A Week Back in Paris. Part Une—On Our Way and A Bit of the First Day!

We’re back from our week in Paris and there’s so much to talk about. It was great and there were some obstacles coming back—I’ll tell you about them later on. In fact, this will be a multi-part blog and I have no idea just how many “episodes” I’ll be writing.

But first things first. We’ll start at the beginning…

Monday, November 22, 2021

The Frenchman dropped Chippy off at the Vet, I did some last-minute checking of the luggage and we were on our way.  But first, I need to tell you about our VeriFly debacle.

VeriFLY: Fast Digital Identity - Apps on Google Play

This should be rebranded to “VeriFright”.

I’m obsessed with downloading my boarding pass to my iPhone. Seriously. I’m like a child who can’t wait for a birthday party when it comes to this. The second I receive the notification from the airlines, I’m happily and giddily adding that treasured travel document to my phone and I feel good for going paperless.

I live for putting my boarding pass on my phone. And I’ve got quite the story about how Verifly messed THIS return pass home!

And this time I was at a higher level of excitement because my boarding pass would be special—a long-awaited flight to Paris.  But something happened. American Airlines added the need for an APP that would *cough* *cough* make it easier and more efficient to begin the process of checking-in. On the phone.

American Airlines joined forces with VeriFly.  VeriFly has an App. This app (I’m just using lower-case letters because I have no idea of the proper “app” grammar) stores your personal information, information regarding your vaccinations and, when needed, your Covid-19 testing results.   And, as this is an app, that means there are no human beings to assist you in this process. In theory, it is a rather simple process but in real life, it basically sucks.  And I’m being kind.

Now, understand that American Airlines had both my husband and I as travel companions.  Under normal circumstances I should have been able to check both of us into my iPhone.  However, there were issues.

Having my Passe Sanitaire downloaded to my phone was easy. I should have stopped at that.

Positively awful. Awful. My trip expired so if I need to use this I have to sign up all over again. And there is no room for error because you can’t get in touch with anyone.  Holy $hit is all I can say.

I uploaded my photo to VeriFly.  Step done. My flight information automatically loaded into VeriFly’s app.  Another check.  Then the confusion set in. Instruction wasn’t concise. Vaccination information needed to be uploaded but the way it was requested had me trying to upload the code from my Passe Sanitaire.  After a couple of hours, I finally got it right and uploaded a photo of my vaccination card to VeriFly.  Next step was to wait. And wait. And wait until I received an approval that all was acceptable.

And after receiving the approval in the form of a green check, I was good to go. Only I still couldn’t upload my boarding pass simply because The Frenchman was my travel companion and I had to add his information onto the VeriFly app.

Did I mention that I am bi-lingual in cussing?  And particularly gifted in my bi-lingualness to utter the naughtiest curse words in both English and French.  I had extra practice with this app.

So now we’re in the car. On the way to JFK. On the Jersey Turnpike. And although this really wasn’t the time or the place to enter my husband’s information, I did.

Essentially it took until we were over the Verrazano Bridge and into Brooklyn when I figured the Verifly app out.

I snapped his photo while he was driving, uploaded it, squirmed my way to climb over the top of my seat into the back of the car where his carry-on was and opened his documents to snap a photo of his vaccination card.  Seconds before parking at the airport, he received his approval and I was, at long last, able to check into the American Airlines site on my phone and upload our boarding passes.

In the meantime, my husband had everything on paper simply because he is old-school and does not trust the iPhone. My husband is a very, very smart man. Smarter than my smartphone.

Thanks to an American Airlines employee we were able to work this app but on the way home it was a different story. A complete disaster–stay tuned!

Lucky for us, and even though Thanksgiving was only days away, the airport wasn’t incredibly crowded.  We made our way to the kiosk to check in and we had issues with scanning information from VeriFly. Again, luck was on our side in the form of Josephine, a wonderful airline employee who helped us with everything.  Luggage tagged all we had to do was check the luggage and head to TSA.  Despite the trouble we had, VeriFly worked but it took a seasoned airline employee to make it work.  (Wait till the end of our trip. VeriFly was a nightmare).

Our airbound vehicle was waiting for us!

Going through TSA took less than five minutes. I was remarkably surprised at how quick it was.

We had a nice view of the NYC Skyline from our terminal. I was so excited to finally be on the way!

At 2:15 we arrived at Gate 4, Terminal 8.  We had three hours to kill but used it wisely by reading and chatting.  Over time, the gate area became crowded. The flight was a full one.  And all I cared about was getting space for my carry-on.  I’m a rather simple being, I am.  And I am akin to a rabid dog when it comes to ensuring overhead space.

Helpful Tip:  Hover around the entrance to the plane—make sure you are inching your way to the front when the group before you are called.

We were Group Five. We sat in the back and I can assure you, I was the first person in my group to get onto that plane with my husband following close by.   It doesn’t matter how uncomfortable the seating is. I don’t care how cold the plane is. I care only about ample space for my carry one and we had it.

The plane was filled to capacity. We actually took off on time and I ended up watching three movies.

Crazy Rich Asians, which I loved—it was just as good as the book.  Then I watched French Exit, a movie starting the great Michelle Pfeiffer—the movie was awful.  And I ended up watching Cruella.  I couldn’t believe how much I loved Cruella—I’m no fan of Emma Stone but she was fantastic!

Poster of: Cruella

Surprisingly I LOVED this movie.  I was even able to tolerate Emma Stone!

Entract Films

And this movie was a dud. Quite possibly one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. The talented actors couldn’t save it. And there weren’t even good scenes of Paris!

A bit of sleep, more reading and before I knew it, we were making our descent.  I thought we were in slight trouble though because it was one of the bumpiest landings I’ve ever experienced.

Going through customs took minutes. I think our plane was the only one that landed.  Getting our luggage that was checked in was easy and within moments we were in a cab on the way to Paris Centre! The early morning darkness was beginning to fade into a muted light. Traffic, as is usual on early weekday mornings, was pretty bad. It took a while to get to the city from the airport. But there was another surprise when we arrived in the heart of Paris.

 Early morning in Paris.  And although there’s minimal traffic here it wasn’t like this throughout the city!

Mayor Anne Hidalgo, decided that the residents who ride their bikes to work are far more important than those who drive. Actually, in the practice of being green and wanting less emissions from automobiles, there are now designated bike lanes throughout Paris.  In theory this is a great thing. In real life it is not a great thing.  Parisians are not happy about this and quite frankly, neither is this visitor. What you have are bike lanes with a handful of people using them and less car lanes not only with more congested traffic, but with vehicles that are standing still and blasting emissions for all to breath in. There are actually more emissions.

Paris Mayor and Socialist presidential candidate Anne Hidalgo has announced a '100 percent bikeable Paris' plan in a bid to boost her green credentials ahead of next year's election. Paris Mayor and Socialist presidential candidate Anne Hidalgo has announced a '100 percent bikeable Paris' plan in a bid to boost her green credentials ahead of next year's election. Municipal: have traffic and traffic jams really dropped in Paris? - Archyde

Yeah. Traffic was really bad in certain areas!

We arrived at Citadines on Rue des Grands Augustins figuring that we would drop our luggage off, have breakfast and walk around until check-in time. Fortunately, the room was ready and we were not only able to drop our stuff off but we were able to freshen up a bit.  We were tired but hungry so we ventured out for breakfast on Rue de Buci—at Café de Paris.  Trust me on this one. After having horrific airline coffee, it was beyond pleasurable to take that first sip of real coffee—and excellent at that.  It was an enjoyable first breakfast and being on Rue de Buci was like a homecoming of sorts.  Everything looked unchanged après pandemic—Nicolas, the wine store; Carrfour, the grocery store; the souvenir shop across from the café—all remained the same.  Sometimes no change is greatness.

Me in all my after-flight glory. I’m tired. Makeup faded. But I didn’t care. I was just happy to be in Paris!  It was cold so I changed my hair and put a pair of boots on!

And our first breakfast back was outstanding!

The caffeine did its job of waking us up so after breakfast we decided to take a walk around “the neighborhood”.  We headed up to Blvd. St. Germain and stopped at Fragonard to get a small gift for Vincent’s granddaughter.

We walked around the neighborhood that was so familiar to us.

A couple of flaneurs just wating for the next adventure!

And then…it happened.   Allow me to explain before going further with this post.

For quite some time, I’ve been eyeing the Louis Vuitton Petit Noé bag. This bag is a relaxed bucket bag and very-much along the style that I love.  In stalking perusing the LV website for months and months, this elusive bag has been sold out, not just online but in many stores as well.  My shopping goal was to track this beauty down and if I didn’t have luck, Plan B was to head to Goyard in pursuit of the Artois bag.   I had my list of every Louis Vuitton shop in Paris but truthfully, I didn’t want to spend my entire week searching for the bag.

Here’s the side of the store that faces Eglise St. Germain de Pres

Anyway, there is a Louis Vuitton shop with its main entrance on Blvd. St. Germain.  A little after 11 AM, after stopping at Fragonard, the Vuitton shop was open. There was no line to get in. We walked right in. We were asked if we needed help. After a few minutes we met with a sales assistant, I showed her exactly what I was looking for because I had a screenshot on my phone. I also had a screenshot of the Graceful bag which I was mulling over.

That iconic monogram on that iconic bucket bag made my heart all aflutter.

The first bag I was shown was the Graceful—and I liked it but it wasn’t Noe. Then, before my eyes, she went into a huge drawer. She pulled out …the Petit Noé.  And as The Frenchman paid for it, I was thrilled. Thrilled because I was able to snag that bag on the first try. Thrilled because I didn’t have to scour the city in search of it. Thrilled because I didn’t have to wait on any lines.  And the assistance we received was stellar.

And all wrapped up in holiday ribbon!  Reiko, the LV SA was on loan from the Flagship store where she normally works. If you are going to be in Paris and want Reiko’s information, PM me and I’ll give it to you!

Back to Citadines to drop off the treasures and out and about for more walking.

Time to drop off the goods and head on our merry way–with no sleep!

We stopped into the recently-reopened Samaritiane Department store. Having closed back in 2005, it remained a ghost of a structure until a few months ago.  In the time I’ve been traveling to Paris, which was a year after the store closed, most of the rumors I had heard over the years was that the building would be turned into luxury apartments.  I guess that thought didn’t fly too well.

We were steps away from Pont Neuf so walking to Samaritaine took minutes.

And there she is.  It was the first time since 2006 that I had seen this building not boarded up or being worked on!

My thoughts on the store are somewhat mixed.  Visually, Samaritaine is stunning—it really is.  Incredibly posh and well-thought out, it is gorgeous. However, I wonder if this store can compete with Bon Marché, the other Parisian luxury department store.  The wares here are very upscale.  In fact, the only items that were truly affordable were the desserts from Dalloyau, which has a little counter area for take-out and enjoying in-store.  The store was extremely crowded, but mostly with onlookers and window shoppers. I didn’t see many people actually shopping.

The interior of Samaritaine is absolutely stunning..

It is beautiful and well-thought out..

The floor plans aren’t fussy either..

Understated Christmas decor.

We decide to pick up a couple of pastries for the night’s dessert. Dinner that first night was at Le Procope, a favorite restaurant of both of us.

Our big purchase. You’ll see what’s in the bag in the next post!

But wait. I’m getting slightly ahead of myself here.

After exploring Samaritiane, we headed back to Citadines for some well-needed rest. Between the flight and walking around a good part of the day, we were starting to become tired.

Citadines St Germain des Pres Paris- First Class Paris, France Hotels- GDS  Reservation Codes: Travel Weekly

Almost two weeks later and I’m STILL pondering how I feel about this Apart Hotel!

Now here’s where I need to discuss Citadines.  Not really a hotel per se but not quite in the category of efficiency apartments, it’s unusual for me to pinpoint this place down.  It’s advertised as an “Apart Hotel” so that’s where I’ll stay. The location we stayed in was literally two doors down from where Vincent’s aunt Daniele lived.  And it was so great to be staying back so close to where we spent quite a number of visits over the years.

I couldn’t resist posing in front of Daniele’s old apartment building. Boy do we miss this place!

We’ve previously stayed at the Hôtel Prince de Conti. The rooms are very small and the lighting not that great but the price is right and it’s a charming place.

And Citadines was so weird to me because it was great and not great at the same time.  Allow me to explain—and this is to help you in case you might be pondering a stay here.

The Good:

The rooms were spacious. We basically had a living room, a small kitchen, a bathroom with a tub and a bedroom.

The bedroom was quite large for Paris standards.  The bed was ridiculously comfortable..

…there was ample space for our stuff. There was a window in the bedroom with really no view to speak of but plenty of light came in, which was good.

The tub was well appreciated since I love a good soak..

Who doesn’t love a towel heater?  This was another good thing.

We moved chairs around to admire the view. This is part of the living room.

Here’s The Frenchman charging his phone. I will talk about the state of this sofa in a little while. 

The kitchen was a great little size. We didn’t use the appliances but did use the tableware twice.

The view was incredible. We were on the fifth floor, facing the Seine. The view was so wonderful. From morning to late evening, the view was the money.

The view from our “living room” faced the river and from morning until late evening that view never failed to please.

The security. The building had great security.  You needed to swipe your room keycard to get into the building, the elevator and, of course, your room. The staff.  The staff was amiable and helpful and very willing to answer any questions.

The kitchen was well-stocked with silverware and dishes and glasses.  It was equipped with a dishwasher and microwave. A kitchen towel, dish soap and a sponge were also included.

Toaster. Microwave. The kitchen was well-stocked..

And if you wanted to cook there were pans.  If you are planning a longer stay, the kitchen is perfect!

The lighting was good too—in fact, in a stroke of pragmatism, the lights went on after you placed your room keycard in a slot by the door (inside the room). There was no losing your card! And the closet space was excellent too!

Two closets with ample space, an ironing board and iron–just in case!

The Not So Good:

Here’s where it gets weird.  The furnishings were so ridiculously outdated, I couldn’t get past it. There was no cohesiveness in the décor. This bothered me to no end.  It was furnished from Le Goodwill circa 1976 your grandmere’s basement. The sink in the bathroom was updated but nothing else was.

This TV stand looks like it came out of the AV department at a middle school.

Where’s the Parisian charm?

The sofa in the living room had a huge stain on the cushion. I couldn’t sit on it because it grossed me out. The stain was huge. I have absolutely no idea how it came to be and, trust me, I don’t even want to know.  There were random stains on the carpeting too. Now—I can’t stand carpeting to begin with.  Clean carpeting bothers me so you can imagine what stained carpeting does to my mental state of mine. Especially since I love to run around barefoot.

This stain on the sofa. All I could think of was the Jerry Seinfeld episode where Poppi had an accident on Jerry’s new sofa. I also thought of something much,much worse that had to do with the singer Rod Stewart’s manhood. There was no way I was going to rest my precious behind on that cushion.

And then there were random stains all over the carpeting.  I just can’t wrap my head around the decor, furnishings and carpeting.

Bear with me if you will. Although the kitchen was well-stocked, there were no paper towels. In this time of everyone having to wear a mask in all public places, and being extra germophobe, one would expect at the least a roll of paper towels in the kitchen as opposed to a fabric towel.  The other thing that was overlooked was a draining rack to dry the dishes.

The small kitchen sink sufficed well for our needs. The water was hot but there was no dish rack to drain the dishes….

And despite notices like this, and being extra-cautious to make masks mandatory, one would think that the addition of paper towels would add to keeping things clean and germ-free!

The table. There was no table. Well, there was a “sort of” table. It was one of those things with wheels that you see in hospitals and assisted living dwellings.  It wheels over the were bed so you can sit up and eat.  And as I get closer to that assisted living age, I really didn’t want to be reminded of my future as I sat in our Paris room eating from this “not-really-a-table”.   It was very strange.

This was the “table”.  I seriously don’t need a reminder that some day I’ll be hanging out at the piano room in an assisted living dwelling. This is a total WTF item!

Last of all, breakfast is served daily at 7:00 AM.  But the room where breakfast is served is like a school cafeteria. There’s no ambiance whatsoever.  We opted to walk over to Café de Paris for our daily breakfast.

Amenity | Citadines Saint-Germain-des-Prés Paris | English

This is the breakfast area (I did not take this photo, I copied it off the website). I’m in Paris.  I”m making sure that my first meal of the day is in a cafe and not here.

I’m being as honest as I can here. For the $400 a night, the location, the view was fine. But, man oh man, the stained furniture and carpeting and that assisted living table just completely turned me off.

Amy Poehler Reaction GIF

I said this quite a few times during our stay at Citadines.

My guess is Citadines does a great business with corporate short-stays.  We didn’t dislike the place but we weren’t completely sold on it for the next time.  My train of thought is that we will probably return to the Prince de Conti.  Or not.  I honestly just don’t know..

I’m ending this post now and will continue with our dinner at Le Procope. I don’t want to bore you so I’ll leave you wondering what our dinner was like!


About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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8 Responses to A Week Back in Paris. Part Une—On Our Way and A Bit of the First Day!

  1. Christine G says:

    I would be so disappointed with the room you had. And $400?!!! You paid for the view, it seems. But could you see the Eiffel Tower? Should I ever make it back to Paris there is no doubt I will stay at the last place we stayed, Hotel Le Recamier. It’s right next to St Sulpice, so walking distance to all the places we love most in Paris. Plus I could see the sparkles each night from the Tower.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Christine. Yes. We absolutely paid for that view. And I hate to sound jaded but for nine years we had a view of the Eiffel from staying with his aunt. It was sparkly and beautiful at night but it isn’t the most important thing to me at this point. I’m all about the location! XOXOXO

  2. Momcat says:

    Glad you are back! WTF 400.00USD???? For stained furniture and that long term care table…I think you might have done better with AirB&B. I know you would! My friend was in Paris had a cute 1 bedroom with a washer dryer, walked to everything it was about 300.00US a day. There are a few companies that specialize in finding short term rentals in Paris, you should look at those. Why pay for breakfast if you are not eating it? They are adding that to the cost of the room at Citadines…wow petit-déjeuner cafeteria style!! Can’t blame you for choosing the café. My friend was in Paris for a week and just adored her little space…she did have to go up three flights of stairs and there was a lady concierge who was a friendly old dragon but it was very clean and comfortable.
    Anyway, cannot wait to read more…

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Al,

      My husband is rather set in his ways and is very mistrusting of AirBBs since he’s focused on the negative reviews (He’s such a Frenchman). I honestly think he misses staying at Daniele’s–we were spoiled. However, next visit we’ll be returning to the Hotel Prince de Conti XOXOXOXO

  3. Essie says:

    Your expectations were at odds with your planning. Citadines is intended as student (mostly international graduate) housing. They have similar outposts in most major European cities. Students contract for semester long stays. On occasion similar arrangements are made for corporate stays.

    I can only assume that a room was available because during Covid there are less students requesting accommodations, even so, $400 is excessive even in central Paris.

    None of the breakfast rooms are “charming” in any of their locations. Students generally grab a quick bite on their way out and then stop at a cafe later.

    No one expects Citadines to be anything more than the equivalent of apartment-style graduate student housing with the added benefits of housekeeping, laundry rooms and front desk security.

    • Catherine says:

      HI Essie. Unless Citadines changed their branding there were no students to be found at this location. It was strictly adults and families and people that moved for business purposes:)

  4. Barbara from Montana says:

    Welcome back!

    Seems Paris/France didn’t provide covid relief funds to their businesses? In the US, most motels/hotels used Covid money to remodel during quarantine closures. At least that was our experience after a road trip this past summer; nearly 100% of the rooms we rented were beautifully remodeled and refreshed. (You’d think Citadines could have devoted a small bit of effort to deep cleaning if nothing else, right?)

    Enjoy your LV purchase. Honestly such a purchase has never been on my radar but I surely respect and appreciate a gal who supports haute couture. It surely is a different type of beautiful. And the world needs all the beauty it can get these days.

    Do you ever shop the flea markets? Or is that a younger gal’s gig?

    I’m looking forward to the dining portion of your blog! Yum. . . .

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Barbara,

      I don’t know….I would think that Citadines would just remoder regardless of Covid or not. I would love to shop the flea markets. Alas, my husband cannot stand them. We are at the opposite end of the spectrum on some things and that’s one of them-LOL! XOXO Dining coming up. I’m working on a post as I write this!

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