I have been home a week and am finally recovering from my trip. I am surprised to find that I don't have PPD-yet. After my last trip there, I had a severe case and started planning my return trip the day I returned. Paris lovers know what I mean.
I could tell you every detail from every day, but I'd be sitting here all night and you'd wish I'd shut up, so I will try to hit the high spots. Forgive me, though, if I ramble on.
I got so much useful information from this site- thanks to all of you who have been posting for the past year. Last week was the first week in a year that I have not logged on to TA every day, multiple times per day.
Books that I found invaluable were: Walking Paris, 2nd ed., Gilles Desmon; The Unofficial Guide to Paris, David Applefield; Paris, Knopf Guide; The Louvre, Knopf Guide; Walks in Hemingway's Paris, Noel Fitch; Paris, The Green Guide, Michelin; Permanent Parisians, Culbertson & Randall; We All Went to Paris: Americans in the City of Light 1776-1971, Stephen Longstreet; Paris, DK guide (great maps); Insider's Paris: An Intimate Tour, Debachey & Baudot; and yes, even Rick Steve's Paris guide. The absolute best map, especially if you are looking for shops not on the main thoroughfares, is The Paris Mapguide: The Essental Guide to La Vie Parisienne, Michael Middleditch. All are available at Barnes & Noble. And of course, A Movable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. ( I'm extremely into history!)
There were so many websites I consulted, I can't begin to remember them all. Colleen's Paris is excellent, as is a site by a gentleman named Tom. Sorry- I have these bookmarked at work, not here at home. I promise to post them Monday.
If you are planning a day trip to Normandy, please consider a private guide. It is worth every euro. We used Nigel Stewart, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel./Fax 0033 (0) 231 23 98 21. He took us down roads that no bus could go and he tailored the tour to our requests (82nd Airborne, 508th). I will definitely use him on our next trip. He also does tours to/of Mont St. Michel, Giverny, Rouen, Honfleur, Bayeux, Deauville, and the pays d'auge. The day we spent with him was definitely a highlight of our trip. Tell him Pat and Paul sent you.
The weather was beautiful our entire trip. It rained briefly a few times, but who cared, we were in Paris! I think September is definitely the best time to visit.
We stayed at the Relais Bosquet on Rue du Champs de Mar, between Rue Cler and Av. Bosquet. Great hotel- the bathroom was huge by Paris standards and from our bed I had a very nice view of the Eiffel Tower. Free internet, ice machine (thank God- I'm a Diet Pepsi addict), helpful desk staff, huge bath towels, free snacks in room, coffemaker, refrigerator,etc.. Ecole Militaire metro around the corner, dry cleaner 2 doors down, Franprix around the corner, laundromat 1 street down, and a boulangerie/patisserie on the corner. Rue Cler was great for breakfast, especially Le Diplomat next to Hotel Leveque and a crepe stand- great deux ouefs crepe! Some think this area is too Americanized, but I wanted to be close to the ET (OK, I admit I'm obsessed with the ET) this trip. Next trip, St. Germain de Pres. It's less Haussmannized, I think.
We saw everything and went everywhere, except the Catacombs, Versailles (decided to spend more time in the Marais instead), and the Pasteur Institute (I'm a nurse). Also, we limited museums this trip to the Louvre, the Orsay and the Rodin. As for pictures not being allowed in the Louvre, people were snapping left and right, especially Mona. Once in a while a guard would stop you. There was no restriction in the medieval Louvre and in some of the sculpture rooms- but you could not snap Winged Victory, though, as I said, people did anyway.
Virtually no lines except for one night at the ET. The first time, walked right up and got a ticket, no problems. The striking thing about the ET this trip was the absence of gypsies and others trying to sell you tacky souvenirs- perhaps due to the armed military presence. Also, there was no line to go up the tower at Notre Dame at 11 in the morning. It looked worse in the afternoons.
Food- we ate at La Terrasse, Chartier, Altitude 95 (excellent chicken), Cafe de la Paix (the BEST PROFITEROLES in Paris), Cafe Flore, Les Deux Magots (beautiful and delicious pastries), Mannekin Pis (great food). Brasserie Lipp, Le Diplomat, Cafe de Nemours (I think I got the name right- next to the entrance to Palais Royal- wonderful lasagna), La Tour d'Argent, Fouquet's, Le Dome, Il Sorrentino (great view of the ET and according to my husband, the best pasta he ever ate) and numerous little brasseries/cafes. Ice cream at Berthillion. The absolute best croissant I have ever eaten in my life was at the train station cafe in Caen-light, huge, flaky, buttery, and WARM- it was heaven. There was a little cafe across the street from the northern side of Notre Dame- can't remember the name, but it was directly across from the rose window- that had a very delicious breakfast.
La Tour d"Argent- some dismiss it in favor of newer, (?) more chic restaurants such as Taillevent. It is expensive, but worth it, especially if you are a wine connoisseur- supposedly the best cellar in the world- and if you are fascinated with history, as I am-visit the salons downstairs and you will see what I mean. The service was impeccable and the food ( we had duck) was delicious. The sommelier was extremely knowledgable-- the "wine list" is actually a book approximately 8 inches thick-- and patiently helped us select wine and champagne. I will definitely eat there again.
Harry's New York Bar- again, if you love history, you must go there. You may ask, why go to a "NY" bar while in Paris? --because the history literally drips off the walls. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Edward VIII before he abdicated, Cole Porter...
The times I have been there, it has been full of Parisians- very few Americans. It is also supposedly the birthplace of the Bloody Mary- which are the best in the world, according to my daughter. Just tell your taxi driver "sank roo doe noo" and watch out for those swingin' doors.... (5 rue Danou, 9th).
Shopping! I could write a book! I found the most beautiful handmade jewelry at Catherine Martineau, 42 rue Vielle de Temple (Marais), at very good prices. She is also a very friendly person with a boomin voice! Also, beautiful handmade gold jewelry at a shop 2 doors down from our hotel on rue du Champs de Mar- sorry, will try to remember the name and post Monday. Of course, after all the discussion on this forum I went to Fragonard and bought 3 jars of the face cream! You can buy Louis Vuitton cheaper once you factor in the VAT refund so of course I had to buy a few things- thanks, Paul! (my husband). The most helpful salespersons were at the Louis Vuitton next to Les Deux Magots in St. Germain de Pres. Bijoux Burma, Dary's, Pixie et Cie, Bijouterie d'Ile St. Louis, La Licorne, Marechal (Limoges-good prices after VAT), Longchamp, La Chaise Lounge, BHV (got some great porcelain knobs that will match a painted sink in my powder room), Monic, Diners en Ville (great linens, house things). You can map them on Pages Jaunes. I went to some depot vents- bought a compact from the 1940's for my daughter at a good price. I walked by Didier Ludot- didn't go in, but the window display was incredible- vintage Hermes, etc.. There was also a shop on the Ile St. Louis that had great handmade jewelry- things you'll never see in the states- I'll find my receipt and post it Monday. Les 3 Marches de Catherine B in the 6th was a good place for vintage LV and Hermes- still pricey, but she had a good inventory. I bought liquid olive oil soap in a dispenser at Monoprix and also bought 2 olive oil refills and 2 lavender liqid soap refills- all for 8 euros and everyone wants them- but they're mine!
OK, more history. I went to 27 rue de Fleurus, home to Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas for many years. Although her writing annoys me, I appreciate the times she lived in and the people she knew. It is now a private home, but I stood at the gated entrance and thought of all who had passed through those doors- Picasso, Ezra Pound, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest and Hadley Hemingway, Etta and Claribel Cone, etc.,...Who are Etta and Claribel Cone, you are probably wondering. Well, I'll tell you. Etta and Claribel were sisters who lived in Baltimore, which is where they met Leo Stein, Gertrude's brother. The Cone family, enormously wealthy, started a textile empire in Greensboro, NC, around the turn of the 20th centuery--Cone Mills, now long gone. That wealth enabled Etta and Claribel to travel and acquire art. They traveled to Paris frequently and met Gertrude through her brother Leo. Gertrude Stein was an avid art collector and so were the Cone sisters- early Picassos, Matisse, Gauguin, Renoir, Cezanne- one of the finest art collections in the world, which was given to the Baltimore Museum of Art upon Etta's death in the 1940's. It is said that Gertrude and Etta were quite close until Alice B. Toklas came on the scene. In fact, Etta used to type Gertrude's manuscripts. The Cone sisters' brother, Moses, lived in Greensboro. Upon his death, his fortune was given to the city of Greensboro to build a hospital. That hospital has now grown to 5 hospitals and is known as the Moses H. Cone Health System. You probably could care less, but that is where I work. And I was born in---Baltimore! Baltimore, Paris, Gertrude, the Cone sisters, I work at MC- I love it! (It's getting late....)
I very much enjoyed the TA meeting at Les Editeurs on the 19th. It was nice to meet all of you- Raphy (Paul has some great pictures of you), Anneparis, Randysilverphoto and his wife, Mustseeparis and her family, Janet and Lauren, BBorrus and wife.
The best part of this trip was that we had the time to wander aimlessly, sit at cafes and watch the world go by.
That is all for now. I promise to post websites, etc., on Monday.