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D-Day Beaches in One Day

D-Day Beaches in One Day

On a January visit to Paris, three of us wanted to take a day trip to visit the D-Day beaches.  In our planning, we were limited because of the number of daylight hours during January and because of the train schedule.  We also wanted a private tour in English to see the beaches, hear the history again, see the American Cemetery, ask questions easily and be where U.S. troops had been during WWII.

The middle of January may not be the ideal time to visit the windy beaches of Normandy, but I was lucky enough to find Sabrina Pitois of Normandy Excursions & Tours. We exchanged emails and she was ready to take us on a tour. She and I arranged everything with train times and what we wanted to see.

And, as our visit got closer, she looked at the weather and wrote advising us to wear waterproof shoes/boots. (Thank goodness we took her advice!) Once more, before we left the United States, she wrote confirming our details along with a wish for a good flight.  Her attention to detail and concern really made us feel comfortable and happy with choosing her to guide us.

Train Travel (and an odd delay)

Gare Saint-Lazare 3 Story Station
Waiting for the big board to show the track for the train to Caen.

One day after arrival to Paris, we went to the Gare Saint-Lazare train station to travel to Caen, switch trains, then travel to Bayeux.  The train from Paris was late.  After some time, I heard an announcement that we were late because of a malfunctioning door.  We finally left Paris and Sabrina called and texted to let me know that she had checked at the Bayeux station and found out about our delay.

Gare Saint Lazare Station
Gare Saint-Lazare;
go take a look at the Monet painting of the same view.

Our ticketed train from Caen to Bayeux had left the station, but, Sabrina had called the Caen station, found out the time for the next train, and explained all of it to me.  (She would have driven to Caen to pick us up, but it was a 45 minute drive and the train only takes about 12 minutes, so her picking us up would have created even more of a delay.)  Again, it was reassuring for her to check on us, advise us of the time of the next train and explain what we needed to do.

Since we did not have a ticket for the next train, I took our tickets to the ticket station and asked the representative for help.  He turned over my printed ticket and wrote a note on the back and stamped it.  We were ready for the next leg of our journey!

What About Lunch?

But, another change of plans was lunch.  We were going to eat along the way with Sabrina, but decided we should eat at the Caen train station to save time.  No real old-time café in the station, but we found a kind of pop-up stand and grabbed baguette sandwiches and waters.  When we were on the quick train ride from Caen to Bayeux, we made a little picnic as the countryside whizzed by us.  (Sabrina had also texted me to find some food there, but I had turned my phone off so didn’t get her message until we arrived in Bayeux.)

Bayeux Station

When we arrived at the Bayeux station, Sabrina was there to meet us – smiling on the platform, in the gusting wind, with a sign with my name on it.  She greeted us as friends, then we hopped in her van and immediately took off toward Pointe du Hoc.

Soaked in History

During our drives and while visiting, Sabrina explained so much history, answered questions, pointed out interesting sights along the way, and told the story of D-Day: from how it was planned to what actually happened, to the outcome on those days at the beginning of the liberation of France.  We were late to start with, but Sabrina got us going and gave us plenty of time at each stop.

Pointe du Hoc

Pointe du Hoc Monument
Memorial to the U.S. Rangers at Pointe du Hoc.

First, we visited Pointe du Hoc, where the first Rangers came into Normandy on the morning of June 6, 1944.  The battlefield above the beach has been left as it was except for erecting a monument.  Craters are all over the area as well as giant bombed casemates that were built to house the German big guns aimed on the Allies.  Visitors can also walk in and around a dormitory/command post built by the Germans for their defense of Normandy.

German Command Post/Dormitory at Pointe du Hoc
German bunker/dormitory at Pointe du Hoc.

Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach; D-Day Beaches
Look way in the distance;
5 miles of beach (from this point)
for the Americans to assault on D-Day.

Next, we went to Omaha Beach.  Sabrina explained how Operation Neptune was the largest naval assault in history while showing us how the beach stretched for miles down the coast.  She explained the tides and how important those and the moon phase was to the military operation.  She had great enlarged photos that provided a great overview and she even told stories of some of the people in the photos.

American Cemetery

American Cemetery with Memorial
Headstones with Memorial in the distance at the American Cemetery.

Then, Sabrina drove us above Omaha Beach to the American Cemetery.  The entire cemetery inspires reverence.  White crosses and Stars of David stretch across the acres of lawn.  A memorial and chapel on either ends are dedicated to Americans who lost their lives.  American flags fly over head.  From the edge of the bluff, you can see how easy the Germans had it for picking off American soldiers trying to scurry from the beach to the bluff.  We happened to be at the cemetery when they lowered the American flag while playing a recorded version of taps. Here is the video of lowering the U.S. Flag at the American Cemetery. A truly memorable visit.

Gold Beach

Gold Beach Destroyed German Guns
Casemate and remains of German
gun blasted by artillery from a ship, far offshore.

After quietly leaving the American Cemetery, we went on some back roads to Gold Beach.  Road construction was blocking two of the main roads, but no problem for Sabrina!  She grew up near here and knew how to easily navigate alternate routes on very narrow, one-lane roads.  (No GPS required!)

At Gold Beach, we could see the giant German guns inside their casemates.  From these sites in France, the Germans could fire shots targeting Allied ships.  Amazing to hear the story and see it in person at the same time.

Return to Paris

Sadly, our train back to Paris would soon depart. So Sabrina drove us back to the Bayeux station telling stories of the countryside on the way.  She even went into the station with us to make sure our train was on time.  Then, Sabrina told us goodbye and bon voyage.

On a lighter note, Sabrina showed us some big, old mansions along the way and also told us about Normande cattle.  The Normande is a local dairy (or beef) cow that has red or brown spots on a white coat as well as patches of color around its eyes.  They dot the countryside and produce excellent milk.  Normande cattle are beautiful on the green fields with their mottled white and brown colors.  It was sweet to see a little calm country atmosphere while on such a somber visit to battlefields.

Normandy dairy cow
Normandy cow; vache Normande

Sabrina’s attention to detail, her knowledge, her care for us (and her driving skills) are unsurpassed!  Unless you want to spend a couple of days going to all of the beaches, this was more than enough to really get a feel for D-Day.  If you go, do not skip the American Cemetery.  It was my second visit and it is definitely worth a visit or two in your lifetime.  Again, although it is a somber day, no one could have made our trip more enjoyable or memorable than Sabrina.

If you go to Paris and want to go to Normandy, I highly recommend Sabrina at Normandy Excursions & Tours.  Make arrangements well in advance.

Sabrina Pitois
Normandy Excursions & Tours
Guided Group and Private Tours in Normandy
Email: [email protected]
Tél.: +33 6 16 45 32 14

Official website:  https://www.normandy-excursions-and-tours.com/

Normandy Excursion & Tours
Recent Observations Visiting Paris

Recent Observations Visiting Paris

Each trip to Paris brings new insights into traveling.  Both for traveling in general and for traveling specifically to Paris.  This recent January trip was perfect!  How could it not be?  It is Paris, after all.

We were greeted with snow, then with rain on and off for a few days.  The nights were chilly with low clouds, but then the sun shone through at times making the city sparkle.  Generally, the weather does not affect my enjoyment of Paris, but it does determine how to pack and how to plan.

In addition to all of the information on traveling to Paris on this site, such as this packing list, here are a few recent observations.  Also, a little tattle on myself for not following my own suggestions!

Work on Paris Sidewalk
Interesting observation – work on the sidewalk.

Map and Guidebook for Traveling

I forgot a map of Paris!!!  And, a guidebook.  I always bring them.  Not this time.  I completely forgot them while I was trying to get the dog to camp before starting to pack (so she wouldn’t be stressed).  I always pack the night before or the day of the flight (not suggested), but I have always done it that way.  As the trip approaches, I usually make a pile of things to put in my suitcase.  But this time, I just forgot a map and guidebook.  It is on the list I use to pack – but I misplaced my list the day before leaving!  Not a good idea.  Keep your list for packing with your suitcase!

Hotel Choices

In Paris, we stayed in a more reasonably priced hotel so that we could splurge on a few specials.  Like the day trip to the Normandy D-Day Beaches, a show at the Lido, a food tour of the Marais, and of course, a special ride with Champagne in Guillaume’s Citroën DS!!

Taxis and Ride Hailing Services

G7 is a taxi service in Paris.  A little while back, I downloaded the G7 app.  It was terrific.  It is quick and easy to enter the destination.  Meaning no fumbling with using the wrong number in French or mispronouncing street names – all while the taxi driver speaks faster and faster French to you.  Besides, it explained, in English, what kind of car was coming with contact information.  Then, I could see the car on its way with an estimated time of arrival and more.  Just like popular ride sharing apps.

G7 app
G7 App gives the love to Paris travelers.

One of my friends tried Uber and it was a 30 minute wait.  Same when I tried it.  In the past it has worked well, but not so great this time.  Do not know the reasons why, but it is great to have options.  Also, if you link the G7 app to a credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign exchange fee, even better.   (Lyft is not in Paris yet.)

Paris Métro

The Métro is always easy and super-efficient transport.  As you work your way through the underground maze, make sure to look for the signs leading you in the right direction at each intersection.  And, double check yourself each time.  I missed a sign at one cross path, but Jennifer caught it.  Of course, it wouldn’t have been terrible, but catching the right one saved time and kept us on track to our next destination.

Metro Chatelet Station
Fast and efficient transport.

Read more on getting around in Paris here.

Map App

Without my hard copy of a map, I used a map application on my phone a couple of times.  I needed to confirm we were going in the correct direction.  (I felt like I was cheating, but it was pretty useful!)

Credit Cards

Although I advised my bank that I would be in France ahead of time, I still got a fraud call after using my debit card.  Plus, I wasted time and had a lot of aggravation talking to a fraud person who was not really connected to my local bank.  The big banks did not have these problems.  And of course, American Express already knows you are there (somehow??) and knows you are spending money – so no problems with AmEx.

Poncho in Your Satchel

It rained on this visit, but it is Paris, so who really cares?  I had ponchos in my satchel for everyone.  One time it was really raining hard by Parisian standards so I broke out the ponchos.  BUT, make sure the poncho in the little bitty sack from the drugstore is big enough to fit over you!!!  Each of us had on a coat, some with sweaters underneath, and I was carrying my satchel.  None of the ponchos fit over me.  Another was so flimsy, and the wind was so strong, that it was constantly being turned inside out!  Anyway, I was glad to have a little cover, but will be restocking with a little higher quality and checking the sizes before purchasing more.

Hiking Boots – Who Knew?

I was very happy that I brought lightweight, waterproof, hiking boots.  I have never thought of bringing hiking  boots to Paris before.  But, it is lots of walking, sometimes on cobblestones, sometimes in the rain, and sometimes with a little slush on the ground.  They were excellent.  I even wore them when it wasn’t raining.  So, I was very happy to have them.

Paris cobblestones
Look what hiking boots can be good for….

Walk a Mile

Jennifer left her iPhone connected to internet service the entire time.  And, if it is correct, we walked 7-8 miles each day.  I was really surprised by that number!  If it was a long way to dinner, we took a taxi.  Most of this was really just walking in the day from Métro stops and in and around neighborhoods and a few museums.  No wonder Parisians are fit looking!  

Now, THIS is an Observation

Kohei Nawa, Throne
Absolutely off-the-hook-incredible. An eye-popper that is perfectly suited for the Louvre and I.M. Pei’s Pyramid. Kohei Nawa’s, Throne.
Kohei Nawa, Throne; at night
At night it glistens. Lusciousness. Kohei Nawa’s, Throne.

And, one more….

Kohei Nawa, Throne; from the window of the Louvre
Cannot get enough of this. From the windows of the Louvre, no less.

Know When to Rest ‘Em

Everyone else took a rest in the afternoon, but I went to see more and walk around more.  I have a hard time sitting still in Paris.  However, the important part of this is that they NEEDED a rest so that the rest of their day would be enjoyable.  IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND WHEN TO REST.  On this trip, I was fortunate to need only about 15 minutes with my feet up before changing clothes for dinner.  And, for all the places we ate dinner, I wore jeans, collared shirt and a sports jacket.  Also, an outer coat and scarf for traveling to and from dinner.

Louvre Museum Shop Moved

louvre-book-store

The Louvre moved its ticket stations from right under the pyramid into the space where the gift shop used to be.  Now, the museum shop is on the same underground level as before, but two parts, one either side of the wide hall leading to the inverted pyramid.  It still has all of the great books, interesting gifts and walls of post cards.

Angelina on rue de Rivoli

Anghelina on rue de Rivoli

Angelina has an outpost on the rue de Rivoli, next door to Hotel Le Meurice. The line was about 75 people long waiting to get in on a drizzly and cold afternoon.  (Hint:  Go to Café de Flore, instead.  Or try practically any café with seating and you may be surprised by the hot chocolate.)

Stand Up Cafés Disappearing?

Cafés where one stands at the bar and orders coffee and a croissant in the morning seem to be fewer and farther between. Don’t know for sure, but we were having trouble finding them so we could duck in quickly for a shot of espresso.  Will have to research more on this and be more observant.  Maybe it is only the tourist areas that are filled with to-go shops.

Walk and Drink and Eat

Meanwhile on the streets of Paris, more and more Parisians seem to be walking around with cups of coffee in their hands.  Quelle horreur!  That is so un-Parisian to walk on the street and drink coffee.  And, certainly completely unacceptable to eat while walking.  Neither of these used to ever be seen.

Exercise Fanatics – In Style

Exercise in Style
Look – there is one down at the bottom right.
All the others were so fast they ran out of the photo.

Another interesting observation is that more and more joggers are all over the place – another sight that used to never be seen.  They thought I was from the moon when I jogged in the mornings back in the 90s.  Of course, Parisians have on matching running outfits (not just shorts and t-shirts) so they look good while jogging.  The runners are everywhere, especially through the gardens and along the quais of the Seine.

January = Fashion Weeks

No wonder the hotels were not at a deep discount in January.  Paris Fashion Week, both womens’ and mens’ are in January.  Back-to-back.  And, mens fashion week was happening when we were there.  Another time to put on the calendar to check before booking.

Organ Concerts

Saint Severin Grand Organ
Grand Organ at Saint-Séverin.

Organ concerts at historic churches are an absolute must.  They only last an hour and you don’t have to stay for the whole thing. They are a great opportunity to see magnificent architecture, and the sound from the organs can rattle your bones and the rafters.  I saw/heard them at Saint-Sulpice, Saint Séverin and Saint Eustache.  (I wrote more on awe-inspiring churches here.)

All incredible, but Saint Eustache may be a little more fun because the keyboard is on the ground floor.  That means you can see the organist perform while listening to the music.  At the others, the keyboard and the organist are way up by the pipes.  At the end of the performance, they kind of peep out from the organ for their final applause.  Choir organs, which are also beautiful, are played during many church services.  But do not mistake them for the grand organs.  The grand organs are the ones where you see the massive pipes above the main doors to the church.

Jet Lag

For jet lag, I kind of tried the “not eating on the flights” way of thinking.  On the way to Paris, the meal on the plane leaving Atlanta was at about the time I would normally have dinner, so I ate.  I did not eat again until lunch in Paris at Cafe Nouvelle Saint Marie.  On the way back, I ate a baguette sandwich at the airport terminal that I had bought near the hotel.  Then, not again until dinner in Atlanta.  Generally, my jetlag is really bad coming back from Paris.  But this time, it was practically non-existent.  Will try the not eating on flights again in a few months and report back.

A Few More Visual Observations

Postcard wall at Picasso Museum
Wall of postcards at the Picasso Museum; don’t forget the ones you left at home.
Sainte-Chapelle door locks on the interior
Door locks on Sainte-Chapelle – keeping the faithful in?
Samothrace Winged Victory from Afar
And, YES, Audrey, Paris IS ALWAYS a good idea!

 

 

My Favorite Messenger Bag for Paris

My Favorite Messenger Bag for Paris

My favorite messenger bag – or satchel – for Paris is a Timbuk2 Custom Classic Messenger Bag, size medium.  Because I am tall (about 6’4″), I ordered the custom bag so I could get a longer strap.  And, it was fun to pick some colors.   The folks in San Francisco who make these bags are nice like that.

Goes Everywhere

Since I first got the bag about 18 years ago, that satchel goes on every trip I make.  I carry it everywhere with me like Linus’ blanket.  The inner liner is waterproof. The outside is Cordura® canvas with a flap and Velcro® closures and buckles.  D-rings at the ends outside are perfect for attaching my id tag.  And, it holds everything I need for a day exploring Paris.

If I take it off my shoulder, I put it between my feet and also put one arm through the strap.  (It is as safe in Paris as the United States, but because many things can distract my attention over there, I try to be more aware of guarding my bag.) The Timbuk2 Messenger Bags have interior compartments and zipper closures, keeping the contents out of reach from pickpockets.

Although my messenger bag is 18 years old, Timbuk2 is continually refining their bags with padded compartments designed to perfectly fit new model laptops and tablets. And, they are sleek.

One Messenger Bag – Two Uses

There are two uses for my Timbuk2 messenger bag.  One, is going on the plane.  Two, is exploring Paris. 

Some Timbuk2 models include a luggage handle passthrough, making them ideal for travel. 

For going on the plane, put all of the things you need to live for a day, in case luggage is lost.  That means medications, laptop or tablet (if you are taking one), boarding passes, hotel contact information, plus other items needed on the trip over.

This is what I keep in my favorite messenger bag for exploring Paris:

  • Two or three super lightweight ponchos that are about 99¢ at the grocery store in case it begins raining
  • Several paper napkins – spill something on myself, wipe off a wet chair bottom to sit in, wipe the sugar off my face after visiting a patisserie
  • Travel-size disinfecting wipes, who knows when you may need one
  • Eye drops
  • Sunglasses
  • Eyeglasses
  • Lip balm
  • Camera
  • Guidebook
  • Pocket map, if not in the guidebook or easy access on my phone
  • Metro map, if not in the guidebook
  • Museum pass or tickets to the events I am going to that day
  • Water bottle
  • Pen
  • Change
  • Small umbrella
  • Hotel name with the address and telephone number

Most of the time my messenger bag is light.  I keep it slung over my shoulder, and there is still extra room to stuff my jacket in it if I get too hot.  There is easy access to my water bottle, which I always need and can refill, and room to poke in some postcards when I see one I want to send.

Comfort is Key

Many women have comfortable bags that would be great as a satchel.  Timbuk2 offers a variety of styish bags enjoyed by women too. Comfortable and useful are the key factors.  But, you have to have some way to tote your essentials around in or you will be staying within walking distance of your hotel room.

Take note of what you use during a regular day and make a list of your necessities.  Review the list, then review it again and make that the list for your satchel.  Only those things that will make your day comfortable, go in your bag.  Don’t overdo it – just the necessities.  Remember, you are in the most civilized city in the world. A pharmacy or a Monoprix is never too far away and you can easily find the things you need.

Purchasing a Flight to Paris and Reserving a Hotel – Planning for January

Purchasing a Flight to Paris and Reserving a Hotel – Planning for January

Last month, I wrote about Planning to go to Paris again. I looked at my calendar and considered the weather. It was just a start to the whole exciting process and anticipation of Paris.

Now that the month is decided and any weekend looks good, I start trying to pin down the exact dates.  Five nights and over a weekend provides a good reference to plug in dates to search for a Paris hotel and Paris flights.  On websites, I check for special offers at hotels and then search a variety of dates for the Paris flights.  Also, I begin looking at what will be happening in Paris to see if something is a must see or must do.

None of this is scientific.  And, I do not know whether it is the best way to secure the least expensive or best deal on flights and hotels.  This is just the way I start looking.  No matter what time of year, Paris is a popular destination.  Once when I was trying to use miles for a ticket, an airline representative told me that when Paris flights open for booking, mileage reward flights are exhausted on the first day.  Insane!

This part is a lot of work.  However, these will be the two major expenses and major decisions for the trip, so take a few days to figure it out.  My eyes go blurry after a while looking at airline schedules and checking back and forth between websites.  And, I want to telephone a travel agent and see what kind of price she or he can get for me.

Looking for A Paris Hotel for January

I am stuck in a rut when choosing a Paris hotel.  I like being in the middle of the 6th Arrondissement.  It is lively, easy to walk to boulangeries, wine stores, restaurants, the Seine.  But, the Ile St. Louis is also fun and easy.  Not as close to a Metro, but at night the tourists are gone and it is a little neighborhood.  Both have narrow streets and, although a lot of tourists, they each still feel like a neighborhood.

So I check the Paris hotels I know first.  It doesn’t look like any of the dates in January are better than others.  And, the prices seem kind of high for January.  I don’t know what is up with that.  January is definitely off-season!  Maybe I am too early?  Doubt that.  Then, I telephoned a few traveling friends and they all said January was one of their favorite times in Paris, too!  Crazy.  But, few tourists, romantic weather…..

Have never stayed at Hotel Brighton, but the views look terrific.  It is close to a Metro stop and would have easy access to taxis or ride hailing services.  Not very neighborhoody in the sense of small streets…  But, the rooms on the rue de Rivoli side would have a lot of light at that time of year and could have amazing views over the Tuileries and off to the Eiffel Tower.  The view, the price and maybe breakfast thrown in would be the biggest draw for this hotel.  Plus, Place Vendôme is around the corner – window shopping.  Hmmm?

Looking for Paris Flights

For the airlines, I take into consideration the weather – here in the United States.  Departing for Europe from cities in the north in January can be a disaster.  I do not want to be one of those poor souls stuck in an airport during a blizzard.  Meanwhile, the south doesn’t necessarily escape winter weather either.  Ice storms and a dusting of snow can shut down Atlanta or Dallas/Ft. Worth.  I have had good luck taking my chances with Atlanta, because AirFrance leaves out of there with direct Paris flights.

Airfares for Paris flights through Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Atlanta seem okay.  No discounted fares are popping up.

And, right now, one U.S. Dollar is equal to 1.14 Euros.  So, that part is not bad.  Of course, parity would be better!

AirFrance planes immediately put you in the French spirit.  The flight attendants are French, the first language on the signs and in the videos is French, and the food is French!  Bonjour!  And, Monsieur, let me help you to your seat!

One app that could be helpful if you are checking out prices is Hopper.  It predicts demand and rates.

Looking for Paris Events

When looking for events and exhibitions, I kind of run through a list of places in my head and search their internet sites for what will be happening.  Most of the time, it is pretty easy to tell whether or not something really catches my eye and is a definite must see event.

The Louvre is presenting a Hittite exhibit – that could be really interesting.  But the exhibit doesn’t start until April of 2019, so will miss that.  Nothing really grabbing my attention at Musee d’Orsay, Grand Palais doesn’t have a calendar up that far in advance.  Petit Palais, no.  Pompidou, no.

Hey, that is all OKAY!  Nothing that is pulling me, so I can go back to some favorites, or take a look at something I have never seen!

Opéra Bastille is presenting Les Troyens toward the end of the month.  That was the first opera I saw in Paris back in 1990!  And, that is when the lead tenor was booed off the stage!  I had no idea what was happening.  French audiences do not say “boo,” they say, “huée” (kind of like, “who-ay” or something close to that).  Supposedly, many performers refuse to take a gig in Paris because the audiences are so discerning!  But, if the performer is great, the claps and love will go on and on.  Shirley Verrett experienced that love on that same night as the tenor was sent packing.

Learning French

Each time the ticket is booked, I pull out a French textbook and go through the same basics that I go through each time.  Can’t these lessons stick in my head?  Maybe I will try sleeping with it under my pillow – won’t that work?

Not Yet

Okay, haven’t pulled the trigger on any Paris hotel or Paris flights – yet.  Still mulling over everything.

UPDATE: Here are my observations from the January trip to Paris.

Planning to Go to Paris Again

Planning to Go to Paris Again

After talking about it and writing about it so much, and realizing I need many more digital photos for Paris with Scott, it is time to go again.

During this whole experience, I will write entries for every part of the process – planning, going and returning.   It will be an example so that someone interested in doing the same thing can kind of see how one traveler (Scott, in particular) does it.

How the Process Begins

First, I talk with John A. and he agrees it is time to go again.  We talk in general about a time of year to go.  It is the height of summer right now and we are not going in the next month.  So what about sometime in October or November?  Cooler weather – a big bonus!

The fall is perfect because it is cooler.  Any heat at all, and even in the cold, I sweat.  It is not a problem at home because I can just keep showering, changing clothes and do all the laundry I need.  But, out of the country, not so much.  (These are important things to consider when planning a trip!  Seriously, check out the Self-Assessment in So You Want to Go to Paris.)  As a result, the fall is a great time to go again and the cooler the better for me.

How Long?

Second, I want to include a weekend since I have a full-time j-o-b and I will have to take off work for some days.  But, this will not be a two weekend and week in the middle trip.  Only long enough to recharge on Paris, escape to the most beautiful city on the earth for a few days, and get some work done for this site!  Five nights will be long enough to go again.  Of course, I want to go for much longer.  But, five nights will do.

Is the Calendar Open?

Now, I start looking at the calendar and marking out dates.  I have to take into account the LSU football schedule.  I would rather not miss the home games, so I have them all on the calendar already and it is easy to see what dates are not that great.

Then, there is Thanksgiving which kind of takes out the two weekends on either side.  And, the trip should not be too close to Thanksgiving, because there is a lot going on then.  But, I need a little time to make plans, so maybe middle to late October would be good.

Seems perfect for me, but then asked a few friends about going as well, and middle to late October didn’t really work for them.  Then, I forgot a niece is coming in town then, and… there are too many obstacles.  November is out for the friends as well.  So, I skip December because that is already busy for me and move along to 2019!!!!!  January could be the time.

To Go Again in Winter

January may not seem like a great time to go.  But the cold and the potential rain and the limited daylight is fine with me.  It is when I began six months of school there, so I think it is a great time.  Honestly, any time of the year in Paris is perfect for me.  A couple of friends say okay to January.  And, unless your team is in the playoffs for the Super Bowl, and who knows about that, it seems like the month is wide open on the calendar.

Great, January it is!  And, since the entire month is free, I start looking at airlines and hotels to see if I can find any differences in price.  In other words, maybe a discounted rate on one weekend versus another.  Also, I check some of the museums for any shows that may really entice me.  And, I check the opera schedule to see if a performance is a must see for me.

What To Do When It Is Raining in Paris

What To Do When It Is Raining in Paris

First, stop and take stock when it is raining in Paris.  Try to assess how much rain it is going to be.  A whole day of rain?  Or, only a brief shower?  A deluge or a drizzle?   If it is supposed to rain all day long, then you may want to adjust your schedule.  If it is only a sprinkle, keep going full speed ahead with the day as planned.

Most importantly, take a deep breath and remember, rain is not the end of the world.  It will not ruin your vacation.  Paris does not close up when it rains.  Open top bus tours still run – put on a poncho.

If it really is going to rain all day long, see if you can find some inexpensive waterproof shoes and take an umbrella and explore.  Paris in a drizzle is one of my favorite times.  The colors seem to become saturated on buildings, trees, park benches, grass, the cars….  The gray clouds make the ancient buildings even more enticing.  The narrow streets in the Marais are even more inviting.

But, if it is raining and umbrellas are everywhere, avoid busy rush hour foot traffic.  Eyes are a precious commodity that shouldn’t be poked with umbrella tips.  Between 5:30-6:30 – to take a rest back at the hotel, or rejuvenate with coffee at a cafe.

The most logical place to go when it is raining in Paris is to visit a big museum – like the Louvre.  A big museum has exhibits, shopping, food, and drink.  And, it can be a good idea, depending on the time of year.  But, everyone else is thinking the same thing.  So the big museums will be mobbed with people trying to avoid the water.  Besides traditional museums, here are a few suggestions for things to do in Paris when it is raining.

An Unusual Museum Visit

Weren’t thinking of the Musée de la Chasse et Nature?  Well, a rainy day may change your mind.  Pull out your guidebook and look up museums.  Choose one or two that you never thought you would visit.  Take a chance.  The worst thing is that you go, take a look, leave and go back out into the rain.  However, the upside is you may see something incredible, take in important architecture and history – and have fun – while dry.

Catacombs

Nearly 70 feet below the surface, Paris has an extensive network of underground passages that were once limestone quarries.  From the late 1700s until the mid-1800s, millions of human bones were exhumed from cemeteries and moved into these subterranean quarries.  Although the official website states that the “tour is unsuitable for people with heart or respiratory problems,” and “those of a nervous disposition and young children,” it is a dry place to explore an interesting part of Paris’ history.  Les Catacombes de Paris:  1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014; Métro:  Denfert-Rochereau; Closed Mondays, check the website for more details.

Sewer Museum

Engineering wonders lurk beneath all cities, but Paris displays its sewers in grand style – in a museum, no less.  When it is raining in Paris, take a tour through the tunnels that not only serve as sewers but also provide the passageways for internet and phone cables, tubes that run between post offices (like at the bank teller line) and pipes filled with drinking water.  In the past, tourists were ferried through in boats and suspended carts.  Now, admire the amazing workings on foot.  The museum also boasts a gift shop!  Musée des Égouts de Paris; Near the bridge, Pont de l’Alma, across the street from 93 quai d’Orsay, 75007; Métro: Alma-Marceau; or RER:  Pont de l’Alma.

Watch a Movie

Parisians are devoted fans of cinema.  As a result, movie theaters dot the city.  Even the avenue des Champs-Élysées is full of movie theaters.  Don’t look for a megaplex like you see in the suburbs.  These movie houses will have a sign on the street advertising the current films.  Once you pass the entrance, then you may find multiple theaters.  Many American movies are shown at the theater with French subtitles.  So, head in during a downpour and enjoy hearing your mother tongue.

Shopping at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps

Wide canopies of Printemps

Wide Canopies of Printemps where you can duck out of the rain; Photo by Minato ku, BoulHaussNoel, CC BY 3.0

These department stores feature MANY departments!  For the dedicated shopper, when it is raining in Paris, it is a shopping day in Paris.  If you do not find what you are looking for in one, walk down the street and look in the other one.  Another bonus on a rainy day is that much of the sidewalk around the two behemoths are covered.  So don’t fret too much about getting your packages wet.  Also, both have amazing architecture inside and out plus full-service cafés for eating, resting and re-loading on caffeine and hot chocolate.  Rest and retail therapy all under two roofs – barely a block away from each other.

Cooking Class

Want to learn some basics, make pastries or cook a meal while in Paris?  When it is raining may be a good time to do it.  Many places offer cooking classes for real beginners as well as advanced cooks.  A great part about taking a cooking class is that you get to eat what you cook!  And, the classes are indoors.  Start looking at options now so if it does rain, you can have a list ready to book online or ask the concierge to help you book on the day you want one.  La Cuisine Paris (or The Paris Kitchen) gets rave reviews.  Check it out here. https://lacuisineparis.com

Long Lunch at a Nice Restaurant

When it is raining in Paris, or scheduled to rain for a good chunk of mid-day, reserve a spot at a fancy restaurant.  This is your chance to take advantage of the “down” time outdoors to relish a long lunch.  All without feeling guilty about not doing other things.  Enjoy the pampering and delicious foods at reduced lunchtime prices.

Visit Parapluies Simon When It Is Raining In Paris!

parapluies simon

Forgot your umbrella?  No worries.  Make a special trip to Parapluies Simon and find a souvenir when it is raining in Paris.  This umbrella store on Boulevard St. Michel in the 6th is full of specialty rain protectors and also takes custom orders.  Find out more.

River Cruise

Yes, when it is raining in Paris, take a covered river cruise.  It can be FUN in the rain.  Even if it is pouring, you will stay dry, hear the pounding rain (no chance of hearing the tour guide on the loudspeaker), scream to hear each other and still be able to have some great views.  Plus, it will be even more memorable because you will have a fun story to tell of taking the boat in the pouring rain.

And, Last But Not Least

A friend wrote and said, “After all, Paris is the most incredibly romantic city.”  So, hang the “Do Not Disturb” (Ne Pas Déranger) sign on the doorknob outside your room and enjoy Paris in a very intimate way while the rain is falling on the window panes.