Travel Journal: Paris, France

Seen through the eyes of Joyce and Terry Ryder

We went because: Paris is one of our favorite cities. We love the architecture, the museums, the people, the food (especially the coffee and breads) and, of course, the wine. We also have friends who live there, and we like to visit them.

Hotel recommendations: We usually rent an apartment in the center of the city, but we have stayed at Hôtel Le Notre Dame on the banks of the Seine. The rooms were very nice, the staff was excellent, and the views of Notre Dame were amazing!

Where to eat: One of our favorite restaurants is Rôtisserie du Beaujolais. Beaujolais is a cat who “oversees” the activities in the restaurant and visits with clients during dinner. For a great midday meal, we like Le Royal Turenne. Both of these are frequented by Parisians, and we find the food to be authentic French. For a more elegant dinner we would suggest one of the restaurants on Île Saint-Louis such as Mon Vieil Ami. For a very special breakfast with spectacular views of the Seine and Notre Dame, we love Le Flor en l’Ile on Île Saint-Louis.

Favorite dish on the menu: The coq au vin at Rôtisserie du Beaujolais is served piping hot at your table in a Le Creuset pot. We like the croque monsieur at Le Royal Turenne, and the chef’s special is always a winner at Mon Vieil Ami.

Item of clothing you shouldn’t leave home without: A scarf, of course. And a chapeau for monsieur.

Favorite historic landmark: We love the architecture and history of Notre Dame. The building is a treasure inside and out.

Local attraction worth a drive-by: A short train ride away are the palace and gardens of Versailles. Within walking distance are the Jardins des Plantes and Luxembourg. Jardins des Plantes includes a large specimen garden, a natural history museum, and a huge greenhouse with plants from around the world. If you visit Luxembourg gardens on a Sunday afternoon, you can watch the children sail boats on the pond while enjoying a picnic of wine and cheese in the park.

A great experience off the beaten path: The cemetery of Père Lachaise is a must-see. Each tomb is a work of art situated along tree-lined paths. You will find the tombs of Jim Morrison of the Doors as well as the singer Edith Piaf. Delacroix, Molière and Pissarro are also buried there among many others.

Worth the splurge: One of our favorite splurges was a private wine tour led by a sommelier to the champagne region. What a luxury to drink Dom Perignon in the gardens of Moet et Chandon!

Not worth the splurge: Taxis. The metro will get you anywhere you want to go, and it’s clean and safe.

Something surprising we learned on the trip: The Storming of the Bastille was a symbolic act against royal authority. On that historic day, July 14, 1789, there were only seven prisoners, most of whom were being held for check forgery.

Insiders’ tips: The French are a genteel and highly civilized people. The first thing they do when entering a shop is greet the shopkeeper with a “Bonjour Madame” or “Bonjour Monsieur”; when leaving there is always a “Merci, au revoir.” We have found that by following this simple formula we are treated with kindness everywhere in Paris.

We would suggest this trip to others because: There is something in Paris for everyone: the art lover, the gardener, the student of history or philosophy, the food lover, the wine enthusiast, the music lover, or the fashionista. There is no better way to spend a day than to start with a great cup of café crème and a pain au chocolat in your local patisserie, then walk the streets of Paris window shopping or taking in the architecture of the old buildings, later stopping for a glass of wine and some great cheese, having dinner at a quaint little bistro, and ending the day listening to some great music in one of many jazz clubs. La vie est belle!