A previous post this summer encouraged more of us to do trip reports, so....
This was our 4th RS tour and we've learned to add extra days for maximum enjoyment of the tour. We chose Eastern France because we both love history, wine and good food. This itinerary went places we were excited about. The tour was mid-August to the beginning of Sept. We started with two days in Paris to adjust and and because we love Paris. My husband is the poster guy for "American tourist", complete with the required baseball cap, but he loves the French and they seem to love him. This is our third trip to Paris together, so we've hit most of the well-known stops. This time we want to see some new things, except I promised him we could go to the Louvre again.
Day 1: We landed on Thursday around 10 a.m. after two uneventful flight. Immigration was manageable and there were lots of staff directing arrivals. Walking through the doors into Terminal 2A. there was a TI with no line. I dimly (everything is dim after flying from the west coast) remembered there would be a surcharge for either the Paris Museum Pass or the metro carnet, but having them in hand so easily was worth it. The surcharge was for the carnet. On to the taxi rank. Thankfully, there was a post reminding people to be careful of unlicensed taxi drivers trying to direct you to their cars. There were several right as we exited to the taxi rank. Got our legit taxi, flat rate to the hotel and we're off to a good start.
Our hotel in Paris is the French Officer's Club (aka Cercle National des Armees). It's in the 8th, near St. Augustin church and metro stop. The hotel is in the process of being renovated (I had my eye on some of their antique furniture last time we were there) and the area is much busier. There is now a Monoprix diagonally from the hotel and the area is more lively in the evening. Security is very tight at the hotel. Arriving at 11 a.m.was well before check-in, as the desk staff gently reminded us. However, as they watched our feeble attempts to regroup and be off after dropping our luggage, they told us a room would be ready in 15 minutes. My heroes. The room wasn't large, but plenty of room to move around, a closet with hangers and drawers, full-length mirror and a view of the Eiffel Tower. They have an area behind the front desk where you can iron clothes - love it.
Luggage dropped and we're off. Perhaps this is obsessive, but I now write down all the directions I need ahead of time, i.e. metro stops, direction metro is going and the correct stop. Nothing yells "tourist" faster than me standing around squinting at a map or the directions on my phone. Knowing the number of the line we want and the direction we need to be traveling keeps us moving through the metro. We had one incident at the end of our trip when the ticket machine wouldn't take the credit card and then we went through the turnstile before realizing that the line we wanted was down an escalator. We've had worse. Our first stop was the Marmottan-Monet. We successfully navigated the metro, climbed the stairs, planning to follow the RS Guidebook, "cross the street and follow the brown sign. Which street? there are two choices and where is the brown sign? It may be there, but we didn't find it. We got ourselves sorted out and headed downhill. After a few blocks we see signs, so we're feeling confident again. The museum is everything I hoped it would be. It's like being invited into someone's home and they happen to have fabulous art on the walls. It's quiet, uncrowded and you can get quite close to the art. The basement was especially enjoyable because you can view the art from so many different angles. I thought there was a cafe here, but I was wrong. So, off we go to our next activity. On the first day we try to keep moving as much as possible. If we sit too long, we'll be asleep.