I am a very musical person – no, I cannot play an instrument [and believe me, I tried 6 of them]; nor can I sing well [except in the shower and the car]. But, I love music and it seems to me the soundtrack of my life is always playing in my head. Consequently it is no surprise, that for months now I’ve been singing the first few lines of Billy Joel’s Somewhere Along the Line – both to myself and even, sometimes unaware, aloud.
“Well, it’s a rainy night in Paris,
And I’m sitting by the Seine,
It’s a pleasure to be soaking in the European rain,
Now my belly’s full of fancy food and wine
Oh but in the morning there’ll be hell to pay
Somewhere along the line
In the morning there’ll be hell to pay
Somewhere along the line”
I began singing this tune a few weeks before Jeff and I left for Paris and, every now and then, I still catch myself singing it and longing for moments from the trip. I know it’s taken me a while to write about our journey, but truly I’ve been processing it and organizing my thoughts and savoring the memories.
I’ll tell you right off the bat that the only pics I have from the trip are from my phone. Yes, I did take my camera; but early on I discovered that the battery (although it was charged) was dead….I took that as a sign that I was to fully enjoy the trip – being present in each moment instead of worrying about how to best frame it for the blog. And enjoy it I did!!!
Day 1: Thursday 4/6/17
Jeff and I spent a leisurely morning getting ready for the trip and loving on Macy. I know there are those of you who are able to jump into vacation at some ungodly hour like 3:30 a.m. and hit the ground running – I AM NOT ONE OF THEM [much to Jeff’s chagrin]!!! One of my life mantras is, “why does fun have to start so early?”
We left the house at about 1:30 p.m., ran a few last-minute errands, and drove to the DC area in the rain. The constant thrum of the tires on the road and the rain on the windshield lulled me to sleep, which made the trip go quickly for me. Jeff had the radio on and was jammin’ to his tunes, so I’m fairly certain the trip went quickly for him too.
Jeff consulted YELP for a dinner idea and we decided on Mona’s Lebanese Cafe in Sterling, VA. Let me tell you, the YELP reviews were spot on. The restaurant was so quaint, the owner and employees very welcoming, and the food [served by Mona] was delicious. To drink I ordered a Lemonade w/ Rose Water and I still think about how good it was. Jeff and I shared hummus and pita as an appetizer and it was one of the best I’ve ever had. For dinner Jeff ordered the Kibbeh platter and I ordered the Shish Taouk – neither disappointed. The basmati rice with my dinner was heavenly. We ordered desert to go – baklava and rice pudding – and ate them later at the hotel while we read ansd prepared for the day of flying on Friday. Both desserts were great – neither were overly large so we were satisfied but not stuffed. Both had just the right amount of sugar – enough that you knew you were eating dessert, but not too sweet – very comforting.
Day 2: Friday 4/7/17
Nothing more needs to be said about this day other than ‘airports and flying.’
Day 3: Saturday 4/8/17
We arrived in Paris at about 8:30 a.m. Paris time / 2:30 a.m. our time and took a cab to our hotel – The Hotel Indigo Opera where we met Aruillion & Mathilde. We had previously stayed at a Hotel Indigo in NYC and were happy with out stay. When we got to our room in Paris, we knew that we had made the right decision relying on our previous experience.
Not only were we able to check into the room several hours early, but we were upgraded to a two-floor suite with a view of the Eiffel Tower. In fact, our view was framed by a tiny oval window in the corner of our living room and the couch was situated perfectly that you could see the Eiffel Tower in all its splendor when you lounged on the left side of the couch.
Being able to check in early was such a blessing – we were able to brush our teeth and generally clean up after the lllllooooonnnnnggggg flight. And the bed looked so cozy that it was quite difficult to follow the advice of so many travelers about not sleeping when you first arrive, but rather keeping yourself busy for the first day so that you can more easily adjust to the new timezone.
We fought the urge to sleep and instead used Uber to get to Cuisine de Phillipe in St. Germaine. This restaurant was highly recommended by my hairstylist, Rebbekah. I know I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating – you should only take restaurant recommendations from people who enjoy eating like you do. And I was sure that Rebekkah has similar taste in food, atmosphere and dining experience. My confidence in Rebekkah’s recommendation was proven to be 100% correct!
We had a typical French lunch, which consists of a starter, a main course and a dessert. These are usually a “package deal” – a special fixed lunchtime menu with limited choice for one price. Often referred to as the Menu du jour, the special main dish being called the Plat du jour. The plat du jour is often a non-menu special and often a great value.
Jeff had a red pepper and crab souffle, the plat du jour which was lamb stew, and a framboise souffle. He is still talking about how good the lamb stew was. I ordered the cheese souffle, beef with blue cheese, and a pistachio souffle (which had a hidden pool of dark chocolate at the bottom). We both ordered a glass of rose and we both had cafe after lunch. I cannot say enough good things about this meal. Each bite was a delight for the tongue and the senses. It was so good that almost every day we considered a repeat visit! Not only was the food amazing, but we enjoyed nice conversation with the family at the table next to us. It was a couple and their daughter
who has been studying at The Sorbonne for two years. Her French (including her accent) was so good that we would both have thought she was a native.
At one point during lunch I was so satisfied and relaxed that Jeff looked over at me and asked if I was ok. To which I replied, “I think I may have fallen asleep for a moment.” To avoid further temptation to sleep. we decided a walk was in order. Luckily we were very close to Jardin du Luxembourg. We strolled through the gardens, admiring nearly everything we saw. Springtime in Paris truly is magical. Everything is newly in bloom and the grass is bright green and fresh. And there is just something enchanting about strolling arm-in-arm with your love through the beauty of Paris.
We decided to walk back to the hotel with no real route in mind – just to go where the music took us. We enjoyed peeping in shop windows, keeping our eye out for The Big Wheel and Eiffel Tower, and the wonderfully warm weather. And we worked up a thirst….so we stopped for a flight of beer and a rest for our feet. Then we continued on the journey and as we were strolling back, we realized that our lunch had been big enough that we weren’t going to want a big dinner, AND we knew we were going to have to fall into bed early. With those things in mind, we strolled through a lovely market and picked up some quintessentially French items – a baguette, some Comte cheese, a bit of Bordier butter and the most beautiful, oblong Gariguette strawberries.
We walked back to the hotel through the Jardin Tuileries and past the Louvre and while I showered, Jeff ran out for a bottle of champagne. When he got back we assembled our picnic dinner and settled in for the night.
Oh my, what a dinner and what a wonderful way to close our first night in Paris. Sipping champagne, nibbling on French traditions, and watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle in the distance.
Day 4: Sunday 4/9/17
Refreshed and ready to go, Jeff headed out in search of cafe (coffee) and breakfast. I showered and dressed for the day. By the time I was awake, vertical and ready for civil conversation, Jeff arrived back at the room with croissants and pain au chocolate from Lauduree, one of THE patisseries in Paris – in operation since 1862 and best known for their French macaron. Mmm mmm mmm!
On tap for the day – a visit to the Bastille Market! We conquered the Metro and easily found our stop near the market where we spent several hours exploring the stands. We commented often that we wished we had a kitchen so that we could cook a meal from the fresh, fabulous ingredients. But we did the next best thing as we strolled the aisles – we shared small bites of the offerings. The first was a crepe de jambon et de fromage (ham and cheese crepe). Not only did it taste fantastic, but it was also fun to watch it being made. In fact, I found myself mesmerized as the crepier easily repeated the process, filling orders at a rate I envied.
I should tell you that Jeff can eat about every 5 minutes and sometimes I have to rein him in. Not wanting to spoil his good time, but also not wanting to deal with stomach issues later, I picked my moments carefully! And there was no way I was going to stop him from enjoying some fresh oysters. I don’t dislike oysters, but I don’t crave them the way Jeff does. He has an oyster obsession so it was fun for me to watch him enjoying a half dozen briny fresh molluscs – the look of pure joy on his face was priceless.
After the market, we walked through the cobblestone streets of Le Marais – known as “Old Paris.” When you think Paris streets, the picture that displays in your mind must be from Le Marais. It’s quaint and historic with winding streets and pretty shops. And fortunately it’s also home to L’as du Fallafel. All our walking had worked up a bit of an appetite so we decided to share a fallafel. Please understand that sharing with Jeff means I eat 1/4 to 1/3 of whatever we’re sharing so I normally don’t feel too guilty about snacking throughout the day when I share! Wow! THE. BEST. FALLAFEL. EVER. It’s hard to say if the best part was the fallafel itself or the sauce or the eggplant or the pita.
Next we ventured through Les Halles in search of a beer store Jeff wanted to visit. Unfortunately when we arrived it was closed. Rather than being discouraged, we simply added it to the itinerary for later in the week! Throughout the day my fascination with the huge courtyard doors with oversized door-knockers became apparent. I loved imagining what the enormous doors were hiding!
We hopped the Metro back to the hotel for a quick rest and rejuvenation and then made our way to Galeries Lafayette where we ooh’d and ahhh’d over the dome, the architecture and all the wonderful offerings in the three buildings. We finished our visit to Galeries Lafayette with a visit to the rooftop for a spectacular view of Paris.
We strolled some more in the area around out hotel and realized that we were, unbelievably, hungry. Without a reservation, a plan or Jeff’s myriad of notes, we decided on a quick bite on the terrace at the restaurant next to our hotel – Mon Paris. Rather then ask for menus in English or help translating – we tried out the GoogleTranslate apps on our phones. Jeff ordered the rigatoni with a glass of red wine. I ordered the Tuna Bagel with Cilantro Cream and a glass of sancerre. I don’t remember if I tasted Jeff’s rigatoni, but I can tell you that my Tuna Bagel was divine. Fresh, perfectly seasoned tuna with an Asian twist on half a seeded bagel. It was just enough to take the edge of and was soooooo incredibly fresh!
We topped dinner off with a shared dessert of chocolatey goodness – the All Chocolate. A chocolate sphere filled with chocolate mousse and chocolate crumbles that is accessed by pouring warm chocolate on the top to create an opening for your spoon. A.k.a. chocolate heaven. We sat and rested our feet and watched the world go by for a while – each ordering a second glass of wine. Finally, when we couldn’t keep our eyes open for a single moment more and knowing we had an early morning for our trip the champagne region the next day, we headed back to the hotel. We were greeted by the sparkling Eiffel Tower and a puffy, inviting bed. I think we both drifted off to sleep within mere moments of our heads hitting the pillow, still in disbelief that we were no longer dreaming about Paris, but living it.
Stay tuned for details of the remainder of our trip including our day in the champagne region and much, much more!