31 December 2000

European Adventure - Days 1 and 2

[I apologize in advance to any Francophiles reading this, as I have no French keyboard with which to make the accented and cedille letters.]

We're here! We had [thankfully] uneventful flights over (DFW - MIA - CDG), arriving Friday morning around 9:30 AM local time. Breakfast on the plane meant all we had to do was cab it to the Hotel Beaubourg in the Marais, freshen up, unwind, and hit the streets. We like to amble around the area whenever we arrive somewhere for vacation, so even though we had been here four years ago, we walked around Centre Pompidou, to Ile de Cite, Notre Dame, Rive Gauche, and back to the Marais (about 6,000 steps according to my pedometer, err I guess that would be pedometre here).

Back to the hotel to get ready for dinner at our new first-night tradition, Le Train Bleu. First, though, wine at a cafe on Rue de Temple in the Marais.
No place to which I've been in my forty-hmm-hmm years can prepare and present a five-course menu like the French. The "menu" here is what we would call the "chef's menu" or "tasting menu" in the States. It's prix fixe and you get what the chef wants you to have -- no choices to make.

This night's selections included asparagus mousse with a dollop of salmon mousse; fois gras with fig tapenade and raisin-and-apricot bread; a trio of Vichyssoise, smoked salmon, and mozzarella with basil puree; fillet of turbot with wilted spinach; raspberry sorbet swimming in Champagne; potato-crusted veal chop with asparagus risotto; and a dessert trio of chocolate mousse, raspberry sorbet topped with strawberrys and a meringue, and a creamy rum mousse that we so decadent our heads nearly spun off. By the time our feast was finished, it was 10:30 and time to go to bed and leave our jetlag behind. A quick Metro ride to Hotel de Ville and a brisk 3-block walk to the hotel, and we were out in no time.

Saturday morning we awoke with our bodies nicely adjusted to Central European Time and ready for the butter and cafe au lait they were about to receive. Last time we were here, we found a cute little cafe (imagine that!) nearby and adopted that as our morning hang-out to plan the day ahead. We continued that tradition this morning with croissant, said coffee, and the sparrows that flock around us to catch our crumbs as they fall from the pastry to the brick sidewalk. When the butter and caffeine were gone, the day had been planned -- morning at the Musee Rodin, lunch at Cafe du Marche on Rue Cler (one of the best market streets in the world, I suspect), and the afternoon at Musee d'Orsay.

We Metro'd it to Invalides and hooved it the rest of the way to Rodin's house. That's a nice, manageable museum with famous sculpture gardens and a great chateau. There, we bought a Paris Museum Pass, which for 50 euro gets you into most museums for four days. That's a bargain by itself, but you get the added bonus of being able to bypass the long lines of other tourists queued to buy tickets who see to not know about this pass, and walk right in. This would come in handy this afternoon.
Lunch on Rue Cler is as cliche as cafe society can be -- two-topper tables crammed so close together you literally touch elbows with your neighbors at the adjacent tables, casual (meaning slow, but that's perfect since we're on vacation) service, and dogs lounging behind or under their owners. (Dogs are allowed in Parisian restaurants.) Tom's seared duck was delicious, and my steak tartar was cooked (ha ha!) to perfection.

From there, we made the hike to Musee d'Orsay, one of the best building repurposings ever. Formerly a grand train station, it's now home to one of the best art collections anywhere. And while it's very large, it doesn't hold a candle to the Louvre in terms of shear girth. They currently have a special exhibit of Manet stuff, so we did that self-guided tour along with hoards of other tourist and one especially annoying one who was navigating the very crowded galleries with a jumbo baby stroller. Get a clue, hon! Time to Metro it back tot he hotel...

13.227 steps later, we're back at the hotel and planning tonight's feast.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Rue du Renard,Paris,France