Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

Service of Delicious Public Places in Paris and New York

Thursday, June 22nd, 2023

Place Furstenburg, 6ieme arrondissement, Paris
Florist on Place Furstenburg

Wherever I’ve lived I’ve been drawn to quiet enclaves open to the public. We often picnicked at the Clermont estate in Tivoli, NY to watch boats on the Hudson River. It was about an hour’s drive from our house that was also in a bucolic section of Dutchess County but nowhere near the River.

Spice store on Place Furstenburg

There are a few spots I cherish in Manhattan within walking distance of my apartment. The biggest is Tudor City Greens, [photo bottom, left], a park on either side of 42nd Street, up the stairs opposite the UN on First Avenue and also accessible from two streets off Second Avenue—41st and 43rd–as well as two sets of stairs on 42nd between First and Second Avenues.

Garden at the Delacroix Museum

The waterfall on East 51st Street in Greenacre Park between Second and Third Avenues [photo bottom, right] covers up the sounds of midtown traffic. The pocket park is a cool resting place in every sense.

A country road? NO! A few steps from the Picasso Museum in Paris.
Rose garden at the Rodin Museum

I found a few such escapes or streets in Paris. The charming Place Furstenburg just outside the Delacroix museum in the 6th arrondissment is a gem [ top photo]. Also on the Place are a florist and pepper and spice shop [photo right and left above]. Tucked in the museum is a peaceful tree-filled place to sit.

Place des Voges, Paris

The shade of the Place des Voges is tempting on a hot day whether you catch your breath under a tree in the garden [photo left] or walk under the arches encircling it.

And there are plenty of benches to enjoy the rose garden of the Rodin Museum and to take a moment to think [photo above].

What are some of your favorite public places for both quiet and reflection?

Greenacre Park, Manhattan on East 51st Street
Tudor City Greens, Manhattan

Service of A Bad Rap: My Paris Trip II

Thursday, June 15th, 2023

Iconic clock at the former Paris railroad station, now the Musée d’Orsay

Bad raps abound. Some enjoy repeating them and are often smug about it. And as they utter tired claims, they look as though they think that they are clever and have made a discovery.

President Gerald Ford, one of our most athletic heads of state, was known as a klutz because of a widely publicized photo of him tripping down the steps of a plane. I went to a college that in the day had a reputation for cheap looking female students with big, overly sprayed hair and too much makeup. Nobody like that crossed my path. Recently on a local NYC radio station a morning show host claimed that Canadians were boring. That was news to me.

And what is Paris’s bad rap? If I had $1.00 for every time I mentioned Paris to some folks who’d parrot “Parisians hate Americans,” or “They are so unfriendly and rude,” I would cover more than a month’s rent. It happened as recently as Sunday when someone learned I’d just returned. I’ve been to Paris many times for a few days and hadn’t noticed it then and in 10 days you’d think I’d have an even better feel for things.

Manet picture at the Manet-Degas exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay that’s coming to the Met in NYC

Have these self-righteous ignoramuses forgotten the attitude of some New Yorkers who can’t control their overstressed, overworked, exhausted, grumpy selves that translates to rude and impatient behavior? Their Paris claims could be describing Big Apple’s citizens, bus drivers or subway employees, restaurant staff etc. Paris is a big city too and has its share of equal opportunity angry grouches. I’ll also describe a few.

Here are just some examples from my magical 10-day visit that challenge the overwhelmingly negative allegations:

  • I hadn’t made a reservation to see the Manet-Degas exhibit** at the Musée d’Orsay and asked the guard how long she thought it would take to enter the exhibit given the very long line. She asked if I was alone.

“Oui,” I said. She ushered me to the front of the line and in I walked like a celebrity. The smiles of the young guard who witnessed my happy surprise and overheard my ebullient thanks equaled hers. **The exhibit is coming next to the Metropolitan Museum. Don’t miss it.

  • I asked a keeper of one of the many kiosks that sell magazines, postcards and tourist items if he carried notecards with envelopes.

He asked, “Do you need an envelope?”

Me: “Oui.” He went into his cubby and pulled out an envelope and wouldn’t take a centime for it.

  • Many of the metro workers are over-the-top helpful. One printed out maps and directions for me. Another patiently explained the system to a British couple ahead of me in line. I was turned around in a metro station and a third walked me to the right set of stairs.
Waiting for the metro. It was a joy to ride
  • I was more than a half an hour late for my 11:30 timed entrance to the Musée de l’Orangerie, apologizing all over the place and out of breath. The young woman checking the timed document and my museum pass smiled and told me not to worry. Did I mention the long line outside of those without timed tickets?
  • I was parched and not the tiniest bit hungry and in a part of town with only two restaurants near the metro station I needed to use. I had a hard deadline as I was leaving town that afternoon so there was no time to explore other options. I asked a waiter at one if I might just have something to drink and he apologized, said they were serving lunch and as I turned to go he ushered me to the back and said to the bartender “she just wants a drink.” And that’s all I had.
  • I found a restaurant near my hotel with good food and a joyful staff. On my last night one server greeted me and declared that the table I’d chosen again was “your table.” I felt at home as I did when one of the young men at the front desk of my hotel ran to the door as I headed for my taxi, leaned out, smiled and waved goodbye.
  • Without exception the hotel employees were upbeat and helpful.
  • I was told Uber was unreliable in Paris. I couldn’t find empty city taxis. The Uber I ordered to take me to the airport arrived on the dot. Others ordered while on the run found me just fine.

Not everyone was perfect.

  • I didn’t return to a brasserie I’d visited for breakfast for a few mornings after a waiter I’d not seen before was exceptionally rude.
  • In another instance, the owner of a restaurant near my hotel that was recommended by an acquaintance acted as though she could live without my trade, so she didn’t see me again. [She preferred to chat up couples and single men. Hers was the only restaurant, from the most humble on up, where I wasn’t asked mid meal if everything was OK.] I haven’t written up my experience at this place in Yelp but am sorely tempted.
  • And last, the old woman selling tickets to the Montmartre funicular was supremely nasty to an Australian tourist ahead of me. She clearly hated her job and spewed her anger all around. We know the type.

Three blatant negatives over 10 days isn’t enough to deprecate an entire city.

In a way I’m happy that Paris’s reputation as a place Americans should avoid lingers because there were already so many tourists [from all over] and it’s not even high tourist season. Let them go elsewhere.

What bad raps about institutions, countries or services irritate you because they are unfair and inaccurate?

In addition to Monet’s celebrated “Water Lillies,” the Musée de l’Orangerie has an incredible collection of magnificent pictures

Service of Travel Tips

Monday, June 12th, 2023

I could almost have a picnic on the floor of this metro stop in midtown Paris.

I just returned from 10 glorious days in Paris. I plan eventually to share my thoughts about various adventures and impressions, but first some travel tips of both general use and about the City of Light.

Paris is cleaning the Seine so that Olympic competitors can swim in it next summer. Shot this from Batobus.
Not many Paris metro stations look like someone’s living room.
  • A portable charger for your phone is essential if you take lots of photos and rely on Apple Maps or any GPS app that gobbles up a device’s charge. I’d leave my hotel room in the morning and not return until evening and I’d want to be able to check what number metro to take.
  • Don’t hesitate to pack an extra pair of comfortable shoes/sneakers. You’ll wear them all and change them often if you’re a walker.
  • Jackets and vests from Uniqlo have deep inside pockets. These are perfect to store your passport, room key and metro card. The pocket protects these items against pickpockets and are easy for you to access.
  • If you plan to handwash socks etc., bring along a plug in case there is no stopper in your hotel bathroom sink.
  • If you’re staying in a hotel, listen to Nancie Steinberg when she suggests you bring a small bar of soap, unless you use gel for everything.
  • Pack cream rinse.
  • When you leave France, security is serious about seeing the quart-size see-through kit or baggie in your carryon luggage with liquids such as shampoo, mouthwash, makeup, etc. so keep it handy. You and the other tourists line up about 8 across facing security guards. Unless it’s right on top you’ll go nuts finding it in the mayhem of placing it, your jacket, electronics, camera, handbag and carry-on luggage in different plastic trays.
  • Bring a small empty plastic bottle that’s light and easy to refill with water and carry as you tour. Museums allow you to bring in liquids in bottles. Not usually a thirsty person, I was crazy thirsty during my trip.
  • If when you travel abroad you tend to react to the change in water and air [as I do, violently], I’ve found probiotics, one a day, help mitigate the worst. Check with your doctor. And as tempting as ice may be, pass when it’s served and drink your soda without. I even used bottled water for my water pic!
  • Don’t depend on Apple Maps. It was great to identify the number metro to take and which exit to use but unreliable above ground.
  • Paralyzing traffic goes on above ground and the metro is so easy to use. Compared to the NYC subway, you can eat off the floor.
  • Batobus is a great way to see Paris from the Seine. It stops in nine crucial places and you hop off and on as often as you like. I got on at the Eiffel Tower, took the entire tour and left at Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
  • Museum Pass was a lifesaver except at the Sainte Chapelle where the day I was there an angry security guard admitted those in the prepaid line last. [We’re supposed to go first.] I reported it to the museum pass folks. While literally broiling in line, I looked up the site and learned that the former chapel is now run by the government.
  • Even if you have a museum pass, unless you love waiting in long lines, if a website—such as the Louvre or Musée de l’Orangerie–recommends you get a timed entry, do so. Otherwise, having the pass gives you first priority access and that’s all you need.

Please share your travel tips about Paris or anywhere in the world.

This was the line for timed tickets at the Louvre. It moved fast. Sadly, my videos of the line without timed tickets were too big to post here.

Service of Sense of Direction

Monday, April 4th, 2022

Looking south on First Avenue, Manhattan

I’ve always wondered what was wrong with me because of my lack of navigational skills. I figured it had something to do with the fact that I grew up in Manhattan where I went up or downtown on the east or west side. Turns out I might be right!

Here’s an example of my clueless direction sense. I was visiting a relative who lived in a typical Florida development that reminded me of the Air Force bases I’d lived on before. All the houses, landscaping–and streets–looked alike. I got lost trying to run an errand one day and finally gave up. My husband had no difficulty finding the correct exit to a choice of main roads. It didn’t help me out of my directional slump that he was an excellent navigator so I let him do it. I panicked when alone in a rented car on business trips.

Nobody gives directions in NYC the way they do in the country. If I’m lost out of town and a well-meaning soul tells me to “drive five miles north then two east, followed by three miles south,” I’m a goner. I get easily lost when way downtown or in the Village in Manhattan known for tangled streets. Speak with me in terms of city blocks, please. No question: My sense of direction is critically flawed. I know: You use Waze or a GPS tracker. I’m talking about before or now without a smartphone and no doubt would end up in a dead end with this assistance.

If I drop into a department store in a strange city, I take note of the department I first passed on entering so that I’m sure to leave by the same door by men’s shirts or women’s handbags or I’ll never find my way back to the hotel or convention center.

NYC avenue–a straight line

Imagine my relief when I read Benjamin Mueller’s New York Times article “Keep Getting Lost? Maybe You Grew Up on the Grid.” Part of the subhead: “Childhood environments shape people’s navigational skills, researchers reported.”

According to a study published in Nature, wrote Mueller, “Much like language, navigation is a skill that appears to be most malleable when people’s brains are developing, the researchers concluded.”

Researchers are looking at this phenomenon hoping “navigation-based tests” help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease because often getting lost happens to patients before memory loss. They developed games that in some cases millions or in others hundreds of thousands  played. In addition players provided personal information.

Mueller wrote: “’If you grew up in a city like Chicago or Buenos Aires or Montreal — cities that are very grid-like — you don’t train as much your navigation skills as if you grew up in a more complex city, like London or Paris, where the streets are much more convoluted,’ said Antoine Coutrot, a scientist at the French National Center for Scientific Research and another lead author of the paper.”

Mueller continued:”’Does this mean we should design environments that should be more cognitively challenging?’ Dr. Watts said. ‘If I went to an urban planner and said make it as confusing as possible to get around a city, that’s probably not going to sell well.’” Amber Watts is associate professor of psychology at the University of Kansas.

I think that there might be another reason for weak navigational development of people brought up in cities like Manhattan. There is so much public transportation that we often don’t drive until we’re in our 20s, [like me], if at all. You learn to pay more attention to where you’re going if you’ve got to drive somewhere. For 20 some years I was on automatic after I entered a bus, subway, or taxi.

How is your sense of direction? Do you navigate well? Were you brought up in a city with tangled streets, or the suburbs or countryside? Did you learn to drive at an early age?

Road in Dutchess County, NY
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