Paris Recap

Hello! Hope you have been well. I tend to disappear in the summers and this one has been particularly busy, with summer school, volunteer work and a couple of trips. The younger children have already been to New York and we all had a lovely time in Paris.

We stayed at Hotel Louvre Montana. I’d not heard of it before, but I wanted a good-sized room with three beds in the 1st arrondissement near the Tuileries since I tend to use that as my hub. Since I was travelling on my own with the younger kids (the Mr. had to work), I also wanted a hotel with a good sense of security. This hotel filled all my requirements. It was a cute boutique hotel with about 25 rooms and an adorable, tiny elevator the kids loved. The location could not be beat on Rue Saint-Roche. Goyard was just around the corner and Chanel just up the street. Paul is up the street for a quick breakfast and Angelina is a block away for a fancier breakfast (the croissants are perfection but the famous hot chocolate is too sweet!)

Breakfast at Paul
Angelina for breakfast.

The kids had macarons at Pierre Hermé every day and crepes at the Happy Caffe most evenings (this tiny place is a bargain, charging 2,50 euro for a massive crepe, and has such friendly staff!) So we were all happy.

This was our room:

And this was the view from the little balcony window.

The road you see at the bottom of the street is the Rue de Rivoli and view is of the ferris wheel in the park. You can see the Musée D’Orsay beyond the Seine. The Louvre is to our immediate left. We could walk everywhere we planned to go – the Champs, the Opèra shopping area, Saint-Germain-des Prés – in about 20 minutes.

The Louvre and Tuileries

We used the Batobus boats on the Seine as our taxi service, taking it from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame and then walking back. It’s a really pleasant way to get around the city.

View from the Batobus.

We toured the L’Orangerie museum as soon as we got there since it was close. My youngest is not an art lover, but he was very impressed with the Water Lillies. I also took them to the Louvre since they’d not been there before. I did a “best of” tour and we were in and out quite quickly. The crowds were insane as we were leaving. They had to shut down entry to the wing temporarily housing the Mona Lisa since it was so busy (we’d seen it already that morning and were trying to find our way to the sculpture garden on our way out so the lovely docents showed us a secret route.) The key is to buy your ticket online through the Louvre’s website (kids are free) and go early (we had a 9:00am admission time.)

Love the sculptures at the Louvre.

Other than that, we just walked around and visited the parks and stopped at lots of cafés to have a snack and people-watch. I could eat the bread there in small quantities (as can many people with gluten sensitivity) so I had croissants and baguettes for the first time since January when I went on the anti-inflammatory diet. Heaven! I spoke French as much as possible. I find that even if your language skills aren’t perfect, people really do appreciate the effort.

I continue to be in love with Saint-Germain-des Prés. I was looking at apartment listings in the window of a couple of real estate offices. The high ceilings and herringbone floors are everything. I’d love a pied-a-terre although some of them are very small. This one is 97 square feet!

I’m used to city living and find my current suburban place very Costco-like, but 97 square feet might be a challenge! Still, I love the energy. I know the world tends to over-romanticize Parisians, but everyone seems to carry a book around with them to read while waiting and they were remarkably unhurried. The middle-aged Parisian women in Saint-Germain had a relaxed way of dressing: lots of linen and flat sandals. There was a lot of natural-looking hair and no discernible Botox or filler. 50 year olds look like 50 year olds (albeit elegant ones.) The only drawback was that there were still a lot of smokers (I’m sure our view was skewed since we were on outdoor patios a lot where smoking is encouraged.) Otherwise, for me, it felt like home.

Lunch at Cafe de Flore on the patio.

I did not take a lot of photos but here were some highlights. We really lucked out with the weather avoiding both the heat waves and the rain.

It never fails to impress.
Loved the Foo Dogs at the Peninsula.
Café Pouchkine is a lovely place for a coffee break.
The sales were on at Galeries Lafayette and Bon Marché.
Perfect day for the Luxembourg Gardens.
The boat pond in Luxembourg Gardens.
More Luxembourg Gardens.
Notre Dame restoration efforts.
Cairn Terrier spotting. There were a surprising number of terriers in Paris. They were wildly popular in the 1920s and seem to be making a comeback.

My carry on strategy worked well. I wore black jersey dresses with ballet flats and a Gucci belt almost every day (I have a number in different styles of dress.) I could go anywhere and yet was cool and comfortable. The only thing I’d do differently is avoid the charter flight. Any savings are not worth the hassle. Next time, I’ll fly Air Canada or Air France, where at least you are in a well-appointed terminal if stuck. I’ve made a resolution to go back every year.

I hope you are enjoying your summer!

Xx

4 comments

  1. Hi Jen, thanks for your recap and the useful tips and lovely photos. Your hotel was perfectly located! What airline did you fly with? If you landed at Paris Beauvais, then I agree that it’s not worth it! We’re thinking of adding Paris to a trip to the UK next year – it would be fun to take the Eurostar.

    We are taking a road trip to Cape Breton in mid-August – we haven’t been for a few years and it’s for a big family occasion, so really looking forward to it. Oh – I almost forgot, did you manage to do any damage at the French pharmacies? I guess that was difficult if you were alone with the kids. There’s always next year! 😊

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    • We flew with Air Transat. It’s the same airline that kept those people on the un-airconditioned plane in Rome for hours this week. We had an 6.5 hour delay and were not treated very well. Luckily EU passenger rights laws are very strict so there is likely some financial recourse. We were at CDG Terminal 3 and they discouraged us from leaving to go to Terminal 2 where there are more amenities. It was not a great travel day!

      We popped into the french pharmacies. If I was not doing carry on, I’d have bought things at Citypharma in Saint-Germain since they always discount everything: Caudalie, Vichy, Nuxe, Bioderma etc. Really good deals. (It was crazy busy in there!) I think the deals were particularly good when we were there since the Paris sales were on. The only brand I really wanted to see was T LeClerc out of sentimentality since I used to wear their Banane pressed powder. I decided against buying since I don’t really wear powder anymore. Thankfully, I can get everything else at home now (I love Caudalie serums and Bioderma’s micellar water.)

      Enjoy Cape Breton! Such a pretty part of the world. Xx

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      • Wow, what a nightmare! I think we used Air Transat when we flew to Rome last year, but thankfully no real problems. I have an aversion to budget airlines after using them so often when we lived in Europe, but at least Air Transat is no Ryanair! (Yet!) You’re right though, between Shoppers, Sephora and Amazon you can get almost everything here now.

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      • I’d flown them to Rome before too and it was fine. But this was a mess and when I was researching the EU rules, it seemed like there have been lots of complaints. Plus, we were on an ancient A310 on the way over that was so uncomfortable. I’d got a seat sale but the savings did not justify the discomfort. We were in the terminal with Veuling and Jet2Go.com so it really felt very budget. They didn’t have a jet bridge and we were kept on hot busses on the tarmac at one point. Really poor service. I think I’m too old for budget airlines any more!

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