Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1970: Three Travellers in the Costa del Sol, Barcelona and Paris
By Doug Phillips from Canada, Fall 2011
Page 7 of 8: A Week in Paris, October 22-29, 2011
Welcome to Notre Dame
Early Saturday morning we took a taxi to the Barcelona airport and flew, via EasyJet, to Charles de Gaulle; then transferred to the RER train into Paris, exiting the Metro at Saint Paul le Marais. Our apartment was a short walk away, on the rue des Rosiers, an area familiar from previous visits. A highlight of our week in Paris was our location and the apartment, called Elegance Rosiers. The owner met us as we were climbing the stairs to the fourth floor. Pascal was a great host. He explained the features of the apartment, clued us in about the neighbourhood and made several helpful suggestions. When we reported a minor issue he took care of it quickly and phoned us mid-week to check on how we were getting along.
We got around Paris mainly by using the Metro and we also followed a couple of walking tours. Starting Monday, we used a Navigo Découverte pass for the rest of the week on the Metro. The pass cost approximately €23, plus an I.D. photo. It was a convenient way of getting around the city – we made good use of the pass.
We also purchased a four-day Museum pass for €50 - again a very convenient way of getting access to many of the sites of Paris. Liz and I had visited some of the best-known sites on earlier visits, which may explain some of our seemingly odd choices. We toured the sewers of Paris and walked up to the towers of Notre Dame, but passed on the Louvre this time. We visited the Orangerie, but not the Musée d’Orsay. We also paid return visits to the Cluny Museum, Saint Chapelle, the Pantheon and les Invalides. Meredith met up with a childhood friend, now living in Manchester, England. They spent several days exploring the city on their own.
I was interested in walking around the areas mentioned by Hemingway in A Moveable Feast, so Liz and I spent most of one day touring Montparnasse, walking along Saint-Germain-des-Pres, the boulevard du Montparnasse and several smaller streets in close proximity to these two. While the district was an inexpensive place for a community of artists to live and work in the years after World War I, it is definitely a much more upscale area today. We paused for a drink at Les Deux Magots and had a light lunch in the beautiful Jardins du Luxembourg on our way over to the Pantheon in the late afternoon. A very pleasant day.
Another day we enjoyed a couple of hours in Parc Monceau, had lunch at a nearby restaurant, then walked over to the Arc de Triomphe and continued down the very busy and touristy Champs Elysées.
On our last full day in Paris we spent a couple of hours walking around Pere Lachaise cemetery, the last place in the city I ever thought I would visit. But I did find it more interesting than I thought I would. It is huge - about 100 acres - and more than the final resting place of celebrities like Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Gertrude Stein, the architecture of many of the family crypts brought into focus the original appearance of the necropolis under St. Peter's in Rome which we visited on a Scavi Tour in 2007. The streets would have been much more narrow, but the slender house-like burial structures must have been similar to the description of their ancient Roman counterparts.
Our location on the rue des Rosiers meant that we walked out of the building into a stream of people, except in the early morning. And everything was close at hand - the Metro and a good supermarket and wine shop were only a couple of minutes away on rue du Rivoli/rue Saint Antoine, and there were plenty of boulangeries, bars and restaurants even closer. I got our morning croissants at Murciano, about 10 seconds from our front door. We had a couple of lunches with take-away falafels from L'As du Falafel about 30 seconds farther along. And we had our first dinner at Chez Marianne at the corner of rue des Rosiers and rue des Hospitalières. We dined at old favourites two evenings; once at the nearby Chez Nénesse on rue de Saintonge and another evening we made reservations at le Florimond, a favourite with many Slow Travelers in the 7th arrondissement. But the real dining highlight of our week, and our new favourite restaurant in Paris, was our meal on our final evening at Le Relais de l'Entrecôte at 20, rue Saint-Benoît, just behind Les Deux Magots.
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