Paris for the Holidays

Chaussée aux Moines

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This is My Paris Fromage (cheese)

One guilty pleasure (which may destroy my French cheese credibility) is always available in Paris convenience stores. You won’t need to go into a cheese shop (fromagerie) to find Chausse aux Moines.

Some might look forward to their first taste of European butter or an omelett when arriving in Paris. For me, it’s Chausse aux Moines on a fresh French baguette – slathered with strong Dijon style mustard.

This semi soft wheel of cheese, a curious springy hockey puck, is never over ripe, with a pleasant chewy quality and a delicious rind.

Some Cheese Snobs will dismiss me, but for an American, Chaussée aux Moines is superior to Kraft, Cracker Barrel or other generial supermarket cheeses. When my traveling companion ate it, she described it as stinky. (which for me is a badge-of-honor)


“Carriageway (or Roadway) of the Monks” Cheese Wikipedia Translation

Life in France: One Stinky Cheese at a Time A Year in Cheese (Kazz Regelman)

A mass produced commercial (“industrial”) cheese, manufactured by a large company with a complete advertising campaign.

Then we move on to the other more authentic French cheeses
Adventures in Cheese

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Adventures in Cheese

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The Peculiar Pleasures of Smelly Cheeses
(attributed to Michael Pollan)

Some speak of French Wine
how in France, a glass of wine is less cheaper than a soft drink
(which I have never experienced or appreciated)

For me it is always more about the Cheese
Not necessarily from the fancy street-front Fromageries, but common grocery stores,
usually the 8 à Huit or Marché Franprix mini-markets (a French gourmet version of your local 7-Eleven convenience store)
I occasionally soak the wine (or Champaign) label off the bottle, but all my cheese wrappers are stuffed into a zip-lock to tabulate upon my return to the USA

Here is my amazing (perhaps embarrassing) Cheese “log”:

Chaussée aux Moines (this is my Every-Day Go-To Paris cheese)

Cheese (Fromage) Links

Selles -sur-Cher
Valençay goat cheese
Tomme de Savoie
Comté (regularly dubbed “France’s favorite cheese”)
Rustique Camembert
Munster Géromé
Ossau-Iraty sharp Basque Sheep’s milk cheese
Saint Albray
Sheep Cheese
Vacherin (Mont d’O) potent mountain cheese

Cheese Links

My favorite is Le Super Marché Cheese Plate when I can find one, with a combo of soft, stinky and “dangerous” fromage
(or even that piece of cheese which is marked-down because it is very ripe)

The Cheese Course

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60 Days of Paris

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Just 2 months till our departure across the sea to France


We realize that this is not a impulse venture.
For many of you, this could be a a once in a lifetime adventure, which means – “wait until next year”

Last weekend in Chicago, Les Tour de Cimetières visited Graceland Cemetery .
The grave sites include those of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, the 1st African American Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Roger Ebert and a amazing cast of other occupants

It might be too late to obtain a Passport ,
But, if you do have a passport, Airline Tickets can still be obtained – maybe even for some non-stop flights

Rooms may not be available at all the four Paris-area hotels (Les Quatre Hôtels ) where we will stay, so let us know if we can suggest alternative lodgings.

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Graceland Cemetery

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not to be confused with the cemetery at Graceland where Elvis Aaron Presley rests
4001 North Clark Street, Chicago
Located north of Wrigley Field behind a brick wall at the intersection of Clark and Irving Park Road
Accessible by the #22 Clark or #80 Irving Park Bus Routes
CTA Red Line Train (Sheridan) walk .4 west to Graceland Cemetery or take a short ride on #80 Irving Park Bus
Divvy bike-share dock at Southport & Irving Park
(additional docks several blocks either north or south on Clark Street)

It’s a tour with many guides
Each participant will lead us to another grave
And we will share
And discover things we could never find on our own

Graceland Cemetery compares favorably to Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris
Both established in the Victorian-Style of the 19th Century with ornate garden landscaping, creating pastoral settings attributed to the reign of Queen Victoria

Graceland: 80 Acres compared to Père Lachaise: 110 Acres
Both were created relatively far outside of the city, at that time
Graceland because of the Chicago Fire and health concerns about the shallow graves in Lincoln Park, and fear of cholera affecting the water supply
Père Lachaise was created due to the crowded cemeteries of Paris. Skeletal remains of 8 million occupants were also moved underground to ossuaries, or catacombs

Père Lachaise has the tragic love story of Héloïse et Abélard
Graceland has the mystery of Inez Clarke

Both venues bear superstitions surrounding certain statues, of Victor Noir in Père Lachaise and Eternal Silence in Graceland

Although it would be difficult to match the numerous range of statues in Père Lachaise
Graceland has it’s own impressive monuments by Chicago architects, the designer of the Lincoln Memorial in DC and two statures by Lorado Taft

At Graceland Cemetery we may discover:
A US Supreme Court Justice
Mayors, Governors and Legislators
Chicagoans who are familiar because they share the name of a local street, a business or theater
A plethora of Architects and Inventors
Captains of Industry
Publishers and Writers
Painters, Dancers and Actors
The 1st African American Heavyweight Boxing Champion
Mr Cub, Ernie Banks!
And Roger Ebert

Find a Grave in Graceland Cemetery (
List of Graceland Biographies (

Official Graceland Cemetery Site (
Graceland Cemetery (wikipedia)
Graceland A Poem by Carl Sandburg

Les Tour de Cimetières
Paris Cemeteries

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La Danse

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La Danse — Le Ballet de l’Opera de Paris (Dance Documentary)
Frederick Wiseman (2009)

Riding the Métro

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What if you were to arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport tomorrow?

I would take the RER B3 train into downtown (historic) Paris, very near Notre Dame de Paris
Then I would take the Métro to my hotel.
In fact I already have extra tickets from my last visit
(They say the tickets never expire)

RER: (Map)
The trip from CDG (Zone 5) requires a RER Zone-5 Ticket
which can be purchased at the large CDG ticket office located in Terminal 2
Tickets can be purchased at the nearby vending machine, but they often require a european style credit card which contains a chip

Métro: (Map)
A Ride within the city on the Paris Métro requires a single ticket, which can be purchased in stacks of 10 called a Carnet
Lady MetroCOLOR2
No ticket is required when we return to the airport early New Years Day morning
Beginning late New Year Eve, and into New Years Day, Métro and RER rides are free

Paris for the Holidays, spends two nights (outside of Paris) in Versailles (Zone 4)
Four Zone-4 RER Tickets will be required for the rides back-and-fourth from Versailles (RER C5) and central Paris

We are still doing the math, but this combination of tickets might justify purchasing a weekly card named, the Paris Passe Navigo Découverte which allows for unlimited travel from Monday to Sunday. We arrive on Wednesday and prefer to ride Vélib’ when we can

A 7-Day Vélib’ pass costs 8 euros
For an unlimited amount of 30-minute rides
A reasonable surcharge applies to rides exceeding that time
(but part of the fun is skipping among Vélib’ docking stations, to ensure your ride doesn’t exceed the 30 minutes)
maybe even getting lost and discovering another piece of Paris

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fourchette (fork)

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pronounced (“four-shay”)
understandably, a popular name for French restaurants in America

Among the assorted ways to learn a language, one of the most effective is by humiliation and necessity

Picture yourself in a Paris grocery:
Looking for a Fork
Chasing-down someone for a confrontation, where you are under the impression that the louder you say FORK, the better you are understood
Attempting to pantomime a Fork – even using the universal symbol for “Fork”
Utilizing maximum body-language
Only to fail

Some Parisians have a low tolerance for those not speaking French
Which is the beauty of Paris!

Ended-Up stumbling upon a fourchette on my own

donne-moi une fourchette (gimme a Fork)


Exactly what is this trip about?

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Kay asks us:
“Exactly what is this trip is about and how much is it going to cost?
It sounds like a once in a lifetime experience, but it also sounds like a hoax”

There is nothing very Exact about our trip to Paris

This excursion is for individuals who could probably plan this trip on their own
Although it will be easier
-with a basic itinerary in place, and
-travel suggestions provided, while
-traveling as a member of a group.

Despite these conveniences, substantial effort is still required on your part to:
Purchase your airline ticket and
Book hotel reservations.

Once these transactions are completed, you’ll have an Exact departure date, an Exact venue for your accommodations, and then . . . everything else seems to fall into place.

It may be frustrating and scary to some, because no Exact price is attached to this trip. Some might prefer to write a check for an all-expense-paid trip which includes ground transportation, meals, museum tours, taxes and gratuities, etc.

If you make the trip to Paris for the Holidays, it is ultimately up to you to determine your budget, investigate airline tickets and shop for hotels reservations

This is not a Tour, so much as, an Activity which requires your participation

We will not be giving you a museum tour or shuttling you about Paris
But you can join us on the Metro (or Vélib’) ride to the museum
And hopefully, you will be telling us a story as we stand before a masterpiece at the Louvre
Or you have a tip on a remarkable place to eat

You can follow our schedule, stay at the same hotels and we can check-in together
Or you can do it your way

The aim is to assemble an interactive group, with everyone making contributions, but also free to operate independently.
And then see what happens

But, Nothing Exact

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Top 10 Paris (Food)

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David Lebovitz: Living the Sweet Life in Paris
10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris

Jacquelin Carnegie: Fromjmer’s
5 Fabulous & Affordable Places to Eat in Paris
Guillaume Plisson’s favorite restaurants in popular Paris neighborhoods (3e,4e,7e)

Denise Rehrig: Good Morning America (ABC News)
Top 10 Foods to Try in Paris

Thrillist: 50 Things You Need to Eat in Paris Before You Die
50 things you need to plow through before you leave the city or die,
which, considering this list, might have equal odds.

Shared Appetite: Eat. Cook. Share.
The Top 10 Foods You Have To Eat in Paris

The Daily Meal
Top 10 Places to Eat in Paris on a Student Budget

CNN Travel
10 Best Restaurants in Paris: Bryan Pirolli (2013)

10 Days in Paris
Top 5: Dude Food , Top 5: Best Sandwiches , Top 5: Food Trucks ,
Top 5: Juiciest Steaks , Top 5: Poissonnière Restaurants , Top 5: Mexican Restaurants

Raymond Blanc’s favourite restaurants in Paris
The French chef picks his top tables in the French capital plus dine like a pro with our guide to eating out in the City of Light The Sunday Times

Paris Wise
Yù jūn yī xí tán, shèng dú shí nián shū (A Chinese Proverb)
“A conversation with a wise person is worth of ten years’ study of books”
Christopher Back’s excellent blog explores what we love about Paris, including essays on cheese, coffee, bread (boulangerie), art, the Louvre and much more
all you need to know “paris-wise”

Paris Dining Venues
Food Links We Like

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Les Quatre Hôtels (2014)

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We will stay in Four Hotels (Quatre Hôtels) during our time in Paris

Wednesday, December 24th -Check-In
Friday, December 26th -Check-Out
Mercure Paris Montmartre Sacre Coeur, Paris
Expedia Ranking: **** (we rate it 3½, although we love this place)
1-3 Rue Caulaincourt, Paris, 75018 France
This is a basic and clean room, but in the most intricate and interesting of neighborhoods, with it’s dramatic topography
Rue Lepic, Sacre Coeur, Montmartre Cemetery, Moulin Rouge, Pathe! Cinema
We paid $142.88 per night

Friday, December 26th -Check In
Sunday, December 28th -Check-Out
Pullman Carsalles Chateau, Versailles
2 Bix Avenue De Paris, Versailles, Yvelines, 78000 France
Expedia Rating: **** (we rate it 4½)
A fine hotel, just down-the-street from the Palace
It is all about Versailles – the dense crowds of tourists in the Palace and the open air of the majestic Gardens
You might prefer the quaint historic portion of Versailles over the newer, more commercial district on the other side of town
We paid $173.49 per night

Sunday, December 28th -Check-In
Tuesday, December 30th -Check-Out
Novotel Paris Est, Bagnolet
1 Avenue de la Republique, Bognolet, Seine-Seint-Denis, 93177 France
Expedia Rating: **** (we also rate it a 4)
This is the most towering of the hotels, in a suburban district of expressways and parks
It’s one metro station from Pere LaChaise Cemetery and maybe our best chance to find that remarkable out-of-the-way Bistro
We paid $134.71 per night

La Defense
Tuesday, December 30th -Check In
Thursday, January 1st -Check Out
Sofitel Paris La Defense Puteaux
33 Voie des Sculpteurs, Puteaux, Hauts-de-Seine, 92060 France
Expedia Rating: ***** (we also rate it a 5)
Luxury Hotel, 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
If you stayed in this hotel anywhere else in Paris, you couldn’t afford it
We paid $217.72 per night

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

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