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Paris after 10 years

Author: cummings
Date of Trip: November 2010

This was an important week long trip to Paris for a few days of business and the rest vacation. Actually it was 4 days of business….I won’t bore you with that.

With all the worries about the TSA, my taxi got me to the airport THREE hours early. I had left my house keys in my jeans pocket which set off the alarms, but when I asked the nice woman with the blue rubber gloves whether she was doing a pat down, she said ‘not yet’, and I found the keys. Embarrassing

As I was so early I talked my way into the Air France frequent flier club. They charged me $50, I had wifi, a wonderful buffet, juices, etc until boarding. Definitely worth it. A woman in the boarding area in a wheel chair said she was perfectly able-bodied, but didn’t like the long walks and looking for signs so she had been wheeled to planes for years. Takes all kinds.

In Paris I was told to get to my hotel the metro would be 8,50 euros and a taxi 75 euros. I took a taxi and it was 50. My tiny hotel was on the left bank, just off the St Germain des Pres. I chose the location as I was travelling alone and wanted a lively area with restaurants, shops, etc. It was perfect.

My first day was a Sunday when everything is closed. I walked everywhere getting my bearings, buying a metro card for visitors (5 days, subway, bus, 30 euros) and having lunch in a charming cafe. Oh, and I bought a new copy of that little book with the Paris arrondisments, invaluable.

Monday I went Christmas shopping for my nieces. The stores were jammed. I have never seen a US store so crowded. The service was terrific, a saleswoman devoted herself to me for 30 minutes, everything was gift wrapped and off I went. I went to the Musee Cluny with the Unicorn tapestries, to the Centre Pompidou with its Modern Art Collections, back and forth over the wonderful bridges, into the churches of St Sulplice and St Germain. Early every morning there was a dusting of snow.

Wednesday I went to the Somme American Cemetery about 100 miles east of Paris. I hadn’t been there in 20 years. My great uncle was buried there at the end of World War I. Since the died, visits from my family have been rare. It was important to visit.

I caught a 12.37pm train from the Gare du Nord (by bus from near my hotel) to St Quentin and then a taxi to the cemetery in Bony, stopping at a florist for branches with red berries. The cemetery is absolutely beautiful. There are more than 1800 soldiers buried there. White marble crosses and snow on the ground.

The cemetery office is very helpful. My uncle died at 18 and they thought it may have been in the Hindenberg battle. They gave me maps of the battlegrounds as well as many other cemeteries in the area, British, etc. There is a lot of information about this on the internet, train schedules too.

The next 2 days I was dragged back to work. I was pleased that I could walk back and forth or take taxis which gave me views of the Eiffel tower at night. As I had not spoken any French since my trip there in 1999, it got a good work out in Paris and I even managed to write two halting business emails last week…after mailing the gifts to my nieces.

Paris is a place I’ve always loved, and it’s certainly worth going back to over and over….

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