Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


France Trip (Days 7 & 8) -- End of Trip!

Day 7: Friday, September 30
Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysées, Musée de l’Orangerie, Promenade Plantée
Our friends J & C came to meet us at the hotel for café at 10am, and we spent a pleasant hour chatting with them about travel, culture, and politics. Then we headed off to the Metro and traveled to the Arc de Triomphe, where we climbed up to the top for some more photo opportunities. Then we strolled down the Champs Elysées towards the Tuileries Gardens, stopping along the way to get savory crepes for lunch, which we enjoyed in a garden area right across the street from the American Embassy.

We passed the big white tents set up for Paris Fashion Week in the Place de la Concorde and visited the Musée de l’Orangerie, where eight large-scale panels of Monet’s water lilies are on display in the light-filled upper galleries. I had very vivid and fond memories of these enormous canvases from my time in France in 1995, although my visual images of the rooms was quite different, as I remembered coming upon them quite unexpectedly on the bottom level of the museum, but Mr. E and I viewed them on the top level. This discrepancy was resolved when we saw another display on the lower level showing four stages of the museum’s architectural evolution, including the latest renovation in 2006 that restored the Monet paintings to their featured top position from their former lower level placement, which is where I had indeed seen them 21 years ago.

Our next destination was the Promenade Plantée, an elevated former railway line that has been repurposed into a pedestrian pathway through part of the city (and which served as the inspiration for the High Line in NYC). We strolled atop the Viaduc des Arts until we reached the end of the elevated section, where we then took a pause in the pocket park of Vivaldi Allée. We decided to walk back along the street so that we could browse the various artisans whose studios and galleries are built under the arches of the viaduct. Incredible craftsmanship and artistry for woodworking, metallurgy, lights, paper artwork restoration, textiles, silver, and boots, among others.

By the time we had finished with our stroll, some sprinkles were starting to fall, so we were glad that we had carried around our umbrellas all day in anticipation of some precipitation. The metro took us back to the hotel, where we looked up the menu for the nearby Le Petit Sommelier restaurant to make sure I could find appropriate options. Our final meal in France was absolutely wonderful! Mr. E got the variety of pig parts for his starter and lamb with artichoke purée for his main dish, and I enjoyed the prawns with fennel citrus salad followed by grilled octopus with candied turnips and bok  choi. We also both ordered the supplemental wine pairing, so each course began with the sommelier’s presentation of the wine and explanation as to why it would pair well with our food. The meal ended with a cheese plate for Mr. E and a rather large lemon meringue tarte for me. Delicious! We capped off the evening with a final glass of wine at the hotel bar.

Day 8: Saturday, October 1
Paris > DC > Sac
We had found a Starbucks at the Gare Montparnasse yesterday, so I returned there in the morning to fetch coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice (why can’t the US Starbucks offer this wonderful concoction??) before we got all of our belongings together and caught the Bus Direct back to the airport at 9am. Thank goodness for Mr. E’s United Platinum status to help us get through the passport control in the priority line or we would have been waiting for at least an hour just for that part of the process. Yikes! Mr. E’s status also gave us access to the Star Alliance lounge, where we had several cups of café allongé and took advantage of the breakfast buffet food items before heading to our gate. No upgraded business class seats this time around, but at least we still had Economy Plus and were in a row with just our two seats, so we had some extra room to move around.

Both flights home were uneventful, and the only travel annoyance was having to wait more than 30 minutes for our checked bag at the Sacto airport. Arrrgh! Just do not understand why prompt baggage service is such a challenge for our Sacto crew. Regardless, we were home and snuggled in bed with the kitties by about 9:30pm, hoping to avoid too much jet lag over the next few days.

C’était un voyage très aimable. When do we go back??!!


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