Chapter Eight: Our Final Day In Paris

Maitaitom’s Christmas Miracle:
Paris/Reims 2006

DSC02374Chapter Eight: Our Final Day In Paris

Day Nine – O Littlest Town Of Bethlehem, Chez Bien, A Day At The Opera, A Mai Tai In Paris, Herb Appeal and Get Me To The Eiffel On Time

Quelle surprise!  We started the day with a quick stop for coffee and croissants. Tracy had never been much of a coffee drinker, but after a few days of being Parisian, she was getting into the habit.  It was probably a good thing we were leaving the next day, or we might have started to take up smoking, too.

We headed on the metro over to the Musée National d’ Historie Nuturelle, or as Tracy more succinctly called it, The Dinosaur Museum.   Our chances of visiting on this day were as extinct as those old bones sitting in the window because the museum was closed.  How cold-blooded of them (although some research now says dinosaurs were warm-blooded).

DSC02309Not deterred, we hopped back on the metro and soon were walking toward our next destination, Saint-Sulpice.  Although the day after Christmas, the little Christmas market outside the church was going full tilt.  Unfortunately, I still had some extra euros.

DSC02308We almost made it through the entire maze of booths unscathed until Tracy found the Bling Booth, and soon afterward she had a nice necklace.

Since I am the only living person who has not read The Da Vinci Code, I was unaware of the importance this 17th century church played in the novel. Fortunately no nuns were harmed in the making of this trip report.

DSC02311Inside Saint-Sulpice was a cool, working Little Town of Bethlehem. It was really quite fascinating to me, especially the miniature guy putting miniature bread in the miniature oven.

DSC02310As we seemed to do a lot of on this trip, we strolled through the 6th, back down to Saint-Germain and happened down an alleyway, where we saw Le Procope.

DSC02313It’s another restaurant in Paris that claims to be the oldest.

DSC02315We almost decided to have lunch here, but I was hoping that my number one choice, Chez Fernand on rue Christine, was open, so we walked on over. It was open, and it was lucky for us, because we had our best meal of the trip here.

DSC02316On the menu for Tracy was gratin d’aubergines confites et mozzarella, while I had the green beans (haricots verts frais à l’huile de noisette). Of course, since it was after dawn, we started with champagne and a Campari.

Tracy ordered roasted scallops on a bed of creamy risotto with petite legumes, while I downed the incredibly delicious beef bourguignon with steamed potatoes. It was sensational!

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Since we were on a roll, Tracy then had a baked pear ladled in hot chocolate sauce while I devoured a molten chocolate cake with framboise and citron. It was a perfect complement for my gewurztaminer dessert wine followed by an espresso. The total tab came to 102 euros (worth every euro of it, too).

DSC02330There is nothing fancy about the restaurant, but every dish was perfect. For good measure, they also have a no smoking area, and since Tracy and I hadn’t taken up the habit yet, we sat in the cancer-free section.

DSC02304It was pretty cold outside (okay, it was freezing) after leaving Chez Fernand (although that dessert wine was warming me up), so it was back on the metro for a day at the opera.  Well, not a real opera, but we wanted to check out the Opera House before we left.

DSC02336For seven euros each, we walked around the opera house (they do have English tours available a couple of times during the day).

DSC02343The staircase was grand, which is, I suppose, why it is called the grand staircase.

DSC02335Some people had told us that the opera house was nothing special, but we actually enjoyed our hour or so at the opera. I believe our visit was made even better by the fact that I didn’t actually have to attend an opera to go there. Figaro that!

DSC02345For an encore after the opera, Tracy and I walked down to Harry’s Bar. It wasn’t quite what I expected, what with all the U.S. college pennants hanging on the walls. Of course, I looked for a pennant from my alma mater, San Diego State (which we jokingly refer to as “The Harvard of the West”), and could not find an SDSU pennant anywhere. Obviously, Harry’s does not want to be associated with a school with such a pathetic football team.

DSC02349Harry’s was quiet, except for a family from England (a mother, father and two teenage sons) sitting at the bar. They were, how should I put, pretty wasted, but they were funny, what we could understand of them.

Talking to them about England, we said we might be visiting London in the near future. “It’s a dump,” they replied.

It seems our Brit friends had spent quite a few hours at Harry’s that day and regaled us with stories about some of the favorite drinks they had ordered. Although they were humorous, I had a sneaking suspicion in the back of my mind that the two sons might find themselves in rehab one day.

Tracy and I each had a martini, but I said I had to try a mai tai in Paris.  Not surprisingly, our new found friends from England had already tried one.  I must admit; it wasn’t a bad mai tai.

At that point I had to use the bathroom and was pointed toward Harry’s “Death Stairs.”  As a heads (pun intended) up, if you plan on visiting Harry’s and have a few too many, be careful in navigating the stairs. I think I saw some bones of some past inebriated patrons down there, but Tracy said it was the rum from the mai tai talking.

DSC02354We bid our buddies “Cheerio” and walked over toward La Madeleine, via Place Vendome.

DSC02353We stopped by the Ritz.   It was getting cold again.

DSC02352We walked by the Olympia.  No time for concerts now…there was shopping to do.

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Once at the Madeleine, we ducked inside the building, decked out in blue.

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But this wasn’t the reason we were back in this neck of town. It was time for some last minute shopping at Fauchon, and our favorite little place, Hediard.

DSC02364Tracy has one special purchase she makes every time we are in Paris.  She just loves the Herbs de Provence from Hediard.

DSC02362After picking up a bushel load, it was back to the hotel to start packing for tomorrow’s departure…

DSC02356…still knowing I didn’t have that up close up and personal Eiffel Tower night picture.

DSC02363I was hoping that darned fog would not be as bad on this night as it had been for the previous few evenings.

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We got to the Eiffel Tower a little before eight, and the whole tower was in view. I took my night Eiffel photos and felt fulfilled.

DSC02374It was chilly, but I finally got my photos, while Tracy hoped she hadn’t gotten pneumonia.

DSC02378We took one last stroll down the Rue Cler (sorry Rick Steves haters) with its Bienvenue Rue Cler Christmas decorations above our heads and then headed off to dinner.

Tracy and I ate at Auberge Bressane, where we had dined five years before. The meal was just ok this time around, but we did have the best soup (pumpkin) of the trip.

I finished off dinner with a good crepe Suzette, then got on the metro, scaled the stairs and took one more look to the left at the Eiffel Tower (which I happen to love all you Tower naysayers…what’s with that?) and bid farewell to the Hotel Varenne another lovely trip to Paris.

DSC02388Outside of a minor security scare the next day at CDG that had everyone standing in place for about 20 minutes while authorities looked for some miscreant who had breached security, the flight back came off without a hitch.

Compared to how I felt on the flight over, I might as well have been sitting in first class on this journey back to L.A.. I really liked the entire Air Tahiti Nui experience. The legroom seemed better, and the food for we coach peons was definitely a step above any other airline I have flown in recent years.

DSC02102_2We picked up the cats and paid their hotel bill (for this money I hoped they had plasma televisions to watch).  On the way home we lied to them, saying we would never do this again, although we were already preparing for a possible month long trip to somewhere in Europe 2008.  Don’t tell them, and until then:

Enjoy The Journey!  Attitude Is Everything!

 

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