Puttin’ on the new Ritz

In case I haven’t mentioned it, Paris is cold and rainy. Incredibly, Saturday morning was not too rainy. Lynn prepared a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs and lardons to fuel our exertions of the day. Our agenda was a combination of the old and the new to us in Paris–a drink at the newly re-opened Ritz, followed by a visit to the L’Orangerie museum, then the Museé D’Orsay and finally dinner at La Ciasa Mia with a nightcap of NFL football at Pomme d’Eve on our old street. We have actually done all of the above, except for the Ritz, which was still closed for renovation last year at this time.

When we were here last year, even the tall column in the center of Place Vendome was shrouded to protect it from the renovation of the Ritz Hotel on the square.

The Ritz just accepted its first guests last summer, three months behind schedule from a multi-million dollar renovation that closed it for four years.

The new crest in the floor welcomes visitors in the arcade at Place Vendome.

Our goal was the Hemingway Bar, which unfortunately does not open until 6 p.m. So we settled for the Ritz Bar all the way in the back of the building, a small intimate watering hole where we were informed by the very skilled bartender that this was the original Hemingway Bar. The current one in the front of the building was renamed to accommodate more patrons.

Sitting next to a like-minded couple, we ordered two Bloody Marys, which were prepared with great flair by our bartender. At 24 euros each, the least you should get is a show with the drink. Both turned out to be excellent and memorable.

The couple seated next to us at the small bar reside in both New York and London and just came across on the Chunnel, as we did. We compared notes about the taxi chaos at Gare du Nord, which they also encountered before summoning Uber. After their Bloody Marys, they ordered a glass of Chablis each with two sandwiches. I reckoned their lunch tab probably approached 200 euros.

Blessedly, it was not raining when we walked out of the Ritz on our way to the Tuilieries and Monet’s L’Orangerie Museum. On our way along rue Tivoli, Lynn spotted a sweater she liked in a shop window, so we walked into the store to meet and chat with the attendant, who is herself from New York and now living in Paris. We enjoyed a nice chat about the weather (why would you want to visit Paris in the winter?), and Lynn bought the sweater.

We walked on along rue Tivoli around the corner past the Ferris wheel and across the Tuilieries to L’Orangerie, somehow expecting to walk right in. We weren’t the only ones who had the same idea, as the line stretched around the building and into the park. We quickly decided to try another day, next time with advance tickets.

Undeterred and equally uninformed, we crossed the Seine and walked down to the Museé D’Orsay. Same result. The lines for all the entrances, even the private C Window, wrapped back and forth in the queues. Silly us, thinking that maybe these museums would not be too crowded in the winter. On a Saturday. What were we thinking?

At this spot on the Left Bank of Paris, there is a hole in the Metro system from Museé d’Orsay along the Seine all the way to Blvd St. Michel, the boundary between the Fifth and the Sixth Districts. If we were to walk all the way down to the next Metro stop, we would have almost been home. So we repaired to a reasonable retreat, a bar run by an Asian family, to plot some sort of course back home.

Three Metro lines and transfers later, we emerged from the Censier-Daubenton Metro stop, the one nearest our apartment. It would have been quicker to walk.

On the walk back along rue Mouffetard, we stopped to buy some really stinky cheese at a fromagerie and a small baguette at Franprix (39 cents!) for a snack before dinner at Ciasa Mia. After all, we had skipped lunch, since we ate breakfast so late.

Back in the apartment, we drank wine and ate cheese as we prepared to go out to dinner, discussing the merits of taking Uber as opposed to a 15-minute walk. How French. How New Orleans.

 

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