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Posts from the ‘France’ category

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle Two, Instead of Twinkletoes

Every child at the Montmartre Christmas Market wanted little pieces of pottery from this man! Even me! Priceless!

The Pottery Man, Montmarte, Paris Christmas Market

The Pottery Man, Montmartre, Paris Christmas Market

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle

Twinkle in Paris. Could it be any better than this? Enjoy the Weekly Photo Challenge!

Twinkle, Twinkle, Paris at Christmas

Twinkle, Twinkle, Paris at Christmas

A Photo a Week Challenge: White

This is my entry for white. Behind the beautiful clock at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France. Enjoy! For more entries look here!

Behind the Clock, D'Orsay Museum, Paris, France

Behind the Clock, Musée d’Orsay , Paris, France

Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France

Behind the Clock, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France


Photography 101: Day 14, Swarm

Todays assignment. Swarm: To fly off together in a group, to move in great numbers. I hate swarming! I hate big groups and trying to wedge myself into the melee to get a picture! The road I was traveling on was blocked off. What? What is going on? I might as well get out and take a look see. I wiggled my way into the crowd along the street. “What are we waiting for?” I asked the policeman. “The Tour de France is coming through town,” he replied.

OMG! Where is my camera?  Swoosh, swoosh, and they’re here and gone just like that! Two seconds and gone! The Ultimate Swarm! Enjoy!

Tour de France

Tour de France

Photography 101: Day 10, Mystery

This picture is a mystery to me! It was taken at Christmas on the streets of Paris. That tree was not white! However, it must have had some kind of lighting on it. My first reaction, when I saw the picture, was to delete it, but the more I looked at it the more I liked it! It was taken on my cellphone, because it was pouring and I didn’t want to take out my camera. Enjoy!

Mystery on the Streets of Paris

Mystery on the Streets of Paris

One Word Photo Challenge: Lavender

There was the most incredible buzz of bees in this lavender! Enjoying the Challenge!

The Lavender of Suzette, France

The Lavender of Suzette, France

How to Make Friends When Traveling

Christmas Lights are Everywhere

Christmas Lights are Everywhere

Reflecting on our trip to Paris, I must tell you it was one of our best vacations, although it was not our first time there.  I think there are several explanations why we had such an enjoyable time. Because it wasn’t our first visit, we could focus on things that we had missed on previous stays. We were, for the most part, out of the tourist mode and more into the relaxing/really get to know you mode. We rented an apartment, we shopped locally in our neighborhood and ate most of our meals in restaurants in the neighborhood too. There were not many Americans, if any, to be found in the places we liked best. The French people were most polite, helpful and actually acted like they enjoyed us as much as we were enjoying them. This was especially noticeable in the restaurants. The key to starting off on the right foot, for me, is trying to fit in. I start with the language.  Knowing some words in their language can go a long way. Trying to carry on a conversation in their language takes you even further. Learning words to be polite, like please, thank you, and your welcome should be the bare bone basics in any language.  Where is, also comes in very helpful along with the word for bathroom. Ha! Another good reminder: things are not going to be the same way as I am accustomed to in my home, in a different country.  Isn’t that the reason I travel? If my new surroundings were not going to be different, I might as well stay at home.  So be prepared for different.  Look for new ways of doing things.  Try new foods. Go with the flow, but be prepared. I study every day on Duolingo, sometimes for as little as an hour sometimes more.  It is a free App and internet sight, that is fun, and can be studied with as little or as much time as you want to take for it. I am on my 110th day studying French and before that I studied Italian on Duolingo, after I came back from Italy where I took a full immersion language course at Il Sasso. I didn’t want to lose my skills. Through Duolingo I have met friends, asked a bazillion questions to French speakers and others, learned something about their culture and translated articles. It has been so valuable to me. So to me this was a stepping stone that made my time more enjoyable on my vacation. I think it also made a huge difference to the people I interacted with. With that said, here are my four favorite eating spots in Paris during our stay this time. Practice those language skills!

Camille, right around the corner from our apartment in Paris, was the closest and had the most delicious traditional french food and pastries. It was packed with locals at all hours. I would highly recommend it. Like any great Parisian food spot the tables were small, very close together and you had to move the table or climb over other guests to get to the table.  A great conversation starter!

Les Philosophes, was the restaurant wine bar, coveted by locals and especially young people. Located on a very busy walking lane, the people watching was excellent.  Sitting outside under the big umbrella heaters, enjoying a wine and salad for hours, made me feel like I was part of the neighborhood. Everyone talked with everyone! We spent one enjoyable evening in conversation with a couple from Hong Kong.

Les Philosophes

Les Philosophes

Sorza Restaurant and Bar, on Saint Louis-en-L‘ile, was one of the most romantic and charming spots with a fabulous selection of food. We had the best pasta dishes here, but what set it apart from the other restaurants was the sorbet! The best I have ever eaten!  The lime was so fresh and fruity with bits of lime peel. Other flavors were raved about too.  I crave that sorbet now that I am at home!

King Falafel Palace in the Jewish Quarter, is an Israeli restaurant famous for their falafels.  There were long long long lines daily just to get a carry out. I had never tasted a falafel and had never even heard of one, but I couldn’t wait to try it. One evening we got into the tiny tiny restaurant and were seated under the Israeli flag draped on the wall. I had the biggest pita sandwich ever! I am not sure what the contents were, but it was meat and sausages with fresh vegetables and some kind of sauce, all plumped and over flowing in that pita. It was delicious and well worth the wait. Also I had the best pomme frites in all of Paris I am sure! I sat and watched a server/helper slice pitas, hundreds of pitas. Each individual pita  was slit open with a box cutter and stacked to be prepared for the falafels. That was his only job and he had a hard time keeping up!

The Falafel

The Falafel

Finally, as one of my blogger friends pointed out,, it is also good to know hand gestures ( a form of communication) and what they might mean in another country.  I think you will find this video most helpful when planning to visit Italy. Something to be aware of before you make that hand sign!

For more interest see:
Duolingo, Language Studies,
Il Sasso, Premier Italian Language School, Montepulciano, Italy.
Camille, 24 Rue de Francs-Bourgeois, Paris, France.  See TripAdvisor
Les Philosophes, 28 rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, France.  See TripAdvisor
Sorza Restaurant and Bar, 51 Rue Saint Louis-en-L’ile, Paris, France,
King Falafel Palace, Specialités Israéliennes, 26 Rue des Rosiers, Paris, France, See TripAdvisor.

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Père LaChaise Cemetery

Père LaChaise Cemetery

I have to rest my knee today after yesterday’s shopping spree. (See previous posts) When I mentioned to the perfumer that I wanted to go to Père LaChaise Cemetery, he warned me it was not very level and down right steep in some areas. So today Baby Bear and Papa Bear are off to see one of the famous cemeteries of the world without me!

The cemetery is named after Father Francois de la Chaise, (1624-1709) the confessor to Louis XIV, who lived in the Jesuit house that was on the property at one time.  The sight opened as a cemetery on May 21, 1804 with the burial of a five year old child. That first year only thirteen people were buried here because it was felt the cemetery was too far from Paris. Also, Catholics would not be buried here because the Catholic Church had not blessed it. Later in 1804, with great fanfare, the decision was made to transfer the remains of Jean de La Fontaine (poet) and Molière (actor/writer), seen as rock stars in their day, to the cemetery.  Again in 1817, the purported remains of Abélard (philosopher) and Héloise d’Argenteuil (his lover) were also transferred with their monument’s canopy made from fragments of an abbey. This strategy led to the desired results: people were determined to be buried among the famous citizens.  The famous and wealthy people buried here would try to out do each other, even in death, with beautiful burial chambers, most the size of a phone booth, but some very extravagant.  Père Lachaise was expanded five times and today over one million bodies are buried here in 110 acres. Many, many more are in the columbarium, which holds the remains of those who have requested cremation.

Today, strict rules apply to be buried in the cemetery.  To be buried here one must have died in Paris or lived there. Also there are 50, 30 and 10 year leases on the burial sites. After the lease is up the remains are removed and placed in Aux Morts, (to the Dead) an ossuary, similar to the famous catacomb sights.  When the ossuary is full, the bones are cremated and then returned to the sight. I wanted to see the graves of Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, and Oscar Wilde. A roster of all the famous people buried here can be found on the internet. I would suggest taking a map of the cemetery with you or download the Maplet of Père Lachaise Cemetery (Maplets App) on your IPhone as we had. After all there are 110 acres to explore and Papa Bear acknowledged it is very steep and uneven with forest like ledges in some areas. Also note, that at 4pm in the winter, bell ringers ringing old fashioned school bells, walk the cemetery to announce that the cemetery closes at 5pm. You do not want to be locked in the cemetery left to scale a 20 foot gate!  I hope you enjoy the video!

The Perfume Collector

The Streets of Marais

The Streets of the  Marais

A Santa Along the Way

A Santa Along the Way

In my pre-travel readings I read a fabulous book titled, The Perfume Collector, by Kathleen Tessaro. I could not put it down. I was mesmerized. It would set the mood for the Paris vacation.

In Kathleen’s words about the book:
An inheritance from a mysterious stranger…….
An abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank of Paris……….
And three exquisite perfumes that hold a memory…….and a scent.

It put me on a quest for perfume in Paris!

After the events of the past days I am determined to go shopping today. I have been ogling shop windows filled with beautiful bling and nuggets and watched women spray perfume on what looks like white plant garden markers, long enough.  I have stopped at every little stand in front of the perfume shops and followed suit.  The perfume dealers are very smart.  These little stands have two or three perfume bottles on them and the white markers.  I spray the marker and “oh” and “ah” over the scents. Off I would go with the markers in my inside coat pocket and whenever I reached into my pocket what a delight of delicious fragrances I received!

One day, before Christmas, I ventured into a tiny perfume shop. There was one French woman there discussing a perfume with the owner.  She went on and on……..and on….the gentleman giving her full attention. Now, here is where I want to add my view of French shopping, well most European shopping for that matter. No one is ever in a hurry.  The customer may take hours looking, selecting, trying, and asking questions. More samples are brought, more questions answered.  Get the picture?  Shopping is an art form here. One customer at a time. The customer is special. The clerk sees to that.  My first observance of this was seen in the movie, Love Actually. In one scene, a man is looking at jewelry and the elegant man behind the counter enlightens him on the art of shopping. I loved it! This is a Christmas movie, my favorite Christmas movie, but the message of the movie holds true, so I like to watch it throughout the year. Put it on your movie list, you will not be disappointed! The salespeople in Paris are exactly like the behind the counter clerk in this movie. Here in Paris, I was fascinated just watching the scene play out before me and could not wait for it to be my turn! On this pre-Christmas day we couldn’t wait, but I vowed to be back.

The Perfume Man

The Perfume Man

Atelier Cologne

Atelier Cologne

Today I hobble to the perfume shop, that in my mind is the greatest perfume shop ever! It is tiny with bricked walls and wooden tables with a selected few perfume bottles.  Papa Bear and I are the only customers here today! The gentleman addresses me. I tell him I have been here before, when he was busy with another customer. He shows me all the perfumes.  I sniff, I doodle. I think. I sniff some more. I ask about the fragrances. We carry on a conversation for over an hour and I make my selections.  Oh, but we are not through!  Now he will make me leather covers with any initials or wording I like, to be placed on the smaller bottles I have selected. The leather covers come with the perfume, he explains.

One of the Finished Perfume Cases

One of the Finished Perfume Cases

My Perfume Collection

My Perfume Collection

I choose from the many leather color options.  More time.  We take a seat before his work desk.  A large machine (made in the USA, he tells me) is prepared to take a silver leafing paper that will heat up, leaving the initials I have selected pressed into the leather. The handle is lowered and the foil heats up, transferring silver initials onto the leather case. This takes several minutes, since the heat must reach a certain temperature and the foil pressed evenly. When the process is complete, he takes the leather case from the machine and rubs and buffs and rubs and buffs the leather some more.  He puts on his glasses to inspect the results.  He doesn’t like the look of the initials so he throws it away! He starts over on another piece of leather of my choosing.  Again, it does not meet his inspection.  Third try on one bottle and it is perfect! We have more bottles to go!  At last we have completed the sale of perfume and after individually tissue wrapping each one and putting each one in an individual box, he places the lot in an elegant looking carrying bag, and thanks me. Next he reaches into a drawer and selects a handful of  french postcards, each with a different perfume scent artfully tied to them with brown cording  and places THEM in my elegant bag.  YES, this is shopping in Paris! Let’s move on to the next shop!  Before the day is over I have almost as many free gifts, as the gifts I bought!  Not just trinkets either. In one shop I got a small bound diary/calendar that also explained the history of charms. I loved it! As Kathleen said, “What memories! What scents!”

Also Baby Bear shared her tip from her perfumer.  He suggested spraying or dabbing your favorite perfume on the BACK OF YOUR NECK, for the most lasting results that is pleasant for you (you can smell it) as well as those around you. It really works!  At the end of the day I continued to smell a whisper of the fragrance on my pillow!

PS: The day would not be complete without a stop for shopping fuel.

Must Stop for Shopping Fuel!

Must Stop for Shopping Fuel!

Shopping Fuel

Shopping Fuel

It's Night Time Already!

It’s Night Time Already!

It’s getting dark.  Back to the apartment!  I am really hobbled now!

The Perfume shop was: Atelier Cologne, Nenesse, rue de Poitou, Paris, France

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