The silver-haired lady was seated in the cool, green haven with laptop positioned ready for her thoughts to be entered on the keypad. My blue eyes changed to envious-green when I saw her cozy corner by the languid pool reflecting the tree canopy. A red cushion in her seat showed she was prepared to stay awhile in the peaceful outdoor-office by the baroque Fontaine de Médicis with its long pond filled with goldfish. (The fountain was built in 1624 for Marie de Médici, but the mythological figures were added much later.) I did not have a cushion to claim a seat for my creative endeavors. I did not have the euros to claim a flat in the Luxembourg Quarter as a semi-permanent Parisian either. Wow! Wouldn’t that be grand?
The Jardin du Luxembourg covers 60 acres in the heart of the Left Bank with formal terraces, a large pool that attracts young and old, hundreds of statues, an open-air café and many other beautiful features. When I planned our visit to Paris, I knew I wanted to be near the gardens. . I tried to be a savvy traveler and book a room close to the area most important on our wish list. Here is a suggestion to the planners in the family: get a good guidebook with pictures, such as the Eyewitness Travel Guides that show glossy photos, maps and the essential information. Computers are great for searching prices and some of your planning, but I recommend a good book as your first resource tool.
I patted myself on the back and smiled a big smile of relief when our taxi driver dropped us at the door of Hotel Le Clos Medicis. True to its advertisement, the hotel was just a few meters from the Jardin du Luxembourg and ideally located between Saint Germain des Prés and the Latin Quarter. Of course, I did my homework, checking many websites and reading the reviews. I found the best rates on AARP’s travel website. Off-season or shoulder season will provide the best rates. Check carefully since a day or two in one direction, or the other, may yield lower rates. Ask friends, but do your own comparisons for a hotel that will make you happy and create wonderful memories. After all, most of us don’t go to Paris every weekend.
I would suggest that you never just arrive without reservations at hotels, or you will likely pay the rack rate. Many years in the past, we ignorantly did this, but it is usually not a smart idea. Use any discount options you have such as credit cards, loyalty membership etc. For instance, consider this possibility when arranging your flights. If you have American Airlines frequent flyer miles, there are discounted mileage requirements for those with Citi Cards at: www.aa.com/rma
Back to the check-in at the Hotel Le Clos Medicis, we found a small hotel on a narrow street with an atmospheric lobby and friendly reception at the front desk. Holding my breath and hoping for the best, we took the tiny elevator to the second floor (first floor in French terminology) and entered our beautiful room with two large windows that opened to view the courtyard below. I thought I wanted a street view, but Adnann the nice young man at the front desk assured me of nice views and a lovely room with this selection. He was right! I could see the terraces of old buildings across and imagine what life was like in the apartments. Ladies opened their shutters and windows in the morning and closed in the evening as I did the same. Our room was large enough, considering the stories I heard about the tiny rooms in Paris! As you can see from the pictures, it was decorated beautifully. The carpet with a peacock feather design is not shown in my photos, but it was a perfect accent to the colorful room. The bathroom was spotlessly clean with good hot water supply, fluffy white towels and very modern. With this comfort, we could explore the city and come back to the room to cocoon when we were ready, or when we were exhausted to the point of dropping on the street. More likely the latter!
We went to the boulangerie on our street each morning, and then we walked in the gardens, watching folks rushing to work or jogging. The gardens were a peaceful retreat in the evening to watch the sun go down along with many other people, both old and young. Romance taps on the shoulder whether you have such a notion on the brain, or not.
With rosy skies casting beautiful light on the pond and on the faces of people sitting on benches or chairs, who could resist a few hugs and kisses?
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I just finished reading “From Here to Paris” by Cris Hammond. He says, “I was in my mid-fifties. My hair was graying. My belly was softening and my feet hurt. And now I was unemployed.” Can any of you identify with that crisis? Check the French Market for this book. I loved it! Share the link to A French Opportunity with romantic dreamers, or anyone who loves travel.