Monday, April 13, 2009

a tale of two hotels: part I - Saint-Roch

DAY 2 of a week in Paris - Monday

La Louvre et Champs-Elysées

  • BREAKFAST: la patisserie below the apartment
  • La Louvre
  • LUNCH: Angelina tea salon. 226 Rue de Rivoli (between Rues d'Alger and de Castiglione)
  • Tuilleries
  • Madeleine Church & Place de la Concorde
  • Place Vendome
  • Arc de Triomphe - view Paris (daily 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)
  • Champs-Elysées
  • DINNER: La Boutique à Sandwiches. 12 Rue du Colisée (between Rue de Ponethieu and Ave des Champs-Elysées)
  • Buddha Bar (8 rue Boissy d'Anglais, near Place de la Concorde)

My love of travel planning for Paris began in April 1997 when my sister told me she was taking me to Paris in three weeks, for a two week stay. It was just after our mother had died of Alzheimer's, after Nancy and I had cared for her - Nancy particularly, for six months before we found a lovely home for seniors with dementia. When Mom passed away that March after eighteen months in the home, Nancy and Don began conniving secretly about a vacation for her and me, and where would Ruth want to go? First word out of Don's mouth was "Paris" - even though I hadn't really ever talked about it since a 3-day visit there in my college days. I think he just thought of the most romantic destination in that instant.

After my sister stunned me with this news in my office it didn't take long for me to start planning the trip, which she asked me to do. Joy! Nancy had a friend who owned a Paris apartment (located above the second hotel in this tale, Hotel du Vieux Marais - in the photo at the right), but sadly it was only available the second week of our trip. So for our first week I found us a hotel online, Hotel Saint-Roch, which appeared cozy and charming, and was reasonably priced (under $100 a night).

The Hotel Saint-Roch was on rue Saint-Roch, which was named for the historic church of the same name located there. Geographically very close to the Louvre and Tuileries gardens in the center of Paris, I thought it would make a perfect launching point.

Well, certain things about the Saint-Roch were perfection, but the charm was a little ragged, and we found out it was nicknamed by Parisians "St Roach." Some things you plan, and they don't turn out so well. Other things you don't plan, and you are surprised by their astonishing beauty.

In spite of the imperfections of this shabby little hotel, there were perfect things:

* Location. I had been right about this at least, that after a tiring day walking the city, our legs shaking with weariness, we would be glad to be at the center of things.

* The beauty of music. So the thing we couldn't have known or planned was that this little hotel on a narrow street across from a big church would provide a serenade every evening as we walked rue Saint-Roch, exhausted with happy exploration, back to our room. Heavenly music shimmered down on us through the windows of the church. One night choir practice, another organ practice, yet another orchestra. We climbed the winding stair to our room to it, we undressed and washed the street grime from ourselves to it, we climbed into bed and fell asleep to it - our open windows conduits for a Paris lullaby as comforting as la Vie en Rose.

Next week I'll tell you about the second hotel in this tale, where we stayed our second week, and the discovery that would become one of my most important in Paris.

PARIS Métro: Pyramides or Tuileries


Susan said...

Ahhhh, but even though the Hotel Saint-Roch wasn't everything you were expecting, I'm sure you wouldn't trade your week there for a hundred weeks in a five-star hotel. Well, maybe a hundred and one. :) Too bad I wasn't with you and Nancy. I'm a great roch killer!

I can't wait for part deux!

CottageGirl said...

I know that the first hotel must have been a surprise, but wow! What a story! What an experience!

Like Susan, I can't wait for the story about your second hotel!

Ruth said...

You're so right, Susan, I wouldn't trade that week. And it would have been great to have you with us, and not for the roches!

Ruth said...

CottageGirl, we spent so little time in the hotel, it really didn't matter. In a way, spending a lot on a luxury room would have been unnecessary since we only slept there.

dyanna said...

I like your blog.I'm waiting for your new posts.

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, Dyanna! I wish I could read your blog. The photos are lovely.

Peter said...

Yes, St. Roch is one of the best churches in Paris for concerts, also at lunch time, free of charge... !

Did you notice the bullet holes on the facade, made by Bonaparte and "freinds"?

Ruth said...

Yes, I did, Peter, I was amazed.