Friday, January 25, 2019

France 2019 --Year Two of Our Great Adventure

Lucky us! We arrived in Paris on Monday, just after any weekend protests, but before a beautiful snowfall on Tuesday.
Snow in Paris

Snow beside the Metro, Latin Quarter

Snow along the Seine
Since we get to visit more frequently, we don't find ourselves rushing from art exhibit to monument but are much more likely to saunter into a restaurant or cafe and while away the hours. We're sold on the French way of life.
Our plane arrived late on Monday and we didn't reach the hotel until nearly 12. We were supposed to arrive at 6:55 a.m., which is super early. That would have meant we would drop our bags at the hotel and stumble off sleepily into Paris for the day. Earl and I rarely sleep on the plane, so basically we lose a night's sleep.
Because we got here late, our room was ready. We checked in, had a shower and wandered to Rue Mouffetarde for a meal in the middle of the afternoon -- not lunch, not dinner.
Me, looking tired. 
My first meal in France -- canard de confit, bien sur. Duck thigh
There was a time not too long ago when it might have been impossible to find a meal at an odd time like this, but many restaurants and brasseries now offer "service continu," feeding tourists whenever they're hungry. That's one of the benefits of Paris rather than the small town where we live. The restaurant owners would definitely give us a judgmental look if we requested food between meals.
And that was it for us. We did some walking, but after our meal and some wine, we returned to the hotel room and slept for about 12 hours.
Luxembourg Gardens looking brilliant in the cold sunshine
Tuesday morning, we began our Paris day with breakfast at the restaurant next door. The hotel charged 15 euros per person for breakfast. We thought that a bit steep so entered the quaint restaurant next door where continental breakfast is 8,50 euros. Coffee, orange juice, a croissant, toasted baguette and jam. The orange juice is probably the most expensive thing on the breakfast menu, and I could do without it, The croissant was lovely and crunchy on the outside, flaking off into my coffee as I bit it.
Continental breakfast

The bar at the restaurant where we had breakfast. 
Our visit to Paris is also different this time because we have some things to accomplish. We are buying a car, so there is paperwork to complete. We visited the bank both Tuesday and Wednesday morning to get auto insurance. We hadn't settled the paperwork yet, so I went again on Thursday morning before our drive off to the south of France. The bankers are very helpful. There are just differences between the U.S. and France. They want a letter that says we haven't had an accident in the past three years, which we haven't. Our insurance agency wrote a letter saying that, but it didn't have all the information the French wanted. I ended up writing a letter in French and English and waited all day Wednesday on our insurance agency to email it to the bank. The time difference does complicate things.
What difference does the letter make? About $500 over the year. Our auto insurance quote was 38 euros ($43) a month with the letter. Without the letter, it would be 76 euros ($86) a month, or double the price.
After visiting the bank on Tuesday to get an appointment (set for Wednesday at 9 a.m.), we went for a walk in the snow.
Notre Dame is not far away. And then we walked along the Seine, watching the snow fall and feeling the crunch of the snow beneath our feet. I had on a hat and a scarf and they both were soon soaked by the fat flakes as we walked farther into the city.

Notre Dame in the snow
In front of the Tuileries 
That afternoon, we had a Charleston dance lesson, thanks to a gift from our children. The teacher met us at the metro stop and we all walked to the dance studio, which itself was cool. It was a practice space crowded with actors and artists and dancers.
We learned the basics of the Charleston, but don't expect to see up performing it any time soon. We also met a lovely couple who love in Spain. She's Macedonian and he's from the UK, but lived in Germany for 20 years so has a slight German accent to his English. They were as bad at the Charleston as we were, so it was all just a fun experience.
That night, we decided to try the restaurant next door for dinner. I had noticed on their menu that they served aligot, which is a delicious mashed potato-cheese mix that we had when we went hiking last summer in Aveyron.
But the restaurant turned us away because they were full. Luckily, they had an annex down the street that served the same menu ll La Petite Périgordine, which means the little girl from Périgord. From the crowd even at the annex, we knew that we had stumbled upon a good restaurant, and we weren't disappointed. 
We both started with scallops and leeks. They were served in a delightful scallop shell and the seasoning was amazing. The leeks were little slips of bites underneath the scallops. 
Yum, one of the best things we ate, leeks and scallops
I chose quail for my main course, which truthfully tasted like chicken, but in much smaller pieces. The meal also included zucchini. 
Earl got the beef with the aligot, mashed potatoes and cheese. 
I ended the meal with tarte tatin, like an apple pie, that included creme fraiche. 


I wasn't able to run while I was in Paris, which was a huge disappointment. Did I tell you I got hit by a golf ball while running in Florida? Well, it was my fault. The ball was bouncing across the street toward me and I thought I could lift up my foot to stop it with my shoe. Of course, it bounced higher and hit me in the shin. It stung like crazy, but I kept going. I ended up with a big goose egg on my shin. That didn't stop me from running six miles the next day.
The morning we were preparing to leave for France, I noticed that the bruise had dripped down to my ankle and my foot, leaving it an atrocious purple color. I texted a physical therapist relative and he recommended not running until the bruise had dissipated. I listened to him about the running, but I walked plenty of steps, according to my Fitbit.

On Wednesday, we had lunch with our friends Linda and Maurice. Linda blogs at Frenchless in France and they have been so helpful to us. This time, they sold us their car since they are living full-time in Paris. As expected, there was quite a bit of paperwork to take care of. We started it on Wednesday after lunch then finished it on Thursday once I had secured car insurance.
Thursday morning the letter from the insurance company had arrived, and I stood outside the bank branch at 9 a.m. The nice young man sat with me at his desk for two hours, missing an appointment (a rendez-vous) at 10 because my insurance hadn't been completed. We were on the other line with the bank man in charge of insurance, finally we were approved, both me and Earl for 58 euros per month rather than the 38 or 72. A happy medium I guess and we can continue to work on getting the price down.
Next, I walked to the bus stop to cross town to Linda and Maurice's apartment to fetch the car. But a sign on the bus stop said a severe accident delayed the bus for 16 minutes. I looked at the handy app for maps which told me that I could walk to a metro stop and go underground, avoiding the accident.
I love using the maps on my phone for directions. If I push "transit," it tells me which train or bus to take and which direction it should be going. That saves so much figuring out time.
The Apple map gives me the breakdown of how to negotiate the transit system. 
A brisk walk across the Seine, past Notre Dame and the Hotel de Ville (city hall) sent me down the stairs. In a few minutes, I was on the street again and made me way to their apartment. Completing the paperwork let me slide behind the driver's seat of the 2001 Audi that we purchased from them.
I drove across Paris, slowly, calmly, avoiding other cars and drivers in a hurry. I pulled in front of the hotel and Earl loaded up the suitcases.
I continued to drive, following the GPS to exit Paris and follow the highway to the south. 
The road to Quillan heads south! 

8 comments:

Jeanie said...

How fun to follow this chapter of your adventures! Paris looks lovely in the snow and you look radiant with that smile! Don't forget to check out the VanGogh at the Atelier when you return. If I had the extra cash, I'd fly over just to see it!

Philippe said...

Hello Paulita! I see you have been to " La Maison du Chocolat " shop! Hope you enjoy a lot of good chocolate treats...have a good and safe road trip across La France profonde!

Mary Willmon said...

Welcome back to France! I'm looking forward to reading of your new adventures. Your smile says it all!

Sim Carter said...

Love seeing these pictures of Paris in the snow! Not scenes we usually see and they're glorious. Are you able to run?

Emma at Words And Peace / France Book Tours said...

So glad you are back, enjoy!

familykembar3 said...

nice blog......come to Malaysia....travel to our country....many intresting place to visit and photo..

https://danial3balqis.blogspot.com/

Paulita said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments.
Jeannie, Who isn't happy in Paris?
Philippe, We actually never made it to Maison du Chocolat, although I had the directions. We did try Pierre Herme
Mary, Thanks. I plan to be diligent about writing about our adventures.
Sim, No, I wasn't able to run in Paris, but I'm back at it now.
Emma, Thanks for your support.

StevenHWicker said...

I have found that this site is very informative, interesting and very well written. keep up the nice high quality writing. Find odd one top france

Summer Drawing to a Close

I was texting with my friend Sheila today and she asked, "How has your summer been?" "Long and lonely," I responded. M...