So after my best mate's blessing I decided to take off to Paris. I had only been once before. That was for an Iron Maiden concert. Since then I have rediscovered Anthony Bourdain. This is not a good thing because I can be a bit of a gobshite on a good day and he has just taught me to be a pompous gobshite with a lust for travel, booze, and food. OK, I had two of the three already covered. Still not into the booze thing, give me a nice cup of coffee and I'm a happy camper. Provided I've put some Dr. Pepper in my system first. Woe be the person to get me WITHOUT the Dr. Pepper. It's not pretty.
What is gobsmackingly pretty is Paris. Everything is so ornamental. The buildings are amazingly old and gorgeous. It's eye candy for an amateur architect. There are some cool fountains in random places. I like fountains. I'm obsessed by them. It's the sound of rushing water that draws me in. I can sit by them for hours (as I did at the Louvre) and just listen to them. Or play in the cold water (as I did at Saint Sulpice).
I'm not sure why people call it "gay" Paris. No one is really happy. Miserable stressed out gits for the most part. I blame the system. It's the Man trying to keep them down. Actually, it's the public transport. Not sure why people say it's hard. It's not. It's amazingly simple. Everything is numbered and colour coded. Only a first rate idiot would get lost or confused. Know where you want to go before hand. Get a map. Yeah, print it out on the computer! Circle where you want to go. Piece of Cake!!!
I took the National Express night bus to Paris. (pauses for the collective groan and to wait until room re-pressurizes from the air that just got sucked out of it by the collective holding of breaths)
Yes, the night bus. on. national. express. hey, it was cheap. It was also a 10 hour ordeal! It took about an hour to get thru border patrol: collect passports, hand back passports, move bus, get off bus with all the gear, herd into little white room, close door, wait for gas........ oh, no gas. put bags into machine, bags come out of machine, bags get hand searched. IT...WAS...NOT...FUN.... After this the bus finally moves onto the EuroTunnel. Now, I did not do any research on this at all before hand. EuroTunnel is new to me. Apparently after an hour and a half wait in the queue, the bus was deftly maneuvered into a cigar box. It had about six inches of leeway on either side. A barrier comes down behind you and the next bus or lorry gets jerry-rigged in. After a while you start to move. I don't know how. Someone told me it's by train. It's still a mystery to me. But you have to try it at least once.
ON TO THE FOOD I know that's why you are here.
Le Royal I had breakfast at a nice little place recommended by Anthony, To wit, 98% of the places I ate or visited were recommended by Anthony on his trip to Paris during the 2005 season of No Reservations. I ordered the omlette mixte and OJ. The OJ was so fresh, you had to stir it with a spoon. The omlette was beautifully bronzed with soft sensuous eggs cradling chunks of jambon. There was just enough cheese to let you know it was there, without over powering the meal. I sat outside at one of the 9 available tables. A nice leisurely start to the day.
We decided to walk from Le Royal to Cafe de La Mairie. It took about half hour to forty five minutes. I got side tracked by this hidden gem.
Dalloyau Raspail 63 Rue de Grenelle 75007 Paris. This is a very high end sweet shoppe. It has lots of chocolates, mousses, fruit crepes and macarones. I couldn't resist. I was not disappointed. I had a chocolate macarone. HEAVEN!!! It was very creamy, light and the filling is super smooth. If you've been breast fed a diet of American chocolate, you have been robbed! This was the real deal, chocolate the way chocolate is supposed to taste. Many of you know my love for Belgian chocolate, followed closely by German chocolate then Danish milk chocolate and Swiss white. The lowest I'll go is a Bounty bar. I only eat Cadbury from Ireland because my best friend works there. I trust her (and her cooking!!! which is phenominal), so I trust her chocolates. She rewards me with a five pound bag of chocolate when ever I visit her. I love her to pieces!!! Back to the macarone. It was as soft as a cloud, delicate to the touch. The chocolate was not over powering, it was a subtle lover on your tongue. The crust was flakey and sweet. The confection crumbles in your mouth. You could pop the whole shebang in, but you'd miss the subtlety of the flavours. I also tasted my friends Coffee Eclair. It smelled devine. Like fresh coffee wafting thru the Kenyan mountains. The eclair was about five inches long. It is not a treat to be rushed. When you bite into it, you are surprised by its chilliness. The mild coffee flavour enveloping your taste buds as the creamy filling caresses your mouth.
HSBC alert! 7th Arron. corner of De Grennelle and Blvd. Raspail.
Cafe de La Mairie is on the St. Sulpice stop on the 4. Come out of the metro, turn around, at the corner go left. Look for the St. Sulpice fountain! Of course, I'd find the fountain! LOL The cafe is mega busy. Stressfully busy. One of the waiters unceremoniously dropped a glass full of something less than a foot behind me. My red cons, socks, legs, and trousers were soaked! Luckily I did not get cut. Needless to say for Paris, no apologies were forthcoming. Nor was the incident even acknowledged by the clumsy transgressor, the manager, or the bloke multitasking behind the bar: collecting empties, making coffee, serving or collecting tabs. The coffee here is strong and black like Rashad Evans and served in eight ounce china coffee cups with saucers - delicate like lillies. The effect is like getting a double shot of the finest Irish Whiskey Bushmills has ever produced. It knocks you out!
MEMO TO YOU! Paris metro has NO air conditioning. It is massively hot. Keep bottled water with you.
NOTE: Paris is very humid. You will sweat and sweat a lot! You will also walk A LOT!!! Even if you take the metro or bus, you will still walk! It's best to have a nice sturdy, comfortable, new pair of sensible and practical walking shoes. Your feet will thank you.
HSBC alert! Odeon stop on the 10 and 4 metro lines. corner of St. de Germain and Carrefour L'Odeon
Amorino Gelato Italiano is located on 4 rue Buci. It's open from 1300 to 2400 hours. Odeon stop on the 10 and 4 lines, cross St. Germain, head up Carrefour (toward river with Odeon behind you), turn LEFT onto Rue Buci. It is the best ice cream you will ever taste (if you do not live in New Jersey and don't have access to Rita's). They have five sizes, but I'm only going to list three. Coppa petit (2 1/2 scoops) for 3eur. Coppa Moyen for 4 eur. Grand for 5 eur. Or if you want a cone: Cornetto - same prices with the Grand being 5.50eur. It's well worth it! The lines are long but they move swiftly. I ordered the mango and coconut. The ciccolatto is dark chocolate. The pistaccio has real pistaccio nuts in it.
Le Massena is where we stopped for lunch. It was NOT prescribed by Anthony. Frankly, we think he missed one! LOL It's located on 85 Rue de Rivoli 75001 Paris. It's one block north of the river. Mebbe two blocks east of the Louvre and about two blocks west and a block north of Pont Nouf stop on the 7 line on the corner of Rue Perrault and deRivoli. Busses that pass on a regular basis are the 74, 69, 85, and 67. There are two full menus outside the restaurant for your perusal. I ordered the crepes de froment au sucre et beurre for 3.30. OMG!! THe buttery, sugary, sweet, goodness. It's not cane sugar that is used. I'm not sure what sugar it is, but it's light and sweet (company: Saint Louis Sucre en Poudre, Cafe Richard). They have a whole pancake set menu for 10 eur. The most expensive thing on the menu was 15.20 for the salade gourmande. I ordered something simple. If a restaurant can cook the simple, then it can do the complex. That's my motto. The crepes was delicious. My traveling companion had the ham, cheese, and salmon sandwich. The plating was beautiful. The cheese was lovingly bronzed on top of the whole meal bread whilst chunks of salmon and ham cavorted between the slices of bread.
If Japanese style restaurants are your thing, head for Rue Monsier de Prince. There are squllions(T) of them on that street running from the 40s at the Odeon stop to the 60s at Blvd St. Michel. At 2200 hours all were packed, so I'm thinking the food was good. Take your pick. Rue Monsier de Prince lets out at the Luxembourg stop on the B. There was also a regular cafe called Le Luxembourg Cafe and Brasserie. It too was packed with gobs of people inside and outside. It's a wi-fi spot. It's nestled on the corners of Blvd. St. Michel, Rue Monsier de Prince and Rue Soufflots. The Luxembourg park is on the left, the Sorbonne is on the right. There is also a 100 PC internet cafe at Rue Soufflot and Rue Le Goff. I've no idea of the prices as I did not stop.
Sadness in Parisville!!! Pascal Pinauds was closed on my arrival!!! I pranced up to the shoppe at 0820 ready to do some serious damage to my bank account. But alas, it was closed. I stood there in the pale sultry gray of a Paris mourning with the look of stunned disbelief. Rue Monde had forsaken me. I gently laid my hand upon the glass, blinds drawn, separating me from my nirvana of gastrointestinal heaven. Alas, I was not alone. Another culinary refugee stared disbelievingly at the facade. We looked at each other, smiled nervously, looked at the door trying to will it unlocked with our collective souls. We paced back and forth like caged lions but it was not to be. No Pascal Pinauds for me. I am sad.
After queuing for an hour, we were let into the ,Catacombs. NOTE: There are 85 steps in a spiral staircase down to the catacombs and 83 in a spiral staircase to come back up. You will get dizzy. And it is a long walk. If you are squeemish, claustrophobic, afraid of the dark, or get creeped out by being trapped dozens of meters underground. THIS IS NOT A PLACE TO VISIT!!! The catacombs are a giant mass grave. There are skulls and bones EVERY WHERE!!!! At every darkened turn. In every alcove. Bones! Skulls!! Bones and Skulls...Skulls and Bones. They are tossed in corners. Staked neatly. Pretty designs made out of the skulls. But essentially, you are surrounded by the remains of millions upon millions of dead people.
PASCAL PINAUDS IS OPEN!!! SCORE!!! My passion and persistence won out. I returned to the shoppe later in the day just to gaze longingly into the window and it was open. Most of their wares had been sold. But I still made a 9 euro glutton of myself.
Planet Food. No kidding. There is a restaurant called Planet Food! I've not written down the addy in my notebook. It's upstairs in my room. When I get it, You will get it! Planet Food is NOT to be missed!!! I ordered an old fashioned cheeseburger and chips and my traveling companion ordered a pizza. It was choice. We visited Planet Food...And it was good!
The Louvre> is frakking HUGE!!! I mean really REALLY big!!! It would take days to go thru the whole thing. Next trip! After two days eating my way thru Paris, criss-crossing the Arrons., I was beat tired. I still have two restaurants, one chocolate shoppe, and the Pere Lachais cemetary to visit. Next trip!!!