Europe 2022 – Paris, Part One

June 6 – 8

Starting with our journey to Paris this day, we begin our adventure of traveling by rail with the Eurail pass.  Although the initial cost of the pass was low, an additional cost comes with the need to purchase a seat reservation for some of the legs of any day’s travel.  In reality, during a busy season this is a must anyway as it guarantees you a seat, which we would find out later in the trip when we had to scramble to get seats on crowded days out of Montpellier and Innsbruck.  For this leg, it cost us 60-euros ($73) for the two of us, the most it would cost the entire trip for any other reservation. 

We walked to Centraal Station and quickly identified our train for Paris, found our seats and settled in for the three-and-a-half-hour high speed ride to the Gare du Nord station.  Traveling on European trains is usually a delight with comfortable seats, plenty of leg room, charging ports in abundance, and depending on the train perhaps a food/snack car from which one could purchase refreshments.  Most trains run on smooth tracks unlike our experience when we rode Amtrak from Los Angeles to Oakland.  The vibration from the tracks that time made it difficult to watch or read from a tablet if placed on the pull-down tray.  Not so with European trains. 

At Gare du Nord we made our way through the maze of corridors that lead to any one of the 2-3 Metro lines that would take us to within a quick walk to Cosmo’s Hotel, our lodging of choice in Paris.  We spent three nights there in 2014 with sister Bev and loved the facility and its location, all at a very affordable rate.  Our three nights stay here cost us 301-Euros ($324); we’ve paid much more for not great lodging in the States. 

Of course, we got lost on the first leg of the Metro and it took us longer than it should have to get to our stop, but we eventually we arrived and exiting, knew which way to turn on the right street to make the left onto Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud and soon we were checked in.  Amazingly, we found ourselves either in the exact room we shared with Bev in 2014, or one just like it, with one double and one single bed.  In the intervening years, the hotel freshened the bathroom and installed a heat and air conditioning unit, which we would make use of as it would be warmer and therefore less comfortable than normal throughout our stay in town and in Europe in general. 

Its location makes Cosmo’s so attractive; close by is a great bakery (Les Saveurs De Parmentier), a good sized market (Franprix), a convenient bus line (Line 96), and a number of restaurants and bars.  As soon as we’d hit the room and unpacked, we made a run to the bakery to get pastries and to the market for a few other supplies, including a bottle of inexpensive but good French wine. 

Anticipating our three nights here, we had made a reservation for this first one at Astier, the restaurant we’d had a nice meal at in 2014 and conveniently located a block or so down the street.  We arrived just before they opened and sat outside waiting, enjoying the warm spring air.  Once seated inside at a nice table by a window, we ordered a glass apiece of a house wine (7-euros) and perused the menu, eventually deciding on the Lapin farci a la moutarde grains (roasted rabbit stuffed with mustard seeds with white asparagus and mushrooms) for Joanna and the Quasi de Veau au Sautoir (roasted veal filet with peas in a garlic sauce) for me. 

Joanna really enjoyed her dish, but I found my veal to be not as tender as one would anticipate with this cut of meat and the accompanying peas were not cooked quite enough to compensate.  All in all, I was a little disappointed in a meal I had been looking forward to for some time.  However, this was all made whole when we, having ordered it ahead of time, split the Black Chocolate Souffle with candied Kumbawa (Kaffir LIme) zests.  As can often be the case, overall, the meal didn’t quite live up to my expectation, which happens when one compares it to a prior visit, one tinged with an associated memory that likely enhanced that experience.  None the less, we got out of there for a 96-Euros ($103) which is a bargain given we had three glasses of wine. 

The next day our plan was to try to take in some new sights without having to walk to much, my back still limiting the amount of moving about I could do.  First though, we walked around the block to Les Saveurs to pick up an apple tart and one of my favorite French bakery items, as chronicled multiple times in our 2014 posts, the chicken breast sandwich.  Comprised of a perfect baguette encasing oven roasted chicken breast with mayo, tomato, and lettuce, it is a thing of beauty and will keep you fueled for the better part of a day. 

Thus fortified, we hopped on the Line 96 bus using the three-day Paris Visite passes we’d purchased at Gare du Nord, two passes at the time running us 33.80-Euros ($36.38) for three days of travel on all of the Paris public transport networks: the metro, tramway, bus, RER and SNCF Transilien networks within an inner zone.  Our destination for the day was the Musee Cluny, an old Roman bath located just a few blocks off the Seine in the Latin quarter. 

Cosmos to Musee Cluny

On the way to the Musee we passed by Notre Dame, which is undergoing an extensive renovation due to the catastrophic fire that occurred in 2019.  By the time the structure fire was extinguished, the building’s spire had collapsed, most of its roof had been destroyed, and its upper walls were severely damaged.  Extensive damage to the interior was prevented by its stone vaulted ceiling, which largely contained the burning roof as it collapsed.  The cathedral’s altar, two pipe organs, and three 13th-century rose windows suffered little or no damage.  We’ve visited here almost every time we’ve come to Paris and to think that this iconic structure could have been destroyed makes one realize how ephemeral these structures we hold here can be. 

Notre Dame Being Restored

We arrived at the Musee and we split up as Joanna was more interested in visiting it, I having not read about it that much.  Instead, I entered Café Maa. located next door in Institut Finlandais (Finnish Institute), an independent and multidisciplinary platform between Finland and France for a nice cup of coffee and to hang out for a bit.  Midway through my coffee Joanna texted me that I was missing out and should join, which I did, and we will cover that visit in the next post. 


Cosmo’s Hotel:,1,6436.html

Les Saveurs De Parmentier:


Kaffir Lime:

Paris Visite:

Musee Cluny:

Café Maa:

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