We spent a great day taking friend Scott to some of our special Paris places.
First stop was Paul’s favorite museum, the Musee d’Orsay, which has the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works.
We were lucky to catch one of the final days of a beautiful exhibit, En Couleurs, la Polychrome Sculpture en France 1850-1910, that looked at the revival of color in sculpture.
Then on to Montmartre, a lovely hilltop area of Paris that was the gathering place for many of the important artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
We were so happy to return to our favorite Montmartre restaurant for our favorite Montmartre lunch of soupe l’ognon.
We enjoyed a wonderful evening of jazz at Chez Papa’s , an intimate jazz club in the St. Germain area of Paris. I had made our reservation in French and over the phone (no verbal clues to see if they were understanding me), so I was so happy when we got there and they had our name on the list.
This quaint club reminded me of something from Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.
I love the luscious Charentais melon, a French variety of cantaloupe. Always fragrant and flavorful, they are one of my favorite French breakfast foods.
After breakfast we went on a guided tour of the Louvre, the largest museum in the world.
My main memory from our last visit to the Louvre in 1993 was how disappointed I was when I saw the Mona Lisa. It was dark, covered by cloudy glass and hard to see. Now the Mona Lisa has a new home in a larger, better-lit room and looks beautiful. It is protected by special glass to prevent damage from flash photography and any other nefarious activity. Our guide explained why the Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world.
One could spend days in the Louvre and not see everything. In three and a half hours, our CityWonder Tours guide gave us the history of the building, escorted us to the highlights of the collections and taught us what to look for in each work.
After enjoying great art at the Louvre, we enjoyed great French wine at O Chateau. We tasted wine from six different regions. As a champagne lover, I enjoyed learning the proper way to open a bottle of champagne. Alain, our instructor, thought he had probably been our guide at an O Chateau wine-tasting dinner five years ago.
Post-wine tasting we enjoyed a lovely dinner at La Cantine de Troquet, located across the street from our apartment. The karma was great with charming staff, happy diners, and amazing food. I loved my beautiful dish of zucchini, eggplant and Parmesan cheese.
I always tell myself to be prepared for snafus when I fly, but until our flight from Amsterdam to Paris it had been years since I experienced major air travel challenges. My experience at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol reminded me of the importance of staying calm and flexible.
Ten minutes after boarding for our 1:00 PM departure, we had to deplane because the plane had a flat tire. The captain assured us it would be fixed and we would be on our way in two hours. Two hours later we once again queued at the gate, expecting to board the plane and be on our way. The departure time passed and no KLM staff appeared or made an announcement.
Three times we were given a boarding time, queued, saw no staff or heard any announcement about a change in departure. After the third departure time there was a near riot as angry passengers swarmed the information desk demanding answers. Eight hours after our original departure time, our flight was canceled, and we rescheduled another flight the next morning.
The next morning our new flight departed almost on time, and we finally arrived and moved into our Paris home-away-from-home by the Luxembourg Gardens.
A few hours later our friend Scott arrived and we explored our neighborhood.
That evening we went to my dear friend Moira’s home off the Rue Cler for wine and cheese.
By the end of the evening we had forgotten yesterday’s travel woes.
Tomorrow we leave for my favorite city, Paris. Its beautiful streets, amazing pastries, abundant art and elegant culture always enchant me. Paris is more like a collection of small towns than a big city, and every block reveals some special delight.
This is a special trip because a dear friend is joining us for his first visit to this magical city. We are excited to share our favorite Parisian experiences with him.
After our week in Paris, we are renting a car and exploring some of the beautiful French countryside in the Loire Valley, Dordogne region and Aix-les-Bains.
La Rentree is a celebratory time in early September when the French return from their long, lovely August vacations to school and work. I am looking forward to my personal La Rentree, returning to the country I love.