Category Archives: Paris

PARIS ’99: day 3: Happiness is a warm internet connection

Slogged out of bed (still sick) to nice offering of pain au chocolat and Carte Noire coffee on the thick side (mmm…motor oil.) and thank you bugboy!
Prepared myself to do battle with the three headed beastie of tourism and sallied forth into the wilds of Paris.
Deb spent her day toute seule [all by herself] as was her prerogative…and bugboy and I went to the 6th arrondissement.

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Took the Metro to Mabillion and walked along the backside of St. Sulpice. I think that the back parts of cathedrals are so much more interesting than the front parts, so this wasn’t a bad thing at all.

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It also was the direction rumored to hold an internet cafe.
I had done a search on the web of listed cafes and it worked completely miserably for London, so I didn’t have a lot of faith in it.
Stopped in a La Poste to get some stamps for my cartes postales for the fredlet fans at home and ended up with prepaid envelopes… not exactly what I had in mind, but the guy was so earnest about saving me money (not to mention that he was really nice and didn’t just switch into English because he knew I am american…which is a habit shared by MOST of the french people I know.) I love the look of the post cards with foreign stamps and postmarks and any abuse that it goes through in the journey home…à la Griffin and Sabine.
Followed the street around the back of Le Sénat down the Rue de Medecis and SUCCESS!
Cafe Orbital (complete with webcam..however, it doesn’t seem to be up at the time of this writing…so try occasionally and see if it works…) saved my life from a lethal case of DT’s from lack of email. Mailed all the people I had been craving and got my email from various and sundry webbies, surfed for a few minutes then my allotted time was up.
Cafe Orbital is right across the street from the Jardins de Luxembourg, so we walked over there long enough to get rocks in my socks then headed for the Boule Miche [Boulevard St. Michel]. I took bugboy into the McDonald’s for un coca [a coke] where I used to fuel my nights of drunken revelry back in 1990 (No really dad, you didn’t waste any money sending me to Paris for school…really). Say whatever you want, but its cheaper than eating just about anywhere in Paris…and when you are having withdrawals from coca cola, its dirt cheap.

Bugboy immediately cottoned on to the fact that it is indeed a “Royal Cheese” rather than a “Royal with Cheese” as was previously mentioned in Pulp Fiction.
Next door the the restaurant du diable [the devil’s eatery] was a cheesy postcard, bought a few more since I had previously exhausted my supply. Waved briefly up the Rue Soufflot to the Pantheon and we were off again.
Guibert Jaune lie in wait at the end of the Boule Miche. I ferreted out the papeterie [paper shop] au sous sol [in the basement]. Triumphant price on a wooden artists model (52FF=about $10, where in the states they are about $90!) nabbed a few more cadeaux [presents] drooled a bit more at all the art supplies and rounded off the fetishistic shopping trip with another notebook.

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Notre Dame,

 

Notre Dame was trussed up like a pig in scaffolding, so the view was pretty dismal. We walked around back to the better view (IMHO) anyway. Flowers were magnificent in the sunlight and this really cute little girl with this funky camera was taking her mother’s picture.

La Petite Photographeuse

La Petite Photographeuse,

Moved along to the book sellers along the river in the 6th and perused their wares all the while viewing the fabulous view of Notre Dame de Paris in springtime. On whim, we decided to go to Pére Lachaise cemetery to visit Jim Morrison. After 10 years of visiting Paris, I had never made it over there…and it was high time I made the pilgrimage.
The 20th is a very calm place. I’m sure they get sick of the groupies hanging out in front of J.M.’s grave all the time. Lots of funky carvings and gorgeous graves. I took and entire roll of just funky looking things while I was there, and I’ll scan a few when I get them developed.
Cobblestones will kick your butt everytime though. After about 20 minutes, I was dying. (Mind you, I had made the 9 mile trek with no adverse effects the previous day…so it was the cobblestones.)
J.M.’s grave was quite sedate compared to the tales that my cousin had told me when she went there. I remembered her pics and her saying that there was a giant crowd, candles and a wake-like attitude..but it seemed to me to be more of a bunch of tourists with a macabre sense of curiosity. Oh well.
I decided it was time to test bugboy’s learning on how to ride the métro…so I made him lead me home. I was just going to follow him regardless of whether he made any mistakes…so if we ended up in London it was his problem. He did rather well and we made it home around 5:30 ish.
Deb was already back and we had dinner then went out for dessert. Late night pillage for essentials at the Monoprix across the street (Nutella, Carte Noire, cookies, etc…) and then home to bed. Am pooped.

total miles walked:approximately 6

PARIS ’99: day 2: will work for hip replacement…again

The third time I woke up (around 3 AM), I couldn’t go to sleep til about 6 AM. So 8 AM was a shock to my already exhausted system. I finally dragged my hiney out of bed around 9:30. Deb administered Carte Noire coffee-industrial strength and we chatted until 11.
The order of the day was walking.
Started off walking the Champs de Mars to the Eiffel Tower…struggled through tourists and up the river to the Pont de L’Alma, where Diana’s memorial is… graffittied and grotty looking. I’m disappointed about that, actually…and more than a little surprised. Something screamingly nasty has been released around there, so we trundled up to the Champs Elysées to remove ourselves from the psychic ickiness.
Fouquet’s for breakfast of pain au chocolate [chocolate croissant] pain au raisin [raisin roll] and brioche sucrée [sugar covered brioche]. There, snotty french waiters (normalcy returns) grumbled about the impending rain du jour. it didn’t rain though. =: )
Followed the Champs Elysées along to the Place de la Concorde and then up the Rue de Rivoli for semi-casual shopping. Deb avoided the ‘abortion’ (that I. M. Pei pyramid that is the entrance to the Louvre-I don’t think it is horrible, but I do think the context is a little wacky) but I dutifully took Bugboy for a looksee at its pointiness.
Toward the end of the Louvre we triumphed at the hunt with a pair of black criss-crossy shoes for me. yeah! Deb had shoe visions of another particular store, so we moved on. Also dodged into Marks & Spencer for Deb to grab some lounging shorts and while Bugboy and I were waiting on her we watched some bagpipe players in full regalia (Is there anything worn under the kilt? No, everything is in perfect working order…) but I really didn’t pay too much attention to the fact that they were way out of context in Paris since we were in a British store.
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We had to stop for light sustenance after the first part of the day’s walk (it was after lunch, after all…) just past the Rue du Pont Neuf. More of the fabulous sandwich action and endless quantities of café crème that I adore…yum!
Walked past the Tour St. Jacques which is a giant flamboyant Gothic tower that they used to use for fire watches, but really isn’t used for anything anymore that I know of. Everyone I’ve ever talked to has a soft spot in their hearts for it…
This time it was Deb’s turn to return successful from the hunt. She scored a new pair of Arche sandals near the Pompidou Center …where we were headed to pillage the internet cafe.
D’OH! The internet cafe in the Pompidou didn’t even exist anymore! They were redoing the whole museum for the L’année 2000 and it was a casualty of the reconstruction. So much for mailing everyone. It was frustrating to say the very least since AOL, which supposedly will let people check their mail WASN’T letting me log on.
Deb was still in shopping mode, so we left her at Les Halles and metro’d it back to the apartment to rest our dogs. We were followed soon enough by the shop meister Deb with provisions for dinner of pasta and a hunk of roast beast for me.
AOL still proved to be elusive for the rest of the night despite my, bugboy’s (…and my mother’s help) best efforts to connect.
I will deal with their carcasses later. There will be blood and lots of it with white hot death raining down upon them. Je te le jure…[I swear it to you…] (Ooohhh..don’t I sound medieval!)
total miles walked:approximately 9

PARIS ’99: day 1 Dude, business class ROCKS!

I lucked out on this trip. My mom had frequent flyer miles that were going to expire and she offered them to me. (Tough life, right? Hey, if you are offered good things, accept them gracefully and HAVE FUN!) Aside from the fact that I had enough room to stretch out my legs (short ones though they are) I am simply amazed that I even made it to Paris in the first place.
I had stayed out late on the previous Saturday night and then having the time change, I was a little groggy anyway. In addition to that, several weeks before I mentally had shifted my days 1 forward. Ya know, I thought it was Tuesday when it was Monday…and this had been going on for weeks…so I thought I needed to be at the airport on Tuesday oops.
Luckily, bugboy called me and was doing his last minute panic of “I’ve never been overseas before…am I packing right? What have I forgotten?” and I actually had to look at my tix and notice that I’d better get my butt in gear and finish all my little details. Thanks bugboy! So I actually made it to the plane on time and on the right day. Sheesh.
But, back to the aforementioned business class…oh, heavenly chair.
Feet rests. Seats lean waaaayyyy back. Seat wide enough for fat fredlet fanny…and lots of toys to futz with…no map, alas. (must just be for the plebeians, let them eat cake and all that jazz…) No big deal though. I had enough to distract me.
“Ms. Fredlet?” (huh huh uhhuh huhuh…she called me Ms.) “Would you like some champagne before we take off?”
Why yes. Yes, I would.
Take off was uneventful, so shall it remain. However we did fly out over San Francisco proper (Hey, there’s Lorraine’s house! Hi Twinnie!) It really is a gorgeous city…saw the breakers on Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park and the GG Bridge heading off into the wilds of the North Coast. Then poofy white clouds obscured the view as we head over the east bay…Sigh.
Lunch was smoked salmon with a silly little salad followed by veal and veggies. Total protein kick for me (which is good) and while I was full, I just couldn’t pass up a few small bites of the cheesecake for dessert. Oh my.
I was pretty comatose after dinner and I’d seen both movies on the flight so I decided to go to lay back and be alone with my thoughts.
And did you know that the seats in business class are psychic?

“Oh fredlet, you want to lean back more than that…”
I do? Oh, you are so completely right…
” And fredlet, my pet, your little feet need to be raised.”
Ahhh, I see the wisdom in your words, my friend.
” Let me just turn on this lumbar massage here as well…”
nnnnggguuuuuhhhhhh….. (eyes roll back into my head)

Get the picture?
Now if I can just find a man with all these qualities, I’ll be set. Hah.
I spent the first 2-3 hours of the flight asleep, but the second movie rolled around and I was awake again. I tried to go back to sleep, but it just wasn’t going to happen so I read my book and daydreamed the remaining 6 hours of the flight.
Breakfast had bell peppers (NOT listed on the menu thankyouverymuch-feh) and we landed soon after they finished up the service.
Collected my luggage, flirted with a band that had a gig on Thursday night in town and gave suggestions of things to do for a chick who’d never been to Paris before.
Bugboy was set to arrive from Austin about a 1/2 hours after me, but at a different terminal. So I caught the navette [shuttle] to Aerogare 2. His flight was a little late, but in the grand scheme of things, it meant nothing and I didn’t mind hanging out people watching. Collected the Bugboy and tromped off the the RER.
They’ve done quite a bit of construction since the last several times I’ve been to Paris. So, I’m thinking Bugboy must not have been too impressed with my tour guidance getting us in to Paris. Yet, get into Paris we did.
My lack of brains continued to bite me in the form of me not having the exact address on the fax (just the name of the hotel and the fax number..no phone number though) that I was using to get us in to the hotel since Deb, under whose name the room was registered, wasn’t set to arrive until after we did. I had the name of the hotel and the general area where it was, but I was tired and needed a shower to restore my human status, so I didn’t feel like just walking around looking for the hotel with Bugboy and our luggage in tow.
I took a chance at the École Militaire métro stop and walked into the nearest store and asked if they could look it up in their Pages Jaunes [yellow pages]. Well, after a bit of nudging, the finally located the hotel and it was about 3 blocks away. Works for me.
Installed ourselves in the room. Restored human status with showers and Deb arrived. That was a happy thing. We originally had planned to meet up that night at 7 at the Place Saint Michel for sandwiches grecs [gyros] and having woken up with a sore throat monday morning, I was feeling the effects of not having been able to sleep on the flight, which is my normal cure for any sort of jetlag. I haven’t ever really had jetlag before and it kicked my hiney this time.
Anyhoo, we tromped around the 15th arrondissement until we found a wee tabac and had sandwiches au jambon et beurre [ham sammiches with butter] and Deb had ravioli followed close on its heels by a café liégois [coffee sundae]. The waiter was really fun. French waiters are usually the devil’s lapdog, but this one was lots of fun and sweet! Spoke french when we spoke french. Spoke english when we spoke english. Spoke italian when we spoke italian (he started saying italian things when Deb ordered the ravioli…) Lots of fun!
I managed to make it to the general vicinity of the bed when we got back before going comatose, but Deb (oh she of the iron will) went out for a walk…it was about 8:45 or 9 ish at night. I woke up when she got back, blearily inquired as to her well being and probably passed out again before she answered.
Apparently though, I was not meant to sleep through the night as I was woken up every few hours…oh well. C’est la vie.

total miles walked:approximately 2

PARIS 97′: day 10

I slept late, and woke to church choir faintly coming from the church out my window. As the entire of France is closed on Sundays. Ack and I decided to go to Cinquieme Element (Fifth Element), with French subtitles! I know its not a terribly big deal, but I think its cool that I can go to a foreign movie and understand the words and not have to read the sub titles. Sure, its a Hollywood film, but oh well. =: )
The theatre was really awesome. I think that the seats are probably more comfortable than my furniture at home. Granted they can afford to get these seats since they charge $10 a ticket.
After the movie we walked around the Champs Elysees a bit and watched the people the went home since we were going to be going to going to Avignon the next day.
miles walked: approximately 1 mile

PARIS ’97: day 9

As I headed out this morning, I promised myself that I was going to see the Arenes de Lutece, the old Roman arenas of Paris which I’d never managed to see on my 2 previous trips.
Disappointing.
I had seen great arenas in Nimes and the Roman aqueducts and I expected to see at least some arches. Nope. Just a kind of open area where lions would eat the Christians and romans would cheer. Or something a little less interesting, like soccer.
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To be fair, we didn’t get to go on the tour of whatever it was they had a tour of, but unless they actually showed me the feeding of the lions, I don’t think that it would have made up for the anti-climax I had. Seeing as we were in the area, we tromped off toward the 5th and up around back of Pantheon (my old stomping grounds from ’90). We walked toward Blvd St Michel ( Boul Mich), and toward the Cluny museum. It was raining yet again, and since we weren’t due to met Deb until 5:30, we spent some quality time with the ancient relics in Cluny (ranging from Roman baths to medieval pottery, stained glass and crypts) I adore Cluny, I have a real affinity for the early middle ages and roman times. Renaissance bores me out of my gourd.
After Cluny, as with any museum, we needed coffee and found a cafe to sit in and rest. After we ordered and were settling in, the small glassed in table area came available and a veritable horde of germans came into the cafe and ran into the waiter.
The conversation went as follows:

waiter:Bonjour messiuers! Combien des personnes? (Hello, how many people?)
lead german dude: Dix-huit hommes… sans femmes! (Eighteen men…and no women!)
Loud german laughter here, waiter smiles faintly.

It was fairly amusing, but very noisy listening to them trying to order in French when not all of them spoke french and cries of “cafe creme” and “mit milsch” filled the air.
We squeezed out of the now crowded cafe and walked up past Notre Dame to Les Halles,(another of my favorite places) checked out the postcard vendors that there don’t seem to be as many of, singing dudes from England(?) in orange clogs and tails (I have no idea, but was an interesting sight anyway), more postcards (X-files are BIG over here), and the final walk over to St Eustache near to a bar I used to go to when it was boiling hot.
The bar used to be named the the James Joyce, then, after they didn’t register the name and had to rename it, it was called the james ulysses, then I don’t know what happened. They’ve named it something else. Who cares at this point.
[NOTE: Its Quigley’s Point, but I’m sure it has changed again]
Back to meet Deb at Place St Michel, had a greek sandwich and bad french music piped over the radio, Deb was laughing so hard she was barking. At that point we wandered around back streets, had a cafe liégois at some strange cafe and went home to pass out.
miles walked: approximately 7 miles

PARIS ’97: day 8: the women return triumphant from the hunt.

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After being so cultured, Deb and I had to go shopping. Hopped the metro to Rue de Rennes down by that abomination, the Tour Montparnasse, and just about had an aneurysm at all of the kitchen and plates shops on the street. I did restrain myself valiantly by simply thinking, “I’ll have to carry this home.” Say no more.
Tati, a MASSIVE Woolworth’s type store loomed ahead and beckoned its unwary victims into the gaping maw that is its front doorway. We succumbed to its sirens song.
2 hours later, Deb and I emerged from the store with lots of warmer things to wear and presents to sooth the savage beasts at home who didn’t quite fit into our luggage on the trip over to Paris.
Ack, on the other hand was doing laundry. MMMMMM. Fun.
While Deb and I were still out on the town, we stopped into the shops for dinner makings and we found that the white peaches, that I rave about, and very yummy strawberries were being sold at the market.
Dinner was a melange of leftovers, more wine, and those amazing peaches and strawberries. Here a revolutionary statement:
*I like white peaches better than chocolate.*
Think about that for a minute and think about who wrote that.
They smell like roses and they taste better than anything else in the whole world.
I don’t think I’ve said too much about where we are staying. We are at the Golden Tulip on the Rue de Foubourg St Honore in the 8th arrondissment at Rue Balzac.
It has a little balcony and looks directly at this old stone church (Ascencion, if you want to look at a map). Our room is on the 3rd floor (4th in American counting) and looks right at the stained glass windows of the nave.)
To get to our suite, you have to go through this little walkway that they have enclosed on domed plastic and carpeted, a nice effect, though we’ve dubbed it the Habitrail since we feel a little like hamsters walking through it!
Right outside the Habitrail as you first enter it, there is a little 2 foot wide, 8 foot long water garden with koi and lilies and a small waterfall from the pond about it. I want one.
estimated miles walked: approximately 4 1/2

PARIS ’97: day 5: No wonder California works so hard to keep the French wines out of the stores…..

We all went up to Boulangerie Paul’s for chocolat chaud et pain chocolat. This little patisserie was getting to be a habit for Deb and me. Even one of the girls there recognized us and we talked a little. It was still rainy but not torrential, but not very cold.
Our new rule about going places was that you took the Metro to a farther out place, and then walked the rest form there. So, metro to Notre Dame, did touristy picture thing inside and out, grabbed an obscene amount of postcards and trinkets at some little crap shop, walked up rue St Denis toward Pompidou center in Beauborg. Found my first internet cafe, and we had a peek around, but I wasn’t that impressed. Maybe there are better ones out there, I hope so.
Skipped that and went up the tube escalators and went to the cafe on top of the Pompidou Center and wrote out postcards whilst re-establishing body core temperature again.
Since we were so close, we walked over to Les Halles and went into the shopping mall there. deb picked up the scent of shoes and went charging off into the distance. Ack and I found the FNAC (mecca of media) and after drooling over lots of $100 software, went home.
Nabbed 2 baguettes at out local bakery, ate leftover risotto, baguettes, and french wine for $2.25 at the local Kwik-E-mart….
Let me just rant and rave a little here about California wines….
We are being soaked for upwards of $12 a bottle for mediocre, non-imported (near vineger sometimes) wine. We got 2 bottles in a row of WONDERFUL French wine for 12 F, as I mentioned before, about $2.25 a bottle and the only thing you could buy for that in the states would be as tasty as lighter fluid, “Hey bubba, pass me that yummy Ronsenol!”. Yo! California wine producers, shape up or ship out.
…and the tomatoes here have actual flavor! Roma tomatoes, the only semblance of flavored tomatoes you can buy in a store have nothing on the tomatoes you can get here. I will eat 5 or 6 tomatoes by themselves in one sitting because they taste so wonderful. Amazing.
And while we are on a produce roll….white peaches are better than chocolate….think about what you are reading here, people…and who’s writing this. WOW.
estimated miles walked: approximately 4

PARIS ’97: day 4: anybody know how big a cubit is?

Deb ran off this morning by herself to nurse the muse. She left us a note that we found about an hour after we woke up. So we decide to explore up the other side of Fg St. Honore. Know what we found?
RAIN.
Well that and La Madeleine, a very Roman pillar and pagan looking church smack dab in the middle of town. Very nice, still wet though.
Shoes got a bit soggy from walking all that way but as soon as we found a store we popped in and bought some serious rain proof shoes. Mine are lumberjack boots, and of course, I had the lumberjack song in my head all day!
Found Achilles an umbrella so that he wouldn’t be totally soggy, and off we went. As you walk up the Fg. St Honore it changes into Blvd. Haussman and then it turns into Montmartre. To solve an old mystery that we have been questioning for a while, we stopped into McDonalds and looked. Quentin was wrong, its Royale Cheese, not Royale with Cheese.
Geez, those Hollywood types.
The Hard Rock was about 10 feet from the McD’s so I stopped in to get my customary guitar pin, I’ll try to take a picture of my hat with all of the pins from the various locations.) The conversation I had with the guy there was great! We alternated in French and English and talked about San Francisco vs. Paris. They covet our ocean, by the way, referring to the Seine as “that dirty thing in the middle of town.”
Having accomplished that vital mission, we cut across Rue St Denis past many charcuteries [butchers] complete with goat’s heads in the window (you know someone would scream satanism in the US, geez), rabbits, chickens (whole body, sometimes even with the feathers to make it look nice…) and basically things referred to quaintly as “variety meats” and I’ll spare you further details.
Gosh, no thanks, I’ll just go get a baguette. Ewwwwwwwww.
Dropped into Gare de L’Est for Amsterdam info, and after having located the info, ran into a guy from Dallas (who’s HS turns 100 years old in NY city), who is doing the as many countries as you can pack into 2 weeks. He sold us his leftover metro tickets and we chatted a bit and then Ack and I took the Metro home.
When we arrived back at the hotel, Deb was there all smug in that she smote the force of evil and chaos and managed to get some rice that would do for risotto. The risotto was a success, even with a minimal kitchen and forces of nature against her (terribly yummy risotto) Early-ish night since we’d been walking out in the rain and were kinda cold.
estimated miles walked: approximately 4 1/2

PARIS ’97: day 3: Le Shopping til you are dropping.

Achilles decided to abandon the women folk to do what we do oh so well…shop. He had an extraordinary walk, but if you want that description, email him yourself. Deb and I decided to pillage Prisunic (earlier rhapsodic reference to that if you are missing a description), we only spent about an hour in there, but I did restrain myself admirably remembering that I had to carry home anything I bought. No large french flower pots for me. Although, I will see if I can take pics of the paintings on the outside of the french farm animals making french barnyard noises…I’m quite the little gardener lately and that stuff makes me almost as happy as gadgets.
On the way back, Deb hit her favorite shoe store, but only drooled a little and didn’t bring out an Uzi and take the store hostage with demands of ‘one pair of shoes in each color or this sales clerk is toast!’ I think she is in a 12 step program for her Arche shoe addiction. Deb and I continue our quest for the rice, no such luck. We did however manage to locate all the other ingredients and get some really wonderful shrimpies before the guy closed up shop. We walked back and forth to the Blvd Grand Armees about 2 times before we gave up on the idea of finding an open Italian deli or shop. We did stop into a nifty little junk shop where I bought an umbrella.
Back at the corner of Ternes I went into the FNAC while Deb ran the back streets one more time. I drooled over the french books, cd’s, lasers and computers for a while then met Deb at the corner.
We got home before our appointed meeting time, listed to the Odyssey that Achilles took…marveled that he could walk that far (I think he was wearing 7 league boots). We talked for a while and we going to forage for food a little later on since it was only about 6 and no one was really terribly hungry. Risotto, we decided, was not meant to be that day.
Oops.
A 3 1/2 hour nap later we decided to take a chance on the Italian take out next door. So Deb and I run down and I burst into spontaneous French (it seems to have taken hold again) and off we go with marvelous little pizzas and spaghettis back to our room.
total miles walked: approximately 5