Friday, May 16, 2008

My Vacation in France

April 22-23 -- Up, up and away on Air France. Our flight from Boston was non-stop and took 6 1/2 hours. Uneventful, but that's the way we prefer to fly. We arrived around 6 a.m. (it was midnight back home) at CDG. If you have never been there, the place is very confusing. We just followed the crowd to Customs and then off to find our luggage. That took forever and we stood at the wrong claim area for the longest time until we figured out that maybe out luggage was somewhere else. No help was to be seen around baggage claim, but we kept looking until we found a desk at the opposite end of where we were. The young woman there spoke English and was very helpful. Once we got out luggage, we had a ride waiting for us and off to our hotel (and rush hour had begun). I swear that the first time we went to France the ride to the hotel was much more scenic, but maybe it was just the excitement of being there.

We arrived at our hotel, Concorde St Lazare, around 8:30 a.m. and did not expect to check in, but at least leave our luggage. The Reception Desk told us to check back about our room after noon. I used the hotel's main floor Dames WC to freshen up before I faced Paris. I should have taken a picture in there since it was the loveliest Ladies Room I used during my entire trip. Loads of dark green marble, ocre & rust tiles and gold fixtures.

We decided to just walk down Boulevard Haussman, window shop and get a cup of coffee. By the time we finished our coffee, some stores were starting to open up. We stumbled upon a store with a line of women waiting outside for it to open. But wait, this was Bouchara! What luck my first day. From the street floor, this store looked like a housegoods store which I would have only glanced at, but when I saw the name, I realized that fabrics were hiding in there somewhere. I got in line with the rest of the women (along with my husband Ken) rushing in once the doors were unlocked. Realizing that no fabrics were to be found on the ground floor, I found the staircase to the basement. There the treasures laid waiting to be rescued. All fabrics were on rolls neatly organized by fabric type, silk chiffon, silk tweed, linen, cotton, lace. But then reality hit--the prices required serious thought and no impulse buying. Most of the silks were going for 80 Euros/meter and the wools were 130 Euros/meter. At those prices I had to find the perfect fabric, but it was not be found there. The store did also have a loverly selection of buttons, trims and notions. I think if Ken wasn't with me, I may have looked harder and not have been so concerned about price.

After we left Bouchara, Galleries Lafayette had opened. I had been there before, but Ken had not, so I thought he should see the lovely rotunda. He decided he wanted to look at the men's clothes, and we spent more than an hour looking for him, but left empty handed. We walked around some more, had a quick lunch and headed back to the hotel to see about out room. We were told to return after 3 p.m, but could have our room upgraded for only an additional 50 Euros a night. I had booked the room on Expedia and got an unbelievable deal at less than half the normal rate of the cheapest room, but was not willing to pay more.

Off we went to do exploring. Since we would be taking the TGV from Gare de Montparnasse to Bordeaux the next day, we thought we would do a dry run to find the train station via the Metro. That was a good move since we found out that we would be dragging our luggage up & down and up & down stairs and through various tunnels underground had we decided to take that route. It would be worth the expense to take a taxi to the station and eliminate the hassle.

From Montparnasse we traveled back to the hotel and now our room was ready. But wait, another clerk was at the Reception Desk and told us that we had been upgraded to a better room at no extra cost (hmm--looks like we would have got this room whether we paid for the upgrade or not).

Anyway, we had a lovely corner room overlooking Rue St-Lazare, unpacked, washed up and off to explore more of Paris.

Of course I want to share our bathroom since it was all marble and even had a window with a view.

We took the Metro to Ile St. Louis where Notre Dame is located. We were both too tired to go inside Notre Dame since we had been awake for over 30 hours. We roamed the streets and walked back to the Right Bank, up Rue de Paix, back to Boulevard Haussman and discovered a supermarket where we could purchase the next morning's breakfast to bring back to our room. The hotel was charging 27 Euros/person for breakfast. I would rather spend that on fabric, thank you. Take out from the supermarket made more sense. We were not on a budget tour, but the dollar was 1.71 to the Euro that day. We brought our breakfast back to the room,changed clothes and went to supper at a cafe we had seen earlier in the day at St Augustin. Dinner was lovely, but I can't remember what I had. I did manage to have either calvados or armagnac after every dinner and brought a bottle of armagnac home. It won't last.


Karen said...

Okay, you were right - you had the MUCH better hotel room. I'm glad I saw this after I got home. Looking forward to the rest of your trip.

Vacations in France said...

It seems you really had a great experience during you vacation in France. Thats great you're sharing you experience with us. Its surely helpful for other travelers, mostly for the first time travelers.

Hats Off for the great work.. lol..