le dimanche 9 juin 2018 – Sunday June 9, 2019 – Detroit
Flying out of Detroit was much better than Chicago! 30 minutes from rental return, shuttle, check in with passport, dropping off luggage, walking through TSA recheck (no need to remove shoes, belts, or take liquids out of carry on) to on our way to the gate. Bought our lunch, took walks, and waited to board. We were in Delta Comfort in row 10 so we boarded the plane just after 1st class and Business class. Wonderful bulk head seats. Sandy’s feet didn’t even reach the wall with legs fully extended. Decent food, complimentary beverages, and room to stretch out legs on carry on bags.
Delta flight board at DTW in Detroit
le lundi 10 juin 2019 – Monday June 10, 2019 – Paris
We landed at 6h00 in Paris, it took 45 minutes to go through passport control. Just before we landed, a large plane had arrived from Africa and another plane from Korea had landed, so there were a lot of people in the passport control hall. The women from Africa wore very colorful, lacy clothing.
We walked to the CDGVAL shuttle to get to the RER B train into Paris. The tickets are 10€ a person. There were plenty of seats on the train. The trip was less than 40 minutes to the Gare du Nord. There we got on a #43 bus for a 10 minute ride to our hotel. We arrived at the hotel at 8h55.
view from our room with the Eiffel Tower in the background
Luckily, or because we know the hotel owner, our room was ready at 9h00. The receptionist offered us a complimentary breakfast.
After breakfast and a 2 hour nap we took a 45 minute walk to Notre-Dame de Paris. Obviously the roof was gone from the fire and there was a lot of activity underway. The public could not get too close. It was a lovely day, cool but partly sunny.
The Galeries Lafayette also sold some funny gifts.
le mardi 11 juin 2019 – Tuesday June 11, 2019 – Paris
Our son David would have been 41 years old today. We do miss him.
We walked to Palais Garnier Opera and took an audio tour. We waited in line about 20 minutes and enjoyed our own self tour by audio for about 90 minutes.
Palais Garnier grand staircase – Opera
At a Monoprix mini mart, we purchased our lunch, fruit parfait and fresh fruit for Phil, a salad with ham, balls of mozzarella, and melon for Sandy. We ate in the “cafe” section of the Monoprix mini mart.
The city of Paris is under a major construction project in preparation for the Summer Olympics of 2024. It seems like every street has some sort of construction in process.
We boarded a bus to the Champs de Mars. The Champs de Mars is the park area by the Tour Eiffel. We walked all around the Champs de Mars. It was much less crowded than the area immediately next to the Tour Eiffel. An artist is constructing a work of art on the Champs de Mars. The work involves the modification of the lawn and the creation of a maze. It is to open next week. The plan looked very pretty.
Us on the Champs de Mars with the Eiffel Tower in the background
Eating dinner outside, one of our favorite things to do in Paris, was quite chilly as even the restaurants had their heaters working on the terraces. Much cooler temperatures than last year in May.
le mercredi 12 juin 2019 – Wednesday June 12, 2019 – Paris
We took a one hour bus ride to the Bastille area. We wanted to see and walk through a garden area located on an abandoned above ground rail way line called “Promenade de Plantée“. It took us a few minutes to find the entrance but it was well worth the effort. Located in the center of Paris was a wonderful green area. It was 2 km long, and filled with lovely plants, trees, flowers all above the street on former viaducts. There were lots of benches, people jogging, walking and enjoying lunch. We came across some people speaking Portuguese or Italian (hard for us to tell the difference) who asked us in English to take some photos of them. They asked how we knew about this garden and said there were many Parisians that were unfamiliar with the area.
Us on the Promenade Plantée
We stopped in at Printemps (Spring) a well known French department store. We had been to the Galeries Lafayette flag ship store on Haussmann many times, but not Printemps. Printemps is only one city block from Galeries Lafayette. Sandy thought Printemps was fancier than the Galeries Lafayette store. Brands such as Jimmy Choo, Cartier, Tiffany, Coach, Michael Kors, and many other well known designers had their own “mini boutiques” inside the store. Even the restrooms had gold colored doors and fancy fixtures. We used our new mini-travel-lightweight umbrellas (a Christmas gift from Michael) to avoid being soaked during a rainstorm. At least this year it was just rain, unlike last years hail storm when we were at the top of the Tour Eiffel.
electric scooters (trottinets) are all over the place – sidewalks, streets, bike lanes
le jeudi 13 juin 2019 – Thursday June 13, 2019 – Paris
We’d ordered a taxi the night before to take us to Gare Montparnasse at 9h30 am. At 9h35 am the hotel employee notified us that the taxi company had cancelled the order. So, we walked towards rue Lafayette. After about 15 minutes we spotted an available taxi. Sandy waved him down in the street and we were on our way. The French taxi driver was of Armenian heritage but had been born in Paris. He talked about all of the construction, the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris and was very congenial. We arrived in about 30 minutes and had time for a relaxing cup of coffee before going to the train.
We had purchased first class train tickets and were in car 13. Our train was actually two trains joined together. The first 15 cars were headed to Quimper and the last 15 cars were going to Saint-Malo. We had to walk past 28 cars before we got to our car. It was quite a long walk. The train travels as one until the stop at Rennes. At Rennes the train to Quimper is separated from the train to Saint-Malo.
train board at Gare Montparnasse
The seats were very comfortable, we had a table between four seats, and two sets of shelves above the seats for luggage. We had a direct train to Rennes and were there in one hour and 32 minutes. This was one of the high speed trains on the TGV line. At Rennes, the train cars to Quimper separated and we arrived in Saint-Malo 35 minutes later. Less than 2 hours and 15 minutes from Paris. It was a great trip!
All our pictures from our 3 days in Paris…
can be found by clicking on the following link. It will open in a new browser window with the pictures.
This is the last blog for our 2016 trip to France. 2017 plans are up in the air. Hopefully there will be more to come!
Monday October 10, 2016 – Saint-Malo
Monday October 10, 2016 is Columbus Day in the USA. Many businesses had the day off from work. Malls and stores use it as a day to begin holiday shopping. Today in France the temperature was 6 C or 41 F when Sandy walked to La Fournee Malouine to buy our breakfast. This boulangerie is listed on the Saint-Malo tourism site as being one of the locations referred to in Anthony Doerr’s book All the Light You Can Not See. It is one of our favorite boulangeries.
We mailed a card at the post office, stopped at the syndic to pick up our keys to the cave that he borrowed, and looked at one of our “potential gifts” from yesterday. Unfortunately the box containing the gift says “made in China” so we decided not to buy it.
Corsaire ferry approaching the ramp in the Saint-Malo harbor
A nice three mast ship in the harbor
The three mast ship compared to the Condor Ferry
Tuesday October 11, 2016 – Saint-Malo
Tuesday October 11, 2016 is 5 C! Cold!! We spent one hour today with Christine for our final tutoring session with her. She has helped us a lot! We saw the kumquat bush her neighbor has on our way to and from Christine’s house. It was shaped and trimmed as a hedge but full of both kumquats and flowers. It was lovely to look at. We know that people can keep geraniums here outside all year without harm, but didn’t realize it stayed warm enough for kumquats.
On our way back we stopped at the Carrefour Market in Courtoisville to shop for a few items and while waiting for the bus sat next to an older gentleman. He was reading the Ouest du France newspaper from today and read the same article to Phil three times. When another lady joined us on the bench he read the same article to her three times too. Phil had a short conversation with him about the weather, the bus etc. He seemed to understand and responded correctly. It’s always interesting when taking public transportation.
On our bus ride back, we spotted two of the Corsair ferries in the basin. One of them, the open boat, was completely covered with what looked like a white plastic tarp. It’s in the harbor for the winter.
Sandy needed to go to the doctor today. She was able to make the appointment herself but the doctor available was neither of the two doctors she had seen earlier in the year. The doctor was okay, not as personable as the previous two she had seen and did not speak English, but figured out what was needed and we were off to the pharmacy. The cost of the visit was 35 euros and the two prescriptions were 8 euros. Hopefully, problem solved.
Hungary license plate in the car park near Port Saint-Louis
Wednesday October 12, 2016 – Saint-Malo
Wednesday October 12, 2016. Sandy had a much better night and of course, so did Phil. Phil shopped for our breakfast today and the temperature was 7 C. Definitely cool, but not much wind. Phil returned Sandy’s library books to the Mediatheque and almost froze. The wind had definitely picked up.
Later in the afternoon we took the recycling to the center and found a gift we wanted to purchase. It was sunny but cool so we soon headed for home.
Thursday October 13, 2016 – Saint-Malo
Thursday October 13, 2016 was the day for our last hair cut in Saint-Malo. The coiffeurese hasn’t completed the sale on her building and didn’t sound too happy about the situation. We took the bus to the IUT stop across from E.LeClerc. Phil took care of changing our mailing address at the utility company and tax office. Sandy dropped off batteries and light bulbs for recycling then purchased 6 items we needed.
We were back home using only the one bus ticket in the hour and a half allowed time frame for each ticket.
Friday October 14, 2016 – Saint-Malo
Friday October 14, 2016 was cloudy. Sandy shopped for our breakfast and purchased a croissant amande for the first time in quite a while. They are delicious! Full of almonds, a thin layer of thick custard, made with croissant dough and covered in powdered sugar. We think they have at least 1000 calories per piece. However, they aren’t available in the USA.
We took the navette bus to Saint-Servan. We wanted to wish the butcher and his assistant a good winter, thank them for delicious meat, good prices, and tell them goodbye. Sandy spoke in French to tell the assistant when we were leaving and when we hope to return. Phil bought a piece of filet mignon to cook for dinner with the last of our french fries. He wished the butcher a good winter and the butcher told him they await our return with pleasure. Lovely French expressions. We waited one minute for the navette to return to Intra-Muros. We were away from our apartment less than one hour.
Our filet mignon at dinner time was probably the best and most tender piece of beef Sandy can remember. Tres, tres, bon!!!
Saturday October 15, 2016 – Saint-Malo
Saturday October 15, 2016 was again cloudy and cool. Sandy hurried to take her shower and walk to the boulangerie before they were ready for their break at 9:00. She was crossing the street at 8:52 am as both of the boulangers walked outside their door. They greeted her warmly as usual and the younger of the two went back inside to help her. They had just placed a tray full of chou a la creme in the patisserie case and she bought one flavored with framboise and another flavored with chocolate for our dessert.
Later in the morning we shopped at Philippe Bouvier Chocolatier and took the rest of our leftover bread to the Place du Marché aux Legumes. We threw all of the bread into the grassy-flower area and watched sparrows, pigeons, and a gull enjoy the bread buffet.
gull getting the bread
flowers in the place
We intended to watch our friend Alain play boules for the last time in the afternoon. However, just as the game was to start it began to rain fairly hard. So, game cancelled and we stayed inside. By 17:00 the sun was out and the sky was blue. Too bad the rain cloud arrived at the same time as the scheduled game.
Sunday October 16, 2016 – Saint-Malo
Sunday October 16, 2016 was our last full day in Saint-Malo. Sandy had a short conversation with the boulanger at Simone boulangerie when she shopped for our breakfast. She told him we were returning to the USA. He asked where we were from in the states and he knew where Minnesota was located. He wondered if we were returning to vote. He also volunteered that he and others in France hope Hilary will win. It’s interesting to hear how other people in the world care about our country and what goes on there.
We walked to the hotel Quic-en-Groigne and told our friend Marie-Dominque farewell and made the first of a couple stops to the recycling-garbage area. She told us to have a good trip and they hope to see us next spring. We hope so too.
We ate in the middle of the afternoon at the Fish + Chips shop. Delicious and a huge quantity of both fish and fries. Very tasty and it was warm enough (19 C) to eat outside.
After eating we spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning, packing, and organizing. Lots to take to the recycle area in the morning.
Monday October 17, 2016 – Saint-Malo & Paris
Monday October 17, 2016. We woke up before daylight and walked to La Fournee Malouine to have breakfast. after Sandy put all of our sheets and towels in the washer. We told the propritriece that we were leaving this morning and thanked her for being patient with our French and for preparing such delicious baguettes and patisseries. We walked to the harbor to look at the high tide which had a co-efficient of 114. It was almost even with the street. The Brittany ferry moored in the harbor looked like a cork because it was floating so high. We returned to the apartment to unplug everything, cover all of the furniture and bedding in plastic. We turned the mattresses over so they would be ready for our next visit. Sandy took one more bag of recycling to the center and stopped in the Place aux Legumes to give the birds our last pieces of bread. Phil ran the vacuum for the last time and we rolled down all of the shutters.
Our friend Jean-Louis picked us up a couple of minutes after 11am and drove us to the train station (Gare). It was a gorgeous day, sunny and a temperature of 18 C. We visited with him and his wife Claudine, posted our tickets, and found our seats on the train. We had reserved 1st class tickets with our seats facing each other on the aisle. There were two types of seating available, the type we had with only one seat width on the side and 4 seats facing each other with a table in the middle on the opposite side. The ride was fine, less than 3 and a half hours and we were in Paris at station Montparnasse. It was sunny here and 19C. Sandy did not bother to wear her coat in the taxi. We took a taxi to the hotel Plaza Opera on rue de Maubeuge and checked in. When we were here in March we had a very nice room. There were two twin beds next to each other as a queen sized bed. There was a desk, one arm chair closet area and a luggage rack. In the bathroom was a huge bathtub with shower. It was one of their premium rooms and was on the 3rd floor. This time we were in a larger room but it is L-shaped. There was a king sized bed, a desk, arm chair, two stools, nice sized closet area with shelves and a luggage rack There was a full sized shower stall in the bathroom. We had two french doors leading to a “Juliette” balcony. We could step outside to look around and see the Eiffel Tower. The room also had another single sized bed that could also be a pull out trundle bed. We had requested a simple room with the two twins which made a queen bed. No extra view, windows, or space. We’re not sure whether we were given a nicer room because of our return visit within 8 months, or because the owner is good friends with Marie-Dominique and Michel from Saint-Malo. It was a luxurious room and huge in comparison to Paris sized hotel rooms. After settling in our room we walked to Galeries Lafayette Haussmann. Just like when we were here in March security officers were checking bags and under men’s coats before allowing you into the store. Sandy loves looking at the gorgeous stained glass center of this store. We made a couple purchases at the Paris gift area and walked back towards the hotel to find a restaurant for dinner. Our hotel is literally surrounded by hundreds of restaurants. We had a delicious Italian dinner at Cafe Rizzo next door to our hotel. Sandy had read about it on Tripadvisior in March but it happened to be closed the night we intended to visit.
high tide in the harbor
our room in Paris
our room in Paris
view from our room
electric charging station
charing an electric car
charging an electric car
small glimpse of Montmartre
FC BAYREN MUNCHEN
appetizer / entre
main dish / plat
plat – pasta & ricotta
Tuesday October 18, 2016 – Paris
Tuesday October 18, 2016 It was sunny and 15 C when we woke up. We enjoyed breakfast in the lower level room at the hotel. Sandy had pre-booked the breakfast at a special price. We enjoyed baguettes with butter and 5 different varieties of confiture, croissants, pain au chocolate, several types of bread to be toasted, hot chocolate, coffee, tea, warm milk, yogurt, fresh fruit, canned fruit, two types of cereal, soft boiled eggs, ham, cheese, and freshly squeezed orange juice.
After breakfast we walked literally across the street to catch the #42 bus to the Charm du Mars which is at the Eiffel Tower. Such a beautiful day to be outdoors. The area around the Tower is fenced off. If you want to purchase tickets, have tickets, or want to access the restaurant you must go through security. We caught the #69 bus which is a scenic route according to Rick Steves’ book. It is a long but lovely ride past the Lourve, Musee d’Orsay, Seine and boats, Bastille, Place de la Concorde, Hotel d’Ville.
We got off, enjoyed a lovely lunch on a terrace. Sandy had a croquet monsieur with salad and fries. Phil ordered chicken with a creamy mushroom sauce and rice. We walked around a bit, got back on the bus and returned to the hotel. What a great day in Paris. It was raining by the time we were ready for dinner. A quick duck underneath the canopy and we were at Cafe Rizzo again. Phil enjoyed steak à point on top of a bed of salad and freshly shaved parmesan cheese. Sandy loved her homemade ravioli filled with mushrooms served with a light, thin, creamy mushroom sauce. For dessert Phil had a traditional Tiramisu and Sandy had Tiramisu with fruits. They included raspberries, currents, strawberries, blueberries, and black raspberries. They were delicious! Back to the hotel to finish packing, etc.
Camps du Mars
from the bed room – Eiffel tower beacon
Wednesday October 19, 2016 – Paris
Wednesday October 19, 2016 was sunny but cool. We had breakfast at the hotel and inquired about our car service to the airport. It was scheduled for a 9 am pickup. We checked out and waited in the lobby for the car. There was a lot of traffic that morning and the car was about 10 minutes late. The driver was from Libya and spent the entire 35 minute ride explaining to us about his country and the troubles his family had. He had a wife and son and was planning to move to the U.K. where he would work at the bank HSBC. It was a very informative ride to the airport.
We checked in, checked our luggage and headed for TSA. Phil forgot to put his French Opinal pocket knife in our luggage before we checked them. He handed it to the agent who immediately disposed of it. That was disappointing for sure. Now we had 3 hours to wait. There’s always a lot going on so we were fine. However, the boarding time for our plane came and went and we were thinking of out tight connection in Detroit. Finally they began to board the plane. We were in the “Sky blue priority” so didn’t wait much at all.
However, as we descended the ramp what was waiting for us was a bus, not a plane. After crowding as many standing passengers as possible in the bus we took off. Sandy doesn’t do well holding on to the railing and frequently looses her balance on buses when standing, so it wasn’t an easy ride. After riding around the airport for almost 10 minutes we arrived at the bus only to have it begin to rain. We made it up the stairs and onto the plane. Our premium economy seats were fine. Still really not enough leg room for Phil but so much better than economy. Sandy prefers the 4 rows of seats that are “curtained” off from the rest of the plane. It took a long time to get everyone on board and we departed 45 minutes late. We had little hope of making our connection. Arriving in Detroit, we were the first passengers off the plane. Sandy had talked to the head stewardess and she explained what we needed to try to make the connection. A lady seated in front of us had a similar situation. We first waited in line for passport control, not too bad, then had to wait for and pick up our luggage which had been marked “priority” for a tight connection. Air France is good about that.
Delta made the decision (told to Sandy by one of the Delta employees) not to pay attention to the priority status and put our luggage with the general population instead of using a priority carousel. Finally got our luggage after an employee worked 4 times to get the carousel working, headed for Immigration control then to have our bags rechecked. Our next surprise, not planned or informed of, was we had to be completely rechecked at TSA. We hadn’t left the secure area of the airport having just arrived from Paris, where security is high, and we had to remove shoes, take liquids out of hand luggage, walk through a screener and Phil had to be patted down. Our Sky Blue status with Air France means we don’t remove shoes or liquids and are usually in a shorter line. Not so in the USA!!! It was now 10 minutes before our connection departed. We quickly scanned a flight board and saw it was still boarding. We literally raced, walked and ran to the gate only to see that it had already departed. We joined many other travelers at the Delta Help Desk. After speaking in person to an employee, she took us to one of the help phones, had us talk to a Delta representative since we’d come from an international flight, then printed the boarding passes for us. We were booked on an 8:30 pm flight. Phil called Hertz to tell them about our time change, we ate a McDonald’s fruit parfait, tried to calm down and relax then were able to board our flight. We were given premium economy seats again on the Delta flight but both seats were at the window in different rows of 3. It’s only an hour and a half flight from Detroit to Minneapolis, so no problem.
When we arrived in Minneapolis we were at one end of the airport. The baggage claim was at the other end. During our running in Detroit, Phil hurt his right heel. Now it was so painful he had difficulty walking. We weren’t sure if our bags made it so while Phil stood at the carousel, Sandy talked to the “luggage help” employees. Believe it or not, one of our luggage made it onto the flight we missed. The other piece was on the later flight that we traveled on. So, with both pieces of luggage we walked back to the other end of the airport to the rental car desk.
Our name was not on the “Gold member” hertz board so Phil spoke to one of the employees. Seems like Phil’s call to Hertz didn’t register with Minneapolis so they cancelled the reservation as “no show”. The employee arranged for a car, parked about 4 blocks away so another painful walk for Phil. We were in the car and out of the airport. However, neither of us remembered to ask for a map, the car didn’t have gps and it was now 10:20 at night. We’d been up and awake for 22 hours straight. The gps on Phil’s phone was ridiculously re-configuring and after a couple of wrong turns we were headed for Rochester, MN. We took 55 south to 52 south then in Rochester, took 90 west towards Winona. There was very little traffic but after exiting the highway on the Winona turn off Sandy spotted several deer next to the side of the road. Phil slowed down and we were both on the look out. We arrived at the Alexander Mansion B + B at 12:30 am on October 20, 2016. We’d been up and awake for 24.5 hours. Sandy looses her balance with lack of sleep and has trouble concentrating.
Thursday October 20, 2016 – Winona, Minnesota
Thursday October 20, 2016 we woke up in Winona. Sandy was able to sleep to 7 am (14:00 in France time) and Phil slept until 8 am. Phil’s heel is still very painful to walk on. Sandy feels discombobulated. There were quite a few changes to the apartment. Everything had been painted. A new tv, mirror, table, chairs, and sofa were in the living room. There are new gardens planted outside. It feels nice to return to a lovely apartment that feels like home.
An autumn fog hiding the tops of the bluffs in Winona.