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Having secured a place to sleep, I hereby begin to really plan the trip, which will be in early October.  This post serves as place to store a bunch of evolving lists.

For those who feel tempted to make suggestions, please note that I’m not planning to see much in the way of typical tourist places or “doing” a whole lot.  I’m mostly interested in wandering quieter streets, seeing very old buildings, sitting and sketching in quiet and cozy places, gazing up at the stars when tucking in for the night in my l’il garret, and eating reasonably well and reasonably inexpensively in a vegetables-with-cheese-and-eggs-and-the-occasional-seafood kinda way.

Stuff to prepare:

  • Find a tiny garret apartment.  Done! It’s in the 4th arrondissement (Le Marais), near the St. Paul Metro station, in an 18th century building, has a wee kitchen with washer and dryer, wifi, a 6th-floor southwest view plus skylights, and thankfully an elevator for the first 5 flights.  Woo!
I will be able to see rooftops...

I will be able to see rooftops…

...and even a tiny glimpse of Eiffel

…and even a tiny glimpse of Eiffel

  • Book flights by Aug. 1.
  • Sign up for the next French class at SCCC.
  • Line up cat-sitting.
  • Get a travel-friendly cell phone plan.
  • Maybe get a tablet computer even though I obviously will have no money left.
  • Maybe buy a ticket to the ballet, even though I’m not particularly excited about what’s on while I’m there and oh yeah the money thing.  Anyway, tickets for this show go on sale June 23.
  • Round up addresses for postcards.
  • Find out where the record stores are.

Stuff to pack:

  • Sailor Babo
  • iPod & charger
  • sketchbooks
  • pens & pencils
  • watercolors & brushes
  • guidebooks
  • leisure reading for the plane
  • a printout of this bus route map

Stuff to get once I get there:

  • a 10-pack of transit tickets (un carnet)
  • Metro system map
  • more sketchbooks & art supplies
  • more leisure reading
  • the tackiest possible small Eiffel Tower snow globe

Stuff to see or do:

  • Musée d’Orsay
  • a bit of Louvre (and I’ll be there for free first Sunday of the month)
  • Opera Garnier (at least look inside even if not seeing a ballet)
  • whatever market is in my neighborhood
  • Maybe a day trip to some small ancient village outside of Paris
  • Shakespeare & Company
  • Montmartre Cemetery
  • Père Lachaise Cemetery (psst … M—–l … that’s where George Perec is buried)
  • Ride bus route #69 (I am a transit geek after all)
  • Ride Le Metro
  • Ride Le Batobus

Stuff to eat:

Stuff I do not plan to see or do: go up in the Eiffel Tower (although I will see it from the bus and will probably also walk near it and look up) or L’Arc de Triomphe, visit Versailles, buy clothes, fancy dining, stay up late



  1. Regarding the record stores, I once purchased a Neil Young CD on the Champs-Élysées. That place is probably closed down by now, though.

  2. I was wondering if you planned to see the ballet! I think your plans sound about perfect, esp. since you only have a week. That’s kind of how I’d been figuring on doing it when I thought I was going back a few years ago. I liked the Musee d’Orsay (I believe it’s closed Mondays, or it was when I was there, which I learned the hard way) and didn’t really give a crap abotu the Louvre. I went to Versailles which is just ostentatious but the gardens are probably nice at other times of the year than February. I did go to Pere Lachaise, twice even, I think, because for some reason the first time I couldn’t find Jim Morrison.
    Whenever I go out wandering in a foreign city, or more likely just get lost, it’s always in an ugly uninteresting part of town. Rarely do I stumble upon anything interesting. Of course sometimes I am a little preoccupied with not getting more lost or finding my way back so….

    • Dang it, I just typed a big long response to this and then accidentally clicked on the wrong button and lost it… was Jim Morrison’s crowded when you found it? I’m mostly interested in a quiet stroll among sculptures and trees than seeing any specific grave. And I’m gonna cheat on the street wandering by consulting some guidebook walking tours before heading out. :)

      • No and the cemetery itself wasn’t crowded at all. It was probably late February but it was also 1995 so I have no idea what it would be like now.

  3. At l’Opera Garnier, there is an English -language guided tour around the place at certain times of the day. It might even have been free and was very well worth it.

  4. The Louvre is HUGE and easily takes up an entire day to see. Get a map early on and plan which artworks you really want to see, and which you could easily skip. I made the mistake of spending too much time looking at all of the tiny carved scarabs and other small artworks in the Egyptian section. When I finally came up for air, I discovered it was already lunch hour, and I hadn’t even seen the Venus de Milo or the Mona Lisa. Then I got lost and ended up seeing “The Death of Sardanapalus” a zillion times because I kept walking in circles and passing that monstrous painting.

    There are some wonderful little classic French bistros. Don’t forget to stop at a few and have a glass of wine with a small meal. I had an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich at one near the Musee d’Orsay. It was so good, it’s been one of my favorite memories of Paris. I also came during a slow hour, so I was waited on by the proprietress, who became my grandmother for an hour. At the time I was very homesick, so I was equally starved for a mom to look after me. I’m sure she’s gone by now, but it’s those sort of experiences that make a trip, not the big touristy places. :)

    • Ack, how frustrating about missing the art you wanted to see! For me the Louvre is appealing mainly as a structure rather than any specific artworks, although the seeing the winged Nike sculpture at the top of the stairs would be cool. But iI’ll definitely get a map and try to avoid The Death of Saranapalus. :) Aw, your bistro grilled cheese experience sounds really nice. I bet a Parisian grandmother makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches. When were you in Paris?

      • I blush to say it: 1980. It was right before I started grad school in Berkeley. Looking back, I should have stayed in Paris. Trying to get a PhD in history was one of my poorer decisions. :D

  5. Oooo, what an exciting trip to plan for! I’ve never been myself but, of course, I have nothing but romantic notions about Paris. I hope you sketch lots of beautiful old streets and buildings. :)

    • Thanks! I’m super excited, and also have romantic notions which I’m hoping don’t result in too much disappointment (by dog poo and other things I’ve heard are less romantic about the city). At any rate it’ll just be exciting to be someplace with really old buildings!

  6. That sounds so exciting and so much better than staying on the tourist trail. I look forward to reading about it all and hopefully seeing a few pictures as well.

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