Fontainebleau & Hotel Recommendation

I recently stayed at the 4-star hotel, Aigle Noir, due to a off-season, reduced rate and its great location across the street from the Chateau de Fontainebleau.  When I checked in, my designated room was not yet ready; however, the very friendly young man at the front desk offered to upgrade my reservation to a suite (at no extra charge).  Why not?  I really just expected a larger room at any rate (pardon the pun).  I also noticed the charming lounge with a fireplace, just off the lobby and mentally noted to have a drink there later that evening.

The “suite” was indeed “sweet” and comprised two full bathrooms, very large bedroom with table/sitting area and desk, a separate living room, and a complimentary beverage area along the corridor – Wow – I was impressed!

First important test, though, was connecting to Internet via the hotel’s free wifi:  my netbook connected fine to wifi but “no Internet access.”  So, I took my netbook to the lobby to ask for help (ok, really to complain).  Fabian, the same young Frenchman at the reception desk, kindly spent about 20 minutes checking out my netbook settings, etc. (all in English) to solve the access problem, while chatting and with my translating in French (although he understood a little computer English)  Eh, voila!  OK, now I was doubly impressed – the customer service was great.

Although I only stayed one night here, Aigle Noir provided royal service and was well worth splurging a little — after all I was just across from a royal chateau!

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Paris et Ses Alentours – My ‘Like’ List

From my most recent trip to Paris, here are my ‘likes’ / personal recommendations:

Soupe a l’Oignon Gratinee

Soupe a l’Oignon in Montmartreâ

This can be tricky! Some brasseries and typical restaurants will take a boxed oignon soup, add onions, bread, and cheese and pass it off as the “real” thing. You can sometimes tell, as it will be very salty and have a more gravy-like texture. I always order (authentic) onion soup, as the entrée on the fixed menu, at the Cadet de Gascogne restaurant in Montmartre – you would think the food here would be just average, since this is a very touristy area of Paris, but I have been more than satisfied each time. I love to sit by the front window to people watch, as I enjoy a delicious meal there.

Sauerkraut

Since I usually travel outside of Paris to the Château of Versailles, I usually eat lunch at the nearby Taverne de Maitre Kanter. The entrance to this very large, Parisienne-like brasserie was theatrical: entering through a pair of red velvet drapes as if arriving on stage. It’s amusing to watch the lively hustling and bustling of the friendly and efficient staff, while enjoying “les delices.”

Chocolat chaud

This trip, I went to Angelina’s on Rue de Rivoli to take in the wonderful hot chocolate, decoration, and atmosphere of this well-known establishment. Their reputation precedes them, so expect to wait in line (yes, even in off season). During a previous trip, I had hot chocolate at Le Grand Colbert, featured in the 2003 movie “Somethings Gotta Give.”  You can also stroll through the nearby, covered galleries on Rue Vivienne to walk off the calories.

Château on the side

Photo: Official website

At the Chateau in Fontainebleau, I inquired about the horsedrawn carriage rides and was told that they only take place during the summer – WRONG!  I had spoken by phone, about a month prior,  to the carriage driver so knew he operated in November.  As I walked around the chateau, I happened to see a sign for the “calèches” and that one was running every 30 minutes or so.  It was a two-horse carriage taking riders around the grounds with a short narrative by the driver; ride lasted about 20 minutes and involved the horses both walking and trotting – very amusing and enjoyable.

Paris Walks

This well-known and highly recommended company provides 2 hour, guided thematic walks, which I always try to do while in Paris. The group walks are amusing and informative, taking you through back streets and areas off the beaten path. I first met the owners, during one of their walks, back in 1997, while I was living and working in Paris, and I still enjoy them.

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