21 August 2015

Some Recommendations For When You're In Paris

Today I am flying back to New York, so this post will be short.

This, of course, is not the first time I've been to Paris. But it's the first time since I started this blog, and the first time since my operation.  It was also the first time I visited in more than a decade.

Much has remained the same.  However, as on any trip, I made a couple of minor discoveries you might find useful should you find yourself in Paris.

One is, of course, Paris Bike Tour.  I can't recommend them highly enough.  For one thing, they're located just steps from Les Halles/Centre Pompidou, nestled between the lively and charming neighborhoods of Beaubourg and Le Marais.  PBT's rental rates are very reasonable (25 Euros for a 24-hour day and 10 Euros for each additional day after that) and their bikes, while basic, are well-maintained. They require a 300 Euro deposit (cash or cheque),refundable upon return of the bike, or a credit card number.  I gave my card number and they didn't put a "hold" on it.  And, when I returned the bike, they returned the contract, which had the only record of my card number.

The best parts  of Paris Bike Tour all are their staff members Kevin, a native Parisian, and Stephen, who hails from Montreal and is thoroughly bilingual in English and French. (Kevin speaks some English, too, though I conversed mainly in French with him.)  PBT also employs guides who lead tours in English and French as well as other languages.  I didn't take any of them, but from what I've seen, I'd expect the guides and tours to be engaging and interesting, and probably a good choice for a first-time visitor to the city.

Another recommendation is the place where I stayed:  the Hotel Lenox-Montparnasse.  I don't know what the rates are because the room was included in a package with my air fare.  I had a small room--typical for a Paris hotel--but it was immaculately kept.  Even better is their service:  Every day, after I went out, the hotel's workers return the room to the pristine condition in which I found it when I first checked in.  Plus, it's in a convenient yet safe location, with a station of a major Metro line (Number 4) right at the corner.

The Lenox is in a building that, as well-kept as it is, has character and charm.  It''s not a faceless chain hotel in a glass or steel box; its a smallish hotel in a real Left Bank Building, albeit one with modern amenities.

The concierge recommended a restaurant which will be the final recommendation of this post:  La Brasserie Gaite.  If you want to eat an authentic French meal at a reasonable price, you must go to LBG.  Named for the street--la rue Gaite--on which it's located-- just across the Edgar Quinet Plaza from the Lenox Hotel--it's lively, if sometimes a bit hectic.  Most of their meals are meat-based (entrecote de beouf, confit de canard and such) but salads are also available.  They also make, from what I'm told, excellent crepes and pastas, though I didn't try those.  For 35 Euros, I had  a nice-sized bowl of onion soup au gratin, beouf tartare with Auvergne-style potatoes (similar to au gratin), a salad, dessert (an apple tart with crème brulee) and coffee. 

An old Sicilian woman once told me there are two things that make absolutely everyone in the world happy.  One of them is good food.  She never told me what the other is.  Whatever it may be, I'm sure she'd appreciate La Brasserie Gaite.

Update:  After writing this post, I decided to go back to La Gaite for lunch:  my last meal before departing for New York.  I had a crepe and salad, which were every bit as good as the dinner I'd had a couple of nights earlier.


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