Les Lilas

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    • Day87

      Perfect Paris day

      October 24, 2021 in France ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

      Today was cold but cloudless, just sparkling. A week ago I looked at the weather predictions for Paris and it looked like a week of rain…I don’t know why they bother to do the 10 day forecasts as they are always inaccurate, if not totally wrong! Anyway, we leisurely set off, had fresh OJ at the supermarket nearby where you can get your own juice from a machine that does it while you press the button. Then a cafe for coffee and croissants, and we were ready to face the world.

      Amr wanted to visit the French resistance memorial at Mont-Valérien (with Hartley in mind) …so we had a bit of an adventure finding our way there as it’s outside the main centre…we got a train on the line towards Versailles. It was a nice suburban area, and we climbed a hill (that is the Mont part) and from the park at the top it was worth the trip just for the view! The Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur all in the distance, a huge panorama. There is an American memorial and cemetery there, mainly for WWI, and then went round to the French memorial which is in the fortress and is for the internees and resistance fighters who were executed there by the Nazis. Found you need to have a guided tour to actually go inside, and none available today, but we were content to walk round the outside.

      Got a direct train back to Gare St Lazare and walked back via La Madeleine which is again surrounded with scaffolding (don’t know why - last time it was beautifully cleaned and gorgeous…anyway we did go inside, lit a candle for Ira and listened to a choir practising…and I knew it was familiar, something I had sung in ChorusOz - and we found that there was a concert of Brahms German Requiem today at 4 pm, entrée libre. So we went and had a patisserie - a quiche actually, and then went to our favourite cafe for a chocolate and Amr had a glass of wine, then went back, via a look into Galeries Lafayette, to the Madeleine for the concert. It turned out to be excerpts from the Requiem, not a performance of the whole work, and was with an organ rather than orchestra, which with acoustics made it harder to hear the singing clearly, but beautiful nevertheless.

      Then we started back to the hotel as Omnia was arriving..landed about 5, and we aimed to be back by 7 as she had to get through passport control and get the train etc…so we walked through the Tuileries and along, past a Tour St Jacques on Rue de Rivoli down near Hôtel de Ville, all about the pilgrimages and may go back and have a tour of that as we feel rather bonded with st Jacques!

      Then Omnia arrived, lovely to reunite after such a long enforced interval. We all walked to Bastille and had dinner at a brasserie there, just lovely. Now off to bed…Louvre tomorrow and dinner at Bofinger.
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      Lovely photo of both of you.


      All of a sudden I have a hankering for French Onion Soup. Yum!


      I had forgotten about the cupolas which flood the church with light. And thank you for lighting candle, in particularly in such a beuatiful church.

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    • Day88

      Another busy Paris day

      October 25, 2021 in France ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

      Now 10.45, very late to try and write and remember all that we did. But Amr has a busy schedule for us, and it has been fab. After yesterday’s perfect weather we woke to rain…as predicted, and also as predicted it stopped by 9.30 and cleared up this afternoon and the sun even peeped out…

      Today was Louvre day. We were booked in at 11.30, nice and leisurely after breakfast, and with e tickets no problem getting in…quite a crowd gathering and queues etc, but maybe they didn’t have tickets. But the Louvre is always a challenge, it gets so complicated finding a specific area, and not getting lost, and even finding the sortie when you finally want to escape!! But we had several hours of fun, looking at the wonderful exhibits, and it was quite challenging with mask wearing obligatoire. After 3 or 4 hours it is enough…

      We went out and had a coffee break (we had a light lunch in the museum) at our coffee shop next to the opera, went to the Apple Store (of course) to get cables for charging Apple watches, went to a watch shop on rue Royale to get a new watch of Amr’s have it’s strap adjusted to fit his wrist…then we walked a bit and got the metro back…except there was a problem and we all had to get out at Châtelet…so we opted to surface rather than fight the crowds in the very complicated area under Châtelet and ended up walking back to our hotel near Gare de Lyon - so good exercise for us all…in fact in total we have had almost a camino day!

      Because we also walked, after a short respite and dressing up, to our dinner tonight at Bofinger. It is a wonderful restaurant that we have been to before, totally booked and buzzing on a Monday night, near Bastille. Wonderful meal, fun neighbours as you are all crowded together and can’t help hearing their conversation and seeing their dinner choices. It specialises in food from Alsace, but lots of other choices…I had kidneys, Amr had choucroute of seafood and Omnia had a pike dish…all very happy. It is a busy life! Tomorrow is the Musée d’Orsay I think…
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      Such a great photo of you all!


      Absolutely! A great photo of the three of you.


      Are you sure Amr didn’t get the round metal thing between the straps as well?!

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    • Day92

      Finally some rain, and the opera!

      October 29, 2021 in France ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

      Even later tonight - it’s about 11.25 as we have just come back from the opera!! But to briefly remember the day - first we set off walking along a viaduct walkway (viaduct des arts or something) we see from our hotel window…and we find it goes all the way to bois de Vincennes one way (the end of the 1 metro line) and to Bastille at the other end…so we walked along it - very pretty with gardens and trees, at about the height of about 5 storeys up. And such an easy way to get to Bastille, prettier and shorter. Had a wander through the Marais and then got a metro to get to Galeries Lafayette for a bit of leisurely shopping. Home for a bit of downtime before heading off for an early pre opera dinner near the Bastille opera.

      What a thrill to go to the Paris opera for the first time, and to see Rigoletto! A bit of a kerfuffle at the beginning as Amr’s phone had a barcode but no numbers of seats and we found that we had needed to print them out…(unusual these days - and we couldn’t have on our travels anyway)..but the helpful man printed them for us and we were fine. The building is modern and not all that attractive from the outside, but really good inside I thought..sort of modern art deco style - squares and straight lines. And the opera was wonderful of course. Didn’t know the singers but loved them - especially Gilda (Nadine Sierra if anyone has heard of her), and Rigoletto was Ludovic Tézier…another fabulous day.
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      Love the viaduct. There are some fascinating artisanal shops underneath near the Bastille.


      Yes, we discovered that as we walked back along the road

    • Day86

      Back to Paris

      October 23, 2021 in France ⋅ 🌙 9 °C

      This will be short as it’s 9.50 pm and I feel spaced as didn’t sleep well last night…prob because alarm set for 6, and I read and finished a book - usually reading sends me to sleep, but this time I got all hyped…anyway, didn’t feel too fussed as we sat for 4 hours on a TGV hurtling back to Paris from Bayonne. It was crowded, the usual fight to get bags in the luggage racks, children running round and babies objecting…Saturday, and everyone going to Paris. Actually many got off at Bordeaux, but then many more boarded and filled in all the gaps.

      We thought it was going to be colder, but it was a pleasant, not uncomfortably cold, and sunny. But the main thing that was striking since we were here about 2 months ago - it is crowded, vibrant and like the Paris we knew. Last week in august was so quiet, almost spooky - and maybe it was partly the covid effect, but Parisians famously leave Paris in August, so that may have been part of it, and there were very few visible tourists then. But now so different - we hear English spoken everywhere, the Americans are coming back, and the English, and some Asians…(didn’t see other Australians)…it was back to fighting not to bump into people walking along the street.

      So once checked into our hotel near the Gare de Lyon, we marched out and walked up through the Ile St Louis where Amr had booked a restaurant for tonight. Looked great, and we went on looked into Samaritaine and Galeries Lafayette, Amr bought some Mariage Frères tea, and we generally had fun. Stopped for a mint tea/coffee at our favourite place near l’Opera (where Omnia and we took Cami and James for dinner in 2015)…and then walked back to the restaurant. Quite a lot of walking I think…just checked my Apple Watch and we walked about 15 kms! Just keeping the legs ready and well.

      Had a fab dinner at Les Fous de l’Ile, French food done really well…I had butternut and chestnut soup and calf’s liver and Amr had mackerel marinated in milk followed by octopus with beans. And a Sancerre Pinot…beside us were 2 gay guys, who brought their little dog (a Nico type I think..I.e. breed, not behaviour - so often people here bring their little dogs to restaurants, and they seem to know how to behave! You wouldn’t know they are there…I had one cuddled up next to me while having my tea…(not Rogers or Normans!)…we chatted to the guys and the waitress who had recently been working in NZ, but didn’t go to Oz in case she couldn’t get out…anyway, a good day, and am now crashing…
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      Some super snaps there!


      Beautiful sunset 🌅 shots!


      Looks lovely.


      What happened to the Hotel Esmerelda?

    • Day89

      Musée d’Orsay and more

      October 26, 2021 in France ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

      First I have to say how good it is to spend time with Omnia. This is the first time she has been let loose after all the lockdown time the UK had, and she was basically on her own…so it is extra good that we can all enjoy out time here together. We have quite often met her here, so we know what we all enjoy. She spent the lockdown keeping fit, and could probably outwalk us!

      Today was partly cloudy, cool and lovely. We got the metro into the Louvre stop and walked leisurely over the bridge to the musée and again had no trouble with queues with our online tickets. Much more relaxing than the Louvre as it is easier to get around and not get lost. Enjoyed the wonderful art and lasted till about 2.30 when we exited and went to a nearby brasserie for a light lunch and a sit down!

      Then we headed over to the shopping area…spent time in UniQlo …I wasn’t tempted, too crowded and nothing I couldn’t live without, and it is so stifling in masks…had a drink at our usual cafe - they know us now, and we don’t need to show out Oz covid certificate! Now getting ready to set off to dinner at Chez Denise, one of our very favourite places!

      Well, just back from Chez Denise, and it never lets us down…it was wonderful…can’t describe adequately the vibe and fun people have there. The food is wonderful - and abundant! We know to order one entrée and one main to share (and even then Amr has to eat more than 50% of it!)…the waiters are funny and relaxed and it is noisy…you get a litre of wine (red or white) and pay for how much you drink. You can get proper labelled bottles etc, but the house wine is good and quaffable so that’s what we do. Omnia had a leek entrée and a salmon main which was excellent, and Amr and I shared half a chicken and some mash that rivals Paul’s. We started with the chef’s terrine. And we all shared a crème caramel…it is another place where you are close to your neighbours and chat about the food and whatever comes up. It is always full..the table near us that is empty was booked for 9pm. We were amazed watching people demolish their enormous plates of food!! We always come there and I think we always will when in Paris! Now off to bed.
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      Fabulous photos as always


      So french..🇫🇷


      A lovely photo of the TWO of you, thanks to Omnia. 💕

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    • Day2

      Arrive in Paris

      June 15, 2022 in France ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

      We arrived in Paris after about 5 hours of sleep in the past three days. (The flight put us in Paris at 2am Indy time but 7 am Paris time- since it is pretty hard to sleep on a plane and I was distracted by the plane’s trivia game (I felt the need to smoke PJ whoever that was) none of us slept that night and the check in for our room was 3pm. That meant we had the whole day with all our stuff to wander. Aiden got an A on his test on French public transportation and he proved it by confidently getting us into the city. Since the point of the trip is to walk with all we need for the trip on our backs I decided we couldn’t really complain. But it is HOT in Paris and always crowded. We rented bikes and decided to hit the top sites all around the city since Jon and I decided that popping up from the subway doesn’t give you a good feel for where you are (we’ve done that method of site seeing here before but both times it was winter and cold). The biking seemed like a good idea because Paris is supposed to be a bike friendly town but I felt like cars and pedestrians were just daring me to play chicken with them and I always chickened out. I decided biking around Paris is not as romantic as it sounds. The trail on the Seine is fine but the Champs Elysees by bike is not for the faint of heart (more power to you, Tour de France riders. That’s some bumpy cobblestone!). I had never seen the Arc de Triomphe so close up and it was a lot bigger than I thought! Napoleon is still taking revenge on the foreign cultures because Jon got his ATM card eaten by a machine at Napoleon’s tomb. Now we are a little concerned about how to acquire cash for the little alburgues in Spain. We still have one more but now we are hesitant to use it.

      Aiden and Ollie’s French has been useful to me and especially their knowledge of culture and history. Aiden even understood the significance of the bike locks on the bridge to Sainte Chapelle. I would have missed that detail had he not known. Madame Blaz has done her job! We even ate baguette hot dogs today because Aiden did a presentation on them for school once. Ollie always acts like he doesn’t pay attention in school but he definitely can pick up where Aiden leaves off. He’s pretty sharp.

      We are staying in a hostel because we had to really spread the grant money thin since I did the budget 2 years ago. We have our own room and many families are here but in true French style what they advertised as air conditioning is really just a fan that doesn’t stay on and a window that doesn’t open all the way. It is hot. (Did I mention that?!) The cool breezes of the Pyrenees will be welcome.
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      We feel your pain. We hit a heat wave, too, and have had to alter our plans numerous times because of it.




      I feel like we took the exact same pictures as you…it’s like looking at familiar pictures but w your kids instead. So weird.

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    • Day5


      June 20, 2022 in France ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

      Galleries Lafayette .. such a beautiful shopping building ! No €€€ spent here ! Mastered the Met 🚊 spent the day wandering all the little streets. Weather a bit like home ! Warm amd sunny one minute then raining the next ! Almost need a pair of jeans and long sleeve top - which I don’t have !Read more


      Mmmmm, eating lots, walking lots, sight seeing much, you are in your element 💕💕💕




      🙀 my kind of meal!!

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    • Day1

      Paris mit Lili

      April 14, 2022 in France ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

      Als ich nach Flügen gesucht habe, war der von Westjet mit ab Paris mit Abstand der günstigste. Damit auch kein Stress aufkommt und nichts schiefgehen kann, habe ich mich dazu entschlossen, in Paris eine Nacht zu bleiben. Als Lili das mitbekommen hat, kam sie auf die Idee auch nach Paris zu kommen. So ist sie Mittwoch Abend schon mit Zug nach Paris gefahren und ich dann Donnerstag Morgen ab Hamburg per Flugzeug.
      Nach anfänglichen Internetproblemen haben wir uns in Paris dann zusammentelefoniert😅
      Als erstes wollten wir zum Louvre, da gab es für den Vormittag allerdings keine Tickets mehr, daher sind wir dann erstmal zur Seine spaziert. Dort am Ufer haben wir uns ein Crêpe geholt. Dann ging es weiter zur Notre Dame. Die Türme sind ja zum Glück unversehrt geblieben. An den Seiten konnte man auf Infotafeln den Wiederaufbau nachverfolgen, das war sehr interessant. Danach sind wir dann am Ufer entlang wieder Richtung Westen geschlendert. Für uns der erste richtige Sommertag dieses Jahr: bei 22 Grad und strahlendem Sonnenschein ☀️
      Nach einer kleinen Stärkung auf dem Vorplatz von Louvre sind wir dann endlich reingegangen (schlauerweise über den nördlichen Eingang, der normalerweise für Gruppen reserviert ist, wo wir überhaupt nicht anstehen mussten). Dort haben wir uns einige Ausstellungen herausgesucht, die uns interessiert haben, alles wäre uns zu anstrengend gewesen. Für die Mona Lisa musste man extra anstehen, das haben wir uns dann gespart. Zwischendurch waren wir mal draußen in der Gartenanlage Sonne tanken.
      Gegen Abend haben wir uns dann etwas bei der Patisserie geholt und am Ufer der Insel gegessen. Hammer lecker 😋
      Danach ging es dann per Metro und Tram zur Jugendherberge und dort auch direkt zu Bett: totmüde und mit schmerzenden Füßen, so viel bin ich lange nicht mehr gelaufen - aber daran werde ich mich wohl gewöhnen müssen…

      Freitag morgen nach dem typischen Jugendherbergenfrühstück sind wir dann direkt los nach Montmartre, um uns Sacre Cœur anzuschauen. Von dort hatten wir einen super Blick über Paris, wieder bei strahlendem Sonnenschein. Wir haben sogar einen Teil des Karfreitag-gottesdienstes mitbekommen. Dann zu Fuß zum Gare du Nord, dort hieß es dann wieder Abschiednehmen.
      Ich werde dich vermissen Lili❤️
      Ab in den Zug zum Flughafen und das erste mal den Kontinent verlassen…
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      Ich dich auch! War die beste Entscheidung🥰

    • Day62

      CINQ FOTOS- Day 3 Paris

      June 14, 2022 in France ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

      We started the day with another wonderful breakfast prepared by our hosts. The feature pastry was a clafoutis, a rich cherry cake.

      When we booked our travels to Paris, it was a bit of an afterthought. We realized that the proximity by fast train from Amsterdam made an easy trip. We also knew that it would be impossible to select too many attractions in such a large city with so much to do.

      Our learning in two months on the road is that some of the most priceless adventures have been to just wander and explore. This was one of those days as we had the opportunity to meet the mother and her husband of one of our good friends back home, Judith and her husband Chris and our friend Khoa later in the day.

      Judith proposed that we meet in Place du Trocadero, a plaza and gardens with spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower. After a warm greeting, we enjoyed our walk near the tower and the adjacent greenspace. Judith told us about the different neighborhoods that we were ealking through. We had a leisurely lunch at a classic French restaurant, and we enjoyed our conversation. After our farewells, we returned to the flat, and I took a very long nap. I had been up late after Moulin Rouge realizing that too much Coke Zero at dinner meant Sleep Zero due to excess caffeine consumption.

      Our friend, Khoa, who we've known for about ten years offered to meet us for drinks and dinner. It was fun to visit with him to catch up as we last hosted him in our home in 2018.

      The restaurant was also a traditional French Restaurant, and I enjoyed the lamb. While Jim C enjoyed the baked Camenbert cheese with fries. As we were leaving the restaurant, we met Khoa's partner and exchanged greetings.

      We decided to skip the metro and make the two-mile walk home on a beautiful Parisian night. The temperature was perfect, and we enjoyed the walk. It looks like Paris is going to heat up to about 38°C this weekend, and I'm glad to miss it as I really don't like the heat.

      When we returned to the flat, our hosts Stephan and Stéphane were still awake. We had a great conversation about politics in our respective countries, while sampling their offerings of home-made apertífs.

      I think some of the best parts of our trip have been sharing times with the new people we've met as well as enjoying adventures with friends and family.

      We will have a bit more time in Paris tomorrow before we return to Amsterdam. It's been a wonderful visit. Ciao!
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    • Day61

      CINQ FOTOS-Paris Day 2

      June 13, 2022 in France ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

      We woke up this morning to a generous breakfast made by our hosts to start the day.
      I managed to sleep in a bit, and I'm grateful for the rest before an eventful day.

      First on the agenda this morning was a trip to the Louvre Museum. Our hosts sent us tram connection routes, and it was a crowded, but easy ride over.

      The tram stop was very close to the Louvre, and we walked over to get in line. Although we had a timed entrance, getting into the Louvre still required a fairly long wait before getting into the museum.

      It was interesting to see additional Greek antiquities and compare them to our travels in Sicily and the Museo Archaelogico in Naples.

      We decided to explore the Islamic exhibit, and it was really quite beautiful. I admittedly hold some deep prejudices about some Islamic countries, particularly as it applies to horrible treatment of women and GLBT people. The exhibits were beautiful, particularly the pottery.
      Jim C offered a poignant reflection that it was a missed opportunity to create displays of artwork on a time continuum rather than socio-political divides. I'd further offer the thought that the creation of art in all forms is an opportunity to demonstrate commonality rather than differences.

      We did see all the popular attractions at the Louvre. The Venus de Milo was incredible, abs I enjoyed getting close to the Mona Lisa. It's smaller than I expected, but I still thought it was cool to see it in person.

      In some of the Biblical portrayals, I find it interesting, and a little creepy, that there is "spoiler alert" foreshadowing of the crucifixion of Christ. One such portrayal is of Jesus and John the Baptist playing together as toddlers under the watchful eye of Mary. John is holding a small crucifix in the painting.

      Once we witnessed some of the popular pieces, we talked about how downplayed the fact that the Louvre was once a significant palace. This contrasted our experience at the Hague where both Escher's artwork and the palace were acknowledged and celebrated.

      When we left the museum, we walked near the adjacent garden with several sculptures. There were also a couple of small reservoirs with chairs and reclining chairs around the perimeter. It was a beautiful day, and many took the opportunity to bask in the sun and chat.

      When we left the museum and gardens we looked for a place to grab lunch. We found a great outdoor café and we split a dish of croque monsieur, a ham and cheese grilled sandwich that was grilled and smothered with gruyere cheese. It was quite rich and tasty with a glass of Chardonnay.

      After lunch we went to the Opera House which inspired the writing of the "Phantom of the Opera". The hall was beautiful and ornate. We thought how fun it would be to see a performance in the Hall like we did in Barcelona's Palau de Música nearly twomonths earlier.

      We returned to our flat and we enjoyed sums relaxation time. We made plans to go to dinner at a restaurant close to Moulin Rouge, at the recommendation of our hosts. We had the added bonus of joining a couple we met online, and we were reminded of our "small world" as we have many friends in common in New England and the Pacific NW.

      We wrapped the evening with a very late-night performance at the Moulin Rouge, a performance hall dating back to the late 1800's that has witnessed performances from the likes of Edith Piaf, and Collette, a performer who almost caused Moulin Rouge to be closed when she gave a lengthy kiss to one of the other female performers.

      We were seated next to a couple from New York who had recently married and were on their honeymoon. We enjoyed our conversation with them, and we compared some of our favorite European experiences.

      It was noticeable that the women performed with very little clothing and the men, in contrast were fully clothed. Similarly, the women often made many sexual gestures, and the men's dancing was a bit sterile in comparison. There were some unusual circus type acts including a woman who swam in a water tank with pythons, as well as amazing balancing acts by men. A big hit with the audience was a couple who did amazing choreographed maneuvers on roller skates. The show concluded with a rousing performance of the Can Can

      We made the most of our first full day in Paris, and we look forward to time with friends tomorrow.
      Bonne nuit, amis et famille!
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Les Lilas, للیلا, レ・リラ, Ле-Лила, 레릴라, Ле Лилас, Ле-Ліла, FRLLI, 丁香镇

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