Nice, and back to Paris

Friday, June 30

Today was pretty much a travel day. We had our final incredible breakfast on the terrace, packed up, said au revoir to Lynn, and headed for Nice.  The two hour drive was through more beautiful mountains and valleys and past quaint villages and modern towns, and fields of lavender. France is so picturesque!  We made it to Nice at noon.  Of course, everything closes from 12 - 2 through June 30th!!! So we could only eat lunch, but couldn't see the Chagall Museum, which is one reason why we came here. 

So we found a place for lunch at an outdoor café overlooking one of the most famous city fronts on the Mediterranean. Of course, it was Salade Nicoise!  Then we walked around a little and bought some candied fruit (a specialty of the region) for a work friend of Wendy's whom we would visit later in Paris.

Then to the aeroport where we took a 1 hour 10 minute flight back to Orly.   Paris!!! Compared to all the towns we've seen on the trip, it is huge!  We checked in at the Hotel Le-Sainte-Beuve. Compared to the B&B's, the main room is tiny, but the hotel is charming. The temp outside is close to 90 (and humid, like Chicago; very unusual for this time of year). We freshened up and took a 30 minute cab ride to Frederique's house (Wendy's workmate). As we got there, her 3 year old daughter Juliet had just fallen and broken a tooth! Pierre (her husband) was calling a doctor. We tried to entertain Francoise, their 18 month old son. Eventually, Juliet stopped crying and began to put on a show as all girls that age do. What a doll! Of course, when it was bedtime she didn't want to go (water, pee-pee, kisses, etc. In other words, the normal routine!). In the true French fashion, we didn't start eating dinner until 10:00! Frederique made a simple, light (good move) plate of salad, tomatoes, shrimp, melon, and, OF COURSE, a loaf of French bread! And, a special treat from Pierre's home area of LeMans: riette (or rillete) - which is the French version of potted meat food product (although it is usually made with canard)!!!!  Wayne liked it, which amazed everyone!

For dessert, an incredible cream-filled tart topped with raspberries, blackberries, and gooseberries, and great chocolat glace. At 12:45 we said we had to leave, so Pierre very generously offered to drive us home. Even at that hour there were many cars on the streets. And of course, our street is so small, it's not even on his Paris map! He stopped twice to ask for deirections, but each time it was une Americain! Finally Wayne recognized a building and said "Turn here" and there we were!!!

Saturday, July 1

Today we explored Paris!  But first - breakfast in our room - a bowl of peaches and cherries, juice, yogurt, coffee, croissants - yum!  Then out we go.

The elevator in our hotel must be the smallest in the world. It says it holds 4 people (max), but even 2 was tight. And it takes a full minute to get from the lobby to the 6th floor.

Side note: In Europe, the main floor is floor 0, the next floor up is 1 (what we would call the second floor), etc.  The sub-floors (basement or in a voiture parc) are "-1", "-2", etc.  Makes sense.

We had a great Metro map, so we hopped on, changed once, and came up right near La Tour Eiffel.

It's really neat!  We took the lift to the 1st and 2nd etages, then up to the top. Again it was about 90 outside and humid, so it was really brutal up there. 

Then, back on Le Metro to our next stop - Les Bateaux Mouches - the sightseeing boats that go on the Seine.

We took a nice 75 minute ride - very comfortable and relaxing.  The audio (in French, English, German, Italian, and Japanese) told about the history of the buildings and bridges we passed. 

Then, back on the Metro for a ride to the Tuileries, a former palace. 

We walked around and saw the obelisk and, in the distance, the Arc de Triomphe.

Then it was time for lunch, a salade Nicoise with Orangina and a liter of water, and cold chicken and frites, (with mayonnaise), and 2 bottles of Schweppes, and sorbet. Then a walk through Le Petite Arc and into the Louvre courtyard. There were so many tourists there we decided to take a pass.  Back on the metro (very easy to get around, very well marked, and we never had to wait for more than 2 minutes for a train!). Next stop - Notre Dame.

Unfortunately, the west (front) façade was covered by scaffolding, as they are doing some restoration.  The inside was huge and dark and gloomy....

...and we thought Chartres was more impressive (even though all of these windows were clean).  Then 283 steps to the top of the bell tower. Luckily we had bought a bottle of water before we started up.  At the top, they give a mini-lecture on the 300 year old bell (Emmanual), and they clang it (by hand) while you are standing inside!  Then, back down and into the metro and over to Montmarte.  We had more Scweppes and Orangina at an outdoor café.  We had planned to go to Sacre Couer, but it was now 7:00 and it closed at 6:00, and our legs were threatening to go on strike.  So we boarded the metro one more time, came back to the hotel, took the world's most refreshing showers, and then walked to Le Chat Grippe for dinner (we had heard it was good, despite the name meaning "Cat flu"!!).  We have been eating good French food all week, but this was exquisite and beautifully presented.  They started us with raw tuna and tapis (olives and garlic moosh). Wendy then had a mixed salad with chunk de homard. Wayne had canard ravioli...mmmmmm.......the Wendy had St. Pierre (a sea fish) and Wayne had veal with curry sauce with green apple / spinach moosh. Heaven!  Then they brought a plate of sweets (candy, cookies), then a dessert of apple tart and a chocolate cake filled with mousse of chocolate and pistachio, and pistachio sorbet on the side.  Then a walk back through picturesque rain (we had our umbrellas) and into bed at the reasonable hour of 11:30.

Sunday, July 2

Up early, the same ho-hum (ho ho!) breakfast and then back into the metro for our exploration of Montmarte.  The metro stop was a killer - a winding stairway that seemed to go on forever and reminded us of climbing to the top of Chartres.  By the time we got to street level we were exhausted, and it was only 9:30!  We walked a few blocks and came to Sacre Couer.

Most impressive, but more stairs!  Undaunted, we began the climb under more searing heat.  This church is "only" 125 years old. It has a unique dome instead of a main vaulted ceiling. We were lucky enough to get there just as High Mass was starting. That was really neat. We stayed for a while then took another petite train ride around the area. We saw buildings where old artists and poets had lived, the Moulin Rouge,

...and more quaint, narrow streets than you could shake a baton at.

We then walked around the artists' area.  On the way back to the metro we found a great store where we bought a photo album. By then it was 1:15 and we had to catch the metro for our special fancy lunch at 2:00.  We went down and got on, and when we came out 45 minutes later - aaarrgghhh!!! It was pouring!  And no umbrellas! The stop was at the entrance to the Bois de Boulogne, like Central Park in NY. We dumbly assumed that the restaurant would be right near the entrance; non!  We walked and ran and got soaked and kept going deeper into the woods. It was 2:10 by now. Finally we flagged a taxi and he drove even deeper (we never would have found it), and finally we were there.  Probably the fanciest restaurant in Paris and we got a great table near the terrace where we could see the rain and the trees. As it was Sunday, all the people (lots of families) were there in the finest clothes...even the dogs! We knew this would be our last meal and so we went wild.  First: langostinos for Wendy, veal chunks in a vinaigrette sauce with mushrooms for Wayne. Then they brought us a large (large) shrimp, gratis. Then salmon with mushrooms, and pork slices with petit pois moosh (divine). Of course, wine, water, and Schweppes. Then a plate of freebie sweets and cookies. Then dessert - a chocolate / pistachio cake and strawberries with orange sauce. In between there was thunder and lightning and more rain, but eventually it let up. All this came to F1400 - the most we had ever paid for a meal, let alone a lunch. But it was certainly worth it.

It had started to drizzle again by the time we finished, so we got another taxi to take us back to the hotel. We asked for the "scenic route" so we saw many other monuments along the way. A beautiful city. 

We dumped our stuff, grabbed our brellas and headed back to the metro.  On to Le Marais, the old Jewish section. Delis and kosher butchers and synagogues and a whole different world. Raining harder!  Back to the metro and over to Rue St. Germain to have a "drink" (yup...more Orangina and Schweppes) at another famous café Aux Deux Magots.

Since people sit here for hours, they have to charge a lot - $6 each for our drinks!  We walked around, got lost for a little while, found the metro and got back to the hotel. A fabulous day.

Monday, July 3

Woke up at 6:30, wrote some last minute postcards and packed.  This was the best trip ever!  One more breakfast and then on to Orly.

Au Revoir, France!!!

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