Late in August, I had the opportunity to take a 2 week business trip to France and had the pleasure of spending the weekend in Paris, the City of Light. Paris was always on my bucket list as a world city to visit, and it did not displease.
Home base was the Le Grand Hotel de Normandie which was situated directly across from the Gare St Lazare (train station) and just meters away from the metro station. The accommodations were more than acceptable with a queen size bed, air conditioning, full size shower. Gare St Lazare is a perfect location, convenient to the trains and also had an active cafe district.
After checking in and changing into my walk about clothing I headed out to discover my surroundings. Now it should be noted, France has smoking laws which prohibit smoking inside restaurants, cafes, and bars – but the French love their cigarettes (heck they invented the damn thing) so smoking was allowed in all the outdoor seating areas of the many cafes that dotted the landscape.
Not knowing what I would find as far as cigar shops I made the smart decision to bring my own stash of cigars for the visit and selected a Tatuaje “The Frank” by Pete Johnson, as the evenings smoke. This cigar was gifted to me by my fellow Stogie Press associate Alton Otto. Walking out of the hotel I noticed the perfect sculpture to photo the start of this journey on the grounds of the train station. Yes it was time for a cigar after a long week of work!
I quickly found a small cafe, the Le Printanier on Rue de Caumartin, to sit down and enjoy The Frank and some red wine. It was a warm French night as I puffed away and enjoyed the sites walking by my little table. What struck my eye was the National Police in full fatigues and automatic rifles walking the Rue which I later found was common practice throughout Paris. It certainly made me feel safe.
The combination of the wine and knowing I was going to have a long day of walking the next day convinced me to call it a night after I finished The Frank – which was an outstanding smoke if i say so myself.
Saturday morning came quickly as the rising sun shone through the window. The heat wave in France was still in full swing as I grabbed my backpack, a handful of cigars, and a bottle of water. I headed out and started my stroll through the city. First stop was the Louvre, but I needed to find a nice place for breakfast. On the way to the Louvre I came across a quaint little outdoor spot – Cafe de La Comédie on Rue Saint Honoré right around the corner from the grounds of the Louvre.
Knowing I would be walking about the Louvre for some time I chose to fire up a Gran Habano to enjoy with my morning cappuccino. I sat and watched the city come to life around me, as puffed away,enjoying the first cigar of the day. I finished the Gran Habano and headed over to the Louvre.
This is an amazing museum with rich history. It is the world’s largest museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. Originally built as a fortress by Philip II in the 12th century, (remnants of the fortress building are still visible in the crypt) the Musée du Louvre contains more than 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art in eight curatorial departments with more than 652,000 sq ft. The museum opened on 10 August 1793, the first anniversary of the monarchy’s demise.
After spending a couple of hours walking about the Museum, I finally exited and decided to head over to the Notre Dame Cathedral. The line to enter the building was a little to long for me and it was stifling hot, as it was getting close to midday, so a snapped a few photos and decided to get some lunch as I broke out a Maya Selva Flor de Selva “Grand Pressé” for the walk over to a local Irish Pub (yea i needed a good hamburger and a Guinness). It just wouldn’t be right to be in Paris and not enjoy a Maya Selva.
Notre Dame Cathedral
After lunch I walked along the River Seine, on my way to the Eiffel Tower. Another bottle of water and few more miles of walking passing a number of Government buildings and sculptures, I finally could see the tower in the distance. Turing down a side street and turning to right, Bam! There it was, a magnificent structure of art, architecture and engineering. Ok, I think I am more impressed with this than I was with the Louvre. Of course being the geek engineer I am, I just admired the tower.
Of course it was time for another cigar, so I reached in my backpack and took out a Swinger Cigars Back 9 to see how it stood up to the tower. I relaxed across the Rue on the grassy area and fired up a Swinger Cigars Back 9, gazing at the tower.
The Eiffel Tower
My walking legs recovered and I started the trek over to the Arc de Triomphe which has to be in the center of the biggest traffic circle I have ever seen. Of course along the way I had to pass the famed Crazy Horse club, but I was on a different mission and chose to only snap a photo.
It was now close to 5 PM and I headed back toward my hotel and grab some dinner. But I had to stop at a cigar shop as I knew nothing would be open Sunday, so I headed over to the best cigar shop in Paris – Le Lotus. It was located just a couple of blocks from my hotel at 4 Rue de l’Arcade. Le Lotus is y far the only real cigar shop in Paris, stocked with a fine selection of Cuban and Davidoff cigars, Snuff, Pipes, and a complete variety of accessories. Once in the humidor, I scanned around and decided on a Vegas Robaina Don Alejandro, which I consider the best out there.
Once I left Le Lotus, it was time for dinner, so I found an Italian Cafe just 2 blocks from the hotel and enjoyed some fine European style pizza and red wine. After the meal I ordered up some espresso and I fired up the Don Alejandro to sit back and enjoy the late day sun.
Once I finished my Don Alejandro I returned to my hotel, showered and changed into some new walking clothes. The night was upon me and I was still raring to go. What else can I do. I have to say, my palate was smoked out by this point so I decided it was time to just find a chill place to hang out. I did my research and discovered there was an English pub – The Cricketer – within walking distance, so off I went to close out the night.
The night was epic, I met some new friends from Germany, Australia, England, and France. We closed the place around 2AM. You can see some of the fun we had in these Live Facebook Videos:
Well, that was a long Saturday, so I made it back to the hotel and passed out. I made sure to close the shades this time so I was not awakened too early on Sunday morning. Once I did rise, I shook off the cob webs from the night before and headed out once again in the city. This time I just wanted to get some lunch and chill out, and I came upon this terrific cafe – Le Relais Paris Opéra – directly across from the National Opera building at 1 Rue Auber. I just had to sit there and admire the Magnificent structure sitting across from me, as i enjoyed some French Onion Soup and a glass or two of 20 year old Alsace wine. Of course it would not be a cigar weekend without having something awesome to pair with that wine, so I broke out a Tatuaje Black Label and enjoyed my early afternoon.
Well two wines and a Tat, some French Onion Soup, and it was time to go visit the Opera Building. This is a treasure unto itself. It was founded in 1669 by Louis XIV as the Académie d’Opéran is filled with history as you walk the corridors and around the building itself.
French National Opera
Well, I hope you had fun reading this as much as I had writing it. Paris is truly an amazing city and a weekend is just not enough time to do it all, even though I walked over 18 miles on this weekend. I will plan a longer visit soon with my wife and maybe she can provide me an education in art, but till then, Au Revoir, Bonne Journee !
~ Boston Jimmie