Amsterdam or Brussels

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Amsterdam or Brussels
Ghosts of Amsterdam
Imprint: Russell Shoto (New York Times)

2017 Paris Itinerary

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Trafalgar Square

We loved our side-trip to London. It was so nice visiting a place where they speak English.
Great Museums and what they claim to be the “first” bike share system
Although, it was “hair-rising” riding a bike through the fast traffic (but there were LOTS of bikes in London)

A $1,000 Day in London for $100
Frugal Traveler: Seth Kugel (New York Times)

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Quatre Hôtels (2015)

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Four Hotels (Quatre Hôtels)
We stayed at these four hotels in 2015

Thursday, December 24th -Check-In (12:00)
Saturday, December 26th -Check-Out (12:00)
Mercure Paris Montmartre Sacre Coeur, Paris
1-3 Rue Caulaincourt, Paris, 75018 France
Expedia Ranking: **** (we rate it 3½, although we love this place)
Last year we entered our room, and it had not been cleaned
They remedied this quickly at the front desk with a free upgrade to a superior room. It’s about the same size as a regular room, but has a refrigerator with several free beverages that they refilled occasionally. Most importantly, the superior rooms were on the upper floors, overlooking the city, with the tiny Eiffel Tower in the distance. Much too small to capture a photo, but we could monitor its periodic light shows through the evening. We felt that the incremental room charge was worth this nicer room, maybe $30 per night (although that is $60 over our 2 night stay and these decisions add-up over the trip
Rue Lepic, Sacre Coeur, Montmartre Cemetery, Moulin Rouge, Pathe! Cinema
We paid $142.88 per night

Le Halles
Saturday, December 26th -Check-In (2:00)
Monday, December 28th -Check-Out (12:00)
Hotel Des Ducs D’Anjou, Paris
1 Rue Sainte-Opportune, 75001 Paris, 75001 France
Expedia Rating: **** (we haven’t stayed here, yet)
We usually avoid the cramped hotel rooms of downtown Paris, but it’s an occasional and interesting change. We will be able to walk or bike among the museums and churches, with occasional trips on the Metro. On the weekend nearby Centre Georges Pompidou is open during the evening.
This is a boutique hotel and we anticipate additional charges
It was the only hotel to charge us an exchange fee
They may also ask us to pay the City Tax which other hotels include in their the quoted rate
Even so, we are open to fall-in-love with Ducs D’Anjou and return to it regularly
We paid $160 per night (plus exchange fees)

Monday, December 28th -Check In (2:00)
Wednesday, December 30th -Check-Out (12:00)
Pullman Versalles Chateau, Versailles
2 Bix Avenue De Paris, Versailles, Yvelines, 78000 France
Expedia Rating: **** (we rate it 4½)
On our third visit to Pullman Versailles Chateau, we were disappointed last year. Our room looked out onto the back alley, instead of the ice rink toward the train station. We should have asked for an alternate room – the carpet was stretched and worn, a work tarp and room service dishes loitered in the hallway – the elevator buttons were grimy and smudged. To our surprise, a delightful free breakfast was included with the room. It was spectacular. And we love the location on the drive leading down to the Chateau. Now we know to avoid the crowded weekends in Versailles.
We paid $173.49 per night

La Defense
Wednesday, December 30th -Check In (2:00)
Friday, January 1st -Check Out (we will leave mid-morning to airport)
Sofitel Paris La Defense Puteaux
33 Voie des Sculpteurs, Puteaux, Hauts-de-Seine, 92060 France
Expedia Rating: ***** (we also rate it a 5!)
We frequently spend our last evenings in La Defense at the exquisite Sofitel. The staff is the best and the rooms luxurious – for a price much less than premium hotels anywhere-else in Paris. A ride on the metro transports us to evening hours at La Louvre, a New Years Eve performance or a meal at Chartier.
Located in an Exclusively Business District (with very little consumer commerce, except for the train station)
Clean Modern Plaza of Sculptures and La Grande Arche, Overlooking Paris
We paid $217.72 per night

Average per night: $167.20
The eight night total is: $1,337.60
(if you find that agreeable person to share a room in Paris, it could be less than $700.00 for 8 nights) Not Bad

2017 Paris Itinerary
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Opéra Comique

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Théâtre national de l’Opéra-Comique
1 Place Boieldieu, 75002 Paris, FranceL'OperaComique

We’d love to attend an event at the Paris Opera House or the Opera Garnier, but “you can’t get there from here”
Tickets are unavailable, prohibitively expensive, unreachable and there is no one to talk to on the phone

Where the Opéra Comique is credible opera house. You can sit in the first five rows,
see them spit, see them cry,
have them look you directly in the eye

(that is where I like my seats)

You can get better tickets, it is very historic but also affordable and intimate
You feel part of a smaller group, unfortunetely the crowd-scene entering into the Opéra comique before the performance is among nastiest we have experienced in Paris. A large courtyard of people all fighting to get through a couple narrow doors. No lines, no ropes and it is fairly typical of Paris for some reason. There is no order – there is no courtesy. Maybe this is a by-product of the large presence of tourists

You will be rewarded upon crossing the threshold and experiencing this space and the performance

Opera Comique Seating

Le Comte Ory
(Christmas 2017)
Gioachino Rossini,

(Christmas 2018)
Ambroise Thomas

Die Fleidermaus
There are two larger opera houses in Paris, we tried to find seats there, the price was crazy and the seats were bad. This is a beautiful and historic venue. We sat among Parisians, it didn’t feel touristy (which is the Gold Standard for us) if anything, it was too French. We’d gladly return each year for the Sunday matinee, but Opera Comique is closed for renovation this year. (the next year the Christmas Performance was abruptly cancelled)

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10 Films of Paris

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In the days before a trip to Paris we immerse ourselves in great Paris movies
Our Top 10 List expanded to 18 videos

Critically Acclaimed Award Winners
The Intouchables (2011)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
(coincidentally featuring paraplegics)

A Collection of Paris Segments within the Film
Holy Motors (2012)
Paris Je t’Aime (2006)

Hollywood Musicals
Funny Face (1957) Fred Astair
An American in Paris (1951) Gene Kelly
Gigi (1958) Leslie Caron

Contemporary Romance
Le Weekend (2013) Roger Mitchell
Picture Paris (2011) Brad Hall
Midnight in Paris (2011) Woody Allen
Before Sunset (2004) Richard Linklater

Montmartre (2001 Films)
Molin Rouge!

Ratatouille (2007)
The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

The Pink Panther
-Peter Sellers Version (1963)
-Steve Martin Version (2006)

French Directors
Truffaut: Day for Night (Jacquline Bisset) 1973
Brunel: Belle de Jour (Catherine Deneuve) 1967
Goddard: Breathless (1960)

The A History of Paris educational (5) DVDs are eternally informative
Dr. William J. Neidinger


2017 Paris Itinerary

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Here is an draft of the Paris Itinerary
What follows is simply a suggestion

Saturday, December 23rd 2017
Depart for Paris
Depending on your flight, you might leave late morning or afternoon
We prefer to arrive in Paris early in the day, on Christmas Eve

Sunday, December 24th (Christmas Eve)
Arrive in Paris (CDG)
Conduct Airport Business (Museum Pass, Postage Stamps, Metro Tickets)
Buy an RER ticket into Paris and a stack of 10 Metro Tickets “a Carnet” for travel through Paris
Be Careful: It’s Jet-Lag-Day – your nerves with be frayed and your patience has been spent,
So it’s time to engage your “sangfroid
Check-in to Montmartre Hotel
Don’t take a Nap. Take a hot bath and change clothes
Discover Montmartre, the Artists District
Shop for Groceries and Supplies in some stores which will be closed on Christmas Day
Purchase Advance Tickets for a Christmas Day Movie
Our best way to adjust your body-clock to Paris time is to go to bed early and get up and get out of bed early the next morning.

Monday, December 25th (Christmas)
A Sunrise Church Service at Notre Dame is a good plan
(Notre-Dame de Paris)
Afterwards, the narrow streets of the Latin Quarter are uncharacteristically desolate, so are the iconic (overpriced and touristy) cafes which we have yet to visit
Last year we visited Au Pied de Cochon after mass for a great bowl of onion soup, served on white table cloth
It’s an easy walk over to Centre Pompidou, which is open of Christmas morning
Then it’s back to Montmartre and up to Sacre Couer
A great and storied area to explore along with the Montmartre Cemetery
Sometimes there is a first run movie worth seeing, Christmas Evening
Or a Matinee Performance at l’Opéra-Comique (Le Comte Ory)

Tuesday, December 26th
Moving Day (from Montmartre to Versailles)
Up and Out, Early and in-line when the Museums Open
Musee D’Orsay is the only major museum open on Tuesdays
Get in line early after visiting Eric Kaiser for a Pain au chocolat or Pain aux raisins and our daily Baguette aux céréales

Back to Montmartre for Check-out
Travel to Versailles on RER train
Check-in to Versailles Hotel
Discover Versailles, located in the western suburbs of Paris
Tour the Chateau (if the line is manageable)
Otherwise tour the grounds and outlying buildings
There are a variety of bakeries and groceries in historic Versailles, we avoid the other touristy side of town

Wednesday, December 27th
Up and Out Early into Paris and In-Line when Le Louvre Opens
Back to Versailles on RER
Tour the Chateau or the Grounds of Versailles

Thursday, December 28th
Moving Day (From Versailles to Bercy)
This is a day to enjoy the morning, sleep-in, RUN the grounds of Versailles and buy something for breakfast at the outdoor Marché
The hotel has an excellent breakfast, it’s one of the few Paris Hotel Breakfasts worth paying for
Check-out of Versailles

Travel over to Bercy
Check-in to Hotel
Discover Bercy, a less congested area with local grocery and parks
Bercy provides a great Velib bike opportunity
Despite our tendancy to get lost in Paris (which is not always a bad thing) the ride into Paris along the Seine is a no-brainer

Friday, December 29th
Weather permitting bike into Paris along the Seine for an early church service, perhaps the best time to visit a Paris church
Le Louvre
Then bike to L’Orangerie, Centre Pompidou or the Pantheon.
Maybe enjoy a Flaffel or Soup

Saturday, December 30th
Moving Day (from Bercy to La Defense)
Up and Out Early (maybe bike)and in-line when the Le Louvre Opens
Option for another RUN with Paris Meet Up Group
Check-out of Bercy
Ride RER through Paris to La Defense
Check-in to La Defense
Discover La Défense, a major business district just west of the city limits of Paris
Or return to Paris and Climb up into Arc de Triomphe or Visit the Opera House
Lunch: It’s a weekday in Paris, you might find someplace for lunch
Grocery Shopping downtown (we haven’t found any grocery stores in La Defense)
Evening Meal at Chartier or a concert

Sunday, December 31st (New Years Eve)
Final Day in Paris
It’s guaranteed to be a wacked-out crowded, crazy day in Paris
Up and Out Early and in-line when the Museums Open
Le Louvre
OR maybe we join a Paris Meetup Group (Run Paris) for their Saturday morning run
Then Tie Up Loose Ends
Do some final shopping
Finish your correspondence and write Postcards
(Best Selection of Postcards on ground floor of le Louvre and a post office to buy French stamps)
Buy some groceries and New Years Eve goodies, maybe some Champagne
Relax and enjoy your last afternoon in Paris
The last two (3) years we purchased theater tickets, but it is not the best night to be out in the Metro returning to our hotel at 11p while people rush through the subway on the way to midnight celebrations. So celebrate early and visit churches and theaters the night before (you can be practical in Paris or you can succumb to the tourist experience)
There have been no fireworks in Paris on New Years Eve for several years
Last year there was an impressive light-show at the Arc de Triomphe
Although we are seldom up for midnight, La Defense has an spectacular plaza overlooking the City Lights of Paris

Monday, January 1st 2017 (New Years Day)
Up Early and Out for a RUN, with several paths about La Defense
Mail your postcards (or leave them at the Front Desk – to amuse the staff)
Check-out then ride Metro into Paris and RER train to Airport
(All trains are free from late New Years Eve through New Years Day)
Departure from Paris (CDG)

* A good traveler has no fixed plan and is not intent upon arriving” – Lao Tzu

Les Quatre Hôtels provides further information on the Four Hotels where we stay

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Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

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Père Lachaise Cemetery
16 Rue du Repos, Paris, France

Don’t go to Père-Lachaise without a map
(this is a note to myself)
The web app is frustrating
Some day, we will conduct a proper Tour de Cimetière

The Following Graves are visible on Google Maps:
Tombe de Pierre et Hélène Desproges
Tombe de Colette
Tombe d’Honoré de Balzac
Tombe de Molière
Tombe de Frédéric Chopin
Tombe d’Oscar Wilde
Tombe de Gerda Taro
Tombe de Gertrude Stein
Tombe de Jean de La Fontaine
Tombe de Mano Solo
Tombe d’Héloïse et Abélard

Tombe d’Yves Montand et de Simone Signoret
Tombe de Sadegh Hedayat (the Persian Writer)
Tombe de Georges Bizet
Tombe de Yilmaz Guney

Tombe de Marcel Proust
Tombe d’Allan Kardec
Tombe d’Isadora Duncan

Tombe de Gustave Caillebotte (Division 70)
Tombe d’Eugène Delacroix
Tombe d’Amedeo Modigliani
Georges Seurat
Théodore Géricault

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Top 10 Fascinating Graves in Père Lachaise

15 Famous People Buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

9 Most Haunting Graves in Paris’s Pere Lachaise Cemetery

The 10 Unforgettable Graves to See In Père Lachaise Cemetery

Jim Morrison
The sprawling French cemetery is home to plenty of big names (Victor Hugo, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf), but one American in particular continues to draw crowds. The Doors frontman died in Paris at age 27, and although no autopsy was done, most believe he died of heart arrest associated with drug use. When Morrison’s most recent grave marker was made, his father requested the Greek inscription: ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ. The phrase translates to “according to his own demon,” although the intended meaning was “faithful to his own spirit.”


Marie Curie

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Marie Skłodowska Curie
The ashes of Marie Curie are enshrined in the Pantheon in Paris, making the celebrated scientist the first woman honored at the memorial dedicated to the “great men” of France
New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/21/world/marie-curie-enshrined-in-pantheon.html?smid=tw-share

Quote: “Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas”

Marie Currie

Marie Skłodowska Curie
7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934
Interred in the Pantheon Crypt

Marie Curie tops BBC History poll of women who changed the world The Guardian

Noble Prize in Physics 1903
Noble Prize in Chemistry 1911

In the footsteps of Marie Curie

Marie Curie (1867 – 1934) (BBC History)

La Tour Eiffel

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during an extended stay in Paris, we fall into an everyday acceptance of place, until those moments when we see the Eiffel Tower on the horizon

Eiffel Tower
La Tour Eiffel (9:30 to 11:00pm)
The Eiffel Tower’s Voice: Stefania Rousselle (Arts: New York Times)
Surprisingly, it may be difficult to spot the Eiffel Tower from most streets of Paris. A great perch for viewing the Paris skyline is from the front balcony of the Pompideu Center. Another great view of the Tower is from beneath it, looking up through it’s iron framework.
Our favorite memory of the Eiffel Tower is jogging early in the morning before dawn. This area along the Seine is open, with an isolated even dangerous feeling. The rest of the time, this area is mobbed by tourism

The neighborhood atop Butte Montmartre is even more congested but to us more acceptable because of it’s artistic, bohemian aire and its spiritual proximity to the Basilica Sacré-Cœur. And far in the distance you will spot the tiny Eiffel Tower.

We have (perhaps unjustly) shunned the Eiffel Tower, mostly because of the crowds. After viewing the illustration below, maybe we should put an ascent on the Tour back on our list.

Eiffel Tower

Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923)
also designed the inner framework of the Statue of Liberty

The Man on the Eiffel Tower (1948)

Interesting footage up-in-the Tower during last 10 Minutes

La fontaine Stravinsky

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Stravinsky Fountain
located in Place Stravinsky, between the Centre Pompidou and the Church of Saint-Merri
Fontaine des Automates A View on Cities

Contains 16 whimsical works of sculpture (some moving and spraying water)
inspired by the works of Composer Igor Stravinski (including his Rite of Spring)
1 L’Oiseau de feu (The Firebird)
2 La Clef de Sol (the Musical Key of G)
3 La Spirale (The Spiral)
4 L’Elephant (The Elephant)
5 Le Renard (The Fox)
6 Le Serpent (The Serpent)
7 La Grenouille (The Frog)
8 La Diagonale (The Diagonal)
9 La Mort (Death)
10 La Sirène (The Mermaid)
11 Le Rossignol (The Nightingale)
12 L’Amour (Love)
13 La Vie (Life)
14 Le Cœur (The Heart)
15 Le Chapeau de Clown (The Clown’s Hat)
16 Ragtime (Ragtime)

Other Fountains

Élysée (8e)
Fontaines de la Concorde Place de la Concorde
site of many notable public executions (including King Louis XVI and Marie Anntoinette) during the French RevolutionConcorde Fountains

Luxenbourg (6e)
Médici Foutain Un Jour de plus à Paris

Pantheon (5e)
Fontaine Saint-Michel
St.Michael fountain COLOR

La Defense
Fontaine Esplanade de la Defense
Fontaine d’Agam

Les Halles (1e)
Fontaine des Innocents

Fontaine des Innocents

Montmartre (18e)
Fountain Square Suzanne Buisson Walking Tour of Montmartre (Rather Luvly)
The fountain consists of a semi-circular basin, dominated by the stone statue of Saint-Denis holding his head in his hands. According to legend, it is at this holy place where he washed his head after decapitation in 250. Thereafter he continued on his way – head under his arm, to the crypt of the Saint-Denis basilica , where he was buried

Palace of Versailles
Bassin d’Apollo (Apollo Fountain)
Apollo Fountain