Sunday, July 17, 2011

Paris in the Summer

Ahhh, Paris!  City of Light!

This city is unique on the planet.  I know that is a trite thing to say, but it is true.  We have been here several times over the years since 1993, and have enjoyed every one of our visits.  So now we are going to try living here for a while.  Living in places where we enjoyed visiting before is one of the main things about our walkabout.  So, here we are!

We arrived at Paris Gare du Nord railway station on the Thalys train from Bruxelles-Midi on time.  The flat that we have rented is only a few short Metro stops away from Gare du Nord.  Rather than carry our bags up and down all the stairs to get to the Metro line at Gare du Nord, we decided to walk to Rue des Abbesses.  The taxi line at the station was huge, and it probably took us less time to walk than it would have to get to the front of the taxi line!

Our flat is in Montmartre, the 18th arrondissement, on Rue des Abbesses, and is on the sixth floor.  Seventh floor by North American counting.  And there is no elevator.  So that is a good thing, because there are pastry shops in the vicinity...French pastry shops.  A built-in stairmaster is a good thing.  The flat is comfortable, although small.  But Paris is a major city, and like New York and Tokyo, real estate is at a premium.  So it is small.  There is only a curtain between the small living room and the bedroom.  Internet and television are included.  We haven't used the television at all. (Unlike in Santiago and in Kinsale.)  There is a Carrefour market one block away, and so we shop for food there.  It is equipped with a washer and a dryer. In other words, everything that we need to live here, is here even if a bit cramped.

We found a restaurant here in Montmartre.  A tourist place.  It was terrible.  The cheese on the onion soup was burned, the meat was bland, and they wouldn't serve water in a pitcher.  In other words, they insisted on selling us bottled water.  We didn't go back.

Our first house guest arrived the day after we did!  We went down to meet Lori at Gare du Nord.  She was coming from London on the Eurostar.  She is staying with us for almost three weeks.  So we started going to see the sights, and so we got the pictures in the previous entry.  We went down to our favorite place on the Left Bank, Le Bistrot 30.  I can't speak for the rest of the places in this area of which the author of the Lonely Planet Paris volume so roundly disapproves, but we have been going to Le Bistrot 30 since 1993.  LP calls the area "Bacteria Alley," but I have to say that I haven't been much impressed with that particular author's commentary.

Midnight in Paris.  That was our first order of business.  We found a theater where it was playing in English with French subtitles, but we did not wait until the midnight showing.  That movie is just brilliant.  I will say no more except that if you have not seen it, then you don't know what you are missing.  I think that Midnight in Paris is the best Woody Allen movie that I have ever seen.

A third cousin of Penny's lives in Paris.  Dominique and Barbara are both shrinks here, and so we have to be careful what we say or they might have us committed.  Seriously, it is always nice to see them again.  We have had dinner twice with them and will see them again when they get back from Greece.

Musee d'Orsay, the Louvre, the Paris Opera, riding the Batobus around the Seine, Notre Dame, and Saint-Chapelle.  Croissants, baguettes, pains au chocolate, boeuf bourguignon, vin rouge, mousse au chocolat...I am learning more and more French every day!

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