2012 Paris in May Archives

April 29, 2012

Two More Days . . . Then Paris!


This trip has been on the drawing board for over a year. Now, only two days remain until we will be in Paris.

The weather hasn't been great there - a far cry from last April when my friend Shannon basked in the warm Paris sun. It has been raining on a daily basis and is pretty chilly. But, I actually would prefer a little cold to a lot of heat. And it's PARIS!

We are staying in a lovely little apartment in the 3rd Arr - a convenient central location. More on that later.

We will be touring for a couple of days with Michael Osman, who comes highly recommended by tons of Slow Travel folks.

Lots of museums and gardens and iconic sites that we have only dreamed about.

And the food! I am drooling just thinking of the food! Lots of macarons!

I will be blogging, so travel with me!

Now, if I can only finish my to-do list before we go . . .

May 1, 2012

Travel Day - And you know I hate those!

It was a very early morning - up at 3 am and on the road to the airport by 4. But, who could sleep with Paris in their future!

The flights - well, what can I say? Economy sucks! It is so uncomfortable to fly in economy that I always say I will never do it again. But time heals all bad memories and the yearning to travel overcomes those memories.

The bright side of the flight was our 3.5 hr layover in Houston and lunch at Pappadeaux. We had eaten there on another trip thru Houston at least five years ago and loved it, so it became part of our travel plan - lunch at Pappadeaux. It's located in Terminal E at Gate E3, on a second level (the large fish sign is highly visible). It turned out that our departure gate was just down below, so it was perfect.


I had the Grand Bay Platter (click on the menu link), and Bill had the Chilean Sea Bass - both yummy.



But the real bonus was the wine. They had half bottles of Conundrum, as while wine blend from Caymus in Napa Valley. Goes great with fish, of course. Then, remembering what crappy wine you can buy in economy (for which United is now charging $7 a serving), I ordered a second half-bottle and took the majority of it with me on the plane. It made the trip so much better!


Our waiter Celso was great - we talked wine and food every time he had a little break. I actually think we will eat there again on our way home.


May 2, 2012

It's Rainy - But It's PARIS!

Our flight was pretty much on time, but the luggage took forever to arrive. I called the owner of our apartment to tell him we would be late meeting his representative, and we caught a taxi into Paris. It seems like the morning rush hour would be over by 9:30, but it took us almost an hour and a half to get to the city centre (about 65 Euro). Oh well, it's only money!

We were met immediately and shown to our apartment on Rue Charlot in the 3rd Arr. I found the apartment on VRBO, and it's perfect for our needs - Check it out HERE.

Having not slept a wink on the plane, I knew we would need a little nap,but after unpacking we found the Franprix market down the street and bought a few things that we needed and stopped at the fromagerie for some of that wonderful French cheese that I was craving..

After a short nap we took a walk thru our neighborhood, down Rue de Bretagne and thru Square du Temple, a lovely little park (one of many in Paris). There was a little bit of sun, so many locals were out on the park benches soaking in the rays. There was a really nice playground for kids and even some ducks out.,


Time for a cafe stop right across from the park - Le Sancerre, where we each ordered a bowl of French Onion Soup and a glass of Sancerre for me. Then Crepes with Salted Caramel Sauce for us to share. It really hit the spot.



While we were enjoying our soup, we got our first Paris shower. What a joy to sit there and watch the world go by!

May 3, 2012

Walking Tour of Paris

Wow! What a day! I am hoping that I remember most of the places that our tour guide, Michael Osman took us today. We walked until we dropped and then took the buses the rest of the way.

Here's Michael and Bill at the beginning of this marathon day.

We walked thru Square du Temple and Place des Vogses, and here's a couple of photos.


Then the lovely little Church of St Paul, where we saw some ancient graffiti and some lovely art.


This is the only remaining part of the ancient wall that surrounded Paris.

On to Ile Saint-Louis where we had lunch at Le Lutetia. Bill and Michael had the grilled salmon, and I had salmon tartare. The waiter was funny - he wanted to make sure I knew it was raw fish. It was delicious! I was so hungry that I forgot to take pictures of our entrees, but I did remember the dessert, Bertillon glaces - dark chocolate and pistachio - yum, they were to die for!


Continue reading "Walking Tour of Paris" »

May 5, 2012

Opera Garnier & Palais Royal Garden

At the top of our to-do list was seeing the Opera Garnier, immortalized in "Phantom of the Opera". So, after a pretty lazy day yesterday (for me, at least), we walked over there this morning. It was a pretty long hike, and my feet are starting to pay the price.

But it was well worth the effort because it was gorgeous, the prettiest opera house I have ever seen.

Here's me in front of the Opera Garnier as we arrived:

And a little more of the detail of the exterior:

We took a guided tour which lasted almost two hours. We sat in the seats that so many audiences have occupied since 1875 when the Opera was completed. The gilt and opulence of the building is mind-boggling.

Here is our guide in front of the grand staircase:

No photos were allowed inside the theatre, but I got a book that shows some of the beautiful scenery.

On our way "home" we walked thru the gardens of the Palais Royal.. It was lovely.

May 6, 2012

Museums are Free Today!

Started the day off with Sunday brunch at Le Sancerre, a little cafe down the street a couple of blocks, where we stopped our first day in Paris. Lots of good people watching there.

Since it was the first Sunday of the month, it was free museum day, so off we went. We already bought our Museum Passes, but we haven't activated them yet. We wanted to get the maximum use out of them, so thought we would begin on Monday for our 6 day pass.

Decided to visit some of the smaller museums that were close to our neighborhood instead of the "biggies", so our first stop was Carnavalet. We were greeted by Louis XIV in the courtyard.


While the art was lovely, the temperature in the museum was so hot that we got out of there before we were really finished looking. They had an interesting series called "Vis a Vies", where photos were taken of all of the museum employees (in 2006 or 2007), and each of them picked their favorite piece of art in the museum. That photo was placed next to the employee photo, and you would be surprised at how much the two looked alike. Quite fascinating!


Our next stop was - nice, but I like Carnavalet better.

We then walked over to Place des Vosges to see the Maison de Victor Hugo.

Just a couple of blocks from our apartment is the Picasso Museum, but alas, it is closed for reconstruction and won't be open again until next year sometime. We walked by to see it though.


Now, while we were wandering around the city, the people of France were voting for their President.

Over close to the Bastille, we saw about 20 Gendarmerie vehicles, each with about 10 Gendarmes being briefed.

Later that evening, after the election results were known, a big celebration began at the Bastille. Although we were encouraged to come and join the celebration, the police presence was kind of scary, so we went home instead.

Stayed in and at the goodies we had in our fridge. It is so nice to have an apartment with a nice kitchen!

May 7, 2012

Notre Dame & Sainte-Chapelle

The good news is that we got to see Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame today. The bad news is that I forgot my camera and don't have any pictures to post. Sorry about that.

First was Sainte-Chapelle. Security was very tight, with airport-style scanners for both our bags and our bodies. Not so at Notre Dame - kind of strange. I was kind of underwhelmed by Sainte-Chapelle - guess I didn't realize it was so small. It WAS beautiful (the part that was not being renovated) but not what I was expecting.

But, Notre Dame fulfilled all of my expectations and more! Huge and imposing and beautiful. Even with all of those people in there with us, it wasn't crowded.

We returned to the little restaurant on Ile Saint-Louis that Michael Osman took us to, Le Lutetia, 33 Quai Bourbon. Bill had a burger and frites (lots of burgers on Paris menus), and I switched from salmon tartare to beef tartare with frites. Yummy once again! Bill couldn't resist one scoop of Berthillon pistachio glace.

We walked over to the Jardin des Plantes, but I only had enough energy to walk around a little bit before heading home for the day. I would like to go back and enjoy the flowers some more.

May 8, 2012

A Coffee Date & Musee D'Orsay

A lovely (partly sunny) day in Paris. And we have a coffee date with Nancy & David, who are lucky enough to live here. Nancy is known on the Slow Travel messageboard as "Americana in Parigi", and she is always available to help anyone with questions about Paris and all of France. I was really excited to meet both Nancy and David.

We met up at Kooka Boora Cafe - 53, avenue Trudaine (9th) - which David Lebovitz wrote about on his blog.

It was kind of a hike to get there (we haven't learned the metro and bus systems yet), but It was a lovely location, and the company was priceless. Here is my beautiful cappuccino:

After chatting over coffee, Nancy and David took us on a little tour of the covered passages as we walked towards the Seine. Here's Nancy and me in one of them:

We bid Nancy and David a fond farewell - thank you both for showing us around your fair city!

Our plan was to visit the D'Orsay today, but we walked thru the area adjacent to the Louvre, which was virtually empty because the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. Here we are in front of the Louvre Pyramid.


Continue reading "A Coffee Date & Musee D'Orsay" »

May 9, 2012

The Louvre & Montmartre with Michael Osman

Today was another jam-packed day with Michael Osman. Our goal was to tour Le Louvre and visit Montmartre, and we accomplished both!

Michael met us at our apartment and we headed over to Le Louvre. We passed Square de la Tour Saint-Jacques, a tower standing by itself.



And we saw this colorful mosaic along the way.

Entering Place du Le Louvre and seeing the pyramid is pretty thrilling.

After entering the Louvre, we traveled along some of the medieval walls - here's Michael showing us the way.

The main entrance hall. I was surprised at how much light there was to illuminate the art. I had expected the Louvre to be a pretty dark place.

Continue reading "The Louvre & Montmartre with Michael Osman" »

May 10, 2012

Lazy Day but a Great Lunch

Bill wanted to go to Versailles today, but I did not. Just too big and too many tourists - it makes me uncomfortable to be in big crowds like that.

So, he got on the train to Versailles, and I stayed "home" to catch up on my blog and rest my feet.

And, by the way, Bill said that I probably made a good decision. He went thru the palace and said that once you enter, you are stuck - you have to go thru the entire house to get out again. And there were mobs of people.

But, back at the apartment, I decided to go to lunch at a nearby restaurant that I had read about and wanted to try. Glou is located in the 3rd Arr at 101 Rue Vielle du Temple. I had read several reviews of Glou, including this one on Paris by Mouth.


It's a really cute place, with several regular tables for 2 or 4 and a couple of tall communal tables with high stools. I sat at one of those and was joined by several other diners. They have menus in several different languages.

I had my very first glass of French champagne and then Chilled Pea Soup with Mint and Prawn Ceviche. For dessert a chilled Melon Soup. All very unique and tasty. I highly recommend this restaurant.

Once again, I forgot my camera, so no photos.

On the way home I stopped at a rotisserie chicken place close to our apartment to get a chicken for dinner. Kind of expensive, I thought - more than 15 Euro. But, it WAS good!

May 11, 2012

Pompidou, Pompidou . . .

It was raining when we woke up, so we took our time getting ready to go out and decided to have lunch before heading over to the Pompidou.

The owner of our apartment had a list of local restaurants to try, and this one was right at the top of his list. Only half a block away, Le Barometre at 17 Rue Charlot (3rd) is definitely a locals place.

I had the daily special, Moisc de Saint-Jacques, and it was delicious. I was familiar with Coquilles Saint-Jacques featuring scallops, but this dish had an additional part attached to the scallop. It was quite tender and delicious. Perhaps someone could enlighten me about it.

Bill had Gratin d'andouillette a la Dijonnaise. We thought it would be sausage gratin, and it tasted kind of like sausage, but we learned later that andouillette is tripe. Bill likes menudo, so maybe that made it OK.

The food at this locals restaurant was great, but the service was not - at least for us. We were the first ones to arrive at noon, and we were the last to leave because all of the locals got served before we did. Guess they don't like Americans!

Off to the Pompidou! For those of you who haven't been to this museum, the exterior looks like it has been turned inside out.

We went up to the 5th floor, and these sculptures were out on the terrace.

The Pompidou is a modern art museum, and it has some pretty wild stuff. I like modern art, but some of it was way too modern for me.

Here are a few that I did like:

Continue reading "Pompidou, Pompidou . . ." »

May 12, 2012

Off to Giverny!

First of all, I want to thank Freda Cameron for her wonderful posts and photos of gardens in Paris, especially Monet's gardens at Giverny. Check them out on her blog, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel.

I had my heart set on seeing Monet's gardens at Giverny, so after what I thought was a diligent search, I picked a tour company to take us there. Actually, tour is probably the wrong word because it was not a guided tour but transportation there and back and access into Giverny thru the group entrance without waiting in line.

So, Fcom France was the "tour" I picked. They offered both a full day and an afternoon at Giverny. For the full-day, we would have to meet the bus close to their office by the Louvre at 8:30 am, and I just didn't think we could get there that early. So, I booked the afternoon tour. It left at 1:30 and returned at 6:00, so I figured we would have 2-3 hours to tour Monet's house and see the flower gardens. Wrong!

After we were on the bus, we were told that first the bus was going to Versailles to pick up other people and then when we got to Giverny we would have ONE HOUR to see everything. I was more than a little upset with that news, and I wasn't the only one. None of the people on our bus had time to go thru Monet's house in one hour (it was quite busy that day). And to top things off, when we came back to the bus, we sat in the parking lot for 45 minutes waiting for the bus mirror to be repaired. I have already sent an email to the company citing the lack of disclosure in their online ad, but no response so far.

OK, enough venting! We did get to see the beautiful gardens, and I was happy for that. And the tulips were still in bloom - guess it has been so cold and rainy that they lasted much longer than they usually do.

Here are some of the photos I took.



Continue reading "Off to Giverny!" »

Lunch & a Visit to Le Garde Robe

On our way to meet up with the Giverny bus, we stopped for lunch at Cafe du Musee on Rue du Louvre. A restaurant with a similar name had been recommended to us, but we soon realized that this was not the right place.

But, we were there and we were hungry. I had a huge crepe with ham, cheese, mushrooms etc etc. It doesn't look very pretty, but it tasted good. Bill had a huge tuna salad.



Then after our bus tour we were hungry AGAIN (kind of a constant feeling here in Paris). We walked past Spring restaurant - I was dying to go there but no reservations and we weren't dressed properly. Down the street at Spring Wine Bar, the fellow working suggested we go across the street to a wine bar that served food. What a coincidence - it tuned out to be Le Garde Robe, one of the recommendations on the Slow Travel messageboard. We found two seats at the bar (actually there was only one seat but a very nice French guy gave up his seat for Bill). It was fun watching the bartender/cook Axelle fix the appetizer plates. Here she is.

We had a foie gras plate and a smoked salmon plate with lentil salad - both delicious. Two nice glasses of red wine recommended by Axelle - a perfect end to the day.

David Lebovitz wrote about Le Garde Robe here.

So, if you see this sign around the corner from Spring, be sure and stop by - you won't be disappointed.


May 13, 2012

Les Cars Rouges


We had decided to get the two-day pass for those red double-decker buses, and today was our first day. The closest stop was Notre Dame, so we headed over there after breakfast.

Les Cars Rouges stops at nine different monuments, and you can hop-on hop-off at any time to sightsee. We just rode the whole route (2 ¼ hrs) and got off back at Notre Dame.

It was pretty chilly up on that top deck, but the views were priceless. Here are some of the photos I took.




Continue reading "Les Cars Rouges" »

Dinner at the REAL Cafe des Musees

Well, we got the right restaurant this time! There appear to be several restaurants with similar names. Cafe des Musees at 49 Rue de Turenne (3rd) had been recommended by both David Lebovitz and Paris by Mouth AND our new Paris friend Nancy, so I made a reservation.

All I can say is that it definitely lived up to the hype. We arrived at 7 pm, when they first started serving dinner, but by the time we left, the place was bustling.

We shared (yes, you guessed it) a Foie Gras plate with ginger and Parisian Mushrooms stuffed with Snails. Yum!


Then Bil had the Fish Special, which was seabass in a lemon sauce, and I had Pork Loin and Smoked Garlic, with a side of the most delicious Au Gratin Potatoes. We were stuffed - but in a good way!



This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Winelover's Wanderings in the 2012 Paris in May category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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