Just got back from Paris two days ago. Beautiful bright sunshine, blue skies, no clouds and no crowds. 50 degrees in December and a strong dollar against the euro: how could I not go?
I had to do some business on Thursday (which paid for my expenses), so how could I not enjoy a long weekend in Paris, even if it meant I would be rushed? I was unable to stay longer because I had to give final exams on Monday morning.
I did what I usually do to prevent, reduce or combat the jet lag that often comes from flying west to east across multiple time zones. I started my regimen by taking only 1/3 of an Ambien just before boarding (more is not necessary) and sleeping the entire flight.
Then, after the annoyingly long line for passport control, followed by a brief wait to pick up luggage (I actually checked a completely empty suitcase that was ready for shopping since the price of the euro is so low now), after just a second or two in the official taxi line, we got into a roomy and clean SUV taxi (50 euros from CDG), and liked the driver so much that we reserved her for the return trip as well (I highly recommend “Annie Taxi” 011-33-6-03-90-17-49. If you call from a French number, then dial 06-03-90-17-49). We nodded off a few times during our ride into the city it was that comfortable.
Since it was too early to check in to our charming and comfortable hotel room with a magnificent view (Room 25 on the 6th floor, and yes there is an elevator), we left our luggage at the hotel.
After the business meeting, followed by a late lunch with a friend at the yummy buffet found at Reuan Thai near Belleville, I dedicated the rest of the day to spending as much time outside as possible, walking for hours, enjoying the fresh air, and not stopping for a nap, despite any temptation to do so.
I forced myself to stay awake until a reasonable hour, ate an early dinner, avoiding alcohol or caffeine, then walked a little more after dining; Paris is so pretty at night.
Then I showered, unpacked a little, and tried not to overdo any reading, talking or catching up on emails, texts or WhatsApp messages. I went to bed around 11 pm, and my first night I slept 10 hours- a welcomed rarity, and was astounded to see that it was already 915am when I woke up. Perfect!
The city in December was gorgeous, quiet and safe, and ironically, apparently daily pollution levels were high enough (but I did not notice this) to make public transportation free for the weekend.
Although my preferred way to get around Paris is by walking (Fitbit lovers rejoice: here is the ideal vacation city for you…) since my favorite charming little hotel is super centrally located, I took a few buses here and there.
I liked Paris this time of year because the buses were not crowded, I could always sit, and I enjoyed the views from the extra large windows.
A very good weekend in Paris it was, full of superlatives.
I had the best pasta dish of my life, for example, at my new favorite Italian restaurant in Paris, France, called L’Osteria dell’Anima at 37, Rue Oberkampf (ranging in price from 13 to 17 euros), and the servings were generous, and we each practically licked the plates clean…
All four of us loved what we got, and they had something for everyone: vegetarians, carnivores and pescatarians. They also had delicious aperitifs like a peach Bellini (5.50 euros) and really good desserts.
I have no pictures of our dinners to share with you, though, because once the food was served, enjoying our meals while they were hot was the priority, not photographs, not travelcutie.com.
But when we first arrived at this tiny place (maybe seven or eight tables only so make a reservation in advance, they turned tons of people away on our Friday evening), we knew it was a good sign when, upon entering the front door, we immediately came across this young woman cranking out some of the best fresh pasta, and had to take a picture of her, with permission, of course.
By the way, this excellent weekend trip to Paris did not begin or end on a superlative note, thanks to mounting disappointments and frustrations with Delta. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, how I wish Northwest took over Delta instead of Delta doing away with Northwest Airlines.
Their poor service and lack of commitment to their customers’ wellbeing did not earn them any admiration from me on this trip, that’s for sure.
Here’s why I was peeved. Back at the end of October when we originally had purchased our tickets, we had paid $32 per person extra on top of our fare to have specific seats, towards the back of the plane, where there were only two seats to each row.
The night before the flight, we got email from Delta, asking us to check in online, and then we discovered that not only did we no longer have the seats we had paid a supplement for and which had been next to each other, but we now had new seats in different rows that seated three people, and we would be four rows apart from each other!
Unfortunately, I read this too late to get any real help. The first time I got Delta after holding for about 45 minutes, I spoke to someone in the Philippines who disconnected me after about another 45 minutes after putting me on hold because she said she needed to speak to Air France, because it was Air France metal.
Then, because I must be a glutton for punishment, I called back, got somebody in Jamaica, who also put me on hold for about a half hour, while she looked for an Air France person to help, and ultimately told me that I could not do anything on the phone, it was too late; I had to wait until we were at the airport.
So that was a bit of stress the night before leaving. At the airport, though, we got lucky, and did manage to change the new seats to our liking, with the help of a kind AF agent.
Follow-up: I will give Delta credit for this- I had filed a complaint online that night, immediately after the futile phone calls, and heard back from them within five days, in the form of an apology, and an offer to credit us back the $32 per person, and also a gift of 4000 miles added to each of our SkyMiles accounts. I do respect when wrongs are correctly righted.
But it doesn’t end here. We purchased our tickets with the American Express Delta Business Platinum credit card, which offers, among other benefits, Priority Boarding on Delta flights, but never got it. Another email to the airline asking why, yielded no explanation but did garner one more apology and an additional 6000 miles added to our account.
So, bottom line- it’s not a perfect world, everyone makes mistakes, and some companies at least try to make amends. Would I fly Delta to Paris again? Mais oui…
And for more details on what to see and do in Paris, we are to eat, my favorite museums, including a huge list of what is free and when, check out my other post, “A paean to Paris unfettered and alive”…
La Travel Cutie, à votre service