Summer in Paris – Oh Là Là

Tim and I behave like dogs and small children when we are being driven around Paris by cabbies or friends.  We can’t  carry on a conversation because we are too busy scooting across the back seat straining to look up to the rooftops or down to the river, pointing and gasping like five-year-olds at the wonders that appear.  Some buildings are famous, most are just plain exquisite – tall steeples soaring occasionally over carved grey stone churches, apartment buildings and mansions whose top floor garrets with French doors are like eyes gazing over the city; wrought iron balcony with railing styles from utilitarian to baroque, belle epoque to art nouveau.  And let’s not even talk about how we both love the Seine, which seems to appear magically as it snakes through the city.

Maureen Vastardis
Tiny tables at Le Cafe Rostand. We’re with Maureen Vastardis, a Home Free Adventures reader who was visiting Paris with her husband, John.

Cafes and restaurants, their tiny tables and chairs lined up just so with animated people swilling tiny coffees or big wines, chatting, reading, typing, gawking, flirting, being French.  We are instantly immersed and collapse hopelessly into Paris’ embrace every time we arrive.  No matter how long we stay its spell never releases us from its grasp.  Each foray into its wide tree covered avenues, its profusion of magnificent parks, its narrow winding back streets deepens our affection.  Its sometimes leaden leaking skies are punctuated often enough with Monet’s bright blue background and luscious puffy clouds that we can forgive the flaw in our beloved.

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A glance from a rooftop brings us to our knees.

After a month of virtual hibernation in the glorious storm-pounded green depths of Southwest Ireland, arriving in one of the world’s most sophisticated cities was like being dropped on another planet.  Paris doesn’t pulsate like New York or push and shove like London; it simply folds us into its rhythm.  We sing along happily and let it teach us the melody every day.

I reached my writing goal before we left Ireland so the manuscript for Home Free was whisked through the ether to the publisher in the U.S., and we arrived in Paris free of its weight and ready to celebrate in the city we love best.

We automatically invoked our move-in mode, which we perfect with each change of address. First, Tim had arranged for the man with the “Martin” sign to be standing at Charles de Gaulle ready to drive us directly to our apartment.  Even though the flight from Dublin is less than two hours, it was good to know that we would be taken directly “home”. The manager was waiting and we put her through the paces of our list.  Since this was to be a three-month stay, we were even more insistent that the place was acceptable.  Unfortunately there was a longer than usual to-do list.  We have recently realized that most vrbo.com and homeaway.com properties, from  which we rent our homes year round,  were outfitted to accommodate short-term renters, those on vacation for a few days or a week, who usually do not plan to cook regularly or spend much time reading, entertaining or watching TV because they’re on vacation. We’re not on vacation. We’re travelers, not tourists. So it’s really not the fault of the homeowner or manager that there is sometimes a paucity of equipment.  We’ve simply learned to ask them to correct the problem, and they always do.  Of course, we sometimes add a few small items to make ourselves completely comfortable.

a and g
Our friends Andie and Georges help us celebrate our arrival in our new apartment. You see why we needed the spatula.
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Our terrific, friendly wine merchant, Isabelle, who tells me everything about each bottle I buy. I’m there a LOT.  Aux Caves de L’Admiral Mouchez, 7, Rue de l’Admiral Mouchez, Paris, 75013

In this case, although many pots and pans were new, they lacked lids, which we needed.  The hand tools, too,so our list included paring and chef’s knife, mixing bowls, dish towels and spatulas. The internet proved to be spotty and unreliable, which is a big problem for writers, well, for anyone who needs to communicate these days.  The harried but willing manager acquired the missing equipment in a day, but it took a week or so to receive a new modem and beef up the band width.  Once the details were under control we were free to enjoy ourselves, to poke around our local stores, introduce ourselves to our charming wine merchant, our petulant butcher, establish a nodding acquaintance with several bus drivers, find our closest Metro stations, reestablish local friendships, and generally settle in for a summer in  Paris.

In the coming weeks I will do my best to show you why we are always enchanted by the city of light.

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One of two remaining original gateways into the City of Paris.

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  1. vilma

    Can’t wait to get hold of your book-April 1 next year.Maybe my husband will share my life-long dream to see the world when we both retire.I’ll keep my fingers crossed on that one.For now, I am soooo enjoying myself reading your travel adventures.You are an excellent writer Lynn.Don’t stop on your first book.You have a follower here.

  2. Joe

    Hi Lynn
    Oh yes , I walked These Bridge in 1958 , not to far from the Eifel Tower as I remember , was much younger , and saw Paris with different eyes . Have seen some of Western Europa . Now we are in our Cruising mood.
    , East and Western Caribbean , Amazon River , In Dec. Miami – Santiago Chili via Panama Canal .
    Maybe in 2014 Austria and Germany . Our home base is Puerto Cortes Honduras ..

  3. Linda

    I love reading your travel blogs. I am hoping that when my husband retires in a year or two that we can spend some time in Europe during the year. I am very envious of your life, but happy to know it is all you wanted it to be. Paris is my favourite city!

  4. Jay and LaVon Barnes

    Oh, Lynne what an inspiration you and Tim are for our retirement plans beginning in three months or so. Perhaps some of your followers are in a place like we are, unsure if the nomadic, traveling life can go on indefinitely. Rather than sell our house, we are choosing to keep it with a corporate lease for six months or a year, not only to enjoy an added revenue source but to actually test our dream of perpetual travel. Maybe there is a middle ground between long, extended travel and an occasional need to reconnect with family and friends. Paris is where we will begin our adventure so we are watching with rapt attention. We both have been there several times but we prefer all of that time as an appetizer. Let the entre’ begin. Thanks for all you do. It must feel wonderful to do what you want and yet enjoy the benefit of helping and inspiring others.
    All the best.

  5. Nick

    Hi Lynne
    Paris is a magnificent city and I am so happy you are enjoying it. I love your blog and can’t wait for the book. I have many friends who love to travel and I have told them about what you are doing. As you may remember I have taken a year off work to travel and so now I’m in Greece. You pointed out some of the same things we encountered when we rented the apartment we have now. There is always things that will need to be done when you occupy a place for an extended period of time. All it takes is some patience and some cooperation from the landlord.

    Take care
    Nick

  6. Nita Burton

    So happy for you guys! This is awesome! We inspire to retire this way one day too. Sure do enjoy following your journey.

  7. Annita and Dave

    Hi, Lynne and Tim.
    We had such great fun meeting you both Friday evening. You really are spectacular folks and so gracious. Thank you again for taking time to share a beverage and for sharing stories. As I told you, your WSJ article was a sign that we were supposed to do our own adventure. Ten days in and it’s spectacular so far! I forgot to tell you how many times I have shared your link.

    Looking forward to more stories!

  8. robyn

    Lynn, love reading your posts. Subscribed to your Huff blog, but did not get your latest, glad you have them linked here. Looks like we start our travels next month. First Colorado for a month, then back to my place in AZ. Then dad’s in Calif, Colorado and Arizona til December, then visiting my partner’s son and family in Viet Nam for 2 months! After that, who knows. We still have much to dispose of, and are keeping our paid-off homes for now. But very excited to be freeing ourselves up!

  9. Marie Wise-Miu

    I look forward to your Paris entries. We were on our way back from Ljubljana a few weeks back and missed a connecting flight from Paris to Atlanta, due to plane problems. We were blessed with an unexpected evening and night in Paris. We zoomed around and took in the sights quickly just to show our son the river, which he’d never seen. Of course, we had gelato beneath the Eiffel Tower and strolled along the Seine. We had dinner at our favorite place Cafe du Marche on Rue Clere. The Confit du Canard is less expensive than the cheeseburger, what a deal! It’s unbelievably tender. You should check it out while you are there. Enjoy your Parisian Summer!

  10. Leslie Preston

    Just reading about your adventures, and that it’s all possible, gives me courage. If I ever travel to Europe, I want to stay at least a month, so everything you are talking about is so helpful! Thank you!!!

  11. Jeannie Spinelli

    Dear Lynn,

    I love reading your stories and I am very happy you have recently been adding more pictures. My family and I were in the same areas of Ireland back in January and we share similar pictures. My husband and I love to travel and though we are not old enough to retire, we are hoping to be fortunate enough to one day share a similar retirement plan. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, it helps make the daily grind hopeful!!

    Jeannie Spinelli

  12. Ralph Rowan

    Check out the square around Monparnesse R.R. station on Friday nights after dark.
    It is full of roller skaters all decked out in colorfull lights, quite a sight
    Be careful you don’t get run over.

    Ralph Rowan

  13. Lynne

    HI, I’ve tried to answer each of you, but something has been holding up my ability to address you individually. The book comes out April 1, 2014.
    You have no idea how much we appreciate your being so enthusiastic and kind. You make our day every day!
    Yes, today we were at the Invalides. Spectacular, but we did not get into the church because they were actually having a funeral there. The museum is amazing!
    HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY, EVERYONE!!!

  14. Lynne

    Hi Jack, try Viator, but there are sometimes limo services that are a better deal. Just look on the internet. It’s worth the hundred bucks or so!

  15. Lorri

    I would also love to know where the gate is that is in your photo. I have found that what many Europeans say is internet is lacking a bit for us Americans. Glad you were able to get yours to be acceptable.

    Check off list sounds great. I haven’t thought of that. I am sure it makes the shopping fun though. Did you go to Julia Child’s kitchen shop?

  16. Jennifer

    My husband and I are exploring the Dordogne area right now. We’ll be working our way up to Paris on the 16th. Looking forward to your notes!

  17. Cristina Alston

    Though I enjoy all your posts, your time in Paris is really the one I look forward to the most. I am so jealous! I love Paris and look forward to our next visit, and maybe someday having an extended stay like you!
    I am really curious of your command of the French language… are you or your husband fluent? If not, I am sure you have picked up important phrases along the way. For a short 2 week visit, I found using my limited high school French along with my fluency in Spanish helpful, but for a three month stay or longer I suspect I’d need a better working knowledge. Can you please tell us about your experience with this?
    Enjoy your travels and keep writing!

  18. karen caprio flynn

    Thank-you for your interesting posts!! Love when you post your pictures. Heading to Ireland again (my daughter attends DIT) and hope to do a side trip to Copenhagen or Brussels. Waiting for my hubby to retire so we can follow in your footsteps!! It is my intention to travel the world. Looking forward to your book. Heading to the Jersey shore this weekend to our shore house…the shore is on the rebound. All the best..Karen Caprio Flynn.

  19. Steve Schlabra

    We spent 2 weeks in Paris with our teenage sons in 09′. Both r in college. Can’t wait to get back to the city of lights!!!!!!! Just the wife and I. Lynne what is the “ETA” on your book?

  20. Jack Marquette

    Will you share how to arrange the car pickup at CDG to take you to your hotel or do most have a shuttle. We will be tired when arriving and don’t want to wander around trying to figure out how to get into Paris. Thank you.

  21. Keith & Sandy

    Paris – A wonderful city. Visited a few years ago and enjoyed every minute. From exploring the Louvre, cruising the Seine at dusk, having dinner up the Eiffel Tower then relaxing at sunset on the grass with a bottle of wine, cheese and baguette admiring the twinkling night lit Eiffel. A magical time hopefully to be repeated. I envy you two. We’ll be following your travelling with interest.
    Take good care and enjoy.

  22. Tricia Irish

    Wonderful! We hope to do a month in Paris next summer….well, either May or September/October. I’m so looking forward to your posts!

    Such a picturesque city!

  23. Margaret Rossetto

    Keep those fabulous photos and travelogues coming, s’il vous plait! How does your apartment look inside? Do you have a little balcony? When we settle in a place for a month or two, I really want easy access to the outdoors, even if it’s just a terrace or patio. A couple of the places we have rented have had no direct sunlight coming in the windows, and that is a problem pour moi 🙂
    I am eagerly awaiting the publication of your book and I hope you are starting to write your next one!
    Margaret

  24. bill

    check out CATHEDRAL OF SAINT-LOUIS DES INVALIDES at the war museum in the 7th.
    those flags hung up high are the colors of armies defeated by the French going back to 1805.
    WAY cool.

    http://www.musee-armee.fr/en/collections/museum-spaces/cathedral-of-saint-louis-des-invalides.html

  25. Jennifer O.

    Lynne,

    I am making my first trip to Paris in a few weeks – meeting up with my daughter as she finishes her summer studies. Will follow your travels with interest. Maybe we will cross paths. (I’m also hoping to use some of your ideas when my husband and I retire in a few years.)

  26. Jack Marquette

    We hope you have a wonderful summer. My wife and I will arrive in September for a month in France. By that time you will have moved on. Anyway we will be reading this blog all summer. Thank you so much. Looking forward to your book. Jack and Sandy from Payson, AZ

  27. Holly Francis

    You’re living my dream, especially your time in Paris! I was able to live there for several months in Fall 2012 so am really looking forward to your upcoming Paris posts. I, too, had to buy some kitchen/household items to make my apartment in the 13th Arr. work for me, but that just gave me an excuse to wander thru shops and markets searching for just the right thing. Oh, I miss those street markets! Your idea of a check-in list is great – I’ll have to start one for my planned return in Fall 2014. Where is the gate you pictured at the end of your post – I’d love to find it.

  28. Holly

    I love reading about your adventures. We may be able to spend 2 weeks away this Christmas to New Years. Where would you suggest we book a nice get-a-way as well as get a taste of a place we might want to include in our future longer term stays?

  29. Monica Haley

    Lynn & Tim, Your articles inspired us to try our hand at being travelers instead of tourists for a month in Italy. We just returned from a great stay in Firenze. Thanks for the inspiration. Keep sending those articles and ideas.

  30. Lynne

    We’re so glad you are enjoying our site. Tim’s photos are just amazing, aren’t they? Wish we could share this lovely summer with everyone! Stay tuned for more sights and stories and thanks for following us!

  31. 24/7 in France

    Paris is indeed such a magical city and place to be – your photo of the Alexandre III bridge is stunning!

  32. Dennis Talbott

    Lynne & Tim,

    I’m so glad to be reading about your Paris, we’ve just returned from 3 weeks in the Marais and I so hated to close the door on that apartment. Enjoy.

    Dennis

  33. Steve Goch

    Dear Lynn and Tim,
    Your comments about the kitchen tools cracked us up. On our last stay on Kauai, we took our own chef’s knives, but really needed a good spatula!
    Love your stories and pictures.

  34. Linda

    We love your adventures! And we are one of those lucky readers who met you in Paris recently… wish we were back in the City of Light!

  35. Geri Wise

    I will be following your summer adventures in Paris. It is my favorite city. Enjoy!