Maitaitom’s Christmas Miracle:
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).
Not 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.
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.
We 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.
On 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!
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).
There 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.
It 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.
Some 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!
For 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.
Harry’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.
Once at the Madeleine, we ducked inside the building, decked out in blue.
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.
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.
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.
Outside 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.
We 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!