A Quick Trip to Paris

Back from Lisbon, I had exactly a week back at KFUPM before venturing out again. This time, to Paris, the City of Light (La Ville-Lumiere). In the intervening time, I wrote two research proposals – one a dolomitization study of Early Cretaceous platform carbonates in eastern Spain, and one for a comprehensive study for Aramco of a subsurface unconventional carbonate mudrock system. I’m hoping that the Spain study (age-equivalent strata to Shuiaba reservoirs in the Middle East) results in some field work this fall. I also hope that the unconventional system project turns into a close, long-term relationship with Aramco (it just passed the pre-proposal stage!).

The Paris trip was to attend the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE) annual conference and exhibition. We’re in the midst of a major recruiting push for the College, aiming for faculty, post-docs, and doctoral students. Inasmuch as I was not giving a technical presentation at the meeting, I took the lead in recruiting efforts. We had a booth, clustered with other university booths, festooned with KFUPM banners and replete with all manners of swag giveaways. EAGE is a pretty big conference for Europeans – mainly geophysicists and petroleum engineers. Much less so for geologists.

My count may be off by one, but I believe this was my 8th time in Paris. Not going to lie, after my third time there, I thought to myself that I’d seen it all and I really didn’t need to go back (btw, my first time was with Mike Colucci and we killed it in 36 hours!). Who was I kidding?? I absolutely love Paris. So, when we were deciding as a College who was going to go where for recruiting purposes at what meeting/conference, I volunteered for EAGE. Good choice.

By the time my paperwork was cleared by the College for the trip, all the close-in convention hotels were already booked. No matter, a close neighborhood to the convention facilities was Montparnasse, an area I had stayed in at least three times before. Only five metro stops from the convention complex, the area surrounding the Montparnasse-Bienvenue station (principally Metro lines 4 and 12) is lively and is a great jumping off place for all things Paris.


Metro station for Montparnasse-Bienvenue.


Evening bustle at Gare Montparnasse.


Pretty sure this is against code (well in the US it would be). My hotel was under renovation. Yes, this is the only exit that isn’t an elevator.

The convention complex is just south of the central part of Paris, off the Porte de Versailles metro stop (Line 12). EAGE registration numbers were on the order of 5500 people, so it was a pretty big deal. We had good recruitment discussions with several folks that hopefully will come to fruition.


Registration for EAGE.


Stewart and I in some serious (or not) discussion at our booth.


Geophysics student Khalid with his masterpiece to paint his future (long story…).

Okay, enough about the conference – it went well. More importantly, when not at the convention center, I found some diversions to keep me occupied. Getting around Paris on the Metro is very easy and safe, and will always get you close to your destination. Feel free to ask me if you ever need guidance on getting around Paris. Of course, it’s nice to walk along the Seine and you can easily walk (and stop along the way) from Notre Dame to l’Arc de Triomphe, although this time I didn’t make it to the Arc or even the Champs Elysees.

I walked from my hotel through the Jardins du Luxembourg, past the Pantheon, and down to Notre Dame. I meandered along the Seine, past the Louvre, through the Jardin des Tuileries, and eventually to the Place de la Concorde, before grabbing the Metro and heading back to Montparnasse.

Luxembourg Gardens, the Pantheon, and Notre Dame Cathedral.


The Seine, Louvre, Tuileries, and the obelisk in Place de la Concorde. If you squint, you can see the Arc de Triomphe straight down the Champs Elysees.

Back in Montparnasse, I had dinner at one of my favorite Paris restaurants, La Coupole. It’s a classic Parisian seafood restaurant that over the years hosted the likes of Picasso and Hemingway. I go for the cold seafood towers and always get oysters.

 La Coupole on Boulevard du Montparnasse.

Finally, I attended an evening EAGE reception at a place in Monmartre, an area well known for attractions such as the Moulin Rouge (and other racy establishments), street venders galore, and the hilltop Sacre Coeur Basilica. The area was frequented by Impressionist artists (Monet, Renoir, Pissarro) and famously Toulouse-Lautrec.

Monmartre and Sacre Coeur.

Feel free to contact me if you’re going to be in Paris – I definitely have some recommendations, even beyond those shown here. But really, it’s hard to go wrong in the City of Light.

2 thoughts on “A Quick Trip to Paris

  1. John next time you find yourself in Paris U have a great restaurant recommendation for you. It is Le Coupe Chou on the left bank within easy walking distance of Notre Dame. It translates to the cut cabbage. It was recommended by my brothers chef friends. I went there on my Sabbatical from Lotus after working there for six years. My traveling companion was a Wellesley College geology friend who was doing her post doc at Oxford. More recently my daughter ate there while in Paris in June of 2014. They have a la carte and prix fix menus of classic French cuisine. We had an 9 pm reservation and spent hours there with no one trying to rush us because they needed the table . I had escargot, duck, a cheese course. Back in the day there was an inner sanctum with comfortable easy chairs for post prandial brandy and a cigarette or cigar.


    1. Yes, I’ve eaten there, Liddy. A thick stone-walled building, it was one time a barber shop, like in the 1600’s. One of their specialties that I would recommend is a starter called “Barber’s Eggs”. I’ve had the boeuf bourguignon and a classic French dessert called Ile Flottante (floating island – meringue/souffle floating in creme anglaise custard). Fantastic meal and I’ll definitely be back! Here’s its history – http://www.lecoupechou.com/History-of-the-Coupe-Chou_a60.html


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