06 September 2009

A wild week, starting in Paris

It was. When you have become a complete homebody, a week during which you spend a couple of hot days in the center of Paris, eat dinner in two crowded Paris restaurants, ride subway trains, drive hundreds of miles, and discover a part of France that you had hardly ever seen before... well, that's wild.

I'm exhausted. But in a good way. The undiscovered part of France was the Auvergne, a mountainous area in the center of the country. We saw millions of cows, extinct volcanoes, waterfalls, and medieval villages and castles. It rained. We watched Cantal cheese being made on a farm, with milk from the afternoon milking. We ate a lot of Cantal cheese, and others. Oh, and I had a minor car accident.

The Panthéon, in the heart of the Latin Quarter in Paris

The Paris part of the trip was just two days. I left Saint-Aignan at about 8:30 on Saturday morning, a week ago, and arrived at the Gare d'Austerlitz at 11:45. I had a couple of tickets, so I just hauled my little rolling suitcase down stairs and escalators into the metro and caught a train over to CHM's neighborhood. It's a straight shot — no correspondances (line changes).

Our fine home-grown tomatoes and plums, which I had packed in a little cardboard box that fit inside my suitcase, made the trip just fine. CHM peeled them by dunking them in boiling water for a few seconds, and then sliced them up into a bowl. We had tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, slices of ham with bread and butter, and part of a 1988 bottle of Côtes du Ventoux red wine for lunch. The weather was hot and sunny.

This was the amazing view from a friend's 7th-floor room
at the Hôtel du Panthéon in Paris. It had a great balcony.
That's Montmartre and Sacré Cœur in the distance.

Then I headed over to the Hôtel du Panthéon, in the Latin Quarter, to meet my friends who were staying there. We had three or four hours "to kill" before dinner at the Café Louis-Philippe, and we decided just to walk for a while. It was walking weather, though hot.

Saturday afternoon in the Jardin du Luxembourg

Our first leg was a stroll around the Jardin du Luxembourg. But before that we stopped in at the police station in the Mairie du Vème Arrondissement, right across the street from the hotel and the Panthéon. I had told Evelyn and our friends about the night I spent in a cell there in 1970 — it's a long story. They wanted to see the jail.

The Panthéon seen from the Luxemburg Gardens

We walked in and a woman in police uniform came out to greet us. I tried to explain why we were there. I said I had spent a night there 40 years ago. She said, no, that wasn't possible. I must be mistaken. Then I told her I spent that night in a cell. She laughed and said yes, this must be the place. We all laughed. She must have thought we were crazy.

After the Luxemburg Gardens, we walked over to the Place Dauphine on the Ile de la Cité. We were thirsty after an hour or so of walking in the hot, dusty parks and streets, so we sat down at a café. Evelyn ordered a Pastis, because she had never had one before (I think). Pastis is an anis-flavored drink that you mix with water. It's popular in Provence, when the weather is hot. It replaced absinthe when that drink was outlawed 100 years ago. I think Evelyn enjoyed it. I had a glass of Chablis (a Chardonnay wine from Burgundy).

The Paris Hôtel de Ville — city hall —seen from the Ile de la Cité

We walked all the way around the Ile de la Cité, through the flower and bird market, through narrow streets, around Notre Dame cathedral. The river was pretty and there were many people out doing what we were doing. Then we realized we needed to go back to the hotel to freshen up and pick up a few things before we went to dinner. It was getting late...


  1. You, "cachotier," never told me you were an ex-convict [almost]! Can't wait for the gory details!

  2. So many details yet undiscovered, chm! Ken will have to spend many hours at the computer to fill them all in. Glad you are back, Ken!

  3. Our first trip to Paris saw us stay around the corner from the Pantheon and Jardin du Luxembourg.
    A very relaxed area. I remember chucking on the running shoes at 5.30 am after 26 hours from OZ, and seeing Paris for the first time while street cleaners prepared the city for the day's workers and tourists.
    Thanks for bringing back some memories. Great pics.

  4. Great photos. Makes me realise how long it is since we went to Paris and how much we're missing.

  5. Great photos Ken. Can't wait to hear about the trip to "le Cantal".
    From Walt's blog, the gite looks fabulous.

  6. Yes, Ken, we want details even if it is a long story! I missed my trip to Paris this spring so I'm eagerly awaiting my two weeks there next month. Thanks for the great photos.


  7. haha......in jail huh? do tell...it's always walking weather in paris

  8. Chm

    Thanks for that double-entente :-)

    Ken , the pictures are beautiful especially the one of the HDVille

  9. Oh, I remember the jail story! Ken showed the photo in a blog a few months ago, right, Ken? It had something to do with pilfering plums and tomatoes from a neighbor's garden, I believe... (heh heh... no, not at all, really :))) Ken is perfectly innocent :)

    Oh, how I love the Luxembourg Gardens area!! We stayed at a hotel just across from the Blvd St Michel entrance... it was fine, but a bit touristy. I've long been interested in the Hotel des Grands Hommes, and the Hotel du Pantheon, and the Hotel Sorbonne, and wondered what they were really like. Did your friends like HdGH? I think that's a great area to stay in Paris.


  10. I had a great time in Paris for two weeks, returned back to the UK on Wednesday, met up with Leesa and Alex and lots of other friends too!

    There is an Absinthe shop in the Marais area of Paris, not sure if you have seen it. I passed it the other day.

  11. I hope that night behind bars didn't go on your "permanent record". Were you released, or did you bust out?

    And about that minor car accident - high speed police chase?

  12. Great pictures, thanks. But there's a palm tree in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Is this possible? I should think the winter would do it in.

  13. Let's see. About 40 years in Paris the American students were streaking. Did you get arrested for that?

  14. "Cachotier" — ha ha ha, CHM. No, it wasn't a cachot, and it wasn't the Middle Ages. How old do you think I am?

    BettyAnn, now you'll know what to do if you can't find a hotel in Paris. It's in the next post...

    Emm, they take that palm, planter box and all, indoors for the winter at the first sign of a freeze.

    John, that car pursuing me was not a police car. Anyway, I lost him. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    Anne, I know absinthe is again legal in France. It probably never made all those 19th-century painters and writers crazy anyway.

    Judy, my friends stayed at the Hôtel du Panthéon. They liked it. The 7th floor single with a balcony big enough for a table and two chairs, and that great view of Sacré Cœur, was very nice.

    Harriett, so you heard all about it, eh?

  15. I love Pastis, but if I had one on a hot day as my only liquid, I wouldn't be able to walk. Maybe not a bad idea...

    Just think how helpful you were to that police officer: you gave her a good story to tell to her friends!

  16. You can see the Observatoire from your friend's hotel room. Cool.

  17. Yes that was my first Pastis. I liked it much better than my first Gentiane;-) It did make me a bit tipsy, but maybe that was my jet lag kicking in.

    We did like the Hotel du Pantheon, especially their rates when one prepays for their rooms.

  18. I was a good girl and only had "un sirop d'orgeat" (does "barley water" really correspond to "le sirop d'orgeat" ?), no alcohol, na/so there :-) ! We did enjoy relaxing on the quiet "Place Dauphine" after walking and walking ;-)

    As you reminded us of it, Yves Montand and Simone Signoret lived there at number 15 (they called their apartment "la roulotte"


    I loved every minute of our weekend in Paris :-) Bises Marie


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