|Subject: Paris Travelogue, part 1|
Here is my Paris 03 Travelogue:
We fly American Airlines nonstop from Chicago (O'Hare) to Paris (Charles de Gaulle). Pleasant and blessedly uneventful flight, Charlotte slept for nearly half. Jerry is offered free drinks with dinner, a mystery to both of us. Later, when chatting with the attendants, they buy him another drink and thank him for helping fellow passengers stow their carryons. Nice.
Arrive at airport, take taxi to Hotel Palais Bourbon. Wait just a few minutes for suite to be ready, rooms very acceptable, decide to take a short nap. Emerge from dreamland a few hours later, shower, and walk over to the Musee Rodin, just around the corner. The museum building is closed because of the strike, but the garden is open, free of charge. We LOVED the garden, not only for the incredible art, but the roses are blooming everywhere you look. We can't get a museum pass here, so we head to the nearest metro station.
Purchased our carnets, got a map, and headed up to the Champs Elysee. Here, there is an exhibition of train cars celebrating the history of train travel in France. There are hundreds of police, apparently, there is to be a demonstration. Strolled up to the Tourist office near the Arc de Triomphe, purchased our Museum passes. The woman assisting us thought this was a great mistake, as the strike had already shut some museums, and she feared we would be disappointed. We are carefree Americans, and plunk down 90 Euros for 2 five day passes.
Strolled back down the Champs to Cafe di Roma, had a nice dinner including tagliatelle carbonara, pizza margherita, and grilled veal chop. Take the metro back to the hotel, have to walk a bit, since the police have tear gassed some demonstrators, and closed our nearest metro station. No one on our street (rue Bourgogne) seems affected, and we feel secure. We sleep well, despite our long afternoon nap.
We settle into our morning routine of coffee and croissants in our room, included in our rate. Then we head over to the Louvre (www.louvre.fr), and despite the strike, its open. There is no line at the security station, and soon we are headed toward the Mona Lisa. I'd forgotten how many paintings are in the Italian section. For the first time in my life, I can actually stand at the rail right in front of the painting. To our horror, the other tourists are not looking at the painting AT ALL. They are too busy posing their friends and family at the rail and taking flash photographs of the Mona Lisa. No security guard objects, there is no sign here indicating that flash photography is prohibited. We are very disappointed at this behavior.
We pass the Winged Victory of Samathrace on our way back downstairs to tour the Greek antiquities and finish with Venus de Milo. Charlotte had read "My Little Louvre", a children's book, so was able to point out highlights covered in the book. We save other sections for another visit, and exit through the I.M. Pei pyramid.
Charlotte is anxious to see the Obelisk, so we head over to the Tuileries and soon begin to wilt in the heat. After more searching than I remember on previous visits, we find a kiosk for sandwiches and crepes and enjoy lunch on a shady park bench. Charlotte spies a carousel in the park, and we all enjoy a ride. Next, we check out the trampoline park, which Charlotte also enjoys. Between the crepe jambon and the trampoline, she is ready to become a Parisian.
Next, we head over to Invalides to tour Napoleon's Tomb. Charlotte and Jerry are fascinated by the uniforms and swords used by Napoleon and his generals. It's cool and quiet down by the actual tomb, and I'm proud to say my 8 year old was more respectful than the two American men sporting baseball caps loudly discussing the stock market. Sigh. Back to the hotel for a nap (us) or a book and CNN (Charlotte).
Over the years we'd heard several of our foodie friends speak highly of Thoumieux (thoumieux.com). This was probably our most disappointing meal of the trip. Indifferent food and service, despite the fact that they were less than one third full at 8pm. We ate celery root remoulade, steak bernaise, duck, serrano ham, leeks vinaigrette, creme brulee and chocolate cake. Walked home to read and sleep.