Recently William Green and I had
lunch. He suggested I do another "trip report" on my journeys to Paris.
This will be a snippet from a trip I made last year in late November; the week after
Thanksgiving, during the non-tourist season ó much recommended I might add, unless
you are into sunshine.
sunshine is not needed in Paris as they have, by far, the very best underground.
On the first trip in early November I stayed in Massy, our home-office, and regretted
it. So, I finally took everyoneís suggestion and stayed in Paris on the trip at the
end of the month. Hotel Aiglon, pronounced "egg-lon"- means the eaglet,
is a very nice 2-3 star hotel on Boulevard Raspail between Denfert Rochereau and
Montparnasse. Be sure to ask for a shower when making reservations at most Paris
hotels , unless you are willing to pay 200-300 per night.
If you are into great food, this is just the place you want to be. "Low cal
" is not on this trip. The best restaurants are on Montparnasse about a one-block
walk. There you will find La Dome, La Coupole (La
Coupole website), the American Bar of Hemmingway fame, and probably a dozen more
just as good restaurants. Check the web link for very nice treatment of the restaurant.
It has an extensive history of the area, as well as the dining. Be sure to check
the links provided, if you are going to Paris as they provide a good way to plan
your dining experience. Prices in November are very reasonable and be sure to bring
your appetite. For those lovers of the oyster this is the time of year for you as
well. Oysters are graded by size, 0-1-2-3, and by a complicated system within the
size range. One dozen 0ís are about all I could handle and they will run about $15-$20.
In the brasseries you also have a choice of type of oyster. Each type has a distinctive
taste. The top is the Belon (Cuisine
Net: Types of Oysters) and is by far the most distinct oyster you will ever eat.
Get hooked on these guys and you will soon break your food allowance for the trip.
Remember in non "R" months these guys are off your list, another good reason
not to go to Paris in the warm weather.
When working in Massy and staying in
Paris I always took a combination of subway, train and bus. The subway was just 200
meters from the hotel. The commute was a 15-minute subway ride, transfer (correspondence)
to a 30 minute train ride, and then a bus ride of 10 minutes. And, all during the
rush hours. When I return to Houston, takes me several days to re-adjust to Houstonís
lack of anything civilized when it comes to commuter travel. I have to be threatened
with jail time, called jury duty, to get me to commute to downtown Houston.
The Hotel has a nice small breakfast area and it seemed
no matter what they thought I ordered or what they brought, it was good. Lunch was
of the company style in Massy, always an adventure. Then to Paris for supper and
sleep. Seems every time I go, I am "forced" to stay over one day extra.
In the past I have visited the Louvre and Eiffelís Tower. This time it was the Musée
d'Orsay (Musée d'Orsay). It was November,
not crowded, no lines, and I could spend all my time there. Winding for four hours
through this place was an impressionist loverís best life.
If you have never seen Vincentís paintings up close, you will never know exactly
what they are. They look nice, as below, but they are truly stunning in person. The
Orsay is in the old train station on the left bank almost across from the Louvre.
A not so cheap thrill is eating in the snack shop located in the old clock and
looking out on the Seine and up the hill to Montmartre. I have never had a problem
getting into the museums in Paris but I have always been there when the doors opened,
a good idea in Paris when going anywhere unless you enjoy crowds. Some restaurants
even give early diners a discount on the food. I must say, however, part of the fun
of Paris is the people. Just have plenty of time to spare.
The last of my "free" day was spent as a true
consumer in ó tata:
Galleries Lafayette. A two building,
12 story grand department store. At Christmas time, the French are as bad as we are
in merchandising, it is a true joy. Just remember, if you go, plan on large crowds
and a long time to get there. The store is located just off the Boulevard Hausmann
directly behind the Paris Opera House and the Metro can drop you off without getting
wet. Ah the joys of subsidized rail systems.
Oh, and if you plan on buying something for those loved-ones at home, be sure to
get their measurements in European sizes or better yet take them along.
On a final note, for those eternally curious, one of the biggest cemeteries in Paris
is directly behind the hotel.