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Laduree macarons - divine! - Paris

Laduree macarons - divine!

Macarons Dining & Drinking Review

Favorite thing: Ah, you MUST try macarons when in Paris! Not macaroons, those hard, coconut-ey confections in the US. These are to die for – crispy on the outside and chewy/light on the inside glued together with a gooey ganache - and they come in a super variety of flavors.

They are found at most patisseries but I recommend Pierre Hermé, Ladurée, Boulangerie Paul, and Gérard Mulot. I've also had wonderful macarons at the Ritz when I partook of Afternoon Tea there in 2003 and at a great little salon de the in the Passage Jouffroy called Le Valentin. I had some wonderful macarons in Chartres, too, at La Chocolaterie, billing itself as a Macaronnerie/Salon de The, which has a wide selection of macarons.

Click here for an excellent Pierre Hermé Chocolat Macaron recipé to make them on your own.

Fondest memory: Buying a singular small macaron from the Ladurée on the corner of rue de Seine & rue Jacob in St-Germain-des-Prés! My fave flavors are Rose, Caramel au Sel, Fleur d'Oranger & Pistache.

Cassis Violette was okay but had a confiture in the middle instead of the ganache. My least favorite macaron flavor would have to be Poivre de Java (black pepper) macarons from Ladurée - not terrible, not great, definitely edible but falls squarely into the "interesting" category.

In the 1st photo:
Clockwise from top - Pistache (pistachio), Poivre de Java (pepper), Cassis Violette (blackcurrant violet), Fleur d'Oranger (orange flower), Rose (rose), Caramel au Sel (salted caramel).

Photos: Feb 2006

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 22, 2011
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La Baguenaude - Paris

La Baguenaude

Cybercafé: La Baguenaude Internet Access Review

Favorite thing: This is my favorite internet café: it's great and inexpensive AND they serve coffee here. Couldn't get any better. Plus, the man & wife who own the place are super nice.

Contact info:
30, rue Grande-Truanderie, Paris 75001
Métro: Etienne Marcel (line 4)
RER: Châtelet les Halles, exit Porte Lescot

tél.: 01 40 26 27 74
fax : 01 40 26 27 47
email : info@labaguenaude.com
website: http:www.labaguenaude.com

Fondest memory: I've been here three times and am always amazed at the service. Keyboards can be set up for different languages including US QWERTY.

According to the owner, this is the only web café in Paris recommended by the Louvre!

Photos: February 2006 & November 2007

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 15, 2008
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Amélie's Café - Les Deux Moulins - Montmartre - Paris

Amélie's Café - Les Deux Moulins - Montmartre

Reservations Dining & Drinking Review

Favorite thing: People ask me why I get such great service in restaurants. I get seated in the nicer parts of the restaurants where the French people usually sit instead of being relegated to "Siberia" where the Americans sit. I suspect the reason for this is that I:
a) make every effort to speak French & I try to pronounce it as best I can; if I butcher a word or phrase I laugh about it & ask for help.
b) call ahead & make my own reservations. Several I've made from the US. Sometimes it's difficult to convey in French what I'm looking for over the phone; however, it's a lot easier to communicate with someone in person because you have the added nuances of hand gestures, body language & facial expressions. If after a few attempts I find I'm having difficulty then I politely ask if someone speaks English. Usually, there is someone who can speak English, then I communicate my needs.

BUT always use nice French phrases such as
Bonjour (hello)
Merci (thank you)
Au Revoir (good-bye)
De rien (you're welcome)

French people graciously & genuinely appreciate any attempts at speaking their language.
c) I think they remember someone calling from overseas to make a reservation & doing it a few weeks in advance. Maybe they feel that the restaurant must be important enough for one to make that much of an effort? Consequently, they usually remember me & recall our phone conversation.

For example, when I arrived at Bofinger I stated I had a reservation at 10pm & introduced myself. The maître d’ said something to the effect that at last we were able to meet and we both laughed!

Fondest memory: OK, you've decided to make transatlantic reservations; you'll want to practice a bit first. Speak clearly & slowly so they may understand you.
First you'll say:
"Bonjour, comment allez-vous?"
(Hello, how are you?; pronounced "kuh-mahn-tahl-ay voo")

"Je m'appelle ..."
(my name is ...; "zhuh mahpell ...)

"Je voudrais une réservation"
(I would like a reservation; "zhuh voo-dray ewn rez-airvay-shon"

"Pour... (Lundi, Mardi, Mercredi, Jeudi, Vendredi, Samedi, Dimanche)
(For...Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday; "pour...luhn-dee, mahr-dee, mair-kruh-dee, zhuh-dee, vawn-druh-dee, sahm-dee, dee-mahnsh)

Then give the date. The day first, month second. You can use the French vocabulary section of Fodor's Paris Gold Guide (near the back) for help with pronunciation on the months & days).

Then you can give the time:
(24-hour clock)
*vingt heures (8pm) (vehn urrh)
*vingt heures trente (8:30pm) (vehn urrh trahnt)
*vingt heures quarante-cinq (8:45pm) (vehn urrh ka-rahnt sank)

(12-hr clock)
*huit (wheet) heure et demi ("du soir" for in the evening) for 8:30pm

At this point I think you could then safely ask "Parlez-vous anglais?" if the conversation gets stuck!

Photo: April 2003

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 18, 2008
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Niagara Starring Marilyn Monroe & Joseph Cotton - Paris

Niagara Starring Marilyn Monroe & Joseph Cotton

Saving Money with Movie Passes Money Matters Review

Favorite thing: There are 2 passes that cover 2 theatre chains:
Le Pass - This is the movie pass for the Pathé/Gaumont theatre chain which costs about 20€/month.
http://www.cinelepass.fr/

UGC Illimité Pass - Covers all the UGC theaters which costs about 18€/month.
http://www.ugc.fr/typepage.do?alias=carteugcillimite

Since movies cost about 8.50€ each then the pass is paid for in 3 visits. Sweet deal!

I've heard that there is some buzz about the passes only being for Parisians. I wouldn't worry too much about it being only for the locals. How would the sales people know if you live there or not? I've heard similar murmurings about the coupon jaune, the weekly & monthly metro passes, but I've never had a problem purchasing them.

Fondest memory: If you're a real movie buff, take David Sedaris' advice like I did and take a bit of time to watch some films while in Paris!

Photos: February 2006

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 3, 2008
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Sorbonne - Quartier Latin - Paris

Sorbonne - Quartier Latin

Women's Safety in Paris Walking Review

Favorite thing: As a single female traveler to Paris I find that safety is an issue of paramount importance. You'll want to stay in an area where you'll feel safe. A few areas I'd stay away from include the Pigalle area near the Moulin Rouge (ok during the day but not safe to travel at night) and the rue St-Denis area from the 2nd up to the 9th. Reserve these night-time visits when you are with a male friend or a large group.

I have stayed in the 5th arrondissement at the Hôtel les Degrés de Nôtre Dame on the rue des Grands Degrés; although it was a very quiet area it felt very safe.

Also, I've stayed in the Marais/4th arrondissement. While I didn't think the area around the Grand Hôtel Jeanne d'Arc was loud, it was very lively around the Place du Marché Ste-Catherine & I loved hanging out there 'til 1am sometimes - not raucous or loud, just lively, full of people. I loved it. I would stay there again.

I've been to Paris 5 times for a total of 41 days and out of that I've traveled single 4 times for a total of 37 days. I tromp around Paris on my own even in Montmartre, Montparnasse, around and along Canal St-Martin, in the 9th, 10th and the 13th arrondissement (yes, even at night). The only time I've ever felt uncomfortable was walking from Barbés Rochechouart station to Anvers station (because it was practically deserted); not a smart move on my part.

Of course, as in any city it's always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings, constantly checking around you and not walk down deserted places . Walk with you back straight, head erect, walk briskly, walk in a way that would make someone think twice about making you a target. And stick to the main thoroughfares where lots of people travel.

Fondest memory: Trip before last I stayed in Montmartre for 8 days in youth hostel. Nobody bothered me. I'd get out at Anvers station and walk straight north. It was always crowded. Up around Sacré Coeur, west to Place du Tertre and east down rue Maurice Utrillo. Even up 'til 1am it was crowded with tourists (and this in the low season of February).

Many times I walked the Quartier Latin, the Île de la Cité, the Île St-Louis & the Marais by midnight. I always passed many couples and young groups of people on my way. The wonderful thing about thess areas is that I feel completely safe & comfortable as a single woman walking through it late at night. What immense freedom!

Photo: April 2003

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 2, 2008
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Hôtel Degrés de Notre Dame - bed & painting - Paris

Hôtel Degrés de Notre Dame - bed & painting

Tipping the Chambermaid Money Matters Review

Favorite thing: If you're worried about the tipping, please be advised that the rule of thumb for tipping the chambermaid is to leave 1€-2€/day at the hotel which may be given each day or as a lump sum at the end of the stay. Some feel that tipping each day ensures excellent service such as clean, fresh towels or extra shower gel & soap. I usually, though, just leave the sum at the end of the trip on my pillow or on the desk.

Even this trip, staying at a budget hotel that was only 41€/night, I made sure to leave 2€/day.

Photo: March 2001

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 23, 2008
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Free Toilets in Paris now! - Paris

Free Toilets in Paris now!

Restrooms on the go! Walking Review

Favorite thing: Always use every opportunity to use the available bathrooms in Paris - you never know where your next chance may come. Too many times I'd stop at a little cafe for a cup of cafe with the intent of using the ladies' when I was finished and then would pay the bill and leave. I wasted more money that way! That's why I carry a list of McDonald's in Paris - they provide clean, free, available facilities.

Please note there are restrooms by the Charlemagne statue on the Place du Parvis Nôtre Dame and also in the Jardin du Luxembourg near the Médici fountain (on the east side of the garden). You'll pay a small fee to the attendant for use of the toilette.

Also, there are sanisettes throughout the city. These are self-cleaning and very sanitary. Please be advised that once you open the door to leave, the sanisette will start to clean itself so you'll need to move quickly or otherwise risk being sprayed with a ton of water! SANISETTES ARE NOW FREE IN PARIS! Please see website below for locations throughout the city.
I saw them at:
149 Bd St-Germain (near St-Germain)
Place de la Bourse
Rue de Belleville

The other alternative is to go into a nearby bar (there's always one somewhere on the block!). Use the facilities (usually downstairs in le cave), buy a drink then move on.

One time I tried using the outdoor facilities that were by Sacré-Cœur but the doors on every one of them were jammed from vandalism. Oy vey!

Fondest memory: But the best places to use les toilettes are inside the Ritzy (pun intended) hotels as they are super nice. The one in the Ritz has wooden tray on the table with perfume and other toiletries items a woman might need.

We have a joke in our household where we call toilet paper, papier de toilette. I noticed the sign on the inside of a sanisette that calls it Papier Hygiénique so (you know me) I had to take a photo! I guess we'll be calling it that instead from now on. ;)

Photos: Feb 2006 & Nov 2007

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 20, 2008
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Rue de Maubeuge - next to Gare du Nord - Paris

Rue de Maubeuge - next to Gare du Nord

Surprises around every Corner Architecture Review

Favorite thing: One of the great things about Paris are the unexpected vistas you'll come across during your walks around Paris. Keep your eyes peeled!

In the 1st photo, I saw this beautiful old archway looking up Rue de Maubeuge from Rue de Dunkerque; it sits next to Gare du Nord. Fantastique!

In the 2nd photo, the gold dome of Les Invalides was peeking through the buildings as I was making my way down Place Jean-Baptiste Clément towards rue Gabrielle (November 2007).

In the 3rd photo, I unexpectedly glimpsed a full-on view of Sacré-Coeur as I made my way up the cobblestoned street of rue Briquet on my way to the youth hostel, Le Village, February 2006.

Fondest memory: I was walking from Gare du Nord to my hotel in Montmartre, just a 20-minute trip when I spied this. Had to take a photo of it to remember it.

Photos: February 2006 & November 2007

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 14, 2008
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Metro Lamarck-Caulaincourt - Paris

Metro Lamarck-Caulaincourt

Lilacs in Montmartre Shopping Review

Favorite thing: When in Paris I strongly suggest buying a bunch of lilacs or whatever flowers you like from a street flower vendor. It's very inexpensive & it just seems so Parisian!

Fondest memory: I was going back to the hotel after my all-day jaunt in Montmartre and was passing into Métro Lamarck-Caulaincourt (the same station in Amélie where she dropped off the blind man). It was the end of the day & he was hawking his lilac bunches. He looked tired, I took pity & bought a bunch. I'm so glad I did because when I returned to the hotel, borrowed a vase & placed them on the table that wonderful lilac scent filled the room & brought me so much joy. It just seemed so French!

Photo: November 2007

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Dec 2, 2007
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Music to Transport You to Paris! Books & Guides Review

Favorite thing: Just wanted to share with you some of the things that la Beatchick is listening to now, the music that transports her to Paris and keeps her momentarily sated until she can get back to the fair City of Light!

When I bought my plane ticket for the 2006 trip to Paris I was going nuts, so I bought myself some CDs. They were a huge salve; perhaps they will be for you, too!

Amélie soundtrack - music by Yann Tiersen
Not only will this transport you to Paris but will also place you inside the movie.

Before Sunset and Before Sunrise - Music from the Motion Pictures
Not only are the beautiful, haunting songs of "Céline" (Julie Delpy) here but also music that evokes the places: Paris & Vienna. You'll hear an eclectic mix of classical, rock, jazz & folk.

Julie Delpy
Naturellement, once you've gotten a taste of mademoiselle Delpy's singing on the above soundtrack you'll want to hear more!

French Kiss - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Who could forget the great soundtrack to this great, feel-fuzzy, sweet-as-a-macaron movie? Old great French classics mixed with blues (Louis Armstrong) and even Kevin Kline singing La Mer!

Nina Simone - At the Village Gate
I've wanted to get Nina's music since I saw Point of No Return (Luc Besson's American version of his Nikita) and of course that desire was sharpened when I saw Before Sunset. Sigh - at long last!

Fondest memory: And then there are the 3 great CDs that my lovely friend Jim from Seattle gave to me for Valentine's Day:
Paris Combo - Living-Room
Malcolm McLaren's Paris
Who could forget the cool, jazzy melodies about Miles Davis (I wore black, you were black) or his anthem to Paris (Jazz is Paris & Paris is Jazz!). Hard to believe he used to manage the SexPistols! He makes a few references to Paris fashion, an obvious nod to his connection with Vivienne Westwood who he used to co-own the Sex shop with in London.
And this great combination Paris CD from Starbuck's that is just too faboo (but I've forgotten the name of it for the moment - oops)!

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated May 20, 2006
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