Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chamonix Part 2

Dislaimer: I KNOW I'm super late with this and I'm very very sorry, especially to Mom. I don't know what happened and am really sorry. Here goes though and enjoy! :-)


My two final days in Chamonix were just as exhausting. After skiing two days, I decided to do all the touristy stuff I keep seeing signs for. The Aguille du Midi and Mer de Glace were two I kept seeing signs for. I also kept seeing signs to go visit St. Bernards which I really wanted to do, but they were closed in the winter. I tried to go to the Aguille du Midi, but the weather was lousy and there was zero visibility, so I decided to go to Mer de Glace instead per the ticket lady’s recommendation.

I really didn’t know what it was but I didn’t know it involved a train up the mountain, so that worked for me. I got up front and off we went. You board a really old train that goes about 2 miles an hour and literally go up through windy rails up the mountain. 30 minutes later, you find yourself amoung the massive peaks and I see a gondala that is supposed to take us down to see this Mer de Glace, which trainslates to Sea of Ice. I finally read the pamphlet and essentially this is a glacier that has settle in the mountain. It’s really breathtaking. We take the gondala down, which is when I realize I’m pretty scared of gondolas, and then turns out we have 350 stairs to go down to get into the glacier. That means we also need to go up the 350 stairs once we’re done with an altitude of 10,000 feet. Once down there, I’ll admit it was a little cheesy.They put some neon lights and had some terrible ice sculptures, but it was still pretty cool to know that we were inside a glacier in the middle of the Alps. The entire tour takes about 5 minutes and then you have to walk back up the 350 stairs. Here we go! Thankfully, they are in clumps, so its easy to stop. I ended up taking so many pictures as an excuse to stop.Unfortunately, I don’t have the best camera, so the pictures don’t do it justice, but it was simply amazing.

There’s a restaurant at the base that had a pretty rich history, so I went and had lunch there. I got the special which was a piece of quiche, polenta, green salad, and home made country pate.Delicious. The polenta especially. Afterwards I walked around a little more and headed back on the last train back to the hotel. Stopped to get some vin chaud, which I’m now addicted to and listened to a band plan in my hotel bar. This one was much better than the leather clad band I saw before, thank goodness.

The next day was my last day in Chamonix and today I had to go to the Aguile du Midi. It’s basically a Gondala that takes you all the way to the top of the Mont Blanc up 15,000 feet.There was still no visibility, but this is the second most visited attraction in France after the Eiffel Tower, so I have to do it. This is when I realize that I’m terrified of Gondalas. I’m not typically scared of much, but my heart was definitely beating hard and my hands could not have held on to the handlebars any tighter. We get up to what I thought was the top, but no. To get all the way to the top, you have to take a second gondala. No point in going back now. I had paid close to $50 to do this, so off I went. This time, we couldn’t even see where we were going there was so much snow and fog. TERRIFIED. We get up there and I can’t breathe and my heart is beating so hard. The combination of the fear and the altitude did not help. Once up there, I couldn’t see anything because of the fog/snow storm, so sat in the café to get my breath back. I didn’t really want to get back in the gondala, but was ready to get back down.

Overall, it was fascinating and now that I’m off the thing am really glad I did it. The minimal views I did get were amazing. But that was it. No more gondolas.

Then I realized I didn’t have a hotel for Friday night in Geneva, so needed to find wireless somewhere. I was told a couple places that had free wireless, so checked those out. Two of them were closed, the next one turned off their internet between 12-3 for lunchtime (what?!) and the last one was McDonalds. I did not want to go to McDonalds, but I needed Internet, so in I went. As part of the menu, you can add a beer! Ok, fine. I’m sold. So, I get my chicken sandwich and beer and go set up to get Internet. Shocker, it doesn’t work. I finally go back to the hotel and they have a computer I can use for $.50 a minute. Fine. I get my hotel, check email, get my bags and head over to the bus station to go back to Geneva. The bur ride was as smooth as before, but dark. I even was able to fall asleep a bit. It was still snowing in Geneva and it was freezing.

My adventure ends tomorrow and I’m very sad. They are still saying that there are strikes at the airport with the luggage carriers, but I don’t’ really care at this point. I’m still in my vacation glow, so nothing can get me down!


Stairs to glacier



Gondola to glacier

Me in Alps

Delicious Lunch


Inside the glacier

Hikers on the glacier
More glacier pictures



Rediculous gondola to Aguille du Midi

View from gondola - TERRIFYING

Again, view from gondola above the clouds


Friday, January 8, 2010

OK Barbara when is our next adventure?
Voila, I have been back to Houston for 4 days now. I can not believe that 5 days ago I was in Geneva eating my weight of cheese ( well a lot less than my weight but it seemed like it at the moment!!!!) Barbara told you all about the cheese steak! With it we had a little white wine home made and that was very good too.!!!
The morning after, we headed up to the airport for my flight back to Houston. I was a little antsy to go through the security. But I guess they were not after my "andouillette" Dennis likes so much and every thing went fine. I saw more soldiers with guns at the Paris train station than in the airport at Washington DC. The security was a little more serious than usual but I did not mind. I want them to be serious!!! My flight was fine. I even ate what ever they served me! I had a little girl sitting by me who was very cute and polite. She could speak French and English and reminded me of Barbara at the same age. I told her and she seemed happy and her mother too!
Voila, now I am reading Barbara's blog. I wish I could have been with her in Chamonix. She seemed to have had a wonderful time.
I can not believe 2 weeks has gone by. I just want to thank my lovely daughter and my family for a wonderful time. I also had fun writing down my story. I hope you had fun reading it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chamonix Part 1

I’ve been in Chamonix now for 2 days. The bus trip was smooth and beautiful. It was still snowing, so made it even prettier. Once we arrived in Chamonix, I had no idea where to go. I followed the signs for downtown since I knew my hotel was somewhere there. It’s adorable. Quintessential small mountain town. Somehow found my hotel and the room was massive. Big bed, view of Mont Blanc and the cute street and huge bathroom. No internet in the room and no elevator, but for $120 a night, its perfect. I went to the tourist center to find out what I could do and she suggested I go to Savoy to go skiing, as that was the best beginner run. And apparently I could walk there. The hotel has a ski rental store downstairs, so got my skis. $40 for 2 days. So cheap! I followed the map to get to Savoy. After walking about half a mile, I realized I made a wrong turn, so turned around. Then ended up passing the street I needed to turn on. One hour later, I find the mountain. There are no signs. No massive lines. Just a little house that says, “Cashier” and that’s how you are supposed to know it’s a ski run. So, I’ve been walking about an hour with my skis, ski boots, poles and backpack and turns out it’s literally directly behind my hotel. Of course. And to make it better, they don’t have lockers to store anything. So, I had to go back to my hotel, still carrying all my equipment, to drop off my backpack and walk back to the mountain. The rate to ski was 13 euros (around $16) for half a day. Tahoe could learn from this town!

Skiing was beautiful. Blue skies everywhere and I didn’t fall, which is good considering my knee is still huge and black from falling in Geneva…… They don’t have ski lifts though with chairs. Instead, they have these disks that you sit on that drag you up the mountain. I felt pretty silly, but at least you don’t have to worry about falling on top of the person next to you when you exit the lift.

After my 4 hours were up, I headed back to the hotel and decided to walk around the town. Apres Ski is a huge thing here. Every bar/hotel has some kind of après ski special and they are all packed. Everyone is in their ski outfits huddled around drinking Vin Chaud (heated wine) or hot chocolates. I found a cute little pub that was run by some Australians, so talked to them for a while. I was starving, so was trying to head back to the hotel, but kept walking by bars that looked way too fun to not stop in. I stopped into a bar with a live band. They were French, but doing covers of Nine Inch Nails and Stevie Wonder. At one point, the lead singer dressed in all leather, started line dancing to NIN. Everyone loved it and I was trying hard not to laugh. I left and at this point, was ready for bed. I had some salami and crackers and yogurt at the hotel, so did that for dinner and passed out. As silly as it sounds, I bought a Swiss Army Knife in Geneva, so was excited to finally use it with the salami. Those suckers are sharp. I ended up slicing my thumb with it also. Not too bad, but definitely took a while to stop it from bleeding.

Sigh……

Day 2 of skiing was intense. Again, I was told to go to another mountain that was perfect for beginners like me and that was walkable. Yes, it’s walkable, but carrying around everything was intense. The mountain was much better than Savoy. Much more difficult and a couple more lifts I could handle. I was hoping to get a lesson, but the office computer was broken, so they couldn’t fit me in. This is small town ski business. If a computer doesn’t work, then there is no backup. The lady packed up to go home. Fascinating. I ended up just skiing on my own which was just fine. I was doing great. Skied a couple hours. Got some lunch. Went back and skied some more. Felt great! Just as I was getting the nerve to try the harder run, BAM, I fell. Flat on my stomach. This always happens. I start feeling very confident, my body doesn’t agree and gives me a reality check on my skiing ability. No idea why I like it so much as I’m really not that good.

After 5 hours of straight skiing, I called it a day and headed back to the hotel. I’m absolutely beat. I’m trying to get the courage to go out, but my room is just so cozy and every muscle in my body hurts. I forgot how much exercise skiing actually is!


Church in town center

Mont Blanc

My hotel

Funny ski lifts

Part of town center


Funny ski lift
video

Geneva Solo

I took Mom to the airport this morning really early expecting insane crowds. We got there 3 hours early and even United wasn’t open yet. The airport was normal. The only abnormal thing was a group of workers striking around the airport. Apparently they are the luggage handlers, so who knows if mom will actually get her luggage. I waved her off at the security lines which were shorter than normal and headed back to the hotel. We woke up to a great surprise. It had snowed all night and everything was white! It was beautiful! Mom finally got some snow!

I was staying in a different hotel for tonight, so packed up all my stuff and headed over to my hotel about 5 minutes away. It’s such a better hotel and I even have a balcony over looking the church square. It’s beautiful with all the snow! We’ll see how I sleep tonight!

On the agenda today:

Go buy some ski goggles as it’s snowing heavily in Chamonix, so I’ll need them.

Go buy my bus ticket for Chamonix.

Go buy some snow boots.

I finally fell after slipping all through town. I don’t understand as I see people with high heels on walking around like normal, but of course I fall in the middle of the busy sidewalk and an old man has to help me. The cheapest ones I have found so far are Moon boots which might be the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen, but if they keep my feet warm and keep me from falling, fine.And to think I had a pair on from Target the day I left!!! I should have listened to Jenny!!!

I had a crepe at the Globus café which was delicious and then went and got a cup of hot chocolate at the Mortel tea room. I’m going to have an easy night tonight to get ready for my next adventure in the Alps. Just read that Elin was there over the holidays, so if it’s good enough for her, it must be good enough for me!

After having my delicious hot chocolate, I headed over to a final shoe store and to get my bus ticket to go to Chamonix in the morning. I’m on the bridge and bam, I fall again. I hate my boots. This one wasn’t as dramatic as I only feel on one knee and was able to get myself up, but it probably hurt worse since all my weight went on my left knee. I could feel it throbbing, so at this point, I’m buying the first pair I can find. And there they were. Thick black soles, silver/beige shiny weatherproof material, fur trim and fur pom pom! They only had 2 pairs left and one was in my size. Two other ladies were eyeing them and kept asking me if I was taking them, so I figured they were good boots. I put them on and didn’t feel ridiculous at all, although I know I looked it. But here, everyone has outrageous boots like this. The more fur or outrageous they are, the better and its definitely a competition. Everyone looks at each other’s snowshoes. It’s amazing.

I walked out of the store and instantly felt like a local. Hilarity.

I had to get up early the next day to catch the bus to Chamonix, so I went back to the hotel room and watched TV. The old episodes of 90210 were on and listening to Donna and Kelly talk in French was perfect. Skipped dinner and crashed. Tomorrow was a big day!

Snowy town square

View from my hotel balcony

The boots!!!


Geneva with Mom

Mom and I planned to have a couple days in Geneva to check out the city a little more, so finally left Ormoy. The train incident from the 23rd of December is still being fixed, so we can’t take the original short route we wanted. It’s getting colder and colder in Ormoy and by the time we have to take the train back to Paris to catch the Geneva train, there is ice everywhere. We can’t open the car doors as they are iced over, so Dany boils a pot of water and pours it over the car. It’s 6am.

We finally get to Monparnasse and now need to take a metro to take us to Gare de Lyon. There are way too many train stations in France. We have our huge suitcases and walking from station to station is exhausting. I know I’m going to be sore. But again, all we’ve done is eat, so at least this is some kind of exercise. I thought I knew a shortcut, but alas, it ended up taking longer and going up more stairs. Oops!

We ended up sitting across from each other on the 3 hour train ride with a table in between us so we could eat our last baguette sandwich together. It was actually a really nice train ride back to Geneva.

We get in around 3, check into our hotel and start walking around. The hotel was OK. Would not recommend it, but was just fine for us. The breakfast was included which was actually decent and it was directly across from the train station, which is helpful. The first day we walked around and saw the fountain, walked up the very steep stairs of the St. Pierre’s Cathedral, and walked along the Rhone River through the English Garden at night. The city is lit beautifully for the holidays. You can tell this city has money to spend! We walked into the Genome Museum on the Isle de Rousseau, named after the famous philosopher, which completely creeped me out. Thank goodness it was free. It was a small dome that explained the genome theory with dressed up dummies and really weird music. Mom loved it. I kept thinking of Hugh. He would have loved this also. (Hi Hugh!) We were searching for a great fondue, but every restaurant I had recommendations for, were all closed for the holidays until January 11. The Europeans know how to do it right. We finally found one near the train station near our hotel and it was delicious. Our bellies were warm and full which was a good thing considering it was getting colder and colder outside. I believe it was 19 degrees. We were beat and went to the hotel and passed out.

The next day we got up early, had breakfast and went directly to the United Nations buildling. Of course we get there, and they are closed until January 11. I guess the nations aren’t united over the holidays. We still took our obligatory pictures in front of the flags and closed gate and then walked up the hill to the Red Cross Museum. On our way, we came across the Ariana Museum which was free, so we walked in. It was all glass and ceramics from around the world. The building itself was really pretty, both inside and out, but I don’t care much for ceramics.

I didn’t know this, but The Red Cross was founded by a rich Swiss man after he saw how poorly soldiers were being taken care of back in 1859. He founded the organization to help all soldiers as a neutral entity. It was one of the best museums I had ever been to, and I’m not a big museum person. Definitely recommend going if you are ever here. Very touching and great stories and photographs throughout.

Then we went to the Russian Orthodox Church which I thought was just a monument like all the other cathedrals we see. Geneva used to be a huge Russian vacation spot, so you see a lot of Russian influences throughout. This Church was in the middle of a residential area and was gorgeous. We walked in and this was no monument. This was a working church with people praying inside. It was gorgeous, just not what I was expecting at all. We then walked up the street and followed signs to “Old Town” which we had been to last night, which is when we realized that Geneva is a TINY town. We were next to the city center the whole time. We were now experts. On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at the Four Seasons Hotel for a glass of wine which cost $25 a glass (ouch), but it was delicious! As all Four Seasons, it was beautiful and only $800 a night. Mom packed up her suitcase sicne she was leaving the next day and then we walked to our final restaurant for some Raclette, a traditional Swiss dish with cheese and potatoes. The restaurant was great. Probably a tourist attraction, but we were tourists afterall. They didn’t have the traditional Raclette we wanted, so the waiter suggested we get the Croute en Fromage and a Steak au Fromage. We purposely didn’t eat all day so we would be ready for our final dinner. Thank goodness. The Croute en Fromage was a huge piece of country French bread grilled with a huge piece of Swiss cheese and ham grilled in a skillet then topped with a fried egg and served with pickles. My steak au Fromage was just that. A huge chunk of cheese, probably about 8 inches, grilled like a piece of steak served with potatoes, pickles and bread. It was unreal. I never thought I would ever a piece of cheese like that. And honestly probably won’t considering I didn’t sleep a wink that night. My belly was WAY too full.

We walked back to the hotel to try to walk some of it off and crashed for the night. Our final meal was epic, to say the least.

Mom leaves in the morning and its going to be lonely now! It was a great trip and can’t wait for the next one!

Weird Genome Museum


Outside United Nations

Geneva at Night in English Garden

Russian Orthodox Church

Inside Red Cross Museum

Outside Redcross Museum

On top of St. Pierre's Cathedral

Mom's Rediculous Dish

Geneva's famous fountain

Inside St. Pierre's Cathedral

Mom with Fondue

Outside United Nations

Walking up the steep Cathedral stairs

My rediculous Cheese Steak






Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bonne Annee!

From Mom (FINALLY!)

Bonjour,

C’est moi. Do you remember me?

It is soo hard to talk and write!! I am very lucky to have a multi-task daughter who can keep you in touch with us. Unfortunately, the voyage is almost over and the time has been flying since we arrived.

I have to tell you about my “Reveillon” (The night of 31 dec., and 1er jan.) Barbara had her fun with her cousins and I had mine with my sisters and my nephew Benoit, his wife Maryse and their daughter Lysa. Well, we did something that I am really getting good at : We ate, and ate some more. We started around 7:30 to finish after midnight with champagne of course. On our menu:

Appetizers: Verrine with guacaomle with smoked salmon

Appetizers: Canape de caviar

Appetizers: Canape de tamara (crab spread)

Starter: Foie Gras on toast

Starter: Oysters

Meal: Tagliatelle pasta with saumon in a bubble sauce (Sauce made with champagne)

Salad: Green salad with vinaigrette

Cheese: Bleu de Brest, Camembert, Brie, Conte, Chevre

Dessert: Chestnut ice cream with whip cream

Yum, yum!!. We celebrated midnight with champagne lots of hugs and kisses and wishes for a very good year. We then went to go surprise Barbara, Caroline, Valentin and Johan and found them with their champagne playing monopoly.

By the way I want to wish every one a very good new year. Big hugs and kisses to everyone!

Friday was a very restful day for my body and my stomach. We're off to Geneva and maybe next time, my baby Tom will be able to say my name. At the moment his vocabulary is very restraint: “where is it” and “it’s here” but his smile is as big as the whole French language!!!! Who needs to talk when a smile gets you anything you want or you didn’t even knew you wanted!!

We’re off Geneva for more adventures. More to come!

Remy opening the NYE champagne


All of us with our appetizers

Us with Lysa and Hook Em!


Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!!

For New Years, we were back in the country in Ormoy. My cousin Caroline invited Valentin and I to her house to celebrate while my mom, Aunt Dany and Uncle Remy went to my Aunt Michelle’s house. During the day, we went grocery shopping to get all of our food we’re bringing back home and to get ready for the evening. We had to hurry because the grocery store closed at noon for their obligatory lunch break. So nice….

For lunch on the menu:
Starter: Pate from Mr. & Mrs. Bire
Meal: Beef Bourguignon with noodles
Salad: Green salad with vinaigrette
Cheese: Chevres, Brie, Camembert, Swiss
Dessert: Gallette des Roi*
Truffels: Lindt

*Gallette des Roi is a traditional cake which families eat on January 6, similar to what we do with Kings Cake in New Orleans. Traditionally, the youngest in the family gets under the table and the oldest cuts the cake in slices. The person under the table tells the server which slice should go to whom. Although Valentin is the youngest, I played the part of the youngest and got under the table just because. Inside the cake is a small “favor” and whoever gets it, becomes the king or queen for the day and gets to wear a crown. Obviously this is more for children, but it’s fun, so we all participate. They of course rig it so that I get the favor and so get to wear the crown all day. My favor was a cute cherub. I’m the queen for the day. J

After all that eating, Valentin and I went to Caroline’s house to start our celebrations. Beware of the menu.

Appetizers: Smoked salmon on toasts with crème fraishe (of course)
Appetizers: 3 different sorts of quiches and pastry puffs
Appetizers: Garlic Escargots
Starter: Duck Foie Gras
Starters: Coquille Saint Jacques (scallops) in a Cognac cream sauce
Meal: Poached Salmon in a Cream Sauce with Rice and Mixed Vegetables
Cheese: Camembert
Dessert: Petit Fours (mini cakes)

We had to stop in between courses. We played Monopoly and Wii Sports, which was funny to play in French. Somehow playing golf on the Nintendo made us feel better about eating so much.

Midnight came and we opened our bottle of Mumm champagne and 10 minutes later, mom, Dany and Remy showed up to join us with another bottle of champagne. We kept playing Monopoly until about 3 and finally came back home. It’s January 1 and the eating will now stop. It was fun for a week, but that’s it. Soon it will be time for reality and my jeans are already getting tight. Time to get serious!


Dessert for NYE on Monopoly table

Paris Part Deux

December 30
Today was a big day! After we woke up, Valentin walked down stairs to the Boulangerie (bakery) to get fresh croissants and pain au chocolates. Surprisingly, they were amazing! I don’t even want to know how much butter they had in them. YUM.

We then took the train and metro and finally arrived to the George Pompidou Museum which was showing a Soulage exhibit. The George Pompidou (http://www.centrepompidou.fr/) is a very ugly building, in my opinion, but has some of the best views of Paris once you are on top is one of my favorite neighborhoods of Paris, near Chatelet and Rue de Rivoli. Once we got there, the line was over 2 hours long. Neither of us could do that, so instead, we decided to walk to the City Hall to rent bikes. On our way, we saw the carousel in front of city hall was offering free rides, so we took advantage and rode the carousel. Why not!

Velib is a fairly new city program that allows you to rent bikes for 1Euro a day and you can drop your bike off at various places within the city. Same concept as Zipcar in San Francisco. Traffic in Paris is very similar to New York, so I never quite understood how it worked, but apparently, is quite successful. Part of me was definitely terrified though. I haven’t ridden a real bike in about 2 years and that was at Tilden Park in the middle of nowhere. We finally got the machine to work and off we were riding bikes in the middle of the Parisian traffic. I definitely got honked at and I screamed a lot, but it was soooooooo fun. Luckily, along the Seine, there are bike tracks, but you share them with the city buses, which I’m convinced purposely try to scare you when they pass by. We rode all the way to the Eiffel Tower to go to the new Quai Branley Museum (http://www.quaibranly.fr/). It’s a couple years old, but I had never been and there was no wait to get in. It wasn’t my favorite. It was mainly African and Asian masks and art, which I don’t care much about, but the architecture was amazing and at least I can check it off my list.

Next, we walked to the Eiffel Tower to get some lunch. It was 4 and we still hadn’t eaten anything, which was totally fine with me. I don’t need any more food. But it started raining again, so we found a bistro to get a light meal and some wine. I stuck with French Onion soup since it sounded appropriate. Not the best, but doable. The rain didn’t stop, so we stayed for quite a bit. We saw some tourists get some liter beers like you get in Germany, so we felt obliged to do the same. I think we stayed at our table for 3 hours, but afterall, that’s normal here.

We then left to meet my mom and my Aunt Dany at Rue Montmoartre to go see a comedy show which was hilarious. I had no idea what to expect and ended up almost peeing my pants I laughed so hard. And we saw some French celebrities – Olivier Le Jeune and someone else I can’t remember. My aunt loves Olivier, so after the show, mom went over to him and asked for his autograph and of course told him her life story. He even told her she had a pretty name. Hilarious.

We didn’t get dinner today because of the comedy show, but had to head back home, so didn’t quite know what to do. Surpringly I was hungry and Valentin and I really wanted Aunt Dany to try McDonalds but given how great a cook she is, she wasn’t too keen to try it anytime soon. Somehow, we convinced her to have a chicken sandwich from France’s version of McDonalds called Quick. Her face with the first bit was priceless. She ended up only eating the top part of the bun. However, mission accomplished.

We then took the metro to go back to the Montparnasse station to take the train to Versaille to take the car back to Ormoy. 1:30 am and we finally arrive at Ormoy to go to bed. I’m pretty sure I’ve taken every mode of transportation Paris has to offer at this point.









Camille and Valentin on carousel



Velib station




Camille on bike




On the carousel at city hall




Amazing City Hall




George Pomidou Museum





The beauty




Quai Branly Museum





2cv in Paris



Valentin with liter beers




Dany's first fast food!












































Paris!!

Paris!!! (Tuesday December 29)
(Happy Birthday Grandmere and Amanda!!!)

We woke up at 6 am this morning to make the hour drive to Chartres to take the one-hour train to Paris. Yes, we should have just driven to Paris given it’s only an hour away, but it’s almost impossible to drive in Paris, so this was easier somehow. My aunt Dany, cousin Caroline, Mom and I all got to the Montparnasse train station around 10 am and went straight to Café Atlantique across the street. We used to come here a lot with my grandmother, so I couldn’t wait to go back and finally get my croissant and café au lait. My aunt and cousin complain instantly about the prices, but I guess considering they live in the country, Parisian prices are quite high. It’s comparable to San Francisco, so I’m happy. It actually ends up being cheaper since according to Dany and Caroline, you don’t tip the server. I hear conflicted theories on tipping, but whatever.

Unfortunately it’s raining, but we still walked down Rue de Rennes and peeked in all the shops. We found this great ceramics store where I found a fancy wine opener and mom found some miniature spoons for her miniature dinners she’s eventually going to make, I’m assuming. She’s lagging on the blog, so definitely give her grief when you see her. ;-) Honestly, she’s so busy, she hasn’t had time to do anything. It’s been a busy week!

We walked down to St. Germain des Pres to look at the fancy couture shops and although I wanted to keep walking, we took the metro station to our next destination – Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. We get off the metro station and although the Sacre Coeur is a beautiful church and huge tourist destination, it’s in an awful part of town. We all hold tight to our pockets and purses and walk quickly to the cathedral. It’s on the top of a hill and once up there, gives you a magnificent view of the city. You can take a tram to the top, but considering the only exercise we have done in a week is move our jaw and walk down the street to see the donkeys, we decided to take the stairs. Mom and I wanted to return to a restaurant up on the top of the hill where we went a couple years ago in the main square, Place du Tertre, called La Cremaillere http://www.cremaillere1900.com/. It was raining on and off, but the square and entire area was so crowded. We ate moules frites (muscles and French fries, common French dish). We even saw the same waiter we had the last time we were there. DELICIOUS!

We walked back down the stairs, got back on the metro and headed over to the Latin district on Blvd. St. Michel, up the street to the Jardin de Luxembourg and finally back to the Montparnasse train station where we said goodbye to Caroline, Mom and Aunt Dany. Valentin invited me to stay with him and his adorable girlfriend, Camille, for the night in their apartment in Versailles, so we stayed behind. Versailles, best known for the Chateau de Versailles where Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette lived back in the day, is about 15 minutes outside of Paris by train. I love doing Paris by night!

We met Camille at a bar over by Bastille and then went to dinner to a fabulous bistro called Bofinger. http://www.bofingerparis.com/envers/ Highly recommend it. However, we didn’t have a reservation, so had to wait until 10:30 to eat. Totally worth it though. Menu below:

Prix Fix Menu at 25 Euros (about 30 USD)
Starter: Duck foir gras with fruits confit and pistachios
Meal: Beef Carbonade with steamed potatoes (AMAZING0

We quickly ran through the metros in Paris to catch the last train out back to Versailles at 1:15 am. Perfect day!

Famous Cathedral in front of Chartres Train Station







Croissant and cafe au lait!






Mom halfway up the hill






Me and mom at bottom of hill



Me doing dads pose




Moules Frites at La Cremaillere







View from Cathedral







Us at Jardin du Luxembourg











Bastille at night