Tuesday, September 04, 2012

European Extravaganza - Part V d - Paris

This is it!  The chronicles of my last day in Europe.  It was a Monday.  I had to hit the ground running.

Back to the museum row I go.  I got off the train at Cite, right next to Saint Chapelle.

My museum pass would get me in, but not to the front of the line.  Security is more thorough at this stop, since it's in a government building complex.  This chapel was built in the 13th century.  Mostly restored stuff now, but it's beautiful.

The windows tell stories from the Bible, starting with Genesis through the New Testament.  I didn't have enough patience to try and figure out all the stories, but there are helpful placards you can grab.



Courtyard gates of the cathedral - right in the Palace of Justice.

I had a little bit of time before I met Becca for lunch, so I decided to race over to the church from Midnight in Paris, to see the steps where Gil (Owen Wilson) was picked up each night and transported to Paris of the 1920s, where he hung out with Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Picasso and Dali, etc.

There's the front!  St Etienne du Mont.

And there's those steps.

Okay, time to race up to lunch with Becca.  A college friend had recommended that I try to eat at Benoit, an Alain Ducasse restaurant.  He had eaten there twice during his last Paris stay and was never disappointed, so I set out to get a table.  We could never get a dinner reservation for our few short days in Paris, so lunch would have to do.  And wow, was it delicious with excellent service.  I'd recommend. You can make an online reservation or get a hotel concierge to help you out.  It's near Hotel de Ville.  Go and dine.

Everything was in French, and I didn't dare ask for a translated menu, but we had our waiter choose our dishes from the prix fixe menu and knew that would be good.  It was.  The food was presented to us in French (I really wish I knew what they said - as I only recognized a few words on the entire menu - mousse, creme and sorbet - all desserts.  I didn't even see a foie gras or an escargots anywhere).  It was also their 100th anniversary so they had some special dishes.

Starters.
Chilled pea soup, I think.  With goat cheese, maybe?  Becca doesn't like goat cheese, so I ate it all.

This fish dish was buttery tender amazingness.  I think there was something under that pile, I wish I remembered, but it tasted so good.

That  blackened patty is beef - crispy on the outside, tender in the middle.  And look at those potatoes on the left.  There's a golden brown apple in there, too.

Dessert time.  I love dessert.  My side of the table- pretty self explanatory.

Becca's side - Savarin.  Then they brought out this whole huge tray of cream and then a couple bottles of liquor.  I had seem them completely douse another table's plates in rum.  Lots and lots of rum.  We tried to explain we didn't want it, but the waiter insisted that the breads NEED the rum or cognac.  We persuaded them not to put any liquor on, eventually.

Some of my favorite stuff right in here - raspberries, pistachios, chocolate.  

We were totally full by this point, but they brought us more little treats!  We said yes.

Bellies full, we paid our bill (most I've spent on a lunch in quite awhile, maybe ever) and headed out again.  I wanted to go back to the Louvre to see what I didn't see the day before.  Museum pass = golden!  Becca went off to do something, though I don't remember what.  You'd have to ask her.




If I could draw, I'd come sit here, too.




I spy.....

These stained glass panels were just lovely.


Wow.

Napoleon III's apartments in the Louvre.  A highlight.

I'm glad my wide angle olloclip could get in that entire living space.  It was just beautiful.  I think I shall decorate my future house just like it.





Into the creepy art times, right around the Black Plague.







See - I really was there.

Au revoir, Louvre!



Okay, home for a quick nap.  As our last hoorah, Mark, Becca and I took a dinner cruise down the Seine.  Yes, it's flavorless chicken and rice, but whatever.  I'm on a boat!



There was an official photographer on board who wanted the 3 of us to do some REALLY cheesy photos, and we sort of obliged, but we were not taking any of them home with us.  It's especially awkward when 2 of the 3 people don't really know each other.  We'll just leave that alone.




I'll take a tall and skinny reflection.


The sky was just awesome.
Space Invader!

We wandered through the Latin Quarter for a bit after the cruise.


Another stop on the Midnight in Paris tour.

The original Shakespeare and Company was the gathering place for James Joyce, Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and more.



Pinterest project, below...

Okay, we went back to the steps to see if any car would come pick us up that night.

There's Mark.



When no car appeared, we went to find dessert.


Then the Star Trek tour started happening.  Klingon.

And Jean-Luc Picard

We eventually made it home around 1am and I packed and showered and sort of slept but not really, since I had to be awake around 430.

Oh, and did I ever mention that Edith Piaf lived in Mark's building?  She did.  And there's a little museum next door.  I took this photo at 5am, while I was waiting for SuperShuttle to come pick me up and take me to Orly airport.  Do you know how hard it is to use public transport to get to Orly for a 8am flight?  Yeah, I booked Supershuttle.  The second thing the driver said to me - why don't you speak French?

I got the airport SUPER early, and was soooo sleepy.  But there would be no sleep for me.  I flew back to London and had some breakfast in a place that said they have smoothies, but they really didn't have smoothies, just juice.  Disappointing.

I had about 5 hours to kill in London (always cautionary, I gave myself plenty of time between flights because I was not getting stuck in London), and when I switched terminals I had to walk outside in the rain for a second.  IT WAS FREEZING.  Note to self: London is not warm, not even in the summer, so don't move there.

I really was chilled and all I wanted was soup.  So soup I found.  And hot tea.  Lifesaver.  I almost fell asleep with my head in the bowl, but luckily that didn't happen.

I bought magazines to keep me entertained for the next 15 hours.  British mags give away lots of free stuff in their newsstand copies!  I got 2 eyeliners from Body Shop, a Reiss tshirt and nail polish!

I completely passed out as soon as I was on that plane, and woke up just before landing in NYC.  The flight attendant in the jumpseat in front of me was amazed at how good a sleeper I am.  Solid.  Customs in NYC was actually fast and maybe I should've tried to get on an earlier flight back to LAX, but I didn't.  I killed 3 hours at JFK with some Netflix and ABP, and then I made it home.

European 2012 Extravaganza, complete!

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