|Viking Ship Idun|
|Veranda Room with Balcony|
Food on the cruise was outstanding. I was particularly pleased when presented with a menu
|Examples of Appetizers|
|Examples of Main Dishes|
|Examples of Desserts|
|Four and one-half Carrots|
For information about my rating system, see Reading the Reviews.
|Left: Coffee/Tea service|
Right top: Hotel room
Hotel du Levant (18 rue de la Harpe, 75005 Paris; +33-01-46-34-11-00) is in the Latin Quarter and a real gem. The people running it are friendly and accommodating. I called the
|Top: Hotel room|
Bottom L to R: Shower, WC
|Three and one-half Carrots|
|L to R: Bathroom, Hotel room|
What we did…
The information and ratings in this section go are focused on what we did on our own. Pictures and descriptions are in Peeking in on Prague and Pausing in Paris blogs.
|Four and one-half Carrots|
The Louvre (Rue de Rivoli, Paris, Île-de-France 750001) is, of course, a must see in Paris. We’ve been several times and still haven’t seen it all. This time we were focused on seeing the Etruscan exhibit; of course it was extensive and wonderful. There is also a new, at least to us, exhibit of giant statues that are absolutely wonderful. The docents all speak some level of English and are very helpful; they smilingly listened to my high school French and immediately switched to English. Be sure to get to the museum at opening time. Even with a ‘fast pass’ you may have to stand in line to get into the pyramid. Once inside, if you have a ticket, you’ll immediately go to the one of the desks to get a map, then to any of the entrances. If you don’t have a ticket, you’ll stand in the regular line, but if you’re there early it won’t be too very long. Once inside go to the kiosk where you can pay by credit card, grab a ticket and head for a map and one of the entrances. If you want to see one of the ‘famous’ exhibits, schedule your viewing for either early in the day (right after opening) or just before closing. The Winged Victory is fairly easy to see since it’s on a pedestal at the top of some stairs, but the Mona Lisa will try your patience if you want to get up close. The Venus de Milo is also on a pedestal, but it’s not on stairs, so you have to be patient if you want to get close to it, as well. Restrooms are at a premium everywhere except by the restaurant, so be prepared to stand in line if you use one in other parts of the museum. Plan on eating at odd times if you want to stay in the museum; the restaurant can get rather crowded.
Notre-Dame Cathedral (6 Parvis Notre-Dame, Place Jean-Paul II, Paris 75004) lives up to its billing. This is an amazing place with wonderful stained glass windows, chapels, alters, markers and icons. Entrance to the Cathedral is free; the line to get in looks intimidating, but it moves very quickly. Your bags are scanned and that’s want slows down entrance. If you are lucky enough to be in the cathedral when there is singing, you’ll thoroughly enjoy how the acoustics affect the sound. There is a charge if you want to climb the tower; I did that years ago and it allows for wonderful views. The grounds out behind the cathedral have plantings of shade trees, roses and seasonal wildflowers. Evidently it is a popular place for wedding portraits since we saw several couples posing with the flying buttresses in the background. There is also an area for children to play and some benches from which folks were feeding pigeons.
Sainte-Chapelle (8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris) has the most amazing stained glass windows I have seen. There are literally walls and walls of windows. Since their restoration, the colors are vibrant and the light coming in makes the alter area seems to glow. This is still an operating church with an active congregation, so visitors are asked to be very quiet. The Crown of Thorns relic is supposed to be presented with other relics to the believers for veneration on the first Friday of each month, every Friday during Lent at 3 pm, and on Good Friday from 10 am to 5 pm. However, the Crown of Thorns may not be among the relics at every presentation. There is a cost for entrance to the church; the ticket is bundled with the ticket for the Conciergerie.
Église de Saint-Germain-des-Prés (3 Place Saint-Germain des Prés 75006 Paris) is one of the oldest churches in Paris. It also has great stained glass windows in a very small alter area. What I really like about the windows is the distinctively different, rather more primitive, art they show. Like Sainte-Chapelle, this is an active church so visitors must be mindful of services and members of the congregation who are worshiping. There is a small garden with some interesting sculptures around the side of the church; it also has some small flying buttresses. Entrance is free.
Jardin des Plantes (rue Cuvier, rue Buffon, rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, place Valhubert, 75005 Paris; +33- 01-40-79-56-01) is a lovely botanical garden that has walking trails, shade trees, formal plantings, huge greenhouses, and a series of beds for specific plant species. The variety of plants in each of these beds shows the range of leaf shape and blooms a species can attain. Within this garden is the Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes. While the Paris Zoo fits into the ‘modern’ zoo framework, the Menagerie is a much smaller offering. The animals kept here are small to medium in size and are not what you’d expect to see. We particularly enjoyed the Asian Furry Donkeys who seemed intent on checking out visitors for handouts. There was a well-appointed monkey house, exotic cat area, aviary, herpetarium, and pens with natural landscaping for llamas, and mountain goats. There is a fee for the menagerie, but not for the botanical garden. There are plenty of places to eat around the gardens and you can bring food into the parks.
The Petite Palais (Avenue Winston Churchill, Paris 75008) has one of the most eclectic art collections in Paris. It was surprising to be walking along the hall looking at an old master, then to come face-to-face with a sculpture or a painting from the last five to ten years. Since this was built as a palace, the building has wide, sweeping staircases and long, wide halls. The building, itself, is a work of art. Its exhibits range from furniture to paintings to sculptures to jewelry. There is an inner garden that is quite pretty and a small restaurant. Evidently local Parisians like the area for lunch since we saw several groups with their sack lunches sitting in the garden. Entrance to the Petite Palais is free, except for the traveling exhibit that may be in residence when you visit. The Petite Palais is just off the Champs Elysees, so there are lots of green areas that are decorated with interesting statues very close.
|Three and one-half Carrots|
Conciergerie (2 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris) is one of those odd places that you’re not sure what you’re seeing. The first time I visited I thought I was in the hall of one of the kings of France because of its size. Then I was told that I was in a horse barn; this didn’t seem right because there was a spiral staircase and huge fire places. On this visit the historic society of Paris had been at work so there are now informational signs in several languages, along with a couple of films that talk about the building and its construction. The entry area was actually the guards’ room; whether they brought their horses in with them was never quite clear. The rest of the building was given over to housing for prisoners. There is a reconstruction of the cell that held Marie Antoinette, along with information about the queen and her children. At one time there were several well-known women in this area; they were allowed to walk in a very small garden. This garden has been replanted with typical vegetation. There is a cost for entrance to the Conciergerie; the ticket is bundled with the ticket for Sainte-Chapelle. The restrooms are actually in the Palais de Justice, so you’ll meet some of the folks who have business in that building.
Shakespeare and Company bookstore (37 rue de la Bûcherie. 75005 Paris; +33-01-43-25-40-93) is a used book store with a rare book store attached to it. The used book area looks and smells like every old library I’ve ever been in. There are several floors to the store and you can get lost between the stacks, but you may find someone playing an old piano or a cat asleep on an antique couch. Most of the books appeared to be in English, but there were groups of books in other languages with the preponderance of those being in French (of course). There are benches outside for people to sit and read. We found several interesting books that didn’t make it into our bags simply because those bags were already stuffed with other goodies. That didn’t stop us from writing down the titles!
Wenceslas Square (Prague, Czech Republic) was not a jammed with tourists as it was the last time I was there. This is a good place to watch people, as well as see a lovely statue dedicated to Saint Wenceslas. Looming up behind the statue is the National Museum with its neo-renaissance façade; I still haven’t had time to go inside. There are other several buildings in the area designed in the Art Nouveau style. There are also several that are decorated inside with Alphonse Mucha’s art. There are many al fresco restaurants and bars in this area along with several nifty little shops to poke around in; there’s also a very nice bookstore and a chocolate shop. It’s a good space for a walk and to grab a bite to eat.
What we ate…
I can honestly say that the food on this trip was outstanding. We never had a meal that wasn’t above average. Service ranged from excellent to inefficient, but all the wait staff were pleasant. Also, I have never eaten as much good cheese as I did on this jaunt.
Bistro St-Dominique (131 rue Saint-Dominique, 75007, Paris; +33-01-45-55-80-42) is
located on a back street near the Eiffel Tower. It’s one
of the few restaurants that is open 24 hours a day. We just happened to
discover it as we walked back from one of our adventures. The building is about
a hundred years old and has a tiny spiral staircase in one corner that takes
you up to the restrooms. If you are tall, part of you is on one turn of the
staircase while your feet are on another. The owner had purchased the building
just after World War II and had been in the restaurant business for years.
There was a nice outdoor seating area that was crowded with a mixed age group;
inside was air conditioned and very comfortable. We started with a nice bottle
of German wine; it was light and not too sweet. Dave had bifteck et pommes frites
(steak and fried potatoes); I had macaroni au gratin (basically macaroni and
cheese) that was laced with four types of cheese and topped with Parmesan. This
was comfort food for us both and it was very good! While the waiters were kind enough to endure my French, they were quite willing to converse with us in
|Top L to R: Steak, Dave with wine|
Bottom L to R: Menu, Mac and cheese
Brasserie du Cercle (2a, rue des Capucins, L-1313 Luxembourg; +35-2-47-45-12) is a small restaurant on the main square. The people who run it are very friendly and are most
willing to accommodate your needs. We only had a short
time for lunch and ask the waitress what would be appropriate to order. She
suggested the soup and bread; this was a great choice. The tomato soup was
thick and almost sweet with the pulp of the tomatoes. The surprise in the
bottom of the bowl was a thick round of goat cheese. I was in heaven, Dave
wasn’t nearly as excited. The bread was fresh, crusty and served with butter.
The wine went well with the meal. I wish we had had time to have an entire
lunch in this restaurant. Although Luxembourg is said to be one of the most
expensive places in Europe, we thought that the prices on the menu were in line
with other restaurants in Germany.
|L to R: Tomato soup, Menu|
Cafe & Bistro in Hilton Prague (Pobřežní 1 186 00 Praha; +42-0-224-841-111) is a casual
eatery that caters to tourists. Food is varied
and rather good; however, you won’t find much local fare on the menu. Simply
because of jet lag one day and walking our feet off the next, we ate in this restaurant twice. We had a delicious cheese
plate that did have some of the local cheeses. The little crusty bagels were a
nice counterpart to the creamy goat cheese. The tomato soup with goat cheese
toast was creamy, peppery and very tasty. Dave had a rack of lamb topped with
pesto and a side of potatoes. The sauce served with it was spicy and a nice
contrast to the meat and potatoes. The caprese salad dressing was a bit sharper
than I expected because of the small amount of mustard they used, but the
cheese was good and the tomatoes were fresh. They also had green and white
asparagus in a hollandaise sauce that was very good. Along with that I had a
salad with quail eggs, very salty bacon and mixed greens. Dave tried a
traditional schnitzel with a mustard sauce that he thought was a bit dry. Prices
were very reasonable, especially for a hotel restaurant.
|Left T to B: Salad, Caprese|
Center T to B: Schnitzel, Lamb
Right T to B: Cheese, Asparagus, Sout
Como Restaurant (Václavské náměstí 818/45 110 00 Praha 1; +48-0-222-247-240) is right on Wenceslas Square. You can opt to sit outside or in; we chose indoors since it was much
quieter and less crowded. The food was
spectacular. Dave had chicken breast pin-wheeled with bacon and spinach,
presented on a bed of butter mashed potatoes with barbecue sauce on the side.
He said it had a lovely fragrance and taste; it was quite a pretty
presentation. I had Mahi Mahi grilled with pineapple; sweet, slightly salty,
crusty, and firm flavors and textures mingled together to create a wonderful
meal. We each had a nice glass of white wine that complemented both dishes. The
waitress was attentive and helpful, making sure that we both got what we wanted
prepared to our specifications. This is an up-scale restaurant that makes an
extra effort to have a wide price range for their varied patrons. We saw
business people having a working lunch as well as young people obviously on
vacation and families with children. The price for the food and service is very
|Left: Como Restaurant|
Right T to B: Chicken, Fish
La Harpe (16 Rue de la Harpe Paris; +33-01-43-29-43-48) is just one of the many
restaurants just up the street from Hotel du Levant. As we walked by the maître
d' told us about the evening’s specials and offered us a free glass of wine to
come inside. This was one of the many places that had a ‘set menu’. You can
have two courses (appetizer and main or main and dessert) or three courses for
a set price. These menus are usually a good deal and this one certainly was. We
obliged him and got a good seat overlooking the street. Dave started with a
bowl of French onion soup; he said it was delicious. I began with a salad that
was mixed greens topped with a piece of toast and two rounds of goat cheese;
that could have been my entire meal since it was filling a very good. Dave’s
main was a traditional coq au vin (chicken in wine). Mine was a steak with
fried potatoes and green beans. We both were very happy with our meals. The
chicken, with its sauce, was a delight; the steak was tender and had a
wonderful mushroom sauce with it. Desserts were chocolate mousse and creme
brulee; both were well prepared and very tasty.
|Left T to B: Steak, Dessert|
Center T to B: Salad, Chicken, Dessert
Right T to B: Soup, Dave with Menu
Les Parisiennes (17 Avenue de la Motte Piquet, 75007 Paris; +33-01-47-05-07-37) is a really delightful place to eat. Our waitress was full of energy and fun. She knew just how to
handle Dave’s silliness, so we laughed
through the entire meal. Dave had a club sandwich with a large salad. He said
that the cold cuts were tasty and that the chicken was roasted; the greens were
very fresh. My salade Niçoise was full of tomatoes, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives, and anchovies, and dressed with
vinaigrette. The tuna was just as I like it, seared on the outside and rare on
the inside. The house wine was slightly sweet and went well with our lunch. The
price for lunch was extremely reasonable.
|Top to Bottom: Salad, Logo, Sandwich|
|Three and one-half Carrots|
Atrium Restaurant in Hilton Prague (Pobřežní 1 186 00 Praha; +42-0-224-841-111) is one of three restaurants inside the Hilton Prague; the breakfast they provided was included with the room rate. This buffet included fruit, cheese, cold meats, salad, sushi, cereals, yogurts and breads along with scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and made-to-order omelets. Wait staff brought coffee, but juices and tea were available.
Bratwurst Roslein Restaurant (Rathausplatz 6 | 90403 Nurnberg, 90403 Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany; +49 911 214860) was our first experience with German food on this trip.
We were told by our tour guide to asks for the check
as soon as our food was delivered. It is a tradition in Europe that the bill is
presented only when you ask for it rather than delivering it as diners finish
their meals. I had a cheese plate with local cheeses and a basket of bread. I
was a bit disappointed in that I couldn’t identify the cheeses; their flavors
were very similar. Dave had some very good sausages and mashed potatoes. He
said that the sausages were well prepared and flavorful. The beer he ordered
was huge; my water was of a normal size. The price for the food was within
reason, but service was a bit inattentive. Others in our party who sat outside
complained that service was so slow that they didn’t get enough time to finish
their meals. Inside there were fewer people, which is probably why the service
we had was okay.
|Left T to B: Dave with beer, Menu|
Right T to B: Sausages, Cheese plate
Café le Petite Cluny (19, bd. St. Michel, 75005 Paris; +33-01-43-29-98-51) is a café near
Hotel du Levant. As with most of the others
it has inside and outside seating with non-smoking within the café. For this
meal we decided on something light rather than two or three courses. Dave and I
split a cheese plate and a shrimp and avocado salad. With wine and bread, these
two dishes were plenty to eat. The cheese plate was a nice mix of creamy and
pungent; the butter was just a decadent addition. The salad was yummy. The
shrimp tasted fresh and were an almost sweet counterpoint to the smooth
avocado. The crusty bread was a good carrier for all of the foods. The mustard
dressing on the greens was a bit sharp; Dave really enjoyed it but I’d have
preferred something a bit milder.
|Left T to B: Cheese plate, Shrimp salad|
Right: Dave with menu
Café le Poliveau (46 rue Poliveau 75005 Paris; +33-09-53-20-25-34) is very near the Jardin des Plantes. It is one of those places that does a brisk lunch business with the locals. We
had a good time with the waitress and
her interesting English combined with my interesting French. Eventually we all
were happy with our orders leaving Dave and I to relax with our drinks.
Unfortunately, the chef had lots of chives and used them liberally. We began
with a caprese salad that was lovely except for the mustard dressing. Dave had
a nice steak and some fried potatoes that we thought were going to be greasy,
but were, in fact, quite enjoyable. His gravy had lots of mushrooms in it, as well as a
nice amount of cream. My chicken kabob was very well prepared; the bell pepper
was a sweet contrast to the crusty meat. The sauce was full of tomato flavor.
This was a set menu at a good price.
Right T to B: Steak, Chicken
Café Relais Odeon (132, Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris, France; +33-01-43-29-
81-80) was an okay place to eat lunch. Dave had a very
nice burger with fried potatoes and I had a cheese, tomato, and apple salad;
both were well prepared. Dave really enjoyed his sandwich, particularly because
the meat was cooked to his liking and the bread was homemade. The cheese was
very good, but the salad dressing had too much mustard and detracted from some
of the delicate flavors. When we visited, they were doing a brisk business with
almost every table both inside and out full, as well as the bar. Service was
not as slow as we expected. The prices were a higher than other places we’d
eaten, although the food, while good, was not noticeably better.
|Top: Cheese and salad|
Glocke Weingut und Hotel (Plonlein 1, 91541 Rothenburg, Bavaria, Germany; +49-0-9861-958990) was a part of one of our tours. They prepared a special schnitzel for me and
sausage, potatoes and sauerkraut for everyone
else. I also got a delicate carrot soup while others got a vegetable soup. All
the foods were well prepared but were a bit bland. Dessert was a very nice
apple strudel with a cream sauce. The restaurant was a part of a hotel of
half-beam construction. The furnishings were traditional as were the costumes
of the wait staff. The staff did a pretty good job of serving about 60 people;
they were pleasant but didn’t have time to interact with us individually.
|Top L to R: Schnitzel, Soup|
Bottom L to R: Strudel, Sausages
L’Annexe (13 Rue des Trois Treres, 75018 Paris, France; +33-01-46-06-12-48) is located
very near the Palais de Justice and as a result had its share of business
people having lunch at the sidewalk tables. Since there is no smoking inside,
we opted to sit at a table indoors in front of the large windows. This place
was hopping, but the service was a bit slower than we thought warranted. I had
a nice ham and cheese on a French loaf. Dave had a Croque-Madame; this was grilled
ham and cheese sandwich, topped with béchamel and a fried egg. The food was
good, but not outstanding, and the price was reasonable.
Right T to B: Ham and Cheese, Croque-Madam
Fame Restaurant in Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel (18 Avenue De Suffren 15 Arr., 75015 Paris;
+33-08-25-83-60-60) has a great patio to sit and
stare at the Eiffel Tower. The atmosphere inside is very nice, including a
rather casual bar and an upscale restaurant. They also have a wide variety of
drinks and a fairly extensive menu. We opted for a couple of glasses of wine, a
flat-bread type pizza, and a cheese plate. While everything had great flavors
and were well prepared, we had very poor service. The food and wine were
over-priced for what we received and for the service.
|Flat-bread, Cheese plate and wine|
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