Monday, January 24, 2011

Bienvenue a Paris

Arrived in Paris on almost empty Open Skies flight from Newark; hotel room not ready so off to the flea market at Vanves; felt giddy with greed...or was that jetlag? Didn't buy any of the many things I wanted; did spring for a small painting that I can n0w schlep on rest of my travels. Will take it to the next 60% off framing sale at Michael's. The vendor told me the painting was an antique since it is signed and dated 1966. I wonder what that makes me?

There was a small cultural brouhaha when I took a photo at a stunning display turned out by one of the vendors-- he toldme it was usual to ask permission to take a photo before shooting. I apologized profusely and groveled as the Ignorant American I knew myself to be. He thanked me for speaking French and showing him some respect. Travel teaches us all so much...

Eventually we got to check into our room at a brand new Paris hotel and member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Le Pavillon des Lettres (, the remake of a tiny hotel around the corner from my last apartment in Paris, so I know my way around and know all the sneaky short cuts to Monoprix. There are 26 rooms in this hotel that are said to be named for the letters of the alphabet although ours is named Urfe, which is not a letter that i know in any alphabet or in any pronounciation I can recognize. The room is postage stamp sized but incredibly chic-- the twin bed is short and narrow (which I am not) but the duvet is heavenly. The location in the 8e is truly sublime-- I know, I lived here once.

All the sales in the stores are down the street or around the corner. In fact,
Monoprix is deep in sales, so there was nothing to drool over. I did swoon for a long black gab jacket/ overcoat thingy from the new collection, meaning not on sale. I may go back and lay down my 89 euros, but again, that's no bargain and I am waiting for the last days of my trip here when I will head out to La Vallee, the outlet mall near Disneyland Paris.

I will do my grocery shopping later in the trip: probably at the Auchan hypermarket next door to the outlet far I just picked up some makeup remover, a few eyebrow pencils and a Coke. A single bottle of Coke from the corner grocery cost 2 euros or $2.80...possibly more, depending on the rate of exchange. Indeed, everything seems expensive, so I can't wait to get into some serious soldes to start saving money.

I come to Paris each January for my regular medical checkups. The vampire on the corner took my blood and about 100 euros cash; will find out how healthy I am in a few days. Most interesting part of the visit to the lab was the little shelf in the bathroom where you are told to leave your urine walking through the lobby with a warm plastic cup in hand or a feeling of chagrin. I will be saving $$$ when I get my Rx at the pharmacy. Drug prices are regulated in France and cost a small fraction of the US prices. Take that one to Congress. Of course, no one wants to go back to America to brag about a bargain on thyroid medicine, so I hope to do better in the next few days. Tomorrow my goal is to take on Lafayette Maison the housewares branch of Galeries Lafayette.

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