2020 has been brutal for people who love to Travel. Nice/Cannes cancelled. Loire Valley/Normandy trip cancelled. FL/CA trip cancelled. South Africa/Londolozi safari pushed to 2021. Like I say brutal. So when we saw that we could plan a short trip to Paris, we were sold. The TGV Oui is a wonderful way to travel between Bordeaux and Paris. The train quietly wisks along at an average of 315 KPH or close to 210MPH, the sign on the screen ( much like the screens on planes showing progress) is in four languages, French, English, German and Spanish. At this speed it is difficult to spot villages, churches etc in time to photograph, but the whole trip is filled with wonderful views and on this trip the colorful fall foliage. It seems each village has its own church, I particularly like the multi building family compounds that dot the countryside. Each one is different than the next, look closely and new additions of home show how the family is growing,
This train arrives at Paris Montparnasse station, and we were met by our driver from JetCab. Discovered this service a few trips back and really feel it is worthwhile, Cars are exceptionally clean, soft drinks available, while a bit more pricy than a taxi, there is no waiting in line for your turn and with Covid around, much safer.
We stayed in the 6th Arrondissement this time in that I really wanted to dine at a very special restaurant. Le Procope has been in business since 1686 in this same location. The list of people who have dined here is the who’s who of French history, plus celebrities. We had enjoyed a lunch here a few years ago, but really wanted to do a full dinner. Sadly to say, while we had reservations, the restaurant closed early due to the Covid 19 restrictions. Just a great reason for another trip in 2021 when it reopens.
So while disappointed by this missed experience, we were treated to several wonderful meals right in our hotel. The Comptoir de Relais St. Germain, was opened by Yves Camdeborde in 2004. Using primarily natural products from the SouthWest Region of France, ( he is from Pau in the Pyrenees) he has become one of the hottest chefs in Paris. In fact in addition to this place, he has three other dining places located in the city center. We really enjoyed dining here for two different nights and were never disappointed. The staff is great and the meals were wonderful
Our hotel for this trip was the Hotel Relais Saint Germain. Our suite was on the top floor and included a very nice terrace overlooking the small place (plaza) below us. The staff was fantastic and very helpful throughout our trip. When we learned of the cancelled reservation at Le Procope, they worked with us to get a second reservation at Le Comptoir. By the way, we were greeted with a nice bottle of Champagne.
With the restrictions on travel, and evening curfews, we could see the difference on the streets of Paris immediately. The lack of tourists was a pleasant surprise. I know, I too travel whenever possible, and follow several travel experts, but if the situations arises, enjoy. So our favorite museum is the Musee D’Orsay. Once a train station that fell into disrepair when no longer used, it was turned into a world class museum. On my mother’s side of the family, we have a distant relative. He was actually the cousin of my Grandfather, Eduard Detaille. Specializing in paintings centered around military events, personnel, etc, he became the leading painter on these subjects. We have seen his paintings in several areas, like the Pantheon, Les Invalides, etc. So at the Musee D’Orsay one of his best know paintings hangs, Le Rev ( the dream) depicting soldiers dreaming about the upcoming battle. It is truly a great work of art, takes an entire wall to display and one sees it upon entering the gallery where it hangs.
The other reason we love this museum is the 5th floor collection of impressionists art. This gallery is composed of 6 different very large rooms, so one simply walks from one room to the next. On every other trip, regardless of the time of day, it is extremely crowded, often difficult to really enjoy some of the art due to the people pushing to get in front of you. So what a pleasant surprise on this trip. On the complete floor, I feel there may have been only 30 other people. We were never pushed out of a place, able to walk, sit and enjoy and spend a few hours really looking at the art. Jan paints, so she really had a good time.
One of the museums I have wanted to visit for years is Les Invalides. Built originally as a retirement home and hospital for retired military personal, and a portion of this huge complex still serves for that purpose, it houses a great military museum that displays weapons, uniforms, paintings etc. We began in the area that depicts the growth of the Nazi army pre WWII. Really an interesting display with several interactive stations, uniforms, short films, maps, etc. Includes much of the information about the Resistance and finally the D Day landing. Little about the Allied fighting units during the war. Regardless, a really well put together program. So the museum for the weapons, etc take two buildings. We choose to stay in the same area where we began so basically history of French Military from Louis IVX to Napoleon. Plus as one leave the far end, the tomb of Napoleon and anther of his son is there. I do not know how to describe this section. The amount of material on display is mind numbing. I will need a second visit to really capture all that is presented. Simply stated there are several thousand pieces of military weapons, hundreds of uniforms, and hundreds of paintings. We did find two more paintings from Edward Detaille. Again it was very quiet. On one large floor, we saw no other visitors only the guards in their stations. Ended the day with a visit to the chapel and Napoleon’s tomb
We really love the 6th Arr. So many places to visit and see. Plus so many interesting small streets and passages. The bonus this trip, the Hotel cat Rescue.