Friday-April 6th -Buffalo,N.Y.

At 3:30 P.M., we left for the Buffalo  Airport. We found that checking in on international flights is a little different, in that you are never allowed to leave your bags unattended.  We juggled parking the car,  in a long term lot across from the west terminal, and checking in with passports .  We were scheduled on American Airlines flight # 889 to Raleigh-Durham and then on to Orly Airport, outside of Paris. We flew 1 hr. and 45 min. into Raleigh-Durham.  We had a two hour layover, so we strolled around the American terminal. It  was loaded with half of the Northeast enroute to Florida. We again went through security interviews, at our gate, before boarding flight #34 to Orly Airport.  The flight, which was uneventful, took 7 hours and 25 minutes.  As is usual on late night overseas flights, we got little sleep and passed the time reading.

Saturday-April 7th,-Paris, France

We arrived at 10:45 A.M., local time, tired and full of expectations.  Customs was perfunctory and we retrieved our baggage with no problems. I corralled a taxi outside and we set off for our hotel. The Pullman Saint Honore , at 15 Rue Boissy D'Anglais. It  sits just off the Place De La Concorde.  The fare was reasonable and it was much the better idea than trying to cram aboard a bus and then taxi to the hotel.  The cab driver was from Martinique. We had a pleasant, if limited conversation, in that our French was newly acquired and his English nonexistent.  Still, he appeared to appreciate our attempt to converse in French rather than impose English upon him. Our first impressions of Paris were favorable.  The Eiffel Tower dominated the skyline. The cafes and fresh growth of spring gave an impression of life to the city.

The Hotel was ideally located for sightseeing and shopping.   It was reasonable for the area.  Our room was not ready, so we left our bags  and strolled through the nearby Tuillerries Gardens and the Place De La Concorde. In the Park, we stopped at a small stand for two cafe au lait.

It is hard to convey the sense of history that surrounds one here. Marie Antoinette and much of the French aristocracy were beheaded in this square. Now, it has a few beautiful fountains and is overrun with traffic and dozens of tour buses. I can still sense the aura of jeering throngs screaming for royal blood.

The Tuilleries Gardens were just starting to bud and were beautiful.  A bridal path led through them as they ran along the Champs Elysee', up to the Arc De Triomphe.  One cannot easily erase the spectre of German troops goosestepping under this magnificent edifice during the second world war.

Finally, we checked into our room, which was small but adequate, and set off on our first day in Paris.  We walked first along the Seine. It was noisy from  the automobile traffic. Then, we crossed a footbridge and wandered into the Òleft BankÓ,  strolling among the cafe's, churches and students.

We sought out and found the Paris Cityrama bus tour at 4 Place De Pyramids, near the Louvre.  The two hour city tour, which cost 120 F.F. each, was an excellent introduction to the squares, palaces and major sites in the central arrondisements.  Paris, like London, Washington and other world capitals, is impressive.

After the tour, we stopped at a cafe near the Louvre  for coffee and dessert. Then, we walked back to the hotel along the Rue Saint Honore. The Avenue is the major shopping district  for people who don't look at price tags. It is impressive.We had a light supper at the hotel bar and crashed, dead tired at 8:00 P.M.Paris is beautiful and over run with tourists and traffic, but we are

glad to be here.


We arose late, somewhat groggy from the flight, and set off. To save time, we cabbed it to Notre Dame Cathedral. Mass was in progress and the church and courtyard were crowded  with tourists. The Cathedral itself is impressive from the front, with it's massive towers . From the rear, you can view the ornate stonework and massive flying buttresses. Again, the history of the edifice was daunting.  No, Quasimoto wasn't swinging from the belfry crying "sanctuary", but thousands of other ghosts, humble and high, were everywhere on the periphery of one's vision.

We crossed over the bridge to the Ile De Ste. Luis and breakfasted at a cafe of that name, within sight of the rear of Notre Dame. While strolling through the avenues, we encountered Vince and Pat Mancuso who had been in our French Class.  It is a small world.  We made plans to meet for dinner.

Next, we boarded a Batoux Mouche, for a ride on the Seine.

It was a pleasant one hour ride from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower and return. Paris, like London, is almost surreal when viewed from the River.

After our return, we stopped for coffee at the Cafe' Soleil D'Or and then proceeded to the Conciergerie on the Ile De La Cite. The mansion was an upscale 18th century prison, whose most famous prisoner, Marie Antoinette, stayed there briefly before they escorted her to her  beheading. Nearby, is Sainte  Chappelle, a superbly beautiful church whose stained glass windows are magnificent.

We then crossed the Pont Neuf and strolled for two hours  in the Latin Quarter and Left Bank. We stopped at Cafe Du Magot, where a glass of wine was pricey.  We sat and watched the crowds walk by this famous cafe. This  is the favorite past time of the area. Across the avenue, we found another old church, Saint Germain DePres, where we heard part of a Mass in Spanish. History was all around us.

We then ambled along the narrow alleys of the Latin Quarter, with its myriad of Greek, Italian and  ethnic restaurants. We picked a colorful little place called Chez Gianfranco Da Fano for Dinner. We  had a pretty good meal of salmon.  Our French was invaluable in ordering and we were glad we had taken the trouble. As an aside, it was interesting  to watch two young Danish kids who sat near us. Their second language was English, which they were quite proficient in.  The Germans and Japanese likewise had more English than French at their command. We walked the two miles back to the hotel and again retired early, tired yet pleased with the day.


We   arose late and set out for the day. We dropped off  a role of film, from yesterday's tour, at a ' bureau d'change', for processing.  Then, we proceeded along the Rue D'Rivoli and through the Tuilleries Gardens to the LOUVRE.  I.M.Pei's glass pyramid entrance is imposing.  A long line had already formed to enter the museum.  We rode the escalator down into a central courtyard area that contained  restaurants and ticket booths.  There is an  entrance fee  and another for guided tour headphones.  We stopped for coffee and croissants  and thus equipped, were ready to tackle the world's most famous museum.

For three and one half hours, we wandered amidst the French crown jewels, sword of Charlamagne, Mona Lisa, paintings, statuary, silver and gold that words are poor descriptors for.  We discovered  a  French master ÒBoucher ,Ó whose style is close to Reubens. The varied panoply of Egyptian antiquities, medieval art and treasures of all nature made our trip to the Louvre everything it was built up to be. We were told that the artwork on display is only a fraction of the entire collection. This truly boggles the imagination, in that the Louvre is four stories high, in a ÒUÓ shaped crescent . Each of these wings runs several city blocks long.  The Metropolitan Museum in New York is the closest analogue that I can think of.  After your first five or ten visits you begin to get an appreciation for what you are seeing.

Even on a Monday morning, there were tens of thousands of visitors of all nationalities.  Arrive early, wear good walking shoes and take your time. It is worth it. Somewhat footsore, we left the musee'  and retrieved our film.

We walked along the Rue D'Opera and stopped for lunch at the Brasseriey Madelaine.  Food was good and inexpensive.  The waiter was friendly and, after several jokes, took our picture.  Again,  I believe that the French genuinely appreciate the effort to speak their language and are much more amiable to those who at least make an effort.

Continuing on, we arrived at the old Opera House, a magnificent edifice of marble statuary, carpeted elegance and subdued granduer.  For a small fee, we were allowed to roam pretty much at will, except for the stage area.  It is definitely worth a stop. Leaving the Opera, we walked past the Church of the Madelaine. It resembles our own Supreme Court building. Then, we hiked back to the hotel for a brief respite.

At around 7:30 P.M., we left the hotel and walked through the Pl.Concorde, across the Seine and down the Blvd. St.Germain, to ÒAux Fins GourmetÓ at 213 St. Germaine.  We were scheduled to meet the Mancuso's  and their friends for dinner.

The restaurant was typical of most that we saw, in that it is small and all guests sat within inches of each other.  The food, which we ordered in French, was very good.  Wine, snails and dessert rounded out a memorable repast.  The tab wasn't bad.  It is a very good stop for dinner. Reservations are recommended.  No one, and I mean no one, arrives at a French restaurant for dinner before 7:45 P.M.   Between then and 8:30, the places fill up. 

We bid Vince and Pat our adieu (they were leaving for Nice) and strolled along Blvd. St. Germaine and back through Pl. Concorde.  The Eiffel Tower, Arc D'Triomphe  and Pl. Concorde are brilliantly lit during the evening. We enjoyed the walk back to the Hotel . .

Tuesday April 10-PARIS, FRANCE

We arose early and headed for Cityrama tours to meet our bus for the Versailles Palace. A ticket for Versailles and the Cathedral tour at Chartre is fairly reasonable.

We walked through the Tuilleries Gardens, which runs along this side of the Pl. Concorde,  to the Louvre.  There were paved walking paths, but most of the ground area is composed of a sand, small pebble consistency, similar to a bridal path.  Long rows of Linden Trees, that are pruned of branches to about the ten foot level and shaped like a square above,  filled the Park.  At the East end, near the Louvre, is a reflecting pond in which children sailed miniature rented boats.  The area is surrounded by  a statue garden with benches. It was always crowded.  From the Louvre, one could look the length of the Tuilleries to the Pl.Concorde. It is much like the view, on the Washington D.C Mall, from the monument to the Lincoln memorial.

The 12 mile ride to Versailles took 30 minutes by bus.  We had to wait in line for one hour to get in.  The grounds were very crowded. The Palace itself is  massive, with over 7,000 rooms.  A large central courtyard of cobblestones leads up to a U shaped, brick faced, and very ornate facade, replete with statuary along the roof lines.  Gilt edging was everywhere apparent.

The interior rooms are lined up along connecting hallways, apparently the public rooms.  Each was laden with gilt edged art work, ornate fire places and carved frescoes.  The style is typical of18th century France. Today, we would call it tacky.  The Hall of Mirrors is impressive, both visually and for the sense of history it imparts. The  public gardens, at the rear of the palace, are enormous.  Great floral displays, amidst various fountains on a raised terrace,  look  out into the distant woods  and lake. The Palace is definitely worth a visit. But, one would do better to go without a tour, in the late afternoon, to avoid the horrendous crowds which can ruin a visit.

After returning to Paris, we walked through the Grand

Palais and Montmarte to Printemps Dept.Store.  Together with the Lafayette department  store, they comprise a shopping area that is several blocks long and six stories high.  The crowds were huge and the activity frenetic.  Curiously, many of the banners advertising sales were printed in Japanese.  It is a  sign of the times, I guess.

On the sixth floor of Printemps, is a very nice place to have  lunch. The area sits under a large stained glass dome and is a pleasant respite from the crowds. We had a nice lunch. On the way out, we purchased some bread, croissants and wine for a nominal sum.

We walked past the Opera again and stopped in Fauchons, a storied provisioner of wines, cheeses and all other delicasies. In this area around the church of the Madelaine, there are several inviting food deli's, which sell everything  for fairly reasonable prices.  We stopped for hot chocolate at the Cafe' Madelaine and people watched like everybody else. Wandering back along the Rue Royal, we repaired to our hotel and  made our own dinner of wine, cheese and bread.


We started out at 9:00 A.M., shooting photos of the Pl. Concorde.  Then, we walked up the Champs Elysee', past the Grand and Petit Palaces, to the Arc De Triomphe. This is the Grand Boulevard of Paris.  It is flanked by the Tuilleries Gardens, with palaces and  floral displays . One can look up the Avenue and see the massive Arc D'Triomphe in the distance, if one can dodge the traffic.

The Arc itself is impressive, dominating the skyline.  After several pictures, we continued down the Ave. Kleiber to the Chaillot Palace. This marbled edifice  sits on the right bank of the Seine, directly across from the Eiffel Tower.  The view was picture post card perfect.  The palace is now a series of museums with an elongated, terraced, fore court of sculptured fountains. They lead 

down to the Pont D'Ilena and across  the Seine, to the Eiffel Tower. We crossed the River and stood under Gustav Eiffel's engineering marvel.  There were restaurants on the third and fifth floor, but with all of the open beams and glass elevators, it is an acrophobic's nightmare. Instead, we settled for coffee and enjoyed the view.

We walked through the Parc behind the Tower and admired the monument from the distance.  We were approaching another landmark which dominates the skyline, the Hotel Des Invalides (Napoleon's Tomb). It has a  massive golden dome, similar to  the capitol rotunda in Washington D.C.. The edifice is  striking in appearance.  We entered (20 F.Ea.) and were awed by the grandeur of the Shrine, for that it was.  The central chamber is a two story well, which holds the outsized tomb of Napoleon.  There, on a pedestal, encased in seven separate sarcophogi of various materials, lies the little corporal, whose life had changed the history of Europe. There are several other shrines, with statues, commemorating the death of Marshal Foch, Napoleon's brother Joseph and others. The aura is seplechural. This is a French National Shrine and a must stop.

Across the Avenue, is the Chateau which comprises the Musee' Rodin .  We waited in line for 45 minutes and wandered  through the Chateau and its gardens.  The Thinker, The Burghers of Calais, and many of his famous works are present.  We enjoyed it immensely.  Even realizing that several of the works were skilled  reproductions, did not lessen their beauty.

The last stop on our schedule  for the day was the Musee' D'Orsay.  It is a fabulous collection of Impressionist paintings, sculptures and other art works, formerly housed in the Jeau D'Paume, across the Seine.  The French have totally remodeled a beautiful old train station that sits on the right bank of the Seine (Gare D'Orsay).  It has an open central court, surrounded by three levels of galleries, all of which overlook a courtyard of statuary.  The museum itself is an artform.  We viewed the Renoirs, Monets and other Impressionists with proper appreciation.  I was surprised to see Whistler's Mother prominently displayed. There is always a line to enter the museum, but once you enter, the place is big enough to spread out.  It is worthy of  a few hours of your time.

A little foot sore, we stopped at the Cafe Du Musee' for food.  It was pleasant, sunny and 55 degrees. After eating,  we walked along the Seine and back to the hotel .We were tired, yet pleased with the day's events.

Thursday, APRIL 12th- PARIS, FRANCE

We got off to a late start.  It was overcast, cool with a light rain and  50 degrees.  We again walked through the Tuilleries to City Rama Tours, at 4 Pl. Pyramides, near the Louvre. There, we boarded  our bus for the tour of the Cathedral at Chartres.

It is a two hour ride, stopping first in Versailles, to the rural town of Chartres. It is about about 65 miles southwest of Paris.  It was an interesting opportunity for us, to view the surrounding countryside. The land is uniformly flat and grows huge quantities of wheat and grains. As we approached Chartre, you could see the Cathedral miles away, seemingly rising from the wheat fields. Generations of Pilgrims called it " The Cathedral of the Wheat", from their first visage of the structure far in the distance.

The Cathedral itself was first constructed in 1192.  Successive structures and additions  have left this Gothic edifice  uniquely eclectic in design and appearance.  In particular, the left and right spires are distinctly different in style, Gothic and Romanesque. They reflect the different periods in which they were constructed. The flying buttresses, at the rear,  are similar to those at Notre Dame.  The interior floors are made of large cobble stones and the place is as dark as ink.  The stained glass windows are magnificent. Many date from the 12th century.  The surrounding town had apparently gained some measure of fame for its  stained glass window making.  The real source of the town's  economy, throughout the ages, was as a provisioner for the hordes of Pilgrims who made pilgramages to  the Cathedral

We walked through the town itself, which is quaint and provincial.  It seemed a little more reasonable than Paris and less touristy.It rained intermittently through the day and we returned to Paris without incident by 7:00 P.M.

For dinner, Fodors had recommended Andre Faure's at 40 Rue de Thon Tabor.  The guide was not wrong.  The place is small and comfortable.  It has a fixed price menu and the food was very good.

After dinner, we wandered up to the opera district in search of  Harry's New York Bar, a literary hangout for American expatriates

in the thirties.  Draft beer was expensive. The place hadn't changed since the thirties. The walls were lined with American University Banners and you could picture Hemingway or Gertrude Stein drinking here into the wee hours. We had a few beers in their honor and walked back to the hotel, along the Rue St.Honore.


It was cloudy, windy and in the 50's.  We started out at the Pl.Concorde and crossed the Seine, walking up the Blvd. St. Germaine.  We stopped at a cafe for coffee. Travelling down the Blvd. St.Michelle, we stopped at the Sorbonne  to appreciate, however briefly, the events that had transpired at this venerable institution of learning.

Nearby, are the Jardin Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Palace.  We strolled through the grounds surrounding the large central fountain, watching people take their ease. We walked briefly through the Palladian style Botanical Gardens before heading back to the Blvd. Ste. Michelle.

Next, we experienced the pleasure of the Rue de Buci flower market. It is more like a small bazaar really, with hundreds of people wandering around the narrow streets.  Emulating the natives, we bought a couple baguette sandwiches and cokes  and wandered through the area.

We traversed the Pont Michel and the Pont D'Artists, watching the painters ply their trade with tourists.  Continuing on, we walked  across  the Ile De la Cite, to again look through Notre Dame, at a less crowded time.  We took more pictures and lit a candle for a brother in law, who had died the week before.  At the rear of Notre Dame and at the eastern tip of Ile de la Cite, lies Pl. Galant. It is a  moving, stone memorial to all of the French Jews who had been deported by the Nazis during the second world war.

We crossed over to the Ile St.Louis and bought double ice cream cones at BERTHILLON. The shop is  locally famous for their many varieties of ice cream.  Ambling around the narrow  and picturesque streets,  we  circumlocuted the Ile  Ste . Louis and recrossed the Seine, heading down the Rue Rivoli, to the Tuilleries. We again walked through the gardens, to our hotel. Thousands of tourists from many countries swirled around us. It reminded me of how insular we truly are, in our great big country of America.

I returned to the hotel and Mary browsed through the nearby shops, like Hermes and Gucci. It  was raining and damp. With umbrellas in hand, we walked to the nearby Rue Cambon and had a very good dinner  at Borsalino's Italian Restaurant.  We got to talking  with a Scottish couple from Glasgow, who were seated next to us and an English couple next to them.  They were very nice people and we had a pleasant chat.  It was nice to discover that they were as provincial as we are.

From there, we walked back to the hotel, cold, wet and tired. I should mention, that we were averaging 8-10 miles per day walking.  When  the day ended, we were generally too bushed to go out and see the night life.  Perhaps next trip, we will join all the nocturnal celebrants.


It was sunny, 40's and cold.  We cabbed it  to Sacre Coeur.  It was already very crowded  at 10 A.M.  The Basillica is a Byzantine beauty, constructed in 1919.  In contrast to the other Cathedrals, it is light, airy and open. It sits  majestically, astride the Montmartre hill, with a commanding view of the Paris City scape.

Right behind and below the Basillica, is the Pl.Du Tetre. Artists, replete with easels and smocks,  perpetrate alfresco paintings on the luckless tourists.  We stopped for coffee and croissants, at a cafe in the square, and watched the show.  It was a mob scene.  You got a sense of the action, when an artist (female American) asked a cafe patron to pose for a sketch.  She then talked her into buying the sketch.  I guess the left bank, starving artist routine, hasn't changed much over the years.

We walked along the narrow streets and found the Cimeterie Montmarte.  It is old and very different from ours in that practically everyone has small, limestone, family mausoleums.  We searched in vain for Degas and left finally, for the Pl.Blanche and the Pl. Pigalle.

Eleven million tourist buses were parked everwhere. The Moulin Rouge night club was center stage. (Dinner & Show- $500 per couple)  Surrounding it, is the largest collection of porno houses, sex shops and other interesting exhibits that I had ever seen.  If you want an education, here is the place to get one.

We continued on down the Allee Pigalle, which had more of the same, to Haussman Blvd. and Printemps Dept. Store . There, Mary bought a sweatshirt. We stopped at a small brasserie for lunch. It was on our way to the Tuilleries. Then,  after a walk along the Seine, to the ornately decorated Pont Alexander II, we  returned to the hotel for a 2 hour rest.

It rained that evening while we walked to Blvd. Thon Tabor, to sample another of the nearby restaurants.  To our surprise, several were closed for Easter Saturday.  We shifted gears and hiked over to Aux Fins Gourmets, on Blvd.St.Germaine, where we had eaten during the week.   It was open and we had a meal equally as good as our previous encounter.  Again, we ordered in French or would have gone hungry.  We walked up the Blvd. and across the Seine,  viewing the Pl.Concorde, lit up at night . We returned to the hotel. It felt like it was time to go home.


It was cloudy and windy, with intermittent showers. The temperature was in the 40's and cold. We boarded the subway at the Pl. Concorde  and rode out to the Bois de Vincennes, in the eastern suburbs.  We explored the Parc Floral. It is  a delightfully sculptured floral gardens, with a small lake and a few restaurants.  The Tulips were in bloom and there were thousands of them, in all colors.  We breakfasted in a small brasserie in the Parc, and continued walking through the wood itself.  Soccer fields and tennis courts took up most of the space.  We hid from a small shower.

The Chateu de Vinncennes is a massive fort like affair, with stone walls and a large moat. It surrounds an area several hundred yards square.  In it, were a good sized church  and many Òpalace likeÓ structures.  It is referred to as the Òmedieval Versailles Ó, but that is all we were able to discover  of  its provenance. It was raining and cold, so we hopped the subway back to the Pl. Concorde and walked back to the hotel, for a drink and a nap. As an aside, other than Harry's, I didn't  see any American style bars in central Paris.

At 7:30 P.M. , properly dressed, we walked around the corner to 3 Rue Royal, Maxim's Restaurant, for dinner. The place had the warm and gaudy elegance of an 1890's Bordello.  Service was exquisite and polite.  A strolling violinist played requests. The quality of the food was superb. We lingered over 2 & 1/2 hrs., appreciating  the elegance and comfort of our surroundings . The tab was a small home mortgage and we were some what careful.  If you went bananas in this place, you could easily spend double that for dinner.  The cheapest bottle of champagne was still pricey. Still, you get what you pay for. It is the most famous restaurant in Paris and history permeates the red velvet interior.

Afterwards, our last night in Paris, we walked along the Rue St. Honore', appreciating the accumulated wealth in the stylish boutiques. The Pl. Concorde was brightly iluminated. The Hotel Crillon and The American Embassy stand out prominently.  We walked up the Champs Elysee'.  It was  ablaze with light and activity. At midnight, there were still throngs of people walking about and thousands of cars stuck in jams..It was after midnight. We were tired and ready to go home.

MONDAY-APRIL 16th,1990-PARIS, France

We arose early, packed, settled our bill. Then, we took one last walk along the Seine to the Eiffel Tower, to drink in the scenery for the last time.  We cabbed it to Orly Airport and flew out at 3:00 P.M., on an American Airlines flight for Raleigh - Durham, N. Carolina .  9 & 1/2 hrs. later, we arrived at R/D and then flew on to Buffalo. We were exhausted from the trip home.


Paris is a delightful city best viewed by foot.  Next time, we would use the subway more.  It is cheap and goes everywhere.  Like all large cities, tourists are fair game.  Change your money in banks only and ask all restaurants for the fixed price menu. It is cheaper than ' a la carte' .

The popular pastime is sipping  coffee or wine, at an outdoor cafe, and watching  life stroll by.  It is enjoyable, but can be expensive. We felt fairly safe, at all hours, in the central arrondisements, but, like all large cities, caution is warranted.

Historical research greatly enhanced our appreciation of what we saw.  Our schedule was somewhat Draconian in its rigor, but at least we had a logical plan of attack . It  minimized wasted time and frustration.  Fodors guide to Paris is an excellent source of information.

Lastly, learn some of the language.  We were almost universally well received in all quarters, because we spoke their language, however badly.  It also enhanced our ability to appreciate the many visual cues around us and exchange the normal daily pleasantries with the populace.  Further, it made everything seem less foreign and made us feel more at ease.

On our next trip, I would like to experience an opera at the old theatre and some of the more sedate nightlife, that really isn't compatible with a full day of sightseeing.  Planning seems to have allowed a fuller experience, with less frustration than others have reported.

As a final post script, I found the French, in Paris at least, to be friendly, helpful & genuinely pleasant, if you met them half way.