the hippie at le grand colbert
la tour eiffel
the greatest dessert of all time
inside notre dame
sidewalk in the latin quarter
we flew from here to paris, where we met the hippie's sister, raina. it was about 10 degrees colder than it was supposed to be, and it rained every single day. in fact, all of europe was fucking COLD--i wore one of the two black sweaters i took with me every day, and i used my fabulous little titanium travel umbrella every day, too. and still--it was just fabulous. paris is our kind of town. i think the hippie and i could live there very happily if the opportunity ever arose. we loved the sidewalk culture, the art, the masses of people, the food, and just the style of the place. it actually reminded me of new york more than i ever thought it would--i gotta get on taking the hippie up there for a weekend or something. but i digress...
so we got to paris on saturday, hit our hotel to check in, grabbed a pain au chocolate (i ate one of those every day, and man, i could use one RIGHT NOW) and a tea, and went for a walk. we did some shopping, and although i bought nothing at all, the hippie shocked us all by purchasing a green (!!!) dolce & gabana sweater. it's AWESOME, but it's still hard for me to believe he bought something for himself that was not grey or black. we had dinner that first night at le grand colbert, which was divine and also probably the most touristy thing i made us do. i had roasted chicken with spinach and potatoes dauphine, a FABULOUS wine, split a creme caramel with the hippie, and finished things off with tea and a poire eau de vie, my favorite! this restaurant is featured in the movie something's gotta give, and i have wanted to go there ever since i saw it. cheesy, i know... i got online a while ago to see if it was a real place, and it was not only real, but all the online reviews of it were GREAT! the food and service were fantastic, and the place felt parisian in that old hollywood vision of paris sort of way. i am not at all sorry we went, and would recommend it to anyone, especially for that first night out when you are tired and sort of jet lagged and just want the long slow dinner that makes you feel full and pampered. perfect.
after dinner, we grabbed a cab and headed over the see the eiffel tower at night, which was just stunning. i could not stop taking pictures, and i love every one of them. we never made it to the top because of all the rain, but i am so glad i at least got to see it--far more magnificent in person than pictures can tell. such a feat of engineering for its time! i was amazed at how massive and overwhelming it was, even today. we hit yet another cafe late that first night--i am still shocked at how long i went without sleeping--is it any surprise that we slept till like noon the second day?! i guess we didn't push through our jet lag quite as well as we thought...
since we snoozed away half the second day, there's not as much to tell. we grabbed a sandwich (a fabulous roasted chicken with vegetables on a buttered baguette, and of course i also had tea and a pain au chocolat), and walked up to the metro station at the arc de triomphe so we could go to the musee d'orsay, the impressionist museum, which totally ROCKS. their collection is solid, and i could definitely have spent more time there. after that we took it easy, walking around some and then hitting a little english pub near our hotel. i left raina and the hippie there, and went back to the hotel to take a fabulous and relaxing bath in the fabulous and relaxing bathtub. i knitted a little, wrote some post cards, and then went on a search for the restaurant our concierge had recommended, spicy. i found it, and after i read the menu, went in and made us a reservation, in french. (yes, i am pretty damned proud of that--mostly i was too chicken shit to speak french in paris.) i went and dragged the hippie and raina away from the trivia game they were embroiled in at the pub and made them come to dinner. they served us champagne with peach liqueur in it as an aperatif, and then i had a rabbit confit, followed by a lamb shank in a red wine and rosemary sauce with roasted vegetables, some amazing wine (lots of that in france), and then--the piece de resistance: a chocolate fondant cake with creme anglaise and violet ice cream. yes--violet. this was literally the best dessert i have ever had in my life. the cake was unbelievably rich, but the fresh flavors of the violet ice cream and the creme anglaise offset the richness so well that it was NO PROBLEM to eat the whole enormous thing. god, my mouth is watering... raina and the hippie were so jealous that they made us go back to spicy again the next day!
the third day, our last in paris, we managed to get up early enough to do quite a lot. i think we walked the length and breadth of the city that day. we went to the louvre, which i think is a requirement at least once in your life. i have to say though--it's key to pick and choose at huge museums like that. there is NO WAY you can see everything in one day and get anything out of it, so we carefully chose what we wanted to see and hit the highlights. i walked through whole rooms almost with blinders on. the highlights for me were the french crown jewels, the nike of samothrace, the raft of the medusa (which got that pogues song stuck in my head for the rest of the day), and the tiny vermeer paintings i went on a mission to find. after the louvre, we grabbed some lunch (i had croque monsieur, i.e., a grilled ham and cheese sandwich) and set out walking toward notre dame. we got caught in a cold and very windy rainstorm while we were walking. but then, the storm just blew away as we were crossing the bridge over the seinne--it was all blue skies for the rest of the day. notre dame was absolutely beautiful, and more than a little creepy. the stonework there is just amazing, and i loved how dark and spooky it was inside with all the stained glass and the candles people were lighting in prayer. it was nice to come back out into the sun after some time in there, though!
we spent the afternoon on a fruitless quest for a yarn shop, which led us on a beautiful walk through the latin quarter and into a fabulous shopping district where raina and i both spent too much money on beautifying and good smelling products. and of course, we ended up back in another cafe, where we had the best cheese in the universe--this lovely st. marcellin from some tiny region outside paris that i will never remember or be able to find again. i think all three of us just wanted to stay there in that cafe for about a week. tired of being on our feet, we took the metro back to the hotel, freshened up and chilled for a bit, and then headed back to spicy for our second dinner there. the host at spicy was this wonderful man, guendouzi, who was friendly and helpful and fabulous on all fronts. we talked to him for ages both nights we were there. he turned out to have been living in the US on september 11th, and italian-arabic parisian man enrolled in flight school in houston, tx. needless to say, the school closed, so he didn't wasn't able to finish and is not yet the commercial pilot he was trying to become. but he IS an amazing host, and i am so glad we met him--he was an asset to our stay in paris. again, i can't say enough about how wonderful spicy is! if you go to paris, you have to go there. the end.
so many things we did in our little 3-day parisian experience, and so many things we never had a chance to do. the hippie and i both really want to go back there for a longer trip. we need to eat more, walk more, drink more wine and eau de vie, see more art, go to more cathedrals, shop more, and see the the regions of paris we totally skipped (the mont martre comes to mind...) i think it speaks well of a place if being there just leaves you wanting more.