Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Champs-Elysées

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DAY 2 of a week in Paris - Monday

Le Louvre et Champs-Elysées

  • BREAKFAST: la patisserie below the apartment
  • Le 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 - TODAY'S POST
  • 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)
Next on our itinerary after the Tuilleries is the Madeleine Church, which I have posted about here and here.

So today I'm sharing just a little bit about the Champs-Elysées. Because I have never been a person of means - or a shopper (maybe they go hand in hand) - I have not spent much time on this fashionable avenue.

I have already told the story of meeting Catherine, an American woman traveling alone like me. I first noticed her at the café in the photo of me at top drinking a café crème (taken by a Chinese couple who first asked me with gestures to take their picture). Funny how you notice other Americans in a foreign city. Catherine and I didn't speak there, but later in the day when we saw each other in a totally different part of the city, we stopped and introduced ourselves. Has that ever happened to you? You're in one of the world's big cities, and you see the same people in different spots, sometimes even on different days?

This little hour at a café on my solo 2006 trip is one of a few Champs-Elysées memories.

The first happened with Nancy in 1997. We had not yet heard of Sephora, the cosmetics store par excellence. So when we walked into their flagship store on the Champs-Elysées we felt we'd entered a magical realm of womanly dreams come true. What aided that fantasy was a tall beautiful model in a maxi-length black coat and one white glove opening the door for us. Throughout the vast store were many other beautiful male and female models/sales clerks dressed in the same costume. The room's walls were lined floor to ceiling with women's perfume on one wall and men's cologne on the other, then make-up down the center. Any product queen would feel she'd died and gone to heaven. We saw dutiful husbands (or lovers) leaving with pretty little bags that we assumed contained tiny bottles of perfume. In the middle of our browsing, suddenly we were being rushed out of the store. There was a bomb scare! We were able to go back into the store after a few minutes to finish dipping white paper dipsticks into perfume bottles to sample scents. (Imagine how the avenue would have smelled if a bomb had gone off. Ok, somber but fragrant thought.) I was a dutiful wife and bought my husband a bottle of cologne (was it Dior?).

Now, of course, Americans can go into a Sephora in any shopping mall or even JC Penneys. But for us, the experience was part of the Paris mystique.


Don snapped this in 2003


Another Champs-Elysées memory was with Don in 2003. I posted about the gracious French doctor - Giancarlo - who owned the apartment where we stayed on the tiny island Ile Saint-Louis. He refused to settle for handing us a key to the apartment in a café and instead insisted on picking us up at the airport! And not only that. Knowing from our emails that this was Don's first visit to this gorgeous city, he took the extra effort to drive in on the Champs-Elysées en route to the apartment so that Don would see the best and most interesting approach right off the bat. So much for a French reputation of rudeness! On this crazy heart-racing drive he also told us how the city hires cleaners who every night wash graffiti off the city's white buildings, leaving them pristine and fresh every morning. Oh, and one more thing. At Rond-point at Place de Charles De Gaulle the circle around the Arc de Triomphe, suddenly all cars - which had been driving at breakneck speed - slowed to a crawl. Giancarlo explained that in this circle of pavement, insurance does not cover drivers!




One of the happy discoveries while walking with Nancy, in the 1997 photo below, was the Allée Marcel Proust, just at the start of the Champs-Elysées, and parallel with it. It is a pretty park-like walkway, quiet and protected from the hustle of the busy avenue.




We found
Allée Marcel Proust just after watching President Clinton's limousine speed by on his way to the presidential palace to see Jacques Chirac. Clinton was in Paris to give a NATO speech.





10 comments:

Arti said...

Ruth,

Thanks for such a mesmerizing blog!I visited Paris years ago just for a few days and wished I had stayed much longer. Love your pics here, especially your B/W strolling, has a nostalgic mood, and the distant view of Arc de Triomphe...just wonderful.

Also, upon the name Marcel Proust, my heart just leapt up. Because, while researching for my latest post (June 2), I found whose work is, in Proust's view, "The most beautiful painting in the world". And the connection is with a Dutch painter, guess who?

Thoroughly enjoy your blog!

Arti

Ruth said...

Oh thank you, Arti! I'm glad you found your way here. It's a slow time elapsed revelation of a few trips.

Your post about you-know-who was wonderful wonderful wonderful.

Susan said...

Ruthie, I have yet to set foot on foreign soil, but I do have a little tidbit from David. On one of his trips to China, he started chatting with an American guy who turned out to be a grad from David's alma mater, Ohio University. Now OU is a pretty small school compared to Ohio State or U of M, so that was really something.

You look very Parisienne in that B&W photo. :)

Ruth said...

Susie dear, it's uncanny when those things happen. On this trip Nancy and I came upon one of the fashion designer stores, very posh and all, and there were two mannequins in university sweatshirts - one from Notre Dame, and the other from the University of Michigan - Nancy's alma mater! I think maybe I told you that story.

And thank you about the Parisienne comment. I do try to keep myself toned down when I'm there.

Oliag said...

Another beautiful post...I love the black and white pic of you too...

My Sephora memory is from traveling too...my sister, my cousin, and I had a girls only trip to NYC...While there I had my first visit to a Sephora...and did we have fun! I'm glad to learn it is a Parisian company...it makes our excursion seem so much more classy!

Ruth said...

I guess that says something, eh, Oliag? We shop at Sephora as part of the travel experience - maybe not as part of our routine? It's pretty expensive.

Peter said...

You sometimes meet at unexpected places... maybe I saw you on the Champs Elysées in 2003? No, I would have remembered! :-)

Ruth said...

Hehe, Peter, I would have remembered too!

Buy RevitaDerm said...

Thanks for such a mesmerizing blog!I visited Paris years ago just for a few days and wished I had stayed much longer. Love your pics here, especially your B/W strolling, has a nostalgic mood, and the distant view of Arc de Triomphe.

Buy RevitaDerm said...

Thanks for such a mesmerizing blog!I visited Paris years ago just for a few days and wished I had stayed much longer. Love your pics here, especially your B/W strolling, has a nostalgic mood, and the distant view of Arc de Triomphe...just wonderful.