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Christmas in Paris

Christmas_in_Paris

In the last couple of weeks, since my return from Paris, I've been receiving e-mails and calls from so many of you asking me how our first 'Ladies Getaway to Paris for Christmas' trip went. Well, I'm here to tell you it was absolutely fantastic ... everything we'd hoped for and more.

I know for a fact that one of the main reasons for the high success rate of our trips is that Debbie must surely sift through the calls and combine people that are totally compatible with each other; maybe combined with the fact that when we travel with like minded people, we know that we can let our hair down, relax and enjoy the moment.

Our hotel was charming, as were the people; French, small and in a perfect location – on the left bank, just off Boul Mich near the Metro & St-Germain-des-Prés, It gave us the opportunity to be independent and do our own thing if and when we wanted to.

One of our goals was to enjoy and absorb everything going on around us – the sights, the sounds, the smells and the tastes – and that we did.

We were totally spoiled!

Christmas in Paris Foodie Canadian Woman TravellerA private car took us on an introductory tour of Paris. Not that we needed it as we had all been to Paris, however one never sees too much of Paris. We traversed the city for 4 hours, seeing old favourites and discovering new ones that we never knew existed. One of our new favourites was Rue Mouffetard , 

one of Paris' liveliest market streets - lined with artisan bakeries, chocolatiers, cheese shops, fish stores, roasted chestnut vendors, confiseries and pastry shops and all packed with shoppers seeking provisions for theirs holiday entertaining. I would be returning to this culinary treasure trove with Debra, our 'foodie' expert' who wanted to treat us to a Christmas lunch.

Christmas in Paris Notre Dame Canadian Woman TravellerA few nights later we repeated the experience to see all the illuminations that make this city so special at Christmas. Everything was lit up and dressed in its best evening dress; the Seine, Notre Dame, city Hall with its skating rink, the facades of Lafayette, the tour Eiffel, les Invalides, the Trocadero and finally, the Champs Elysees and across to the gigantic Ferris wheel in Place de la Concorde (which a couple braver souls in our group were able to enjoy) Incidentally, just trying to get across the 'Place de La Concorde we feared that we might meet the same fate as those poor souls who literally lost their heads here to Madame La Guillotine a few centuries ago.

One morning, we were taken to Versailles. As we were driving along the treed avenue towards the Petit Trianon, we saw the hamlet Marie Antoinette had built, emerging from the fog. Since we were the only ones there, besides the sheep, the whole experience seemed surreal and we felt transported back several centuries. Later, our driver/guide (who has a master's in art history) led us on our very own private tour through the Palace to the King's and Queen's apartments and the Hall of Mirrors

Some of us ventured across the river to the 16me arrondissement to visit Debbie's favourite vintage designer store. How often does one get a chance to go through racks of clothes and accessories created by Lanvin, Christian Dior, Gucci, Hermes, etc. that one might actually be able to afford? We also visited Galeries Lafayette with its 4 storey-high Christmas tree beneath the stained glass cupola of this famous Parisian department store – and yes, we did do some shopping there as well.

We admired the impressionists in the Musee d'Orsay and lunched in its dazzling restaurant surrounded by mirrors, chandeliers and floor to ceiling windows. We visited old friends in the Père Lachaise Cemetery; Chopin, Jim Morrison, Balzac, Yves Montand, Simone Signoret and Modigliani.

And we ate!
Christmas in Paris Musee dOrsay Canadian Woman TravellerWe ate 'foie gras', 'confit de canard' and 'boeuf bourguignon' at the 'Brasserie Cremerie Polidor'. With its brass hat racks and lace curtains , the Brasserie is probably the most traditional bistro in the Odeon area. It has been serving patrons the likes of Hemingway and James Joyce since it opened in 1845; we ate onion soup au gratin and mussels and 'truite meuniere' at the 'Procope', which is reported to be the oldest operating restaurant in the world (1686) and was a favourite haunt of Voltaire, Victor Hugo, George Sand and Oscar Wilde; we ate oysters and mussels at 'Atlas' and then crossed the street to buy pastries which we ate as we window shopped on the way home; and we ate roasted chestnuts as we strolled by the little Christmas markets in front of St. Chapelle or on Boul. Ste. Germain.
In between eating we also drank - when our feet or our tummies needed a break or when we just wanted to sit and watch the world go by. We sat outside, at the little sidewalk cafes, because the weather was lovely and warm and conducive to just sitting outside and catching some rays, and we drank 'Café Crème' and 'Kir' and 'Champagne cocktails' and mulled wine and 'Chocolat Viennois' smothered in whipped cream.

Christmas Eve found us in Notre Dame Cathedral at the international Mass among a crowd of hundreds of people gathered together to celebrate the festivities and a trip to Paris isn't complete without a cruise on the Seine and we saved that, for Christmas dinner.

It was a wonderful trip. One where we made great new friends and reconnected with old ones - and one that I hope to be able to repeat maybe in a couple of years.

Christmas in Paris Dome Canadian Woman TravellerAs far as this year is concerned, if you are considering joining us for Christmas, please let us know where you would like to go. What's on your 'bucket list'? Vienna has been one suggestion - maybe in combination with a couple of days at a resort pampering oneself….or Copenhagen?? Let me know – I'm always open to suggestions.

If you find that Debbie has been very quiet lately it's because she has been working on the 'new and improved' web-site for her mother company – The Travel Broker. It's for this same reason that some of the tours are still missing from the site – noticeably….my 2 late spring tours to Provence and the Dordogne where I will be joining Henry Vifyinkel, our resident artist, who will also be doing those same tours with his painting groups.

Before that I might be going to Vienna, to reconnect after a long absence; then on to Lake Como to do some more scouting for our Italian Lakes' tour.

Debbie herself will be boarding the tall ship "Royal Clipper" with a group and sailing the Caribbean on the 24th of January. Rumour has it that she'll be sailing the Royal's sister ship the "Star Clipper" in Asia in February 2010.

To the ladies that joined me this year I thank you for your wonderful camaraderie and adventurous spirit.

Good-bye for now – we'll keep you posted for 2009's trip.

Rose Tomassini
Escorted Groups Tour Escort
www.cwtraveller.ca