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South Africa (and Paris)

RheaS's picture

I am finally going to the two continents I have always wanted to visit. I knew that I would go to Europe at some point in my life, but I wasn't so sure if I would ever make it to Africa. I bought my airplane tickets today for Johannesburg, South Africa with a 3-day side trip to Paris! I wish I could have stayed in Paris a bit longer, but the schedule didn't work out with my travelling companion. I can go back there later anyway. My company has an office there and I could work there temporarily as long as I pay for my own plane ticket. My friend Angela and I will be in South Africa for 17 days. The plan is to go to Cape Town and see the sights including a wine tour, Soweto tour and then a game farm near Kruger National Park. This should be a relatively inexpensive vacation because we're staying with friends in both Paris and South Africa and got an amazing deal on airfare ($1500 CDN). My only dilemma is how to make the most of my 3 days in Paris. I am definitely going to Pierre Herme. Paris tips anyone? Any tips for South Africa also appreciated.

wonka's picture

(post #52149, reply #1 of 16)

No tips, but whoohoo!, enjoy your trip.

Gretchen's picture

(post #52149, reply #2 of 16)

Paris in three days. Close.

RisottoGirl can do it in spades. I can do a little. What do you want? Where are you staying.

shoechick's picture

(post #52149, reply #3 of 16)

I don't want to scare you, but be careful in South Africa.  We also have an office there and we won't send women alone.  We had a co-worker murdered in their home.  Again, not meant to scare you, but please be careful!

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

RheaS's picture

(post #52149, reply #4 of 16)

We're staying in the 17th arrondisement (Batignolles-Monceau), Rue de Saussure. Which means nothing to me at this time. As for what I want, food of course. My friend Angela is a stick but is constantly hungry. However, she's more budget-conscious than I am when it comes to food. Therefore, more neighbourhood bistros versus michelin-rated restaurants. I may cook one day as a thank you for the friend hosting us. He's only lived in Paris for 3 months and misses home cooked meals. We likely will have to go to the Louvre, Montmartre, Notre Dame and Champs Elysee. We're both fairly fit, active and adventurous. What food items do I absolutely have to try while in Paris?

As for SA, I'm hoping that being with Jo'burg boys and spending most of the trip at the game farm will be relatively safe. The house where we're staying is about an hour or so outside of Jo'burg with two sets of electric fences bordering the property. Nonetheless, safety is definitely a concern.

Gretchen's picture

(post #52149, reply #5 of 16)

I definitely know "budget".  We are off for a day with DGS but will post later.

I agree about Johannesburg. I think I just heard some news about that recently. Classmates of two of our kids have lived in SA--and loved it at the time. Both have returned now.

Risottogirl's picture

(post #52149, reply #7 of 16)

That's a great area, near the very beautiful Parc Monceau (which is actually IN the neighboring 8th). The park was designed in the style of an informal English garden, very unusual for France where parks are usually quite traditional. There are faux ruins and even a fake pyramid. The Rotunda contains a stunning public restroom :)

The 17th is not as central as other areas but there are wonderful markets, cafes and shops in every part. It is a very "real" neighborhood, not one filled with tourists. The northern part is very working class, with lots of immigrants from all over and hence many great inexpensive food options. The southern part is quite upscale. 

Lots of great  inexpensive North African restaurants along the Boulevard des Batignolles. Saturday mornings you can visit the Marche Biologique Batignolles (Batignolles Organic Market), one of only two fully organic markets in Paris. Food there is a little more expensive than at your run-of-the-mill Paris market but it is a lovely of my favorite.

If you know the number on  Rue de Saussure, you can look on Pages Jaunes or Google world and see a photo of the building and others surrounding it.

Did I miss reading WHEN you are going? I am SO not a fan of the Louvre, it makes me tired just thinking about it. I really prefer smaller museums, like the Musee Picasso (even if you "think" you don't like Picasso), Musee Marmottan, Musee Rodin and of course the Musee d'Orsay (not small but a truly magnificent space)

I love the Ile Saint-Louis and SO's favorite place to eat is the Brasserie de l'Ile Saint-Louis - he eats every meal there when he is alone :) It is just over the bridge from the back of the Notre Dame. Wonderful to eat outside and watch the buskers on the bridge.  last time we were there we also had a nice dinner in a modern bistro on the main drag of the Ile, I'll ask SO if he remembers the name it was an up and coming Alsatian chef - it wasn't too expensive for the level of restaurant.

If you want great deals on porcelain, the Samie outlet in the 14th rocks :)

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

Edited 4/1/2009 9:07 pm ET by Risottogirl

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

BonnieinHolland's picture

(post #52149, reply #8 of 16)

oh indeed, I detest the idea of the Louvre.  Hip Hip for the Musee Carnavelet!  cheers, Bonnie

Risottogirl's picture

(post #52149, reply #9 of 16)

Oh yes...forgot that wonderful jewel...and it is free too!! Lots of great, inexpensive places to eat and fun, funky shopsover that way too.

I like to sit in the sunshine on the terrace at Cafe Marly, with a noisette or a glass of rose (depending on the season) and watch the throngs wait in long lines to get into the Louvre, very happy that I am not among them ;)

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

Edited 4/1/2009 12:39 pm ET by Risottogirl

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

Gretchen's picture

(post #52149, reply #12 of 16)

Carnavalet is at the top of my favorites for sure. My favorite floor is the French Revolution and the "cartoons" there, but it is really interesting when it dawns on me that it is the history of Paris in art--from all the ages.

When we took our kids 4 years ago we hired a guide I knew from previous trips--an AOL confrere. He is an artist himself--dresses and looks like Renoir. I love him--as did our family!!  We told him we were not fans of the Louvre so wanted a "down and dirty" quick tour. It was perfect. He actually took us to the ground and showed how it was built, then for a quick tour of the 'biggies", a touch of DaVinci Code, and the Napoleon exhibit was there.  It was "good". Longer at the Orsay.

And of course the Orsay is in a class by itself, not  only for its collections, but the "space" as RG said.  I haven't been back since the Orangerie reopened--I did see it many many moons ago.

Our latest find for a wonderful meal at a pittance is

Auberge du Jarente, on rue Jarente in the Marais. Metro St. Paul

Another favorite was  Au Piano Muet--serves raclette in its many forms, nice wine list, wonderful salad with chicken livers. On rue Mouffetard, probably Metro Pl. MOnge is closer than whatever we did.

I have lots. Our very most favorite neighborhood place is in the 7th on av. Lamotte Picquet, Metro Ecole Militaire==La Florimond.  Maybe seats 20 people. Prix fixe at 33E.

Transportation in Paris si so good you don't have to restrict yourself to your hotel neighborhood exclusively.

dorcast's picture

(post #52149, reply #10 of 16)

Echoing Risottogirl's museum advice.
The Louvre is good for a drink and people watching at Cafe Marly.
The smaller museums suggested are wonderful, and much more manageable.
Marmottan is one of my favorites, it has a wonderful impressionist collection.
Also put the L'Orangerie on your list. It reopened fairly recently, and is an incredible showcase for Monet.

RheaS's picture

(post #52149, reply #14 of 16)

Thank you! That's terrific information and has made me even more excited. I'm printing out for my travel companion. We're going May 5-8, so no weekend for us. I'm pretty sure that we will have to visit the Louvre since it's our first time, but I'm going to do my best to get us to at least a couple of the smaller museums. I already noted the Brasserie de l'Ile Saint-Louis after searching through the old Paris threads (spent hours on this last night).

shoechick's picture

(post #52149, reply #15 of 16)

I have to chime in on the Louvre....we both absolutely loved it!  We went at opening and there were no crowds.

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

Gretchen's picture

(post #52149, reply #16 of 16)

You really DON"T have to visit the Louvre. IF you do, get a guide book before and decide EXACTLY what you want to see--OH, and be sure that wing is open the days you are going.

Of course , the "biggies" will always be "there".

You only have 3 days--probably less by the time you come and go. The Louvre is NOT a sacrosanct "thing" like a shrine you must see. NO kidding.  If you want to , then do it.


Edited 4/1/2009 9:14 pm ET by Gretchen

courgette's picture

(post #52149, reply #6 of 16)

One of my favourite things to do in Paris is have a picnic under the Eiffel Tower. just pick up some bread, cheese, fruit, etc and you're good to go.


ashleyd's picture

(post #52149, reply #11 of 16)

You are going to struggle to see all that in South Africa, the Kruger National Park is 200 miles northeast of Johannesburg and Cape Town (with its winelands) is nearly 800 miles to the southwest of Johannesburg, either one heck of a drive (think of at least two days each way) or a flight. If Cape Town is on your itinerary I can give you a few hints and tips.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Janjan's picture

(post #52149, reply #13 of 16)

Last summer we stayed at Tshukudu Game Park for a couple of nights, and if you haven't already made arrangements, this is a good one - unique, I think, in that it's run by a grand old family so it feels very homey.  The food was incredible and authentic.  We were in a group of 8 people (international!) and took morning walks and morning, afternoon and night drives (with lanterns to see the animals' eyes) in an open-air jeep.  The driver/guide had a huge machine gun on the dashboard - "just in case".   Saw lots and lots of animals.  If you actually end up at this game park, Shadrack is a great guide - a local fellow who knows all the stories - true and mythical.  I can't recommend this game park highly enough.

Also drove through Kruger, but there we only saw the animals that ventured near the road.  Drove through Swaziland, over the Transkeii (one of the "homelands" where black Africans were forced to live during the time of Apartheid), down to Port Elizabeth to work in one of the townships for a couple of weeks.