North America, Europe · 12 Days · 90 Moments · April 2018

Mark's trip Paris/France

3 May 2018

Train home yesterday (Thursday) the trip is over. Thanks for reading and commenting on the blog.

2 May 2018

John Viande is considered one of the best hamburger places in Paris. The burger was amazing. The fries were crunchy on the outside and soft inside. They give you three dips that include ketchup with cumin, spicy Dijon mustard and spicy mayo. The bar/restaurant is a very hip place with lots of young Parisians. The area overall has lots of bars and restaurants.
La Seine Musicale is a concert/entertainment hall built on an island in the Seine river. It is about 20 minutes outside Paris. The hall opened in April 2017. It seats 6,000. The site had been a car factory. Power during the day is supplied by mobile solar panels that are over the hall.
Patrick Rogers is a very high-end chocolatier in Paris. They have about 10 stores. David Leibovitz the author (pastry chef and food blogger) include a story about his working (for fun) in one of the stores. He believes this is the best chocolate store in Paris. I purchased 1 price to eat in the plane home. He moved to Paris 15 years ago.
David Leibovitz the author (pastry chef and food blogger) believes Patisserie Viennoise has the best hot chocolate (better than Angelina) in Paris. David moved to Paris 15 years ago. The hot chocolate was delicious. I got a brownie because they looked so good.
My “friends” the Paris riot police and I crossed paths again (totally different area). They were much more relaxed. Their riot gear was still in the vans and no batons were out. I am not sure if a protest had ended or they were waiting for one to start. I just kept walking. I do not think they recognized me.
Petit Palais was completed in 1900 for the World Fair in Paris. The building is now the Fine Arts museum of Paris. It is free to enter and view the permanent collection. They always have special exhibits that cost $15 to view. There are paintings, sculptures, ancient pottery and other interesting items in the permanent collection. The buildings high ceiling and marble staircase were impressive The audio rental is only $5.
Pont Alexandre III is considered the most ornate and extravagant bridge in Paris. The bridge was completed in 1900. The bridge has 20 foot high single span steel arches that had never been done in the early 1900’s. They used this low profile construction so the view of the surrounding area was not blocked.
Claus is considered one of the best breakfast/brunch places in Paris. I generally skip breakfast but traditional the morning of my last day I go to Claus for a large breakfast. I get the homemade granola/yogurt, selection of breads and eggs/bacon. The bacon is American style (rare in Paris). It is a lot of food but do good.

1 May 2018

Today was May Day/Labor Day in France. Some people use this day to protest. I got a little to curious about a protest and got “caught” in a police “holding” situation. The police (over 100) in full riot gear, batons out and tear gas held about 150 of us for an hour. The police started with blocking exit to side streets from a public square. They formed solid lines and moved us tighter and tighter until it was only about 25’ across the holding area. I was getting nervous and decided to show my passport to “escape”. The police let me out since it was clear I was just a tourist in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Tuileries Gardens is a large park in front of the Louvre museum. There is a man-made Lake (not to large) with chair around it to relax. The chairs are permanently tilted back so you are reclining at all times. It is very easy to fall asleep. Walking in a part of the park I had not been I came across this fall tree sculpture. It looks like a feel fallen tree.
Port des Arts is one of only three pedestrian only bridges over the Seine river. The bridge is near the entrance to the Louvre. The wood planks and wood benches give the bridge a unique look and feel. There are nice views from the bridge.
Pont Nerf bridge is the oldest bridge in Paris. It was completed in 1607. This was the first bridge without houses along the sides. The bridge include the first raised sidewalks to separate pedestrians and bridge traffic. In addition, the bridge was the first to include areas for pedestrians to enjoy the view from the bridge. There was a large square included for actors to perform shows.

30 April 2018

Meetup second Art Crawl gallery. We stayed at this gallery for several hours. I spoke to a 35 year old Partisan guy that coordinates imports from China for European companies. He had a lot of advise about my being a consultant for USA companies using His advise was “it is a lot harder then I think”. He lived in China for three years. I spoke to a 28 year old woman from New York that graduated from North Carolina Chapel Hill and was now working in an award winning Paris cheese shop. She works in the cheese aging area. Prior to coming to Paris (in January) she traveled around Europe for 6 months learning about cheese aging. She worked at Murray’s Cheese shop in the Village for several years after college. It sounds strange to talk about cheese that long but it was interesting and informative. She had stories about dealing with French working permits, getting a bank account and Paris apartment.
Meetup (organization that allows people to form groups and do things together) Art crawl at first studio. There were about 15 people at this gallery. The artist spoke about 15 minutes. The groups stays at each gallery for for about an hour chatting with the artist and each other. Almost everyone in this Meetup group speaks english.
G. Detou is a chef supply store discussed in the book “My Sweet Paris Life” by David Leibovitz. The author moved to Paris years ago after being head pastry chef at a high end restaurant in San Francisco for 13 years. The store has everything a pastry chef could want and a few American only products (Heinz Ketchup). This is the only store you can buy non-stick pan spray. The can includes a warning “for professional use only”.
EXK is a new fresh made organic chain in Paris. Most of the food is self-service. It is all made fresh and there is seating in each location.
It was chilly and drizzling until the afternoon. I decided to test what I have read about Paris cafes. I ordered a single cappuccino (finished over an hour) and sat in the same seat reading for 3 and 1/2 hours. The waiter had no problem allowing me to sit there without asking if I wanted another cappuccino, order something else or the check. Americans take this as being ignored but it is not. Paris waiters come over very promptly if signaled but not until then. It is relaxing to be left alone.
Tim hotel chain never disappoints me. This is an excellent chain of 12 hotels throughout Paris. Each hotel is priced differently but are somewhat similar in look and feel. The rooms range for $60 to $150 a night. The staff all speak perfect english and are very helpful. The rooms are all modern, clean and larger then other Paris hotels at this price range. This room was $60. This is the first bathroom with an open shower. The shower goes directly on the bathroom floor and into a central so drain. I will report back tomorrow after I use it.

29 April 2018

Went to the Paris Saint-Germaine soccer game at Parc des Princes stadium. The stadium holds 47,000. The crowd is loud for the entire game. They have chants, giant flags and loud drums. The team has the highest paid player (Neymar 26 years old) with a 5 year contract of $350 million. They also have the 19 year old sensation Mbappe. He is paid $25 million a year. The experience was similar to the Barcelona soccer game.
Hotel Beauvior is near the Luxembourg Gardens just below the Latin Quarter. The hotel room is standard Paris size (small) with a basic bathroom. There is a lobby with places to sit. The cost was $64 (low for Paris) and breakfast is included. Most hotels offer a with or without breakfast rate. I never take the breakfast because I would rather read out. This hotel only had a rate ($64) that included breakfast. I will try it tomorrow.
Restaurant that displays their fish offerings outside.
A group of musicians setup in a Metro station. The crowd was enjoying the music. I think the musicians did it because they enjoy playing.
Best Jewish Bakery in Paris. Located in the Jewish Quarter. Good place to buy a delicious snack.
L’as Du Fallafel is the best (and most popular) falafel place in Paris. It is located in the Jewish Quarter. There is always a line but it moves very quickly. The takeaway line also moves very fast. The falafel is so large it has to be eaten using a fork in the beginning.
Longchamp Paris Horse race track opened in 1857. Today it reopened after a 2 year $250 million renovation. The grandstands were upgraded with private boxes added. There are outside stands to sit. They have mobile bet takers walk around.
Longchamp Paris Horse race track has some high end areas for owners, high betters and others that purchase VIP tickets. Since I got there early I “wandered” into this area and never left. In this areas you can get close to the horses, winning jockeys, oysters, champagne, well dressed owners, entertainment, free WiFi (that was everywhere) and a heated lounge. It turns out the heated lounge was owners (and there friends only). I was politely asked to leave after 15 minutes.

28 April 2018

Went to see Avengers Infinity War last night. Movie was very good with lots of action and humorous moments. The theaters in Paris are upscale. Seats are fabrics with a lot of leg room. They do not recline like in the new seats at home but comfortable. The candy, popcorn and soda is about the same.
The Hop On Hop Off tour buses have gotten more popular in Paris. There are four companies operating now. I few years ago there was just 1.
Large coach bus are very common near Paris tourist sites. Most are linked to a tour group or company. I have seen some on side streets and it get very tight.
This is a private tour car for three people. The driver is the guide. They take you around to the sites and describe them.
Asian wedding couples like to get photographed in front of Paris monuments. They get married in their own country with the photographs displayed at the wedding. There are companies in Paris that specialize in this type of photograph. It is entertaining to watch them wait for the right sun and tourists to move out of the frame.
Notes Dame is a great place with walk, sit, relax and people watch in the front courtyard. There is generally a long line but it moves very quickly. It is free to enter the church but $12 to go up in the tower. The tower has a great view of Paris. There is a line so security can check bags. They provide free WiFi with best connection outside along the right side. You can schedule an entry time from a scan along the right side. There are always interesting tour guides to checkout (some in english).
Shakespeare and Company is a famous english language bookstore I like to visit in Paris. All their books are in english and the staff is very friendly. There is a nice Shakespeare Cafe next to the bookstore. The food is good, reasonably priced and lite. You can sit inside or outside as long as you want. The view of Notre Dame is great.
I came across a small street fair walking to Notre Dame. For lunch I had a potato dish that included cheese and cured meat. I could live on this dish. It is cooked outside in a giant pan.
You know an area is mostly locals when there is a line at the Butcher and Bakery. The Barker opens at 7:00 am every day. The Butcher cuts all meat to order.
Paris has small grocery stores in many areas. The chain franprix is the largest with a good selection of products. They all have a self-service orange juice machine, fresh fruit/vegetables and baked bread. The store is bright and very clean.
Hotel Boissière is a very “hip” style hotel. The room cost $80 (a little more than I generally spend) because it is Saturday night. The room has a single bed and is small (normal for Paris type hotel). The bathroom is modern and very clean. The hotel staff speak perfect english. The area is more local and located away from the main tourist areas. The Metro ride to the center of Paris is 30 minutes. I like staying in different areas each night to see as much of Paris as possible. There is a fun cafe called Fat Cat near the hotel.

27 April 2018

Hilton Paris Opera is a beautiful hotel with rooms starting at $250. The hotel has an amazing bar area with lots of comfortable chair areas. They do not have a problem with people just seating in the bar area. I spent several hours there Friday night using their free WiFi. This is better then sitting in my $75 a night hotel room.
This area is just outside the area considered Paris. There are no tourist attractions and few hotels. The buildings are newer and nothing like the classic Paris look. The green building changes color when the sun shines on it. It was interesting to watch the building as the sun came and went from cloud cover.
This was large group (over 100) twenty something year olds going in a trip together. They were smoking and drink a fair amount waiting for the buses. Each group of 15 to 20 had a unique (and funny) outfits for the ride. There were Ghost Busters, pink jackets, Boy Scouts, Hawaii shirts and all red groups. It was a lively group playing music, singing and dance on the street.
Paris consumer show had fully kitchen designs and more than 20 providers.
This guy had a booth at a Paris consumer show I attended. The jackets are make is a special material that reflects (changes color) when light hits it. It is hard to show in the blog but it was amazing. The jackets are waterproof and reversible. The other side is just black and does not reflect light. He will soon have a line that has small lights that tell a car behind that the wearer will be turning. The wearer passes a small button when turning. Currently he only sells on line and in Europe. I discussed trying to get him in a single running store to see if they sell in the USA. It would be like a pop up store type thing. He was very into it.
Paris consumer show had food for sale. This was cheese with different food added. They added truffles (crazy expensive), Pesto, Lavender, Tomato, Cumin and champagne. I tried the truffle cheese. It was delicious.
Paris consumer show had food for sale. This was great looking Paella.
Paris consumer show had food for sale. Cured meats and cheeses were at a lot of booths.
Paris consumer show had food for sale. Wine and infused alcohol were are booths.
Paris consumer show had kitchen/cooking and other type gadgets. There was a spoon/fork combo that had a knife that cuts food but not skin (not sure how), vegetables cutter, not cracker, comb/scissor combo and pan pieces that can be bad into any size square cake.
Paris consumer show had outdoor furniture and stuff for the backyard. There were hot tubs with lots of jets, pizza oven, pop up pool and grills.
Paris consumer show had automatic mower for large areas. The mower has a charging station it will return to automatically. This is like the iRobot vacuum.

26 April 2018

Last night I went to a Meet Up group event. Meet Up is in all large cities and allows people to organize events. This group is Expatriates living in Paris. Since the members are not originally from France they generally speak english. This event was at Buddha Bar. The bar is a popular restaurant and bar. I was there several hours and spent the night talking to a hospital architect from Poland, Air France ticket agent from Zimbabwe and secretary from Morocco. There were about 50 people at the event. During past visit I have been to Art Gallery crawls and a Halloween party. It is a fun (free) way to meet locals and learn about Paris.
Grand Hotel du Harve is in a great location. The hotel is close to the Opera and Galleries Lafayette. It is 1 mike from the Louvre Museum and close to several Metro stops. The rooms are very nice and worth the $78. I have a room on the inside courtyard so it is quiet. There is a small bar and several comfortable chairs in the lobby. The reception staff speak perfect english. I stayed at this hotel on a past trip.
This mirror Sphere is called La Géode. The Sphere is 118 ft across and has an IMAX theater inside. The structure is outside the Paris Science Museum. Each triangle mirror reflects what is in front of it. As the clouds moved the reflection changed.
This dragon slide is in a park near the Paris Science Center. The top of the slide is 75’ high. The slide is 50’ long. Children climb to the top using ladders, cargo nets and walkways. There are skylights in the slide because it is dark.
This is the Bassin de la Villette which is an artificial lake and was built in 1808. Original it was to provide drinking water to Paris. The lake has long canals from many directions. The total length is 81 miles. There are locks to allow boats to move along the lake and reach the Seine river. There are tour boats on the lake, parks along the the banks and walk/biking trails for miles. The Paris Science Center is along the lake.

25 April 2018

Hotel de Center is located in Paris just above the Marais District (great walking area like SOHO). It is near several places I wanted to see this trip. The room cost $70. This is not bad for central Paris. The room is basic but is clean and in a nice area.
France is the 5 largest grower of rapeseed in the world. They grow 5.5 million tons (Canada the latest grows 14 million). Canon Oil is made from rapeseed. It is an amazing site to the acres and acres of yellow flowering plants. Sometimes you can not see an end of the fields.
Castle Chamerolles was built in 1500 as a pleasure retreat by the Governor of Orleans. The rooms had wood covering the floor and tapestries on the walls (to help keep the rooms warm). The formal gardens were restored in 1992. I will post the garden pictures separately.
Castle Chamerolles had the formal gardens restored in 1992. The pictures here are of the covered walkways. The wood is covered with trees that are attached to the wood structure so they grow to cover the walkway. They have several walkways in different stages of being covered. It was very interesting.
Castle Chamerolles had the formal gardens restored in 1992. The pictures here are of the labyrinth of Yew trees. The maze has several dead ends and ends at the tree in the center. I could not get a picture from above to see the layout.
Chambord Royal Hunting Lodge was built in the early 1500’s. They have added a 5 Star Hotel, upscale restaurant and great bar area. The rooms start at $325. There are great views of Chambord from the hotel, restaurant and bar. There are endless grounds to walk, jog or bike ride. The rent bikes, golf carts and boats.
Chambord restored gardens from the 50 foot high walkways. See other blog post for more details.
Chambord has hundreds of trees in the newly restored gardens. The trees are planted in rows within a square. See other blog post for more details.
Chambord Royal Hunting Lodge was built in early 1500 with amazing formal gardens. The gardens were removed over 200 years ago after being neglected for a long period of time. The gardens have been restored with a $4,000,000 gift (in 2017) from American billionaire Steve Schwartzmam. There are grass areas with stone paths outlining the design, hundreds of trees and many shrubs. The design can be seen best from the Lodge walkways that are 50 feet high.

24 April 2018

Hotel Noctufi is only $44. The hotel is just outside Blois and near all the great castles. The room and bathroom are clean and somewhat modern. The room is larger then many I have had in the past. There is even a bunk bed if I have friends over. Great offseason deal.
Chaumont-sur Loire hosts an annual garden festival. Each year 30+ professional garden designers are selected (from hundreds) to build an individual garden that will be open to visitors from April 24th to Nov 4th. I visited the gardens in 2015 but only had about an hour. This year (opening day) I spent 10 hours (10:00 am to 8:00 pm) visiting the gardens. I spend 12 minutes at each garden (used a timer) so I would not rush or run out of time. Many gardens have unique structure but all had plants, flowers or small trees of some type. This post has some amazing structures.
Garden festival design was a large compost mound in the middle and smaller ones around it. The mound had plants growing out of it and things like a refrigerator half way in. The bases was that composting is rebirth. There were misters to help the compost work better.
Garden festival design was based on the “simple pansy” flower. The pansy represents simple thoughts that are not overly complicated. The pansy is a flower we can count on as life should be.
Garden festival design was a ramp walkway that end at a poem at the top. There were poems in some of the ramp wood walkway.
Garden festival design was red vs green. Both represent thoughts in our brain. The red is currently dominating but as the green grows it will take over more of the red.
Garden festival design was a giant dreamer to keep bad dreamed out and let good dreamers in. You can sit under the dream catcher and walk around it.
Garden festival design was a poem (in French) that substituted vowels for colored flowering plants. There were metal letters used in making the poem. The key was in the colored steps that were the alphabet (vowels had colored boards). The colored boards matched the color of the plant. I would have tried to solve it but it was in French.
Garden festival design was based on that in Korea from 1350 to 1895 those that disagreed with the rulers were given internal exile and made to repeat there “crime” over and over each day. The fish poles are their connections to their loved ones. The metal walls represented their isolation.
Garden festival design was based on the negative thoughts we have that grow in our brain like putting things into a suitcase. The largest suitcase was the point we have to start taking things out and letting negative thoughts fad. The train station platform was were we start letting the negative thoughts fad.
Garden festival design was based on what we first see may not be everything there is to see. In addition, what we then think we see may not be real. The first part of the garden was empty with a wall and cutout. You climb through the cutout and see the back of the garden. The back of the garden has what looks like a pool. The pool is actually rocks painted blue.
Garden festival design was a single tree that appears to be floating on the water. The visitor has to question if what they see is real or even possible. The mind can be fooled into thinking what is impossible may be possible.
Garden festival design was a skull of wood to show that man in farming is “attacking” the soil. The back of the skull has farming tools. The plow at the end of the pink path is the tool used to “attack” the soil. The pink opening is the harm done to the earth.
Garden festival design was sand and wood pieces connected in many different directions. The sand is never the same and changes all the time. The wood pieces are human thoughts that are always changing (like sand) and going in different directions.
Garden festival design was veins running from the ground up the tree with the tree being our brain. The tree takes what it needs from the soil as our brain takes from our body what it needs.
Garden festival design was that a visitor walking through the tunnel has to focus on the large plant in front of them. As they enter they see there is much more to the garden as there is in life then what is right in front of us.

23 April 2018

Hotel room the first night. Not bad for $65.
My Hotel the first night is called Saint Jacques and is in Blois. The room cost $65. The room and shower are clean and good for a night. The shower is full size. The hotel is 15 min from the castle with the garden show. There is a purple breakfast room. I went to a place in Blois and had a burger for dinner.
Chambord is a 500 year old hunting lodge built for the French Kings. I stopped there today after it closed to see if I could walk around the new gardens. They just restored the gardens that had been removed almost 200 years ago. Unfortunately the gardens are only acceptable from the castle. I will come back later in the trip. The castle has added boat, bike and golf cart rentals. This allows visitors to see the very large park areas around the castle. There is new 5 Star boutique hotel and restaurant on the property. In addition, they added several nice restaurants for visitors on the property.
Chateau Beauregard is set on very large grounds with miles of walk and biking trails. There is a nice garden that is small (for a chateau) but has nice paths to walk and benches to sit.
Chateau Beauregard has a large portrait Hall with over 300 paintings of rulers and important people of France. There is a unique tile floor. The ceiling is hand painted wood. The castle provides small couches of visitors to lay on and look at the ceiling.
Chateau Beauregard is in the Loire Vally of Central France. It was a hunting lodge of French Kings for 200 years starting in the early 1500’s. There is a large whale bone on the wall and a large kitchen. The kitchen has a lot of copper pots.
Hotel Groslot is in interesting building in Orleans. There is a statue of Joan of Arc in the front. It was built in 1550 as a private residence. During the France Revolution (1789) it was converted to the Town City Hall and used until 1989 . It is now a place you can visit with centuries old furniture. People rent it for weddings and dinner parties.
Orleans is a large city along the Loire in central France. The City is famous because Joan of Arc saved the city from the English in 1430. The Cathedral Ste-Croix is very large and impressive inside. Joan prayed in the Cathedral for the City to be saved. For 600 years the City has a celebration honoring Joan of Arc. This year it is April 28th/29th and May 5th/6th. I will read more about it before deciding if I want to take a train back over the weekend.
First Class seat reclines flat so you can sleep. I slept most of the 8 hour flight. It was worth it because I had no jet lag. The French farmers plant acres of yellow rapeseed plants that is used to makes canola oil. There are miles of it. I rented a car to drive to a castle that has an annual garden show. They invite 30 garden designers to each create a garden at the castle. This time I will sit in each garden for 15/20 min to take in what the designer was trying to show. Each garden is very different. I visited the show in 2015 and wanted to return. I will see a few other castles over the three days I rented the car.

22 April 2018

Fly to Chicago with an overnight layover to get 1st class seat (less miles then Coach) going to Paris. I watched TV, had some free food and organized things todo on the trip.