Leaving the Dordogne Valley behind, fearless husband drove us back to Paris for French vacation part deux. And yep, we missed lunch again.
We’ve always played Paris kind of loosey-goosey, mostly figuring out what we want to do once we get there. This year, I put my event-planning skills to work. Let me tell you how it went …
With 3 days to spend in Paris, I planned the itinerary with a sort of “big” thing to do each day and plenty of time to just experience whatever we might encounter (because yes, I’m a planner, but also very French).
Our apartment in the Latin Quarter was surrounded by shopping and restaurants and easy access to the Metro. Since we’ve already had the dubious experience of being clueless about Metro lines and feeling lost, I decided to leave that off the itinerary and researched in advance which trains to take where, and we maneuvered the city like true Parisians. Time well spent.
Because we go to Paris every year, we’ve done many of the tourist-y things which are all worth doing, but for most of them, once they’re done, they’re done. But there are plenty of things left on the list, among them Versailles, Montmartre, and, the piece de resistance, the Marche des Puces (flea market).
We didn’t do Versailles like normal tourists, mainly because, understanding the history of France, I find all of the opulence a bit much (seems to me they could have cut the palace down from 551,000 square feet and still have plenty of room for the grandkids while doing something a little more philanthropic with all that wealth). What did appeal to me was a long walk in a tremendous park-like setting reminiscent of the hunting grounds of its inception, with the convenience of stopping in a small outdoor stand to share wine and a sandwich (probably much like Louis XIV, sans the paper cups).
Montmartre, on the other hand, is quite the opposite of Versailles. This once bohemian artist area has become very trendy and hip with its cute shops and cafes.
In addition to being the location of Basillica de Sacre Couer, the Sacred Heart of Paris (which yes, we climbed the more than 300 stairs to visit), it has the distinction of being home to the only working wine vineyards in Paris, Clos de Montmartre, and the weekend we were there just happened to be the annual Fete des Vendanges, the harvest celebration. We went late morning and chose a café for brunch which, to our surprise and delight, was the termination of the parade route for the celebration. We enjoyed fine food, local wine, and a terrific show.
My heart still flutters when I think of the Saint Ouen Flea Market. While I was so excited to go, I also had prepared myself to be a little disappointed, and I might have been had it not been for this terrific blog. It explained that just before you reach the flea market, there is a swap meet which many tourists mistake for the flea market. Just a few blocks further, clouds part, harps play and angels sing and you have reached nirvana. My only regret was not having more available luggage space.
Here are a few more Paris musts …
Having dinner our last night in Paris at one of our favorite neighborhood spots, Relais du Comptoir, we had the pleasure of being seated next to Phillippe Geluck and his charming wife Dani. Phillippe is a humorist and cartoonist with one of the leading Franco-Belgian comic series, Le Chat. We shared wonderful conversation and they provided us with a list of restaurants to visit on our next trip, which I am already busy planning. Sigh.