Monday, April 03, 2006

April in Paris

OK, would you settle for March?

The one nice thing about Paris is that it's close to home. Less than 5 hours, and I slept through the entire flight. In retrospect, I wish I hadn't -- it was the last decent airline meal we got until the El-Al flight home. (And when you're calling El-Al economy class meals decent, you know the rest had to be dog food.)

We landed at 5:20, figured our way through the airport (some English signage, and the world's screwiest conveyor belt system--once you get your luggage, everyone waiting for theirs had to back out so you could get out) and headed out of the airport. An Israeli chopper was waiting outside, offering cheap rides to hotels, in Hebrew. So of course we grabbed the bargain (and a bargain it was--30 Euro to our hotel instead of the 50+ a cab would have cost). We warned him we had a lot of lugagge, but still he screwed up, so we ended up getting in a van not with tourists, but with a businessman on his way to work. We got a tour of the Champs-Elysees (and a story of American tourists he had driven around, who wanted only to go to the "Champs Eli-says" -- it became a running joke for us on our return trip to Paris) and then were dropped at our hotel, the Best Western Aida Opera.

It's an interesting hotel. In the heart of the Jewish area of the 9th district, two blocks from the Folies Bergere

and directly across the street from a Tunisian restaurant named--get this--"Chez Bob."

(Forget what he claims, this place is not kosher. No hashgacha, and besides, he was in and out of there all Shabbat, bringing in groceries from the motorcycle he drove up on.)

There's a mezuzah on the front door, and breakfast is kosher. The doors work on keycards, but for Shabbat you can rent a regular door key. The night desk guy closes shop for half an hour to go to maariv, and the vending machine candy is from Israel. Yet until our last day there the second time around, we were the only obvious Jews in the place. Security at the hotel is tight, tighter than here at home: you have to be buzzed into the front door after a visual inspection.

We checked in, rested, ate breakfast, and hit the streets. Our travel agent said we could get anywhere we wanted to go by Metro, but it was a sunny (albeit cold) day, so we walked down to the obelisk at Place de la Concorde

(Oh, should I traumatize you all with a shot of me at the Place de la Concorde, knitwear and all? Vote yes or no in the comments.)

Then we went for a boat ride along the Seine -- The Spouse's choice. I was surprised to see the river much rougher than the sea the Greeks would not sail on.
Of course I took my socks along for the ride.



Both socks really enjoyed their view of an oversized broadcast tower sold to teh world as a tourist attraction. Actually, so did we, once we got off the boat and walked there. The Spouse especially liked this view

We also went to look at Notre Dame, but we didn;t go inside (church and all that, you know.)

And before we dropped for the night, we went to the Arch. Getting across the Champs-Elysees was a hassle, because all the signs were in French, but finally someone donated a clue to us about where the underpass is.

Then a long walk back to our hotel, with a stop at the Galleries Lafayette to look at the Phildar yarn (nothing enthused me -- most of what they had on display was bling, and the needles they had out were standard European sizes, while I was looking for a 3.25 mm, which seems to be more a British/US size).

For dinner we went to Chez Mimi, down the block from where our hotel, and under the supervision of the Beth-Din, one of the reliable hashgachas in Paris.

Yes, I do think it's an unwritten rule that all restaurants must be named after someone. Well, except for Cafe Dizengoff, which has great crepes but whose soup of the day is French Onion Soup--by Osem.

It surprised us that the French seem so unadventurous in their cuisine--it's either French food or North African (except for the fast food places, which are all American-style). Where's the variety I'm used to from the States, or even from Israel? And I'm not just talking the Jewish community; the restaurants we passed in our walks were more of the same.

And on a current note, happy 50th birthday, Spouse-Man!

Next: Hola, Mexico City.


jennifer said...

Mais oui! Photo at the Place de la Concorde!

Ina said...

Happy Birthday to the Spouse-Man!

And yes, yes, yes! Pix from the Place de la Concorde!!

(You sure are showing the socks a great time!)

amysue said...

Wow. I'm exhausted and in need of a rest after reading of your travels and you're gearing up to head over to Mexico? Right now it's 9:23am, I need to be at work by 10 or 11 and I'm just starting to crawl towards the shower.

Oh and I think theres some holida aroud the corner I need to turn the house upside down for.

Safe journey!

Jane Dark said...

Yes, yes! Full photos!

your sockapaloooooza pal said...

Yes, picture, please!

My name said...

Surley Cafe Dizengoff is named after Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv?