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Champagne, Chocolates and Christmas, but no Chanel - Paris and Alsace

Champagne, Chocolates and Christmas, but no Chanel - Paris and Alsace

Feb 15th, 2014, 01:45 PM
  #21  
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Speaking of restaurants, we ate all of our evening meals in the town of Riquewihr. There are plenty to choose from. It was so nice to walk out the apartment and just want down the street to dinner.

We were in Riquewihr three nights. Here is a list of restaurants we went to:
La Grappe d'Or
Le Sarment d'Or
Restaurant Au Trotthus

We also had lunch in town one day, but can't remember the name. We only had a flambé, salad.

I did a lot of research at various sites before making reservations at these three restaurants. It is a toss up between La Grappe d'Or and Le Sarment d'Or on our favorite restaurant. La Grappe d'Or is brimming over with charm. Red and white checked tablecloths, farm equipment on the walls, beautiful chandeliers. Very rustic, warm and cozy. Christmas decorations everywhere. We were seated in the main room. The food was excellent. The tab was 109EU or $142. I would go back there in a minute.

Le Sarment d'Or was more elegant with a wonderful fireplace in the main dining room. They seated us right by the fireplace. Very romantic! Their special that night was roasted duck, but they were out by the time we ordered. John ordered lamb and I had fish. I also had fois gras for an entree that out of this world! A sophisticated restaurant with very friendly staff. I hope we get to return to both of these restaurants someday soon. The tab, including a good bottle of wine and my requisite glass of champagne, was 120EU or $164.

The last night was at Restaurant Au Trotthus. The room was lovely and we had the absolute nicest waiter, but the food combinations were a bit odd. They have a Japanese restaurant/ Sushi bar downstairs and the chef tries to combine his Japanese background and ingredients with French/German dishes. For example, he used sea weed salad on the plate with my smoked salmon entree. For some reason, it didn't work for me. It was too overpowering. I love seaweed salad at a sushi bar, but not in a french styled dish. I think next time I would go downstairs and have sushi! The restaurant was empty for most of our dinner, but the sushi bar was doing a great business. We had quite a bit of time to chat with our waiter and he told us that the best flambé was in the town of Beblenheim at a place called Ganbrinus. Here is their #: 03 89 49 02 82. We tried going there the next day but it wasn't open for lunch. I guess they cook them in a brick type oven. Oh well, maybe next time. Our tab at Au Trotthus was 107EU OR $146.
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Feb 16th, 2014, 02:58 AM
  #22  
 
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There was a terrible fire in Riquewihr in January, so it will take a certain amount of time to rebuild part of the historic area: http://www.francetvinfo.fr/faits-div...er_495636.html
kerouac is online now  
Feb 16th, 2014, 03:15 AM
  #23  
 
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Oh Kerouac I did not hear of the fire, yes it would have destroyed some lovely buildings. Our apartment was very near there in the ramparts.

Chutney we too ate at La Grappe d'Or and La Sarment d'Or both delicious restaurants. We ate at La Sarment d'Or the night we arrived in Riquewhir after a 30 hour flight and a train from Frankfurt. The food was delicious I had rack of lamb but we too were seated near the fire place and I could hardly keep my eyes open.

Brings back memories, but I am sad to hear of the fire.
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Feb 16th, 2014, 04:07 AM
  #24  
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Kerouac,
How terrible! I had no idea! You could see how easily those buildings could go up in flames. I'm so sorry for them. Thanks for letting us know.
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Feb 16th, 2014, 04:18 AM
  #25  
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If you decide to visit Riquewihr during the holidays (their busiest time). I would suggest staying during the week. It was just the way our trip flowed that we happened to stay during the week, but boy, am I glad we did! Our waiter at Au Trotthus, the night before we left, told us that Riquewihr gets about 50,000 visitors on a holiday weekend day! As we were leaving, that Saturday morning, the police were already condoning off the roads, big buses were flowing in. If you hadn't spent the night, you would have had to walk a LONG ways to get to the town. He joked with us that it is just a mass of humanity. You just get pushed along with the crowd and can't really stop to see anything.
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Feb 16th, 2014, 04:44 AM
  #26  
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While we were in Paris, I had gone to Bon Marche on my free day while John was in his cooking class. I bought a couple gorgeous scarves and then headed straight to the housewares and linens dept. I LOVE tablecloths and try to buy one on every trip to Europe. I looked longingly at the Beauville line of tablecloths and placemats, but they were insanely expensive, so I restrained myself and left empty handed.
While in Alsace, we visited the town of Ribeauville (another town we really enjoyed - there is a WONDERFUL boulangerie there that sells artisan bread). While in Ribeauville, all of a sudden it hit me! THIS is the town where the Beauville linens are made! My shopper antenna went up. I googled Beauville linens and sure enough there an outlet just on the edge of town. We got in the car and drove to the outlet, finding it with ease with the use of our navigation system. Unfortunately, it was just about noon and they had a guard outside telling us to come back after lunch! We decided to go see the Koenigsbourg castle and then come back to the outlet. It was a pretty drive through the forest to get to the castle. It was also cold and windy, but we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the castle. There was hardly anyone there. We felt like we had the castle to ourselves. I'm sure it's a different story in the summer.

I found a beautiful sapphire blue tablecloth with a damask design printed in. My home has a European country feel to it with lots of terra cotta and blues, golds and creams. I was so excited! It wasn't inexpensive, but probably about 35-40% less than in a retail shop. The instructions actually say to soak the tablecloth in water for 12-24 hours and then wash it before using. I'm not sure why.

The highlight of the afternoon, though, in Ribeauville, was seeing about 6 stork nests! We had watched the PBS series, Birds in Flight, so we were hoping to see some nests. There are dwindling in numbers. If you haven't seen the series, I highly recommend it.
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Feb 16th, 2014, 06:29 AM
  #27  
 
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chutney, thanks for the great trip report. I also love tablecloths. We bought a tablecloth in Provence once- very expensive but I loved it. Then we bought a table for it (got rid of the ugly one from my SIL ) and a glass top to protect the tablecloth. So far I have the one from Provence, one from a visit to my sister in Annapolis and one from the Dordogne. We are going to Barcelona in May and at breakfast this morning (at that table) mentioned to my DH that we should look for a tablecloth there.
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Feb 16th, 2014, 08:10 AM
  #28  
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AGM_Cape_Cod
You brought a smile to my face! I also have tablecloths from Provence. One, my mother gave me and one I bought in St Remy. I also have gorgeous set of quilted placemats with the cicada emblem stitched in that I bought at a lovely shop in Gordes.

I'm embarrassed to say how many I have from Tuscany! The fabrics are wonderful there. They are a blend of linen and cotton and wear like iron.

The beauty of buying linens is that they are easy to pack, can be used as padding for anything breakable you bring home and you'll have them for years.

We are hoping to Normandy and Brittany in September. I don't know what I'll see there, but I'll definitely be looking!
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Feb 16th, 2014, 08:56 AM
  #29  
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We spent our last night in Alsace at a wonderful B&B named Villa Elyane.
http://www.villa-elyane.com

This B&B is about 3 or 4 blocks from the train station (300 meters) and an easy walk to the historic part of town. The owners remodeled an old mansion that was built in the late 1800s. The neighborhood is comprised of stately mansions. The B&B has 5 rooms, all done in a contemporary style. We had room#1 on the first floor. It had a very comfortable king size bed and a huge bathroom with every convenience you could want, even a huge separate bathtub. The shower was a walk in with all sorts of sprays. I wish we had more than one night there. Maybe next time..The breakfast in the morning was plentiful and Florence made great coffee. They had a sweet family cat that hung out in the library. We really enjoyed our stay there and highly recommend it.

Well, another rental goof on my part. When I researched AutoEurope rental offices, it looked like there was one in Colmar, just not at the train station. When we arrived in Colmar, we dropped off our bags and got back in the car to head for the rental office. Much to our dismay, it turned out the only office was at the airport. A 20EU taxi ride later, we were back in downtown Colmar. We walked around the old part of town and went into the cathedral there. We had lunch at a place I had read about, but hadn't reserved named La Cocotte de Grand-mere. We got there just in time and got one of the last tables. I think we had blanquette de veau. I just remember the place was very cute, friendly staff and obviously a favorite of the locals. It gets good reviews on Chowhound, Yelp and such. Lunch was $76.32. I think I had a Riesling and John had a beer.

That evening, we had dinner at L'Epicuran, also in the historic part of town. I had misunderstood what time our reservation was for, so we were about a half hour late. They almost didn't give us our table. We promised to eat fast. They weren't very friendly, but I suppose I can't blame them for being annoyed with us. I don't remember what John had, but I had a large smoked salmon plate with a big green salad. Our tab was 77EU OR $105. We got out as quick as we could!

Our train didn't depart the next day till 2:46pm, so after checking out, we left our bags at the B&B and walked around some more. The highlight was seeing a family out for a walk with their ruby colored Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He was absolutely beautiful. We have three Cavaliers, so I'm always on the lookout for a Cavalier. We actually saw a couple others in Riquewihr and in Paris.

We arrived back at Gare d'Est at 5:05pm. It was Sunday night and the station was mobbed. It was raining, so we stood in the taxi line for about 15 minutes. 20EU later, we arrived at our hotel for our last 3 nights in France. We stayed at the Luxembourg Parc Hotel 6th). On the way to the hotel we had quite a scare. We were driving along when all of a sudden, a white mini van crosses about 3 lanes of traffic! Somehow the taxi driver maneuvered and avoided a bad accident. The van had pulled over to the left side of the street. Our driver calmly pulled over and rolled down his window. There were three American women, I'd say in their mid 30s. The driver of the van was hysterical. She kept apologizing and was crying. She kept screaming, "where do we park?!!" We can't find anywhere to park!" Our driver just shook his head and moved on. Not far up the way, we saw an underground parking garage. Hopefully they found it. WHY would a tourist drive in Paris???? Nuts, in my opinion. The transit system is one of the best in the world. Save the rental car for outside of Paris.
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Feb 16th, 2014, 05:27 PM
  #30  
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Back to our hotel in Paris. Here is the web site: http://www.luxembourg-paris-hotel.com
It is rated as a 4* boutique hotel and is across the street from Luxembourg Gardens. It is also down the street from the French Senate House. We had walked by the hotel several times on other trips to Paris and it always looked so charming. When I was searching for accommodations for our last three nights, I looked into this hotel due to the high ratings on Trip Advisor. When I was doing my research, I think it was ranked # 5 or 6 of all boutique hotels. I am not sure it is what I would consider a 4* hotel but the staff was very friendly and responsive and the bathroom was really nice. The location across from the gardens would be perfect in the summer. We did get a really good deal because we received an early booking discount and prepaid for the entire stay. I'm not sure I would stay there at regular rates. It was a good 10 minute walk to the Odeon station, although we did end up going to the Starbucks right by the Odeon metro every morning. We would pick up breakfast pastries and go upstairs with our coffee.

I had planned these three days for food shopping and a Christmas concert at Eglise St. Germain des Pres. Also time for a few more good meals. We hit all the places where we wanted to pick up things to bring home:
Chocolates at Patrick Roger and Gerard Mulot
Salted Caramels at Henri le Roux
Fresh Maille mustard from the Maille shop off of Place Madeleine.
Bordier Butter from the cheese shop at the covered market (4 with salt and 1 with sea weed). Had to go twice because they ran out of butter the first time we went.
Fines herbes from Carefour
Champagne and a Bordeaux from a Nicholas wine shop
Baguette the morning of our departure.
We bought a few other Herbes but can't think of the names off hand.

Our first night back in Paris (Sunday) we ate at Terroir Parisien (5th). We loved the vibe of the place. We sat up at the bar and were able to see the production in the kitchen.
I ordered a cream of parsnip soup for an entree (pure heaven!) I had their charcuterie plate( which they are known for) and a salad for a plate. John had scallops for a plate but not sure what he had for an entree. I had one glass of champagne, John had a beer and we shared some red wine. The chef has worked at several 3* restaurants and struck out on his own. The premise of the restaurant is local sourcing and the freshest and the best sourcing possible. We really enjoyed it. You won't be disappointed. The only downer was that the waiter charged us for two glasses of champagne instead of one. Another 15EU down the drain!

More tomorrow. I'm almost done!!
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Feb 17th, 2014, 04:43 AM
  #31  
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I forgot to mention in my food list that we also bring back tubes of mayo and Dijon/Mayo from Carefour. My sisters and my mother love it.
We also went back to Poilane. I bought an adorable tin filled with butter cookies for a good friend and John bought a bread knife with a wooden handle. He says it's the best bread knife he's ever had!
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Feb 17th, 2014, 04:51 AM
  #32  
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We had wonderful lunch the next day at La Regalade St Honore. I had leek and potato soup. I think the best I've ever had. They brought the bowl with little croutons and "lardons" and then poured the soup over it. Pure heaven! John had a black ink squid risotto for an entree. I had Hake with butternut squash and chestnuts and Joh had lamb for an entree. Dessert for me was their famous grand mariner soufflé and John had a cheese plate. The manager was kind enough to wrap up the remaining cheese, which we enjoyed later that evening. The tab was 116EU or $159. I would go back in a heartbeat.
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Feb 17th, 2014, 05:12 AM
  #33  
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I forgot to give the tab for Terroir Parisien. It was 138EU or $187.

We were still full from lunch, so we just snacked that evening, we had tickets for an 8:30pm Christmas Concert at Eglise Saint Germaine des Pres. This is the oldest church in Paris. It is known for its acoustics. What a beautiful church. You could feel the history. There was a chamber orchestra and about a 20 person choir performing Handel's Messiah. There were also two female soloists. I'm so glad we went.

Next post: our last full day in Paris (sigh)
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Feb 17th, 2014, 06:01 PM
  #34  
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Our last day ((Christmas Eve) was windy with a heavy drizzle. What we would call a harsh day, but we live in Florida.. It was so windy that a small travel umbrella was no match.
We still went out for a few hours, collecting last minute purchases. I picked up the Bordier butter and Rene Furterer hair products from one of the pharmacies, I think on Rue du Four. It was on sale and half the price I pay in the US. I had read on a previous post that French hair products were much more reasonable here. What surprised me was the difference in price from one pharmacy to another. The same shampoo was double the price at one pharmacy compared to where I ended up purchasing a couple shampoo and creme rinse tubes.

While on my errands, with John back at the hotel packing, I ran across a wonderful candle shop and bought John a candle snuffer. He wanted an antique, but we had no luck finding one.

Dinner that night was at 110 Taillevent. My favorite restaurant based on ambience. It had a cozy feeling and was perfect for a Christmas Eve dinner (that is after a huge tour group of Japanese tourists with screaming kids left).
We took the bus not far from our hotel and got off where the ratp site recommended. On our walk from the bus stop to the restaurant, we passed a beautiful sight in a store window. It was a ballet store with sparkling tutus in the window. You could see the ballet shoes and other outfits inside the store.
I'll try and post a picture later. A magical site on a dark dreary night.

We did wine pairings with each dish. It was fun to choose between 4 options for each course. The prices go up as you cross the page. We started with one glass of champagne and a glass of Bordeaux. I had the house made frois gras and John had risotto for an entree. We both had the crispy duck in a orange/red wine reduction sauce. It came with wedges of Bibb lettuce. Outstanding! I had the "dessert of the moment", a Mont Blanc with chestnut flavoring and John had sorbet. This was our blow out meal of the trip. The tab was 253EU OR $345. Not an everyday occurrence, but a wonderful and memorable Christmas Eve.
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Feb 18th, 2014, 03:56 AM
  #35  
 
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The meal sounds fabulous! We have reservations at 110 Taillevent for Friday the 28th. Our first time to eat there. Thank you for the report. I have been reading in anticipation of our trip next week.
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Feb 18th, 2014, 07:15 AM
  #36  
 
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chutney, your shopping list looks like ours. I haven't been buying the butter but will add it to the list. We also always have to have Jacques Genin mango caramels!! Also we go to G Detou and get dried wild mushrooms for reasonable prices and Iranian shelled pistachio- so big and green! They look wonderful in my holiday baking. The problem with the shopping list is when we start running out and have no trip to Paris booked.

We will be in Paris at the end of March. Where are last night is a Sunday we are trying to decide between Terrior Parisien and 110 Taillevent. Such hard decisions!!!

Thanks again for taking us along on your trip.
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Feb 18th, 2014, 09:40 AM
  #37  
 
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Chutney, do you think 3 nights in Riquewihr is enough?
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Feb 18th, 2014, 11:55 AM
  #38  
 
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thank you that was fun.
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Feb 18th, 2014, 02:35 PM
  #39  
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Well, I keep thinking of things to add, so I may not be quite done!

England1780:
Yes, I think 3 nights is enough. It's really a village, but actually has a out 30 restaurants. In the summer or fall, it would be fun to drive around and visit more villages.

AGM_Cape_Cod:
Boy, THAT is a dilemma! They are so different . 110 Taillevent is refined (and a menu to match )in a casual way. I have read that its great to sit at the bar there. I really liked the interior at 110 Taillevent. The lighting is kind of low and they have these pretty green wine bottles with lights on them, sort as partitions. The seating was very comfortable. Sort of clubby feeling. Terroir Parisien is much noisier and faster paced. I don't think you could go wrong either way. Big difference in price too...
I'll have to pick up some pistachios when we are there in September. Great idea.
Also, regarding the butter, the cheese shop vacuum packed it for us. Honestly, though, on a previous trip, we bought some Brittany butter with sea salt at Carefour and it was GREAT! You got a little crunch from the sea salt. I'm going to look for some of that this trip. We will be in Brittany on this next trip, so,will get the chance to try different butters. Can't wait!
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Feb 19th, 2014, 12:07 PM
  #40  
 
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Add away! I really enjoyed your report. We heard the Messiah at Eglise St. Germain des Pres a few years back, so thanks for bringing back that memory for me.

What did you think of the LeRoux caramels? I thought they were good, but barely held a candle to Jacques Genin's - for me, anyway.

As a regular on Chowhound and JT's blog, it was nice to see your perspective of all these places that come up so frequently.
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