“What, you are going to Paris!” exclaimed a friend, as if we were taking a risk following the lethal terrorist attacks. My wife, Lillian, and I, having planned the trip, decided to carry on with our intent on the principle that one can’t be intimated. Nothing was going to stop the reunion we had planned with our daughters and grandchildren and other relatives. After arriving, we found that Paris is carrying on too, with those we know going about their lives as usual.
We checked into our customary hotel, the comfortable and convenient Hotel du Louvre (Place André Malraux), part of the Hyatt chain, where we were greeted with hospitality by the staff and booked into a king view room, this time overlooking the square in front of the renowned Louvre museum, with a view up one part of the rue Saint-Honoré.
This was the holiday season. We arrived in time to spend New Year’s Eve in Paris, something we had never done. Instead of opting for the crowd on the Champs-Elysées, we dined at a neighborhood restaurant, Bistro Vivienne (4 Rue des Petits Champs), where there was a festive atmosphere, including our waitress going around the room bestowing friendly kisses on everyone at midnight.
Every time we visit Paris and stay at the Hotel du Louvre we notice neighborhood changes. We once liked a nearby restaurant at 10 rue de Richelieu, and the last time we came, we found that it had been changed under new ownership. This time we encountered yet another change, the installation of the Zébulon Palais-Royal, which turned out to be a most enjoyable restaurant, where we dined twice to enjoy the Asian-oriented cuisine.
We also had an excellent seafood dinner at Le Grand Colbert (2 rue Vivienne), a renowned place in the same area. On another occasion we ventured further afield on the Left Bank to dine at Le Bistrot du Dôme (1 rue Delambre, in Montparnasse), also excellent for seafood. Another of our major eating experiences was dining in the impressive looking, spacious Minipalais (3 Avenue Winston Churchill). As the weather was very mild for that time of year, with only a bit of rain, we did quite a bit of walking, a pleasure Paris affords. In our wandering along the Boulevard Saint-Germain we stopped for a meal at a long-time favorite, Brasserie Lipp (151 Boulevard Saint-Germain).
We strolled along the Avenue de l’Opéra, the Boulevard des Capucines and the Boulevard Saint-Michel, as well as along interesting side streets. Even though we stayed next to the Louvre, which we have visited numerous times, that venerable museum was not on our agenda on this trip. However, it had been years since we visited the Cathédrale Notre Dame, and although there were many tourists, the line moved smoothly and inside we were awed anew at the impressive structure. When you think of when it was built (construction began in the 12th century) and of the labor it took without the modern equipment we now have, the achievement is breathtakingly impressive.
One thing we did notice was the increase in armed security. For example, the Hotel du Louvre stands just opposite of La Comédie-Française. When shows were scheduled, police with serious looking guns stood outside checking on those entering.
The stores we visited were doing brisk business, including those on the more fashionable part of the rue Saint Honoré. We bought chocolates for a Parisian relative at a favorite shop, and Lillian found an attractive pair of earrings at another.
As usual we enjoyed the hearty buffet breakfasts at the hotel. There are two computers in the hotel’s tiny business center, and as we don’t travel with laptops, we found them useful. However, the printer was out of order, a problem when trying to print out boarding passes. But the concierge desk personnel were very helpful in re-routing the passes and printing copies on their printer. It seems the business center printer had been out of order for some time and I as told that there was red tape involved in getting the repair done, which accounted for the delay.
On this trip I got to know several more hotel staffers. I had previously met Executive Assistant Anne-Sophie Millet, who also arranged our room on this occasion. This time I also got to know Florence Ramon, Guest Relations Manager, who was extremely friendly and charming, and she looked after us repeatedly, asking whether there was anything else that we needed. At a special reception held to enable staff members to meet guests, I had a long conversation with the affable Delphine Cravotto, Director of Operations, and at the same reception I enjoyed talking with Hugo Marchais, also a Guest Relations Manager. I got the impression that the hotel was going the extra mile to please guests in view of the fears of potential tourists that had concerned the hospitality industry.
No doubt the terrorist attacks, some marked with anti-Semitism, have instilled anxiety among some travelers, evidenced by the concern about our choosing to go to Paris expressed by friends back in New York. But in Paris security is tight. One example of the increased vigilance occurred when our Air France plane was scheduled to depart for New York. We were delayed an hour (time was subsequently made up in flight) because, we were told, someone had checked in two bags but had not checked in to board the plane. It was necessary to plow through the baggage to locate and remove the luggage missing the passenger. We never learned what security discovered, but it was reassuring to know the care being taken.
We came away feeling that there is every reason to keep visiting the great city of Paris and carry on as the French are doing. It also feels good to show solidarity. Posted February 3, 2016.