Tidbits from Paris

We are just back from a three-day, two-night trip to Paris, and in this posting I will simply share a few observations about our favourite city.

What’s wrong with Paris? I’ve read articles in the British press that Paris is a disaster — dirty, full of garbage, run down, and locked in traffic chaos. Of course, such articles tend to be in the Telegraph, which is still trying to explain how terrible Europe is, in order to help its commentators justify Brexit.

In our view, Paris was as beautiful as ever. Of course there are lots of roadworks and lane restrictions, but we still found traffic flowing nicely. (Despite a bit of a shoddy reputation, we have found that Parisian drivers are actually pretty skillful and courteous. We’ve never seen the gridlock suffered in London, or the out-and-out road battles that take place in Rome.) So, what’s wrong? Nothing that we could see. And of course, the iconic landmarks continue to be special, like the structure below, as seen from our hotel window:

Look familiar?

Getting around, in style. Having spent much of our working life in Toronto, Jan and I still have vivid memories of that city’s beat-up, run-down and often smelly taxis. On our visit there last September, we moved around in Uber vehicles, which were generally pretty good and clean. But in Paris, taxis seem to be at yet another level — inevitably they are spotless, modern, and relatively high-end models. We could have taken advantage of Uber in Paris, but we’re used to the taxis, and how good they are.

A brush with history. For our lunch on Friday, we had elected to try Le Grand Véfour, the venerable restaurant located next to the gardens of the Palais Royal, and near the Louvre. It started life in 1784, originally as the Café de Chartres, but was changed when it was bought in 1820 by one Jean Véfour. It was closed from 1905 to 1947, but it’s been operating ever since. The restaurant is quite famous for its neoclassical decor, featuring large mirrors and elaborate painted decorations. Here’s the view from our table, looking into another room:

You could describe the decorations as “elaborate.”

Will Our Lady be ready? Since the devastating fire of April 2019, Notre Dame de Paris has been a massive construction site. President Macron has said that he would like all the restoration completed and the cathedral re-opened in time for the Olympic Games of 2024. Certainly we hope that this will come about. However, when we passed the cathedral on Thursday afternoon (we were in a taxi heading along the Seine, on the Left Bank), it looked like there is a long, long way to go. While the front of the cathedral is apparently fully restored, the side that was facing us was virtually gone. In other words, much of the building needs to be literally re-built, as opposed to repaired. Fingers crossed, everyone.

This entry was posted in French food, History in France, Paris restaurants, Restaurants in France and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Tidbits from Paris

  1. Deborah Laing says:

    Love your blogs and it sounds fabulous. Would you tell us the name of your hotel, . Or take us with you next time 🤣.

    • loren24250 says:

      It’s La Comtesse, in the 7th. Small, very well run, good cafe on the ground floor for breakfast, and near lots of good things — the Ecole Militaire (across the street), variety of restaurants, a reliable taxi stand, and access to the subway. Not a cheap date, but very good.

  2. Judy says:

    Loren Thank you for your positive Paris updates. We’re spending time there in the Fall. Fingers crossed and prayers for the restoration of Notre Dame. Such amazing artisan work being done there.
    Enjoying your Daglan messages too, we visited last summer.

    • loren24250 says:

      Hi there! Not sure if you can find it, but the BBC did a great program on the Notre Dame restoration a year or so ago. Really amazing the amount (and variety) of artisan work (and heavy-duty work) being done. Enjoy Paris!

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