France

Paris a perfect place

Paris Sunset from the Louvre window

Paris Sunset from the Louvre window (Photo credit: Dimitry B)

Last year we took a vacation to Paris with my sister and her husband. After the long flight we made way into Paris on the train. It was quick and bypassed all the traffic. After dropping suitcases off at the hotel, we went sightseeing to Notre Dame. We walked everywhere, following George’s rule to not take a nap but keep busy until evening. Then crash overnight and you are on local time.

Paris is the city of lights, not because there are a lot of lights but because it brought about enlightenment back in the middle ages. People came here to study and show art, literature, science and food. Paris grew as a world capital. Paris is today a city of love. Couples go there for the romance of Paris. Paris Perfect is a BLOG on apartment rentals in Paris and they did a BLOG on what to see. The top sites are all listed in the books and should be on everyone “Don’t Miss List.” The other “Don’t Misses” are the food and wine, the small street markets, the shops and just walking the streets of Paris. Watch the people around you and enjoy your trip. Of course when in Paris you MUST buy a baguette and walk the streets with it. You will look like all the Parisians.

One great way to enjoy Paris is to rent an apartment. If you are traveling with another couple or two, it is usually cheaper and larger than a hotel room. Apartments can put you in an area with the Parisians. Walk to local pastry shops with them in the morning as they go off to work. Our apartment was in a great area of Paris. We had the best Croissant place around the corner and plenty of restaurants and stores. Head to a busy street and buy a baguette, some cheese, meat (if you like), wine and of course chocolates. Then go back to your apartment and enjoy. It is romantic and fun. It is being a Parisian.

Paris is a city you can walk to everything. If the weather is bad or you can not walk well, take the Metro. It is safe, clean and quiet. It can get you everywhere. There are smartphone apps that will take you from where you are to where you want to go. They show where the nearest Metro is, which trains to take and how to go from Metro to your destination.

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Baguette, Chocolate, Europe, Food, France, General Travel, Metro Travel, Paris, Pastry, Trains, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Paris in the Spring Time

It is not Spring time yet but Paris is a beautiful city even in the rain. The architecture is magnificent, the food is great and the wine is memorable. We took a couple on a tour of Paris last spring time. It was their first trip so we hit the top tourist attractions:

  1. Musée du Louvre
  2. Musée d’Orsay
  3. Eiffel Tower
  4. Notre-Dame
  5. Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre
  6. Arc de Triomphe
  7. Sainte-Chapelle
  8. Hotel des Invalides
  9. Pantheon
  10. Versailles

Eifell Tower Base

We also walked neighborhoods like the left bank, right bank, Champs-Elysées, and Montmartre. We stayed near my favorite street in Paris, Montorgueil. This pedestrian walk way has many small cafes, fish stores, fruit stands, fresh vegetable stands, etc. There is even a Starbucks but we prefer a French espresso in the mooring with a flakey croissant. Only the French and only in Paris is the croissant done correctly. George often tells people, if after eating one there is not a mess of crumbs on you, it is not a good croissant.

We also be made two side trips outside of Paris (in addition to Versailles which is in a suburb of Paris).

  1. Reims (Champagne Region) – No trip to France should be done without a trip to Champagne for a tasting of real French Champagne. We  toured the Tattinger cellars in Reims. Reims is a beautiful city with its own Notre Dame (Our Lady). Many French cities have one commemorating the Blessed Mary. We took a high-speed train (200 MPH) from Paris (Gare Est – East Train Station) to Reims. It was a 45 minute trip on the high-speed train (one and a half hours on the normal train).
  2. Gilverny – Monet’s house. Gilverny is another beautiful small french city. It can be reached by train from Paris (Gare St-Lazare – St. Lazare train station).

Paris in the Spring will be beautiful and memorable. Every bucket list should include a romantic stop in Paris!

Sacre Couer

Sacre-Couer

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Cafè, Champagne, Europe, Food, France, French Foods, Gelato, General Travel, Pantheon, Paris, Romance, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Thinking of Better Weather

As we deal with heat waves all around the world, my thoughts are of Spring or Fall. Here in the North-East we have had very hot and muggy temperatures. In Velina, southern Italy, it has been hotter than anyone remembers. We were in Paris last Spring and at our house in Velina Italy in late August and early September. I can feel the sun and smell the beach at Casal Velino Marina, Italy. I am tired of the high heat! Bring on Europe in the Spring and fall.

Where do you want to be now? We all survive by thinking of those happy moments in our lives. They energize us. Go out, plan and take a trip to someplace new. Create some new moments for yourself. You deserve it! Wherever you go, take time to relax, watch the locals, be romantic. Life is short. Enjoy it!

Eifell Tower Basecilento

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Campania, Casal Velino, Casal Velino Marina, Europe, France, Italy, Paris, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Velina | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

White Italian Truffles

Truffles are in the mushroom family but are NOT anything like a mushroom. They come white & black. Italy has both types. France has black truffles. The black ones are milder than the whites. Many countries including ours have tried to grow truffles without much success. They grow on the roots of Oak trees. They are hard to find since they are underground. in Italy they used to use pigs. A pig has a very good sense of smell and can find them easily. The problem is they also like to eat them. Picture a 150 lb Italian man trying to stop a several hundred pound pig from eating his prized truffles.

White Truffle

Next the Italians trained special dogs to find the truffles. Dogs also have a very good sense of smell. The difference is they do not like to eat the truffles. Once found the farmer digs up the truffle. It is brushed clean (like a mushroom) and can be grated over eggs, pasta or rice or can be very thinly sliced with a truffle grater over veal. The taste is wonderful and very unique. at first you might find the smell repugnant but after you have enjoyed them the smell is attractive.

Time ran an article on Why Truffles cost $2,000 a pound? They can cost even higher here in America. Last year we bought a white truffle from Italy and it was $5,000 per pound. The truffle doesn’t weigh much so our purchase cost us about $100. It will last about a week in refrigeration. Use it on eggs and pasta and risotto. The flavoring is divine. The Italians store the truffle in a bottle full of rice. The rice steals the floor and can then be used to make risotto after the truffle is gone. Be careful as the rice can steal all the truffles flavor resulting in a truffle with no taste.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Europe, France, Italy, Truffles | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paris – The City of Lights

Why is Paris called the City of lights? There are actually two reasons:

  1. It was the hub of education and the “lights” refers to enlightenment. Paris is certainly a cultural and artistic hub of enlightenment.
  2. It is a city which is literally “lit-up” with lights everywhere. Paris is aglow!

Paris is Paris a must see on anyones bucket list. It is a romantic town that is home to so many proposals of marriage from people who live all over the globe. Why are we attracted to this city? Are we like moths attracted to the flame? I think Paris represents what all of us want in life. We want romance, good food, good wine, interesting sites, a city afire with lights and quaint small streets and shops to keep us busy a lifetime. Then there are the  museums. They are so plentiful, you can not hope to visit them all.

For those of you that have been there for more than a stop over, you know its magical draw. For those that have never been there … GO GO!! It is a must. Many large American cities have direct flights to Paris. There are two airports Orly and Charles de Gaulle. Flights from America usually land at Charles de Gaulle. From the airport you can take a bus or taxi or the train (subway in Paris). The taxi and bus options can get stuck in rush hour traffic taking time. The train starts at the airport and stops at many Metro stops in Paris including at Notre Dame.

Enjoy your stay in Paris!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Europe, Flights, France, French Foods, General Travel, Paris, Romance, Trains, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paris in Conclusion

We had a great trip to Paris. If you are planning a trip do the following:

  1. Plan those things you want to see and do
  2. Place them on a map of P{arise so you can group close by places together
  3. If you are an early bird or late night tourists, know opening & closing times of the places you will visit
  4. Be friendly and smile
  5. Try the local food & wine
  6. Take a boat trip on the Seine
  7. Sit in cafes and watch people go by

Please do not do:

  1. Don’t be an ugly American and demand things or say “we don’t do it that way”. You are in their country
  2. Be careful of shorts, Europeans usually do not wear them except at the beach or hiking
  3. Don’t worry about restaurants ahead of time, pick one that is there when you are hungry

Paris is a unique city and should be enjoyed with someone else. It is romantic so be romantic!

George & Jo Anne

 

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Versailles – A Palace for you!

You can not go to Paris without a side trip to Versailles. Versailles is just outside the Paris city limit. It is easy to get to on the regional Metro (RER-C). Paris has Metros that are labeled by numbers e.g. Line #7. It also has Metro’s that go into the country side. They go to both airports (RER-B) and the RER-C line goes to Versailles. Within Paris the RER trains and the Metro operate together and you can take both on the same ticket. If you leave the central Paris area (Zones 1 & 2)  on any RER train, you will need to pay more. Versailles costs a little extra over the normal Metro fairs. WE took the RER-C from Nortre Dame (just off the island on the left bank – St. Michel station).

Going to Versailles without a ticket or Paris pass requires you to get there at opening time. The RER-C is very crowded with workers at this time. We  had to stand but it is not that long a trip. This train goes in two directions and has branches. Be sure to go in the direction of Château de Versailles and get on the train that has this station as it’s end stop. As you exit the train, you will walk towards the front of the train and out of the station. Turn right and go to the intersection. Turn left and walk along a huge street with lots of trees. Versailles is at the end of this street. Going into the property, ticket sales is on the left. There are machines with people who can help you and windows.

The magnificence of this palace is unbelievable! The grounds are huge and there are multiple buildings. The main building is most important. At lunch time seek out Angelina’s restaurant. This is a very famous Parisian restaurant that is known for its hot chocolate. See the photo below. This is pure chocolate with some spices. It is decadent and you will feel like you belong in this palace! Enjoy.

Retrace your steps back to the RER station and board the next train to Paris. It will stop at several places you may want to visit like the Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay, and Nortre Dame. You can also switch to other Paris Metro Trains at these stops and go anywhere in Paris.

IMG_1394 Versaiiles

 

 

George & Jo

 

Categories: Chocolate, Europe, France, French Foods, Paris, Versailles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sacré-Coeur & Montmartre Paris

The beautiful cathedral of Sacré-Coeur can be seen from many places in Paris. It is high up on a hill in the north-western part of Paris. It is part of the Montmartre area. You can walk or take the Metro. There are a lot of stairs to climb (or take the funicular). There are many landings to stop at, catch your breath and look at Paris. The cathedral is magnificent. Walk around and behind the main altar to see many smaller altars. From outside the church go all the way to your right (facing the church) and you can see the Eiffel Tower.

Don’t miss a small chapel in a separate building behind the church. Ring the bell and ask the nun to see the chapel. There is also a beautiful meditation garden outside the chapel. From here proceed into Montmartre. This area of Paris is an artist colony. It has many small windy streets with art, souvenirs and cafes. You can wind your way downhill to the Moulin Rouge (red Windmill). This is a very expensive and touristy area that has burlesque shows featuring the famous French can-can!

You can catch a Metro from here and go anywhere in Paris. Enjoy!

George & Jo Anne

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Bubble up your vacation with some Champagne!

On our recent trip to Paris, we decided to take a small side trip to Reims. Reims is about 90 miles north-east of Paris and is one of the main champagne cities. We bought train tickets from Paris Est Station to Reims. It was a direct 200 mph train that took only 45 minutes. Once their Reims a beautiful city to walk around. It has its own Notre Dame Cathedral. It has great shopping and many restaurants and cafe’s. We walked around in the morning then stopped for lunch. After lunch we went to Tattinger Champagne house. It is the 3rd oldest champagne house in France. They have a huge area of caves that hold millions of bottles of champagne. they also have a modern facility that holds another 20  million bottles. Champagne is hand turned carefully to collect the sentiment in the bottle. It is then turned up-side-down and the neck is frozen. In this way the small ice wedge is extracted with the sediment. After a great tour we had some ice cream…yum!

We sat at cafe’s and had wine or beer and watched both the French and the tourists go by. This is a must trip if you like smaller cities than Paris. It is also a must if you enjoy real champagne. The train trip back to Paris was equally fast. All in all, it was an enjoyable day outside of Paris.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Champagne, Europe, France, Gelato, Paris, Reims, Trains, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Where To Stay in Paris!

We recently stayed at an apartment in Paris. We had two couples and wanted to stay somewhere with room for two couples (2 bedrooms & 2 Baths) and a kitchen. We stayed at Paris Cheri! This apartment is large and in a great area of Paris, the 2nd arrondissement. It was 1 block off Rue Montorgueil, a very nice small pedestrian street with cafes and shops. You can find anything you want to eat and bring it home to cook (meat, cheese, bread, pastries, chocolates, wine and vegetables) or eat out in one of the many restaurants. There is a fabulous bakery around the corner from the apartment on Rue Montorgueil that makes the best croissants (regular or chocolate). We had them every day.

The apartment comes with a dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer. You can see the floor layout at link above and get pricing. We know when we return to Paris we will also return to Paris Cheri!

George & Jo Anne

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Categories: France, Paris | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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