Maria gave Bev and I a ride to the Vedbaek train station making our trip to the Copenhagen airport simpler than if we’d walked down to the take the bus. Simone and Dillon were to meet us at the airport and while we waited for them there, we each got a bite to eat, Bev at the Starbucks and I at a Copenhagen based chain with many outlets, Joe and the Juice.
It’s an interesting concept, part juice bar, sandwich shop, and coffee joint. With an all male staff of twenty-something’s, loud music and an edgy decorating scheme it certainly had its own unique vibe. I ordered and enjoyed a cup of coffee and a Turkey, Avocado and Cheese flatbread, tasty and filling. The tab came to 80 Krone, roughly $12, slightly more than usually expensive airport food given the higher cost of all things Denmark but satisfying none the less, providing me with the fuel I’d need for a long morning.
We met up with Simone and Dillon at the EasyJet gate, boarded the plane and made the less than two hour flight to Paris, arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport to take the RER B into Gare de Nord where we picked up Metro Line #2 for two quick stops to Anvers station and our hotel for the stay, the Avenir Montmartre. We’d hoped to stay at the Cosmos has we’d done the previous year, but they were booked and the Avenir offered a good location at a reasonable price. In the end I was able to book two rooms, one a double and the other a triple for the two nights at a total price of 460 Euros ($521), roughly $50 per night per person.
We’d arrived around 1:00pm, an hour before check-in and 30 minutes or so before Francois would meet us, he having taken the train up from Montpellier. I thought the neighborhood looked familiar and knowing we were close to Sacre Coeur set out to cross Boulevard Rochechouart outside the hotel. A glance up one of the cross streets presented us with a view of that famous cathedral we’d visited the year before; it being around lunch, we made a beeline for the same corner stand at the base of the hill that Bev, Joanna and I had eaten at our last time, enjoying yet one more good ham and cheese crepe that Bev and I split for lunch.
While Bev, Simone and Dillon climbed up to the top of the hill to take in Sacre Coeur, I went back to the Avenir to wait for Francois. He arrived a bit before 2:00pm and we greeted each other like the old friends we are. He secured a couple of beers from the vending machine in the lobby and within moments we’d fallen back into the familiarity that has made us friends since those early moments on the beach at Pelekas in 1979. He gave me a more detailed re-telling of his move to Montpellier, his purchase of a condo there and how much he was enjoying the change of scenery, this move long planned and now realized.
Bev, Simone, and Dillon returned not long after and we checked in, taking our luggage up to the rooms, theirs a spacious triple and ours pretty cramped with two twin beds and a very small bathroom that had obviously been added at some point, taking that square footage out of what would have been a decent sized room. We cleared out quickly and making good use of the Paris Metro, soon arrived at the Bier-Hakeim station, blocks away from the Eiffel Tower.
Francois and I walked them over to the entrance to the south pillar, saw them into line and then made our way back a block or so to a neighborhood brasserie for a couple of beers and a little food to tide us over as we waited for them to climb to the top and down. It was a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, drinking a cold Bitburger while he and I continued to get caught up, picking up right where we had left off not quite a year ago.
Finished at the Brasserie, we walked back to tower grabbing a cup of coffee apiece while we waited for them to finish their trip to the top. By the time we reconnected group members were expressing a desire for food, something French in nature, and it was quickly decided that the best option would be to Metro over to St Michel and the Left Bank given the many options that exist there.
Exiting the metro stop directly across from Notre Dame, we walked straight away into the heart of the Latin Quarter. This area of Paris is full of narrow, crowded streets brimming over with restaurants and shops. At that time of night most restaurants had a barker out front touting the menu, most advertising prix fixe prices below 20 Euros for three courses. We wandered down the Rue Xavier Privas, hounded by invites for dinner, turning right on Rue Saint-Severin where we found Le Bisrot 30. Its prices were about the same as those we’d passed and it had a nice enough look to it so we decided to give it a go.
As the reviews for it attest, the food was mediocre but I found it to be a pleasant surprise given the low expectations I had going in. I went for the 16 Euro meal, as did most everyone at the table and for this I received a large bowl of passable French Onion soup, sizeable portion of nicely done salmon in a white wine sauce with rice and overcooked vegetables and finished with a bland Crème Brulee. Others had similar dishes, with Dillon enjoying a large serving of mussels and Simone enjoying frog legs or the first time.
Sometimes dining out when traveling is a matter of managing your prospects; expect too much and you will certainly be disappointed. Overall, given its location and the low price we paid for our meal, I was quite pleased that dinner had turned out so well. We walked back across the Seine and began working our way north along its banks towards the Louvre so that the group could view I.M Pei’s glass pyramid in the courtyard there, now the main entrance to that sprawling museum complex.
Tired from a long day of travel and walking in Paris, we hopped on the Metro, getting sidetracked briefly by taking the wrong line but eventually arriving back at the Avenir. We bade each other a good night and made plans to arise mid morning for continuing adventures in the City of Lights. No matter how many times I visit Paris, each trip brings new discoveries. Getting to see it through the eyes of Simone and Dillon made the turning of each corner a treat, as they saw a landmark for the first time, recalling to me my initial time there in 1977. The magic does not fade; it only grows stronger. I slept well that night, tiredness bringing on a deep rest with many pleasant dreams. Paris will do that to you.
Joe and the Juice: https://www.joejuice.com/
Avenir Montmartre: http://www.hotel-avenir.com/EN/hotel.html
Sacre Coeur: http://www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/english/
Louvre Pyramid: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louvre_Pyramid