Last year, after learning that Caroline's
cousin Amelia and her husband Graham would be living in Paris
for a year so that Graham could work on his doctoral program, we
could not resist making plans for a visit. So last
Thursday we left Albuquerque with plans for a 12-day visit with
an itinerary including Paris, the wine country of Burgundy, a
brief stint in the Loire Valley, and a list of things to eat and
drink that would frighten most people.
We felt surprisingly good upon landing and
making our way to Amelia and Graham's apartment on Friday
morning, so we headed straight out for a walk and lunch of falafels
at one of their favorite falafel places (Marianne's) in the
Marais. We couldn't have asked for better weather; Paris was experiencing summer-like weather in October, after weeks of
cool, rainy days. We spent the day strolling and catching
up, having our first espressos and cafe cremes of the trip to keep the
momentum going. That afternoon, we checked into our hotel,
the Hotel de La Paix on Rue du Gros Caillou near the Eiffel
Tower. Recently remodeled, we were quite pleased with the
hotel and our room, even if the bathroom was a bit cramped
(which of course we were expecting - this is Paris) and
the rate was high.
After a dinner of baguette and cheese on the grass in front of
the Eiffel Tower, we prepared to catch up on all of that sleep
we missed out on during our overnight flight.
Waking up on the late side the next morning
and looking for coffee on the Rue Cler market street (a
recurring theme this trip), we met up with Amelia and Graham
again and headed out to do some site-seeing. We had wanted
to walk through some of the historic shopping arcades, and as
luck would have it, they happened to be right around the corner
from A&G's centrally-located apartment! We enjoyed seeing these modern-day
shopping mall prototypes, without feeling like we were likely to
happen by a Gap.
Having recently seen Anthony Bourdain's
No Reservations show where he visited all of the happening
casual bistros in Paris, we used the episode to make some eating
plans. As we were getting a little hungry, we briskly
walked from the arcades to one of Tony's recommendations,
Frenchie. We had tried to get dinner reservations, but were
never able to reach anyone at the restaurant by phone in the
weeks before our arrival (and were not sure what to say if we
did reach anyone). So we were looking forward to
trying to get in for a reservation-free lunch. Turns out,
they're closed on Saturday! Oh well, perhaps we'd get into
one of the other restaurants on the list before leaving Paris.
Suddenly, the day was free, so we spent the afternoon leisurely wandering
around Paris with Amelia and Graham; highlights included ice
cream at Bertillon on Ile St. Louis (it was still hot out!), an
extended respite in lovely Place des Vosges, and a happy hour stop on a
crowded cafe patio for a pichet of wine.
Parting ways for dinner (vegan A&G would
not want to contemplate what we were about to do), we headed for
a meal at Fils de la Ferme in the 14th arrondissement - a
recommendation of our Albuquerque friend Christopher (courtesy
of his friend & Paris resident, Philippe). Oh, merci Philppe! Our best restaurant meal to date in Paris,
including lamb for Caroline and veal tongue for Scott.
Needing to walk off a bit of that meal afterward, we decided to
bypass the metro and walk (nearly 3 miles) back to the hotel.
Christopher also recommended a visit to St.
Sulpice, a church we'd never been inside. So after
services were over on Sunday morning, we went in and were lucky
enough to hear the famous St. Sulpice organ playing away - an
exhibition performance that happens weekly. A great
experience, which included getting to go up to the organ balcony
to see the organist at his instrument. The rest of the day
was spent on a (very) loosely organized walk back to Amelia and
Graham's, which included a picnic lunch of (surprisingly
expensive) cheese & sausage on the banks of the Seine.
Wine and beer with Amelia and Graham in a hipster cafe in the Marais was followed by dinner at one of their favorite nearby
vegan restaurants, Le Potager du Marais, where we had what we're confident was our
only vegan meal of the trip. It was tasty, and the
chocolate mousse we sampled for dessert was downright delicious.
Dinner was followed by a walk to see the Louvre pyramid lit up
at night, where we bid our fine hosts adieu... wish we could
visit them more often, even if they aren't living in
Monday was our last full day in Paris, and
a chance to see, do, and eat whatever we hadn't been able to as
of yet - a trip to the Bon Marche Epicerie (grocery) - a
favorite from last time, a visit to
the Jardins du Luxembourg, a walk by the Pantheon. The
highlight, though, was an opportunity to lunch al fresco at an
Anthony Bourdain recommendation, Le Comptoir, where we enjoyed a
luxurious lunch and wine at one of the more sought after tables
in town. Frenchie may have been a bust, but our fois gras,
pig's feet and fish pie at Le Comptoir made up for it.
It's always sad to leave Paris, but when
you're heading to the wine country of Burgundy, it eases the
sting quite a bit. So Tuesday morning we packed up, picked
up our little, red Chevy Spark from Hertz, and headed south to Chablis.
Au revoir, Paris!