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)
- Madeleine Church & Place de la Concorde
- Place Vendome
- Arc de Triomphe - view
(daily 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) Paris
- 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)
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.
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.