"Paris" Paris by edwis
Paris Travel Guide: 22,200 reviews and 54,009 photos
And those who have not been to Paris – go!”
On the first trip there, we spent our whole time in the Left Bank, staying 2 blocks from the hip Latin Quarter, a district of shops, bistros, and great people watching, 3 blocks from Notre Dame, the Louvre, and about ten blocks from the gardens at Luxemburg Palace. Everything we saw and every place we went was fabulous. There were the world’s best pastry shops and bread shops down the street. Not only for morning enjoyment, but also even after work, locals would line up (15 deep) out the doors onto the sidewalk waiting to buy some fresh bread and desserts to take home. Our hotel gave us a little business card with a map on the back so we wouldn’t get too lost.
We went to a morning mass at an old time church across the street from our hotel; it was like the 1950’s. Old ladies with shawls over their heads, the mass was in Latin, and there was white linen put over communion rail. I noticed that about 1/3 of the people sat, 1/3 knelt on marble flooring, and another 1/3 stood the whole time. Couldn’t figure which group to follow and who was correct.
On one of our strolls, we came upon a little corner plaza where there was a string quartet of music students playing Vivaldi for coins. How perfect was that? We ate several times at outdoor sidewalk bistros. Many of the places have you sit almost shoulder to shoulder with other customers and we accept this as a true Parisian experience. As we sat one late afternoon outside at a bistro just across from the Seine, there was a loud and noisy commotion approaching along the main street. The waiters and several of us, left our tables and went over to the curb. We saw about 300 motorcycles were slowly parading by, all waving signs and flags to the cheering crowds, protesting something. When I asked our waiter what that was all about, he shrugged and said “just another ‘social movement’ about something or other”.
We went bold when leaving and took the subway (“the Metro”) to the airport when we left the Left Bank. After one missed exit point and then back tracking for one stop, we made the proper train connection, which goes directly out to Charles De Gaulle. En route, a local colorful character comes into the rail car aisle and plays an accordion and sings French love songs. The he passes the bucket in soliciting a nice collection of coins. I thought this was really a nice and special Parisian touch.
People were super nice everywhere. One special discovery for us was a little gourmet cuisine shop run by a lady who makes daily plate meals for the neighborhood residents. This wasn’t an ordinary take-out place; these were complete fancy multi-course meals. She spoke no English and us no French, but somehow we ended up with some nice evening meals. She set us up with French bread, along with some fancy French cheese (which we couldn’t pronounce), slices of cucumbers, raisins, nuts, and fresh tomato slices. Then she grilled / pressed it from both sides, and Voila! Then she presented a bottle of Vouvray (her special recommendation) and directed us to a lovely and romantic site along the Seine near Notre Dame for our evening meal. She even gave us two wine glasses and uncorked the bottle, so for under $14 a night we had a superb experience. She also told us of some other pretty settings to have our little picnics, like in the garden area behind Notre Dame, where the young local roller bladers put on their street acrobatic shows nightly to amuse themselves. Much of that happened because we were friendly, showed some appreciation for her food preparation and selections, and tried enough of her native words to make a successful communication. Whenever someone asks us if we found the French people rude, I think of her attention to make a special event for us, just because we luckily walked into her shop.
We hiked over to the Luxembourg Gardens, the green oasis on Paris fashionable left bank which we loved and made a special effort to visit it on every trip to Paris. These are such beautiful grounds and cover a very large area much like a Central Park in NYC. It is spread out around a pond with statues, fountains and flowers; the garden has many attractions for children (pony rides, merry-go-round, puppet shows). It is constantly animated by lovers, students and outdoor chess and tennis players. Amongst the eighty statues is a pint-sized Statue of Liberty. We found tennis courts, ping-pong tables, jogging paths, chess / card tables, a bandstand, and an open-air café. Within the park area is the stately Luxembourg Palace which was built in the 17th century.
We were entertained as we watched an outdoor “laugh therapy” exercise group on the lawn. They are doing hand holding dances, chanting, and clapping in circles moving about on the grass. “Ho Ho Ho, Ha Ha Ha,” clap, clap, clap, was the chanting. We were mesmerized by this group as were about 25 other people sitting and standing around. Here is where we found that the park toilets for men charged 15e to enter, but the dame’s toilets cost was 40e. What the hell was that about?
On our next trip to Paris, we get a little braver and stay in a new district away from the main tourist areas. We found a good bargain hotel right on the Rue Cler, which is a street market area, no cars allowed. Arriving at our hotel, we take the elevator up two floors. Actually only Joan and one bag of luggage actually fit into the elevator at the same time, so I took the stairs. I swear this elevator was the size of a telephone booth. We laughed it off as being quaint. Then we find the double room we had booked was what could be described as a very typical French hotel room – meaning quite small. If we both stood up at the same time, we probably couldn’t pass by each other. So we went back to the desk, and politely asked if there was any possibility of a larger room, we would even pay for the upgrade. The clerk quickly put us in a “triple room” which what was a nice double room should have been. It overlooked the Rue Cler and we were happy once again. When checked out, we noticed that the room change was never accounted for and the previously agreed to rate for the small double room was the final rate charged! He was a very nice clerk indeed.
At our hotel breakfast, when we ordered café latte, you got a cup of café and a little pitcher of hot milk.
Don’t believe all that rubbish about rude French people, we never did encounter that mannerism on any of our visits to France. My theory is that if you are a demanding, complaining, and boorish American, they react with the coldness and rudeness. It’s their country, and one should try to fit in, which has been our successful style. Now having a room overlooking the Rue Cler has many aspects to it. Very nice to look out and watch the people action going on, seeing the fresh flower markets and fish mongers; but on the other hand, at 0600, many delivery trucks and workers are beginning their day of activity on the Rue Cler, right outside your window. This area is like a real French village inside Paris, the main street of which being the animated Rue Cler with its fabulous bakeries, wine and cheese shops, typical cafés where you can sit outside, or restaurants like the very lively Café du Marché. We found several meals right on the street consisting of fresh bread, cheese, petite quiches, and wine. There were street corner musicians in the early evening adding a nice local touch. Many of the typical tourist sites are only about a 5 minute walk from there.
Being the tourist, we finally decided to go to the Eiffel Tower. We were feeling bold enough to try the Metro (underground) for the first time to accomplish this quick trip. We go below and are standing there for about 45 minutes with no train action of any sort, but there were a lot of other people around. There are several announcements going on in French, and then I notice an electronic sign that is flashing something about a “social movement disruption” occurring today and the metro system is being ‘delayed’. Of course, it is one of those ever-occurring strikes about some issue or other. We walk over to the tower grounds. Of course it is spectacular and the views from up on the observation floors are
During previous trips we focused on the Latin Quarter (5th) and Saint Germain (6th) sections of the Left Bank. This time we saw a different Paris, concentrating our efforts in the 4th, or Marais which is the historic old Jewish ghetto. This is the center of Parisian gay life and it is now overtaken by trendy boutiques, bistros and clustered here are the city's hottest bars along with many gay restaurants.
breathtaking and worthy of several camera shots. In the evening, all the twinkle lights are just beautiful.
Another great visit took us to the fantastic hilltop Sacre Coeur Basilica, which is the highest point in Paris. The interior of the church contains one of the world’s largest mosaics which depict Christ with outstretched arms. The Sacré-Coeur district offers many spectacular views of Paris. Its village like atmosphere of streets and squares, cafés and restaurants, and the painters on the Place du Tertre attract many tourists.
Here various artists sell paintings and sketches. From what we could tell, most of the artists today seem to be Eastern European immigrants, speaking with heavy Slavic accents and are occasionally unpleasantly persistent in their attempts to sell their work. Many of the artists will sketch or paint your portrait on the spot for a fee.
While strolling through the Montmartre section I noticed many of the locals were drinking a beer called “1664”, a French beer.
We walked over to discover the Place des Vosges, which is a one famous square block of a giant building containing art galleries, bistros, and apartments. Then in the middle of this giant building complex, is a park. This tree-lined romantic square is the oldest public square and one of the most handsome in Paris. The Place des Vosges has a brick and stone architecture unique.
The Hotel - Hospital
On our third visit to the greatest city in the world, it just kept getting better. Maybe we just acquired a better feel of how it all works. This time we take the RER-B train from CDG airport to the Notre Dame Metro stop, walk less than a ¼ block, and Voila!! There is our ‘Hospitel Hotel Dieu’. Founded in the 7th Century by the Bishop of Paris, it more recently was the old welfare hospital of Paris and is located right alone the Seine on the Notre Dame Island. Actually the hospital is right next to the famous Notre Dame!
- Pros:pain du chocolat
- Cons:can't live there full-time
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