Out and About in Paris

And this is the post I always do about odds and ends of things we’ve seen in Paris outside our neighborhood. Those little things that are not Post-worthy, but may be of interest to Francophiles. So let’s get started (or “Let’s go!” as the GPS lady always says enthusiastically).

This beautiful dogwood tree in a downtown area was the first one we have seen. Apparently it fascinated this couple too because she was carefully examining it while he was trying to identify it with the use of his cell phone. Tourists!

Cliff took us to this great restaurant one night (trans: the Pig’s Foot). It’s a really beautiful place with amazing chandeliers that I managed to not get a photo of. And there are also dining rooms on multiple floors above the main level. The restaurant has been here since 1947 and they’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even through the pandemic. Check out our desserts below.

Okay, I have no idea what is going on here. There is no church nearby and it’s a Friday afternoon, Here’s the bride, but where’s the groom? And what are these people fussing over? Why is the blond girl now holding the veil that she was putting on the bride earlier? Why do all of the guys have big cameras?
Traffic! The traffic is incredible. The lanes are marked, sorta, but nobody seems to pay much attention to them. And there’s construction everywhere. It’s kind of like a free-for-all. May the best man win!

These bicycles and motorcycles are traveling in the same lanes with us and they are zipping in and out between cars and each other at break-neck speed. And a helmet? What’s a helmet?
It seems like I’ve seen fewer and fewer gas stations around. In fact I only remember seeing one that was just 2 little gas pumps on the sidewalk next to the street which is normally how you see them. But we were driving along and all of a sudden Cliff zipped down this ramp into an underground gas station. This looks more like our gas stations with multiple pumps and actually there were 2 different brands of gasoline available here. But still no mini-mart.

Of course I never managed to get a photo of Cliff’s cute little red Fiat but it looks a lot like this one only it has a sun roof (this is a Fiat, right?). I like this construction wall behind the cars too. It looks like some kind of plexiglass and it has drawings by school children and that part of it is permanent. But then it’s also been graffitied too. You can decide which is which.
A sunny view of the Arc de Triomphe just as we’re about to go into that mind-boggling roundabout.
Interesting fountain. Moving too fast. Didn’t get the name.
A statue at the little plaza honoring author Marcel Ayme whose nearby home was in the Montmartre area of Paris. The statue is based on Ayme’s short story called “Le Passe-Muraille” (the Passer-Through-Walls) published in 1943 and later made into 2 movies. The statue was made by sculptor and actor Jean Marais.

Love this little hidden alley.
Three little bee houses in a park.
Raoul knows his place and looks pretty comfortable in it.
Majestic Sacre Coeur sits high on a hill overlooking a busy neighborhood below.

We met Cliff one day at the Embassy and he gave us a quick tour of his workplace. It’s a stately building in a beautiful area. The U.S.’s Ambassador to France, Denise Campbell Bauer, was out of the building but her secretary allowed us to see her stately office. Of course we had to turn in our cell phones when we entered the building, so the few photos we have are the ones that Cliff was kind enough to take for us.

Well here we are at the end of the trail once again. We’ve managed to pass our Covid tests so we’re ready to hit the road. We’ve had a good time and we hope you’ve enjoyed our trip too. We’re planning a Viking European river cruise for October and we hope you’ll join us. Until next time, au revoir.

Chuck & Joyce

Around the Neighborhood

These photos were taken as we were out and about in our neighborhood. They’re just unrelated odds and ends of things we saw, none of them big enough to warrant a post of their own.

Cliff’s apartment is very near the Seine. The land on the right in this photo is a island in the middle of the Seine.
This beautiful little doggy in the window is keeping watch over his owner’s gold store.
This is what I hate about Paris streets. See how this street splits into 2 streets? There’s also a new street to the left of the person in black (by the bicycle, hard to see). So both the street to the left in the Y and the street that turns off this street to the left just kind of materialize out of nowhere. Heaven help if you need to find either of those 2 streets!
This is the closest grocery store. It’s about 3 blocks from the apartment. There’s a little red sign above the light (which I managed to miss in my photo) and it says Franprix. They’re everywhere and take on many forms depending upon the building it’s inhabiting, I suppose. There’s a produce market out in front of ours. You pick up your fruits and veggies there and they put them in a bag for you and keep the bag and give you a slip with the amount written on it. Then you head on into the store and do your shopping, pay for everything including the produce, and then pick up your produce bag on the way out.
The store is small – just 3 aisles like this – but it’s 2 stories and an escalator takes you down to the basement where there are move aisles. I found it confusing because some things are repeated in multiple aisles and in both the upstairs and downstairs sections. Wine, for example. You can see there are bottles of wine on both sides of this aisle although they don’t take up the whole of either aisle. There’s more wine in another aisle upstairs and there’s more wine downstairs. And it’s the same way with coffee. – there’s coffee both upstairs and downstairs. I wish somebody would explain that to me. In English, please.
This is downstairs. This is where the frozen and refrigerated foods are, as well as meats. It smells funny down here and it’s freezing. And there’s another whole shelf of coffee. Go figure.
A couple of the meat markets have rotisserie chickens cooking right on the streets. And they look and smell delicious.
Magic happens when it comes to parking on the street. I swear that Cliff can get his little red Fiat into a space that looks like it’s 6 inches shorter than his car in less than 10 seconds. It’s amazing.
The Bois de Boulogne is the second largest public park in Paris covering 2,088 acres, which is about 2 1/2 times the area of Central Park in NYC. The land was ceded to the city of Paris by the Emperor Napoleon III to be turned into a public park in 1852. Within the boundaries of the Bois de Boulogne are several large gardens, including the Bagatelle Park we visited last week, the Foundation Louis Vuitton and Parc d’Acclimatation that we also visited last week, a complex of greenhouses, several lakes, two tracks for horseracing, the site of the annual French Open tennis tournament, and other attractions. And woods., pristine woods with miles and miles of trails through them.
Because of its size, the park is best explored by bicycle since much of it is closed to cars.

Luxembourg Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens were packed and I swear every single chair/bench was taken. We didn’t stay too long, just took a quick look through the gardens and moved on. Not many photos.

I love this pool with the boats. Kids can rent the boats and then they run around the pool with their sticks pushing them off the wall whenever they get stuck.

I love the smile on this woman’s face as she enjoys her book. It’s great to see so many people in parks reading real books rather than looking at their cell phones.

And the little kids riding ponies are adorable. And some of them look like they’ve probably done this many times before because they really look comfortable riding.

See, I told you there weren’t very many photos.

Jardin des Plantes (Garden of Plants)

We made a quick run through the Garden of Plants, 70 acres of beautiful gardens and a couple of museums. We’ve been here before but it never ceases to amaze us. Here are just a few photos of what we saw.

The Alpine Garden is a little hidden garden within the Garden of Plants. It’s always been one of our favorites but we agreed it didn’t look quite as good this year as it has in the past.

L’Atelier des Lumieres

L’Atelier des Lumieres is a unique art center presenting classic pieces of art in immense and video- and music-accompanied exhibitions. We came here in 2018 when they first opened and then also visited their sister site in Provence in 2019. Both of those shows were of art by Van Gogh and Klimt. The current presentations are of Cezanne and Kandinsky. And as always, it was breathtaking.

I love the way the art is on the ceiling, the walls and even the floor. And since it’s always moving, sometimes the movement on the floor makes you a bit dizzy.


When Cliff drove us to L’Atelier des Lumieres on Sunday, we noticed that the police on motorcycles were busy closing off streets and traffic in the area was becoming challenging. Often after the police closed off a street, 4 or 5 of them would line up along the tape at the end of the street and just sit there on their motorcycles. After we came out of the theatre, we decided to find a sidewalk cafe in the area where we could have lunch outside and do some people-watching. That’s when we noticed there was a huge protest group gathering about 1/2 block down the street preparing to march. That huge ribbon of people marched through the intersection at the end of our street the entire time we were at the cafe. There were lots of people carrying different colors of flags but it was too far away to read what they said. Sometimes there were women speaking on loudspeakers and occasionally women sang songs over loudspeakers. Periodically there were loud booms and several times they set off tear gas bombs and we could see huge clouds of smoke. A middle-aged couple went into our restaurant briefly and when they came back out we could see the side of the woman’s face was very red and she was wiping it with a damp cloth. She had obviously been tear gased and was in a lot of discomfort. When then came out, they headed back to the protest. According to the news later in the evening, the marchers were protesting the government to lower the retirement age to 60, although I think there were also several other issues they were protesting too. May 1st, Labor Day here, is a traditional day of protest. My photos are too far away but here’s what I got.

If you look closely you can see a crowd of people, some with flags, moving through the intersection.

Here you can see the smoke from the tear gas bombs in the background.

Saint James Folie


Claude Baudard de Vaudesir, Baron de Sainte-James and wealthy financier, bought this estate in 1772.  At this point, this land was just countryside.  In 1777, the Count of Artois had a folly (a pleasure pavilion – a small house) built for himself in what is now Park Bagatelle right down the street (see last week’s post on the folly at Park Bagatelle).  So Baron Sainte-James wanted to have a folly to compete with the Count of Artois’ folly.  Unfortunately, after it was finished, the Baron went bankrupt and the house and grounds changed hands and the property was subdivided several times in the years after.  Originally the house and all of its adjacent buildings and grounds covered 30 acres. But after the property was subdivided several times, the house, remaining few outbuildings and grounds were only 4½ acres.  In 1952 the house was sold to the State and eventually passed to the city.  Later the house served as the administrative building for a high school that was built on part of the property. In 2006, the gardens were opened to the public.  The entire estate is still in disrepair and the house and the grounds are in a long process of renovation.  But in spite of all that, it’s still a lovely little park in the center of the city.

On the side of the park next to the street is a heavily-used children’s neighborhood playground.
The Art Deco walled garden with the Temple of Love dating from 1925 at the far end.
A closer look at the Temple of Love.
Beautiful rhododendrons
An interesting entrance gate.
Looking through one of the archways in the Grand Rocher.
Fragrant lilac bushes.
This lovely bridge over a pathway originally had a river flowing beneath it and the current renovation has plans to restore that feature. Originally the gardens included waterfalls, rivers, canals, and a pond, all a part of the upcoming restoration.
Apparently the pile of rocks on the right originally had waterfalls in it. Right now it’s just an unsightly, unsafe pile of rocks.
I love this house next to the St. James Foley, especially that little forest on the roof-top patio.

The World’s Largest Flea Market

Oh my! We made a visit to the Paris Flea Market, officially called Le Marche aux Puces de Paris Saint-Ouen (trans: the market of fleas in the Saint-Ouen area of Paris), and it’s amazing! It’s the largest concentration of antique dealers and second-hand dealers in the world, totaling more than 5 million visitors per year. The entire flea market covers 17.5 acres and includes 2,500 shops. It currently consists of 15 covered markets (Antica, Biron, Cambo, Dauphine, l’Entrepôt, Jules-Vallès, l’Usine, le Passage, Malassis, Malik, Paul Bert, Serpette, and Vernaison), five shopping streets (Rue Jules Vallès, Rue Lecuyer, Rue Paul Bert, Rue des Rosiers and Impasse Simon) and “merchant unpacking” on the sidewalks, each with its own identity. We spent a couple of hours at Biron Market which consists of 220 stores arranged in 2 huge parallel alleys totaling about 1/4 mile. Alley 1 in this market included antique furniture from all eras and origins, chandeliers, earthenware, rare paintings, mirrors, etc. Alley 2, which is covered, was more eclectic and more flea market. The whole flea market is a fabulous place and you could spend days there and not see it all.

The chandeliers in this shop were amazing. And it was only one of many similar stores in the Biron Market.
Look at the small chair in the lower center of the photo. It has antlers for a back and deer feet. And note the top hat hanging lamps above the chair. Fascinating stuff.
Need an antique stuffed leather dog?
. . . or maybe some dog busts?
And how about this chair? On your wish list?
I love this leather soft but how about that elaborate stool to the right of it?
This ball is a hanging light and if you look closely you can see a subtle light coming from the bottom of it.
Or perhaps you’re in the market for some lighted rocks.
Another shop with interesting lighting, mirrors, and more.
Another lighting store. How about that unusual one hanging in the center with the multiple shades?
This is the covered alley in the Biron Market with wares both inside and outside of the little shops.
A shop with amazing stained glass windows.
Of course, one of the most popular places in the Market was the cash machine!

I Love Picard!

I’ve discovered a store just a couple of blocks down the street from the apartment called Picard. Picard is my new best friend!

I first heard about Picard when we stopped in the bread shop for baguettes and I suggested we get some croissants too. Cliff said he gets them frozen at Picard and he has some in the freezer. You bake them fresh and they’re much better and much cheaper. And we’ve had them for breakfast every day since. They are amazing and the best croissants I think I’ve ever had. And he’s right: croissants in a bakery are 2-3 Euros apiece, while a bag of 8 from Picard sells for 3 Euros.

So of course I had to find a out about Picard, most importantly, do they have them in the U.S. The answer is no and apparently they have no plans to in the near future. Darn! (I read somewhere that the closest thing we have to Picard is Trader Joe’s and I think they’re right.)

Founded in 1973, Picard sells frozen foods, and for the most part, only frozen foods. And with very few exceptions, they make almost 100% of the products they sell. They have 1,050 stores in France and a few more in just 4 or 5 other European countries. Their stores are very simple – just a large room full of aisles of waist-high enclosed freezer cabinets. They offer more than 1,100 frozen products ranging from simple products to very elaborate recipes. And they add 200 new products every year. The variety of the food is a major selling point, which goes beyond frozen fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish to include options such as minced ginger, various chopped herbs, sauteed shallots, peeled chestnuts, wild mushrooms, pumpkin puree, and various sauces such as beurre blanc. Frozen prepared foods are also big sellers, including items like croissants, brioches, salads, galettes, hors d’oeuvres, entrees, and various desserts. Their biggest seller is thin green beans and they have many, many different kinds and styles of green beans, just like many of their other products. Like American freezer food, it’s easy and it’s cheap. Unlike most American freezer food, it’s delicious and for the most part lacks the incomprehensible ingredient list. A big part of their success lies in the total control they have with the production and distribution of their products which allows them to benefit from being kept at an even temperature once they’re frozen.

Products are grouped together well. All of the vegetables are in one area and multiple options of an individual vegetable are grouped together in a compartment. Items go on sale for up to 15% off and shoppers with a loyalty card can save an extra 5%.
Croissants, 8 for 3 Euros! What a bargain!
On the walls above the boxes are lists with information about the products and the prices. Above this compartment in this photo are descriptions of 8 different types of French fries they carry.
They had several freezer cases filled with a huge variety of appetizers. Yum! (I do not know why some of the photos I took in Picard are either upside down or sideways. Nor can I find a way to fix it. Arg!)
More appetizers. They work hard to make sure the photos on the boxes are accurate. And they look delicious!
Shopping’s all done. Time to take our insulated bag and head home.

Albert Kahn Museum & Gardens

Albert Kahn (1860-1940) was a French banker and philanthropist who was known for initiating a vast photography project. In 1909, Kahn travelled with his chauffeur/photographer to Japan on business and returned with many photographs of the journey. That prompted him to begin a project collecting a photographic record of the entire Earth. He then sent photographers to every continent to record images of the planet using early color photography: autochrome plates, and early cinematography. Between 1909 and 1931 they collected 72,000 color photographs and 183,000 meters of film. These form a unique historical record of 50 countries, known as The Archives of the Planet. In 1893 Kahn purchased a large property just outside of Paris, where he set out to create a 10-acre garden that incorporated elements from all around the world.  The garden includes an English garden, a Japanese garden with a traditional house and tea-room, a rose garden and a conifer wood. Kahn lost his fortune during the Wall Street crash of 1929 and was left bankrupt. The gardens were turned into a public park where Kahn himself continued to take walks.  Albert Kahn died in 1940.

The front of the museum facing the street is very strange. But the back of it which faces the gardens looks very Japanese and works wonderfully with the adjacent Japanese gardens.
This is the back of the museum. There’s a narrow walkway between the “shutters” and the side of the museum so the shutters aren’t actually attached to the museum.
We’ve left the Japanese gardens and this is more of a woodsy area.
I loved this scene of a mother sitting out in the woods reading a book to her children.
A very interesting display of the 3×5 photographs. There is no identification available with them although I suspect there is some available elsewhere. In another area of this room, viewing stations were set up for the videos.

La Defense

La Défense is Europe’s largest purpose-built business district, covering 1,400 acres with 1,500 businesses, 2,600 hotel rooms, 180,000 daily workers, 20,000 residents, and 72 glass and steel buildings of which 19 are skyscrapers (over 490 feet tall). It’s home to 8 of the 10 tallest buildings in the Paris region. And it’s within walking distance of our apartment so we got off at their Metro stop when we were coming home from a garden and then just walked home when we were finished.

One of the high points of the area (literally) is the Grand Arche de la Defense. It’s a cube that is 360′ tall, 360′ wide and 360′ deep. It was finished in 1986. Both sides of the cube contain government offices, while there’s a restaurant on the top. From the Arche you can see the Arc de Triomphe, which is 2 1/2 miles away. (see below)
The Arc de Triomphe as seen from the Grand Arche de la Defense.
The buildings eventually tier down from the Grand Arche and the areas between the buildings are sprinkled generously with very pleasant green belts and sitting areas like the one above.
The 40,000-seat Paris La Defense Arena sits directly behind the Grand Arche. The largest arena in Europe, it will be the site of 2 Elton John concerts in June.
Westfield has a 4-story shopping center in La Defense called Les Quatre (4) Temps. The mall has 220 stores, 48 restaurants a 24-screen movie theatre and a parking garage underneath.

There are 60 modern art sculptures and monuments scattered throughout Le Defense. Below are a few we came across during our walk through.

And the last one . . .

Louis Vuitton Foundation & the Jardin d’ Acclimatation.

Louis Vuitton Foundation

The Louis Vuitton Foundation is an art museum and cultural center that opened in Paris in 2017. And when you see it, it just screams Frank Gehry, the American architect who designed this deconstructivist building. The 2-story structure (2 stories? really?) takes the form of sailboat sails inflated by the wind. It has 11 galleries of different sizes and a voluminous 350-seat auditorium on the lower-ground floor and multilevel roof terraces for events and art installations. The exhibitions rotate and on the day we visited there were no major exhibitions, just a smaller one called Coming of Age. It was strange as was the demographic in attendance. It’s not your usual exhibition hall; the pieces of photographic art were not lining the walls in the room in the traditional way, but were hanging by wires from the tall ceiling or fastened to little stakes on a square raised platform. Hopefully it will become clearer in my photos below. Actually we thought the attendees were more interesting than the art.

Inside the building, it’s angles, angles, angles. And there’s a waterway running through it.
I liked the effect of the water running down the stairs and into the building’s waterways.
A big castle float served as a kind of trampoline for kids of all ages.
This was the main gallery we saw and it contained a photography exhibit built around the theme of Coming of Age. Some of those photographs are w-a-a-a-a-y up there.

The Louis Vuitton Foundation is adjacent to the Jardin d’ Acclimatation, a 47-acre children’s amusement park built in the 1860’s. We took a turn through it and it’s a fun place. It’s obviously very popular with families: it has lots of rides, plenty of food venues, a pretty little lake in the middle complete with boats, and some beautiful garden areas.

Built in 1875, this military dovecote was under the management of the French post office and accommodated 200 pairs of pigeons.

But the highlight of the park was this gorgeous white peacock. And he was such a performer. He was on one of the green squares in the garden areas and he paraded in front of the people on one side and then turned around and paraded to the other side. When all of the people finally drifted away, he went running after them. What a ham!

A Visit to a French Country House

On Saturday, Cliff drove us out to a little village called Chateau-Landon, about 65 miles from Paris to have lunch with an old work mate of his at his country house. Cliff’s friend has been retired for several years and he and his wife have a high-rise apartment in Paris and a few years ago also bought this century-old house in the country. Since then they have spent much time beautifully restoring it with the help of an amazing Ukrainian family of construction workers who speak only Ukrainian. Cliff”s friend is an expat, born in Germany and raised in Boston, and his wife is from Venezuela; they are 4 years into the process of getting their French citizenship. Cliff’s friend teams up with a few random others from among a big group of other unaffiliated musicians to play in rotating jazz clubs in Paris. They’re an interesting couple.

The house is amazing. Also amazing is the fact that neither Chuck nor I managed to get a good photo of it, which we didn’t realize until after we had left. How is that possible?! The house is 2 stories plus a walk out basement and a full furnished attic. The front of the house is very close to the street and has a big tree in front of it, hence it’s difficult to photograph. The back of the house has the biggest sloping lawn I’ve ever seen and includes the back lawns of a couple their next door neighbors (not sure how that happened) and by the time we got to the back property line, you could barely see the house. But all of the houses on that street are built on the side of a hill where their back yards slope down to a little river with fabulous walking trails along the river and through the adjacent wooded area.

It’s a lovely little picturesque village with a whole lot of history. For example, there’s a huge basilica which was built in in 545(!) and later became the Royal Abbey of Saint-Severin. Today it’s a retirement home. The business district is on the top of the hill where there are 2 large churches, a city hall, 2 pharmacies, a flower shop, a grocery store and a handful of restaurants.

After lunch, we went for a walk down the back lawn through a gate into a stone wall and into another walled area with fruit trees and then through another gate to the river. From there we went along the river and then up through the main village. It’s got natural fortification since it’s built into the side of a hill and the streets are interesting and steep and all the houses have great views. Here’s a bit of what we saw.

The identification sign as you enter the village.
We had wine, cheese, and pate on the grass lawn behind the house as they tend to do here. In the rear you can see where the back yard slopes down. The tiled area is new and I suspect it’s for gatherings which include dancing.
We ate lunch in this area behind the garage that they’re converting into a covered patio. The house is just to the left of this area.
Doesn’t this look like a watercolor painting? This photo was taken through a window in the attic.
Chuck walks down the hill with our hostess – they’re only about half the way down. Their house is the gold one on the left and all of the back yard visible in this photo came with their house and belongs to them.
After we walked down to the river, we walked along this path. Across the river is a lovely park and periodically there are old bridges that allow access to the other side.
Each house along the river has a little structure down by the river where the women came down and did their laundry in the river.
And there are several large communal laundries around town for people whose houses are not on the river. Apparently this was also a good place for sharing community news.
This was the site of one of several mills found around town.
This the the Royal Abbey of Saint-Severin that is now a retirement home. Photo does not really show how huge this place is.
A public well where people came to get water. Now a planter box.
Site of the old town market.
A view of the terraced houses.
A flower shop.
One of the windows in one of the big churches. You know I never pass up a stained glass window!
This huge (8′ tall?) 3-D fabric wall hanging was handmade by one of their parishioners and was really amazing. The photo doesn’t begin to do it justice.
A lovely view of one of the churches just as it starts to rain.

What a wonderful day in the country!

Bagatelle Park

The lovely 65-acre Bagatelle Park is within walking distance of the apartment where we’re staying. The property was originally home to a chateau that was built in 1777. After changing hands several times, in the 1830’s the then English owner of the park had it redesigned in the English style and added a second residence called the Trianon for his son. The estate was purchased by the City of Paris in 1905 and the park is one of four sites of the City of Paris Botanical collections. The Park boasts two rose gardens: the landscape rose garden and the classic rose garden. Over 4 acres of rose gardens include 9,000 rosebushes and 1,200 varieties. Although the roses don’t begin blooming until May, lots of other flowers were blooming, including lilacs, clematis, irises, narcissus, hyacinths, tulips, magnolias, peonies, and perennials, not to mention many blooming trees. The place was beautiful and smelled delicious!

Bridal wreath were everywhere and they were amazing!
The Park has lots of streams, ponds, and waterfalls with photogenic bridges scattered around.
Or course water means water fowl and there were plenty of them like these Mallards who acted like they owned the place.
This field of wildflowers was a favorite of the Canada Geese.
The view looking out from inside the rock formation in the photo above.
The short fence is to keep the ducks out but it’s not working.
This is the smallest chateau I think I’ve ever seen! They’ve completely restored the exterior and are currently working on the interior. I suspect it will be open to the public once they get it finished. The nearby Trianon is in disrepair also and needs a lot of work.
The front side of the chateau as seen across the chateau lawn and flowerbed. These narrow beds contained mostly spring bulbs that have already finished blooming.
Chuck walks under a pedestrian bridge near the chateau.
Other birds in the Park included many peacocks . . .
. . . and this really raucous Rook.
Between the Red Buds and the Cherry trees, we saw gorgeous pink blossoms everywhere.
Chuck admires fragrant deep purple lilacs near Empress Eugenie’s Kiosk.
The beautiful intricate interior of Empress Eugenie’s Kiosk.
Archways of wisteria and roses. The roses aren’t blooming yet but the wisteria are amazing. And fragrant.
While the rest of the roses along this wall aren’t blooming yet, this Lady Banks variety is an early producer with a showy mass of flowers.
The peonies are some of my favorites. There are so many varieties and they are HUGE! See 3 more below.
A very Monet-like garden.
The trees there were so tall and almost magical.
Isn’t this red tree beautiful!
What a beautiful day in the park.

Cliff’s Apartment

Don’t you think it’s fun to check out other people’s homes, especially when they’re quite different from our homes? I sure do.

Like I said, Cliff’s apartment is amazing, eclectic and cool. It has 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. It’s hard for me to count bathrooms in Paris because the toilet is in one room and the sink, shower and/or tub are in a different room. And there’s not always a 1 to 1 ratio. In Cliff’s case, he has 3 toilet rooms: 1 with a toilet only, and 2 toilet rooms with the tiniest sink I’ve ever seen: 8 x 15 with a 1-piece faucet included inside that space. And 3 of the bedrooms have an ensuite bathroom with a shower and the master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom with a tub and shower. He has made one of the bedrooms into an office. He has a large living room with a big dining room between the living room and the kitchen. And like most Parisian kitchens, his is compact but has a little breakfast nook at one end. The apartment has lots of windows with heavy French doors in the living room and each of the bedrooms as you’ll be able to see in the photos. Even the kitchen has a big double window that can be fully open. And nobody has screens on their windows. He has rugs from all over the world, a wide variety of artifacts that embellish his varied collection of furniture, and an especially eclectic collection of lamps and chairs. He lives on the 3rd floor which in Europe is called the 2nd floor since the bottom floor is called 0. It has a tiny little elevator that was added to the building at some point and it holds 3 or 4 very friendly people without packages.

The entryway.
Nice kitchen with great windows. Door on far right opens into laundry room.
High tech oven, cooktop, and microwave. Cupboard in center of photo above red box is his water heater. Dishwasher but no garbage disposal.
Looking across the dining area into the living room.
The dining area. Notice the metal Egyptian portiere in the doorway in the middle of the photo.
The living room. The Egyptian hand-carved wooden screen in the center is in front of 2 big sets of French doors that open to a faux balcony. And that painting from Uruguay hanging over the mid-century modern credenza is huge! Artifacts from around the world can be found artfully tucked around every room!
One of the bedrooms that he’s converted into an office. I call it the orange room.
One of the toilet rooms with a little sink.
One of the ensuite bathrooms. Each of them has a heater/towel warmer.
The ensuite bathroom in the master bedroom.
The master suite. Check out the interesting jester chair next to the fireplace. And what is that long wooden piece in front of the shutters?

Needless to say, we’re enjoying our home away from home!

We’ve Arrived in Paris – April 2022!

I didn’t have time to set up a new blog before we left. And I don’t even have a camera right now. And besides that, I wasn’t sure if I would have time to do a blog while we were here so was hesitant to set one up and send out notices to everybody. So when I was asked if I was doing a blog because somebody wanted to see photos, I felt like a real slacker and thought maybe I could just do a simplified version and post some cell phone photos on top of an old blog. An old Paris blog actually. So what I’m planning to do: just a few photos, not much text, and we’ll see how it works out. So that’s how we got to this place. And remember, once you’ve read down to the 2018 stuff, stop reading and wait for another current post.

Background: We’re staying with Chuck’s friend, Cliff, who works for the State Department and who is about a year and a half into a 4-year assignment here in Paris. (Chuck spent a month with Cliff when he was stationed in Egypt several years ago.) We arrived Wednesday about 3:30 and made our way to Cliff’s apartment. And what a fabulous apartment it is! 4 bedrooms and 4 baths, a huge apartment in a lovely residential neighborhood of Paris. Beautiful old building with hardwood floors, high ceilings, 3 fireplaces and an amazing amount of storage space. He requested an unfurnished apartment and all of the fabulous furnishings are his! Since Cliff has been stationed all over the world during his many years of government service, he has collected some fabulous furniture and artwork, almost entirely antiques. It’s like a museum!

But before I move on to the apartment photos, here are a few photos to whet your appetite.

After Cliff got home from work, he took us for a walk through his neighborhood and we stopped at this pastry shop and picked up a couple of baguettes. Cliff says this place has the best breads while another one down the block has the best pastries. I think if I lived here, I probably would know that kind of stuff too!

Beautiful fruit, right on the sidewalk in front of the store.

Gorgeous irises!

We’re staying near a fascinating area of high-rise buildings called La Defense. Among other things, it includes a large outdoor art display, a 220-store shopping mall and a performance space where Elton John will be performing 2 shows in June. It’s within walking distance of the apartment so we plan to walk down one day and, if we do, I’ll share some photos.

And here’s a door for Denise. Great color, huh Denise? I call it Lipstick Red.

Well I’ve run out of time so the apartment photos will have to wait until the next post.

Au revoir for now.

(Reminder, the posts below this are not new but are from the Paris blog I did in 2018.)

The Party’s Over

Well Denise’s first trip to Paris has come to an end and I believe she now loves Paris as much as we do.  We saw and did an incredible number of things and a couple of the museums we visited didn’t even receive their own blog posts:  the Louvre (Mona Lisa says “hey”), Musee Marmottan-Monet (a fabulous, well-kept-secret collection of Impressionist paintings).  We ran out of time and energy to do a few things we really meant to do, but we also saw some things that weren’t on our list before we left.  We met and exchanged tips with people from all over the U.S. (tiny bistros with snug tables turn English-speakers into instant friends).  And we met lots of nice, helpful Parisians too.

But now we’re home and we’ve moved into the croissant and Nutella-withdrawal stage of our adventure.  Of course we can get Nutella at home, but without those croissants, what’s the point?

We thank you for coming along and hope you enjoyed seeing some of what we saw.  Hope to see you again next time.

Hotel Saint Louis en L’Isle

We loved everything about our little 20-room boutique hotel, especially the location.  As I said before, it’s on the tiny island that’s next to the island that Notre Dame is on.  It’s a very touristy place (although about 4,500 locals live here too) and it’s right in the center of everything.  Normally that’s a good thing unless it’s really warm outside so you need to leave your windows open at night, and it’s a Saturday night, or a Friday night, or a Tuesday night, well you get the picture.  Even though we’re on the 5th floor (actually the 6th since the 1st floor doesn’t count as a floor), the narrow streets just seem to serve as a megaphone for all that revelry.  But it’s still a great place to stay and we loved it.  Except for the Internet, that not so much.


This is the front of the hotel. It’s 6 stories tall and we stayed on the top floor. The street in front is very narrow so it’s a one-way street. Most of the time it’s a pedestrian street since it’s major use is for cabs picking up and dropping people off at their hotels and service deliveries.


This is the view from our balcony, which is a real balcony, by the way. Both our bedroom and our bathroom had double doors with balconies.


Know what this is? It’s looking down 6 floors through the stair banister. Isn’t this a great shot! (Good job, Chuck, & nice shoes!)


The strange, tiny elevator stops between floors so no matter what floor you’re on, you have to walk either upstairs or downstairs to get to your room. In the elevator, the floor buttons are marked 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, and 4/5 (the lobby is on Floor 0). Guests staying on the 1st floor must go to floor 1/2 and walk down a half flight of stairs. People staying on the 2nd floor can get off at either the first floor (and walk up half a flight of stairs) or the second floor (and then walk down half a flight of stairs) and so forth. Is this normal? I have never seen this before and I think it’s very strange.  And I don’t think OSHA would like it one little bit.


Often the stairs looked like this during the day because the cleaning crew has no stairs or elevator of their own. They have to lug these huge, heavy bags of sheets, towels and cleaning supplies everywhere and store them on the stairs while they work since there are literally no halls on the floors, just doors at the top of the stairs.


I love these authentic looking lights in the halls.


The stairs down into the dungeon – AKA the breakfast room.


The continental breakfast was always generally the same every day. The breakfast room was actually 2 little rooms on either side of a small dining room. In addition to a small kitchen, this room had juices, coffees & teas, and all the appropriate condiments. In the kitchen is Mariska, who was super nice and accommodating to us, in spite of the language barrier.


. . . and this one held ham and cold meats, cheeses, fresh fruits, and cold cereals. But the real treat is on the tables – – baskets and baskets of a big variety of fresh pastries.  On our last day, the pastries were delivered to the hotel late and the croissants were still warm!  Yum!


The dining room is between the 2 serving areas. Because it’s such a small hotel, you get to know the other guests (almost entirely English speaking) very quickly at breakfast.


In general, hotel rooms in Paris and our hotel are very small but ours has a small sofa bed in it so it’s technically a triple. But it would be tight for 3 people.  I wouldn’t say those apartments across the street are close to us, but the room across from ours had a music stand in the window with a piece of music on it and it was a Chopin Etude.


The hotel staff was fabulous, so friendly and helpful. Denis (shown here) and Bernard were our 2 favorite desk clerks and they were wonderful. They both worked very hard to try to solve my Internet problems. And the kitchen servers/housekeepers were so friendly and accommodating, even though they spoke no English. They all contributed to making our stay a very enjoyable one and we thank them for all they did.

Out and About in Paris – Part 2

These are the last of my odds and ends of photos around town.


We love the stalls on the right bank and the left bank (above) of the river. They all carry pretty much the same merchandise yet each is just a little different. Mostly they had vintage books, magazines, photos, and prints, and current souvenirs such as post cards, placemats, tote bags, keychains, jewelry, etc. I think the ones on the right bank had more original art by local artists.


Now isn’t this a bazaar window for a clothing store?


And what’s with all of the greenery in these MaxMara windows?


Cute store sign for a luggage shop.


In the window of a flower shop. None of these birds is real!


I thought this family scootering on the bridge together was cute.


Last time we were in Paris, we saw only one homeless man. This time we saw many of them, some of them in tents like this one that seemed to be well stocked.  As we walked by, we could tell he was watching TV inside.


The sightseeing boats are great because they have glass roofs for unobstructed views.


This was a Segway tour. Wish I had the nerve in Paris traffic.


There have been 2 mannequins on this restaurant balcony overlooking a street that runs parallel to the Seine for years. But the first time we went by this time, only the man was there and he was wearing a Me Too t-shirt. The next time we went by, the woman was back too but we were too far away to read their t-shirts. Darn! We missed another story!


We went to dinner early one night (at 7), and all of the tables in front of the sidewalk café were taken by people who obviously knew each other and at the curb were (illegally) parked several black cars with black windows and drivers standing by the doors. It was almost a little creepy. We kept saying these people all looked like they were waiting for something. (They were dressed like they were going to a funeral – were they waiting for a body?) Eventually this gal in the gorgeous white dress came and said hello to everybody and shortly thereafter they all jumped into cars and roared off. All of the outside café seating was empty. And we never did spot an obvious groom. Very strange.


Paris has a lot of motorcycles because it’s a lot easier – and cheaper – to park a motorcycle than a car. And they’re much easier to maneuver in tight spaces, and Paris is nothing but tight spaces.


This is the biggest gas station I’ve ever seen. Most gas stations are one parallel parking space next to one gas pump on the sidewalk. But this one is huge. It even has posts that guide you across the sidewalk and into the station and it has a mini-mart inside (behind the big green price sign).


When we were here 2 years ago and left from the Atlantic Garden, we ran across this exact same sight – 4 guys who work at the military surplus store (I think) having lunch (complete with wine) at a table in the driveway next to the store. It was like deja vu all over again (to quote Yogi Berra).


This woman had a tree in her backpack and was taking it home on the bus!


Up a winding, narrow flight of stairs in a very nice restaurant were the smallest bathrooms and shared sink I have ever seen. If you took too big a step back from the sink, you could easily fall down the stairs.  This bathroom did not look at all like the restaurant.


2 doors down from our hotel. Way too accessible!


Early in the morning, there were fishermen on the banks of the Seine where the night before people had been partying. I never did see anybody catch anything.


Rick Steves likes this bookstore near our hotel and so did we. It’s a fascinating place. And when the couple on the bench saw me taking photos, they stood up so I could take a photo of the bench too (below).


The bench at Shakespeare and Company.


Several years ago Paris took all of the Love Locks off of the bridges because they were concerned that eventually they wouldn’t be able to support the weight. Some of the bridges were even affixed with glass panels so that locks couldn’t be attached to them. However, this is one of the bridges that is starting to collect them once again.


Paris has a toilette shortage! There are no toilettes in the Metro stations – the only one I ever found was for shop workers only and one of the workers gave me the key for 1 Euro. There are toilettes on the trains but the doors are locked. We were in the park above the Montparnasse Train Station and we went down into the station to find a toilette. We finally found the one pictured which cost 1/2 Euro. But hey, it was clean! It’s one of those 4 step toilets: (1) Put your coin in the slot and enter and lock the door, (2) use the bathroom, (3) push the green button by the door to exit, (4) then the door closes behind you and the whole room is sprayed with water and disinfectant. They make me nervous. What if they just missed that one little step of opening the door when you hit the green button? And you came out drenched? Scary!

(Scarce) Paris Cats

I keep an eye out constantly, but we just don’t see that many cats. With a serious rat problem, it seems like Paris needs more cats!  I would love to do a big, long post just on cats. Unfortunately, this post includes every cat we’ve seen since we’ve been here . . . a whopping 6 cats!

Okay, he’s on the 3rd floor. The window is closed. He’s looking down. Now what? (I don’t want to look..)


This long-haired beauty was almost hidden by the surrounding vines.


Roommate to the previous cat, this one decided to go for a walk, which he did straight down the alley. (If you look closely, you can see his roommate sitting in the window to the right of the bike’s red child seat.)


This cat came and went out of the creperie across the street like he owned the place.


We noticed he was still inside after the creperie closed at night, so maybe he did own the place.  Or maybe he was just the night watchman.


And then there was La Pere Lechaise chat.


This orange restaurant cat can’t understand why Chuck won’t let him help order off the menu. He KNOWS what’s good here!

Street Performers

We commented several times on the lack of mimes on this visit. We only saw one mime and she was in Versailles.  We’ve never before been to Montmartre without seeing at least one mime and often several. But this time we saw none up there. Is it a dying art? I certainly hope not.  It’s a real mystery. On the other hand, there seems to be no shortage of the other usual street performers, especially on the pedestrian bridge between our island and the island that Notre Dame is on. It’s just constant entertainment  and we love it.  They really make Paris feel like . . . well, Paris.

This was the only mime we’ve seen since we’ve been here and she was down the street from the Palace in Versailles. She was cute though.


This guy was playing a Celtic Harp on the sidewalk next to Notre Dame.


Rollerblading is popular here, especially among the street performers. This guy was very talented at weaving in and out among the little cones.


Working accordion players are common on the Metro. And there’s nothing like an accordion to make it sound and feel like Paris.


This accordion player on the bridge near our hotel was taking a break and so was his little dog.


This marionette performer on the bridge near out hotel was one of the more unusual street performers we’ve seen.


Lots of guitarists playing a wide variety of guitar music. And selfie-takers are ubiquitous . . . and annoying!


This pianist sets up his piano on the pedestrian bridge near our hotel regularly and he’s fantastic. Sometimes other instrumentalists join him and they have a real jam session. What do you suppose he does with his piano when he carts it away at night?

Doors, Doors, Doors

ALL doors in Paris are very striking for one reason or another so doing a post on them seems almost unnecessary.  However, I always do at least one door post so here it is.


There are lots of pretend balconies like this in Paris. Sometimes they aren’t even big enough to go out on, like the bottom floor here. They protect little balcony bushes and sometimes disguise the fact that they’re actually security bars.  And sometimes they’re so tiny that you can step out on them, but that’s all, like the ones on the second and third floors. They’re only like a foot or less deep. But you’ve got to admit they improve the looks of any residence, especially when they so decorative as these are, so they’re a good thing.


Nice old doors in essentially good shape. Common.


These look very “old castle” and make you want to see what’s inside.


I especially like the blue glass balls at the top of these doors.


The whole corner entrance here is very attractive.  Love the red doors!


Eeew, this one is a little eerie and very old. There isn’t even a knob on the door. And what’s with the little bars to the right of the door? I’ll bet there’s a great story here.


This one is actually a tiny bar in our neighborhood. The whole front was so interesting I just couldn’t resist taking a picture.


Nice new-looking doors.


Once again, if you need to have bars on your windows, these are fairly attractive.


This whole door and frame are very impressive. It looks like they take you to apartments above commercial stores.


Some doors have beautiful knockers like this one.


We saw this in a church. The door on the right is a side door into the church. The door on the left is a mystery. Once again, I want to open that door and go in!


Beautifully carved doors, but are they afraid the cherubs are going to get away?



Getting Around in Paris

There are many transportation options in Paris and I think we’ve taken them all. This is my Transit 101: what we’ve managed to learn, sometimes the easy way, and where necessary, the hard way. The RER trains run both above and below ground and go many of the same places as the Metro. The cars are mostly double-deckers and you’re less likely to lose your arm because the doors stay open for 20 seconds rather than the 10 seconds the Metro car doors remain open. HOWEVER, right now the RER is somewhat on strike so your line may not be running at all today or the trains may simply be running less frequently and the next train may not come for another 2 hours. Metro, on the other hand, is frequent and dependable. However, it can take an engineering degree to figure out how many Metro lines you’ll need to get to your destination, as well as what direction you should take each line, since each line goes 2 directions and is thus named for the street at the end of the line and not an actual direction. Taking the right Metro line in the wrong direction can make your life, temporarily at least, very miserable. And then locating and then reaching the appropriate connecting line in the same Metro station can prove to be very daunting, with long tunnels and multiple flights of both up and down stairs. It can feel like you’re walking more than you’re riding. But the Metro is entertaining. There is often entertainment on board, like an accordionist or a guitar player. And the other riders can be very entertaining too. The Bus, on the other hand, can be a lot of fun. It’s great to be able to see where you are now and enjoy the sights along the way to where you’re going. The only problem with the bus is that some lines and/or at some times of the day they can be breathtakingly crowded.  And of course walking, when at all possible, is the very best option.  That’s the way you get to see the most.

We mostly took the Metro with a few buses and RER’s thrown in where necessary. We only took a taxi a couple of times. And of course we walked A LOT!

Man, that entry into the Metro station is W-A-Y down there.


This copper lined Metro stop was stunning. Not sure what the significance is, but it sure was pleasing to look at.


At the copper-walled Metro stop, there were also portholes placed around and they had little vignettes in them. This one had a miniature cathedral scene in it.


The walls in this Metro station were strange, especially when viewed up close. Not sure what their goal was here.


This wallpaperer was a real pro! With his little stepladder, he re-did this entire Metro billboard in less than 10 minutes. Impressive!


Denise riding on the wheel of the bus. Finally she’s high enough to see out.


We were in an RER station one day and having problems because our train had been cancelled and the next one wasn’t coming for another hour.  This gal from Cuba, named Dai (sp?), was so sweet and tried hard to help us  find an alternate, faster route.  First she enlisted the aid of 2 transit information officers who went over the maps with her and pointed us in the right direction.  Then we switched to the Metro and she actually got on 2 different Metro lines with us to make sure we got to the correct stop.  At one point when we needed our bus passes to get into another station, she couldn’t find hers and just emptied the contents of her purse onto the floor in the Metro station and dug around until she found it.  Chuck tried to pay her for helping us but she wouldn’t take anything.  She was amazing!


Now is that a look of concentration or what?


Chuck and Denise have clearly never seen a woman dump out the entire contents of her purse onto the floor of a Metro station before!


We saw these 2 girls with their nanny while we were waiting at the bus stop. But when we got on the bus, we realized the very together girl on the left (who couldn’t have been over 12) was actually traveling alone because she got off the bus by herself. Nannies and their charges are a very common sight on the streets of Paris.


A Night at the Opera House

Okay we didn’t really go to an opera because there aren’t any playing right now. But we did go to the Opera House to see a modern dance performance put on by the Paris Opera Ballet and backed by the Paris Opera Orchestra. And the whole evening was a real treat. The Opera House is amazing and we haven’t been inside since 1977 so I barely remembered it. It is truly stunning. And the 3 modern dance pieces the Ballet performed were creative and very well done. Of course we’re not allowed to take photos during the performance, but I do have some photos of the Opera House as well as one of the Ballet performances that I borrowed from the evening’s program.

Palais Garnier, Paris’ Opera House. It’s one of the major traffic hubs in the City of Paris.


The Opera House is the setting for French novel writer Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera , which was later made into the smash musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber. This staircase was the setting for the “Masquerade” scene in the musical.


Beautiful chandeliers in the lobby. Imagine what this must have looked like when the chandeliers had candles rather than lightbulbs in them.


The lobby ceiling.


These are where our balconies would be at home, but these are no more than 2-3 seats deep, so the whole opera house doesn’t have the number of seats that one would expect.


The special boxes next to the stage.


The seats are beautifully upholstered and look attractive. But the seats do not fold up which makes it hard for people to pass by if their seats are in the middle of the row. And there are 2 little fold-up seats on the inside of each row in the aisle for extra seating. Unfortunately, if somebody wants to get by them in the aisle, they have to stand up and fold up their seats in order to let people get down the aisle.


The ceiling in the Opera House is a real stunner. It was painted by Marc Chagall in the 1960’s.


One of the modern dance pieces performed at the Paris Opera Ballet on our visit there. (Photo courtesy of Paris Opera)

Everything Foodie in Paris

This post is kind of a hodge podge of food photos – street food, food in restaurants, and markets.


This is the food market down in the next block from our hotel. There are much bigger markets around the city but a lot of the neighborhoods only have small markets like this one. Amazingly, they seem to have everything you need.


Okay, guess which kind of crepe is most popular? Why it’s Nutella, of course, and there are stands like this one everywhere. And Nutella is also very popular in restaurants.


This take-away shop near our hotel had it all – sandwiches, quiches and pizzas that could be heated and sweet pastries as well. The hot foods were warmed in a panini warmer so they stayed nice and crisp.


Burgers and fries are more popular (and expensive) here than we’ve ever seen them in the past. The fries are usually pretty good, but the burgers are pretty much hit and miss. This particular one was very good.


A very impressive dessert presentation, even if the dessert didn’t exactly live up to its presentation.


We ate in this burger place called “Steak and Shake” and then realized it’s an American chain that’s been around since the 60’s. The walls were papered with old photos from their American counterparts. As a rule, we observe a “no American chains” embargo when we travel because we want to experience the local food.


And the toilettes in the Steak and Shake were red, and I do mean RED! The bathrooms in the chain places like this one (and McDonald’s, Five Guys, Burger King, etc.) require a code which is printed on your receipt so that non-customers cannot use them,


This is the food market down in the next block from our hotel. There are much bigger markets around the city but a lot of the neighborhoods only have small markets like this one. Amazingly, they seem to have everything you need.


The whole store, about the same size as a small boutique. Shelves are stacked literally from floor to ceiling.


In the middle of the store is a small freezer case with pints of ice cream, ice cream bars, and a variety of TV dinner turned on their sides.


This is the produce section inside the store.


This is the sign in the produce section that gives prices for items that can’t be individually marked. I like the way the board gives the country of origin in additional to the price.


These are very small, shallow boxes of fresh berries and every market has them. According to the latest conversion rates, the raspberries are $5.75, the blueberries are $5.90, the boysenberries are $7.10 and the gooseberries are $9.50.


This is the fruit display that was moved out to the front of the store every morning. Their fruit was beautiful and beautifully displayed.


Another attractive dessert.


The pastry counter at the restaurant in the Palace at Versailles.

Local Parks and Playgrounds

I love all of the little parks we come across as we’re walking to the different sites in Paris. On the way to the Musee Marmottan Monet, we ran across a funny intersection with 3 parks around it. And they were all very different – something for everybody. It was a beautiful day and the parks were getting a whole lot of use by a wide variety of individuals.

This bigger-than-life statue with his bird, his dog, and his missing hand were at the corner of one of the parks and we never could find any identification on them.


An interesting beehive. One side was clearly a beehive . . .


. . . while the other side showed how the beehive appeared to be attached to 1/2 of a tree trunk and then had grass growing out of it. Interesting…and odd.


One large area in one of the parks had adult exercise equipment in it . .


. . . and this guy was taking full advantage of it.


I don’t know what this blooming tree was but it was gorgeous.


A common sight in Paris parks: This fully-dressed, older man laid out his blanket, stripped down to his bikini, and laid down to catch some rays.


These 2 little girls were having a ball while their mother struggled to do the heavy lifting and pushing on the other side of the teeter- totter.


Near the chilldren’s playground was a kiosk that sold all kinds of children’s toys, games, and snacks.


I ran across a fenced area that had several children inside in what appeared to be a pre-school class. The class dismissed after a bit and young mothers came by the pick up their toddlers, and all of the conversations were in natural English. Hmmm…. After the children left, these doll strollers were parked at attention until the children’s return another day.