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Old 03-21-2014, 03:07 AM   #1
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Wine, friendship, crème brulee and dinner on the Seine! COMPLETED

Wine, friendship, crème brulee and dinner on the Seine!

Dates: Saturday 22 – Monday 24 March
Adventurers: Me, Cheryl (41) and DH Mark (48)
Destinations: Paris
Resorts: staying with Hazel (see below) at their home on the outskirts of Paris
Meets: Hazel (thomhazel) and her family
Celebration: a bittersweet one – seeing Hazel and her family for one last time before they move out to Australia in July. Then we won’t see them until the end of the year…

I absolutely love the PassPorter boards. A strange way to start a trip report perhaps, but it’s how this trip started. Hazel and I “met” on here, when she happened to mention that she was dropping off her pets prior to their holiday at a place near Maidstone, which is where we live. We started chatting, and it transpired that she’s quite often over in Kent, stocking up on things she can’t get in France, where she lives, so we made arrangements to meet, and Mark and I first met Hazel and her daughter Gemma in Canterbury in November 2012. We had a great time with them, and made a promise to stay in touch, and meet up again.

I think the next time I saw them, and this time it was the whole family, was February, just as they were setting out on a trip to Disney World. The state had changed the legislation, and for a very brief period (and I’m talking literally weeks here), UK drivers had to get an international driving licence. It was insane, as usually those are only needed for languages that the police can’t read, like perhaps Arabic, the various forms of Chinese or Japanese. Anyway, the only place you can get one is at a post office, and the only post office you could go to in the whole of the county of Kent (our equivalent of a state) was (you got it! ) Maidstone, so I walked into town, as we have parking where I work, and I knew their cars would be loaded up with stuff for their vacation. I showed them where the post office was, then they dropped me back home.

The next time we met was in June, when Melanie, her mum and Meri came over to Paris. We took a long weekend (Paris and PassPorters), and spent a day at Disneyland Paris, dining with Hazel and Graeme on the Friday night at Walt’s, An American Restaurant, before heading to Versailles the next day, and the local café with the legendary crème brulee.

At the time, Hazel mentioned to us that we should come over and stay, as Gemma would be heading to university in a couple of months’ time, and I liked the idea, but it really didn’t get much further than an idea at that stage.

We talked, and stayed in touch, with Hazel and Gemma visiting on the way back from their Disney trip in the summer, then meeting up with Hazel for lunch when we went to Paris for the day in December. At that point, we knew that there was a possibility, which was a pretty strong one, that she would be moving to Australia for work sometime in the summer of 2014, so we started talking a bit more seriously about coming out to spend the weekend with them.

We met up with Hazel a couple of times in January, and she was able to confirm that the weekend of 22-23 March was free for us to come and stay. I think it’s fair to say that this was about the only weekend she had free in between all her literal flying around, mainly to Australia for work.

I decided to wait until the credit card month rolled over, as we had all the Christmas spend on the existing one, so as soon as it was done, I went ahead and booked our tickets on the Eurostar. I had been looking at all sorts of options, including going out on the Friday afternoon from Ashford. Ironically, of the two stations in Kent, Ebbsfleet has a lot more trains going to Paris and Brussels, but not on a weekday afternoon. The last train out is something like midday, whereas there is one from Ashford late in the afternoon. In the end, it came down to money. It turned out that one of the Saturday morning trains out of Ebbsfleet was cheaper, so we opted for that one. I didn’t want the really early one, given it was a Saturday, so I went for the 7:42am one. As it was, we’d need to be at the station around 7:00am, so would be leaving the house about 6:30am. That’s plenty early enough for me!

When I came to book, standard premier class was only another £30 ($50) for the two of us, above the standard class rate. Standard premier gives you bigger seats, you also get complimentary newspapers and magazines on board, and a light meal and drinks served at your seat. For the extra money, it sounded good to me.

On the way back, we weren’t quite so lucky, but don’t feel bad for us, as I managed to secure one of Eurostar’s cheapest deals, scoring our standard seats for just £34.50 ($55) each, so there was no way standard premier would be a deal on top of that, as that would’ve cost a lot more. We’re leaving on the Monday at 1:04pm, returning just over an hour later, because of the time difference. Hazel assured me both train times would be fine, and they’d be able to pick us up from the station on the Saturday, with Graeme able to drop us back on the Monday.

So what are our plans for the weekend itself? Well, the one thing that Hazel told us about when we had lunch in the café in Paris in December was that she wanted to take another dinner cruise on the River Seine. She and Graeme had already done it once, and absolutely loved it, although she warned us that it wasn’t cheap, and my goodness it wasn’t. It came to €330 for each couple, which is a modest $445. I trust Hazel and if she says it’s worth it, then it is. I really can’t wait! So those are our plans for the Saturday night.

The other must-do for us was a return visit to their wonderful local café, because of course we have to sample their amazing crème brulee. I did say to Hazel that she needed to check if they did take away, because then we’d have one there, and take one with us! We’re heading there for Sunday lunch.

Apart from those plans, I do know that shell-on prawns are on the menu for lunch on the Saturday at Hazel’s from discussions we’ve already had. To be honest, we may need a sleep in the afternoon, as the dinner cruise doesn’t start until 8:30pm, and we’ll have had an early start that morning. After all, with the amount we’re paying, we want to make sure we stay awake for it!

The only other thing I did say to Hazel that I would like to see is Bois de Boulogne, as we’d talked about going there when Melanie came over, but we never made it, and it does look like an amazing place.

I have to say I am so excited by this trip, and I know from various messages from Hazel, that she is too! I cannot wait to get back to spend the weekend with her and her family, and see one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Footnote:

Just to say that I’m still excited by this trip, but the weather really is not playing ball at all. I know that most people reading this will still think this is exceptional, given the winter you’ve had on the other side of the pond, but we’re only looking at temperatures in the low 50s and we’ve had a really warm spell with temperatures up into the low 60s in the last couple of weeks, so that’s going to be a bit of a shock, especially as Hazel and I are planning on dresses for Saturday night. Add to that, the forecast is saying rain, so the weather really isn’t helping us at all. Still, at least it will be Paris and with good friends.

I really do need this trip as well. Some of you may already know, but I had a cyst removed from my head on Wednesday afternoon. I went through the same process and had three removed in about 2000, but I don’t remember it being as painful as this time. I can’t wash my hair until Saturday, so I’ve warned Hazel a hairdryer will be required, although I am terrified of washing my hair while there are stitches in my head! Of course sleeping isn’t great right now either, so I do need this get away, especially as things are mad at work right now too.

One other thing to say – the trip report may not go up as quickly as usual, as my laptop died on Monday morning for no reason. I haven’t loaded anything new on it, changed anything etc., but it wouldn’t load things, so I restarted it and it wouldn’t restart. They’ve concluded the hard drive is fried and it’s now away for repairs until early next week, so I won’t be travelling with it and that will definitely slow down writing up the trip report, so please bear with me on that…
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Old 03-21-2014, 03:46 AM   #2
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How exciting to be spending a weekend with PP friends!
Can't wait to hear all about it! And I hope your head is feeling better so that you can truly enjoy yourself.
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Old 03-21-2014, 04:55 AM   #3
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We are really looking forward to having you. I warn you now the lounge is a bit of a mess as i have two piles of packing ready one for my car and one for Graeme's as I leave for Scotland Wednesday night and Graeme leaves two weeks today. We get the keys to the new house on Thursday.

It will be great to have someone in the house who gets how excited i am over all the disney stuff i have bought for my new house. If I hear another whatever mum I will scream.

Oh the pressure the pressures, last time it was will the creme brulee be good enough this time it is will dinner on the Seine be good enough... Well we loved it last time, Paris is beautiful but particularly beautiful at night all lit up. The food is pretty good too as is the wine.

I have had the week from that firey place down below at work and three migraines in three days hasn't helped so you might not be the only ones needing an afternoon nap.
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Old 03-21-2014, 06:16 AM   #4
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Sounds like a great trip, excited to follow along.
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Old 03-21-2014, 07:21 AM   #5
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Sounds like a wonderful, much-needed getaway for you! I did the dinner cruise on the Seine years ago and it was really an outstanding experience. I had wanted to do it since seeing the movie "Charade" in the early '60s, and the real thing lived up to the shots in the movie-- although without Cary Grant and Givenchy-clad Audrey Hepburn!
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Old 03-21-2014, 08:34 AM   #6
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I hope you guys have a great time!
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Old 03-21-2014, 09:38 AM   #7
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A dinner cruise on the Seine sounds lovely! I hope your head is feeling better. Enjoy the weekend away
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Old 03-21-2014, 11:54 AM   #8
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Sounds like a wonderful weekend is planned for everyone! Can't wait to hear all the details. Healing on the way for Cheryl and Hazel both! I hope all of you have fun, relax, and recuperate.
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Old 03-21-2014, 02:22 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by lfredsbo View Post
How exciting to be spending a weekend with PP friends!
Can't wait to hear all about it! And I hope your head is feeling better so that you can truly enjoy yourself.
Thank you - it is better today, not hurting as much, but I am seriously dreading washing my hair tomorrow... I don't want to do any damage to the stitches!
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Old 03-21-2014, 02:25 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Thomhazel View Post
We are really looking forward to having you. I warn you now the lounge is a bit of a mess as i have two piles of packing ready one for my car and one for Graeme's as I leave for Scotland Wednesday night and Graeme leaves two weeks today. We get the keys to the new house on Thursday.
Oh wow - how cool! Trust me, you have nothing to worry about - if you could see the state of our house right now. We're clearing out our smallest room and honestly it's impacting on every other room like you wouldn't believe! The suitcase is out upstairs and I've had to put it on our bed, as there's no space for it anywhere else.

Quote:
It will be great to have someone in the house who gets how excited i am over all the disney stuff i have bought for my new house. If I hear another whatever mum I will scream.
Oh trust me, I'll be excited and taking plenty of photos as well I'm sure!

Quote:
Oh the pressure the pressures, last time it was will the creme brulee be good enough this time it is will dinner on the Seine be good enough... Well we loved it last time, Paris is beautiful but particularly beautiful at night all lit up. The food is pretty good too as is the wine.
Fingers crossed... my only concern is the weather forecast. It really isn't looking good for tomorrow afternoon/evening. I have visions of cruising down the Seine in a rain storm, drowning our sorrows with wine. Actually, now I say that, that doesn't sound too bad!

Quote:
I have had the week from that firey place down below at work and three migraines in three days hasn't helped so you might not be the only ones needing an afternoon nap.
Let's hope this weekend makes up for all our awful weeks then...
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Old 03-21-2014, 02:28 PM   #11
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Sounds like a wonderful, much-needed getaway for you! I did the dinner cruise on the Seine years ago and it was really an outstanding experience.
That is so good to hear! Let's hope tomorrow night it's still as good!
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Old 03-21-2014, 02:29 PM   #12
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Fingers crossed... my only concern is the weather forecast. It really isn't looking good for tomorrow afternoon/evening. I have visions of cruising down the Seine in a rain storm, drowning our sorrows with wine. Actually, now I say that, that doesn't sound too bad!


Ach well if it does rain we will just have to do what we do at Disney and carry on regardless. The boats are warm and fully sealed more like a floating restaurant. Trust me it was the middle of winter when we did it last time.
This is probably a stupid thing to say to you but have your camera easily to hand as we have to drive around the Arc de Triomphe on the way home so you will get some good close ups.
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Old 03-21-2014, 02:29 PM   #13
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Sounds like a wonderful weekend is planned for everyone! Can't wait to hear all the details. Healing on the way for Cheryl and Hazel both! I hope all of you have fun, relax, and recuperate.
Fun, relaxation and recuperation... now that sounds good to me... along with friends and good French food and wine!
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Old 03-21-2014, 06:12 PM   #14
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Sounds like a wonderful weekend! Weather pixies being sent your way!!


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Old 03-21-2014, 06:22 PM   #15
KMB733
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Location: Ballston Lake, NY
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Hope you have a wonderful weekend with friends!! Can't wait to hear all about it!!
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