Saturday, June 19, 2010

Paris Day Seven

Our last full day in Paris comes to an end in about ten minutes.  Remnants of our week of fun are scattered all over our room.  Krista is sleeping, and I'm about ready to do the same thing...but first, a quick blog post.

This morning, we metro'd to G. Detou, the shop for patisserie people.  They have been in business since 1954, and carry all kinds of baking supplies.  It was interesting to check out their inventory of goods, and we all bought a little something.  Afterwards, we attempted to find a candy store, but it was apparently no longer in that location, so we stopped for pastries to fortify us to our next stop, which was Musee de Cluny, known for the famous tapestry, "The Lady and the Unicorn," from the late fifteenth century.  The museum was very impressive.

After getting culturalified, we had lunch and then walked through tiny, cobblestoned streets, where we did a bit of shopping.  We bought postcards, more macarons (especially the salted caramel, which are a big favorite of ours), and some other odds and ends, before limping back to our rooms at 5 pm.

We had dinner reservations at Le Timbre (translation is "postage stamp") at 7:30, so that gave us time to rest for the first time since we arrived!  I didn't stay in for long, as I headed back to my favorite chocolatier to pick up some special chocolates for gifts (yes, Team, for you, and also a box for the TCR ladies!).

Dinner was phenomenal!  This is the fifth time I eaten at this restaurant, and it just keeps getting better and better.  They seat 24 people, and have two seatings:  one at 7:30 pm and the other at 9:30 pm.   We had the first seating, which worked out well, since we had to go back afterwards to our hotel and begin the dreaded packing!  Anyway, we started by toasting our week in Paris with champagne.  Appetizers were mushrooms with ham, fennel soup, and white asparagus.  All were great!  The main courses ordered were cod, pork, quail, and duck confit.  Desserts were a strawberry rhubarb fruit crumble, a cornet filled with creme and raspberries, a Stilton cheese plate, and  something else I can't remember.

We've been packing for the last two hours, and our rooms look like they've been in a tornado.  How on earth will we get everything home?  I must stop now, because it's after midnight, and our driver picks us up in the morning at 7:30 for the ride to the airport.  Here are a few photos from today.  Sorry I'm having trouble formatting them, and it's now after 1 a.m., so they are a little out of order.

I hope you've enjoyed traveling along with us; we've enjoyed having you!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Paris Day Six

Today was one of my favorite days.  It's nice to be in the city proper, but it's also good to get out of town and visit new places.  I'd read about Reims (pronounced Rahnce) on David Lebovitz's blog, and decided we should go.  Reims is about 85 miles from Paris.  We took the fast train and arrived there before 10 a.m.  Reims is one of the centers of France's champagne region, and many of the champagne-producing houses have their headquarters here, including Mumm, Piper Heidsieck, Pommery, Taittinger, and Veuve Clicquot.  The city is also known for the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Reims, where the coronation of all of the French kings except two took place.

We walked around the older part of town, which was just waking up.  Although the morning started out cool and cloudy, as we walked more and more, the sun burned through and the sky turned blue.  The town had a charm about it, and we quickly got our bearings.  We even found a small Galleries Lafayette department store, and bought a few scarves (very French)!

As we rounded a corner, the Cathedral came into view, and I simply stopped and stared.  To say that it is spellbinding, is an absolute understatement. The foundation stone for the cathedral was laid in 1211.  Being inside such a place was very emotional for me.  I really could have sat there all day.  Instead, I walked around, took some photographs, and lit some candles for my friend Pat, whose beloved dog Peaches passed away yesterday.

Walking out into the sunshine was strange!  The walk back to the train station was short, and we caught a taxi there to Les Crayeres, where we had a 12:30 pm lunch reservation.  The restaurant (again, mentioned in David Leibovitz' website) was perfect.  A part of the Les Crayeres Hotel (but not the main restaurant which is Le Parc), it sits to the side of the hotel in a lush green park-like area.  The restaurant is small, with glass doors opening up to the kitchen.  The wine menu lists over five pages of different champagnes!

We had white asparagus with shaved mushrooms for an appetizer, followed by scallops for Krista, Elaine and Pam.  I had sole.  Side dishes were mashed potatoes in olive oil, and chips (fries) with Conte cheese and rosemary.  Desserts were an apple tartin and a pineapple tart.  Ultimately, the two-hour lunch had to come to an end, but not before the four of us were completely impressed with the food and the service.  It's something I will always remember.  I hope to go back next year, if possible.

After lunch, we waddled next door to Veuve Clicquot, where we had 3 pm reservations for a house tour and tasting.  The history was interesting in that Madame Clicquot was widowed early in life, and actually ran the champagne house, which was a real rarity back in 1805.  The tour not only covered the history, but also included a walk in the immense cellars of Veuve Clicquot.  They are damp and smell like my grandmother's old basement!  The walls are chalk. Our time at Veuve Clicquot ended with a tasting of their excellent champagne, and a bit of a visit to the VC boutique.  I was saddened to learn that their umbrellas were too large to fit in my suitcase...  After finishing the tour and tasting, they called a taxi for us, and we were taken back to the train station.  While waiting for our train, we people watched.  So many of them had dogs!  One man who was buying train tickets had three well-behaved mutts on leashes.  When he came out of the office, another man with a long terrier-type dog went in.  The terrier went nuts, escaped from his harness, and chased after the three small dogs, who were already outside of the ticket office.  His owner finally caught him after he circled the office a few times, and hauled him back into the line.  We were sitting outside of the glass-walled office, cracking up as the drama unfolded!

So that was our day.  We trained it back to Paris, caught the metro to our hotel, and here we are, saddened that tomorrow is our last full day in Paris, as we fly home on Sunday.  This trip has only given me a small taste of what Paris has to offer, but, even at that, it is much more than any other place I've ever visited.  Here are some photographs of the day.  Hope you enjoy them!