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Paris, June 2013

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PARIS, June 2013. Arriving a day before the others, I spent the first day strolling along Canal Saint Martin in perfect weather. The second day, my daughter Jessica came from Zurich and we had the day together wandering through an outdoor antique market and spent the afternoon at Cimetière Père Lachaise.

Sunday my tour began with Sophie and her friend Dorcas from Alabama. We went to the bird and flower market near Notre Dame. We passed Hôtel de Ville where they had set up outside an immense orange carpet to recreate the tennis courts of Roland Garros, along with a gigantic TV monitor where people were sitting quietly in orange chairs watching the finals of the tennis match. An unusual and fun sight! We ended our day on Isle Saint Louis, with a Bertillon ice cream strolling the narrow streets.

We went to the Orangerie after passing through the Jardin des Tuileries. Lunch was at the restaurant Le Soufflé, and then we wandered down rue de Rivoli to Place Vendôme which was under major scaffolding, and finished off the day at the gardens of Palais Royale, such a peaceful lovely setting.

Taking the funicular to Sacré Coeur we visited Place du Tertre. My brother had given me the name of a Russian artist in the Place, who we amazingly found among all those people and purchased a couple of his local drawings, before going to Le Moulin Rouge. We rode the little tourist train that goes through Montmartre and discovered cute tucked away streets and passed the famous vineyards.

We attended a tribute to Edith Piaf, in a small underground musty-smelling theater, performed by a French jazz singer who along with her piano and string bass accompanists sang in her own style the well-known and unknown songs of Piaf. Fun evening of entertainment!

We spent a perfect day in Giverny, the home of Claude Monet in Normandy, wandering through the lovely colorful varieties of flowers and green foliage. What a wonderful place to visit any time of the year!

We toured the exquisite Opéra house admiring all the gold and marble, the sparkling crystal chandeliers, and a wonderful exhibition of former ballet costumes. We were able to see the main concert hall, with the Marc Chagall ceiling, through an open side door. The afternoon was spent shopping at and admiring both Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, marvelous department stores.

Saturday, off on the métro to the flea market at Clignancourt. The variety of old books, clothing, furniture, objects of all kinds, and of course, people-watching are the highlights of this place. The oddest but most incredible thing I saw was a full skeleton completely encased in needlepoint! We also saw an Ionesco play, La Cantatrice Chauve, at the Théâtre de la Huchette.

Market day at Place de la Bastille is a photographer’s haven where we admired all the fresh produce, array of various fish and meats and all the possible parts of the animal, prepared foods, soaps, lavender and flowers. We boarded a boat on the Seine which took us down the lovely Canal Saint Martin. The boat was full of noisy tourists, which detracted from the charm of the calm canal.

We took a train to Chartres. The cathedral has been mostly cleaned but darkened, unclean parts still give it that old world charm. An amazing place inside with the ever-so-beautiful stained glass windows, and outside with the two different, magnificent spires and the intricate stone carvings! It is lovely from all sides. We returned to Paris for an early evening drink at the bar at the top of Tour Montparnasse for the glorious birds-eye view of Paris.

Our last day was spent leisurely in the Quartier Latin strolling rue du Bac and boulevard Saint Germain. Sophie and Dorcas treated me to a delicious lunch at Les Deux Magots and we had a perfect table outside. A lovely way to end our terrific trip together! Our daily lunches and dinners were highlights each day as every meal was a special treat. Well … until next year when hopefully I can return to Paris with people who are once again anxious to explore the beautiful city with me. I look forward to it!


Contact me at sara@villat.org or at (925) 691-4559.