01-01-18 to 01-08-18 The Last Days in Paris

After the New Year, we relaxed and just enjoyed being together. On Tuesday, the 2nd, Claudia left to return to Morro Bay and we continued to enjoy the apartment. While there are LOTS of things left to do in Paris, we took in only a few more sites during our last week.

Pantheon – rather large building for sure.

One morning, we decided to take in The Pantheon.

Here we are getting ready to go inside the Pantheon.

This is located in the Latin Quarter and was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve (patron saint of Paris) but later became a tribute to the secular as well as religious leaders of Paris after the Revolution.

Inside the Pantheon looking at one of the side areas.
A view of the center part of the Pantheon.
Voltaire’s crypt and statue
La Convention Nationale Memorial inside the Pantheon.

In the Crypt are the remains of Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo,  Marie Curie, Louis Braille and a number of other significant people. It is a very large marble building and COLD inside. No heat to the place (big surprise) and it retained the cold long after it started to warm up outside. A lot of interesting French history depicted in murals on the walls and in the various displays throughout the building. French schoolchildren encounter these murals in their history books.


Arènes de Lutèce – A roman amphitheater which originally held 15,000 spectators.






After the Pantheon, we headed out to visit the Arènes de Lutèce. This is the most important ruin from the Gallo-Roman era in Paris. Lying in what is now the Latin Quarter, this amphitheater originally could seat 15,000 people and was used to present gladiatorial combats. Constructed in the 1st century AD, much of the original structure has been destroyed with the exception of some of the terraces, cubbyholes situated beneath the lower terraces and some other structures remain.


After visiting the Pantheon and other sites we made our way to a nice fondue spot for lunch.

















For lunch Ryan took us to a Fondue spot not far away where we enjoyed a lovely lunch. I don’t recall when I have had fondue and it was a neat way to enjoy some mushrooms with cheese and a trio of meats (chicken, beef and duck we cooked in the boiling oil).

Lunch on a wet afternoon after visiting where Chris will be going to school.
Chris in front of his school.
I am certain there was a group just like this on this corner when we visited 10 years ago! Nice tunes.
I could live in the apartments above this row of shops!
A very inviting shop for sure.
Cheese – just a small portion of what they had available.
There were so many to choose from it was difficult to decided what to pick up!
There were samples, thankfully, so you could get some idea of what was available.



















During last couple of days, we ventured out to the cheese shop of Laurent Dubois – considered to be one of the best chesemongers in Paris. He holds the highest designation for a cheesemonger and affineur in France. The shop had a strong selection of aged cheeses and small producers from around the country. Below the shop, in caves, he ages a few cheeses well beyond what others might but seems to have the ability to know when to release them. We picked up a few nice selections including a Mont D’ Or. This is only produced during the months between October and February and I have learned to bake it with garlic and wine ; delicious on a fresh baguette. When I said I was taking it with me on my flight the next day the vacuum sealed it! Wish I had done that with several other cheeses to bring back.


Owner, Madame Saadia Abhari was very helpful – she was closing early to visit with friends but opened just for us.
Ryan and Janeen are surrounded by various music boxes and toys.
Janeen checking out some of the interesting items.
























We also visited the music box store (again) – Avanti la Musica is a small shop jammed to the rafters and beyond with music boxes, interesting toys and fine gifts.

On our last evening we stopped at Berthillon for some hot chocolate and ice cream. This is a MUST stop for anyone coming to Paris.









Champagne prior to take off on our flight back to the US was a delight.

On Monday we four trekked out to Charles de Gaulle airports and Janeen and I boarded our flight back to the US of A .

We landed safely in Virginia and are now settled in with our son, Jason, daughter-in-law, Terri and grand daughter for a while. Not sure when the next post will happen so check back every so often to find out as we have a LOT more travelling to do before we settle down.

12-31-17 New Year’s Eve

The decision on what to do for New Years Eve was actually quite difficult and easy at the same time. Paris – lots of different places we could have gone, parities, fancy dining, and restaurants with fantastic views abound. However, we decided to return to Le Réminet and booked a table for the 7:30. This place, which we have already been to on this trip and reported earlier, is only a few steps from Norte-Dame and Ile Saint Louis.   This place is a semi-gastromic bistro with chic seating serving gourmet meals in a candlelit-vaulted room.

Just a few steps away from the restaurant is a cute music box store we stopped into prior to going into the restaurant. Avanti la Musica was filled with different music boxes and beautiful toys. Claudia picked out a lovely little gift for herself and we all enjoyed the place. 

Chris and Claudia in a little shop by the Restaurant that had LOTS of music boxes and interesting toys.

Music boxes everywhere.
The shop was filled with interesting items for sure.



Now for the main event of the evening.

Getting ready to go in for dinner

Le Réminet is really a small place with maybe 30 seats and we had the table of honor (being the biggest party) at the round table in the corner of the place. Over the course of the next FIVE HOURS we were served a delightful dinner of maybe 8 courses. I did get a little carried away and ordered four bottles of wines during the evening.

Soy marinated sashimi tuna coated in sesame seeds on a bed of red cabbage
Fine brioche tart with foie gras, crunchy vegetables with lemon caviar and creamy Jerusalem artichokes
Ravioli of scallops with porcini mushrooms, eaten with hazelnut oil, seafood toast in marinade
Smoked mustard line caught sea bass, mashed siphon mashed potatoes, ripe seawater oysters
Venison fillet lacquered with maple syrup and truffle, cranberry condiments, pumpkin chips and forgotten vegetables
Our group on New Years Eve










The selection of cheeses available was impressive.
Chris seemed to be very happy.
Dessert was an assortment of New Year’s delicacies
Here we are with the Chef, Eric Ponchet

At midnight we all rang in the New Year with Bonne Année and had a moment with the Chef to thank him for a lovely evening.


12-28-17 Paris Opera House and Lunch at Galeries Lafayette

December 28th – three days after Christmas and 3 days before the New Year starts and we found ourselves taking a tour of the Paris Opera House.

Outside and main entrance of the Paris Opera House

The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It’s called Palais Garnier in recognition of the opulence created by the architect, Charles Garnier. Historically known as the Opéra de Paris or simply the Opéra it is the primary home of the Paris Opera and it’s associated ballet until the Opera moved into a new building Opéra Bastille in 1989. The Palais Garnier has been called one of the most famous opera houses in the world and is the setting for the novel The Phantom of the Opera and the subsequent plan by the same name.

This is the Grand Staircase into the Opera House – I cheated and downloaded this picture.

The interior of the building is filled with gold leaf, statues, decorative ceilings, huge entrance stairs and lots of other stuff that will impress the visitor. Our audio guide tour was well worth the cost and very informative.




Janeen on the stairs
Ryan, Chris and Claudia at one of the overlook areas of the grand stair case
David and Janeen
Lovely statue greeting you as you come into the place.















The ceilings and walls were amazing. This is where the folks came to be “seen” during the intermission.
Just amazing beauty throughout the place.
Opera seating and boxes
Box 5 of the Opera House – think Phantom of the Opera…

We have been in several opera houses during our various adventures (Budapest, Venice and Prague over the last few years) and this is one of the most impressive ones we have seen.

After our tour it was time for lunch and we went to the Dome at the Galeries Lafayette.

Christmas inside Galeries Lafayette
The display of Christmas was really amazing. There was also a “show” every so often.







Of course, while we were there, we did stop and look at the decorations on the inside of the building and particularly the fancy ceiling. Always an treat to visit and take a gander at beautiful art.

Here we are waiting (Ryan on the right side) for our table inside the Dome.

The Dome Restaurant is exactly that – plastic domes on the roof of the building. While there we of course had to take several pictures of the buildings around us. Lunch was actually quite good – given there really isn’t a kitchen on the roof and the hot stuff came from down stairs – a lovely way to spend the afternoon as the rain passed by.


Again, pictures had to be taken – Janeen and Claudia share a moment.
Everyone had to have a picture with the Tower.
On the roof at Galeries Lafayette
With the Opera House in the background, Janeen and Claudia
Nice lunch inside the Dome

After lunch we headed back to the apartment to rest up for the next adventure.

12-26-17 Sainte Chapelle, L’Epi Dupin and the Eiffel Tower

Exterior of Sainte Chapelle surrounded by the original royal palace and now a complex of government buildings.

We have been in a lot of churches over the course of our travels but nothing equals Sainte Chapelle with its stain glass displays of Biblical stories. Built at the direction of King Louis IX over the course of seven years, it was and completed then consecrated on April 26, 1248. Built to hold the King’s collection of holy relics from the Crusades, it has become a must see destination for anyone visiting Paris. The Crown of Thorns, however, is now at Notre-Dame.

Located not far from the Cathedral of Notre-Dame it was originally part of the King’s Palace, it was originally intended to house the relics acquired by King Louis IX he acquired including fragments of the True Cross, the Holy Lance and the Crown of Thorns. The Church is divided into two levels –

The ceiling of the lower level of Sainte Chapelle.

a lower level was a place of worship for the Palace Staff and others while the

Statue of Louis IX – he commissioned the building of Sainte Chapelle
The main alter of Sainte Chapelle on the second floor of the building.

















upper level that is truly monumental and sumptuously decorated with stain glass was for the King and Regent Queen. Around the upper level are among the finest of their type in the world, are the great stained glass windows.

The Rose Window
The upper level of Sainte Chapelle
A close up of one of the windows.
Another view of the upper level






















When you first walk in, on the lower level, you see the structure of the building, some stain glass above the lower walls and a statue of Saint Louis. Along one side are souvenir stands and some commentary but nothing really dramatic. However, after navigating the spiral stairs (that were originally for the servants as the King entered at the upper level) you get to the main event.   Fifteen huge mid-13th century windows fill the nave and apse while a large rose window with flamboyant tracery dominates the western wall. There are 1,113 stained glass windows! Much of the chapel, as it appears today, is a re-creation, although nearly two-thirds of the windows are authentic.

Janeen and Claudia with the Royal entrance behind them.
One of the saints along the walls
Saint Stephen

The Audio guide takes you though most of the windows, the sculpture and other features of the room. We spent the better part of a couple of hours going over the place – listening to the audio guide, reading the information and generally taking it all in. Each stain glass widow tells a story – most from the bible but a couple about King Louis and his life. All in all it is really an impressive place – almost overwhelming with the beauty.


After we finished up with Saint-Chapelle we went next door to the Conciergerie.



The lower level of the Conciergerie – wide open spaces
Stairs going to the upper level
Ryan and Chris
The Chapel near the cell were Marie Antoinette was held.
Conciergerie courtyard
























Formally part of the palace it became a prison,  a revolutionary court and Marie Antoinette’s prison until her trial and execution.   The upper floors of the building now house various courtrooms and government offices while the basement has representative rooms showing the cells that were used and information about the revolution and the Reign of Terror.

The front of L’Epi Dupin along the street.

After finishing up here we headed out for lunch across the Seine river at L’Epi Dupin. This was a recommendation from a friend in LA, Randy, and it was not a disappointment at all.

Our group with chef François Paseau

Ryan acquired the chef’s cookbook. We chose to have the tasting menu and three bottles of wine!


Our tasting lunch

After enjoying our lunch, we took the bus to the Eiffel Tower arriving early evening (6ish or so).

Claudia at tower
Here we are the evening at the Tower.
Ryan, Claudia and Chris in front of a sculpture of the Tower.
Janeen at the tower
Claudia and Ryan at 2nd observation deck
Ryan, Claudia and Chris with the tower above from the observation deck.

Janeen and I headed back to the apartment while Ryan, Chris and Claudia waited in line for tickets to go up the tower to the second level of observation.


12-25-17 Christmas Curry and a night tour of Lights

Our little Christmas Tree in our apartment all decorated and lovely.

Christmas in Paris – yes, we have been able to stay long enough that it is actually Christmas in Paris.  Gift giving was limited as you might imagine – what with our flying back to the US in a couple of weeks and Ryan and Chris not in their final apartment yet it didn’t make sense to buy a lot of stuff now.

Chris and Ryan have made Rice and Curry for our Christmas dinner.





And it wouldn’t be really Christmas with out Rice and Curry as the main meal of the day.  So, Ryan and Chris have put together a lovely lunch with all the various side dishes and tasty things to go with it for our late lunch.

Getting ready to eat on Christmas Day

After relaxing and getting everything cleaned up we headed out for an evening bus tour of Christmas Lights.   There are lots of lights and the double deck bus with an open top was the way to go.  An hour and a half trip around some of the neighborhoods and shopping areas was a nice way to take in the sites.

Champs Elysees Christmas lights along the road
Trees along the way all lite up!
Lights on the front of the hotel
Lights across the street
All the trees light up nicely.
Lights along the way
Ferris Wheel and park along the river.
Haussmann strings lights across the street.
The Galeries Lafayette goes all out with decorations!


The Tower from across the river.

Of course we went by this place a couple of times.

Can you have to many pictures of this thing?
Here is the Tower as we went across the river on our tour bus.















































Of course we went by this place a couple of times.

Can you have to many pictures of this thing?
Here is the Tower as we went across the river on our tour bus.

12-22-17 Shopping for food, Angelina’s for Brunch and a Christmas Market

Our friend, Claudia from Morro Bay has joined us for a couple of weeks at the apartment.  When we visited with her in late June I had invited her to join us for Christmas and New Years.

Claudia having a glass of champagne

Well she did and what a treat it is for all of us to have her here.  During her first full day her, after having dinner with us when she arrived, we all boarded the metro and went to the market.  Just like the last time we went it is an experience to walk up and down the rows of stalls and see all the wonderful foods available – all fresh.

Claudia and Chris on metro
Lobster, salmon and other wonderful fish available.
Oysters – lots and lots of oysters.
Fresh meats at the Market
Fruits from all over! Interesting stuff.
Canned and jars of Foie Gras
This is a producer – they raise and process the foie grase.
I was surprised at the amount of fresh flowers around the market.
Ryan picking up some meat for our Christmas dinner.
Fresh vegetables – lots of them.
Chris and Ryan with our shopping cart at the market
David at the market























The following day, Claudia, Ryan and Chris took a couch to the Beaches of Normandy and Janeen and I stayed home and relaxed.  The following day we were off again to have brunch at Angelina’s.

Angelina’s storefront on the shop side of the restaurant.
Not chocolate at Angelina’s is wonderful.
Having brunch at Angelina’s






































Angelina is a famous tea house and is known primarily for its almost pudding-like hot chocolate and for its Mont Blanc dessert. We sampled all of that along with bunch prior to heading out to the Christmas Market

The Christmas market was a huge affair at the end of one of the metro lines.  There must have been several hundred different stalls with all kinds of stuff for sale.  Some of it interesting others not so much.

Claudia with Santa at the Christmas Market
This place takes old LP’s and makes cut outs in them. Very artsy.
Roasted Chestnuts at the Market
Lovely olive wood kitchen stuff – janeen used to work for a place that imported this to the US. We still have some in our kitchen.
I liked this bison head at this food provider.
Lots of sausages – bowls of them and all different
Just one of MANY food vendors at the Market.
Lots of stalls at the Christmas Market









There are roasted chestnuts everywhere including on shopping cart grills along the street.  This was a much more formal spot.












There were lots of places selling food items – sausages in all sizes and types were available here.




Of course, there were places to eat and drink.  Mulled wine seemed to be a favorite given the 45 degrees.






Chris (wearing a sweater my mother made for me!) and Ryan


Over the last several days we have ventured out to various parts of Paris – looked upon wonderful sites and had some good times.  Lots more to come over the next couple of weeks!





12-15-17 A Few days in Paris

The last few days have been filled with adventure – even if we didn’t do anything major. We went to a small Christmas market, the Louvre for a few hours, bought some macaroons at Ladurée, walked by the Arc de Triomphe and generally had a fantastic time. So I have put up some pictures for your general enjoyment.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart
The four of us at Basilica of the Sacred Heart
Christopher, Janeen, David and Ryan at Arc de Triomphe
Four of us at the overlook at Sacred Heart
Here we are at the Arc.
Chris hugging the bear.
Ceiling glass of the Pyramid
Fancy Ceiling
Fancy ceiling at the Loure
Crowns at the Lourve
Four of us below the The Louvre Pyramid
Part of the sculpture gardens
Mona Lisa – huge crowd in front of her.
Ryan and Mona Lisa
I don’t remember what this was called…sorry.
Cute statue
The Winged Victory of Samothrace, that was created about the 2nd century BC. Since 1884, it has been prominently displayed at the Louvre and is one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world.
The Winged Victory of Samothrace – Janeen taking a rest in the background.

Christmas Market
Christmas Market
Christmas Market more things
Christmas Market jewelery
Christmas Market hats
Janeen at the small Christmas Market


12-14-17 Restaurant Arpège

Our deliberate decision to try a restaurant on the Michelin three star listing was while we visited in San Sebastian Spain at Arzak. We went to this restaurant after speaking to friends who had either been to the restaurant or heard people who had been there. Arzak received its third Michelin star in 1989 and has maintained them all since that time. The lunch we had was extremely memorable and has continued to be a fond memory of our trip to Spain. Sometime after going to Arzak I learned about another listing of the 50 Best Restaurants in the world and found Arzak located at number 30.

Since that time we have visited a number of great restaurants ,two of which were on this listing – Le Caladre #29 in Rubano, Italy and The Ledbury #27 in London. Now we are in Paris where great restaurants are plentiful and there are four of the 50 best restaurants and we decided to try Arpège – listed as number #12 (lowest number on the list in Paris) for a lunch.

The entrance is unremarkable but inviting.

Arpège received its third Michelin star in 1996 and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016.

Janeen with Chef Alain









Owner – Chef Alain Passard removed red meat from his menu in 2001 and the following year he bought a biodynamic farm in Sarthe and since then has acquired two more farms in Eure and Manche. Produce from one of Passard’s three gardens is delivered to Arpège on a daily basis arriving just in time for lunch service. These vegetables are famously known to “never see the inside of a refrigerator”.

Cover of the menu
Terre & Mer – this was the tasting menu David followed
L ‘Automne des jardins – one of the three options in the menu
Grands crus du potager – another of the menu options


















There were four menu options – a ‘surprise’ vegetarian menu, an a la carte menu and a tasting menu. We selected one ‘surprise’ and one tasting menu for our adventure down this road.

The interior of the restaurant is not very large – only seating for maybe 30.
Dining room

Wine was either by the glass or bottle and we choose to start with a glass of Champagne, added a bottle of Sancerre and a Domaine Saint Nicolas from the Loire.

Amuse bousch – Home made potato chips with light tastes on top.

Starting with the Amuse-bouche and ending with 3 desserts, the meal lasted the better part of 4 hours! Never rushed, always-attentive service and wonderful tastes were presented for our pleasure. While we tried to keep some idea of what we were having it was impossible to keep track! There was at least 12 courses and we didn’t have the same menu so there where LOTs of different things to sample. Yes, I did get a menu for review at home but even with that it is difficult to bring the pictures together with the descriptions. Pictures, below, are “maybe” in the order presented to us but it’s really hard to decide!

Butternut soup
Beetroot and beets
A velvety autumn soufflé with onions
Hot Cold Egg in herb syrup
Hot Cold Egg in herb syrup spoon full!
Scallops in an orange infusion
Scallops Thinly sliced autumn radish 1
Ravioli multi colored patato with a mushroom broth
Celery cream with Cevennes mushrooms topped with parmesan
Vegetable tartar and horse radish with full earth beets
Jerusalem artichoke with a large spoon of caviar with crystal champagne
Lobster with a honey vail
Multi color couscous with autumn with marked vegetables
Oak Smoked potatoes with onion tart
Janeen’s Monk fish with baby brussel sprouts, potatoes and foam
David’s Monk fish with baby brussel sprouts, potatoes and foam
Dessert duck breast with hazelnut and dark Carmel drizzle
Louise Passard roast Chicken
Onion and gratian
First sweet dessert course
Dessert hazel nut ice cream with lemon verbena sauce
Dessert crispy phyllo with many layers
Dessert crispy chocolate phyllo with many layers 1


Would I go back to this restaurant? Without a hesitation! However, there are so many other great restaurants to try all over the world so my goal is to continue to visit those places on the listing. Next up are those five restaurants listed in the USA!

12-13-17 Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris! Both Ryan and Chris had worked for Disney at the Disneyland Resort for the past 13 years or so, they had been given several park hopper passes that could be used in Paris. They were so generous to save a couple for us so on a bright sunny Tuesday; we headed out for a day of Disney Magic.

On the Metro heading to the Park

With our Metro passes, we were able to take metro and train all the way to the Park. The final stop of the train is called Marne-la-Vallèe Chessy (cheesy), which seems very appropriate according to James Bell. The metro and train ride was about an hour and we made it without any problems. The weather was very cooperative no rain, but fluffy clouds in blue skies.

Security Check point

First stop, Main Street and blue Christmas trees! Of course, sapphire is the color of the Disney 25th anniversary as well.

Here we are in front of the Disneyland Hotel – which happens to be the entrance to the Park




Main Street – USA?







Blue Christmas Trees on Main Street

We were going to ride down main street but decided to walk – which was nice. While it is the Christmas time there really were NOT any crowds!

Main Street USA?

Onward to Peter Pan and Pinocchio rides in Fantasy Land. Both are very similar to the Anaheim rides but just different enough to be interesting and enjoyable. Neither ride was narrated which we thought was strange – but then they would have had to do the narration in both French and English.









After two rides and a quick snack, we dared to ride Big Thunder Mountain. The Island isn’t an attraction to visit like Tom Sawyer Island, but it is the home of Big Thunder Mountain.

Molly Brown Thundermesa – Paris Disney

You board the train car and it goes under the river and circumvents the island. A really good ride! From Big Thunder we boarded onto the

Here comes Mickey and Minnie!
Goofy and all his buddies.
Lots of toys ready to play.




















The Main Street Holiday parade gave us hand clapping music and colorful dancers and floats, and Santa and his reindeer. So as the sunset, we dared to view the Phantom mansion with its abandoned bride and gold rush western town ghosts.


Mickey, Minnie and Donald in the Parade
Santa and his elves

We also did Haunted Mansion – again, no narrative but very similar to what we know.

The Haunted Mansion
Chris and Ryan in front of the Olaf and Sven ride
Olaf and Sven









Ryan and Chris walked through The Nautilus attraction and David & Janeen found spots in the main square near the castle to view the lights and fireworks on the castle.

Christmas tree with the train station in the background


12-10-17 The Bastille Market

Sunday, Market day and we headed off to The Bastille Market. This is one of the largest partisan markets in Paris and stretches from the Bastille and Richard Lenoir metro stations and has 150 plus stalls.

The Market about midpoint

Stalls are piled high with fruit and vegetables, meats, fish, shellfish, cheese and lots and lots of other things. There was also a spattering of clothing – wallets, handbags, scarfs and even some wine.

Janeen and Ryan of course
Champagne! I did pick up a bottle of Brute

We walked most of the market, fortunately after the rain had stopped, and picked up a few things for our kitchen.

Vegetables – LOTS of vegetables.
Olives lots of Olives and spreads
Mushrooms all kinds!
Meats lots of Meats – there were several different places selling fresh meet…
More fish
Lots of fresh fish, shellfish and oysters
Fruits and more vegetables.
These little plants had been flocked with a white powder! Little white Christmas trees
Lots of spices.
Chicken – he has his hands on a chicken with all its feathers still – fresh for sure
David on the metro
Chris with all our goodies on the metro.






























I fully expect we will hit another one or two while we are here.