A Travellerspoint blog

January 2015

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 26: Opera, Style, and the End of My Bucket List

I can see the sun setting in front of me, through my large windows which open onto my terrace. As I reflect on my day, I'm eating French olives, bread and brie, and drinking Cotes du Rhone. Don't hate me. It was really icky outside earlier. Wet snow and rain, but I persevered and stuck to my plan. Remember: there is no bad weather, only bad clothes. 5767EFE2BC1631F795716C9893B8DFF7.jpg5766D48DF8A1C4222ECCF90FB7CCE45D.jpg57658B7AF697DF79E936DC831BBC39D7.jpg57642156CBDEB85AB011D257A4F4D209.jpg5762CEEBF0540418D827227D8165C996.jpg

My final "must see" on this trip's bucket list was the Garnier Opera House. I am a bit of an opera house junkie. I like the houses better than I like opera. I've been to the Metropolitan in NYC, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan and the Teatro alla Fenice in Venice (read John Berendt's book before you go: "Beware of Falling Angels.")

I am not a huge fan of opera. Just opera houses. Architecture, if you will. And the history of these spectacular places.

The Opera de Paris at the Palais Garnier is the opera house that "The Phantom of the Opera" was based on. There actually is a small lake that flows under the structure. The Opera house is stunning. It is a MUST SEE in Paris, even if you never go to an opera, ever. A spectacle of staircase, gold leaf, red velvet, plaster putti, costume displays, tiny sets, and echoes of magical voices who have performed here through the centuries will astonish and overwhelm even the most blase. You can stand at the bottom of the marble stairs and imagine yourself here, dressed to impress. The show was important, but so was being seen. People knew how to party and dress back in the day. 56DE6CC3E81930AC46FF119BF2DBA438.jpg56E00887BB8AD6B1CF5B3E652E31D523.jpg56DD65F5C05A78A06917D301E0AD8F13.jpg56DC4568E0A4CEF298BFB001B3A59197.jpg
Sorry the photos aren't better. Photography is not allowed. Oops.

On Monday afternoons, cheap tickets go up for grabs. I'm going to try to get one.

Posted by teethetrav 09:44 Archived in France Tagged paris france opera phantom_of_the_opera palais_garnier Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 25: Un Melange des Chosen Bizarres a Paris


Posted by teethetrav 09:33 Archived in France Tagged paris france scenes melange bizarres Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 24: Hemingway and Me

It's all Ernest Hemingway's fault that I'm in Paris. I blame him, his movable feast, Gertrude Stein, and her entire lost generation. I was an English major. I sponged up all the details of descriptions of starving artists and writers who ran away to Europe, mostly to Paris, during the 20s. Zelda and F. Scott, Hem and Hadley, and all their cronies. If you are not a reader, you can relive some of this era in the movie Midnight in Paris. Many of the scenes were filmed near where I live. The red door #4 in the opening scene of the film is just down my stone steps and to the right on Rue Paul Albert. E72B4995BFF938CABACACFE663291DE8.jpg

I fell for the seemingly romantic lifestyle that I read about all those years ago as an undergraduate. And I, like the character Gil in Midnight in Paris, believed somehow that those were better times for writers. It seems as though it was easier to starve, live cheaply, write, and, if you were good, ultimately publish. I have chased that dream for a long time. My writing has improved. I've been to writing workshops in places like New York City and Tuscany. I've met talented writers and made new friends. Now, I'm sort of freezing in my fifth floor apartment high up in Montmartre. It's not quite a garrett, but if you use a little imagination...

Tonight I'm going to a writer's workshop in a loft in Paris. I will pretend to be a writer (a real writer gets published, sells books, and gets read). I have three unpublished novels and 1 1/2 screenplays if anyone is interested. I will workshop my newest novel with other writers here in Paris. I think that is nearly as good as it gets. The only thing better would be to find an agent and to publish.

Somehow, somewhere along the line Hemingway seems to have become my muse. I have visited his haunts in Venice, Madrid, Havana, and now Paris. In fact, after a long dry spell when I had more or less given up writing, I sat in the bar where Hem drank (where didn't he drink?) at Hotel Nationale in Havana, Cuba this past September and suddenly was filling up a notebook. I visited his Cuban home there in Cuba. It's exactly as he left it when the American embargo forced him to leave. He expected to return, but shot himself a year later. The Cubans blame America for his death. He was happy in Cuba. He wrote well in Cuba. He was handed his Nobel prize at his home outside Havana. The Cubans believe if he didn't leave, he wouldn't have died. They may be right. Leaving may have been his undoing.

Anyway, I am grateful to Hemingway for helping me live my dream, for bringing me to Paris and to yet another writing experience. E726862EF641C39BBDBC04BFAA303C92.jpgE72EC532B7095B7F20F19CF51CBCDCCB.jpgE72D35E7AD2473FD27B45217DA7DB3A3.jpgE7295743E0194252542D685C479FC150.jpgE7280BE5AD9B088F8B34E9F8C216942E.jpg

Posted by teethetrav 05:26 Archived in France Tagged venice cuba madrid havana hemingway midnight_in_paris hotel_nationale f.scott_fitzgerald zelda_fitzgerald hadley_hemingway Comments (2)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 23: Eating in Montmartre

II believe it is truly hard to have a bad meal in Paris. Whether you are going for a quick petite baguette sandwich or a meal in a brasserie, or a fine dining experience, there are endless choices in Paris about where to eat. That seems especially true in my neighborhood of Montmartre.

I have eaten in many of the restaurants and have some favorites. Some meals were outstanding, and some were merely fabulous. Here are a melange of the great meals and restaurants I've eaten in so far. All are in Montmartre.
The above is the "Charlie Special" at Coryllis on Rue des Martyrs. All of Paris was Charlie crazed after the attacks.
An amazing, tiny, French, non-tourist restaurant is Le Jardin d"en Face on the Rue des Trois Freres. The menu changes daily with a few exceptions. The foie gras with egg appetizer is a staple and is to die for. It is dishes like this that make me want to stay forever.

Al Caratello is Italian owned and has three locations on Rue Audran. The menu is the same at all three ristorantes. The food and service are reliable and you can linger for hours. House wines are good and so are prices.

Another tiny, French treasure isLe Grande 8 on a small street to the right of the Sacre Coeur. The menu changes nightly depending on what is available in the market. This is your go-to Sunday dinner place. They don't speak much English and there are only about twelve tables. You can (and we did) linger here for hours. People bring their dogs who hang out under the table and are a part of the ambience and scenery. This is a mere walk up the stone steps for me and so it has become a true local favorite I will dream about and yearn for when I leave.

Posted by teethetrav 09:18 Archived in France Tagged paris montmartre rue_des_martyrs coryllis le_jardin_d'en_face rue_des_trois_freres al_caratello le_grand_8 Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 22: Six Reasons Why You Need a SIM Card

REASON 1: Finding the people you are with.

The girls wanted to go to the top of the Arch d'Triumph and I didn't, so I told them I'd wait for them in the Orange store. I was going to see how my data was doing & if I needed to top it off. As I started walking, a million police and wagons pull up and park under the Arch. I had no way to contact the girls who did not get a SIM card. To make matters worse, the Orange store was closed and there were security people inside!!! All the workers were outside so I asked what happened. They smelled gas inside the store so the guards were checking. Unrelated to the police. A woman from the store checked my data as we stood freezing on the street. It was fine. 7E28BA9FD9FD8F7D3C05844579989A18.jpg 76CB2E129C985E3F34EEF3F6F8B3C5E2.jpg

I ended up going inside the restaurant next door, Chez Clement, where I could watch for the girls. I had a glass a wine with a woman from India who is in Paris studying finance. We had a great chat.

I asked my waiter about the police activity. It turned out the police were just there in case of a soccer-related frenzy. Algeria was playing against Ghana. Crazy soccer fans. But I still wished the girls had a SIM card so I could tell them where I was.

By the way, since I was on the Champs, I did drop in and visit Louis Vuitton. Turns out that Poppy has a big sister named Dora. She is a signed, limited edition made from the archives. The euro is still dropping, so I have time to make my decision. But now I have four possibilities, Dora, Poppy, Pallas, and Alma. Too many women.

REASON 2: Getting and giving directions

We were getting on the Metro to go home. I got on. The doors closed behind me. I turned and saw my daughter and her friend waving goodbye to me from the platform. Talk about an OMG moment. Did they know our exit? Should I get off on the next stop and turn around and go back? Should get off at our exit? I decided these were smart, competant young women. I rode on, cursing them for not having a SIM card. I waited at our home stop and sure enough; five minutes later, there they were.

REASON 3: Getting directions for Metro stops and walking

With a SIM card, you have data. That means you can google where you are and what Metro you should take to get to your next destination. Or, how you should walk to get wherever you are going. Very useful.

REASON 4: Making reservations.

A SIM card allow you to make local calls without the astronomical roaming fees your local carrier would charge you. Many restaurants in Paris are tiny and require reservations. You can also reserve tickets to events, cruises on the Seine, and other activities you will want to pursue.


There are times when the Metro just won't do. Downloading the UBER Paris APP will enable you to order a taxi from anywhere to anywhere. It tells you in advance how much you will pay, who your driver is, and how soon he/she will be there.

REASON 6: Your flight gets canceled and you need to reschedule

There is a huge blizzard coming in the New York/New Jersey area and my daughter's flight leaving Paris was just canceled. Because I had a SIM card, we have rescheduled her flight and taxi with a minimum of fuss.


You can buy an inexpensive SIM at a store such as the ORANGE store. They will do the rest. One note of caution before you leave home, though. Make sure you call your carrier and see if you can "unlock" your phone in order to switch to a local SIM card. Many phones, such as the DROID are already unlocked.

If you have questions, put them in the comments section and I will try to help you.
Merci Jaime!!! for showing me how to buy and use a SIM card!!!

Posted by teethetrav 01:14 Archived in France Tagged paris france ny metro blizzard nj reservations sim_cards uber Comments (0)

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