Paris – Day Four

The intent this morning was for James to run and me to lounge around in bed. Instead we lazily lounged around until we decided to do something before lunch, but just late enough that the lines for the Modern Art Museum were out of control (also the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays and the masses flock elsewhere!). Instead, we sat outside a carousel, eventually rode it, and stalked a couple who had a pair of backpacks we desperately wanted (only to find out you can get them in Spain, but pretty much anywhere else they are nonexistent).

For lunch I made reservations at Le Jules Verne, a restaurant located dead smack in the middle of the Eiffel Tower. From the ground, you can see a restaurant, which we assumed was JV. Nope. This restaurant is literally tucked away on the second observation deck. A terrifying elevator ride, and we arrived to about 40 waiters all greeting us. Our seats were incredible – on the outskirts of the room, which meant we were next to a window the whole time. Similar to Top of the Hub, for those who have been there before – but with a piece of the Tower blocking your view (even cooler).

I let them know that I was gluten free and they brought the usual olives to the table. I’ve become accustomed to eating olives, which I used to detest, simply because its the only thing I can often have while everyone else is gorging on bread. And then they brought out warm, delicious gluten free bread. I don’t know what they do here to their bread, but it is nothing like you get the in the States. Nutty, and complex, soft in the center, but not crumbly. Unless you’ve eaten gluten free bread, none of this will make sense – but trust me on it. The amuse bouche was a piece of fish served on a cabbage and purple potato salad. For my appetizer I had warm asparagus with ham, peas and a massive pot of hollandaise sauce (I ate all of the sauce, spreading it on my vegetables and my bread of course). James had a mackerel tart. For our entree I had the duck and James had the beef. Dessert we both ordered what we thought was mango sorbet. It was not. It was literally a pile of mango with some sort of passion fruit sauce on it, with a small side of sorbet. Then they brought out chocolate, homemade marshmallows, cream puffs, macaroons and more. It was literal heaven.

We left lunch, satisfied and completely full. Next stop? The sewer system museum. I had read this was a cool, off the beaten track place to go. After the mornings experience where we were unable to get in, I was a little nervous about the lines. I don’t know why. The sewer museum is not in an old part of the sewer that’s unused. No, this is in an active area of the sewer, where waste from the Eiffel Tower region is flowing under our feet. It was…. disgusting. I walked around with my scarf covering my face. In fairness, we learned a lot, but I would not advise going after eating. Ever. It smells like your worst nightmare.

Following, we headed to the Technology Museum (Musée des arts et métiers). I heard there was a subway station underneath that was abandoned during WWII. Sadly I didn’t find this subway. But the museum was really cool – a thermometer invented by Galileo. The original Foucault pendulum resides here, and is active. I wish I wasn’t so tired. Oddly enough, it was the only place I spoke entirely in French to the staff and they didn’t bat an eye. I still can’t do a very good job – but have gotten down the basics.

Afterwards, we meandered the streets. We headed to a famed chocolate shop, but when entering, it was the most overwhelming and sterile place. And the chocolate was insanely priced (130 euro for 1 kilogram). I opted to buy my chocolate in Brussels and left. We went to Merci next – a concept store that is everything Urban Outfitters wishes it was. Incredibly expensive, but definitely fascinating. We wandered around for a good 30 – 40 minutes before our dinner reservation. There were many books I wish to purchase, but of course they were only in French. Hopefully I can find the English translations back at home.

For dinner, we had made reservations at Frenchies – a highly recommended place by multiple people. Frenchies serves a tasting menu, and everyone receives the same five courses. I stopped taking notes after the second course, so here it is from memory: a thinly sliced fish with some sort of citrus salad, foie gras with beet and rhubarb jelly, monk fish with a coffee cream, duck, blood orange sorbet and the most amazing mint chocolate dessert (think a sort of ice cream on the bottom, melted brownie in the middle and sugar circle on top). We left satisfied and I would echo everyone else’s sentiments: go to Frenchies!

During dinner we heard that the unions that work for the trains were on strike – so here’s to getting to Brussels tomorrow. According to our train’s website our train is unaffected. Fingers crossed. I have chocolate to buy and James has waffles to eat.

Paris – Day Two

Finally, a full night of sleep! And how blissful it was – after I convinced myself that 12:30 a.m. is not the time to wake up for the day (in defense, James hadn’t reset his watch yet so I thought it was 6:30 a.m.).

We woke up early this morning, struggled through making breakfast with one pot and one hot plate, and then walked along the Seine to the Louvre (about 3 miles from where we are staying).

I am not going to lie, walking around on a Sunday morning before anyone else in Paris is awake? Glorious. Being pooped on by a bird five minutes after you’ve stepped outside? Not so glorious. This bird managed to poop in my hair, down my coat, all over my purse and on my sunglasses. Needless to say I was less than pleased.

We arrived at the Louvre around 9:15, and waited in line for free first Sunday of the month admission. 25 minutes later we were in, and free to roam wherever we pleased. This museum is so incredibly massive. A quick trip to see the Mona Lisa (she hasn’t changed since the last time I was here!) and we were off to explore the rest. If you want to make going to a large museum very easy, don’t speak or read the language of all the placards and don’t get the audio tour. We spent about two and a half hours wandering around – taking in famous masterpieces.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace
The Sphinx. (Well a Sphinx at least)

Afterwards, we headed to NoGlu – a gluten free bakery that does brunch in Paris. It was about 15 minutes from the Louvre, and I had been looking forward to this all morning. Except that within the last week or so, they no longer are open on Sundays. This was something I reviewed very carefully before making plans. Sundays in Europe are like before 11 a.m. on Sundays in the U.S. but all day long. Quiet, very few stores and restaurants open. It was tragic, and all I had to console myself was some freeze dried peas with ranch flavoring.

We wandered the streets, desperate for something to eat (well me at least, James had stopped and enjoyed an eclair before we left the museum area). Finally we stumbled across Le Petit Machon, a restaurant with a chalkboard menu, no English menus (always a good sign) and waitresses who spoke about as much English as we spoke French. Perfect. I had duck with some sort of orange sauce. James had a whole fish (we think it was sole, the waitress said salmon but that was the only fish she knew in English!). We both – get ready for it – had espresso afterwards. Yes, James had his first espresso. Did he like it? He said it got him through the day.

We continued to walk around the area, with intentions of going to Ladurée Royale for their famed macaroons. We purchased eight and sat on a bench at a nearby park (next to some delicious smelling flowers) and enjoyed all eight in one sitting.

I was quite pleased Ladurée’s window display.

We took notes when eating them, and because this is the best stream of consciousness from us both… here they are (unedited):

  • Coffee tastes like its supposed to
  • Green apple definitely tastes like fake green apple
  • Cherry blossom tastes like buttery perfume
  • Chocolate was hoping it would taste like a brownie and it didn’t
  • Marie Antoinette refreshing and like a tea party
  • Pistachio favorite one so far – like that Italian paste I can’t remember what it’s called and rainbow cookies
  • Vanilla now this is my favorite like birthday cake with homemade frosting that makes your teeth want to fall out
  • Salted caramel is even better like my grandmas homemade caramels

That Italian paste is marzipan in case you were wondering or knew. We ultimately voted for the salted caramel which instead of having a layer of frosting had a thick smear of buttery rich caramel sandwiched between the two macaroon cookies

It wasn’t until our walk back home that our feet really started to protest. Luckily today was a sneaker day because we ended up going 15 miles. Tomorrow our week long train passes will go into effect, which means we have no excuse to do that.

We spent the rest of the evening at home, making dinner (it was a slight improvement over the previous!), drinking rose (me) and watching Broad City.