Jaunts With Jackie

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Category: passport

While In Paris Take Time For The Little Things………

When visiting Paris it is easy to get caught up in the feeling that you have to rush around and see everything. You can not visit Paris without waiting 3 hours to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, right? Wrong, although I did wait a long time even with prepurchased tickets to go to the top of the Eifel Tower my favorite memories are of the little things that Nicole and did that did not involve long lines or huge crowds. Picnicking on the Siene and at Luxingburg Gardens were the perfect Parsian experince. 

Our first full day in Paris we took a food tour in the Montremarte area. Our tour guide was fun and knowledgeable. On our tour we walked around Montremarte collecting items for a large feast that we eventually ate in the wine cellar of their building. Along the way we learned how to pick out chocolates, cheese, meats, bread and wine. We used Secret Food Tour and I highly recommend them. We tasted things we might not have found on our own (like the truffle chesse that I’m still dreaming about) and we had a enjoyable family stlye meal with wine and lively conversation.  

Wine that we tasted during our food tour.

The next day with our new found knowledge from the food tour we decided to collect items and have a picnic on the banks of the Seine looking at Notre Dame. I brought a small packable blanket with me from the United States just for such an occasion. 

Butter, Butter, Oh Salted French Butter….

We learned on the food tour that most Parisians buy their butter from the local cheese shop. The magic occurs from the addition of the salt crystals. Parisians use butter in recipes for both savory and sweet dishes. They also use it for slathering onto bread. 

French butter with salt crystals is delicious. I never appreciated butter until I visited Paris. Our first morning in Paris we walked up the street to the neighborhood bakery. We went inside and the sweetest guy took our order. Our French was rusty and he did not speak English, but we were able to order two croissants. The first bite was pure heaven, light and flaky and we could taste the butter. We stopped in every morning that we were in Paris and tried all of their different croissants and pastries. He became one of our favorite people we encountered in Paris.

Bread is baked fresh every morning. Ask any Parisianer and they will tell you their favorite boulangerie to buy a fresh baguette. We bought two baguettes. One traditional and one La Rustique. The La Rustique has multiple seeds and grains mixed in and is darker than the tradional baguette. 

Our favorite Boulangerie

A baguette to go.

We of course had to buy some salted butter to slather on our baguette and we also bought some spreadable cheese. It was good, but it did not come close to the truffle cheese we had on our food tour. 

Farmer’s Market

We passed by a farmers market. We bought a basket of strawberries. They were so sweet and ripe that the bees were hovering above the fruit like a cloud. I am allergic to bees so I had to stand back and have Nicole pick out and purchase our berries. 

Perfect berries from the Farmer’s Market.

Boucher

We stopped by the boucher and bought some sliced prosciutto. We figured that would be okay to carry around in our bag without being refridgerated. 

Wine & Utensils

In Paris like in the United States there are little convience stores mixed inbetween the adorable shops. We stop at a Franprix. They sell a little bit of everything. We picked out a bottle of wine. We did not have a wine opener with us. I asked the lady at the register if she could open our wine and she did without a problem. I was also able to purchase from her plastic utensils and two plastic cups. The price was equivalent of 10 cents each. I have heard that you can also ask waiters on the sidewalk to open your wine for you. There is not a law about drinking in public in Paris.  

The Ultimate Picnic Locations

Our first day of picnicking was on the banks of the Seine overlooking Notre Dame. We spread out our blanket and sat down with our legs hanging over the edge of the wall. We watched the passing boats. We had multiple conversations with people in our broken French. People were either strolling by or having pinics or cocktails along the banks as well.  

Another evening we had a picnic in front of Notre Dame. We had everything spread out and we were enjoying our wine when a one eyed rat jumped out of the bushes and tried to ambush us. He was too much for us and we had to pack up and relocate. 

Cheers in front of Notre Dame.

Our last night in Paris we had a picnic in Luxemburg Gardens and it was beautiful. We were sitting in chairs looking at the garden and the fountain. We watched a man wrangle his ponies from the pony ride and countless couples on dates. We had been at Versaille the day before and this was 1,000 times more peaceful and it was so pretty. I’m sure we would have stayed in the gardens longer, but at sunset guards came around and rounded everybody up. The garden is closed at night. This was the perfect way to end our trip to Paris. I am so glad that we took the time to do the small things in Paris, because those are the memories I am going to cherish.

We had our last picnic at Jardin du Luxembourg and this was our view.

Paris on a Budget

A trip to Paris does not have to break the bank. With a little research and some careful planning good deals can be found. My daughter, Nicole and I chose to visit Paris in August for our birthdays and we found August is a less expensive time to visit. August is when most of Europe takes a vacation. It is often hot in Paris in August, so Parisians head for the coast. Furthermore, business travel slows way down in August. This means that it is possible to score great deals on hotel rooms.

Choose Your Airline Carefully.

We first booked our airline tickets. I was traveling from Los Angeles to New York first. After a week in New York, Nicole and I both flew to Paris. Nicole’s round trip from JFK to CDG on Virgin Atlantic was $400 round trip. My ticket cost a little more because my flights were considered one way tickets because I flew from JFK to CDG to LAX. I paid $470 on XL Airlines. The old saying, you get what you pay for is very true with XL Airlines. Nicole had a great flight on Virgin with food and drink service and plenty of movies to choose from. I on the other hand had a flight that was delayed for 6 hours and did not depart JFK until 3:00 a.m. Not only did my plane not have movies to watch, it did not even have individual screens in the seats. It had the old drop down from the ceiling screen that was impossible to see. That being said, I will still fly on XL Airlines, because they have great deals. Because we flew different airlines and my flight was delayed we landed in Paris at different times. We each made our way to the hotel using the Metro. It cost 10.30€ and only took about 40 minutes.

The 18th Arrondissement is Magical

We chose to stay in the 18th Arrondissement, Montmarte. Looking online I found a great deal at Hotel de Flore. We stayed for 8 nights and our room was $650.00. The room was small, but comfortable. We had 2 twin beds and our own bathroom. The hotel was extremely clean and every staff member we talked to was nice and welcoming. They offer breakfast downstairs each day for an additional charge, but we choose to grab croissants at the local boulangerie. The hotel offered restaurant recommendations and Paris maps. The hotel is a very short walk to the Lamarck Metro Stop. It is about a 10 minute walk to all of the major sites in Montmarte.

Montmartre, 18th Arr.
There is art on every surface in Paris.
The view from the top of Montmarte.

A Parisian Breakfast

For breakfast each morning we went to the boulangerie down the street. The man working the counter did not speak English and he was very patient with our basic French. We each ordered a croissant and one extra pastry to try. Croissants were 1.25 euro. They were heavenly, flaky, buttery and delicious. We tried the regular, chocolate, and the almond. At the end of our trip after stopping in every morning we were treated like regulars. On our way out the door he always wished us, “Passez une bonne journee.”

Our favorite bakery.

Using The Metro Is The Easiest Way To Navigate Around Paris.

To get around Paris either walked or we took the Metro. We had a 5 day unlimited pass that came with our Paris Pass. The Metro was quick and easy to figure out. Like in most big cities after you figure out your stop, you look to see the end of the line on the train you are taking and then you head in that direction. We were able to change change trains and get around with no problems. The one big to remember about the Metro in Paris is that it does not run 24 hours, so be sure to check the hours if you plan to ride it after 1:00 a.m. Paris is very walkable city. Some of the best parts of our days were just wandering around neighborhoods.

Should You Buy A Paris Pass?

Because it was our first time in Paris and we were staying for over a week, we bought the 7 day Paris Pass. It gave us entrance to the museums that we wanted to visit. One of the huge benefits of the pass is it allows you to skip the lines at most museums. Most being the key word, not at the Palace of Versailles (where we stood in line for two hours.)  The pass also includes a 5 day Metro Pass, a one day hop on hop off bus tour and wine tasting at the Les Caves du Louvre. We rode on the bus and listened to the guided narration for one loop around the city. It was a nice break from all the walking. We made reservations for the wine tasting. We did not have high hopes, but we were wrong. The sommelier was extremely knowledgeable. We learned a lot about French wines, tasted some excellent wines and had a good time.

Picknicking In Paris.

Our favorite activity in Paris was picnicking. We brought a little blanket from home. We would buy a loaf of bread from the boulangerie, fruit from the farmer’s market and cheese or salted butter from the Magasin de fromage (the cheese store.) In Paris, you can buy wine Picknickinhand Champagne from little convenience stores such as Franprix. If you ask them nicely they will even uncork your bottle for you. We were also able to buy cups and knives from them for 10 cents each. With our picnic supplies ready we would scout out a perfect location. One of our favorite locations was on the bank of the Seine look at Notre Dame.

Picnicking on the Seine.
Cheers in front of Notre Dame.

We met a variety of Parisians picnicking and it is a popular summertime activity. Another beautiful location to picnic in was Luxembourg Gardens. The grounds are beautiful and there are plenty of chairs and tables to sit around.

Luxembourg Gardens
Our provisions.
The Fountains at the garden.

Save Money And Visit Paris In August.

Paris is a very expensive city, but if you are on budget there are plenty of ways to enjoy the city and not feel as though you are missing out. We were worried that it would be too hot in August, but the weather was actually very nice. There were a few small stores that we wanted to visit that were closed for their August vacation, but all in all August is a very budget friendly time to visit the City of Lights.

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