A January 2002 trip
to Paris by zabelle
Quote: Paris is a city that begs to be walked. Its neighborhoods invite the casual stroll. This is the best way to find some of the less traveled paths.
In search of the remnants of the Monarchy we visited the Chappelle de Expetoire. I had hoped to visit the restored cell at the Concergerie but time did not allow it. We attended Mass on Saturday evening at Notre Dame and had a wonderful supper of crepes on the left bank.
Even in January the weather encouraged walking. On our last night we headed out and walked the Blvd Haussmann to Montmarte. It was wonderful and Paris certainly shines at night.
You know your visit is going to be special as soon as you enter your room and are greeted by a crystal decanter of complimentary brandy and a note of welcome from the management. Our room was on the 3rd floor and overlooked the street. The other two groups with us had rooms on the main level, off the lobby. Our room was larger than theirs and we had a good size double bed. We had a padded headboard attached to the wall in our sleeping alcove. Our room had 2 telephones one on the desk and one in our bed alcove. We had cable TV, trouser press, a minibar, a room safe cost 2 euros a day, 2 closets, a small upholstered stool at the foot of our bed. The curtains were thick over sheers and at night we were able to make the room totally dark and quiet.
Our bathroom was a good size, very bright and all white. It had a hair dryer and a retractable cloths line. What I particularly liked was the bath salts they included in the amenities basket. With all the walking we did I enjoy a soak in the large, deep tub. We had everything we needed for a comforable and luxurious stay.
Breakfast is not included in the price. It costs 14 euros a day for the American buffet. It included cold ceral, yogurt, cold meat, cheese(at least 5 varieties every day) and pickles, pain chocolat, small danish, toast (you toast them yourself), rolls, croissants, scrambled eggs bacon, sausage, vegetables (potatoes or corn), stewed prunes, pears in syrup, fruit cocktail, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. They will make you eggs another way if you wish. We ate there every morning and were never disappointed. It was a little steep for my daughter and her friend so 2 mornings they went across the street to a bakery and got juice and rolls.
The hotel has a computer in the parlor . For 9 euros per hour you can check your e-mail or your favorite online sites. The bar offers half price drinks every evening. If I had any complaint it would be the tiny elevator but that would be petty. We have stayed here before and will stay again. We got a 20% discount and stayed in a superior room for about $125 a night.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 12, 2002
Hotel Queen Mary
9 rue de Greffulhe
Paris, France 75008
+33 (0)1 42 66 40 50
This was funny. It was what the French see as the American West. There were wooden Indians, and there was a children's birthday party going on, and they were all dressed like cowboys and Indians. The decor was pretty much like Fridays or Chili's at home.
The menu was pretty much the same, too. I ordered buffalo wings and fries. They were wings, but not what we call buffalo--no hot sauce or blue cheese. The chili was made with hunks of beef and beans. The steak was very acceptable.
It was fun to have American food, even with a French twist. We had great desserts, ice cream sundaes, brownies, and lemon pie. It was all good--not great, but fun.
Service here was spotty. One waiter didn't speak English, so he abandoned us right away. We managed, however, and if you want to try some almost-American food, it's worth the stop.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 12, 2002
7 Avenue de Sceaux
01 30 21 32 03
Restaurant | "La Cour au Crepes"
I started my meal with celery soup. It was bright green and chunky. I expected cream of celery, but this was very satisfying, with intense flavor. I followed with crepes Argentuel, which was a large crepe filled with asparagus in a bechamel sauce. It was wonderful and suprisingly filling. Others tried the Forestiere, which had mushrooms with bechamel, and the Popeye, which had ham and spinach. My daughter, who is into plain, had a crepe with maple syrup--very simple and very good. There are plenty of vegetarian choices here.
For dessert, I had a decadent crepe filled with melted chocolate and coconut. It was the stuff dreams are made of. Inez had pears and chocolate, and Joe had lemon. Both were very good--I tasted them. Al had chestnut ice cream.
This is a great casual choice, and the service was friendly, fast, and efficient. We were able to find a cab back to the Queen Mary right around the corner. If you want to feel like a Parisian, this is a simple and afforable way to do it. It is small, though, and at first smoke wasn't a problem, but by the time we left, it was getting pretty smoky.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 12, 2002
La Cour aux Crepes
27 Rue Galande
01 43 25 45 00
I had fried crab balls as an appetizer. They came piled high in a bowl with a sweet and spicy sauce. They were delicious, the crab was held together with rice. Three others tried 3 different soups. The chicken with coconut milk was a pretty salmon color and spicy. The chicken citronella was very spicy and had mushrooms and little corn cobs in it. Only the chicken and dumpling was mild.
My main course was Chicken Sate and white rice . The chicken was as expected 4 skewers of boneless chicken breast but the sate sauce was not at all what I expected. It tasted more like the coconut milk soup than peanut butter, it was very good anyway. The rice has to be ordered seperately, it was not included with the meal.
There are several reasonably priced prix fix menus both for Chinese and Thai food. The Beef and Onions got high ratings as did the Chicken and cashew. The fried Thai noodles were a hit with everyone.
One thing we though was a good idea was that our waiter wrote down on the table cloth the number that each of us ordered. It made it much easier to split the bill.
We finished up our meal with ice cream and sorbet. The lemon came in a hallowed out lemon. I can safely say that all of us were smiling when we left. This was not a cheap meal and service was not included. If you want to economize the appetizers were good value and larger than the meals in some cases. With tip we paid about 25 euros each with no alcoholic drinks.
Patong Thai Food
1 Rue de Castellane
Attraction | "Chappelle Expiatoire"
Luckily for royalists everywhere, there was a lawyer with royalist sympathies who had a house overlooking the cemetery. When the terror was over and the cemetery was no longer used he was able to buy it. He had noted where all the important burials had been made and on the restoration of the monarchy was able to point out the graves of the former king and queen. Their bodies were removed for burial at St Denis and the chapel was built on the site.
Entrance is 3 Euros and it was a poigniant place to visit to say the least. You walk down the stairs past the monuments to Charlotte Corday (who murdered Marat in his bath) on one side and Philippe Egalitie (who adopted this republican name in hopes of saving his life, it didn't work).
On the lower level there are monuments to both Louis and Marie Antoinette both adorned with fresh flower offerings. There is an altar at the spot where Louis grave was found and when we walked in there was a young man on his knees obviously overcome with emotion. It was touching that something that happened so long ago can still so affect people.
Outside in the garden there are markers to commemorate all the others who were buried here both before and during the terror.
Come expecting it to be emotional, it will be. The simplicity only makes it more so.
Attraction | "St Germain L'Auxerrois"
There has been a church on this site since the 5th century. The church is dedicated to St. Germanus of Auxerre (Burgundy), and since it was the parish church of the Louvre palace, I imagine that is why the rois was added to the name. It has played an important role in history, as well, and it was the sounding of matins by the bells of St Germaine that signaled the start of the St. Bartholomew massacre of the Huguenots. This is not a role they are proud of.
The current church dates from the 13th century and has had many, many restorations done on it. The porch that encircles the whole church and its balustrade are worthy of note and were added in the 14th century.
This church has seen many famous people pass through its doors, not the least of which is Moliere, who was married here. Coypel, Chardin, and Boucher are buried here, along with the sculptor Coysevox. I was anxious to find the baptismal font. Using my limited French, I managed to converse with a volunteer and ask if he knew the history of the current font. He didn't, and no liturature he had gave any inkling of its age. I was disappointed, but this is a lovely church to visit even if you don't have roots here. Pay particular note to the Stations of the Cross on the pillars. They are very modern-looking in such an old church, yet they beautifully link the past and the present. Take the time to visit the chapels that flank both sides; they are very attractive and contain some lovely statuary.
Eglise Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois
2 Place du Louvre
Attraction | "Eglise St Eustache"
What I did find here was the magnificent Coysevox monument of Colbert, Louis XIV's minister. It is an exceptional piece. I had done my homework, so I knew I would find it, but I didn't expect to find a wooden screen protecting a chapel which was saved by the Princess of Lambale who worshipped here. The chapel opposite has lost its wooden screen and has a metal one like all the other chapels.
This church is noted for the quality of its acoustics, which are good enough that Berlioz performed his "Te Dium" here for the first time, and Liszt his "Messe de Gran". Unfortunately, we were here on a weekday and didn't get to experience this aspect of St. Eustache.
I don't want to leave the impression that this is just a historical site; it is a vital, living parish, and Mass is still celebrated here. The church is open daily from 9:30am-7:30pm, and a priest is available from 3-7:30pm.
2 impasse Saint-Eustache
Attraction | "Musee Jacquemart Andre"
Part of your entrance fee includes a headphone tour and this helps to enhance your appreciation of the works and the setting.
The first parlor you enter was set up to impress guests and it still does. It includes 2 Viger Lebrun portraits, 2 Canalettos, 2 Nattiers and 2 Bouchers. The grand salon has 18th century tapestries and paneling. There are walls that go into the floor that allow 3 rooms to become one and accomadate 1000 people at a party.
The tapestry room was constructed to fit the tapestries. It has a beautiful panelled ceiling and lovely furniture in pastel colors. They bought not only art works but whole rooms, ceilings, walls, doors, panelling etc. What ever they found beautiful and could fit into one of their homes.
In 1872 Nelie Jacquemart painted Edouard portrait. They didn't marry until 1881 but one has to wonder if they fell in love during the painting of the portrait. It is on display in the house. Part of the attraction here is the very real story of these two extraordinary people. The other part of the attraction is of course the art.
There are Rembrandts, Van Dykes, Frans Hals, Tiepolo, David, Lawrence, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Bernini, Boticelli, Mantagna, Fragonard, Chardin, and more all set in the most lovely rooms of furniture and decorative arts. Its not too much, its just enough.
This is finast collection in France, second only to the Louvre and it belonged to one couple. Its amazing.
There is a really superior gift shop and a cafe which had a very long line. Most of the people here appear to be French, its about time they shared their secret.
158, boulevard Haussmann
Paris, France 75008
+33 1 45 62 11 59
The Petit Trianon was built between 1762 and 1768 for the use of Louis XV and his mistress Madam de Pompadour, Unfortunately she died in 1764 and it was her successor Madam de Berry who got to enjoy it. Here they could come to get away from the suffocating formality of the French Court. In 1774 Louis XVI gave it to his wife Marie Antoinette and it became her favorite residence. It was turned into a museum dedicated to her memory by the Empress Eugenie in 1867.
Security is high all over Versailles and our bags and ourselves went through metal detectors at every different location. The room you enter into was the former billiard room and after passing security you go upstairs for your self guided tour.
The ante chamber is the first room you enter and the stunning Viger Lebrun portrait of Marie Antoinette with a rose dominates the room. From here you go to the large and small dining rooms. The large dining room has a very pretty bust of Marie Antoinette. The small dining room has portraits of Louis XV and Madam du Pompadour.
My favorite rooms were the bedroom and the private sitting room. I loved the upholstery on the furniture. There is no bed in the bedroom, it has long since disappeared never to be seen again. There is a writing desk that belonged to the Queen though.
There are about 10 rooms in total that you visit. This is small but very charming. Now you wait for the tram or walk over to the Grand Trianon.
+33 (0)1 30 83 75 05
Attraction | "Grand Trianon"
The Grand Trianon has been the home to many illustrious people. First Louis XIV who used it for short summer visits, then Queen Maria Leszczinska and later Napoleon I and his 2nd wife Empress Marie Louise. Even Louis Philippe made visits here, but it was President De Gaulle who saved the Grand Trianon by having it restored as a meeting place for the President of the Republic and other heads of state on official visits. The original furnishing were taken during the Revolution and now most of the furniture is First Empire. After the soft femininity of the Petit Trianon it appears heavy and in some cases downright garish.
You tour through on your own. There were staff members in every room but they appeared uninterested in adding anything to our visit. I must say, that after almost 3 weeks the only rude people we encountered were at Versailles. I suppose you get tired of dealing with crowds of people everyday but there is really no excuse for the attitude of a few of the staff.
The bedroom of Louis XIV was very impressive. The room was all crimson, white and gold with a canopy over the bed and a balustrade seperating the sleeping area from the rest of the room. The bed was originally in the Tuilleries Palace and was used by Napolean. Pretty ironic that it ended up in the Louis XIV bedroom.
Connecting the two wings that you get to visit there is the Peristyle, an open porch with a roof supported by columns. You get a wonderful view of the gardens from here and you can imagine sitting out here in the summer enjoying the breeze.
There are some really horrible rooms in the second half. The colors are so loud and the furniture so ugly it almost hurts to look at them. A little shabby chic would go a long way here.
The last two rooms however, are quite lovely. You can imagine ladies in lovely gowns promenading in the Cotelle Gallery.
I wasn't as impressed as I expected to be and maybe it was just that this was my last day and I was a little jaded. The building itself is beautiful but I didn't like most of the furnishings.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on February 12, 2002
Palace of Versailles (Chateau de Versailles)
20 Km Sw Of Paris
01 30 83 78 00