By Don and Linda Freedman

Search TheTravelzine

TheTravelzine Group

Access Your Mail

Don's Gallery

Packing Hints

Planning Tips

Cities Links


Argentina, Buenos Aires - Jan-Mar 2010
Argentina, Buenos Aires - Jan-Mar 2009
Argentina, Buenos Aires - Jan-Mar 2008
Austria - Fall 2005
Belgium, Brussels - Fall 2000
Canada - Summer 2002
Canada - Summer 2001
Canada - Summer 2000
Czech Republic - Spring 2000
France - Fall 2002
France, Paris - Fall 2000
France, Paris - Spring 1999
France, Lyon - Spring 1999
Germany, Berlin - Fall 2009
Germany - Fall 2002
Germany - Spring 2000
Germany - Fall 1999
Greece - Fall 2012
Greece - Fall 1999
Greece - Fall 1997
Hungary - Spring 2000
Israel - Fall 1999
Italy - Winter 2007
Italy - Winter 2006
Italy - Winter 2005
Italy - Winter 2004
Italy - Winter 2003
Italy - Winter 2001
Italy - Fall 1998
Italy - Fall 1996
Netherlands - Spring 2000
Portugal, Azores - 2016
Portugal, Azores - 2015
Portugal, Azores - 2014
Portugal, Azores - 2013
Portugal, Azores - 2012
Portugal, Azores - 2011
Portugal, Lisbon - 2011
Portugal - Fall 2006
Portugal - Fall 2004
Portugal - Fall 2003
Portugal - Fall 2001
Portugal - Spring 1999
Portugal - Spring 1997
Slovakia - Spring 2000
Slovenia - Spring 1999
Slovenia - Fall 1996
Spain, Barcelona - Winter 2006
Switzerland - Fall 2002
Switzerland - Spring 2000
Switzerland - Spring 1999
Switzerland - Fall 1998
Switzerland - Fall 1997
Switzerland - Spring 1996
U.S. Florida, Key West - Fall 2006
U.S. Florida - Spring 2001
U.S. Maine - Summer 2002
U.S. Massachusetts - Summer 2003
U.S. Massachusetts - Summer 2002
U.S. Massachusetts - Summer 2001
U.S. New York State - Fall 2005
U.S. New York State - Summer 2004
U.S. New York State - Summer 2003
U.S. New York State - Summer 2001
U.S. Washington,DC - Spring 2000


PARIS, FRANCE Spring 1999 

The Air France flight from Oporto to Paris was perfect. We arrived at Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2 and within minutes were on the RER train to Paris. At the Chatelet Les Halles station, we changed to the Eastbound #1 metro line and exited two stops later at the St. Paul station in the 4th arrondissement. We crossed Rue St. Antoine and walked the few steps to the Grand Hotel Mahler.

We had originally planned a five night stay in Paris, but the unexpected call to the wedding in Portugal caused us to cut back to just two nights. On previous visits we had covered most of the highlights of the city with particular emphasis on the 5th, 6th and 7th arrondissements. We had touched briefly on Le Marais and were intrigued, but had no time to linger and explore.

After reading the Le Marais posts of Jack from Belgium, the intrigue turned to compulsion and we decided to devote our short visit solely to this district. As we navigated the streets, Jack's insightful narrative came to life.

The Mahler, a typical family-run establishment (3 generations), is a very good value three star accommodation, in a superb location. Our room was good sized with a queen size bed and bathroom, all spotlessly clean. The only negative was that the television was mounted so close to the bed and high on the ceiling that it was impossible to watch the news without getting severe neck strain.

We had a few hours before dinner to just wander and feel the pulse of Le Marais. The folks in the sidewalk cafes were chatting eagerly while throwing greetings to passers-by. The shopkeepers warmly greeted their regular customers and it didn't take long before we were happily saying "bonjour!" to every smiling face. There were walkers armed with baguettes plying Rue St. Antoine's specialty food shops in search of the evening meal. We passed cafes, bakeries, pastry shops and boutiques as we savored the first taste of this marvelous district.

Rue Des Rosiers and Rue Des Ecouffes provided a rich cultural experience for us, as it's the neighborhood of the Jewish community. Rue Des Rosier also stimulated an enormous appetite as we contemplated the baked goods so reminiscent of the delights we enjoyed as children in our grandmothers' kitchens.

Speaking of appetite, it was nearing 20:00 and we had a date for dinner with our Portuguese newlywed friends, Isabel and Paulo, who were honeymooning in Paris. Our guests were waiting for us at a restaurant recommended by Jack, Baracane at 38 Rue Des Tournelles. It's a small bistro, so we had called ahead (01-42-71-43-33) for reservations. It was a special delight to share this moment with them because, as with any wedding, we hadn't had an opportunity to spend quality time with them since they exchanged their vows the previous Saturday. Baracane, with its helpful and unrushed service, fine food and pleasant, casual environment provided the perfect venue for our evening together.

We had so much to talk about but the arrival of the appetizers quieted us down really quickly. All were beautifully presented; a lentil salad with slices of grilled rabbit, a fish tart with mustard cream sauce and green salad with blue cheese and walnuts were all delicious. Our main courses reflected the southwestern influence of the menu; two of us had rare duck breast and two ordered delicious poached fish. We were never hurried and were comfortable lingering and chatting away. The house made desserts were wonderful - fresh apricot tart, hazelnut ice cream and fresh strawberry shortcake. The prices were quite reasonable for the quality of the experience.

After a good night's sleep, we woke up eager to head over to Korcarz at 29 Rue Des Rosiers, a boulangerie-patisserie /restaurant-traiteur, which had a mouth-watering selection of bread, rolls and baked goods. We selected a flat, round onion bread, typical of Jewish bakeries, ordered cappuccino at the counter and enjoyed our delightful breakfast.

We were on an ethnic roll and ambled over to Rue Des Tournelles to the synagogue where, after ringing the bell, the caretaker invited us in. It is a huge, stunning, high structure with two balconies. The architect was Marcellin Varcollier and Gustave Eiffel designed the metal frame.

You can't stop by Place Des Vosges without being awestruck by its beautiful design and composition. But it doesn't stop there. As we wandered up Rue de Turenne to Rue Des Francs Bourgeois, Rue Payenne, Rue Elzevir to name a few, the magnificent buildings, hotels, estates and museums are an architecture lover's delight. We spent considerable time in the Musee Picasso. The museum itself is very well done, subtly guiding you by its very design. It's always mind-blowing to see such genius; one man's ability to create so much brilliant art in such diversified media - and this just a portion of his work. How unreal!

We had decided not to have a formal lunch but to opt for a few treasured goodies. First was to be the original Bertillion ice cream on the Ille St. Louis. Previously, we had passed this by, because we had the feeling it was over-hyped. Thanks to our friend Graziella, we decided to go for it! Linda said the chocolate was the best she ever tasted and the wild strawberry was quite good. My hazelnut and pistachio had rich, natural flavor and both were filled with pieces of nuts. The creamy texture blended nicely with the tasty, delicate sugar cone. Bertillion is worthy of its reputation. We wished that the portions had been bigger or less expensive.

Linda had been searching for purple mustard from Brive, which is made from the skins of pressed grapes. It is available in Toronto but at an extortionate price. The search led us to Izrael Epicerie du Monde, 30 Rue Francois-Miron. Delicacies from around the world are packed floor to ceiling in this fabulous shop. The pleasant staff is there to please and, yes, they had the mustard, at a third of the price we'd have paid back home. If Mephistos and this mustard are any indication, it appears that either the duties are extremely high or there are greedy mark-ups back top of page
On our way to the newly opened Musee D'art et D'histoire du Judaisme, we stopped at Sacha Finkelsztajn, 27 Rue du Rosiers (this street is like a magnet!). Here were the cheese pies and fruit pies we remembered from our youth, baked in huge pans and sold by weight. Linda really tried to control herself as I consumed a delectable, large, square portion of heavenly ground fig-filled pastry - the crust so thin and tasty - what heaven! I could have easily proceeded to the apple, raisin and poppy seed versions but Linda buckled under the pressure and we shared a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth square of the cheesecake. All the baked goods, breads and take out foods were gorgeous. Finkelsztajn deserves its reputation - and I mine, as a bottomless pit when it comes to enjoying great things to eat.

The Musee D'art et D'histoire du Judaisme opened on December 6, 1998. It is housed in the Hotel de Saint-Aignan, a grand 17th century mansion at 71 Rue du Temple. The museum is dedicated to preserving, studying, disseminating and promoting the art, history and cultural heritage of Judaism. This mandate is dramatically fulfilled as you walk through one display after another which chart the historical development of Jewish communities from medieval times to the 20th century. The emphasis is on the history of the Jews in France, with influences of the Western and North African communities of which contemporary French Jewry is composed. We found this to be one of the most profound and enlightening experiences we've had in learning of our heritage. But this place is not only for Jews. It is for anyone with an interest in learning about the history, culture and art of any race or religion. The paintings of Soutine, Chagall, Modigliani, Lipchitz and Kikoine were certainly a highlight, along with documents on the Dreyfus affair which were donated by the descendants of Captain Dreyfus. Our only regret is that we'd have wanted to stay longer. We were the last ones out when the doors closed at 18:00 hrs.

Le Grizzli, 7 Rue St.-Martin, was our choice for dinner because, as at Baracane, the influence is southwestern and we do enjoy that regional style of French cooking. A large bowl of soupe de moules for each of us was an auspicious beginning, we thought. The creamy broth was seasoned with saffron and the mussels were plump and sweet. I enjoyed my cassoulet, a traditional preparation of meat (on the bone), duck leg, ham and sausage baked in an earthenware pot with beans. However, Linda's overcooked and tasteless lamb chops were most top of page
A leisurely stroll through the nightlife of Le Marais was a perfect ending to our too short stay. Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie was a particular delight. This street is heavily inhabited by the gay community and along with the friendly and lively cafes, bars and restaurants there was an atmosphere of Paris nightlife so often depicted in the works of famous artists and writers. There is a lot more for us to appreciate here in Le Marais and it is an excellent, central location for exploring the entire city. This is where we will return on our next visit to Paris.

return to

Search TheTravelzine | TheTravelzine Group | Don's Gallery

Packing Hints | Planning Tips | Cities Links

All pages on TheTravelzine.comęCopyright 1996-2016 Don & Linda Freedman