I spent the weekend in Paris to take advantage of the May 1st weekend. Paris does have that “je ne sais quoi”. At first glance it is dirty, noisy and crowded. Walking around the city, you start to see its beauty. It is a mix of the good and the bad. My experiences over the weekend included both sides of that coin. Here a just a few.
After successfully checking in, the hotel re-allocated my room and I had unexpected visitors at 00:30 to the shock of both parties. In the morning I went out for breakfast and returned to find that my room key did not work. It took an hour to fix the problem. On a positive note I got to keep the room for a 2nd night on a weekend when rooms were at a premium in Paris.
The new WiFi system that had been installed was not working when I checked in on Thursday. The new system meant that the card I purchased for the old pay-for-use system could no longer be used. I was assured that the technician would have the WiFi fixed the next morning – ah I have heard this line before. Being a holiday weekend (although Friday was a “work day”) in Paris, it was still not working when I checked out on Saturday morning. The solution - go to the nearby McDo’s and use their free WiFi service, which thankfully did work.
I went to the Mac boutique in the FNAC store, and got passed around like a hot potato and never did get an answer to my question.
I found a clothing store that carried my size and had pleasant service from a wonderfully helpful sales lady.
I went to the local marché – this is something I really miss about Paris. Vendors who know their produce/products and are happy to explain them to you. Beautiful displays of food that you actually want to buy.
You can probably find anything you want to buy in Paris if you know where to look. It is a city full of shops with lovely window displays.
I ate breakfast and lunch at a new restaurant, La Place, on Place Cambronne. Nice decor, good food and nice clean toilets too.
Dined with a friend at one of the Greek restaurants near Place St. Michel. As for the quality of the food - let’s just say I won’t be back there again.
By contrast, I dined with other friends at a Chilean restaurant. The food and ambiance were impeccable. I will go back and hopefully soon.
Walking around town
Walk around Paris without looking down at your peril. There are many obstacles on the sidewalks to step in or walk into. Seeing dogs do their business on the street does take away from the enjoyment of the scenery. They are many beautiful buildings in Paris and it is worth stopping to look up. No two buildings are the same.
Clean toilets are a RARITY. Living in Paris, one develops a list of where the good toilets are located and where the 3rd world ones are (for purposes of avoidance) in the various arrondissements. What is the point of going somewhere to have a lovely dinner then be totally disgusted with the toilets? As a woman, I cannot do as men do, an all too common sight, I might add, so this is important.
Noisy and crowded or vibrant - I guess it is a matter of your mood. One cannot look to carefully at Paris or it is too easy to see the faults. Paris is a city for walking as there is so much to see. The metro covers most areas so that you can get back home or to your hotel when you are all walked or shopped out for the day.
This is a version of the salad dressing that is served on many salads in Paris and one I make often.
Classic French Vinaigrette
1 small clove garlic, minced
60 mL (1/4 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice*
1/2 shallot, minced
2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
125 mL (1/2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake. Taste and adjust ingredients. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate.
* red or white wine vinegar can be used in place of lemon juice