European Vacation

These days, I seem to be doing less blogging and more getting out of the house, which includes leaving tomorrow for a one week holiday in Paris, France. Joy and I are going there to visit my father, who moved there late last year, returning decades after having grown up there in his teens and early twenties.

I’ve been to Paris four times, each visit separated by at least five years, and I’ve enjoyed each visit quite a bit. It’s hard to resist Europe in general, but I’m wondering if France can really top my visit last year to Italy — our trip to Sicily was one of the most thoroughly enjoyable getaways I’ve ever had (so enjoyable, it seems, that I never got around to properly blogging about it). I was reminded of this recently when I watched the Criterion edition of Pietro Germi’s “Divorce, Italian Style” — hilarious and well worth the rental, definitely. Anyway, I’m sure Paris going to be fantastic all the same — I have very little cause for worry.

We’ll be gone for a week, with a side-trip to Amsterdam, but at this point, having both been so busy just trying to clear our plates to be able to leave, we have no agenda. If you have any interesting ideas, please let me know. Until then, the posts here will be sporadic — or at least very continental.

  1. The last time I went to France my girlfriend and I took a day trip up to Monet’s Garden in Giverny. It’s a real senior citizen kind of thing to do, but it’s easy to get to (one train from Gare de Lyon) and really pretty.

    It sounds like you’ve travelled a heck of a lot more than me, though, so I’m not sure if I could offer much in the way of ideas. I’m still trying to get to Tuscany…

  2. I’ve found, without doubt, the most enjoyable gallery/museum in Paris is the Rodin museum.

    If you haven’t been there before, it’s superb. A quiet house, set in a peaceful garden, surrounded by stunning sculptures. I love Paris, fantastic city.

  3. If you like contemporary art check out the Palais de Toyko. It’s on the right bank near the Trocadжro. It’s open from 12PM – 12AM and has a decent, casual, smokey (of course) restaurant attached. And hip clientele.

  4. Thanks for the tips everyone. My plane leaves in a few hours, so this is probably the last you’ll hear from me before I’m in France. Unfortunately, I doubt I’ll make it anywhere else but Paris and Amstedam, but I’ll try and keep everyone posted. Cheers!

  5. amsterdam is one of the best cities in europe!! i love that place! the van gogh museum is especially nice but i would also suggest just getting on the trams and touring the city. the architecture is amazing, the people warm and inviting, and the variety of food/eats will satisfy anyone. have a great trip!

  6. The monparnasse tower is great place to visit. There’s a public observation deck on top and it’s a wonderful view – especially in the evening, after sunset, with all these illuminated buildings… oh, i *love* Paris!

  7. I second the trip to Giverney, it is quite romantic and you may be able to catch the tail end of the change to fall colors.

    Find a good cafe and just hang out, there is a great neighborhood cafe/bistro near the Serves Babylon stop called Le Nimrod, it is very local and speaking French will get you a long way, it is on Cherche – Midi (51 rue du Cherche-Midi) a block or two west of Blvd Raspail (may spellings may be way off). While in that neighborhood head to the Bon Marche and their food court in the building next door, as you can get great picnic foods and go hang out in a parc somewhere. There is an excellent patisserie (pastry shop), Peltier (66 rue de Serves) just down the block too. Just down the block, closer to Raspail there is a great chocolate shop, Chocotruffe (38 rue du Cherche-Midi), which the owner and staff are quite chatty and their love their job and there offerings, which are extremely good.

    My favorite restaurant/bistro is Balzar in the Latin Quarter at 49 rue des Ecoles. I have been there a few time since 1986 and it is my grounding place in Paris. They have great onion soup and the wait staff is excellent, particularly if you speak French or make an attempt.

    In Amsterdam an evening for drinks or dinner at Club 11 is a good thing as they have a great view of the city. It is in the Postal building next to Nimo, it is a little tricky to find the door, but most taxi drivers will be able to help quite easily. I am a huge fan of the windows in the De Bijenkorf department store, which is on the Dam. If it is your first trip to Amsterdam a boat tour is a good way to get acclimated and the museum boat tour that allows on and off access is also good.

    Have a great relaxing trip.

  8. Having just been there, I would’ve suggested taking a relaxing rest in Buttes-Chaumont park, it’s in the northeastern corner of the city. I can’t remember exactly what metro to take, but I think it might’ve been 7b. Of course you’ve already gotten back, and I didn’t see this because my powerbook is in the shop.

    Anyway, for next time, it has an interesting man made waterfall that is pretty beautiful. The whole park is the remnants of a quarry. It’s very hilly and there’s an observation-like hill, surrounded by a lake, with an open air temple-like structure on the top that has a nice view of paris. Unfortunately, the old entrance to the hill isn’t open, or wasn’t when I went there. I didn’t go at night, but I bet it would be pretty. I guess I’ll have to do that next time too 🙂

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