Ugh! 5:00am just rubs me the wrong way, and today especially. I’m in no mood to leave Provence, even though I love Paris. We’ve had such a good time here, and the weather has been fantastic for the past few days. I’m enjoying the sunshine and 60˚ temps.
At least the A8 is deserted this early on a Saturday, so we reach Côte d’Azur in record time. No hassles as we turn in the rental car, check in with Air France and head to the nearest newsstand. Then, it all falls apart for me. I’ve lost the beautiful little gift bag packed with my favorite purchases. We retrace our steps: newsstand-Air France-Europcar-Air France-lost and found-newsstand-Air France-lost and found. It’s gone. I spend the rest of the time we’re in the airport eyeing everyone’s bags to see if someone has adopted my lost treasures.
I’m near tears for a bit—all the miseries of today lumped in my throat: we’re leaving Provence, we’ve had no café, I’m sleep-deprived, and I’ve carelessly lost my small bag. CA is both understanding and consoling.
Our flight from Nice to Paris Orly goes without delays. We’ve not flown into this airport previously, but CA has researched the details and knows we can take the RER via Antony directly into Paris and then a Metro train to Tuilleries. When we change trains at Châtelet-Les Halles we’re faced with dragging two heavy suitcases and my carry-on up and down multiple staircases of multi-stories, so we decide to take to the streets. After all, we’re already on Rue de Rivoli, so how far can it be? Further than we thought.
Walking in the fresh air still seems preferable to lugging suitcases up and down in the Metro, but we hadn’t expected the teaming crowds streaming through the colonnades on this pre-Christmas Saturday. Still, we reach Rue d’Alger and easily find our hotel.
We also stayed at the Renaissance Place Venôme in 2008—we love this boutique hotel. Our room is smallish, but perfect. We’ve used Marriott points to pay for our 5-day stay, otherwise, the rooms here go for 699€ – 999€ per night. Location. Location. Location.
We're just a block off Tuileries.
We take just a few minutes to settle into our room, and then walk back to Rue de Rivoli and Rivoli Park Café for lunch. CA and I both order a light lunch—salade chevre chaud—because we want to have room for dinner tonight. We decide we’ve earned a carafe of wine, and share 250dcl of rosé. We pass the time discussing how to spend our first afternoon in Paris.
An hour later, we’re taking the Metro to Ile de la Cité, Nôtre Dame, and then crossing the Seine to Shakespeare and Company, the infamous English language bookstore. We’re wondering why there are masses of people surrounding Nôtre Dame? In the end we decide it’s just a normal Saturday with tourists from all around the world doing what tourists do in Paris.
I buy two books at Shakespeare and Company—a used book, The Savage Garden by Mark Mills, and Nick Hornby’s Polysyllabic Spree. I also make note of several other books I’ll get at the library or from Amazon after I get home.
Exhausted, we head back to the hotel where CA enjoys catching up on the news—USA Today—in front of the fire in the lobby, while I start The Savage Garden and fall asleep.
About 8:00pm we decide we’re too tired to journey too far for dinner, so we cross the street to Carr’s Irish Pub. We’re thinking pub food, but it’s a dinner menu—one-half Irish fare and one-half French. CA chooses an Irish stew, and I decide on veal only to be told that there’s no veal tonight. I end up with a fairly good version of entrecôte.
2008 and 2009 lights in Place Vendôme
these two from:
these two: our attempts
After dinner we walk toward Place Vendôme looking forward to seeing the Christmas lights--in 2008 huge chandeliers were strung across the streets and plaza. Tonight, we enter an ice palace. Lovely. Inspired by the calm and crisp evening air, we walk on to Opéra and then see the Galleries Lafayette lights display just ahead. Before we know it we’re walking toward Place de la Concorde’s Christmas market where the sky is lit by a huge Ferris wheel beneath which young children are skating on an especially-constructed rink. There’s a pervasive conviviality energizing the night. Splendid.
Earlier as we left our room for dinner, the chambermaids were entering rooms for the nightly turn-down. They would first knock and sing out, Bon soir?” If there was no answer, one maid would listen at the door with a stethoscope before actually opening the door to enter. Last visit in 2008, chocolates were left on our pillow. This time, we’re left nutty nougats. The French seem to really love nougat. And meringues. You should see the size of the lumps of meringues the boulangeries and patisseries were selling in Provence!