Paris Report

Jun 7, 2012 by

Paris Report

The Momma and I recently had an amazing trip to Paris.  My Mom is a perfect travel companion for me- she is low key, fun loving and up for anything.  And Paris is my city.  I love the food, the clothes, the public transportation, the museums and the people.  It greatly helps that I still speak pretty good French and that well both my Mom and I look French.  This will be my fourth visit to the City of Lights and it was nice to be able to slow down a bit and get off the beaten path.

We stayed in an apartment, which is something I really like doing.  I like the benefit of a kitchenette and a living room.  For a foodie our apartment was located in the perfect location- Rue Mouffetard.  This street closes to be a pedestrian only market street several days of the week. There are tea shops, coffee roasters, chocolate shops, cheese shops, bakeries, butcher shops, roast meat shops, fishmongers and then there is the produce.  All this during a cold, rainy April, so I can’t imagine what it is like with a little sunshine.  Most every morning started with us ordering freshly roasted coffee, eating a croissant of some variety and then walking it off getting to our daily adventure.

We had already been to the Louvre and many of the other museums.  We did make a second trip to the Musee D’Orsay- the building and the art are just things I can’t get enough of, but I am a big impressionist and art nouveau fan, but one of my favorite parts of the museum is the section on the Palais Garnier.   I have a tendency to get a little glassed over and then cranky when not well fed and hydrated.  My Mom seems to be able to instantly read when I need some refueling.  Which when on your feet all day and looking at amazing piece of art after the next,  we needed a break, the fifth floor has the perfect spot for a break, the tea room.  A very nice selection of tea and snacks.  We had mini desserts and pots of tea looking out the giant clocks over the city.

In other museum new we also visited the Centre Pompidou.  I love the selection of modern art there.  When I was young I didn’t appreciate modern art, and to give my Husband credit he has taken me to some amazing modern art museums and helped me learn to really enjoy it.  What is so magical, is these museums not only have great art, they also have a great view of Paris. Which even on a rainy day is a neat scene of city stretching out vastly.  It’s like as far as the eye can see of Parisian magic- food shops, flower stores, little neighborhoods with their own ebb and flow.

Paris for me is clothes mecca.  I have such a hard shape to fit in american clothes, for some reason French designed clothes fit me.  My husband thinks it is because my body and soul has stubbornly held onto any bit of French genes I have still in me- which accounts for my taste in food, wine, and other bad habits (He is English, go figure.  My Mom blames them all on my Father, who brought the French genes to the table to begin with…)  I am not sure quite the reason, but I hit town with a half empty suitcase, and come home having to unzip my Hartmann to full capacity.   And I love me some Printemps.  I shopped the main galleries as an exchange student when the dollar to franc ratio was unbelievable and scored amazing looks.  I like the Parisian style.  Women don’t necessarily follow all the trends, and tend to have more of a personal sense of style, much less complicated and fussed with overall look.  They have nice pieces with staple classics.  I really like the brand Sinequanone, and had a great salesperson that helped convince me to buy some amazing pieces I have worn all Spring.

Another great shopping day was our trip to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen at Porte de Clignancourt.  A huge flea market with little stalls.  It was such a shame that the weather didn’t really cooperate with outdoor shopping.  I had a great time buying beads for some great jewelry, trying on amazing garments and just searching stall after stall for some must haves.  There were stalls of buttons, stalls of toys, lots of furniture, art, vintage clothes and accessories (some reasonable, some not so much).  It was amazing what a stall would be devoted to, but what delight we had despite the pouring rain and cold.  We sought refuge in Cafe Voltaire, a diner of sorts, rotating plastic dessert stand, lots of character.  Mom had steak frites, I had buttered noodles with rabbit leg and mustard sauce.  It was a wonderful little gem.

 

I found this taxi company to be very useful while in Paris.  I found it on a blog, that I can no longer find, but wish I could so I could give them credit.  Remember when dialing Paris numbers in Paris you dial the zero, but no thirty-three.  This company has English speakers, they can send a taxi now or schedule on for later.  Their drivers are professional and very nice.

We had crepes from a stall on Rue Descartes, which were crispy and stuffed with great savory fillings in the day, gooey with warm nutella on the way home from the bar.  We had homemade ramen at Chez Ann where I quite enjoyed watching the proper French try to eat Ramen and Spring Rolls with chopsticks, not slurping or using their fingers.  We had an amazing dinner at Les Ombres overlooking the Eiffel Tower, with inventive modern food.  A nice lunch at Le Babylone across from the Bon Marche with typical bistro fare in a bustling setting and very good service.  Seafood tower at Le Bar d’Huites (and fried shrimp that you should avoid- just trust me on this one, not what you are expecting).  Beef carpaccio salads at Printemps under the beautiful stained glass.  Sandwiches from the amazing bakery down the block from our house.  And I had a really nice pork shank with lentils at Brasserie Lipp while Mom had a nice filet of sole.  And a very good lemon tart from La Flottille at the Venetian village at Chateau Versailles.

Speaking of the Chateau Versailles- the second most memorable part of the whole trip was my Mother and I carting around the grounds of Versailles in a golf cart.  After my saintly Mother walking all around Paris for a whole week, then through the whole Chateau Versailles overlooking the huge expanse of gardens I could see defeat in her eyes.  But the real prize to Versailles is the much less visited Grand Trianon and Petite Trianon the getaway castles.  Then it started to rain- again.  Not to fear, there was a short line for rental golf carts and the price, while not cheap, was worth it to be able to see all these other sections without being completely exhausted by a death march of gold leaf and manicured gardens.  And the most fun was watching my Mom, driving along, happy as a clam in our little cart.  It was a great moment of Mother daughter bonding as onlookers looked at us lazy carters, with genuine jealousy.

 

The third most memorable part of the trip was a show at the Crazy Horse.  I was fascinated with the Christian Louboutin shoes and the great physical shape the girls where in, and how well the dances were choreographed.  None were offensive, and they actually seemed to have a much more realistic ideal body shape then American eroticism.  It was actually fairly refreshing, and certainly really interesting.  It was a great show.  Funny enough the two male tap dancers at the end really stole the show.

But now you want to know the most memorable part of the trip.  And it was special, mind boggling in how just truly spectacular it was, especially for the price.  It was a ballet at the Palais Garnier.  The Palais Garnier is really spectacular, probably the most incredible theater I have visited.  The rooms are beautiful, the Chagall ceiling is stunning, the whole theater inspired the Phantom of the Opera and you can see why your imagination could get away with you in this building.  It’s truly spectacular in terms of decoration.  But the dancers were incredible, with moves and steps I haven’t seen in most ballets, incredible dancing and costumes.

We saw the L’Histore de Manon and it was a great story.  If you can swing tickets to a show there, which for the show we saw were actually very reasonable for our seats.  Cheaper than NYC, very in line with DC, but for a spectacular show and opportunity to view most of the Palais Garnier.  If you can’t squeeze in a show, you should still see it, but a show there was just so memorable.  It embodied Paris itself- overdone at times, but so beautiful, with details in every corner, exemplifying a modern classic stubbornly doing things how they know to do the way they know to do them.

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