Thanks to everyone for being so patient with me and my lack of posts recently! We got back from France late Friday, but I’ve been super jetlagged…waking up at 3:30 AM every morning and unable to go back to sleep afterwards, and super, super-sick with a head cold and hacking cough that hasn’t been getting any better. Plus a mountain of laundry, no food in the pantry, a pile of mail to go through…you all know how it is when you go out of town! So finally I’ve gotten around to editing all the photos I took…and here is a brief selection of them.
First off, the architecture in Paris was beautiful, and wherever we turned, even down the smallest street or cul-de-sac, hid the most breathtaking buildings, statues, and structures. I must have taken about 200 photos of buildings alone.
Plus, there was an art gallery on every corner. I’ve never been in a place where people respected and appreciated art so much!
Secondly, the food was delicious – especially anything wrapped in pastry, desserts, french fries (or should I say frites?), and the macarons. I had never had a macaron before! Now I know what everyone’s raving about.
We spent the first 3 nights in Paris, then the next 2 in the Burgundy region, then the last 2 nights in Paris again. We stayed in 4 hotels over 7 days! That was a few too many for my liking, though we did get to see quite a few different areas because of it.
One of the few stores I really wanted to go to – Kiliwatch, a huge vintage store. The prices were highly disappointing and the front half of the store was filled with furs and leathers and animal bits, which I found disturbing due to the sheer amount of it, regardless of it all being secondhand. Perhaps I’m a little more militant than I thought when it comes to animal byproduct in fashion items??
Another disappointment: the largest flea market in the world [apparently], the Marches Aux Puces de Saint-Ouen. Surprisingly tiny (were we in the right place? we wondered a few times), and populated with vaguely menacing, catcalling men shouting “Rolex! Rolex!” and selling Gucci knockoff purses and polyester clothing for 5 Euro apiece. Like the streets of New York with all the sidewalk sellers hawking their illegally-obtained goods in one place. Okay, I don’t know if any of it actually was illegally obtained, but it didn’t feel exactly…kosher, and the goods didn’t look particularly high-quality either.
Where we stayed
: (and the caveat to the below is that my in-laws footed the bill for these hotels, as well as choosing them)
A very unusual hotel situated in Paris’ left bank, with each guest room in its cylindrical tower filled to bursting with gilt ornaments, chintz lamps, lithographs, figurines, and embroidered wallpaper. It felt very old and very crowded, and if Liberace were still alive, I’m sure he’d love to stay there. (The bedframe in my in-laws room was constructed entirely of mirrors!)
The lobby of L’Hotel. Gawd, why is Blogger so #$@%%@’in slow???!
The center of the hallway is open and you can see all the way up to the top.
The breakfast buffet consisted of fresh juices, fresh figs, passionfruit, pineapple, and other fruits, salted and smoked hams, and a variety of croissants. The butter was sliced like a Ruffle potato chip.;-)
An 800-year-old (really!) chateau, with an old, falling-down tower they called “The Dungeon,” surrounded by a moat with fish in it, and on a beautiful 100 acre-spanse of land in the middle of a forest.
The people at the hotel raised their own vegetables, and kept a menagerie of ducks, geese, quail, chickens, turkeys, and white peacocks wandering about the yard.
Plus they had a dog (not sure what kind of dog it was, but it was curly-haired and about the size of a standard poodle), who had been trained to find truffles on the property – and so all the meals in the dining room were filled with black truffles that the dog would snuffle out even when not specifically directed to do so.
Risotto with shaved black truffles found by the Truffle Dog.
Each place-setting at dinner had a pewter-cast knife-rest in the shape of what looked like some starving animal. Apparently each one cost more than $120 in the hotel gift shop! Lil Tot lined them all up with his birthday present, a replica Nissan GTR.
And then the animals all had to go through a tunnel in order to ride in the car.
Dessert was more of the delicious Thai lime macarons, hazelnut cream puffs, and strawberry wafers.
And of course the cheese-basket!
An old suit of armor on display.
The Chateau was so beautiful, the air was so clean, the setting s
o charming and the food so good…I would recommend this place highest out of every place we stayed – and it’s probably the best place I have stayed ever!
Just a building en route.
Then we went to Vezelay for a day since my father-in-law wanted to visit the Basilica of St. Mary Magdalene, which is rumored to be Mary Magdalene’s tomb, as featured in The DaVinci Code.
We stayed at the Hotel de la Cote in Vezelay (I think it was in Vezelay) for one night. (Sorry there’s no accents on my vowels for the place-names…I’m not sure what the shortcut keys are for them.)
The cobblestone streets of Vezelay.
Proof: I really was there!
It was bitterly cold and rainy for a lot of our trip.
In front of – yes – Chanel headquarters.
The infamous staircase on which Coco Chanel herself used to sit and watch her models present the Collections.
We definitely felt out of place here. Though the hotel staff was accommodating, we felt very underdressed, and attracted a lot of attention with a young child in tow. Everything was so ornate and elaborate, the lobby reeked of a Lush store (I’m not sure what fragrance it was but it was wafting throughout in copious amounts), and we slept under a chandelier at night. It was quite convenient to lots of shopping…none of which we could afford.😛
They called this the “Hall of Temptation:” a hall lined with displays stuffed with product from Cartier, Miki House, Dior, Chanel… The name had me ROFL’ing because there was not the slightest bit of temptation felt on my part!;-)
A courtyard at the Ritz.
The room in which we stayed.
I have come to the conclusion that French people are obsessed with concealing their doors…as all the closet/bathroom/mini-bar doors in the rooms at every hotel we stayed at were wallpapered over and virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding walls…no obvious doorknobs (or doorknobs made to look like wall decorations that were randomly pasted on the walls thr
oughout the room, even on things that didn’t open), no hinges, no doorframes, doors concealed by velveteen screens that hinged outwards to reveal halls and more rooms…it was all very James Bond-ish.
I’m going to sound very ethnocentric for a moment and write that I had issues with the toilet paper – which, in many toilets throughout Burgundy and Paris – were tiny folded tissue-like sheets out of a dispenser. The toilet paper – even at the Ritz! – was uncommonly rough, too.
Plus about 99% of the toilets had the flush button on the wall. Is this something common in Europe?
I think though, we would have enjoyed our trip more if we were smokers, drinkers, did not have a young child with us, were more acquainted with the layout of the city, the mannerisms and attitudes, and the language. As it was we had a lot of difficulties and unfortunately a number of negative experiences in regards to those areas. Plus the exchange rate was abysmal – everything was about twice as expensive as in the U.S. – so we were unable to do any shopping and just buying meals was so significant there was nothing left over to really splurge. (My mother-in-law treated me to a couple Petit Bateau t-shirts which I had been wanting for awhile, though!:-) At least we missed the riots – but did have to wait in long, long lines for gasoline – and had more than one station tell us they were all out of gas and we had to go somewhere else!
I’m very glad to have had the wonderful opportunity to go and experience France, though a week was certainly not enough to see everything we wanted to! Au Revoir,