A Sunday in Paris…street art, les soldes, and yes, the caged birds sing.


Mural found on Jan 12th walk around the Marais in Paris
Mural found on Jan 12th walk around the Marais in Paris

I’m still adjusting to my current time zone, so woke early, but didn’t climb down from my nest till noon.

I ran out of baguette and greens, so figured I’d have to hunt for an open market, since it is Sunday, and most of Paris is closed. Luckily, my flat is very close to Le Marais district, which is the one place in Paris that has many shops open.

I was very close to le Marais, much closer than I expected.


This was the first day I explored in the direction of the Seine and Notre Dame. I got distracted by the “Soldes” signs.

 This is the season of the winter sales in Paris. They only have sales twice a year. Once in the winter and once in the summer, for about 3-6 weeks each. Sales are city-wide, including the national/international chains like H&M, and the large super expensive Galleries Lafayette.  I’m going to explore the smaller boutiques in the Marais over the next few days, a little at a time.

IMG_1616 IMG_1618

After taking a quick look at the shop sales, I made my way towards Notre Dame. Along the way I found a little market that sold caged birds, some “pet” rodents, lovely orchids, and other garden plants and decorations. While the bird/rodent market wouldn’t fly, pardon the pun, in the USA, the lovely birdsong certainly brightened up a dreary day.

Once I took a peek at the cathedral, I had my fill of damp cold, and made my way back home to find bread and other supplemental food stuffs. Along the way, I found the slightly seedier side of Paris. An actual “Love Hotel” and “Sex shops” sprinkled among the other shops and felafel stands. Mostly closed.

I finally found my baguette, as well as a pastry I’ve seen around, but had no idea what it was. They were selling like crazy, so I decided to go with a small one, just to see what it was all about. It was a “Kings Cake” Usually sold around January 6th. There is a small charm hidden inside puff pastry filled with a sweet almond paste. De-Licious!!!

The past few days I spent appreciating bread and pastries. I’ve found the grocery stores, and will be doing my best to commit to eating clean. I’m going to have to build in allowed cheat days, because otherwise I will snap like a dry brittle twig. Wish me luck!

Internet is spotty, so I will try to post some cool photos again later.

Personal tour of the Port de Vanves Flea Market & A day in the life

I do not own this photo:  By Demeester (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I do not own this photo:
By Demeester (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I got moving early for a personal tour of the Porte de Vanves Flea Market. This flea is focused on antiques. Claude, the gentleman who is letting the flat to me, is quite the expert on who has what, and the quality. Things are generally inexpensive if shown on the ground, and pricier if on a table.  Can you believe I didn’t take ANY photos of this!?! I’d be shocked at myself, but I remember being mesmerized by the stuff on display. The photo above is a creative commons photo of the market.

Claude also took me down a short side street/walkway that he said was all black-market. We had to take a quick look, because if the police come, the vendors have to grab their things and run.

There were so many fun things to look at, but I really didn’t need any of it, and couldn’t justify the postage home. We got there about 10 am, and the vendors started closing up shop at noon.

I grabbed a sandwich to go from a nearby shop, and made my way back to my neighborhood. Before I went back up to my flat, I stopped at the Monoprix for some veggies.

I do not own this.  This is public domain
I do not own this. This is public domain

Monoprix is a mix between a super Walmart and super Target, but really small, a little jumbled, with food on one floor, and personal items, clothing and housewares on another.

I just happened to see a silk scarf on sale. It was 50% off, aubergine and gold dots, 7 euro 50, so now it is mine. Silk takes no room in my bag.

I returned to the flat to straighten out my mobile phone situation.  When I was state-side, I asked the people at the mall kiosk if I had the plan that would give me what I needed.  They were very wrong. It took about an hour, some quiet cussing, some tears and begging, and talking to ten people, no exaggeration. Also, lost some $ in the deal, but now I have free texting and data, and .20 cents a minute calling while outside of the USA.

  Really, in reviewing this past paragraph….I was so much more frustrated in this process than I can apparently convey.

About 4pm some kind of peaceful protest went down my street. It was loud shouting over a PA system, and followed by lots of traffic. I think they timed it for rush hour. Once it passed, I made a quick run to get a baguette and some cheese. Oh, some macarons, too. I have found I love them.

Now I am going to settle in with some more tea, and work on my travel plans into February. Time is flying!

I’m on my way! Departing home, and arriving in Paris

Crappy photo of the rest of the flat.  Yes, this is all of it.  LOL
Crappy photo of the rest of the flat. Yes, this is all of it. LOL

I’m on my way.  The morning was full of stress, a little bit of panic, and some sadness that I wouldn’t be seeing my home for six months.  Did I get everything done?  The water heater is off, and the water turned off.  Will everything be safe and sound for all that time?  I still had to drop off the cable box, since I had the service turned off that day.  Then the drive to the bus station for my ride to Logan Airport, in Boston.  My nerves were still high, and as I was driving I kept having mini-panic attacks, thinking please let me make it to the bus safely.  I kept thinking I would get into a car accident.  On the ten minute ride to the bus.  Then, I locked the keys in the car, so I wouldn’t have to carry the keys for six months, and possibly lose them.  (I left a set of keys with my father, so he could pick the car up later…eventually).

I never really relax until after I get past security, even when I traveled weekly for work.  Whew! Even thinking back to pre-security stress brings it all back.  But then, once I get through…it sorts of melts away.  I’m still excited, but the dread of leaving home for so long slowly trickles away.  I was planning on traveling through some major airports, and using airlines that have a partner agreement with Delta, since I still have some status, so I renewed my Sky Club membership.  It makes for a bit more comfort when going on longer flights, with the partner airlines.  I get to use their clubs, which is nice – free internet, refreshments, and a more comfortable quiet place to wait for my long haul flight.

Since I was flying via Virgin Atlantic, I got to use the Virgin Club.  That, my friends, is a super nice club.  Table service, nice menu…certainly an elegant way to spend a couple of hours before the first leg of my flight.  All too soon it was over, and it was time to board the flight.

My seat mate was an elderly woman, that reminded me of my grandmother, so it was a pleasant ride.  Nice conversation, and periods of quiet.  I was surprised how fast the trip was.  The seven hours went quickly.  Before I knew it, we were landing in London.

I thought I’d be able to get into the Arrival’s lounge for Virgin, but I had to go through customs first.  The Passport control officer was a bit cranky.  I had heard that to prevent Passport control from stamping a whole page of your passport, you could put on a sticky note, just so they don’t open your passport at random and stamp away.  Apparently, you should really not do that.  I bet I now must have some kind of note in my file.  That was so not a lot of fun.  But, I got through.  Only to find out that the Revivals Lounge isn’t available to Delta Sky Club members till April.  Darn and Shucks.  There were other words.  I’ll spare you.  Thus I made my way to the other terminal, and back through security.  It wasn’t that bad, but not as relaxing as I had anticipated my four-hour layover to be.  Also, my cell phone data service, which was supposed to work out of the country, wasn’t.  Also, my credit card’s chip and strip weren’t working.  Yayness.  I had brought my insulated mug, and some tea bags, so was able to get some hot water for tea, and I brought some snacks.  I managed to chill, and eventually boarded my short flight from London to Paris.

The trip from Charles De Gaulle to the flat was uneventful – I was so excited to see the place, find food, and crash.  The Host, Claude, was a small, older, very energetic gentleman, who took me all the way from how to get through the two security doors, how to use the elevator (200 Euro fine if I block the doors and the elevator gets stuck.) How to get into the apartment, how to flush the toilet (200 Euro fine if anything other than waste and tp goes down and blocks the line), how to use the washer/dryer, which came with instructions in English.  Where the trash goes, and what should be recycled and what isn’t.  Where the good markets were.

Once the “Orientation was over, I headed on a search for a market, I needed some provisions.

That is usually how my travel day goes.  I arrive in a new place, show up at the lodging, get  a little orientation, run out for provisions, and then plan my stay after scouting around a bit.  Or napping, depending on the day.

Soon I’ll be posting on what my days were like in Paris.


Dear Diary…Posts of anticipation (Jan 5-8)

January 5th:

I don’t know why I’m dusting my condo. After six months, I’ll have to be very careful not to stir a breeze when I walk back in July-ish, and cause a dust storm.

In other news – pre-departure house cleaning progress is being made. Whew! I won’t have to wonder who trashed the joint – and realize that it was me.

January 7th:

Checked in for my flight! Gonna obsessively unpack and repack my backpack. Then a final walk through. I wonder what I’ve forgotten. Whatever it might be, I’ll work it out. LOL

January 8th:

I’ve about an hour before my flight, and am relaxing in the Virgin Atlantic Club House. I’m so happy Delta partnered with Virgin! This is the best state side airport club I’ve been in so far! It is like a mini restaurant, with table service even. I was offered two kinds of sparkling wine, as well as a full bar. I took the Prosecco. Then I had the vegetarian Chickpea chana masala. I’m following that up with a pot of tea and a tiny desert made with chocolate pudding, topped with a rum walnut concoction and whipped cream. This was a lovely resolution to my super stressed scrambling of the day. Soon I’ll be boarding my flight to London, where I’ll get to hopefully sample the premier Virgin Atlantic club, for at least an hour before I catch the leg to Paris. I’m kinda looking forward to the actual flight on Virgin Atlantic.

For anyone wondering how I got access to the clubs – I keep a Delta Sky Club membership when I am consulting. It gives me a place to work with access to wifi, and occasionally take work calls. This time I’m using it for my adventure travel. — feeling Chilling in the club before my flight at Virgin Atlantic – Terminal E – BOS.

(a few minutes pass) On the plane now: OMG! Virgin Atlantic coach seats have power ports!!!