A Farewell to Paris

As our final days in Paris have come to an end, I thought it prudent to list a few places to visit, items of interest and tips that I haven’t covered in previous posts.

Paris: A bit about the Sixteenth

Our flat in Paris was located in the fashionable 16th arrondissement. Alec met us at the flat and gave us a quick tour, letting us know how things worked. Well, if truth be told, he really just pointed things out, making sure we knew those items of key importance like how to log on to WiFi. In the kitchen, he pointed to the coffee machine, then told us the oven door was broken. He would try to get someone in to fix it soon, to which I replied: “So, no soufflés then?” I believe my humor was lost in translation.

Paris flat: Living room

Paris flat: Living room

The neighborhood had everything we needed within a block and a half of what we discovered to be a very posh Paris district. Early in our stay, as we were discovering our new neighborhood, we kept having discussions about the cost of things, particularly coffee and the prix-fixe lunches. It appeared as if prices had gone up substantially since we’d been here last. For example, a café crème at a bistro called aéro close to the Marché de Passy cost €4.80, while our memory had the same as €3.20 less than two years ago. At the top of the price range was a Tea Salon around the corner from our flat at €5.

We had taken a “walk” through the neighborhood using Google Earth before we got here, so we had a pretty good idea where to go and quickly found everything we would need for our stay. However, you can’t get a feel for the prices of items until you sit down and order.

Purchasing fish for our dinner party

Purchasing fish for our dinner party

Fromagerie

Our neighborhood Fromagerie

Wine shop

Our neighborhood wine shop

So, after our initial shock at the cost of a café crème, we decided to do a little research, which mainly consisted of a Metro ride to another part of the city where we had lunch and a café crème (€3.50). The total cost of breakfast [Le petit déjeuner: tartines (slices of toasted baguette) with butter jam and café crème] for the three of us in the 16th was €30 compared to €21 in the 8th arr for lunch. As the days went by, we quickly switched to espresso.

A Google search revealed through Wikipedia that the 16th arrondissement has “long been known as one of French high society’s favorite places of residence (comparable to New York’s Upper East Side or London’t Kensington and Chelsea).” It is, in fact, France’s fourth richest district for average household income. And, combined with the south of the 17th and the Neuilly-sur-Seine, it’s the most affluent and prestigious residential area in all of France.

Private residence in the 16th

Private residence in the 16th

It’s a beautiful area, quiet and alive with history, museums and parks, beginning at the Trocadero and heading South and West (on the right bank of the Seine). Our flat was close to the Metro, had a view of the Tour Eiffel and was a very short walk to outdoor markets and to many parks that are so abundant in the city of light.

Off the beaten path: Paris

Butte aux Cailles:
This lesser-known neighborhood has the charm of a small village with interesting cafés and boutiques. The architecture includes art deco as well as small cottages.

Restaurant along Rue de la Butte aux Cailles

Restaurant along Rue de la Butte aux Cailles

Les Bijoux de Nico: We stopped at this jewelry shop and spent some time with Sebastian looking at the beautiful and unique jewelry that included wonderful silver (argent) pieces made by the Touareg people (nomads of the Sahara).

Rue des Cinq Diamants: Make sure you walk down this interesting street and some of the narrow cobblestone passages.

Cobblestone street in Butte aux Cailles

Cobblestone street in Butte aux Cailles

Chez Gladines: We stopped at this incredible Basque restaurant for lunch. The food and service were excellent and the atmosphere was alive with energy. {Be prepared for a wait, but it’s definitely worth it).

The bar at Chez Gladines

The bar at Chez Gladines

Chez Gladines in Butte aux Cailles

Chez Gladines in Butte aux Cailles

[To get there: Exit the #5 Metro at Place d’Italie and walk down Rue Bobillot, taking a right onto Rue de la Butte aux Cailles.]

Musée du Vin:
This Museum of Wine takes you on a tour of the history of winemaking in France. The museum is located in quarries from the 15th century. The site used to be an Abbey where the brothers produced wine from grapes grown on the hillsides of the Seine. The historic significance of the building and ‘cellars’ makes for a unique and interesting tour.

Wine tasting: Following our tour, we decided to sample three different red wines and ordered a cheese plate to go along with it. Our host made some suggestions and paired the wines with specific cheeses for a most interesting and delectable tasting experience.

Wine tasting at Musée du Vin

Wine tasting at Musée du Vin

[To get there: Located in the 16th arrondissement near the #6 Metro Passy station. Address: 5, square Charles Dickens.]

Parc Monceau:
This is a lovely park with beautiful landscaping, hilly outcrops, curved walkways, interesting statuary and architectural features. It was early in our trip and one of the first really warm days when we traveled to the Parc Monceau in the 8th arr. The park was alive with sun worshippers lounging in the open grassy areas, reading books or talking to friends, their faces turned to the sun and their arms bare to capture the warmth of the day.

Pond at Parc Monceau

Pond at Parc Monceau

Garden view at Parc Monceau

Garden view at Parc Monceau

[To get there: The main entrance to the park is outside the #2 Metro Monceau station on Boulevard de Courcelles.]

Le Jardin Alpin:
This tiny hidden and many times overlooked park can be found in the midst of the left bank’s Jardin des Plantes. Le Jardin Alpin is a wonderful place to go for a bit of quiet solitude in the midst of the vibrant and bustling city. Lush and beautiful, the variety of mountain flora is remarkable (over 2,000 species) due to the microclimate created by its small valley and surrounding trees and bushes.

[To get there: Exit #5 Metro at Gare d’Austerlitz. Located at 57 Rue Cuvier. Go through the tunnel that runs beneath the main path of the Jardin des Plantes to enter the Jardin Alpin.]

Using the Metro

Packets of 10 or 20 tickets: You can get nearly anywhere within Paris in 30 minutes. Unless you plan to jump on and off of the Metro pretty regularly throughout your stay in Paris, it is more cost effective to purchase packets of 10 tickets rather than the day passes.

Paris Metro App by MX Data: This is a very helpful App and is easy to use. Simply enter your beginning Metro stop and where you want to end up and it displays the route, including the number of stops, changes and the estimated time. [Notes: When searching or using the type-ahead function, you must include the French accent marks (i.e., use Hôtel de Ville vs Hotel de Ville). You may have to scroll (or copy and paste from the internet) to find the one you want. Also, be mindful of the start and end points so you know in which direction to go.]

Chips in credit or debit cards

Some cards won’t work unless you have a chip. In Europe, there is a PIN associated with the chip to help prevent fraud. You may find it difficult to use American cards without chips in some circumstances, for example, in the Metro ticket machines. When using a card with or without a chip, tell the cashier it’s an American card and you will need to sign for it. It also may take longer to process.

For petrol, we were not able to find a station that would take any of our cards, with or without a chip. We were looking for petrol on a holiday, so no one was on site to take cash. When we asked about the credit cards at the nearby town of Sanserre, we were told that the stations only take debit cards with chips. We had to drive to the toll road to get petrol with cash from one of the open stations along that route. It was a good thing we weren’t close to empty, although we did need fuel for the long drive back to Paris.

Time to go

We had an amazing month in Paris!

We focused on many out-of-the-way places that I had not seen in previous visits. We shopped at outdoor markets in various parts of the city, had our breakfasts and dinners in our flat and met up with friends. We had two dinner parties where I was able to create some unique dishes paired with some excellent French wines.

We saw the city blossom in a Spring of rolling white clouds and cool days. For the most part, the rain held off until the end of April. When the sun appeared, the days were warm and the jackets came off. The flowers changed and the leaves on the trees went from small, brilliant greens to large Summer shade.

Paris flat: Courtyard early April

Paris flat: Courtyard early April

Paris flat: Courtyard mid-April

Paris flat: Courtyard mid-April

Paris flat: Courtyard late April

Paris flat: Courtyard late April

It was an amazing Spring and a truly remarkable experience. And in the end, we felt quite at home in this most remarkable of cities.

2 thoughts on “A Farewell to Paris

  1. Valerie Rogoff says:

    Great blog post. So glad you had a great month!

  2. Thanks, Val. It was truly remarkable!

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