01 December 2016


Today (Thursday), I'm relaxing in front of a sun-filled French door; allowing my soul to catch up with my body. I'm at rest; ignoring the magnetic draw of Paris. 

Look who came to visit. 


We walked briskly to the local bus stop, taking us to the RER train 🚂 Marne-la-Vallée--Chessy. Amazingly there are blooming roses along our pathway. 

There are always buskers on the RER trains. Most claim to be Syrian refugees. Who knows? My solution is to give to one. There's no way to validate any claims, and the giving is more about keeping my heart open than the coins. 

Today we choose to walk along Canal Saint-Martin; and because the canal is underground from Bastille to Republique, we take time to explore the area around Bastille before taking the Metro to Republique. We walk along enjoying the canal, the iron bridges, the locks. Eventually, we run across Chez Prune, a recommended café. 

This café makes a point of being bedraggled, seedy. Very self-consciously appealing to local BOBOs (hipsters). The food is good, portions huge. While Chez Prune might be the definition of "a dive" it's very clean.

As it's a chilly cold day (I chose to leave my gloves back in my suitcase.), we take the Metro to Opera and tour Opera Garnier. There's been much reconstruction on the Opera in all the years we've visited, and it's about time we see inside. Amazing. Stunning. Beautiful. Unimaginable. I have no appropriate words. And, when we view the Main Auditorium, 4 performers are practicing a ballet--2 women and 2 (shirtless) men. The musculature! 


We get a later start and decide to exit the RER at Chatelet--right in the middle of Les Halles. When you leave the train you realize you are several stories underground. In fact all of the mall part of Les Halles is underground. The entire ground level scene is retail mania. We're not too interested in shopping, so we wind around the under construction Les Bourse and the backside of Norte Dame. Redevelopment and reconstruction have been going on in this area since 2010 and will continue for a few more years. 

We'd decided to go to the BHV for lunch at Le Kantine on 5éme. This particular carousel sits next to the Hôtel de Ville and across from the BHV. 


The cafe is self-service, as is this fun wine dispenser. 

I told CA that I "needed" to visit Housewares, Hardware, and Stationery. And, though we milled about for some time, we hit every one of the hotspots. 

After purchasing a few stationary items, we decide there's still enough time to walk to E. Dehillrien, the lovely chef and restaurant supply shop that is a Paris Institution.

We accomplish our small mission and after a bit of looking about, we decide we're ready to take the train back to our villa, and enjoy a pub dinner on-site. They really do burgers well. We're here for the French food, but tonight a burger seems just right.


We surprise ourselves and declare today a pajama day. Our bodies are tired. We've kept a busy pace so far. It turns into a great day to read, take walks, and stare out over the pretty views outside our French doors. 

My sunset view, not very different from my morning view (above). A very good day. 

By dinner time, CA has found a local restaurant that has an excellent reputation, so we set-off in search. First, a quick grocery store stop. 

Au Bon Petit Bailly is certainly unpretentious and the Food is delicious. CA shared some of his generous serving of goat cheese toasts. You can almost see the salad underneath. I'm making my goat cheese toasts exactly like these in the future. Hot crispy toast with gooey goat cheese. TDF. I ate some with the vegetable soup made from the chef's wife's garden. 

Furthering my exploration into the French love of Meringues... This example was covered with Citron ice cream, smothered in whipped cream, and drizzled with Raspberry sauce.

30 November 2016


We discovered the BHV (Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville) during our first visit to Paris in December, 1999. I'd read about it, obscurely, in a Traveler's Tales book. It was originally established in the early 1850s and has continually operated since. 

While purchased by Galleries Lafayette in 1991, in 1999 it still retained its chaotic, mysterious collections of individual and slightly odd merchandise, mish-mashed in with the usual mundane stock in the various departments.

I fell in love with the stationary department, the basement hardware, and the fabrics! The culinary department begged to be explored. I spent whole days in the BHV during our first few trips to Paris. Our grandchildren scored one-of-a-kind (in the USA) clothing and toys. 

While the BHV has been outfitted and merchandised into a grand shopping experience, it still retains much of its charm--if just a bit under the surface. 

Just opposite the BHV is the stunning architecturally magnificent Hôtel de Ville. And, one of the many beautiful carousels in Paris. 

This visit coincides with Christmas so we're enjoying both the traditional and the unusual decorations. Clever use of snow skis (0ème). 

The gift wrapping overflows the Stationary Department on the 3ème. Lovely. 

Glitter paper!

I especially love to dine in Le Kantine on 5ème--a buffet TDF. Cleverly, the house wines are dispensed here... While dining, you can enjoy a view of the rooftops of Paris. 

There's a recent trend toward using Post-It notes as art. Here the word "CAISSE" for cashier is emphasized in white. 

One last thought: I, sincerely, told CA that I could just get a pillow and a duvet and move into the BHV. Meant it. It feeds my soul with all its glittering goodness. I just like to see and to touch everything. I don't even need to buy any more. I've already squirreled-away goodies and given plenty of gifts from previous visits. And, truthfully, TJMaxx and Home Goods are a much, much better deal. It's the ambience I want to roll-around in.

28 November 2016

nous sommes arrivés

Marriott's Village d'lle-de-France
Allee de l'Orme Rond
Bailly-Romainvilliers, 77700 Franc

The townhouses. 

Our 2-bedroom is on the right. 

Our private entry foyer, includes a powder room. 

Sitting room and dining. Our townhouse has 2 French doors, a terrace with lovely views. A small kitchen and bar area to the side. 

Upstairs are 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. 

Simply lovely. A 9-minute SNCF train ride from CDG, plus either the No. 34 bus, or a short taxi ride and you have arrived.

27 November 2016

Dressed for Terrorism?

Security lines are the harsh reality of the 21st century travel experience.  Everyone has a story; most all of us can relate. Today, for once, my mood was very good; my expectations high. Generally, I face the dehumanizing necessities of airports, not stoically but, hypnotically. I rather automatically enter a trance-like state, possibly similar to the mindset of a low-security institutional prisoner. 

With perfectly measured civility, I follow the rules: que-up, inch forward, present travel documents, hand-over any checked luggage. Then, repeat the process in the security line while additionally removing any items of clothing, jewelry, ornamentation and footwear. (Dear God, I once had a brain 💨and wore barefoot sandals; requiring me to make actual physical contact with the airport tiles. I shudder.)

But, today I approached the numbing process with a slight smile, a touch of optimism. I'd been granted Pre-Check status. The free-falling wonder of short lines, less security. Keeping my shoes (with thick socks) on my feet. 

I must interject here that of late I've mostly flown no-frills domestic airlines. Flights between our home city and the one closest to our flat, and to our son's family. So, there's been no opportunity to officially sign-up for Pre-Check privileges. 

On arrival at Terminal 3, while mostly sailing through the various stations of air travel, I soon hit a wall. An impermeable, but gracious TSA barricade. 

My stroll through the non-sterilizing, screening machine lit-up the thing like a proverbial Christmas tree. 'Tis the season and all, but these twinkle lights were quite puzzling and somewhat noisy.

I'm a seasoned traveler. I'd foregone wearing a watch, bracelets, or a belt. In fact I was wearing a brand new, rather understated but tasteful set of casual- (or, athletic-) wear. No zippers, studs, brass buttons. No bells, no whistles. 

The potentially sterilizing, full-body, hands-up, X-ray machine also lit-up like a pinball machine. 

So... I was gently frisked. My hands and shoes were wiped and analyzed. Apparently, all tests ran positive. My personal items were searched, further wiped, re-screened, and eventually handed-out of the contamination zone to my ever-patient husband. 

A friendly and chatty TSA agent led me to a side room, where we waited a few minutes for occupancy. I was again frisked. And, wiped and analyzed. 

Three TSA agents conferred. Finally, with sincere apologies and a touch of befuddlement, I was sent on my way. 

So much for breezing through security today. 20 minutes can be devastating with close connections. But, CA and I had been packed and ready, and we'd called Uber quite early--always preferring extra time at the airport to a frenzied last minute arrival. 

Excuse me while I practice my hypnotic, trance-like travel state. Zoning out...

Winter Travel 2016

Home from our wandering. After 5-weeks in Colorado (with a side trip to Peoria, IL for dad's funeral), we traveled home via Thanksgiving in Omaha with JE's family. DM+MK also traveled to Omaha. 

We had less than 24 hours at home in Woodstock before catching an Uber ride to O'Hare for tonight's 7:00pm FinnAir flight to CDG and Paris!

After craving pasta the whole way to the airport, we walked right past Macaroni Gill to Rick Bayless's Tortas Frontera. And, fell flat-out in love with the Tortas Cubano and Fully Loaded Guacamole. Best airport meal EVER. 

Gotta charge my phone so that no detail goes undocumented.