on the road

Paris, the City of Lights

I once read in a “bloggers rules” type of thing that you should never apologize for gaps in your blog writing.  Well, part of me agrees, but another part of me thinks that if you start a story, you should finish it, and if you delay, you should apologize.  So, I’m sorry.  Breaking the bloggers’ rules, but I am sorry!   Let finally wrap up the story of our trip to France….  Paris, the City of Lights.  It would be a whirl wind visit to Paris,

We arrived in beautiful Paris on Saturday, August 31 and we were flying out on Tuesday, September 3 so we only had three evenings and  two full days in Paris and  we wanted to make the most of those hours!   We checked into our gorgeous small boutique hotel, Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais  We were a little tired after our long train ride from Nice to Paris, then a harried taxi ride to our hotel.  We settled in to our gorgeously appointed room.  We felt like we had taken a step back in time, although complete with all the modern conveniences, the decor was strikingly beautiful. After settling in we headed out for dinner and decided on a lighter fare, and had pizza – it was amazing! The ultra thin crust was crispy, the toppings fresh and full of flavour.  Seriously, we need to do pizza better here in North America.  The air had a bit of a chill to it that evening, but we decided to walk for a bit as well.  How refreshing after the intense heat on the Riviera!

The following morning, we ate a light breakfast, as usual, at a nearby cafe. Delicious.  That’s all, just delicious!  Since it was such a beautiful sunny day we decided to walk – and walk we did!  We headed toward the Seine and crossed the bridge.  We were very close to Notre Dame Cathedral and so we went in!  Mass was just starting, we skipped it and did a self-guided tour through the church.  Stunning stained glass windows,  ornate states, carvings, you name it. It was just beautiful!

From Notre Dame, we continued to walk and came to the famous Lovers’ Bridge, completely adorned with locks.  Each lock bore the initials or names of lovers, and dates.  We thought of buying a lock and doing the same, but then we thought, nah! Let’s just get a Sharpie and write our names on someone else’s lock!  (OBVIOUSLY, we didn’t do that!) Moving on, we were on the other side of the river again and very close to Le Louvre museum. We decided not to go in… I’m not really sure why now, but we didn’t go in!  Continuing to walk… the temperature of the day rising…. we walked, and walked.  Our goal was to make it to the Eiffel Tower. We saw it in the distance and it seemed that no matter how long or how far we walked, the tower never seemed to get any closer! Scott assured me that it wasn’t very far.  Scott lied.  ha ha.  I’ve got to tell you , the more we walked, the warmer the day became, and the warmer i got, the crankier I got.  Walking back and forth across bridges, stopping to look at different things and sites along the way, we finally made it to the Eiffel Tower. Praise the Lord!  It was HOURS later.

The Lover's Bridge
The Lover’s Bridge
On the bridge
On the bridge

We had to line up forever to buy a ticket to get up the tower, and then we had to line up to get UP the tower.  But up we went, and what a view!  Spectacular!  However, because it is so crowed up the tower, it was not enjoyable The crowds were oppressive up there.  We were able to get a few pictures of the city below, and then decided it was time to go.  Once at the bottom, Scott treated me to a delicious lemon ice.  It was cold, sweet, tart, and refreshing!  He’s a good man!!  Either that, or it was to distract me from shopping in the wee souvenir shops!  I worked.  I was too tired to shop.  Yes, I said it.  I didn’t shop!  😦

Finally, we made it!  Eiffel Tower
Finally, we made it! Eiffel Tower

Of course, we were miles and miles from our hotel and I just didn’t have the energy or desire to walk back.  That’s when we discovered the Batobus!  Ingenious!  We bought a two-day pass, and it was a bargain!  Unlimited travel up and down the Seine as many times as we wanted getting on and off wherever you want to! So, we got on, and headed back toward the hotel… or actual toward Notre Dame.  We figured out that if we went one stop further to ……  we would be about a ten minute walk to our hotel.  Brilliant!  Sitting on the boat, watching the sites, and relaxing, best thing EVER.

Back at our hotel, we  had a much-needed short nap, freshened up a bit and headed out for dinner. Since we liked our breakfast spot so much, we decided to try it for dinner.  Not disappointed Great food. I have come to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter where you eat in France, the food is good! Pretty sure it’s because food is an art to be enjoyed slowly and deliberately, savouring each bite, and resulting in great pleasure!  Food is a sensual experience in France!

Not sure how far we walked that day, but man was I tired!  It was an early night for us. Dinner over, wine finished, cafe consumed, we were ready for sleep!

Now, Monday was MY day!  It was all about Heather!  Oh yes it was!  We had a light breakfast at another new place, and enjoyed it.  Surprise!  My goal on Monday was to find E.Dehillerin and Le Cordon Bleu. If I could just visit those two places i would be very happy.   We had Google’d the location of E.Dehillerin and turns out we were very close to it! About a 20 minute walk from our hotel.  So excited.  SO excited.  About one block from the kitchen essentials store, we passed Au Pied de Cochon. This restaurant was recommended to us by our hotel as uniquely Parisian.

E. Dehillerin
E. Dehillerin

One of the very few places that are open 24/7, unlike the usual places open for breakfast, break, lunch from 12-2, break, dinner from 8-whenever,  Au Pied de Cochon is always open.  Apparently, according to our source, the only time they shut down was during the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II. The reason was that it was more desirable to shut their doors then to serve Nazis.  Gutsy.  So, since we were walking by, we went in and made dinner reservations for our final night in France.

Back out on the street again, we continued on to E.Dehillerin, just a block or so away.  There it was, in front of me. Taunting me, beckoning me to come in. Almost giddy with excitement, and scared of being labeled “annoying tourist” we went inside. The store was everything I had read it would be.  Rough wooden shelves stacked to the ceiling with everything ‘foodie’ with a light layer of dust on everything,  I was facing the most complete and amazing collection of kitchen things ever.  Now, I had to be careful – I couldn’t exactly pick out something cast iron, or large, since I had to get my treasures home with me.  But I HAD to get something!!!  I also didn’t want to be looked at as a tourist since this store’s reputation is that it serves the professional chef.  I was careful to be as professional as possible.  HA!  Hard to do when my husband was trying to take pictures!  🙂  But I maintained my demeanor and made my choices.  Here’s the process:  Take your purchases to table number 1.  Man there writes everything down and you take that paper to another desk, the cash desk.  There, the really nice (but overworked) woman takes that sheet of paper and looks up product codes and prices.  She shows you that list again to make sure that’s what you understand is right.  If it’s ok, she then totals up the sale and you pay.  Then, the man at table 1 takes that new paperwork, double checks everything to be sure that what you paid for is what you have waiting for you on the desk. If it matches, he puts everything in a bag for you and out you go.  I held it all together, keeping my emotions under the surface… I was beyond happy to be in this store!  We walked out the door and as I hit the threshold, I broke down and started to cry… just a little, really… but that one tear fell down my cheek as my heart overflowed.  I had shopped in E.Dehillerin.   I did it.  I had three smallish items that I was taking home with me.  Now, none of these things were life or death purchases, but just things that I could take home and always know that they came from Julia’s store in Paris.  The very store that Julia Child shopped in.  How awesome was that?  Very!

So, after more pictures in front of the store, we left.  and started to walk again.  We made it to the river and hopped on the Batobus and took that to the Eiffel Tower, again.  Only this time, that was just the jumping off point.  From there we walked, again, in search of Le Cordon Bleu.  It was quite a walk but not nearly as far as we walked the day before.  After a few wrong turns we found it.  My personal Mecca – Le Cordon Bleu Paris.  I was there, standing in front of the iconic cooking school.  How surreal for me!  Scott took out the camera and took pictures again – thanks!  I needed to have it documented!  🙂  With a boldness that I drew from deep within me I went in like I belonged there.  My heart was bursting, seriously, bursting.  If I could attend there, well, that’s a dream best left alone….  Scott did take a picture of the framed (blank) diplomas on their wall for me with a smile and said “picture your name on one of these”…. ya Scott, for a mere $50,000.  Sigh.  You KNOW I had to pick up a few little things to prove I had been there!  I got a beautiful wine server’s apron in black – yes I know, but it was pretty!  Also picked up a few dish towels, and a little bib for our granddaughter that said “Le Petite Chef”.  Everyone was friendly, and I left with information on applying to LCB, but seriously, a pipe dream that won’t be a reality.

Le Cordon Bleu... and dreaming of what could have been!
Le Cordon Bleu… and dreaming of what could have been!

DSC_0461

Leaving LCB we walked to a little corner market, picked up a couple of sandwiches and some bottled water and walked across the road to a little park where we ate out late lunch.  Feeling very proud of myself for NOT crying inside LCB, and the sense that I had been in the hallowed ground of great chefs, I lost it in the park!  If I could have had my way, and I sort of did, I would have looked for the original LCB which apparently was very close to where we were in the morning near E.Dehillerin.  Oh well.  I also wanted to find Julia Child’s Paris apartment on Rue de L’Université, or as Julia called it “Roo de Loo”.

No walking… we took the Metro to Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysee – another shopping mecca!  I did none! 🙂  Scott then wanted to show me the spot where Princess Diana was killed.  We walked… and as you guessed it…we walked some more.  Finally found it.  He had said there was a “memorial” there to mark the place.  Unfortunately that is not true.  That is what is told to tourists, but it is actually a replica of the flame from the Statue of Liberty in New York City. The replica flame was placed there in 1987 on the 100th anniversary of France’s gift of the Statue of Liberty to the United States.  Close!  However, coincidentally, it is AT the tunnel where Princess Diana was killed.  Many flowers, notes, pictures, etc. were all around the flame and the tunnel bridge itself, marking the life of Diana.

We walked back to the Seine and hopped on the Batobus and headed back to our hotel, with my treasures from my two shopping stops in hand.  Heading out later that evening for our final night in Paris to the historic restaurant, we were feeling sad at leaving France, yet happy to be heading home again. The restaurant didn’t disappoint us!  We had a beautiful table on the street in a (very rare for France) non-smoking section!  Everything was delicious!  Good wine, good table, sweet evening air, and wonderful company!  Love my hubby!  Now, the specialty of the house was Pigs Foot.  Naturally, given the name of the restaurant, what else would you expect??  I ordered fish.  The only thing about the evening that was a big disappointment was dessert.  It was bland, unimaginative, and boring.  I had ordered tarte au citron which other than being yellow had no flavour of lemon at all. The pastry was hard. It was topped with a meringue (which surprised me) but even that was horrible.  I’m thinking that the dessert came from somewhere else and were not made on site.  Too bad.  It was a bad end to an otherwise delicious dinner.

We had a leisurely walk back to our hotel, taking the long way to take in as many of the area sites as we possibly could on this our last day.  What a beautiful evening.  What great company.  What a sad night since it was our last!

Good night’s sleep, off to the airport in a cab ride that rivaled any thrill ride at any amusement park, and check in.  This was it, we were heading home.  Finally on board our Air Canada flight, we were homeward bound.

That ended our  10th Anniversary trip.  I can cross that off my bucket list.  I spent time in the south of France and also in Paris.  I saw and shopped at E.Dehillerin.  I saw and went into Le Cordon Bleu Paris.  I experienced the sights, sounds and tastes of France in all its splendour.  I got to practice my French, as pathetic as it was I did ok.  I was happy. Oh I was leaving tired, but very happy and content.

I tasted France and it whet my appetite for more!

So, instead of my usual sign-off (Happy noshing), today I leave  you with Julia’s signature sign-off….

Bon Appetit!

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