“Thanks to AARP!” – by Debbie Ambrous

a1The 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.a37  (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?

Notice that the young man to the right is being observed from above!  I think my dad had the same expression on his face when he saw Jim, but he was wearing more clothes!

Notice that the young man to the right is being observed from above. I think my dad had the same expression on his face when he saw Jim, but Dad was wearing more clothes!

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. a42 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.a13

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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. a21 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.  a22Ladies 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. a3 The gardens were a peaceful retreat in the evening to watch the sun go down along with many other people, both old and young.  a10Romance 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?

 

a9 Thanks to AARP for discounting a room for two young oldsters!

Click here for the French Market with books to plan your trip.

For armchair traveling and travel planning click here.  Thank you for joining us!

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.

 

“Feeding Jim and the Birds” – by Debbie Ambrous

n6The Notre Dame de Paris is recognized around the world as a masterpiece of architecture.  Thanks to Disney’s movie “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” even young children will recognize the famous cathedral.

Of course, we see the architectural beauty of the façade, but what about the framework? See the following excerpt from the Notre Dame de Paris website:

This building has been given the romantic name of “the forest” for many of the beams used to build it, each beam came from a different tree. The structure is made from oak.

The gothic arches required sharply-sloped roofs. Notre-Dame de Paris’s roofs are at a 55° incline. In addition, as framing timber became less common due to deforestation and urban development at the time, it was necessary to use weaker and lighter cutting wood, which made it possible to erect the structure and increase its incline.

The first choir structure was built using wood cut around 1160-1170 (some of these trees could have been 300 to 400 years old, coming from trees planted in the 8th or 9th centuries!!!). This first structure did not last, but the wood was reused in the second structure built in 1220The wood is still there today.

The nave structure was built between 1220 and 1240.  This structure supports a lead roof composed of 1326 tiles, each measuring 5 mm thick, for a total weight of 210,000 kg.”  See the Notre Dame de Paris website for more.

n1A long line of tourists wound its way around the cathedral on this beautiful day at the first of June when Jim and I were among the colorful crowd.  Did we join the tired, waiting, sweating folks with faces of pain resembling the scowling faces sculpted on the nearby bridge?  No, we didn’t trudge along with them since we have previously opted for out-of-season visits with fewer tourists knocking on the massive front doors of Notre Dame.

We mingled with the happy crowd, not in the long line, capturing photos to show folks at home in a Facebook or Twitter message: “Look where I am today!”  Just married, or soon to be married couples, posed in radiant happiness for photographers.  Exuberant, playful, young members of the American Boychoir School were there wearing their bright red sweaters. n7 Sitting on a bench in front of a rose garden, they behaved like typical boys on the loose.  Just as I readied my camera for a photo, two boys stuck fingers into their ears (at least, it wasn’t up their noses) and one of the larger boys tried to push a small one off the bench.  They never even looked my way.  I could report to their mothers that the youngsters were nicely mannered, and they could be proud of the budding young men.

We joined a group of lovely young ladies who had discovered tiny birds in the shrubbery in front of Notre Dame.  A gentleman with bread crumbs showed them how to attract the little birds for a landing and a photo.n15  Jim was once again mingling with the pretty ladies, and I was busy with my camera.  I asked Jim, “Are the odds for a bird in the hand higher at the Notre Dame?”  Jim edged away from the group and replied, “Could be.  You might just find a bird poo decoration on your pretty hat if you don’t get a move-on outta here! Enough of feeding these birds!  I’m hungry. If you aren’t planning on barbecued bird wings by the river, we need to be on a search for a restaurant.”  Watching out for poop on my hat and hoping to satisfy Jim’s growling stomach, we crossed the bridge to check the possibilities.

Atmosphere and ambiance head the list when I’m looking for a place to eat.  Jim’s focus is all about the food and the price.

Take a look at this Lapeyrouse!  Ambiance inside and out, but Jim didn't like the price.

Take a look at Laperouse! Ambiance inside and out, but Jim didn’t like the euros posted on the menu.

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n28n18Which one would you chose? A small café near our hotel was our final choice.  We were seated facing a large fountain near the Luxembourg Gardens with my camera finally switched in the off position.  The waiter brought my favorite, a jasmine tea from Mariage Frères, Maison de Thé à Paris depuis 1854 – the perfect way to end the day.

 

CLICK to Shop at the FRENCH MARKET for books, the movie Hunchback at Notre Dame and more!

 

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“The Beauties from Marseilles” – by Debbie Ambrous

You can stop rubbin' your eyes.  That's Jim alright!  Don't that just beat all!

You can stop rubbin’ your eyes. That’s Jim alright! Well, don’t that just beat all!

It seemed like a harmless plan with a low risk factor.  I had only left husband Jim alone in the crowd of tourists near the entrance to the Louvre for a few minutes.  What could possibly happen?  After a brief time alone with the other love of my life, my Canon camera, I turned and found the most unlikely scene.  I felt like Alice in Wonderland, except I had dropped through a hole into Jim’s dreams.  There he was surrounded by gorgeous ladies from Marseilles, who doted on his every slow-spoken, outrageously corny word!  Wake me up, please!!

Read the rest of the story by CLICKING HERE to WWW.ILOVEPARISLIFE.COM 

Message to the lovely ladies from Marseille:  I hope you are still circling around to visit the website A French Opportunity for the story since I promised to include the photos you graciously allowed me to take.  My business cards were gone when I jumped into Jim’s dreams without a proper introduction to his beautiful visitors.  But Mr. P.R. man was ready with hand-written business cards, so we would look like professional idiots, not the ordinary garden-jardin variety.  Thanks for posing with my guy and making his day!  He won’t forget it!

Bicycle for Sale

FOR SALE - A little old man rode it around the circle only once!

FOR SALE – A little old man rode it around the block only once!

Just so you know I’m selling his bicycle.  Then, he won’t up and get it into his head to recreate this scene in the Jardin des Tuileries of Opp, Alabama.

Thanks to Porter, Louise, Bob and the entire group at I Love Paris Life for making me look extra pretty on your website.  I enjoyed every minute of being your guest writer!

If you’re aching for more, just CLICK here for the book – A French Opportunity.