The place Blanche
The place Blanche, with the Moulin Rouge.

Our Best 25th Wedding Anniversary

by eMail from Kathryn and Robert Lovejoy:-

Dear Ric,

Paris:- Monday, 23. June 1997:- Our ten day trip to Paris was a great success. Although we did not get a chance to eat at any of the restaurants covered in Adrian Leed's 'Good Value Guide to Paris Restaurants', we did use it in our research before going over and also highlighted some of the "do's" and "don't's" that were offered in it.

Neither my wife nor I know any French - even though I was stationed in France for a year and half in 1953-54 - so we spent time learning the basic phrases - a lot came back to me after all these years.

The opening and closing phrases worked wonders with all those that we came in contact with. We found this to be a must in Paris. The couples we met who claimed the Parisians to be rude and irritated admitted that they did not know one word of French. "Hey you" doesn't go over well in France.

We had dinner twice at the Bistro des Deux Théâtres on rue Blanche, close to our hotel. The second time, on our 25th wedding anniversary. The restaurant has a fixed price, about $53 per couple, with a glass of complimentary champagne; appetizer, main course, dessert, and finishes with 'café avec crême.' The menu offered a good selection to choose from for all three categories and was very well presented. The service was excellent. Breakfast cellar at Comfort Inn They do speak English although it was about the only place on rue Blanche where we heard any.

The breakfast room in the vaulted cellar of the Comfort Inn.

The Comfort Inn at the corner of rue de Calais and rue Blanche was the hotel that was our comfortable home for ten days. The staff were terrific for giving us assistance with a smile whenever we needed it, especially Cathy, who was on duty when we made most of our requests. They handled all our telephone calls for restaurants, night club reservations and museum tickets.

We used Adrian's advice during the trip and were very pleased with the response we received from the Parisians. Not a one was rude, rather, they were kind and respectful, although half of those we dealt with could not speak a word of English.

Our favorite watering hole at the end of the day was Le Vesinet, half way between the Moulin Rouge and our hotel on rue Blanche. We became good friends with Belaid Arezki, the bartender, although he could not speak a word of English. His bar has a 'Dog Bar' on the outside of the bar; a free watering hole for passing dogs.

Rue Blanche is an area filled with apartments for working Parisians, with shops and quaint bars of all kinds on the street level. All spoke French only.

We managed to accomplish all that we wanted to do based on our ranking of the many monuments, churches, museums, and parks throughout Paris. We walked from place to place, putting on about five miles each day. Bar Le Vesinet Lunch was at the various cafes we found in the gardens or along the streets. Great salads.

The bar Le Vesinet in the rue Blanche is more ordinary inside than outside.

The métro was used to get to the general area each day and back to the place Blanche in late afternoon. Walking along the streets gave us surprise after surprise even though we were prepared for the area that we were in. Such is Paris.

The weather was terrific, no rain and nine days of pure sunshine. It could not have been better.

We cannot emphasize enough how well we were treated by the Parisians, whether it was at the hotel, the restaurants, outdoor cafes, shops and at sights.

We could not have thought of a better way to spend our 25th anniversary.

It was tough to leave after ten splendid days in Paris. Our next trip abroad, if we can ever do one again, will be to... Paris.


Kathryn and Robert Lovejoy

Remembered by Cathy and Monsieur Arezki

Dear Kathryn and Robert,

Paris:- Wednesday, 25. June 1997:- Your letter made me curious about the rue Blanche. On one hand it is not far from the area of Paris known as 'La Nouvelle-Athènes' and its 'neo-classic' charm - with its nearby Musée de la Vie Romantique - on the other hand, it is hard by the places Clichy-Blanche-Pigalle, which are another sort of 'romantic' altogether.

You knew it before you came and now you know this better. Again, it is the Paris of 'villages,' with dissimilar ones next to each other. Right across the place Blanche is the market part of the rue Lepic and its particular life. Some few metres beyond, and it is lower part of south Montmartre proper.

Within 400 metres there are two north-south métro lines, and it is only 200 metres to the north circular line two at métro Blanche, good for either getting to the Etoile or the 12th arrondissement.

The Comfort Inn is no stunning monument on the outside, but you are perfectly right about Cathy. She told me she preferred small hotels - only 40 rooms - because she gets to know the clients and hear their stories. They become more than mere room numbers. If the breakfast was good, I wouldn't have minded having it in a cave either.

Monsieur Arezki at the bar Le Vesinet a block towards the place Blanche was not quite ready to be reminded of recent temporary but regular clients by me - but when Building, rue Blanche he had a chance to think it over, he remembered you well.

Upper floors of a typical apartment building in the rue Blanche.

Although Le Vesinet's awnings appear to be new, the rest of the bar is a perfect example of a neighborhood corner bar in Paris; with its original '50's decor. Mr.Arezki serves no drinks he can't pronounce and his most elaborate cocktail is probably a pastis and water. I did not see the 'Dog Bar' outside on account of the rain.

Your unexpected letter about your stay in Paris proves yet again that most readers know more than I do about Paris. If you had written to ask if staying in the rue Blanche up near Pigalle was a good idea, I wouldn't have known the answer. Now I do, thanks to your letter, and here it is for all of Metropole's readers to read. There are some really tough-looking parts of Paris and I'm sure adventurous readers will find them - and I hope they'll write to tell me - and Metropole's readers - that every part of Paris is safe enough and more than interesting enough.

Regards, Ric
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