Monday, January 30, 2012

Paris in January

Look at this weather—oui, c'est Paris!

The Rodin Museum in Paris
Four days in Paris, and it seems like four weeks. On Friday morning, Sabine and I arrived within about 90 minutes of each other, she coming from Munich on Air France, I on American Airlines from Dallas. It was a bit like that Clooney movie, "Up in the Air." By the time she landed, I had already bought the museum passes, arranged for our train tickets, and gone to the post office to mail various items to European friends.
No, it's not Le Penseur, but it's still a Rodin
We spent Friday and Saturday in the city, visiting various museums and sites without getting overloaded. High points were Monet's Water Lillies in the Orangerie, the scale models of numerous French bastions and towns in the Army Museum, and of course Foucault's pendulum. We picnicked (on the banks of the Seine) and we ate meals out, with the most memorable at Le Bouillon Chartier, the iconic 19th century restaurant in the Faubourg Montmartre just off the Grand Boulevards.

One of the Bateaux Mouches on the Seine
At the Bouillon Chartier
For the first two nights we stayed at the Hilton La Defense, a property that  I had not frequented before. Well, I doubt that I'll go back: The temperature control did not work, leaving us for two days in a totally overheated room; the hotel does not have an Executive Lounge, a staple of practically all European Hilton properties; and the overall location of the hotel leaves much to be desired.
The giant thumb outside the Hilton La Defense
On Sunday morning we took the 20-minute train journey to Versailles, where the Trianon Palace (a Waldorf Astoria hotel) was to be our home away from home for a night. Boy, we lucked out, and just like last year I was upgraded to a huge junior suite in one of the prettiest hotels I've ever stayed in. Add to that the fact that Sunday was sunny (yet cold), and out visit to Versailles was perfect. Sabine, as a landscape architect, simply ate up the gardens and overall layout of the palatial landscape, and through her I was exposed to aspects of the chateau that I had never noticed.
A different view of Versailles
It was a beautiful day at Versailles, and we couldn't have planned things better. The gardens, even if not in bloom, looked just so pretty with the sunshine! Lots and lots of people were out, taking advantage of the great weather and the fact that it was le weekend. Our timing was perfect, too, in that we visited the various areas of the palace in reverse order and never had to contend with any lines to enter buildings and chambers. And after things closed down, we had a full evening in our 900-euro junior suite! I love upgrades!
One of the powerful fountains of Versailles
In front of the Chateau de Versailles
Today we went back to Paris, for our last night. I am writing this from the Hilton Arc de Triomphe, one of my favorite hotels. Judy and I stayed here many,  many times, and it is always nice to be recognized as a returning guest. We spent several hours in the Centre Pompidou, marveling at what some modern artists are trying to express with their works. Later we went to Montmartre, where we had a nice moules frites dinner at Chez Ma Cousine. And after the final obligatory walk down the Champs Elysées we're now nursing tired feet with a last bottle of red wine. Tomorrow we're flying to Munich where Sabine's son is awaiting her return and from where I'll head for Geneva in a few days for an anti-doping seminar.

What a fun trip!



  1. Fabulous photos Jurgen. Very jealous. Whells are great, by the way. Got to ride on Sunday! Carol

  2. Thanks, Carol. After having been to Paris so many times it is really interesting to concentrate not on the tourist stuff but more on the other side(s) of the city.

    Be safe riding! J.