Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Musee Day….it’s raining….

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jim fixed us breakfast this morning and I got on the telephone to confirm our reservations for next Tuesday to pick up a car at Charles de Gaule Airport. Yes…it will be waiting for us. We just need to call them when Terry & Linda arrive from the USA and we’ll soon be on our way to the south of France…hard to believe it’s the beginning of our last week in Paris…but we’re excited about starting the second part of our trip with friends.

The weatherman told us it’s going to be 90% rain today; and he was so right. But we prepared well…put our laptops inside of plastic bags…tucked them inside of our backpacks and put a small lock on the zippers. Umbrellas went into an outside pocket and we were out the door by 11 am. Caught the metro to the 3rd arrondissement and started our day. This is the first day that we have carried our laptops with us all day…planning to use them at some point in the day.

We had a list of sites to find; a store called Merci…found it but the large letters on the walls had been replaced…it was very modern. We enjoyed looking into each of the store windows along the street and found some interesting displays. One had a six foot silver fork in the window! Another was a whimsical display of Alice In Wonderland’s dinner party.

Soon it started to rain so we took the umbrellas out and continued on our way. Jim definitely needs to purchase a new one at the street market tomorrow. He has two broken spokes! We saw an interesting gate with a French horn over the doorway…entering we found that we had accidently located the first of our parks on the list…this one was called Jardin Saint-Gilles-Grand-Veneur; a beautiful quiet spot to read in on a nice day. From there we finally found our bearings and soon located another parc by the name of Square Georges-Cain. This one had fragments from the Tuileries Palace that was destroyed during the Revolution. Across the street was the Swedish Cultural Center. We didn’t know at the time but the Square also backs up to a wall of the Musee Carnavalet.

Walking along the major streets during the day we passed multiple restaurants with people eating outside…the cold and rain did not affect them as there are heaters outside 90% of the restaurants. They are spaced every couple of tables for those who want to eat outside; actually the favorite spot for people watching.

We first headed for the Musee Cognacq-Jay on rue Elzevir; another private home turned into a Musee to display their private collection and home. This one also had a special exhibit of beautiful snuff boxes from the Rothschield collections. Jim was thrilled when they charged us the reduced tarrif…reserved for EU senior citizens; it’s rare that this happens.

It was pouring rain drops when we left about 2 pm and headed for the Musee Carnavalet; a museum that houses the history of Paris! We enjoyed over two hours in this marvelous…and free….history lesson.

We walked from there to the Place des Vosges for a stroll through the Victor Hugo Maison. When we finished we noticed a shelf along a wall near the coat room and a girl on her IPhone…yes…wifi was available there! I thought it was as I’d seen a symbol on the building as well as the park on the Internet this morning when I was researching hotspots for Paris’ public wifi in the 3rd & 4th arrondissements. The rain had so far prevented us from sitting in a park to use our computers. We pulled out our laptops, powered up and spent half an hour standing there on our computers. It was 5 pm when we put them into our backpacks and headed back outside.

We walked over to the restaurant where we had made reservations for dinner at 7:30 pm to check it out as it looked very closed earlier in the day. This time we found someone and they said they’d be open for dinner at 7:30 but he could not tell us anything about our reservations??? This was on Jim’s bargain card of two for one with a company called Restopolitan. Before leaving home he’d found it on the Internet and ordered a card. For $20.00 we could have a free meal for each meal we purchased. We have thirty days to use the card as often as we want and there are restaurants all over France involved in the program. We go online to make the reservations. You can select the type of restaurant food and price range; we’ve used the under thirty euros and have now had two delightful dinners for about 40 Euros each including the wine.

Still raining and I was getting kinda cranky…so Jim sprung for Starbucks. It was absolutely packed and we managed to get two seats in the basement. Jim purchased a chocolate and a coffee for us and we again powered up the laptops. Could not get them to connect so worked on photos instead and just before we left I tried again and did manage to get online then. Starbucks, like McDonalds is free in Europe. By this time Jim’s computer was dead and it was time to go back to the restaurant. So nice…the rain had finally stopped.

Our restaurant was called Les Elles on rue Ferdinand Duval, a tiny street off of rue de Rivoli in the Marais. It definitely had a Vietnam look from the décor and only had twenty four seats. We also knew that it was new to the program. Arrived at 7:15 pm and a lovely lady invited us in…the chef in the kitchen said not a problem…”no charge for being early”! She definitely seemed to be in charge of the restaurant. Others began to arrive and soon the restaurant was buzzing with activity! Jim had canard and I had crab…both were delicious! The chef stopped several times as she walked outside regularly for her cigarette break; always stopping at various tables to check on her guests.

We’d chosen to have the plat and dessert instead of the entre and plat that we’d had at the first restaurant last week. So, we each enjoyed a “sweet nothing” presented with flair at the end of our meal. When we asked for the check…it was for the full amount. When questioned, the chef/owner came out and apologized saying that it was the waitress’ first night and she didn’t know about the program we were using. As we prepared to leave the owner again came over and gave us each a hug and French kiss on each cheek, making sure we were pleased with our dining experience in her restaurant. Jim asked if she was French, and she chuckled as she said “yes…good morning Vietnam!” What a delightful experience. I’ve read that in France you are not the customer…you are their guest and should expect to be treated as one.

Both of our dining experiences have been wonderful and the owners took time to introduce themselves to us. If we didn’t have the apartment we’d probably use our card more but it’s so nice to also purchase our groceries and eat at home most evenings.

We walked in the crisp cool air towards the Pont Marie Metro station; enjoying a view of the jarden of the Hotel Sens…the library that we visited last week in one of the few medieval houses that have survived in Paris. By the time we arrived home it was 10:30 and time to call it a day!

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