Welcome to Part 2 of the recap of my recent Paris trip. If you missed Part 1 you can go back and read it here.
Okay, so the plan was to go to Versailles and spend the day in and around the chateau. The only problem was, we did not think to set an alarm the night before, and with our jet lag, we woke up at 1:00 p.m.! Scratch Versailles! (We have been there, many, many times in any case).
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By the time we got up and got ready and out the door, it was after 1:30, meaning by the time we walked anywhere it would be closer to 2:00. That means the end of lunch service at most restaurants. This forces your selection to brasseries which serve meals non-stop. So we decided to go to La Cupole!
Although several of the FLO brasseries serve some of the same dishes, each also has its own unique ones. At La Cupole one of their unique dishes is lamb curry. Definitely not a regular brasserie fare in France, but at La Cupole it is tradition.
And it is fantastic. It is a yellow curry with lovely chunks of lamb, served with white rice and mango chutneys. The other fun part? It is served by this guy!
Seriously, whether you have it for lunch or dinner or any day of the week, it will be served by this man, dressed in full Indian garb who pushes around a cart to each table who has ordered this meal. He dishes it out to you right at your table side. He has been doing it for years and I am not sure he is allowed to leave!
Since it was not raining we decided to head over to Notre Dame to see how crazy the line was to go to the top. When we arrived it wasn't too bad, so we decided to brave the cold and wait. Luckily the wait was not long at all but just long enough to see two fights.
Neither was physical, just a lot of yelling. One involved a bunch of old guys selling those metal Eiffel Towers key chains. These guys were actually licensed to sell them as opposed to a lot of the illegal aliens selling them near the Eiffel Tower.
Some kind of turf war broke out and the cursing (in French) coming out of their mouths was incredible. The police were summoned, permits were checked, and the men went their separate ways.
Right after that, there was another turf war between some gitane (gypsy) women. Apparently one of the ladies was not happy that two other (younger and prettier) ladies were hanging out in her hood, so there was a lot of yelling going on in some Eastern European language. With all the entertainment, the thirty-minute wait went by in no time!
It was clear but freezing at the top and we were glad there had been a break in the rain so that we could take photos from every angle. The history of this church really amazes me and every time I go inside or up top I think about Napolean and Josephine's coronation (by the Pope no less) within its walls.
Of course, there is a lot more history than that, but that is what I think about when I am around the church. Can't help it, I like Napolean history and movies.
The only unfortunate part of our Notre Dame excursion was a group of Americans from New York, but I will post more on that separately!
Since the weather was still holding up we decided to walk through the Tuileries. These are the gardens next to the Louvre. There are many nice parks in Paris, but my husband and I like this one the best. Plus, I usually need to go to the bathroom and The Carousel at the Louvre has very clean restrooms (also more on that in a separate post). So after our pit stop, we walked through the gardens and kept on walking until we got to Pont Neuf where I took a couple of photos.
We crossed the Seine and headed through St. Michel (university and books area) and into St. Germain. I love the little food shops in St. Germain – there is a great olive oil store and chocolate store too.
There are some cute clothing boutiques and lovely flower shops. Still stuffed from lunch, we decided we would pick up sandwiches from Paul. Paul Patisserie is a chain. You can find them all over Paris, the airport, etc. Their sandwiches are excellent.
After picking up our sandwiches for our dinner later, we decided to stop at Les Deux Magots for a well-deserved Panaché. Panaché is beer with lemonade (not like Country Time, but more like lemon-flavored seltzer). I have never been able to find anyone in the U.S. who can make it, so when I am in Paris I try to have several. It is very refreshing.
We entered the interior terrace to sit at a table. My husband sat down near the window and I remained standing as I waited for an elderly lady who was leaving. While I was turned to pay attention to see if she needed help (the tables were crammed together) my husband says to me, “hey look who is there.”
When I turned around I was practically face-to-face with Christian Clavier. Only there was glass in between us! He was walking down the street talking on his cell phone.
Who is Christian Clavier? An actor. A very famous one that I adore. And in typical French fashion, any celebrity can walk down the street in any part of Paris (or any other part of France) and he or she will not be bothered. French people totally respect the privacy of their celebrities and don't “bother” them.
I told my husband, as much as I want to be French if Christian Clavier had come in for an espresso (which is totally possible), and he sat near us that I would speak to him. And my husband would have to apologize to his American wife – I don't care! I also told him if Thierry Llermite wanted to buy me a drink he'd be in trouble!
I digress. After our drink, we continued home. This is a long walk! But it was refreshing and the sky was a gorgeous color (see the first photo of this post). When we got to the hotel we were tired but it felt good. We picnicked on our sandwiches and enjoyed the rest of our evening.
Thursday (11/26) – Turkey Day!
The French don't celebrate Thanksgiving, which is a uniquely American holiday, so when we got up it was like any other day except that we were going to see New Moon that day (or Tentation as it is called in France)!
But first, since it wasn't raining, we decided to go back to the Tuileries for a walk. We wanted to make sure that we were walking off some of the calories we were ingesting. We knew we were going to have a heavier dinner in the evening so we decided to have sandwiches (Paul) in the garden and save our appetite for our “Thanksgiving dinner.”
We people-watched and took photos and when it started raining we decided to head back toward the hotel and the movies.
We bought our tickets for New Moon and went to have a coffee at the bar across the street. Like many bars in Paris, there was a zinc bar and it is always fun to watch the locals. After a bit of people-watching, we got in line to enter the theater and I killed time counting how many men were going to see the movie.
Despite the fact that my husband wanted to see the movie (and he actually liked it more than I did) he knew that he was in the minority. In the end, there were 5 guys to the 40 women in the theater.
After the movie, we headed over to one of our favorite restaurants. It's called Sud Ouest et Cie and it serves food from the Southwest region of France. They are known for duck, foie gras, and cassoulet. The menu at the restaurant is copious.
Listen to everything you get for 36 Euros a person: a glass of white wine served with rillette de canard (like tuna salad in consistency) and bread; your choice of about 10 starters, your choice of about 10 main dishes, your choice of about 6 desserts, a bottle of wine and a bottle of water. You cannot beat that!
I had a nice warm goat cheese salad as a starter and my husband had a salad with grilled duck gizzard (gésier). For dinner, we both had duck (confit and magret) with sauteed potatoes. And for dessert, we both chose the cheese plate. Although we enjoyed the meal, something was different.
Turns out they changed ownership, so we think they are making some cuts here and there. For instance, they used to offer a sparkling wine that was very special called Pousse-rapière which has a history involving the Musketeer D'Artagnan. Now they have switched to white wine.
They also used to serve potatoes au gratin, with rich butter and cheese, now they serve plain sauteed potatoes, which were kind of dry with the duck. It was just little things like that that we were disappointed in.
And with that, we ended our Thanksgiving Day and I am ending Part 2. Catch Part 3 this coming Sunday!