Getting back to work today while Jer is helping get things ready for his mom. Not super exciting by any stretch of the imagination.
Back to the grind with one exception. An old friend from high school was in town so we met for dinner and drinks at Semilla (which was amazing) followed by drinks at the Frog & Princess.
Laurie Arrived! Jer went to airport to pick her up. Of course, Laurie’s first experience in France, was a very stereotypical one. The customs windows weren’t even open so it took forever to clear customs. Then since there was a back log, the Uber driver couldn’t get through all the traffic at airport so took it took a while to get back into the city.
Laurie was able to get the ‘tour’ of our 50 square meter apartment. Then she got settled in and had some food. Jer and Laurie walked to get her metro pass and showed her how to use it. She then checked with her hotel (Hotel Passy Eiffel – about a 5 minute walk from our place) to see if room was ready and it was so back to get her luggage and get checked in.
Now Laurie was able to get in a little nap and relaxation.
Then later I came home from work for dinner at Chateau Walker.
This morning, Laurie came over for some croissants and tea for breakfast. She then had an artist tour in Montmartre set up. Jer walked through the metro information to get there and where she was to switch line and get off. Jer stayed back because we had received information regarding our Carte Vitale, the French version of medical insurance, and needed to get the information off to the proper people so we could finally have health insurance. Unfortunately since both the 6 and the 2 go towards Nation (the direction she needed to go) Jer messed up the directions, causing her to take the train the wrong direction and Laurie missed her tour. She did eventually get to Montmartre and was able to walk around and find some incredible stuff (basically did the tour on her own!) along with a great lunch spot. Jer did much better with the return directions and she was able to get back to the hotel with no issue and get ready for a beautiful evening on the terrace followed by our favorite local cafe, La Rotonde.
While hanging out the evening before Laurie and I were discussing, and researching, antique markets around the city since when she was looking at things to do when she was here she had found one of the biggest ones in the world was in Lille. Unfortunately they had cancelled that market for whatever reason, but don’t worry we were successful here in Paris. We were able to find one at Porte de Vanves happening on Saturday mornings. Let’s just say we spent 2 and a half hours there! We did’t buy anything (because I can’t yet count in French over 9) but we will be back! Laurie got some cool iron stamps for her ceramics!
We had lunch back at the apartment. Then we went for a walk on the Champs to show her around as well as trying to buy her combo tickets that we found online to Giverny and some of the museums here.
We then made our way over to Galeries Lafayette to show her the beautiful stained glass dome (along with every other tourist in the city). Also up to the roof to show the views of the city that we have found, specially of the Opera and the Arc.
To give her even more of a view into our new city life we took her on our normal Saturday Monoprix shopping ritual (very exciting…)
After relaxing for a little while we found another cafe that specialized in crepes in the Passy area, Framboise, or Raspberry en anglais. We enjoyed a nice meal while sitting outside and enjoying the fall air.
Step Count: 17,336, 12.2km
Today was a rainy day but walked around Paris. We got a little bit of a later start with everyone wanting some extra sleep.
We started our day by heading to Notre Dame where we were able to actually take in mass that was in session while we were walking through.
Then we walked over past Hotel de Ville and to shop at one of my favorite stores, BHV.
After some quick shopping it was time to grab lunch. Our boy Rick was at it again, this time with a recommendation on falafels in the Marais other than Las du Falafel which is the most well known. He recommended Chez Hanna which is just down the street from Las du Falafel, and boy did it live up to the recommendation. To this point in the trip Laurie clearly stated that this was by far her favorite meal, but we had more tricks up our sleeve to come.
We then continued our tour of Paris in the rain at Jardin des Plantes which as you might be able to tell is a beautiful garden dedicated to plant life. It also is host to the Natural History Museum as well as a zoo amongst other things.
|Laurie among the flowers|
At this point we had had enough of walking around in the rain so it was time to relax a little at home and have a nice dinner at home.
Step Count: 13,462, 10km
Today was a much more relaxing day. I was back to work. Laurie went out and explored a little on her own a few places that she wanted to see including a very fun time at Musee d’Orsay (which Jer and I still want to visit).
Today we celebrated the American labor day with dinner at Chateau Walker, burgers, sausages, and salads. Laurie turned in early today so she could be up for her early morning train to Giverny tomorrow.
Laurie and Jer were up bright and early so Jer could take her to Gare Saint-Lazare in order for her to catch her 08:30 train to Giverny. Easiest way to get there by train then bus to Monet’s gardens.
Remembering back to her first full day here where Jer screwed up the metro explanation (it is now in writing that Jer is not always right with directions) the tour company still owed her tickets to two museums as part of her tour. They were nice enough to allow Jer to go pick them up even though she didn’t go on the tour so that she could still go to the museums. So while waiting for her to get back from Giverny Jer went and stopped by the offices to pick them up.
Once she returned from Giverny and I was home from work we settled on a new restaurant that we had wanted to try. Boy were we all in for a treat tonight. La Librairie is not very far from our flat, however it is down a way we would never really walk to anything so we never really remembered we wanted to try it. Amazing atmosphere. You could literally check out books to read, hence the name. And all the menu’s were in books. Laurie said the sauces would have impressed Julia Child herself, I am inclined to agree. You can experience the look, but not the taste below.
|My starter – beet soup|
|My dinner, salmon|
I was back at work again. But for Jer and Laurie another rather relaxing morning where Jer needed to get some stuff ready to send in the mail. Having not gotten enough Monet the day before (and of course having ticket now that Jer picked them up) Jer and Laurie walked to the Marmottan Museum for her to explore before continuing on to La Poste. She also needed to use her ticket to Musee de l’Orangerie (which is one of our favorite here) so she spent the rest of her afternoon there. Lot’s of impressionism the last 2 days!!
Before she came we had been trying to get Eiffel Tower tickets in order to go up without having to wait in line, however we could not find tickets the coincided with a day that worked. We read online that if you do not have advanced tickets and do not want to wait in the world’s longest line your best bet is to go in the evening closer to closing time as the lines are much shorter. So reading this we decided why not have dinner at Trocadero, a little earlier and then make our way over and see what the ticket line looks like. So we settled on Le Wilson and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of tourists and a decent meal. Then as the sun was going down we made our way across the gardens and over the Seine.
|Headed across the Seine|
All I have to say now is thank you to whoever wrote that lovely little tip. Within about half an hour or so we were to the front of the line and purchasing our lift tickets to the very top! The Eiffel Tower at night is something to see just from anywhere in the city really, but seeing the city from the top at night, just WOW! We were even able to find our flat from up there based upon the lights and the buildings we knew.
|Look down the Champ de Mars|
Afterward we took a nice walk back to the hotel to drop Laurie off across Pont de Bir-Hakeim where for just a little while longer we were able to take in the beauty of the tower at night.
With me at work again today Jer and Laurie headed out to Versailles, so he will write the rest of this.
We took the RER C out. Brought Rick with us as usual, but Mom also utilized the free audio tour that is provided with entry. We explored the Palace itself for a while taking in all the amazing artwork and exhibits then it was on to the gardens. This time there was no musical fountains or anything like that going on as there was when the Lunds were in town so we had the gardens free to explore at our leisure.
One thing that we did that I had not done before (my now 4th trip to Versailles!!) was walk further through the gardens and out to Marie Antoinette’s house and Le Grand Trianon which is basically a smaller version of the main palace at Versailles built by Louis XIV.
Once we were done exploring we headed back into the city via the RER C again to meet up with Kasey and yet another Monoprix trip! We had yet another lovely homemade meal prepared and enjoyed the lovely weather by eating out on the balcony (our favorite warm weather activity).
Today was more of a preparation day. Jer needed to head to Castorama to pick up some things for the house first. Then it was time to check Laurie out of her hotel since tonight we were headed out of Paris for a fun weekend. Once we had her all settled in she had a few last things she wanted to explore around the city so she went out while Jer took care of some laundry and packing needed to leave once I was home from work.
Having a quick dinner we departed our flat headed to Gare de l’Est in order to catch our 21:30 train to Reims! For those of you who are wondering Reims? One word, Champagne. Reims is one of the largest towns right in the heart of the champagne region of France where all the big champagne houses were started. Lucky for us Reims is just a quick 45 minute TGV ride away for us to enjoy. It makes for a great short weekend trip for those visiting, or even a day trip is possible with the short train ride.
We arrived in no time at all and we were able to find a nice cheap hotel right by the Gare so we were able to get right off the train and check in quickly. Since we arrived so late we took it easy tonight and walked over to the main square area and enjoyed a few drinks at Sherlock Pub which in typical French fashion overflowed into the square with a large seating area.
One of the things Laurie wanted to see while she was here was a true “market”. Well as usual when we travel I was able to find the big Saturday morning market in Reims which was a very short walk from our hotel through a nice parc.
After having a croissant and cafe at the market our boy Rick walked us through Reims and all the sights. What a beautifully old historic city it is. As usually the most stunning church was in the center of town. It was Notre Dame de Reims and with it’s square it front it was just amazing. The church was very large and had amazing stained glass and ornate statues inside as well as outside. But the creepiest angel I have ever seen welcomes you in the main doors. Check out her grin for yourself:
|I told you, creepy|
Another thing we wanted do while we were in Reims was go out into the vineyards. We were looking for tours online before we left, however we could not find any that suited what we wanted to do. After being so successful with the recommendation of the Office de Tourisme while in Bordeaux we decided to try it out again here in Reims. Success yet again! We were able to book a open air bus tour later in the afternoon that took us out into the vineyards and towns of the champagne region.
After walking around a little bit more we went back to the hotel to get ready for our champagne tour. We were all getting a little hungry at this point so we made our way from the hotel through the square area we had drinks at last night and found an amazing lunch spot called Pain et Cie which was known for its interesting take on flatbread. After we were done eating we headed over to our meeting area for our champagne tour.
We joined about 20 of our closest friends (all speaking different languages) and piled into the open air bus. After the bus driver made sure everyone had working headsets and had them set to the proper language we were off. As we drove out of the city of Reims itself and into the country side we got a historic review of the area and how it became to be the region of champagne. With more and more beautiful rolling hills we finally started to see the vineyards over take them. After about an hour of driving and seeing some of the different vineyards of the different champagne houses we stopped at the Mumm vineyard to be able to see the Moulin de Verzenay which you can see here:
|Vines for days|
|Moulin de Verzenay|
|Almost ready for the harvest|
Once we all gathered back onto the bus it was now time for what everyone was really here for, a tour of a champagne house and of course the tasting! We stopped in the town of Rilly-la-Montagne and visited the house Roger Manceaux. We got a very nice personalized tour and explanation of this smaller family owned champagne house. We were able to learn so much about the process of making champagne which we really didn’t know prior to this. We got to see all their cellar with all of their vintages since the beginning, and then onto the tasting. We tasted 3 different types of champagne including my favorite Rose. Needless to say we left with some bottles from here! Now back to Reims for the evening.
|So much Champagne!|
Being back and it not quite being dinner time we decided to head out and explore a square that we had seen earlier in the day and also had some Rick recommendations for wine bars that we could get some cheese and charcuterie from while trying some more of the regions wines and champagnes. After some issues with places being packed we finally settled on Le Wine Bar by Le Vintage. While we were enjoying our wine and charcuterie we scrolled through La Fourchette (the French version of Open Table) and decided on a Moroccan restaurant that was highly rated for dinner.
As our reservation time grew near we made our way over to Le Riad near the center of Reims. Jer had been wanting more Moroccan food since he had been to the one restaurant in Montpellier back in July because he had loved it so much. Well Le Riad did not disappoint! We had some amazing cuscous and tangine’s that made your mouth water. Also had a lovely bottle of Moroccan wine which was pleasantly very good. After stuffing ourselves with more food than you could imagine we headed out for one last thing to top off this wonderful day in Reims.
We had read that in the summers there was a light show at the cathedral every evening at 9:30 which was a great thing to see. We really didn’t know what to expect of said light show, as how much can you really do with lights on the front of a cathedral. Well were we wrong to under estimate this light show! It was absolutely incredible. They lit up the front of the cathedral with amazing animations that was linked with sounds and music. We probably should have known how good it would be when we arrived and the square was packed with people. A great ending to a wonderful day.
Step Count: 20,362, 14.4km
We woke up a little earlier this morning so that we could go out and grab a quick breakfast and pack up our stuff before one last tour in Reims. We settled on a cafe in the main square area and in typical French fashion had a croissant and cafe to start our morning off.
Once back to the hotel we got everything packed up and checked out. Since our train was not until later in the afternoon we needed to check out and store our stuff at the hotel before we went on our tour. Once checked out we started our walk to our tour.
I was able to set us up on a tour at the G.H. Mumm champagne house and caves. This is one of the most prestigious champagne houses in the world. Being it was a Sunday we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to go into the caves that Reims is so well known for, but luckily with a little planning we got in. We learned again about their process of making champagne, and although much of it was exactly the same as the house we were at yesterday you could still tell the difference in a family owned smaller house and such a large house in Mumm. They had miles and miles of caves all underground where they kept all their wines. It was amazing to see and learn about such a prestigious place.
Once our tour and tasting was over we made a few purchases and were on our way. We still had some time until our train back to Paris so we went back to our favorite main square and grabbed some gyros to go! After sitting in the parc eating our gyros is was time to return to the city.
We were back to the flat relatively early in the evening and in time to make one last dinner for Laurie before she returned back to the US tomorrow. Rather than having her check into a different hotel for one night she stayed with us in the flat tonight. Although it isn’t the biggest place we were able to make due with the nice air mattress that we had brought over with us.
Step Count: 12,490, 8.6km
After a really fun weekend in Reims, and a great 10 days with Laurie, I was back to work this morning and with a little extra time allotted for traffic Laurie was off in her Uber on the way to CDG in order to catch her flight back to the US.
For us today marked the end of what has been quite a hectic month and a half of travel and visitors, and we just found out we will have more this coming weekend!
– Kasey and Jer