Les Quatre Hôtels (2018)

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This year, we will stay in Five Hotels (Cinq Hôtels) during our time in Paris
(because of a flight cancellation and decision to stay 10 nights instead of 8)

Sunday, December 23rd -Check-In (12:00)
Tuesday, December 25th -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

Tuesday, December 25th -Check-In (2:00)
Thursday, December 27th -Check-Out (12:00)
Hôtel Le Louis, Versailles Château – MGallery By Sofitel
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

Thursday, December 27th -Check-In
Saturday, December 29th -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

Saturday, December 29th -Check In (2:00)
Monday, December 31st -Check-Out (12:00)
Mercure Paris Montparnasse Raspail
207 Boulevard Raspail, 75014 Paris, France
This is a new place for us
Looking forward to access to access to Luxemboug Gardens and the deep Left Bank
We will be in proximity to Picpus Cemetery and the Catacombs

La Defense
Monday, December 31stth -Check In (2:00)
Wednesday, January 2nd -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

Special Mention
Novotel Paris East Hotel
1 Avenue de la Republique, 93177 Bagnolet

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

2018 Paris Itinerary

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2015 Paris Itinerary

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

Wednesday, December 23rd 2015
Depart for Paris
Depending on your flight, you might leave late morning or afternoon
We prefer to arrive in Paris Christmas Eve, in the early morning

Thursday, December 24th (Christmas Eve)
Arrive in Paris (CDG)
Conduct Airport Business (Museum Pass, Postage Stamps, Metro Tickets)
Avoid the long line at the CDG Train Station 2 (Aérogare2)
Use the ticket machine, if you have a European-style Credit Card with a “Chip”
(Otherwise you need to stand in the long line for customer service)
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,
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 Ticket 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.

Friday, December 25th (Christmas)
A Sunrise Church Service at Notre Dame is a good plan
(we missed it the last two years, and slept-in)
If your alarm is set and you stand-up, you’ll always remember Christmas morning at Notre Dame
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
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

Saturday, December 26th
Moving Day (from Montmartre to “downtown” Paris)
Up and Out, Early and in-line when the Museums Open
Le Louvre
Or, Run with Let’s Run Paris! (Meet Up Group) Le Cercle Luxembourg
Back to Montmartre for Check-out
Travel downtown into Paris
Check-in to Hotel
And Explore Paris
It’s the weekend, so major museums are mobbed
But Center Pompidou is open late (until 8:00)
Other secondary attractions might be worth a visit:
Such as the Pantheon, Invalides, Pere LaChaise Cemetery or the Promenade Plantée Parkway (Highline)
Cruise-by l’Orangerie on a Velib’ to see if the line is manageable
(admission until 5:15 – closes at 6:00)
And it’s Saturday night in Paris, a great time to throw-away the guide books and just walk

Sunday, December 27th
Walk to an early Sunday morning church service before the Museums Open
Saint Sulpice is a perfect option
Le Louvre
Markets (Marchés), Street Food, Wine Bars and Falafels
Last year we went to Opera Comique – a little expensive but a solid crowd of Parisians (few tourists)
It’s exciting to follow the swarm of patrons for Sunday opera in Paris
Or Church Concerts, with open seating and long-crazy lines of tourists
Saint-Chapelle is a good option, it is very small, so all seats are good

Monday, December 28th
Moving Day (From Paris out to Versailles)
Up and Out Early and in-line when the Museums Open
Le Louvre
Back to Hotel for Check-out
Travel to Versailles on RER train
Check-in to Versailles Hotel
Explore Versailles
Tour the Chateau (if the line is manageable)
Otherwise tour the grounds and outlying buildings

Tuesday, December 29th
Up and Out Early into Paris and In-Line when Musee D’Orsay Opens
(it is the only major museum open today – and very crowded)
Lunch: It’s a weekday in Paris, you might find someplace for lunch
You could travel to Basillica St. Denis afterwards
Back to Versailles on RER
Tour the Chateau or the Grounds of Versailles

Wednesday, December 30th
Moving Day (from Versailles to La Defense)
This is a day to enjoy the morning, sleep-in, jog the grounds of Versailles and buy something for breakfast at the outdoor Marché
The hotel has an excellent breakfast (last year, it is curiously provided for free)
It’s one of the few Paris Hotel Breakfasts worth paying for. Like a breakfast we had at the Ritz (in Chicago)
Check-out of Versailles
Ride RER into Paris
Check-in to La Defense
(The room will probably not be ready)
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

Thursday, 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
Tie Up Loose Ends
Do some final shopping
Finish your correspondence and write Postcards
(Best Selection of Postcards on ground floor of le Louvre)
Buy some groceries and New Years Eve goodies, maybe some Champagne
Relax and enjoy your last afternoon in Paris
Cats at Théâtre Mogador on New Years Eve
There have been no fireworks in Paris on New Years Eve
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

Friday, January 1st 2016 (New Years Day)
Up Early and Out for a Jog, 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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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
And Mr Cub, Ernie Banks!

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

2015 Paris Itinerary

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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

2015 Paris Itinerary

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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

2016 Paris Itinerary

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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

2018 Paris Itinerary

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