Robs & Deb's Excellent Trip to
France Sept 2014
Once again I'll say that this is written more for me then for you.
It's so we can remember our trip. I know it's too long but you can
skip through parts using the list below. I hope to add some movies
to this soon.
Some history... I had planned in the back of my mind to take a
trip to the Loire valley and see some of the great chateaux there.
We also had planned on driving in northern Italy and France with a
final few days in Paris. The Institute
we attend offered a class on the chateaux of the Loire Valley. We
did not sign up for the class immediately and started going to the
class at the fifth of ten weeks. After much thinking we decided to
make it more of a vacation rather then a frantic chase after
history so we decided to do only the Loire valley and Paris.
We had just completed a three term class on the history of France
so are pretty knowledgeable. Perhaps a bit of a review is in order -
Three nights in Chartres - 16th, 17th, 18th
Day 1 - Flight, Driving
from Paris. Hotel and cathedral
Day 2 - Fontainebleau,
Bill and Alice.
Day 3 - Crypt tour, Up
the tower, Medieval city walk, Special dinner
Three nights in Orleans -
Day 1 - Driving to
Orleans, Help from a stranger, Hike around Orleans
Day 2 - Chateau Chambord,
Chateau Cheverny, Dogs, Free parking
Day 3 - Chateau Blois,
Storm at lunch, Small Chateau de Talcy, Free tours today, Paul and
Three nights in Tours
Day 1 - Drove to Tours, Big
Day 2 - Chateau Amboise,
Chateau du Clos Luce/Parc Leonardo da Vinci, Lost in Tours, Walk
to the Loire and dining area
Day 3 - Chateau Villandry,
Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau, Lost in Tours
Three nights in Angers
Day 1 - Drive to Angers,
Lost, Large apartment, Angers Chateau (fort).
Day 2 - Angers City pass,
Cathedral tour, Train ride, Beaux Arts, Tapestry, Natural History
Day 3 - Monterey pastry
guy, Chinon, Abbaye de Fontevraud
Four nights in Paris
Day 1 - Drive to Paris to
return the car, Train, Apartment snafu, Grocery
Day 2 - Walk to St.
Eustace, Checked The train, Dinner at our old Pizza place,
Palais Royal, Louvre
Day 3 - Palais Royal, Pont
des Artes to Rive Gauche, St Germain, St Sulpice, Lunch at Odeon,
Luxembourg garden, Notre Dame, Flowers
Day 4 - Place Vendome, Joan
of Arc, Tuleries, Place de la Concorde, to Musee d'Art Moderne
Home - Hike to train, Train, Airport, Flight,
We made a deal with a local taxi guy, Pratap of San Jose Airport
Taxi. We've used him before to pick us up and take us to SF. No
problems. We flew United. No extra leg room and near the back of
Three Nights In Chartres
Day 1 -
The flight was a long 11 hours direct flight. We hit the ATM for
some Euros. No problem signing up for the rental car but then we
needed to take the shuttle to another terminal to pick it up. We
thought it was a shuttle bus but found it was a shuttle train that
goes between terminals. We finally got our car.
Off we went. No major problems. We were driving
around 1:30 or so so it was pre-rush hour. It was tricky and I had
to signal and change lanes abruptly a couple times. No problem. No
honking. Deb was a very good navigator. I must say the
French tailgate really closely. We finally got to the toll road,
got a ticket and away we went. The speeds on the big toll roads is
130kph or about 85 mph. Not bad. We got to Chartres (link) in about
3.5 hours. After some driving around we found our place. I parked
in the wrong spot. Checked into out hotel and moved the car to
their parking area.
Nice hotel. What a
view! We opened the double window
and looked out at the cathedral. Amazing. We could lie in bed and see it big as
day. We were a couple blocks away with a few buildings in the way
but none the less we had a spectacular view. We could clearly
hear the bells. We were pretty shot from staying up over 24 hours
but decided to continue on, after a nap, until later to try to get
over the jet lag. We hiked over to the cathedral. extras
This version of the cathedral was built between 1194 and 1250.
There have been at least five churches and cathedrals here since
the 4th century (300's). The most interesting feature is that the
two towers are different. During construction styles changed, the
plainer one on the right was completed in 1160. The left one was
constructed on top of another tower in the early 1500's. There are
three great facades, each covered with hundreds of sculpted
figures illustrating key theological themes and narratives. The
porch on the right is under going cleaning and restoration.
Inside the windows were amazing, the western light
lit up the big rose window. There were many intricately carved
biblical scenes used for education. Also a large statue apparently
These cathedrals are absolutely amazing. You step
inside and can't believe these were constructed hundreds of years
before Columbus discovered America.
The stained glass is mostly original. Apparently it
wasn't badly damaged in the revolution.
We had dinner at a place right next to the cathedral. Deb and I
both had croute
monsieur. We think we ran across the factory where croute's are
Apparently some folks in full garb had been practicing for some
We bought some wine for the room.
That night we could see some of the light show on the cathedral from our
Day 2 -
Stopped into a little place
for coffee and chocolate pastries. We then drove to Fontainebleau
Some parking problems... We had a lunch before entering. Deb had
the famous croute monsieur and I had the croute madame with an egg on top and some wine
on the side. A rather expensive lunch. I guess because we
were in a major tourist area.
Fontainebleau is second only to Versailles as a royal place to
stay outside of Paris and much older. It was used by Francis I and
also the Bonaparte's. One wing is dedicated to the Bonaparte's.
Lots of family stuff including the son's toys. Another wing had a
lot of things from Francis I including a spectacular room where he
received guests. There was also a ballroom and two chapels.
Francis attended mass at least once per day.
The grounds are hundreds of manicured acres. We should have taken
the horse carriage ride around. We walked through a very nice
Back to Chartres. While having lunch at a large outside
restaurant. I noticed across the way a guy that looked like a guy
in our class. After looking and looking Deb finally got up an
walked over to check them out. Ha! It was Bill and Alice from our
class! He's quite a talker so we had a fun time. We planned on
seeing them the next day for a tour of the cathedral crypt.
We hung around and toured the cathedral area a bit more.
Deb and I had a nice dinner outside in front
of Bill and Alice's B&B.
We saw the famous light show projected on the cathedral and
the Musee Beaux Arts. Top
Day 3 -
Today we shopped around for a different place for breakfast. We had some nice pastries and coffee.
We met up with Bill and Alice for the crypt tour. It was a little
disappointing. We did see the famous relic which is a piece of
Mary - mother of Christ's shawl.
We had a nice pizza lunch (thanks Bill). extras
Deb and I were going to climb the left tower. Bill and Alice
decided to tag along. A great climb and some great views plus good
looks at the construction of the cathedral. extras
We tried to go to the Musee Beaux Artes but it was closing for
We then decided to do the walk through the old medieval
area. The city was promoting a festival of lights so if we did
this walk or took the little train in the evening things would be
lighted. It was quite a long walk. We got some help with directions -
they spoke no English and we spoke no French but it worked out. We
accidentally walked up to the cathedral half way through the walk
so we went back down and completed the lap. The ending was a climb
up a huge long staircase back to the cathedral. extras
During the walk we ran across another large
church. It seemed to be newer but in poor repair. There were large
stained glass windows but over the seating area was a big net to
catch things falling from the ceiling.
We ended the day at a nice
dinner with Bill and Alice at Esprit Gourmand
which is supposed to be the best in the city. Top
Three nights in Orleans
Day 1 -
We had one last pastry and coffee
in Chartres. Got some money from an ATM and drove off to Orleans.
Getting there was no problem but finding our parking and hotel was
impossible. We drove around and around and around until we found
ourselves parked on a little square to look at our maps again. Deb
noticed a guy across the square sitting on a bench. I walked over
to ask for directions. At first I wondered if he was homeless or
violent or who knows what. I greeted him and found he knew zero
English. I know .1% of French. He looked at our maps and address
and tried to explain how to get there. He did what we all do when
we find somebody doesn't know our language - he talked slower and
louder. After a few minutes he gave up and walked over with me to
our car and got into the back seat. He directed us droite/gauche
to our place. It was not intuitive. A very tricky access to the
underground parking beneath a major square. He even walked
us to our hotel. What a
good citizen. I suspect
we were only two or three blocks from where he was sitting. We
thanked him beaucoup.
Our hotel room is quite small but very new. The wifi is very good.
We hiked out to the square to get the feel of the place and some
pictures of the large statue of Joan of Arc (The Maid of Orleans).
We shared a pizza at a place just off the square for lunch.
We hiked over to the local cathedral. Quite nice. They have a nice
statue and a painting of Joan. extras
We went to a museum near the cathedral and recommended by the
tourist office. It was a nice museum but not much that we knew.
We went back and relaxed in our hotel room before hiking out to go
to the river and find
dinner, hopefully at one of the best and reasonable restaurants in
Orleans. We did hike to the river and down and back on the street
where most restaurants are located. We needed reservations to get
into the nice restaurant so we hiked back to the square and had dinner there. Deb's fish
was great, my steak was under done and tough as nails. Top
Day 2 -
Up in the morning and another pastry and coffee. I'm not too crazy
about the little teeny strong coffees. I've taken to ordering a
double. Also l'eau chaud helps (hot water).
We couldn't find the parking ticket so I stopped at the office
near the exit. After a minute or so the guy let us go without
Today we are driving out
to Chateau Chambord (link).
It is a gigantic hunting lodge built by Francis I and probably
designed by Leonardo DaVinci. Francis brought Leonardo to France
and associated with the genius as much as he could. There is a
famous painting of Francis at Leonardo's death bed. This is quite
a place. One thing is it is very unified. Some places look like
they have grown up over the centuries. This place is like a fairy
Chambord is amazing. One of the features that make us think it was
designed by Leonardo is the spiral staircase. Spiral staircases
were the rage in Italy. The name of the LaScala opera house in
Milan means "stairs". This spiral is a double helix spiral. There
are two entries so two people can climb up on opposite sides and
meet on each floor. It's still not clear to me how this works but
we did climb it separately and meet on the various floors.
The place is covered with intricate detailed
decorations. It looks like a fairy castle.
The place is quite tall with grand vistas of the
estate. The plan was that the ladies could go up and look out and
see the king and his men hunting. It is not particularly well
furnished but impressive none the less. extras
We had lunch on the grounds here.
I had a beer and cheese plate.
Deb had champagne and a beautiful avocado salad. Quite an elegant
setting. Some rain fell but we were covered.
We visited Chateau Cheverny(link).
It's a beautiful home in a beautiful setting. It was completely
furnished and quite elegant. We took the tour and walked around
the grounds. There was a dedicated "students" garden where they
raised a little of everything - flowers, vegetables and exotic
plants. The garden was located next to the dog compound. Rick
Steves says the dogs are fed at 5:30 so we decided to hang around.
At it got later more and more dogs came out of the kennel. I'd
guess there are around 40 dogs. I asked a worker when they were
going to feed them. In French without a single word of English she
told me she was sorry they were not going to feed. The dogs are
huge hunting dogs. extras
We had a fun dinner at a pizza place just off the big square in
Orleans. I had pizza,
Deb had chicken risotto.
Day 3 -
The parking ticket machine was not working so we drove to the
office. Unfortunately seeing it was Sunday it was closed. Hmmm. I
drove to the exit (sortee) and gave an attendant our ticket. He
took it into an office and returned and gave it back to us and
said to just go - free parking again.
We drove to Chateau Blois (link).
I'm quite familiar with this place because I built a paper model
of it a few years ago. This place has several sections and was
built over centuries. Joan of Arc came here to be blessed before
leading her army to drive the English from Orleans.
The Chateau has 100 bedrooms. It took a long time to tour this
place because of its complexity. Many rooms are decorated and
there are many historical presentations. There is also a workshop
where they are working on reconstruction. Lots of these places
were damaged during the revolution. Plus time and weather take a
Francis I had a section built for his wife who unfortunately died
and didn't really use the place. Francis didn't use it either. The
section he built has a grand spiral staircase. extras
We hiked around and looked at the views and then hiked into Blois
for lunch. We found a nice little place, Chez Bruno, and ordered
our food. Deb had a bucket of mussels. OMG a big storm came
through with a lot of wind and a torrential rain. We all had to go
inside. We watched as it blew, downpoured and hailed. We sat and
had lunch and conversation with a couple from Rio de Janiero. Much
On the way back we stopped at a small chateau - Chateau de Talcy (link).
A sweet little place. Very human sized. We toured the house.
Apparently it is well know in French poetry. There was
an interesting wine press and a large garden and a silo. It looks
like it was a prosperous working farm for many years. It is said
Catherine de Medici and her son Charles IX planned the
Bartholomew's day massacre here. extras
Some local ladies had set up a card table and a
cooker and were making crepes at .50€ each. I had a chocolate one
with Nutella on it and Deb had an apricot. Fun.
Back to Orleans. For dinner we hiked down to the restaurant
area. We met a couple, Paul and Martine, from Brussels who were
traveling back from Spain on a motorcycle. We had a good
Three nights in Tours
Day 1 -
As we were leaving our room to check out we discovered the next
door neighbors were Paul and Martine. We looked over their motorcycle and gear and
said goodbye. Then a bite of breakfast.
Today not free parking. In
fact it was 24€! I'm glad the other two days were free. I suspect
we had a communication problem with the hotel lady, who didn't
know two words of English. I'm sure there were some sort of
parking arrangements that we didn't use.
I missed the turn while getting off the toll road and we ended up
driving all over hell and back until I finally pulled into a
parking lot and went into a patisserie/bolangerie and asked
directions. Of course not a word of English, but no problem.
We soon found our place. It's a bit tricky getting into the
parking garage here but we figured it out. We came up and our place is right in front of
the large rail road station. We were in "le Grand Hotel"! We had a
gigantic room. movie
Two windows that opened onto a square in front of the station. The
bathtub was amazing. Unfortunately we didn't use it. extras
We found that we really couldn't take our car out or it would cost
us like 24€. We can take it out once a day. They charge us 8€ per
day for parking.
We hiked down to the cathedral. Quite a nice cathedral. Very large
and beautiful. The two children of Anne of Brittany are buried
here. It has been partially redone so has some modern stained
glass windows. Had we known we would have gone a bit further and
visited the local Chateau of Tours. extras
We hiked down a street lined with restaurants and found a place on a medieval square
for lunch. Rick Steves
says in France slow service is good service. Two girls sitting
near us looked like they had already been there for a couple
around and looked at old buildings. We hiked past the
left over parts of a
cathedral that was dedicated to Martin of Tours. Two standing
parts indicate how large it must have been. It was torn down
because it was in disrepair
and a danger. We went into another church where the remains of
Saint Louis lie.
During the revolution all abbey's and nunnery's were
disbanded and most churches closed and damaged. So with a shortage
of funds and people many religious places deteriorated.
We walked back along a rather nice and wide transit mall. movie
We were going to hike back down to the restaurant area for dinner
but decided to eat in our neighborhood. It must be good because we
can see a French couple eating in there. So in we went. I had steak again. It was
undercooked and tough as
nails. I couldn't eat it. I should have complained. I need to
order it well done not medium. Deb had a wonderful meal of Boquelle St Jacques.
We met the French couple
and found they live in Salinas California. Ha! So back to the
Day 2 -
Croissants and coffee on
Off to Chateau Ambois (link)
and Chateau du Clos Luce/Parc Leonardo da Vinci. One of the claims
to fame here is that in 1498 King Charles VIII died after hitting
his head on a door lintel.
We parked about a mile away and hiked in. I'm sure there was
The chateau is up on a hill and is more like a fort then a place
to live. It has a great view of the Loire river. The grounds are
spectacular. We really covered the grounds in this place. This is
the first resting place of Leonardo DaVinci. extras
Down below is Chateau du Clos Luce where DaVinci lived most of his
time in France. We stopped for a bit of wine and rest. There are
DaVinci models in the building. The associated Parc Leonardo da
Vinci has many full sized replicas of DaVinci's designs. Anne of
Brittany also enjoyed staying here. I can see why it's a nice
place in a nice setting with a town nearby. extras
We had lunch here. A buckwheat crepe with ham and cheese
Once again we got scrambled up trying to get back to our place. We
drove through suburbs, industrial parks, neighborhoods, over hill
and over dale. Suddenly we saw the patasserie/boulanger where I'd
previously gotten directions. We finally made it back. We stopped into the little
place where we had dinner last night.
Later we hiked down to the restaurant area and walked around for a
while before finding a cute little place for dinner - "la Plume Blanche". I had a delicious
poached egg entree and a steak for dinner - tough as
usual. Deb had a pate with
toast and duck. We shared
a dessert. A very fun
dinner. Then a hike home up the transit mall area. Top
Day 3 -
Drove out to Chateau Villandry (link).
It's gardens are famous and spectacular. Perhaps the most
beautiful gardens anywhere. Napoleon bought it for his brother. It
is now privately owned and restored by the family who lives here.
I can't say enough good things. You can't take a bad picture.
There are classic Italian gardens and an ornamental vegetable
garden. extras movie movie
We were looking for lunch after 2pm but most places were closing.
We had a pizza lunch in
the little town on our way to Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau (link)
it means "Azay the burnt" because it was burnt down in 1418.
It is spectacularly situated. A river was diverted around it so
it could be displayed as though it was floating on the river. This
chateau was built to be a house to live in rather then a fort. It
has staircases with landings though the style at the time was
circular staircases. It's not completed because the person who had
his wife oversee the building of the chateau was caught in a
scandal and had to flee France. However it is beautiful. extras
Once again we got lost trying to get back to our hotel. What a
mess. We actually drove places that we remembered from being lost
before and became even more lost. Finally we ran across the
patissery/boulanger and found our way home.
This is the night we had our nicest dinner at "le Theleme". It was
around the corner from us. I saw it on Google maps and
Traveladvisor said it was good. It was very nice. A fine French restaurant. Deb had fish and I had duck. We shared a dessert. Loved it. This is
our last dinner out. From now on we'll be in apartments.
Three nights in Angers
After studying Google maps it appears we have been going the long
slow way out of town to the chateaux. There is a much easier way
to go. Coming back this way would have kept us from getting lost
three times. Darn. This time we went zip and onto the toll road
and off to Angers. Apparently Google maps gives you the
shortest route but not necessarily the most convenient.
Day 1 -
Drove to Angers (on-jay) (link). I guess we
found our place fairly easily. It's a huge apartment. (extras) Rather sparsely decorated
but nice and modern. We can park on the street in front of our
apartment for free but there are never any spaces. So we are
parked on Rue Pasteur.
Turns out it's quite inexpensive. It's about 4E for eight plus
hours during the day then 12 hours for 1E after 6pm. Not bad.
I think at this time we hiked down to the tourist area and to the
tourist office. We left there and went to look at and enter the
Chateau d'Angers (link).
It's clearly more of a fort then a chateau. We walked around and
looked at the Apocalypse Tapestries (link).
They are a series of about 90 scenes
from the bible book Apocalypse They are in a very dark room. It took about ten
minutes before we could see them very well. Our cameras acted like
night vision goggles so we could see them better. An amazing piece
of work. It would take
days to look at and study them all.
We walked on the ramparts and looked out. It has an
imposing view of the river as well as the town of Angers. One of
the interesting features of these forts is openings high up the
wall but at the bottom of the top of the tower. It's for dumping
things on people trying to scale the wall. extras
We went back to our apartment and then out for food. We had looked
at Google maps so knew of a patisserie/bolanger near by. Turns out
the owner spent a lot of time in Monterey and spoke good English.
He told us where a supermarket was located. We hiked over there
and got a bit lost. Two older guys were happy to help but then
they just asked girl on a bike where the market was. We picked up
some food, a baguette and wine. On the way home we passed a larger
supermarket. It's funny because these so called supermarkets are
not too super. Usually small with a few narrow aisles. They
usually have a large array of stuff though. After I dealt with the
parking we settled in and
watched an American movie in French.
The only English on TV is news and that gets pretty boring after a
bit. French commercials are quite creative and entertaining. Top
Day 2 -
We hiked over to the tourist office to buy a city pass which gets
us into most everything. On the way we stopped at a gallery , David d'Angers,
with large statues. They
were setting up an exhibit so let us in free to see just a part of
the museum. We bought our passes and waited to take the little
tourist train around the
sights and across the river. In the mean time we toured the
cathedral. Finally the train took us on a nice ride around. We saw
some things we might want to visit.
We had a very nice and fancy lunch. It appears that many
French take their big meal of the day at noon. Most places have
noon specials that are cheaper then dinner specials and often the
same exact thing.
We went to a nearby
museum - Musee des Beaux Arts. Deb then decided we
would hike to the
tapestry museum of Jean-Lurcat on the other side of the river. So
off we went on a rather long hike. The museum has a modern set of tapestries which are
supposed to be in opposition to the Apocalypse Tapestries. Quite interesting and a nice
display as well as the information sheet was very good.
After that we went into a nearby museum in the same
complex. I could hardly stand anymore so I basically sat while Deb looked at the
We then started the trek home. I noted that there was
a Museum of Natural History
on our route. After some searching we found it. It was a bit old and funky but another thing to
add then check off the bucket list. We stopped by a butcher shop and bought a few items for dinner. We paid for parking
and snuggled in for the night. The potatoes and things we bought
at the butcher were delicious
and plentiful. Top
Day 3 -
This was Saturday. I bought some pastries from the Monterey pastry
guy for our breakfast.
We drove out to Chinon (link).
This is described as a castle but is obviously a fort. It's high
on a hill overlooking a town and a vast area including the Loire
river. It appears to have been extensively rebuilt but there are
original parts still there. We parked too far away again and only
had two hours parking. We hiked to the tourist office and got
tickets to Chinon and another place. We took the elevator up then
hiked up some more to the castle. It's pretty amazing. They had a
good Joan of Arc presentation. I guess the Knights Templar owned
this at one time. There was an interesting exhibit about the
Knights. Jacques deMolay was imprisoned here. You can see the
actual place. It's well down in the ground.
On 6 March 1429 Joan met Charles VII. This may be the place where
he pretended to be a courtier but she identified him anyway. He
sent her to Poiters to have her questioned to see if the voices
speaking to her were real. When she returned Charles granted her
supplies and sent her to join the army at Orleans where she helped
to break the siege there and earned the name "Maid of Orleans". extras
We had an especially nice
lunch here sitting under trees and umbrellas.
We hiked back to our car and spent some time looking for the statue of Joan. We parked and took a
We then drove out in the country to find Abbaye de Fontevraud (link).
It was getting a bit late so we got an excellent parking spot.
This was a large place with both men and women founded around
1000AD. The men lived outside of the main abbey. It was run by
aristocratic women for 800 years. There were four orders here
ranging from rich widows to repentant prostitutes. It was ordered
disbanded after the revolution, as were all abbeys and
monasteries. It then served as a prison for 150 years. It has had
extensive restoration. It is quite impressive. The Plantagents
Elanor of Aquitaine and Henry II were buried here. Their graves
were destroyed during the revolution so there only effigies
remaining. There is a very nice large chapel and a famous kitchen
fire area which had eight fire places for cooking. extras movie
Deb got directions back to Angers. I was going to take the toll
road but this drive along
the Loire on a Saturday afternoon/evening
was beautiful. I'm glad
we did it though we got a bit lost finding our place back in
Four nights in Paris
Day 1 -
Seeing it was Sunday the traffic
into Paris was not bad only a few stop and go places. Deb directed
us directly to CDG airport. The fee for getting off the toll road
was 26€. Not bad seeing it was nearly 200 miles and we were going
85mph all the way. We filled up the rental car at the last
possible gas station. Returning the car was a bit confusing but we
accomplished that. No receipt because their computer system was
down (!?). We jumped on the shuttle and went to terminal 2 to
catch the train into Paris (10€ each). It drops us off right near
the neighborhood where we will be staying - Les Halles near St.
The train ride was pretty bad. It packed up to
standing room only. Seeing we had two suitcases we hogged up four
seats. We rearranged things so one person could sit down. Not a
good experience. We got there with no complications other then we
had to lug our suitcases up a couple flights of stairs when
exiting the station. OMG! Some guy picked up Deb's bags and
sprinted up the stairs. I was trailing behind with two heavy bags.
It just about killed me. I suffered later for that bit of
I had carefully written down exactly where the office is where
we are supposed to meet the owner. We found the
office. Nobody there. I knocked on the door but it was obviously
closed. So we decided to hike to the apartment and see if somebody
was there to meet us. With some help from a pretty girl on a motor
scooter we found it. Nobody there. We decided to hike back to the
office. This is like a half mile hike across several streets.
Nope, nobody there. Deb went into a small Hilton hotel nearby. We
didn't have a personal number for the owner. The hotel sent yet
another email for us. After a while I took our Kindle in and asked
for wifi access. I looked over the emails and did not find a phone
number. I then Googled the owners name and got what looked like a
cell phone number. The desk girl called it and told me "no
answer". I asked her to try to leave a message. After twenty or so
rings he picked up! I talked with the owner and he said he could
be at the apartment in thirty minutes. Damn! So we hiked back to
the apartment. I sent Deb to go have a drink at the "Thirsty Mad Cat" at the end
of our street. She said she was going to buy a 50€ bottle of
champagne and drink it. Ha!
around for about 40 minutes until he arrived. The owner of the
company was a surprisingly young guy driving an American SUV.
He let me in, cleaned up a bit and made the bed. After he left I
went and had a beer with Deb.
Finally we are in our tiny Paris apartment. I must
say the price is right (100€/night). The bed is in the wall. It
seems to have everything including the best shower of the trip.
However it does look out to a street. Not a busy street but none
the less if the curtains are open I'm sure anyone could look in. extras
Here is our general neighborhood. movie
We hiked out and found a supermarket and a pastry shop. Back home
to snuggle in, have dinner, drink some wine and watch American
movies in French. Top
Day 2 -
We walked through a nice covered gallery and had an elegant cup of coffee and pastry for
breakfast. We ran across a movie
shoot. I took a couple pictures.
We then walked through the Palais
Royal. Once again it was raining so it wasn't packed with
Parisians relaxing and children frolicking as described by Rick
Steves. We hiked over to the Louvre
which is closed on Monday. We decided we weren't going to do the Louvre this time.
We hiked over to our old neighborhood. We went to the
pizza place we had eaten at
many times last year. We were warmly welcomed and they even had
the card Deb had sent. We had an interesting discussion with two
gentlemen sitting next to us. They have a translation business -
Arabic and French. Deb had a salad and I had a salad with cheese
croquettes plus some wine. They gave us a free pre-lunch sweet wine. (Here is the toilet).
We decided to check out the train station again. We found an
elevator that would take us down to the train so we wouldn't have
to schlep our bags down stairs if we take the train. Seeing it's
right next door we went into Saint Eustache extras and looked
around. It's still not real sunny. Deb lit a candle for my sister
With some advice from our lunch friends we hopped on a train and rode out to the
area where all the big office buildings are located. Paris has a
limit of something like five floors for buildings in Paris so big
buildings are located in a planned area outside of the main city.
I had see it on Rick Steve so wanted to see it myself.
It was quite spectacular. You come up under a
building called the "Arch".movie
We hiked out on a walkway to get a good view. I was certain there
was a large plaza nearby that should be amazing. Sure enough on
the other side of the Arch is where the big amazing buildings are.
I understand that if the weather is nice and you are there at the
right time the plaza is abuzz with people walking and people
eating lunch. It was very cool, windy and threatening rain so it
was pretty quite. I'm glad we did this. One person described it as
the Paris Dubai. extras
Back on the train and back to our
apartment where we ate and
watched an American movie in French. Top
Day 3 -
Today the left bank (Rive Gauche) and Luxembourg garden. In the
past the left bank was where the poor people and students lived.
We hiked through the Palais
Royal past the movie set,
past some elegant shops and on to Pont des Arts across the Seine. Note all the padlocks on the bridge. We
walked through an area with a lot of art galleries. We visited St.
which is the oldest church in Paris - of course
rebuilt a few times. Then on to Saint Sulpice (link)
a large church with an obelisk
that marks the winter solstice. We saw some sort of protest going on. We
couldn't figure it out with our small knowledge of French. (Later
Peg figured out that it was a protest over allowing other places
other then drug stores to sell products currently reserved for
drug stores only.)
We had an interesting lunch on the square behind the Odeon
which I guess is a theatre. The waiter was a hoot. He asked a profound
question - "Where are you from?". I answered "California". "No
where else?". "Michigan?". "No where else?". "Ah, Ireland and my
wifes from Germany". He said "Yes there are no real Americans.
Everybody's family is from someplace else." "Unless you are an
On to Luxembourg gardens(link).
It was created for Marie de Medici (daughter of Catherine) by
Henry IV. It was to be a Tuscan garden and be similar to the Pitti
Palace in Florence Italy where she was raised. It is spectacular.
It has lakes, statues, gardens, beautiful buildings and everything
you'd like in a big city garden. You can rent toy sail boats and
take a pony ride here. We enjoyed it quite a bit. extras
We decided to hike back past Notre Dame. We walked
near the Sorbonne on our way. We crossed the Seine and found ourselves in
front of Notre Dame. The
crowds didn't look too bad so we went in and walked around. The
place is larger then I remembered it. It is quite a rich church. Nearly destroyed
during the revolution. All exterior statues were broken the
original remains were saved by a wealthy person and buried in his
back yard. They were discovered a few years ago and are on display
at the Cluny museum. I forgot to look at some paintings or mosaics
in the back of the church of students being harassed by the town
Deb bought some flowers.
We hiked along the Seine
to Pont Louvre where we turned back into our old neighborhood. We stopped at our old bar. The girl bartender
recognized us and expressed some reserved happiness. She
acknowledged the photos Deb had sent. We had a drink and promised we'd be
back - we never came back. movie
To home and dinner. Top
Day 4 -
Today we are looking for the Joan of Arc statue and "The Paris
Museum of Modern Art".
I wanted to see the Galleries Lafayette
which I understood to be markets under those glass roofs. It's not
far from our apartment. It turned out to be a large department
store, a bit of a disappointment. From Tripadvisor it looks like
we should have explored it further. We then walked around the
rather spectacular opera house. Wow! We could have
taken a tour and seen the ceiling painted by Chagall but it looked
like a lot of tour buses were in the area. We hiked down through the plaza Vendome. Unfortunately
the obelisk is totally
hidden while being referbed. We hiked on to the Tuleries gardens.
There seemed to be some major event being set up in the garden.
After some walking we found the gold statue of Joan of Arc. It has
been reproduced a few times. There is one in Portland and one in
We walked through the less then spectacular Tulleries garden, around some
construction to Place de
la Concorde - largest plaza
in Europe. It was a mess with construction. We continued hiking for what was miles along the Seine toward the museum. We
finally stopped for lunch
on the square just before the museum. We had a fun time talking
with a couple from Mexico
Finally the museum. The lady from Mexico said it was
the worst gallery she had
ever been in. Hmmm. We though it was very good. Not many famous pieces but quite an
nicely displayed. We
enjoyed it though I am pretty shot from walking. I think I'm still
suffering from the effort of lugging those suitcases up those
We took the metro back to
the Sentier station in our
We got more fancy pastries, a baguette
and food at the supermarket. We tried to get
to bed early but couldn't sleep very well. Top
We got up at 5:30am, showered had some coffee, packed up and about
6:30 started walking for the train. Actually I think we left more
like 6:40. We only had to ask one person if we were on the right
course to the train station. We used the elevator but had a bit of
a trial getting our tickets and getting on the train. A station
worker helped us identify which track to be on. The train ride was not 50
minutes but more like 30 minutes so we made up some time.
At the airport we hopped on the shuttle to terminal
1. We stood in an enormous line waiting to check in. Turns out
they had some computer problems which had delayed check in. We
were finally given access to the priority boarding line. No
problem after that. We hiked forever to our gate and boarded the
The plane ride was rather grueling. We called our
taxi guy and told him we had landed. We got our bags and called
him again. He picked us up and away we went home.
Quite a nice trip. Top
- Here are a lot of nice pictures chosen by Debbie - Shutterfly
- Comments about driving in
- At the start the Euro was $1.30 as it went along it went down to
$1.27. We mostly used cash though I did use the debit card to
charge the gas.
- Gasoline was $88.65, $86.02 and $56.73 for a total of $231.40.
Not bad for all the driving we did. Probably cheaper then buses
- Lots of smoking. Seems like every girl over sixteen is smoking
while walking down the street. Tons of cigarette butts all over
- Beware of the dog poop. They are encouraging picking it up
but nobody seems to be doing it.
- Nobody smiles on the street. Americans look like grinning fools.
- Here's an interesting fact - Paris is further north (48.8º) then
Seattle (47.6º). London is 51.5º. Portland O 45.5º and San Jose