I leave Maggie with the luggage and start to look for a place with a phone to call the Untour representative. I notice a woman and her daughter coming down the street, stop them and somehow (despite the language barrier) convince the mother to call the cell phone number I provide her and Jennifer answers and says she will contact the apartment manager and then immediately calls back to the Parisian’s phone to say that the cleaning woman will return soon. Sure enough she arrives and we are soon in the apartment. The woman who provided the phone and help was smiling the whole time and it was evident that she and her daughter enjoyed helping these strange visitors to Paris!
My Paris Visite transportation pass stopped working part way through the first day of use. A most helpful station person listened to my explanation and without question and with a wonderful attitude replaced the balky pass immediately! Service exceptionale!
Despite or perhaps in response to our attempts to greet restaurant owners and servers in French they, of course, immediately knew we were English speaking tourists and proceeded to help us with the menu and make suggestions. Our last night the hostess of the charming L’Orangerie Restaurant on the Ile St Louis even told us about the history of the restaurant (owned for 40 years by the famous French new wave film actor/director Jean-Claude Brialy) and we marveled at the variety of film posters, pictures and memorabilia on the walls. She made our meal memorable!
Staying in an outlying Paris neighborhood has many advantages.
Well yes – we are a greater distance from all the main attractions – but we are also a good distance from crowds and noise and people who want to pick your pockets! We are experiencing the Paris that the residents know and love: the unhurried corner cafe where you can linger and people watch to your heart’s content, the fresh breakfast croissant’s and morning newspaper just around the corner from your apartment, the specialty food stores that dot the neighborhood, watching parents walking their children to and from the nearby elementary school, and enjoying an early evening walk exploring the store fronts, parks, and atmosphere of the neighborhood.
Our home in Paris was an apartment on the top floor at 4 rue Frederick Magission. A “real” Paris neighborhood with two bakeries, a newspaper store, a moderate sized grocery store, several specialty food markets, and an abundance of restaurants – plus an elementary school nearby, so the streets were filled with parents and children in the morning and afternoons.
Looking down rue Frederick Magission
Our Metro Stop was........
Parisians (and some Untourists) have all of the latest technology gadgets.
The use of IPhones – IPads – IPods as well as all the other communication devices were ever present during our two weeks in Paris. Never quite understood how someone could actually carry on a phone conversation on a Metro train, but they did. Most of the other people were busy texting or listening to their favorite music while riding the Metro or walking down the street. Watched a train conductor issue a ticket and give a credit card receipt all wirelessly from gadgets attached to his belt while the train was racing down the track to Vernon. Most restaurants employed wireless technology so that your credit card never left your sight at the table. We brought along our Kindle Fire and kept up with the weather forecast and email from the wireless system in our apartment, but another Untourist we met at orientation had an IPhone that gave him the world at his fingertips. I guess we will stay somewhere on the edges of modern technnology!
Be sure to ask about the Paris Walks at orientation:
Paris Walks has been around since 1994 and their itineraries are available at orientation or you can visit their web site at http://www.paris-walks.com/index_m.html. The cost is 12 Euros per person. Look over the listings and then just meet the guide at the designated Metro station.
Our guide (in the cap) was well informed and.....................
...........gave us a wonderful two hour tour of The Village of Montmartre...................
..............to discover the old winding streets, the vineyard, artists' studios (Renoir, Lautrec, Van Gogh) quiet gardens, historic cabarets, the old windmill, place-du-Tertre with its artists and portrait sketchers, ending up at the Sacré Coeur Basilica with its stunning view over the city of Paris.
The almost free bikes in Paris
If you are a bike rider you can use a bike almost for free:
Velib' bike stations (1200 of them) are located on public streets in many parts of Paris. After registering to use the system and paying a small fee, you can borrow a bicycle from any station and return it to any other station with a vacant bike holder.
The Velib' (veh-LEEB) system is meant to supplement other methods of public transport in Paris by making it easy for people to move around the city under their own power for short trips rather than by taking the Métro, city bus, taxi, or private car, or having to walk.
You have to pay 1 Euro for a day pass and 5 Euros for a week pass. If you keep your trips to less than 30 minutes and keep trading bikes you can cover a lot of territory.
Some favorite things to do:
#1 Giverny with Monet's studio, home, gardens and lilly pond..................
The garden path leads to Monet's home in the background
Beef Burgandy at a Cafe not far from the Musee Marmottan Monet
Saw this professional photographer near the Opera de Paris Garnier
Notre-Dame de Paris
Taken from inside the Rodin Mansion (Museum)
One of the many tombs in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery
Another view of the Cathedral Norte Dame
There are many of these artistic "water bottle filling stations" in Paris - this one in front of the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore
That famous tower
One of several memorials to the victims of the Nazi Concentration Camps - this one Auschwitz - in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery
Love-locks on the Pont de l'Archeveche bridge behind Notre Dame crossing to the Latin Quarter
Gargoyle on Notre Dame
#4 The Unusual
Hmmmmmmmmmmmm - I wonder what they are selling at this store in the Bon Marche??
These next three were from a store front display on the Ile St Louis
It was a wonderful trip - thank you Idyll/Untours for making these wonderful adventures a part of our lives!!