Tom Schultz
Musing about Paris
April 2002

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.

Now 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.

Tom Schultz
Musing about Paris
April 2002

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