Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 3:08 pm Post subject: Paris: Feb. 18 with two teens...market & music questions
Hello all! I am new to the forum and have been reading all your suggestions for Paris - thanks for the great advice so far .
We have just booked a first-time visit to Paris Feb. 18-Feb. 21 with our 15-YO son and 17-YO daughter. We are staying in the 7e (rue Chevert) near Hotel des Invalides and are going to do the main sightseeing and museums as we don't have much time there and very little planning time here. I think we will be mostly in the 1, 7, and 4 arr. (also, once in the 15 for the Tour Montparnasse observatory).
My questions (mostly for the 7e):
- When do the food shops generally close (rue Cler, I assume, will be good for us). I looked up Marie-Anne Cantin and the website shows a 7:30 pm close time. I tried to find closing times for several boulangeries but no luck. My kids have said they don't want to go out for big meals and like to get food & eat in the hotel room for dinner or go very casual (crepes, salads, sandwiches, picnic-type food). Basically, I think they want to eat bread, pastries, crepes, & chocolate for most of our food! How late can we shop, in general?
- As for casual meals, I've researched a lot & have come up with La Sancerre and La Croque du Sel. For me, I would like to have a couple of regular meals; are these okay and inexpensive (I assume there won't be much cheap eats in the 7e)? My DH has been to Paris and said that if we just go down side streets (off main streets), probably any place will be pretty good. I am more picky about food than he is, though. What do you think?
- Music: I would like to bring the kids to someplace with music in the (early) evening. Jazz would be ideal. Could be for dinner but they will mostly like to eat something small or even just have some (soft) drinks. Are bars an option? If so, can teenagers go to bars?? Any ideas?
- Ice skating at the Eiffel Tower: I don't know if they still have this, but if they do, is there ice there right now?
Any advice for anything will be greatly appreciated! Paris seems quite daunting - thank you in advance
First thing you do, go to WH Smith on the Rue de Rivoli and get a Plan de Paris, which is like an A-Z streetmap. It goes by arrondissement and at the front there are lists of all the museums with where they are.
Museum wise don't miss the Orsay which has the Impressionist paintings and some glorious art nouveau including jewellery by Lalique.
The Musee Cluny has medieval stuff and of course you and your daughter might like the Musee de La Mode (Fashion Museum). Avoid the Louvre because it will be crowded and frustrating to get into. The Musee Marmottan is small and requires a walk but is worth it. There are Monet's Waterlily paintings which are wonderful.
The Musee Rodin is where Rodin lived and is again small but lovely especially the gardens. It's near the Rue de Varennes metro I think.
If you have time, definitely go out to Versailles for a day - and you will need a whole day if not longer. It's well worth it and not just for the palace but also for the fabulous gardens.
As far as I'm aware, drink is not as much an issue in France as in the US or UK. A glass of wine with a meal is usual from what I understand, but others here will know more.
Don't be daunted, practise your high-school French and more often you will be helped out if you get stuck. Enjoy the city it's gorgeous. Also, if you have time (and especially money) look for the depot de ventes which are a high end version of second hand fashion. You can get designer wear for less than the original price.
Take lots of photos and tell everyone you're Canadian...! Just in case! Actually I'd expect that to be more the case in London, but what do I know. _________________ Confusion comes fitted as standard.
The map Griffin (Hi Griffin !!) is talking about is the Paris Plan and you can pick it up from newsagents as well. It is around 7 euros, but is money well spent. Also has the metro map in it which is handy. Whatever you do, don't use the free tourist (Galleries Lafayette advertising) map which is inaccurate. So many people get lost using them as the streets are not marked accurately and a lot are missing.
Your husband is right (sorry, took me a few moments to be able to type those words.... and a few more to recover from them.... let's keep it a secret just between us and not tell my husband that I typed them:lol:). Just look at menus which will be posted at the front of cafes and restos. Most places will not have websites as they will be small and not aiming at that kind of market.
Depends on the place as to whether the teens will be allowed in. There is usually a cover charge if a good band is playing, or some places you have to book for dinner as well. Once again you will have to play it by ear and see what you find as you wander. Early is not the way life works here though. People don't eat till late and most places don't have bands etc on till late. You may or may not find anything on early.
Do not limit yourself to just those few arrondissements though!! Paris is only 9km/12km. It is not big geographically, just in terms of the amount of interesting stuff packed into that small space.
Hotel Cluny (Musee de Moyen Age) is one of my favourite places and is fascinating if you have any interest in the middle ages. THere is also the museum of arts et metiers which is interesting if any of the family have an interest in technology (anything from clocks, computers etc etc)
Food shops are open at strange (to the rest of the world) hours. You will have to check in your area, but generally it is half day trading on sunday (sometimes closed totally) and a lot of shops close on a monday as well. You should find things open between 9am and 7pm - with a break for lunch of up to 3 hours if it is a fresh food store (such as fromager, boucher, poissonier etc). Once again...... check the times on the door of the shops as their hours will be listed. Different areas have different opening hours.
Check your museums as they also have a day of the week when they are closed and it is different for each museum.
Don't think the ice skating will be around then. It is mainly for the coldest part of winter and it hasn't been really cold this year. Montparnasse was still open a week ago, but they were struggling to keep the ice frozen enough for all day skating.
Main thing - relax, go with the flow and just enjoy wandering around. Don't get caught up trying to overplan everything or you will not enjoy yourself. _________________ If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
Thank you so much, Griffin & Debbie for your thoughtful replies! Your suggestions and advice are spot-on for us.
Will definitely skip the Louvre & check your museum recommendations - they sound better and we will also try M. L'orangerie (need reservations, I think). I just got my guidebook in the mail today (Eyewitness - I am used to this one) and am cataloging the museum times. It sounds like that is the only thing I need to be organized about, thankfully. You have made me feel more at ease!
The kids say they just want to walk around & go to museums so it sounds fine. There is so much more to Paris than I had thought! I will look for the map...we should each have one with us. Sounds like the "music" option will be too late for me. DH won't be with us to take them so we will have to skip that. Maybe they can return with him some day (and they will be older!).
I also am today reading more about the bakeries & prepared foods shops...not just sweet things at the bakeries so these will be exactly what we are looking for. I was nervous about eating well enough...I am from NYC and many of the restaurants & take-out-type places are just not good.
The kids are very excited - they are the ones that speak French...my high-school French is pretty bad, Griffin, so I am going to love relying on them LOL!
Yeah, my DH is often right - but more often it is me , mais oui?
Joined: 16 May 2006 Posts: 456 Location: california
Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 3:27 am Post subject:
Lucky kiddos! Your son and daughter are just about the age my girls were when we first visited Paris. We did a month-long home-exchange in the summer, and the girls loved it.
Going with at least some idea of some things you'd like to see and do is good, but Debbie's advice to just "go with the flow" is the way to do it. Walk all over the place, use the Metro, plunge in.
Don't know if this will appeal to your family, but the cemeteries are great! Pere Lachaise (in the 20th), for example, "houses" such luminaries as Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde, Alice B. Toklas, Jim Morrison (the kids will love it), and a gazillion artists.
Gail, Debbie (Hi Debbie!... and Guy and Wayne) lives in Paris so she knows stuff that only a Parisian would - like Clotilde for example!
There is lots to Paris and as a New Yorker food is unlikely to be a problem. If anything, the problem is which food to let well alone because you have to do silly little things like standing and actually walking. Which is difficult after six courses or so of goodies! Tho' for someone who loves food, that Clotilde is remarkably slim! I reckon it's because she zips around all over the place at top speed.
Your husband is right (sorry, took me a few moments to be able to type those words.... and a few more to recover from them.... let's keep it a secret just between us and not tell my husband that I typed them:lol:)
Hey Wayne, didja see this?! It can actually happen! Ok, only when there's a blue moon and on the third day after International Snodgrass Day but it can happen! Usually of course, it only happens when the sky falls on your head tomorrow... and as a certain Gaulish chief knows, tomorrow never comes! (...'but Impedimenta my dear...!')
As any fule kno, where cats and women are concerned, men are always wrong... even when they think they are right, so there!
As a man, I don't care and I'm going to play with my chocolates so nyah! Childish, moi?! _________________ Confusion comes fitted as standard.
Georgia is right. THe cemeteries are fabulous!!!!!!! We have heaps near us and I go and wander around looking at the fabulous architecture of the tombs and the sculpture on teh tombstones. Incredible! (Also the cemeteries here keep cats....... so I take a pocket full of cat crunchies and always have heaps of "friends" to keep me company.....).
You can book on tours of Pere Lachaise cemetary with Paris Walks. They do them in english and they are fascinating. THis company also does walks of different areas of Paris including Montmartre (we always giggle while they show them our building and talk about how expensive our area is and how you have to be a multimillionaire to live in our street. Everyone takes photos and my husband waves to them from our windows which is really cruel as they think that a Parisian is being nice to them.....)
Don't forget to buy your metro/bus tickets in advance of taking the services. You can buy a weekly pass, or carnets of 10 tickets. The new tickets can be used for 90 minutes in total going in the one direction (ie not going and returning on same ticket) which is great if you want to take a few buses and just explore Paris that way. _________________ If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
You understand my pain in having to say your husband was right, but we all must have a little moment of weakness.
Yes, make teh kids work hard for their holiday. Do them good to have to step into your role of guiding etc (as all Mum's do all the time) for a while. _________________ If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
Hee hee, this probably belongs over in the book section but since this thread has brought up cats and Paris cemeteries I have to recommend a delightful confection by Bill Richardson, a Canadian national treasure (in my humble estimation), called "Waiting for Gertrude, the book cove states;"Waiting for Gertrude:A Graveyard Gothic, written in Bill Richardson's inimitable musing and mocking style, is a love story, a whodunit, a meditation on life's transience, and a sometimes eruditely rude celebration of literature, fecundity--and cats--set in Paris's Pere-Lachaise cemetery." While this is a novel Bill has trouble breaking away from comic verse for which he became quite famous back in the 90's--to whit:
La Fontaine's Versified Walking Tour: Maria Callas
When Death decides it's come your turn,
You have to opt for earth or urn.
Maria Callas, when she died,
Said no to "buried", yes to "fried";
No casket grand with brassy hinge,
It's over when the singer's singed.
Her loved ones came to pick her up,
They took Maria-half a cup-
And housed her, feeling rather glum,
Within the columbarium.
Soon, student pranksters, on a spree,
Connived to set Maria free.
They planned the heist, they named the day,
They stole the ash, then stole away.
A gendarme acting on a tip,
Restored the cinders to the crypt.
Maria's kin, inclined to nix
All future sophomoric tricks,
Yanked the rug from young collegians,
Scattered her on the Aegean.
In he blue, refulgent cloister,
La Divina feeds the oysters.
Free of ballast, safe from malice,
Au revoir, Maria Callas.
That is, goodbye to human flesh"
A cat skin is her soul's new cache.
She's black and white and grey and tan,
And oh, the voice! "Sing!" plead her fans.
They beg in vain, in vain beseech,
For divas e'er out of reach. _________________ Vivant Linguae Mortuae!!
Posted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:06 am Post subject: I triple-second the Cluny
Hi--very envious of you. Two years ago we took our then-5-year-old to Paris (hooked onto the end of my husband's conference)--it was just like having two teenagers in their prime, I'm pretty sure...a lot of hysterical bouncing on the beds at 10:30 p.m., a lot of bursting into tears at 11:05 a.m. every morning on the dot...tell me it gets better from here, please!
We loved the Cluny the most--great settings for the artifacts, just-right size, beautiful lady-and-unicorn tapestries, and an underlying sense of humor. Good gift/book shop too, though not cheap. Beanie baby-style unicorn bribe/must-have: 11.50 Eu... If you're going to the Eiffel tower, go all the way up with your kids--we missed it. Skating at the Eiffel is probably fun but it's like just wandering around the base of the Statue of Liberty and never going up to the crown, where you can see the whole city. Also take them into a serious chocolate place that gives a backroom tour--David Lebovitz's site has recommendations. He also likes Denise Acabo's candy shop--eccentric but incredible--it's worth meeting a person so devoted to their work. The Sainte Chappelle, just inside the Palais de Justice, is on the same island as Notre Dame--it's smaller and much lighter inside, and decorated to the nines. Very different feel to it, very worth while. BTW, Notre Dame has jazz and other concerts in the afternoons sometimes, so check out what they offer. Oh yeah--and walk east down along the Seine afterward to get to the Muslim center (forget what it's called exactly)--two unusual experiences for the price of one...
Try harder than we did to get to a bakery for bread and a corner grocery for cheese and fruit to keep in the hotel room. Pack a box of plastic bags--sandwich type or larger--very handy. Do the lunch-in-the-park thing most days if you can find a way not to freak out at all the pigeons. (My husband couldn't--sigh...) Difference can be something like 5-10 euros total for simple baguette-cheese-apples kind of lunch from any corner grocery or stand vs. 45+ Eu. for a sitdown lunch for 3 or so--even for places that look reasonable. Drinks are especially hairy--sodas, bottled water, fake powdered lemonade--they're all 4+ Eu each, and it really adds up (though it's the same price for decent table wine, which is a pretty reasonable bargain). As I told my mom afterward, we were gonna be on the beans and rice budget for several weeks afterward to make up for it all! I thought Paris's tap water tasted just fine --it does, compared with Los Angeles water!--and refilled my bottle every day before setting out. You know the thing about asking for a "carafe d'eau", not just "eau," so you get a free pitcher of water at the table and not pricy bottles...gotta practice that phrase before you go!
DebbieN, sounds like you ate at tourist traps. There are heaps of places much cheaper than 45e for 3 people! In fact I would have to try hard to match that for a lunch.
If you don't eat at or near the really touristy spots, the prices are moderate and the quality is much better as well. You should always check out the menu before you go in anyway and make sure it is in your price range and offers things you like.
Zip lock bags can be purchased at the local shop (franprix, monoprix etc)
If you are paying 4e plus for drinks, then you are in teh wrong cafe and your meal will be expensive also. 2.50 for a soft drink is about right, although it does depend where in the cafe you sit.... outside is more expensive than inside, inside is more expensive than standing at the bar (if it is a tabac or cafe with a bar). To get a drink on the run use the vending machines if in the metro, or go into a small grocery store and they will have drinks in the fridge.
The tap water here is very good quality. There are fountains (green tall with water coming from the top falling into the base) all over that you can fill your water bottle up at. Once you buy your first bottle of anything, keep the bottle for this purpose (if you have no room to pack a reusable bottle that is). _________________ If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 2:22 am Post subject: tourist traps
I'm 300 percent certain you're right about the tourist traps. Very little of the food we had was anything to write home about, for sure. You live in Paris and have sussed it out. You also don't suffer jetlag daily and you know which signs to look at in the overcrowded Metro and RER stations. My thoughts as pathetic tourist (better without family):
1. anyplace within walking distance of a major museum at lunchtime probably qualifies
2. the non-trap places are not advertised in Fodor's, or else not easy to research online and then actually remember when it all breaks loose on the day (juggle printouts much out on the street?) They are also mostly not easy to spot instantly from the museum exit, and the first- or only-time tourists like us are going to museums. With kids--I include my 47-year-old in that category--who get hungry and break down very easily on jetlag and take it out on whom? That's right, we can say it. The mom.
3. Let me introduce my poor husband, the ultimate mama's boy noncook. For lunch yesterday, when challenged to make himself a sandwich, he looked in the full fridge, shrugged helplessly, and said "Maybe I'll just have cereal". Impulse control of a gnat. Sigh.
DebbieN, I feel your pain with the jetlagged, grumpy and hungry spouse..... mine is the same.
You pretty much summed up the tourist trap places perfectly. Sometimes the guidebooks can be spot on.... but not always.
What a shame that you had such a bad dining experience here. There are some places that you think "won't come back here", but in general most places are good, and I have had some exceptional meals in cheap and dingy cafes and tabacs.
Next time you will have to visit on your own or with a friend who won't fall to pieces with jetlag. _________________ If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
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