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4 Cs-Champagne, Cartier, Chanel & Christmas in Paris 2013 were fantastic!

4 Cs-Champagne, Cartier, Chanel & Christmas in Paris 2013 were fantastic!

Old Jan 3rd, 2014, 11:43 AM
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Day 4 – Monday, December 23 – Strasbourg

Our day in Strasbourg was nice. It wasn’t as good as we had hoped for and that’s our fault.

First, we picked up a little breakfast on the way to the train but we should have remembered something to drink and a light snack for the trip. We also should have remembered head phones and something to read. I did get a diet coke and water in the bar car, but we did not do a good job preparing for the train ride. Add in a fussy toddler in the seats behind us and it’s a long 2+ hours.

We arrived into Strasbourg starving.

We did have really nice weather, sunny and a bit warm for December. We bought tram tickets that we didn’t end up needing at all. The first market areas and stall we came to did not have any food that seemed really local and most had cookies (which we thought we would get later) or vin chaud and we needed real food. We unfortunately ordered croque monsieurs at the stall we found but they must have been a prepackaged frozen thing and despite the workers putting them in something to heat them, parts were still frozen. Not the end of the world and we figured there would be plenty more food to come. We were anxious to see more of the city, the decorations and the Cathedral.

We came to some wonderful little streets full of interesting looking shops, lots of bakeries (with lines out the door), and beautiful Christmas decorations. Postcard material!! This is what we were expecting to see in Strasbourg. Since we had a few bites in us, we decided to go on to the Cathedral, rather than shop, and just then we rounded a corner and there it was. Quite majestic to see! The rose color of the stone is unique (attributed to the Vosges sandstone used to build it). This was the tallest building in the world for over 200 years.

We entered and were impressed at how pretty this cathedral is. We made our way to the famous astronomical clock. Quite a site and we hated that we didn’t get to see it in operation. We also thought the Mount of Olives sculpture was impressive, as well. It was busy but not too crowded. Although, there was a nativity scene set up and that was pretty crowded. We asked about climbing up to the top for the view and were directed outside and around the corner.

There was a line but it wasn’t awful. I could tell Chaz wasn’t too excited about waiting. I asked for 15 minutes and it didn’t move. We figured they must only let in a big group about every 30 minutes. I asked if we could give it a little more time. We also began to notice a number of people walking past the line to the door to “read the signs”. There was a group of 3 women who did this and kept hanging around up front. Then they started acting like, “what, we aren’t doing anything”, “la, la, la” “just hanging around”. Within minutes of me telling Chaz that they were going to cut in line, they did it. Right in front of some teenaged girls who were chatting and giggling and paying no attention. Merry Christmas, everyone!

So, as we waited and the line hadn’t moved at all, I mentioned to Chaz that we would get to the door and have everyone in front of us get in on the next entry. We both laughed kinda nervously and got even more irritated about the line jumpers. And then, the door opened. It took a bit for anything to move as you paid as soon as you walked in. So we waited and tried to see what was ahead. The cheaters got in and we were still waiting. Move a few inches and wait. Finally, we were close to the door. The line moved forward a few more inches and we were just stepping into the building and suddenly the cashier came around counter and shoved us in and slammed the door behind us. OMG!!! We barely made it and I felt awful for the two people right behind us who didn’t get in because of the mean line breaker women.

Now up the 330 stairs to the platform. You know what I have consumed on the trip, so Lord knows I needed the cardio!

We did it without passing out (Chaz had no problem, if I am telling the truth). It was cold and windy but the view was really pretty. We noticed the cheater hags up there taking pictures two at a time. I kinda wanted to push them over the rail. I didn’t, but I could have offered to take a photo of all three of them together and decided they didn’t deserve it. Merry Christmas! We admired the view and then headed down. I caught up with a little kid that looked 3 or 4 years old. Their dad did let me pass and I found myself wondering if he made the climb up!! I doubt it and I am sure dad carried him up but I was glad to not have an extra 35 pounds to haul up those steps.

We passed more stalls looking for flammekuche or something else to eat and pretty much found mostly vin chaud. There were a number of weinstubs and restaurants nearby and decided that would be the way to go. ( I was still disappointed that we had not been able to secure a reservation at La Cloche a Fromage). We found one, Le Gruber that had flammekuche and looked promising and walked in. It was hectic and the waitress/hostess was in a tizzy. There was a man in front of us who was pointing out places that she could seat them and that did not go over well with her. A few minutes passed and she came over and directed us (more like “shoo’d us) to a table in the back corner. Where we sat and sat and sat. She eventually returned and shoved some menus at us and was gone again.

There were tables up stairs and things seemed to be going better up there. We noticed people who were seated after us were being waited on. Our waitress seemed intent on not making eye contact with us. She then disappeared for a bit and then resurfaced to try to hustle the table next to us out of there. I gave her a light wave and she spouted off something I don’t understand but essentially it was “settle in and you will get your order taken when I am ready and don’t try to hurry me, can’t you see I am busy”. Alrighty then. Merry Christmas! I am not sure when I have been anywhere where they just will not take your order. We would have left but I figured, “why start over somewhere else?”

Chaz figured out that her shift was ending and she was trying to close out all her tables. She came by and bussed the tables near us but made no move to do anything with us. No water, no wine, no order. I guess you can’t start a table and not finish it?

Eventually a man came over and took our order and was nice enough. We got some Reisling and ordered our tarte flambee. I got the traditional one; Chaz got a gratinee (emmantalle) with mushrooms. We waited a long time but they finally came out. Chaz’ was brown and bubbly; mine had hardly a hint of tan or brown at all. Mine had a good flavor but was essentially cold. Not what I had in mind. I don’t love mushrooms but Chaz’ was very good. We decided to ask for the check immediately in hopes of not burning anymore time in Le Gruber. I would have loved to try the dessert version with Calvados but didn’t want to imagine how long we would have waited for that.

We did chat with an Italian couple next to us who got the Baeckeoffe and that looked good. She wanted to know how our food was. Her English was excellent and she asked a lot about our perceptions of Italians and really seemed to like Americans. They amazingly have not been to Rome (because it’s full of Romans, they said). So, I thought that was interesting. They were from the area around Milan, I think. They were lovely and we said our farewells and Buon Natale to them.

http://www.legruber.com/
11, Rue du Maroquin – 67000 Strasbourg France

Here is where I think we messed up. We decided to go the opposite way we came from when we left Le Gruber. We hadn’t been to La Petite France and so we decided to go there and see markets along the way. Now, I am sure we missed things and didn’t choose the best route. We did catch the river at dusk and it was pretty to see.

I was also on the hunt for something sweet where I made another mistake. I picked the slowest stall ever to get a crepe at. I don’t know…I think we lost our mojo on the way down from the Cathedral. But, we lost so much time waiting (at the Cathedral climb, the weinstub and the crepe stand) and we just didn’t get to see much. I really wish we had gone back the way we came in. There were a lot more shops and I think we would have enjoyed it more. But, the cinnamon sugar crepe I git was tasty.

We needed more time to figure out where the best food stalls were to sample. We also needed more time to find the shops we wanted to browse in and find something to take home. I really wish we could have gotten a reservation at La Cloche a Fromage for lunch but it was booked by the time we knew about it! We also needed more time to see everything all lit up after dark. However, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere near a car, taxi or even the tram that night. It was so gridlocked that cars were blocking the tram from moving.

If we could do it over again….I would probably go into Strasbourg one day, spend the night (or maybe two) and go back late the second day or the morning of the third day. I think that would have given us time to see more. Also, I would not arrive starving next time!

All in all, it was nice but maybe not quite the day we had hoped for. Again, operator error and I don’t have any complaints about Strasbourg. Just the way we went about Strasbourg. I also realize it was the only day we had no Champagne. Clearly, that was the biggest mistake!

The ride back was uneventful and quieter but I still hated not having headphones or a magazine!

We used the capitaine train website to buy our train tickets. I highly recommend it, especially if you aren’t fluent in French and are American. There is no hassle with being redirected to Rail Europe (where you will pay more). We had PDF boarding passes we printed and electronic boarding passes on our iPhones. The conductors seemed to prefer paper (and yes, I am such a planner that I had both-just in case). I know someone on the forum made sure we knew to carry our passports and they did ask for them, so thanks for the heads up.

https://www.capitainetrain.com/en

Next up:
Christmas Eve in Paris, L ’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and the concert at Sainte Chappelle
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Old Jan 3rd, 2014, 12:19 PM
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I'm sorry to hear your day in Strasbourg wasn't as you had hoped it would be, but it sounds like you're willing to give it another try!

I was there in Dec. 2011 and loved it, but I had the luxury of being there for a week and rented an apartment, so when the throngs of people got to be to much, I could "escape" to the aparment, or a local wine bar I discovered. I would love to make a return visit in the spring or autumn to experience another season there.

Next time you visit Strasbourg try the Crement d'Alsace, sparkling wine. It's the Alsatian answer to Champagne! ;-)
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Old Jan 3rd, 2014, 01:34 PM
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Sorry about your Strasbourg experience. The year that we went we spent the first 2 weeks of December in Paris as we wanted to be back to be with family at Christmas and we did Strasbourg as a day trip. Perhaps our experience was not as hectic being earlier in the month.

We would like to return someday but, there are so many places we want to return to, not sure it will happen....Paris always wins!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2014, 02:33 PM
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I always wanted to do the Christmas markets there but my niece went in April for some wine tours and they spent the night. She loved it. After having been to Nurnberg just before the markets opened I can only imagine. The streets and squares are filled to the brim with the stalls, I wondered how people maneuvered around them all. I hate line cutters!! Italians imo are the worst. Two hours there and back?
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Old Jan 3rd, 2014, 03:28 PM
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It wasn't bad just not as good as we wanted. I would be willing to go back and I imagine that a few days before Christmas would be crowded. We could have done many things differently and this was certainly not a "bad" day. I would still enjoy the area and would go back, as I am sure there is still a lot to see in Alsace.

If that was a "low point" on our trip, then we still had an incredible trip.
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Old Jan 4th, 2014, 04:35 AM
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http://s1265.photobucket.com/user/de...ec%2023%202013

additional photos from our day in Strasbourg
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Old Jan 4th, 2014, 02:09 PM
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Day 5 - Christmas Eve

Knowing that Christmas Eve is the night for French families to have their celebrations and Paris gets pretty quiet, we made plans for a big, late lunch. We planned to pick up a few things that we would snack on after our concert at Sainte Chappelle or on Christmas morning.

That meant that I would have to go to the markets and try to buy what we would need. Remember, my French is exquisitely awful, so it would be challenging.

Christmas Eve morning was rainy and windy. The Place Maubert market did not have all the vendors they usually have. I hate that I didn’t get photos but I was trying to manage my money and my umbrella (not successfully).

The decision was made to split up, as Mr. Starbucks needed to get to‘Bucks and also wanted to find some lighters for our candles (which we really needed to light to help overcome the eau de fireplace smell we had going in the apartment). Since Monoprix was right next to Starbucks, he went there and I stayed at Place Maubert to purchase some food for us.

I had remembered to bring a reusable shopping bag from home to use. So, I checked my list and started at the boulangerie. I needed to bolster my confidence and I can negotiate the boulangerie, I know. Pain au chocolat and a baguette. But, I decided to add a palmier. I love them and have not had one in Paris in years. These were huge. Got it – check.

Wow, is it hard to keep a baguette out of the rain, when it is windy!!! How do the French negotiate this? That ended up being the primary task during our shopping trip and I shoulda gone to the boulangerie LAST!

OK, what next? I love mandarin oranges (we call them Satsumas in the South). I decided a few of those or clementines would be in order. I approached one of the produce vendors and despite initially having her thinking I wanted 2 kilos of them, instead of 2 clementines total, I got my point across. I am so very French.

Over to the olives, I did remember “cent grams” and chose some green and black olives and bought those. Piece of cake. I am sure they all think I am a local by now. (LOL)!

Oh, don’t forget. Cheese. There weren’t many options with the limited vendors there so I popped over to the Fromagerie. I found a young man to help me and we chose a Roquefort. I then remembered that so many people rave about the salted butter in France, so I asked for that. That took a little more work for him to understand me but eventually we got it squared away. Oh yeah, the ticket, the register, then go back for the goods. I was really excited to have gotten that done and looking forward to sampling both.

Back in to the open air market, cursing the wind gusts and my very vulnerable baguette, I am also looking for Monsieur Starbucks and his venti coffee. No sign of him. Hmmm.
Ok, stay on task.

Grapes, that would be good. Back to the produce person where I ended up with a huge bunch of red grapes…more than I really needed but, what the hell? I felt like a juggler with the baguette wobbling around, the umbrella inverting during the gusts, counting change out of what seems like 200 various euro coins. Where is Chaz….he should be back by now and I could use the extra hands?!

Saucisson. There had been a man selling saucisson a few days ago but he was not here today. There is a line at a little seafood vendor and I feel like I should be buying something there. Beautiful scallops in the shell, langoustines, all sorts of beautiful items from la mer.

There is store with charcuterie, so I headed there. I entered and a woman approached me and I did not understand. Je na comprend pas.

Me - “Desole. Je ne parle pas Francais (I say this a lot). Parlez vous Anglais”?

Her - “No”.

Uh, oh….The mix of poor French and charades I generally use may not work.

And just then, another girl appeared who did speak some English and I had some slices of saucisson in a snap. It still took some charades.

OK. I had everything I came for. We only needed to get some Champagne, bottled water and diet coke but we could do that on the way back. Still, no sign of Chaz.

I begin to wonder if he is expecting me to meet him at Starbucks. But we definitely said he would come back to the market. I am sure the market vendors are wondering why I am still wandering around. I am still trying to protect the baguette. Hmm, did he turn the wrong way? Did he fly back to Atlanta?

Finally. I see the green jacket and the Starbucks cup headed my way.

Apparently, Monoprix was a zoo but at least he found lighters and had his coffee. Self service is not the best idea when you do not read French, apparently! A quick stop at Carrefour Express and we were set.

Back to the apartment to put everything up and get ready for our trek back to Creed.

But first, my diet coke and palmier. Don’t say a word about my diet coke. I rarely drink coffee and I am a confirmed diet coke addict. I can’t give it up and some days in Paris I got jus de pommes. I had far less diet coke in Paris than I do at home. But today, I was having a diet coke, a palmier and I threw in a few pieces of baguette with that salted butter. Mmmmmerry Christmas to me!

We had one last errand to run before or big day of Christmas Eve plans. Back to Creed for the Green Irish Tweed. And, I finally got us out the correct exit out of the Metro to be on the right corner of Avenue Georges V. I had to fight myself to not turn into the Georges V hotel. But, we had things to do and I felt sure we would have some terrific champagne later at L’Atelier du Joel Robuchon. We passed a decked out Givenchy boutique that wasn’t even open. The rain was picking up as we turned the corner and rushed into Creed.

It was almost Christmas and Chaz was quite good at convincing me that I should select some Creed fragrance for myself. So the search began and I narrowed it down to Jardin d’Amalfi and Love in White. I never wear floral fragrances, so going into it, I expected that Jardin d’Amalfi would be the easy winner. A few spritzes and some conferring with Chaz and Love in White was the choice.

Apparently, we decided that we needed to help the Paris economy while we were there. I bought more on this trip than I have in all our previous trips combined! They are always very kind at Creed and always give us tons of samples, as well.

http://www.creedboutique.com/

Creed
38 ave Pierre 1er de Serbie
75008 Paris

We were chewing up lots of time and needed to go back to the apartment to glam up a bit for our lunch at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. We did that and off to lunch.

I don’t know what it is about the area around the rue du Bac Metro stop. We get lost every time we go there. This time, not terribly lost and without too much wandering, we were at L’Atelier du Joel Robuchon. We always go to this location and we have never been disappointed. I was concerned this time as a number of recent Trip Advisor reviews really slammed the service. Since this was our big splurge and our Christmas Eve meal, I really want it to be great. I like that you sit around a bar and can see into the kitchen. I like the sleek, modern décor.

A little bit of a slow start, as somehow they had the impression we didn’t want anything other than water. Do they know who they have here? OK, we got that cleared up and some Veuve Clicquot Rose was on the way. So very good. We love sitting at the bar. There are now a few tables in an expanded section, but I would never want to sit there. It’s always interesting to watch all the chefs in action. The woman next to me had this amazing looking beef for her main course. It just looked so good.

Now, if I hadn’t seen that beef, I would have gotten the Dover sole. I saw Robuchon prepare this for Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert on “No Reservations” and it looked incredible. I have had the sole at Le Bernardin (Eric Ripert’s restaurant) and it was memorable. But, I had seen that beef.

The server went over the menu, translated what we didn’t understand and we were excited to find the famous Robuchon version of carbonara was on the menu! I have heard a lot about this and how fantastic it is. It is listed as spaghetti, which technically, it is. But, seeing spaghetti on the menu at Robuchon is kinda funny. We also have heard about the famous mashed potatoes and have never had them.

Somehow. When we have been at LJR, they have not been on the menu. Today they were.

Ok, you knew I was getting that black angus beef served with roasted fingerling potatoes. I also had to have that carbonara and we couldn’t possibly share it. No way. We both ordered it as the starter. Chaz ordered the lamb chops with the famous mashed potatoes.

The spaghetti came. It is served with huge cubes of caramelized pork belly as the bacon/pancetta part of the carbonara. This is the most decadent, smooth, creamy and RICH pasta I have ever had. We had some amazing pasta in Rome last year and I know this is outrageous, but it’s the best pasta I have ever had. And, it is so far ahead of anything else, my second place pasta dish is barely in the same class. I now understand why this dish is legendary. And that caramelized pork belly was to die for.

If you ever have the chance to have this spaghetti, do it. Move heaven and earth, if you have to, but do it.

The main courses came out and I didn’t know where I would find room for it but I did. OK, Chaz helped me finish the beef. The lamb and beef were both delicious and perfectly cooked. The beef just sells itself as I saw a woman seated a few seats away, point at mine and tell the waiter that’s what she wanted to order.

Now, to the mashed potatoes. I also saw these on "No Reservations" and I can’t remember how much butter Robuchon said he uses but it's a lot. Lipitor anyone?

These are rich, creamy, buttery and smooth, smooth, smooth. But they are not runny or like baby food in anyway. They are wonderful and beyond comfort food. Famous for a reason.

Everything, including the service, was excellent. Now we were full but that couldn’t get in the way of dessert. I love a soufflé and hadn’t had one on this trip. I wasn’t overly excited about the flavor, passion fruit, but we decided to split the passion fruit soufflé.

This beautifully perfect soufflé came out and was served with a little passion fruit ice cream. We dug in and this thing was magic. It was light and velvety. So smooth and without a hint of “egginess” that some soufflés have. Passion fruit makes a great soufflé flavor, as well. I only took a small bite of the ice cream (very good) but I wanted to finish the soufflé. It was sad when I ate the last bit and God help me, we could have eaten a second one. Really. I’ll dream of that soufflé for a long time.

Espresso for Chaz, Café crème for me. They come with a madeleine and a caramel. I could only manage the madeleine.

We were winding it down and watching them shut down and feverishly clean the kitchen. There were still a few people finishing up but the restaurant was shutting down. A minute or two later, the lights went off. I am pretty sure it was deliberate and I understand the staff wanted to get to their Christmas Eve celebrations. So, I quickly found my way to the ladies room (in the dark) and we headed out.

I haven’t mentioned the couple with their 11 year old that ate at the bar while we were there. They found some Coke for him and they found a few kid friendly things and he read most of the time. The woman got the degustation menu. We have done this before and it looked like the portions are smaller now (and they need to be). I still don’t think I could have done a degustation menu. We didn’t really talk to them until we were leaving. I couldn’t help imagining my parents ever going to this restaurant (would never happen) and as a kid they would never have taken me someplace like that! We wished them a Merry Christmas and decided to go back to the apartment before our concert at Sainte Chappelle.

http://atelier-robuchon.com/fr/accueil.php
5 Rue Montalembert, 75007 Paris, France
+33 1 42 22 56 56

Still rainy, crappy weather. We listened to a little Christmas music while we waited to walk over. We knew we would need to get there early to get through security. So off we went. We passed Notre Dame and it looks ominous at dusk in the rain. We checked out the crowds in front of Notre Dame and were impressed at the big screen that was set up.

The line wasn’t too bad and it wasn’t too long before they let us in to clear security. We had to wait a bit longer after that before they came to let us into the chapel. We were seated on the 4th or 5th row and after getting settled, a group came to claim the seats on the far end of our row. It was the family from Robuchon and they recognized us pretty quickly.

They moved next to us and we talked for a while. They were from Northern California, & also staying in an apartment. I found out that they were spending New Years in Morocco in a tent! Very exotic. I am amazed at all the travel this 11 year old has done (mom was worried about how to keep him awake during the concert). I had been to Opryland and Gatlinburg by the time I was eleven and the most expensive meal I had ever had was at Steak and Ale!

The concert started with Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. There was a string quartet, a trumpet player, a harpsichord and a small chorus of 4 women and 4 men. They were excellent musicians and the venue is beautiful. I brought along some pocket warmers and though it wasn’t freezing. I can’t say that I knew any of the music that was performed until the end. There actually were encores and we were betting on whether or not they would get to 5 encores. We saw Andrea Bocelli right before we left for Paris and there were five encores! The first was O Holy Night in English. A nice treat for us. There were 2 encores, so Andrea wins! But it was a great concert. I am grateful that these musicians spend their Christmas Eve performing!

We got our tickets online:
http://www.classictic.com/en/special...-chapelle/216/

We enjoyed the music and the setting and were glad we had a little something to do on Christmas Eve (even in an apartment, we aren’t much for staying in). As we left and passed Notre Dame again, they were just letting in the crowd for the 8pm mass. We toyed with the idea of going to see the big department store windows but were feeling lazy because it was cold and wet outside.

Back at the apartment we sampled a few Hediard cheese straws and a little Veuve Clicquot. Or candles (love the wooden wick in the Durance candle)! After the big feed at lunch, we weren’t that hungry but we enjoyed a bit more music (courtesy of the iPad), a little more Champs and the cheese straws. It wasn’t a late night for us. But, our Christmas Eve in Paris was extraordinary and we went to sleep totally happy.
denisea is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2014, 03:51 PM
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Superbe! All of it. I love your rich, immediate and personal experiences. Your photos...you underestimate yourself.

‘My Precious’ (love this portion of your story!) and 'the Blue Dragon scarf' are beautiful. Did they give you the Chanel bag with a gorgeous white camellia? I’m sure that your husband’s Burberry is elegant.

The area of your lovely apartment is important in my memory. Once, I spent a month in a studio on rue Maitre Albert (close to you). I loved that I was a five minute walk from the Seine and to the market at Place Maubert. Your whole trip is so special and I appreciate that you take the time to share the details with us.

De nouveau, superbe.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 04:00 AM
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love your style, Denise. A Christmas Eve to remember!
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 04:17 AM
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Denise,
Great report. You must have taken notes to remember all the details! At the time you were making your way to St. Chapelle our paths may have crossed as we were either in line or had taking our seats in Notre Dame for one of the Christmas Eve services.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 04:54 AM
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CopperandJade...how nice of you. The Chanel bags and boxes were tied up with pale gold ribbon and a pale gold or black glittery camellia. I think that was the Christmas wrapping for this season.

Thanks, annhig and waterdog. I do make a few notes at the end of the day on the iPad, to help me remember come trip report time. I have a good memory snyway and if I have a few bullet points to go by, i can remember most of it. Then later, I depend on the trip report to "remember" for me! I do remember seeing on the blog that you all went to the 8pm service at Notre Dame! So close and yet so far, right?
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 05:42 AM
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Trip reports are a wonderful way to let the moments linger in our minds. You tell a most interesting story of your Paris experience. Just the food descriptions alone make me want to be there.
What is it about Paris? I've been many places but Paris is the one I dream about.

BTW, you mentioned Dover Sole, a real favorite of mine. Le Dome on the corner of Raspail & Momtparnasse is famous for it. We dined there on our 1st trip to Paris years ago and you have now reminded me that I'd like to return.

Your meal at LJR sounds so delicious. Maybe you should take up writing for Bon Apetite!
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 06:00 AM
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Your food shopping trip has me laughing. I just point and do charades. I came away with the biggest bag of fresh dates in Munich doing that in Nov. We never did eat them all. Pastry and bread are much easier.
No wonder your Chanel bag was getting stares. Sounds so pretty. Thank you again for the lovely report.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 06:08 AM
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Loving this report and your photos.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 06:17 AM
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Speaking of photos....a few from Christmas Eve and LJR:

http://s1265.photobucket.com/user/de...20Paris%202013
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 09:00 AM
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Denise
Since we had an early flight on Christmas Day we went to the early service at Notre Dame - 4:30PM. We also went around to the various vendors earlier in the day to buy the ingredients for our Christmas Eve dinner in the apartment. Sign language always comes in handy!
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 09:13 AM
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Great trip report - brings back memories of our Xmas there 2 years ago.

I've made the Robuchon potatoes using this Saveur recipe. Delicious!

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipe...ree-1000070040
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 09:20 AM
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according to the recipe, that's I lb of butter to 2lbs of potatoes - no wonder they taste so good!
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 10:25 AM
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I would love to get paid to write about food. How do you get a job doing that? I have heard a lot about Le Dome but have never been there. Yet, another reason to go back to Paris. I don't think I will be ever get tired of it. I always enjoy hearing about everyone's trips and it's fun to see some of the common themes in our trips,as well as the differences.

Am so glad to hear that others have to also resort to charades to make purchases! I thought it was just me ;-)

Thanks for the Saveur link...I figured the recipe was top secret. Not at all surprised to hear what the butter to potato ratio is. I admit freely that I love butter!
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 10:50 AM
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Day 6 – Christmas Day, December 25, 2013

We woke to the sound of church bells on Christmas. Joyeux Noel. There are no church bells where we live, so it was nice to here. Now the last time we were in Paris on Christmas, we planned to go to Notre Dame for services on Christmas Day. We never made it. This year was pretty much the same.

A little bit of our candle purchases in the apartment, some Christmas music from the iPad and a little baguette with that salted butter. Leftover pain au chocolat is no good. I think we were hoping it would be at least so-so but it is so not OK. Never mind, some grapes, a clementine and we were good.

We left the apartment in search of coffee and stopped in at a café by the Metro stop….named Café Metro (they didn't have to go far to come up with the name). I was so excited to not be at Starbucks and got a Café Crème to celebrate.

We had a reservation at Café Marly at 1:30pm. I knew we would need something to get us up and going. Our experience the last time over Christmas was that things start to open up by Christmas afternoon. And, I can’t just sit around an apartment or hotel.

I decided that although Café Marly is way overpriced, the view of the Louvre pyramid would be nice and they have a bit of everything on the menu. I also learned on the forum that there have been complaints there about discriminatory seating there. We were dying to see where we would be seated. Upfront or by the restrooms? Apparently the less attractive get seated near the restrooms or so that is what the charge is.

We made it there right on time and without getting lost. We even got out of the Metro at the right exit and went the right way. We walked in and were allowed to sit where we wanted. Now, we aren’t delusional enough to think this is because we are so attractive. It was not busy at all when we got there. It was also chilly and I don’t think anyone other than a tourist would want to sit outside. We decided to sit outside and overlooking the glass pyramid. Great people watching and the sun was trying to come out.

We started with a little rose champagne. We both decided on omelettes. Our food was good, not particularly special, but it’s what we wanted. Our waiter was a little Christmas present for me. Kind of like Olivier Martinez with blue eyes and very interested in American Politics. We chatted with him and we all bemoaned the fact the politicians in both countries are not very truthful and that there is never a party that accurately represents us.

Another glass of rose and then a small selection of macarons.
We bid farewell to the waiter and decided to scope out the Grand Palais.

We had decided to visit the Cartier exhibit the next day and had not bought tickets yet. It was nice out so we walked through the Tuileries Gardens to the Grand Palais. We got the lay of the land and where to exit the Metro to be closest to the exhibit entrance. From there we decided to visit the big department stores near Opera Garnier and check out the windows, since we had skipped it the night before.

It was busy and full of little ones all amped up on Christmas candy and presents. The windows, as always, were so creative. They are always interesting and offer something for the kiddies and for the grownups. These were designed by Prada and named Noël, Joyeuse Obsession. Little kids are tough customers and my favorite thing is that a little girl shoved Chaz out of the way. She must be pretty strong as Chaz is 6 feet tall, 190lbs and specializes in sports performance training! Very fun, and stylish with lots of teddy bears and pushy little girls.

By the time we finished viewing the windows, my feet were screaming at me. Since we were right by the Le Grand - Intercontinental Hotel, we headed there to rest my feet and sip some more holiday cheer.

We stayed at this hotel a few years ago and enjoyed the bar. It’s a beautiful hotel, it’s not the Georges V but it is not a backpacker’s hovel. They always served great olives with Champagne at the hotel and they still do. We enjoyed the late afternoon and early evening. There were a few fussy toddlers who sat right by us for a while but I mostly objected to the parents who allowed their older children to run around the tables like they were on a playground. We did eventually get back to adults only and we enjoyed being back at Le Grand again. Their Christmas décor was “Christmas Trees” decorated by Laduree macarons. We were also served the best little macaron that was deep red and tasted like chocolate and almonds. Very good!

The champagne bottle ran dry and we decided to head over to the Odeon area in the 6th. We knew the restaurants there would be open and we had no dinner reservations. We would see what moved us when we got there. We arrived and decided that Marco Polo was singing to us.

We love this place. We heard about it because I am a huge Barefoot Contessa fan and she loves the restaurant. We do to and have been here on every trip to Paris. The man up front, Albano, is so nice, always. I don’t know if he owns it or just manages it but he treats everyone so well. There are always more locals than tourists at Marco Polo. It really started to rain just after we walked in.

We got a table for two and it also started to fill up after we sat down. We started out with some prosciutto. I got the Bolognese pasta special and Chaz got the gnocchi with gorgonzola. Both were very good and definitely hit the spot. We are always happy with our food at Marco Polo. Dessert was panna cotta with berries that was terrific and Chaz finished with an espresso.

We had the best time and we always do at Marco Polo. A quick walk to the Metro station and back to the apartment to call it a night. It was a very laid back Christmas day and again, we love being in Paris at Christmas! Tomorrow we go to see the Cartier exhibit! I have a feeling my Chanel necklace might pale by comparison.
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