Monday, June 29, 2009

Home Again! Day One -- Getting There!

Well, that ended up being a longer vacation than I expected -- but a very good one indeed! (And I want to thank you for stopping in and leaving comments; I didn't have reliable internet access while I was gone, and I missed posting and checking up on you all!)

The day of my trip was a sunny one. I left Lansing on time, boarding my bus for Detroit!

Then I was pleased when the monitor said my plane was on time.

They lied. If you read Rick's comment a couple posts back, you'll know I had numerous snafus just getting out of Detroit, with canceled flights (followed the next day by a three-hour-plus line, computer problems, and more). I have plenty to say about this, but I'll spare you...!

(Above is the line waiting to check in the second day -- a line that I was in for more than three hours because the computer didn't register our flight. Below is the angry mob when the fight was canceled, as passengers waited to get hotel assignments.)

But finally, we were off! And some eight hours later, I could look out the window and see the French countryside.

When I finally hit Paris, I was thrilled in more ways than one!

Jerry met me at the airport and we took the train back into Paris. It dropped us about eight blocks or so from his apartment, which was located in a lovely courtyard behind massive blue doors on the street.

Sandwiched between wholesale shops on a busy street these doors (and the many others like them) don't reveal the beauty that lies behind them.

The apartment was in one of the buildings opening up on this charming courtyard. This window belonged to the guardien.

It's very small, but oh, so charming with his collection of antiques and flea market finds throughout.

Above and below are the living room.

The kitchen was tiny, but with its antique egg baskets, molds, and tools (not to mention the flowers), one could learn to work with the small space!

Talk about someone with good taste and style -- it was all packed into this wonderful spot.Jerry graciously loaned me his bedroom.

From the bed, I had this rooftop view!

(The 85 steps to the fourth (or American fifth) floor were less fun!

(The good thing about this is that my pants that started out short ended up the right length when I was ready to leave, and the ones that were the right length when I started were so long I kept tripping on them, having to lift them gently like a Victorian lady lifting her skirts at the curb! I wish I could say that translated into weight loss -- my friends say it turned fat to muscle. Hey, whatever works!)

Jerry lives in an area called "The Marais" and it is convenient to many wonderful spots. So, after briefly settling in, we headed out to spots near his apartment so I could get my bearings.I would have been completely content staying in the neighborhood, though that would have been wrong! Below is the Mayor's office, the Hotel de Ville.

The shops next to his building and in adjacent blocks catered to wholesale buyers only (a darned shame, because there were a ton of cute purses there, which I'll talk about some Pink Saturday!)

About six blocks away was BHV department store, which was unlike any department store I'd seen before! An art department to rival Michael's, great books and CDs and cards; electronics; appliances (like washing machines); furniture and mattresses; great clothing labels; a cafe; beautiful housewares and bath and the basement was like a mini Home Depot, with lumber sales and every tool imaginable! I was in heaven!

Then we crossed the river to the Ile de Cite and went to Notre Dame! Oh, so very beautiful!

The majesty of these churches are astounding, as is are the stone carvings on the facade. They are massive and beautiful.

When you think churches like this (and the thousands of others in Paris) were built before engineers had computers to figure out weight-bearing and cranes to lift heavy materials, they become all the more majestic. And the windows bring bright splashes of rich colors to the more somber stone interiors.

We headed over to the left bank, where book stalls line the sidewalk by the Seine, selling postcards, old books, and art. I don't know that there were great deals here, but they were fun!

Shakespeare and Company is there, too -- a bookstore that was a haunt of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and so many others. It was a must on my list and I returned there several times.

Back to the Square in front of Notre Dame, where we fed the birds -- sparrows land on your finger to snatch a bit of bread. It was then we discovered an organ concert would take place at the church that evening, and we put it on our "to do" list!

Next up, the flower market stalls -- several buildings with all sorts of fabulous flowers, seeds and garden accessories.

Jerry pointed out landmarks and we headed home, stopping (again) at one of the Paris boulangeries for bread. Oh, I loved these places! While he went to work, I took a nap! Boy, I needed it!

That evening after dinner at home, we went to the organ concert at Notre Dame. It was absolutely amazing to hear that huge organ open up anad fill the church with music. Neither of us were terribly fond of the (more contemporary) selections, so we left early (people were going in and out all the time) and walked a bit, enjoying sorbet cones and sunset on the Seine. It was a wonderful way to start the trip.

Things I have learned so far:

Every street has at least one bakery (sometimes more) per block and generally a flower shop is within striking distance.

The Parisians eat on the street -- a lot. Everyone is always munching on a chunk of bread or a croissant or roll. Fat, thin, young, old. It's what you do.

The streets are treacherous in that there are lots of cobblestones and they are very uneven. That observation was reinforced more than once as I'd step on a cobblestone and it wouldn't be flat enough so I'd either trip or fall!

(Next time: The Lady and the Unicorn and more!)


  1. ohmigosh. sigh. wonderful apartment. And you "lived" in Le Marais. Lovely. Tahnk goodness you took so many pictures. I look forward to them all. This is wonderful!
    OK, headed to the kitchen for a bit of bread!

  2. Welcome home! What fantastic stories and pictures so far. Glad to know you had such a wonderful time, and eager to hear (see) more.

    - Maryanne

  3. So happy that you are home safe, sound and ready to share more of your trip with us. Jerry's apartment sounds divine...I bet I'd have been tempted to photograph many of his antiques!

  4. so far it looks and sounds amazing...well not getting out of detroit as that sounds just so sucky...but the rest looks beautiful and wonderful !

  5. You must have found the best apartment in Paris to spend your vacation... even with those 85 steps -- what a beautiful neighborhood! Love those flower markets!

  6. Yea, you are home! I can't wait to have tea and more in-depth conversation about your wonderful experiences! Welcome back. You have been missed. xo

  7. OMG! I am sighing with delight over Jerry's apartment. How could you every leave? I think I died and went to heaven when I saw what was behind that door. I know. Being overly dramatic. Oh well . . . it deserves the drama. LOL

  8. I'm so glad for you that you had a wonderful've shown me a different Paris from what I imagined...I had never had the desire to go there, now I do!
    But, and I laugh....only a true photographer would take a picture of the departure sign!

  9. Welcome home! I love these pictures! I almost feel like I was with you from your description (my feet even hurt from all the walking you did and I didn't do). Are you exhausted?

  10. So happy you are home safe but so sorry your trip is over.... it goes way to quick, doesn't it?
    It sounds and looks like you had a wonderful time - I am pleased to be living vicariously!!
    I could definitely live in Jerry's apartment - just gorgeous.
    I am anxiously awaiting part two!

  11. OH what a fantastic job telling about your special adventures and your photos are amazing too! I am savoring every step of your journey! I hope to return to Paris again some day, it's been so many years ago now. Not sure how you could leave, your 'room with a view' and splendid surroundings = too fabulous! Jerry is quite a guy!

  12. Jerry's apartment is tres chic, and one to die for. How generous! Yes, I know about walkups, great exercise.

    LOVE BHV - so much fun looking for things there. We needed electronic stuff and found just what we needed, in spades.

    Looks like the weather was good?


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