Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Like the Grinch who stole Christmas, I crept downstairs on Christmas morning and removed the holiday wreath from our front door. We planned to be in Paris for New Year's Day and the first leg of our journey was by car from Ann Arbor to the East Coast. 

We drove south through Michigan in the dark of early morning and turned east on Route 80, where for the next 500 miles there would be no major towns. In Ohio, the pale grey dawn revealed an almost deserted highway passing through seemingly endless farmland. Until the 1850s, this area was known as the Great Black Swamp, a place of endemic malaria and impenetrable marshes. By late morning, we were in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania. Four hundred million years ago, these mountains were the  highest on earth - much taller than the present-day Himalayas. Today their highest point on Route 80 is 2,250 feet (686 meters). 

We passed into New Jersey at the Delaware Water Gap on the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Here, when the Appalachians were at  their highest, water that eventually would become today's Delaware River, began its inexorable task of cutting a passage through the towering mountains. The end of our trip, like the beginning, was shrouded in darkness, but an hour later, we were gathered around the family table for Christmas dinner - the beginning of a festive week with family and friends.

On New Year's Eve, we boarded a US Airways flight for Paris. At midnight Paris time, flight attendants attired in holiday hats, wished us Bonne Année a Paris and we toasted in the New Year. 

We arrived at deGaulle Airport to the good news that in honor of the New Year, all trains to Paris were free of charge. The bad news was that there was an action sociale (a strike)  in progress, which meant that trains would run only every 20 minutes;  would go only as far as Paris' northern station and not center city; and were running 15-20 minutes late. Still, it was a nice gesture. 

The weather was grey, damp and cold. A persistent fog obscured the distant views of Paris and until the train entered its underground passage, we were left to contend with the sight of graffiti-scarred railway sidings and nearby neglected buildings. 

Paris, therefore, looked all the more stunning when we stepped out of the metro an hour later. And its deserted streets seemed to be ours alone. Presumedly, Parisians had partied hard the night before and were still in bed at this early hour. We found a bakery and headed to our apartment for coffee and our first pain au chocolat. By afternoon, Paris was humming again and we walked about and bought some groceries.

Because the best way to overcome jet lag is to enter into the local rhythm, we arranged to meet a friend in the early evening to take in an extraordinary exhibit at the Grand Palais celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Italian jewelry company Bulgari. With our eyes still dazzled by rubies, emeralds and diamonds as big as the Ritz, we stepped out of the museum and on to an equally sparkling Champs-Elysées. The four hundred trees that line the avenue  were lit by a million twinkling holiday lights and a Christmas market lined the  famous street. Presiding over it all was La Grande Roue, a 200-foot-high illuminated Ferris Wheel.

The first day of our stay in Paris ended in the cozy 12th-century cave of the Equinox, a friendly neighborhood restaurant. As jazz music mixed and mingled with the melodious sound of French, we ate hot soup and boudin blanc and toasted our return to Paris. 

For more photos, click here.

A bientôt,

Photos by Geraldine Calisti Kaylor


  1. Loved this! Glad you are safely ensconced in Paris!

  2. Wonderful as usual and unusually romantic. The last photo by JR of the author is obviously the most enjoyable scene. It’s so easy to see there is amour in the photographer’s heart and eyes

  3. Tks for the travelogue. Looking forward to see you soon.

    In the meantime we have (almost ) 365 days to be happy ... so let's enjoy life (and avoid fools !)

  4. Happy New Year, Geraldine! And what a fabulous post--I felt like I'd come along for the ride. I love that champagne bottle street scene photo, incidentally!

  5. Great info, thanks so much for sharing,


Thanks for your comments.