Paris/Lyon - 2008 (15)
Today was a bit of a slow day because yesterday was crazy busy. Since we're only in Paris for 2 weeks we decided to do some shopping. On an old travel video Justine Shapiro talked about a shop called Tati that we never see in the guidebooks. On the number 2 metro we've seen Tati out the window so we knew roughly where it was. Our plan was to go to Tati and then to E. Dehillerin to see about picking up some more copper cookware.
Whenever I leave the apartment I go down a different street in order to get to know my neighborhood. Today we went straight east to Avenue de Clichy because we knew we could catch the metro at the Clichy stop. Surprise to us but Avenue de Clichy is lined with cheap clothing shops and kebab restaurants, score! We also found that it had it's own Tati shop. Natalya bought a few pieces of clothing and then we went to Tati and loaded up on Parisian clothes that made the girls look very nice. Paris is not the place to buy clothes as everything here is very expensive but Tati is decent. It's probably the French equivilent to a Factory2U or TJMaxx. Things that would have been $20 at home was probably near there here. They didn't have hardly any boys or mens clothes though so that will have to wait.
After leaving we took our clothes back to the apartment and headed to E. Dehillerin to check on pans. If you don't know Le Dehillerin it's a 150 year old cooking store that speciallizes in copper. Even with the horrible exchange rate it's cheaper to get your stuff in Paris and bring it home over going to Wiliams Sanoma or Sur La Table. A 9.5 inch Mauviel Sauce pan with lid at E. Dehillerin is $266 US dollars, at Sur La Table it's special order and costs $455. Almost $200 in savings is huge. You could ship it for $50, pay tax and still be $100 ahead. We chose to put them in our bags and carry them back. That way we can go to customs in CDG airport and have them stamp our documents and E. Dehilerin would refund our tax. We bought two sauce pans, one lid and another 11 fry pan which cost us a total of $477. At Sur La Table that same stuff would have been $865. Buying our stuff there paid for half of one plane ticket.
Even though you can get Mauviel pans at Williams Sanoma they aren't the same. They've adapted them for the American home cook. The copper walls are just over half the thickness and they have brass handles to make them lighter than the cast iron ones. Yes, they're more practical in the weight category but if you don't have 2.5 mm of copper than why are you using it? I don't think that 1.5 mm copper has any advantage over alluminum. The Williams Sanoma product liine doesn't match up exactly to the professional stuff you get in Paris but buying the stuff closest to what we got it would have cost $715 there. We saved $250 and we got the real thing.
We'll stop back by and pay for them at a later date.
Our plan today is to go to Parc Asterix. Paris has several theme parks including Disneyland, Parc Asterix and Le Sable de laMer. I've not been to Disneyland Paris and I'm not interested in it either. I'm sure it's fun just like it is in America but going to Disneyland Paris is like eating at McDonalds in Paris. We've been to Parc Asterix before so we decided to return to it. I'm curious about Le Sable de la Mer as it's an old west (American) type park with indians etc.. It seems to be aimed more at younger kids though. Note that it is the oldest theme park in Paris, run by the Parc Asterix folks and is cheaper than the others.
So off to Parc Asterix we go. We got up early and took the metro to Gare de Nord where we caught the RER to the CDG airport. I've been in Gare de Nord a million times and I still think the lower levels are frustrating. It took us a while to find our RER train. Forty minutes later and $45 poorer we're at CDG airport on the shuttle rail between terminals trying find the Asterix bus. Last year we got an all-inclusive ticket from SNCF with the RER tickets, bus ticket and entrance fee. This year the train company was out so we are doing it ourselves. Information in the airport train station pointed us to a booth saying Parc Asterix on it (surprise surprise). We bought our bus tickets and Parc Asterix tickets there and preceeded on.
I've said this before but the Euro is beating us up pretty bad. The tickets to Parc Asterix are about 35 euros each which a couple of years ago wasn't bad. Now that is equivilent to nearly $60. Times that by four and add in 34 euros each way from the airport to Paris and the bus fair and we'd just dropped $330 on going to Parc Asterix. Two years ago it cost us about $90 less. Oh well, it's just money right?
After the long day yesterday we went shopping again. The Tati that we'd seen outside the metro windows seemed a lot bigger so we aimed for it. Boy is Paris different around the Barbès area where Tati is. As soon as we get out of the Barbès - Rochechouart metro station we're bombarded by middle eastern and African people wanting to sell us sunglasses and corn grilled in a shopping cart. It felt as if I'd been transported back to Turkey again.There's an Arab market here on certain days of the week and about 5 blocks north there's an African market too.
The Tati here spans about 3 buildings on 3 floors so it's quite large. The strange thing is that it looks like they took over a bunch of smaller shops because you'd actually have to go out the door to the sidewalk to get to the door to the next section. Each section had cash registers so you could pay before you leave but still it was quite odd. Not knowing what size I wore I took some large and extra large shirts and the largest pair of jeans into a dressing room and attempted to get them on. I gave up on all of them. I can't fit into an XL shirt in France! I did however find two XXL shirts that fit me tightly. I pulled a "woman" and bought a bunch of XL shirts because I liked them, they were cheep and I have no intentions of weighing as much as I do for the rest of my life. Women do this all the time and it doesn't make sense and here I go and do the same thing. I will fit my XL clothes!
From Tati we left and walked to the Les Halles area again to pay for our pans. Walking this is about 3.2km or 40 minutes. We (I) wanted to walk so we could go by Passage Brady which is a street with nothing but Indian stuff on it. I also wanted to see new territory. We got to E. Dehillerin about 10 minutes before it closed and bought the pans. The day before we leave we'll come back and get them.
One of the coolest market streets (if a little busy) is Rue Monteguil that empties out near Les Halles so we strolled down it and stopped at the two cherubs for Gelato. I miss Gelato. It's pretty good in Paris but about twice the price as in Italy.
We did more shopping (read that as Natalya did) and ended up finding little music boxes that played Le Vie en Rose which is so quitisentialy French. I bought one for my friend Sherri back home.
Dinner was provided by some Tibetans and wasn't bad although I wasn't sure what to order and we're still not sure what we did get. I do know that I ordered steamed bread which was strange in that they cook the dough by steaming it so it comes out tasting like gooey wet bread dough. Overall I wouldn't go out of my way for Tibetan food but it's no less apealing than most Chinese food. I do think the lady that waited on us was very attractive though and of course didn't look Chinese at all.
Everyone knows about the Eiffle tower, most know about the Arc de Triumph, fewer know about the Louvre, even fewer know about the Seine river cruise boats. We've done all of that multiple times and this year we're doing things we've never done before so what's next? Doing something that most tourists haven't even heard of, the canal cruise.
Many don't know that there are miles of canals in Paris that pass through a bunch of locks and that you can take a boat or barge up them. Back when the citizens of Paris relied on the Seine for fresh water they'd neardly drain it most of the year so Napoleon decided to dig a canal (not him personally) from a water source many miles away. The canals have been in service for 175 years now. The ride is about 2.5 hrs and it goes about 3 miles through 7 locks and a stretch of tunnel under the Bastille. We had to get up early to get to the Musee Dorsay are of the Quay to catch our boat. Thankfully it was a small boat with possibly 30 people on it which contrasts nicely to the Seine river cruises with their massivly powerful spotlights, blaring speakers and the crowds of tourist that pile on them.
At 9 oclock sharp we head up the Seine past the Notre Dame and the Louvre to enter a tunnel near the Bastille.
I've cut down the number of photos in the Paris/Lyon gallery by half. There were about 1300 there and now I think there's 664 or so. I also added a module so I can have my youtube videos embedded in the gallery so you don't have to check both places for videos. All photos should be rotated so you don't have to get neck cramps and there shouldn't be too many duplicates. I've not edited very many as I don't have time but there are some that I've cropped, rotated or cleaned up a bit, mainly food photos.
Now to complete the travel journal...