A Travellerspoint blog

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Paris in the Springtime

Since one of our favorite places is Paris, we decided to spend a month there to celebrate our 50th anniversary. The idea was to take lots of day trips by train from Paris. From many trips, we also knew you can never be bored in Paris.

We didn't fly directly from home on this trip. Our oldest granddaughter was graduating from high school and was one of the graduation speakers so we couldn't miss that. Fortunately her school timed it well for our anniversary. I'm not sure that was their primary consideration but it worked for us. We flew to Michigan for the graduation and a fun visit with our son and his family. After the festivities, we drove to Detroit and caught a direct flight to Paris. That worked well also. I'll start the blog with our trip from Detroit to Paris so we've been traveling nearly a week by this point.

Monday, June 2, 2014

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Fly to Paris day. We got everything packed and checked out of the Wyngate and drove over to Charles & Angie’s. Hunter & Piper were in school but Scout was home so we chatted for a while. Finally had to leave and our GPS took the scenic route to the Detroit airport but we did miss the construction traffic near Ann Arbor. No problems turning in the car and getting the shuttle to the terminal. Checked in and got through Security. I got a pat down and Ed didn’t even have to take off his shoes. I must look very dangerous . . .

We had lunch at a Coney Island except we had a fish sandwich not a hot dog. At the boarding area we sat at a power station and I charged my Kindle. A French exchange student sat beside Ed and the Claytons, a fun couple from Wisconsin (Oshkosh) sat across from us. We started noticing people taking pictures and then talking to older travelers and then spotted D-Day 70th Anniversary patches on hats and jackets. An Honor Guard showed up and we all stood for the National Anthem, and the veterans were escorted onto the plane. It was very exciting, We all boarded and are now on our way. We got “bon voyage” texts from Jean and Peg, Fun!

We had forgotten that we were married on the 20th anniversary of D-Day and now it was the 70th Anniversary and there were lots of celebrations. It is amazing how quickly fifty years can fly past.

Posted by Beausoleil 09:55 Archived in USA Tagged airports d-day Comments (0)

Arrival in Paris

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Paris, crossing the Pont Royal

Paris, crossing the Pont Royal


Long, noisy trip. The airplane food can’t be described in polite language. It was beyond horrible. But . . . we did arrive safely and slightly early. We met the Claytons, whom we had met in the Detroit airport waiting room, at baggage, got all our bags and we left them waiting for their friends. The France Telcom phone we were supposed to use didn’t work so I used my own cell phone and got the shuttle people easily, They picked us up at door 6 and drove us into town through a massive traffic jam . . . portent of things to come but we didn’t know that then. There were police lined up at the Assemblée Nationale but we don’t know why. By eleven o’clock we were at the AirBnB apartment and Aiko, the manager, showed up shortly and let us in. The apartment is not nearly as nice as the photos but it will do. The location is perfect. We're five minutes from the Tuileries Gardens and a few blocks from the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay. Life doesn't get any better!

*****

Café L’Empire

Café L’Empire

Aiko showed us a few things but speaking English and giving directions are not her strong points. We’ll figure it out. We walked around checking restaurants and ended up at the neighborhood bistro a block away, It was excellent . . . great ambience, excellent confit de canard and very low prices. [Café L’Empire, 17 rue de Bac, 75007 Paris; +33 (0)1 4015 9118] We’ll be back!

We stopped at the neighborhood pharmacy for a couple things and Claire, the pharmacist, welcomed us to the neighborhood. Shopped for groceries, met our local wine merchant and checked the Eric Kayser Boulangerie. It is a very friendly neighborhood. [Eric Kayser, 18 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris; Eric Kayser web site]

*****

The Tuileries Gardens

The Tuileries Gardens


Walked over to the Tuileries, my favorite place in Paris, and explored the north side where we discovered several great playgrounds and a carousel and bouncy playground. It’s very kid-oriented. We were delighted to follow our ears to a band concert by the Triumphal Arch near the Pei Pyramid at the Louvre. It was the Prefecture of Police Band and they were not only good; they were fun. Ed did his service in the USGC Band so we love military bands and to find one to greet us in Paris was icing on the cake.

Prefecture of Police Band in the Tuileries

Prefecture of Police Band in the Tuileries

Pei Pyramid at the Louvre Museum

Pei Pyramid at the Louvre Museum

Place du Carrousel at the Louvre Museum

Place du Carrousel at the Louvre Museum

Sculptures in the Tuileries Gardens of Paris or Pigeons in the Park

Sculptures in the Tuileries Gardens of Paris or Pigeons in the Park

Our chairs in the Tuileries Gardens

Our chairs in the Tuileries Gardens

*****

Got home early, put photos on the computer and tried to clean the mold from around the bathtub. I had to wash the wine glasses before we could use them. Pealing paint on all windows. Electrical outlets are all in hard-to-reach places except the kitchen but we’re managing. I'm a little annoyed that all the beautiful paintings in the AirBnB photos of the place have been removed and cheesy prints have been put up where anything is up. The photos must have been taken ten years ago because the paint was not pealing in the photos. The television is not working and there is no breadboard . . . in a French apartment! Still, the location is absolutely perfect. Don't think we'll use AirBnB again though.

Dinner was Eric Kayser bread, a fresh apple and a lovely Cantal cheese with our Bordeaux. Perfect! I think it’s early to bed tonight!

Posted by Beausoleil 15:39 Archived in France Tagged gardens paris bands tuileries tuileries_gardens Comments (11)

A Paris walk and an evening concert

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

La Grande Epicerie of Paris (in Bon Marché)

La Grande Epicerie of Paris (in Bon Marché)

La Grande Epicerie of Paris (in Bon Marché)

La Grande Epicerie of Paris (in Bon Marché)


This morning I texted Anne, the actual apartment owner, about the missing breadboard and nonworking television to see if we could get it taken care of . . . and not expecting much. Ed brought a box of cards with different walks in Paris so we showered, ate breakfast, grabbed our umbrellas and headed out for a “Paris Walk #21" centered on rue du Bac. We had no trouble finding it and found most of the things listed. We visited the Grand Epicerie of Paris (in Bon Marché), a marvelous supermarket where we forced ourselves to not buy anything . . . even Valrhona chocolate!
The Grand Epicerie web site (the Sevres-Babylon Metro exit and walk back one block to La Grande Epicerie in the second Bon Marché building.)

*****

Ste. Catherine Labouré Shrine of the Miraculous Medal

Ste. Catherine Labouré Shrine of the Miraculous Medal


Following the Paris Walk card, we searched out the Ste. Catherine Labouré Shrine of the Miraculous Medal and entered. It is small but very intense. There is a chapel and a tiny garden with a gift store. When we left, we continued to the end of our scripted walk. Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal web site

Ste. Catherine Labouré Shrine of the Miraculous Medal

Ste. Catherine Labouré Shrine of the Miraculous Medal

*****

Eglise St. Sulpice interior

Eglise St. Sulpice interior

The walk ended near St. Sulpice so we decided to go over. We discovered the the scaffolding is down and it is beautiful. There is a book fair in front, but in the rain it was not enticing so we went to our favorite restaurant, La Bastide d’Opio for lunch. I got the beef brochettes and they were tender and delicious. Peg had them the last time so it seemed like a good idea. It was! Ed got the magret de canard and it was equally good. We both got the moelleaux de chocolat for dessert . . . fabulous! While I was visiting the facilities, Ed met the very attractive blonde sitting next to us and she was fascinating . . . M.A. in French architecture, studied French at the Sorbonne and was an antiques dealer. We chatted for nearly an hour and then parted to face the drizzle outside. La Bastide d'Opio, 9 rue Guisarde, 75006 Paris; tel: +33 (0)1 4329-0184; La Bastide d'Opio web site

Eglise St. Sulpice on a nicer day

Eglise St. Sulpice on a nicer day

La Bastide d'Opio, our favorite restaurant

La Bastide d'Opio, our favorite restaurant

*****

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We wanted to find Ste. Clotilde and decided to walk down blvd. St. Germain so naturally came immediately to Eglise St. Germain and couldn’t resist a short visit. It’s a lovely old church facing the Zadkine statue and Les Deux Magots brasserie across the square. I took a lot of pictures and we left, passing the three famous cafés, Les Deux Magots, Café de Flore and Brasserie Lipp. It was a lovely walk down blvd. St. Germain except the rain started getting worse. By rue de Bac it was pouring so we stopped at a café for coffee and tea to wait out the rain. We had a lot of company! Everyone was escaping the deluge.

Eglise St. Germain des Près

Eglise St. Germain des Près

Eglise St. Germain des Près

Eglise St. Germain des Près

Brasserie Lipp

Brasserie Lipp

*****

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When the rain let up, we continued along the boulevard. We found Ste. Clotilde at the end of a small park, took park and church photos and entered. It is beautiful. We couldn’t believe we hadn’t heard of it. The organist was practicing so we had a concert as we toured the basilica. He had a Kindle-like tablet for his music. Ed said he was staying as long as the music continued so we finally sat down and enjoyed the private recital.

Basilique Sainte Clotilde

Basilique Sainte Clotilde

Basilique Sainte Clotilde

Basilique Sainte Clotilde

Statue of César Franck in front of Basilique Sainte Clotilde

Statue of César Franck in front of Basilique Sainte Clotilde

*****

Walked back to our apartment and stopped at Eric Kayser for our nightly demi-baguette. The girl remembered Ed and proceeded to tease and flirt with him. We seem to be part of the neighborhood at this point. We ate our dinner, put photos on the computer and changed for the concert. The sun finally came out as we ate!

Rose Window at Basilique Sainte Clotilde

Rose Window at Basilique Sainte Clotilde


Walked back to Ste. Clotilde, about a fifteen-minute walk, and got in the line for tickets to the Fauré "Requiem" when an older man walked over and offered us two tickets for 20 euros (they cost 30 euros). He had the tickets and his wife was ill so they couldn’t go. Whee . . . Fauré at a discount. We paid him and entered, getting seats near the front.

The concert was magic in the beautiful old church. I was entranced by the soprano section who managed to sound like a boy choir. The group was called back for three encores! Great evening.

Posted by Beausoleil 08:46 Archived in France Tagged paris grande_epicerie sainte_clotilde saint_sulpice bastide_d'opio Comments (3)

Château de Fontainebleau, our first day trip on the train

Thursday, June 5, 2014

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Sleeping ‘til 7:30 is wonderful and jet lag seems to be waning. After breakfast we walked over rue de Bac to blvd. St. Germain and found our Metro station. We rode to Place de la Concorde and changed to the #1 line and got off at Gare de Lyon, a small city unto itself. It took some exploring but we found where to get our tickets and it wasn’t open yet so we were glad we hadn’t gotten up earlier. Despite what Ina Caro and Annabel Simms said in their otherwise wonderful books, the Forfait Loisirs hasn’t been sold for three years so we each got a zone 5 Mobilis pass to get us to Fontainebleau and back. It included the train, the bus to the Château de Fontainebleau, back to the train, back to Paris and any other trips on the Metro we wanted to take for the rest of the day. The only extra to pay was entrance to the Château.

*****

View from the train

View from the train

We found our train and boarded, sitting on the top level for better views. It’s about an hour to Fontainebleau through some gritty Paris suburbs and then lovely countryside. In Fontainebleau, we took the bus to the Château with a lot of Oriental tourists. The buses now have numbers instead of the letters mentioned in the two books we had so that was a little different too. It's pretty easy to just follow everyone else and the famous Château is about the only place in town to visit so that narrows your choices. The last time we were here we had a car and parking was a nightmare. On the train it was no problem.

Fontainebleau-Avon Train Station

Fontainebleau-Avon Train Station

*****

Château de Fontainebleau

Château de Fontainebleau


We bought our tickets at the Château and started through a palace built by kings but seemingly dedicated to Napoleon and the Empire. Like Versailles, it is over-the-top glitz and glam, room after room of decorating excess, We both decided we were glad we’d seen it but would probably never return. It was busy but not the masses of people you see at Versailles and would be a good substitute if you don't like crowds. Château de Fontainebleau web site

Appartements in Château de Fontainebleau

Appartements in Château de Fontainebleau

Upper floor of Chapel of the Trinity in Château de Fontainebleau

Upper floor of Chapel of the Trinity in Château de Fontainebleau

Francis I Gallery at Château de Fontainebleau

Francis I Gallery at Château de Fontainebleau

Sovereign Grands Appartements in Château de Fontainebleau

Sovereign Grands Appartements in Château de Fontainebleau

Interior Château de Fontainebleau

Interior Château de Fontainebleau

Interior at Château de Fontainebleau

Interior at Château de Fontainebleau

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Interior at Château de Fontainebleau

Interior at Château de Fontainebleau

Ground floor Chapel of the Trinity

Ground floor Chapel of the Trinity

*****

The tea room at Château de Fontainebleau

The tea room at Château de Fontainebleau


We found their tea room and ordered confit de canard and a Bordeaux at a table overlooking a lake. It was delicious. At one point early on, I saw a fly dive into my wine glass so Ed returned it and they cheerfully gave me a fresh glass of wine. We were in the sun so there were flies. We carefully covered our wine glasses with napkins after that! I didn't blame the fly; it was a very nice wine.

*****

*

*****

Touring the Gardens at Château de Fontainebleau

Touring the Gardens at Château de Fontainebleau


After our late lunch, we wandered to the gardens that are pretty and extensive but not too exciting . . . no flowers. I got swan and fountain pictures and a horse and carriage stopped to pose. We stumbled back across the cobblestones to the entrance and left in search of a bus stop. It seems all buses return to the gare (station) so we took the first one. There was a short wait for the train and soon we were back in Paris.

Exterior of Château de Fontainebleau

Exterior of Château de Fontainebleau

Gardens at Château de Fontainebleau

Gardens at Château de Fontainebleau

*****

We reversed our morning trip and found an escalator up out of the rue de Bac station. Hooray! We spent the evening looking for a restaurant for our anniversary tomorrow. Still no decision . . . too many good choices in Paris. This is a difficulty we don't mind having . . .

Posted by Beausoleil 10:42 Archived in France Tagged trains paris fontainebleau château_de_fontainebleau Comments (1)

Paris - the Marmottan-Monet Museum and our 50th Anniversary

June 6, 2014 Married June 6, 1964 . . . has it really been 50 years?

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Well, today is our 50th wedding anniversary and also the 70th anniversary of D-Day. There are activities planned in Normandy but we haven’t heard of any here in Paris.

*****

La Gare Restaurant near the Monet-Marmottan Museum

La Gare Restaurant near the Monet-Marmottan Museum

We took the RER to the Muette stop and found a café for breakfast nearby. It’s a lovely neighborhood. A kindly lady directed us to the Marmottan-Monet Museum where we wanted to see the visiting Impressionists exhibit, “Les Impressionnistes en Privé.” Thanks to a most pleasant ticket agent, we also found their newest acquisition, a very nice Chagall. It was a marvelous exhibit including many paintings from private collections that you would never, otherwise, have a chance to see. Of course, no photos were allowed since it was a special exhibit. The Marmottan doesn’t allow photos anyway and it was crowded enough that we understood why. We were beginning to get an idea of the crowds to come.

Marmottan-Monet Museum from Ranelagh Park

Marmottan-Monet Museum from Ranelagh Park

Marmottan-Monet Museum

Marmottan-Monet Museum

Advertisement for the Special Exhibit

Advertisement for the Special Exhibit

*****

Walking from the Marmottan-Monet to the Eiffel Tower - Place de Colombie

Walking from the Marmottan-Monet to the Eiffel Tower - Place de Colombie


Afterwards we started walking, originally just looking around but finally aimed at the Eiffel Tower. We slowly wandered the lovely 16th arrondissement and stopped at the Café Trocadero for a kir to celebrate our anniversary. A man at the next table jumped up in horror as he watched his car being towed away . . . he was parked illegally. Cars are a nuisance in a city!

Posing on the Trocadero . . . great background

Posing on the Trocadero . . . great background

Eiffel Tower elevator

Eiffel Tower elevator

Posing for the tourists on the Trocadero

Posing for the tourists on the Trocadero

Fountains in the Jardins du Trocadéro

Fountains in the Jardins du Trocadéro

*****

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower


We continued on past the Eiffel Tower to Invalides and then found rue de l’Université to continue our walk home. We passed the Erik Satie Conservatory of Music and on past the Musée d’Orsay. We stopped in what we thought was Cinq Mars Restaurant and made a reservation for seven o’clock this evening.

*****

Pont Alexandre III and the Grand Palais on the way home

Pont Alexandre III and the Grand Palais on the way home

The Seine by the Eiffel Tower

The Seine by the Eiffel Tower


At seven we returned to the restaurant and were seated. The waitress took a couple photos for our anniversary and we each got another kir. We decided to ask the waitress about the restaurant name, Cinq Mars, and quickly discovered we were actually in a completely different restaurant, La Bonne Excuse, across the street from Cinq Mars and both had the same front. We hadn’t looked at the name, only checked the menu which we found greatly to our liking. Serendipity . . .

*****

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I ordered the saddle of lamb but asked for the vegetables that came with the pork Ed had ordered. I saw her discussing it with the chef and she finally came back and offered me a different vegetable selection that the chef felt appropriate for the lamb. I said that was fine since my objection had been to the original vegetable. When my dinner arrived, it was brought out by the chef personally to be sure the vegetable selection was suitable. Not only was it suitable, it was beautiful. The plate held perfectly done, fork-tender lamb with an arrangement of vegetables covered with edible flower petals as accompaniment. It tasted even better than it looked. They use only fresh produce and all meat and produce are organic. Both my lamb and Ed’s pork were excellent. We were so glad we found the place. When they brought our desserts, they had lit sparklers in it to celebrate our anniversary so eventually everyone else congratulated us. It was a spectacular end to a perfect day. [La Bonne Excuse, 48 rue de Verneuil 75005 Paris, France; tel: +33 (0)1 4261-5021; La Bonne Excuse web site]

La Bonne Excuse Restaurant

La Bonne Excuse Restaurant

La Bonne Excuse Restaurant

La Bonne Excuse Restaurant

As a post script, we returned to La Bonne Excuse 18 months later when we happened to be in Paris for a few days and when we walked in, they immediately recognized us and started to reminisce about our anniversary. We were so surprised they remembered us. Ed thought it must have been the sparklers . . .

Posted by Beausoleil 15:28 Archived in France Tagged museums paris restaurants marmottan Comments (6)

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