1. The Versailles Gardens at sunset. Rick Steves is absolutely right. There’s no time like the end of the day to appreciate the beauty of one of France’s most visited landmarks – the Chateau de Versailles and its gardens. Thanks to Lori Bertolini’s photo, we have this captured memory. My only advice for future trips is to make sure you’ve packed your extra recharged battery so that you don’t get caught with your digital camera flashing that no battery sign!
(c) 2006 Lori Bertolini
(c) 2006 Lori Bertolini
2. Le Train Bleu Restaurant. Gare de Lyon. 12eme. 20, Blvd. Diderot. Metro: Gare de Lyon. This may be one of the few restaurants in Paris where we spent more time looking at the ceiling than the food in our plate, but either way, we were found nothing disappointing. Le Train Bleu décor is turn-of-the-century opulence in overdrive. With huge murals depicting French Riviera destinations as well as Paris monuments including the Alexandre III bridge (which was built at the same time as the train station), this is a good place to recapture the aura of the 19th-century traveler’s idea of first-class travel. Even if you don’t want to splurge on a full-fledged meal, Le Train Bleu’s bar is a nice place to sink into leather sofas and while a way your time before a train takes you away to one of those beach resorts of yesteryear. The waiters are pros that make you feel like you belong regardless of how far away you may be from your real home.
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3. Queen.The nightclub, not the movie. I will fondly remember Queen as the
night club where I was able to get back and forth from the unisex toilets WITHOUT having Gerry Lauffer’s handcrafted ring tourmaline ring lifted from my fingers by an overly-ambitious patron. By the way, they’re advertising the best New Year’s Eve party starting at 11 pm. If you can’t get there, enjoy the video clip to get you in the mood. If you do go, leave your jewelry at home!
4. Maxim’s. Seeing Maxim’s, the nightclub, not the restaurant. After not having seen Maxim’s since the 1980s, it was nice to see that the landmark resurfaced once again – keeping some of its 80s retro nostalgia for the old guard yet redefining itself for perhaps another generation of party-goers?
5. Musee du Quai Branly- definitely the event of the year. The opening of Quai Branly in June has to be the crowning glory for Jacques Chirac and party – they can’t take that away from him whatever 2007 may bring.
There were innumerable other great moments – special mention needs to be made here of St. Suzanne (Mayenne) celebrating Jean-Pierre and Genevieve’s 60th birthdays. How often do two Americans get the chance to wear traditional Norman costumes and sing
“Ma Normandie”? As you can see from the “French Lesson” video, we needed all the help we could get for that venture.