David and Ginna Zoellner love to travel. We live in Nice, France, half the year; the other half we live near Chicago, Illinois. We do 'home-exchanges' to explore other areas as well as taking normal trips. We'd like to share some of our experiences with you.

Saturday, November 10, 2001

Paris Home Exchange, November 2001

We left Nice Saturday morning around 9:30 on the TGV, a 5 1/2 hour trip. Arrived Paris mid-afternoon and took a cab - a long ride - to our apartment. It is TINY (with a Murphy bed!)but fine for a week. Vidals, the owners, had arranged for a wonderful supper - pate, cheese, bread, grapes and a pear, and good wine - so we relaxed and stayed in. Sunday was a beautiful sunny day so off we went to Montmartre, a place of winding streets, street musicians, artists on the square, and Sacre Coeur. We had lunch with a beautiful view back to the city and the Eiffel Tower. We walked past Lapin Agile, Moulin Rouge, and other windmills and Van Gogh's homes, then down the hill to Pigalle, the red-light district but with beautiful buildings. Monday it rained so we went to the Louvre. It took about an hour just to orient ourselves! We saw the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, etc, but found it difficult to find our way around. Great lunch at tiny typical bistro just behind the museum, and then walked to Notre Dame. Tuesday was still rainy so we went to Musee d'Orsay which we loved. The building is a former train station and is beautiful. Watching the painters in the museum is as interesting as seeing the art - so much talent! Had a so-so lunch across from Notre Dame and visited some churches on the way home. We're getting to really appreciate our neighborhood. It's close to the metro station. But best are the shops - a fabulous traiteur, a delicious patisserie (with Florentines), wine store, produce shop, and the best boulangerie in the world. We've discovered La Flute Gana - a richer, denser, crustier baguette - and will never be satisfied again. We'd do this exchange again, just to be near the boulangeur! Wednesday was a beautiful day so we took the close-by RER to Versailles. What can one say? It's the most fabulous palace we've ever seen. The park is lovely (visited Le Petit Trianon) and must be even better in the spring and summer. We had a terrific lunch in the old town and took the RER back to town. We walked to the Pantheon and Eglise St. Etienne du Mont, then home. Thursday, the 15th, was the day of the Nouveau Beaujolais. We had planned a walk along the Canal St. Martin but discovered that it was closed for work so we walked back to Les Halles, a charming area of winding narrow streets. For 850 years Paris's main marketplace, it's still filled with interesting shops and resaurants. We visited Eglise St. Eustache, a beautiful church, and then headed for lunch. We made a lucky choice at a place where the waitresses were dressed as a cow and a rooster, waiters were dressed as Chicago gangsters (?!). The next table of 6 got more and more amusing as they worked their way through 3 bottles of NB as well as other refreshments. We enjoyed our pichet of NB and a good meal. By the end of lunch there were large chickens and even a piglet running around the restaurant. Oh, those wacky Parisians! Friday we visited Ste. Chapelle, the loveliest and most ancient church. We had a wonderful - and our most expensive - lunch at Thoumieux, 70 rue St. Dominique. Then on to the Rodin Museum and the long walk home. Saturday was the train ride home. We're exhausted - mostly because of D's hernia and my terrible cold - but it was a great week.


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