May 12, 2023
It’s been two years since we last visited Paris. Large cities are both never changing and ever changing. The big attractions here don’t change, it’s all the “details” , the small things that change that you notice when you revisit. Paris has continued its focus to become more “green” with more lanes formerly filled with auto traffic now with bicycles and scooters, more EV charging stations. It changes, slowly. You can’t suddenly transform a 2,000 year old city in a few years or even a decade. And the “foundational attractions” – things like the Opera Garnier or the Assemblée Nationale or Place Vendôme or a church get covered up for cleaning and reappear a few years later looking fresh.
We’re here for four days after arriving from London. By the time we transit from London to Paris, with the one hour time change, it’s mid-afternoon. The weather over the last four days has been cool (60°F , 16°C) with occasional scattered showers. Since we’re staying in the area of the central arrondissement , the weather isn’t much of a deterrent to getting around. We had a Navigo Easy card from our last trip here (since le carnet est fini). , so it was simple to use the machine (YouTube) in Gare du Nord, where we arrived, to add une billet (10 single journey tickets). Gare du Nord is the arrival/departure point for the EuroStar, Thalys, TGV. We used the same process today to add tickets to take the Roissybus from Opera to the airport tomorrow (use the same Navigo pass card, but a different ticket because it costs more).
We have generally stayed at the same hotel for many years, but had noticed small, but noticeable degradations in service the last few years and weren’t sure if we’d continue to return. But management makes all the difference and the GM who was here when we thought it was at its peak, and then transferred elsewhere, has returned. “Details” like having a dedicated liaison for their top tier guests in their loyalty program come out to greet you personally, and escort you to the room; getting a call the day before you check out to see if you need a taxi. Never had that.
A lifetime ago, I worked for the US subsidiary of a huge French engineering and construction company. In that role, I worked with a number of the French management of the division that bought our company and developed a long term friendship with the President of that division. Even when our little company was sold and we each went our very separate directions, we kept in touch. Over the years, we’d sometimes have the chance to see each other when our travels brought us to Europe and intersected with his. We even attended the wedding of one of his daughters, in a small village in France; what an experience that was! We hadn’t seen each other in ten years. This trip we were able to have dinner together and catch up in a way that email doesn’t allow. Café de la Paix was a real treat for both the company and the food (yes, I had escargot and really enjoyed them).
Apartment buildings in central Paris can be 6+ stories tall, so renovations take a different approach. Across the street from us, I saw a ladder that reached up five stories (the sixth story window was open though). They were sending sheetrock panels up the ladder to the workers inside. This view was taken from our balcony on the 6th floor. Video (YouTube)
When they were done, it’s all back into a compact package.
The final afternoon here was spent doing some shopping at Louis Vuitton (Hèrmes, 24, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré aka the Mothership) was Wednesday).
and making a trip to LaDurée for some macarons (not macaroon). They’re a delight, if a bit expensive.
We plan to be back in Paris in September, 2023 but for now, it’s au revoir.