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Dolce Far Niente....the sweetness of doing nothing (well almost) in Paris

Dolce Far Niente....the sweetness of doing nothing (well almost) in Paris

Old Jan 8th, 2015, 06:18 AM
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I agree with cornelius01, O Chateau is far better than Willi's!
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Old Jan 8th, 2015, 06:18 AM
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I agree with cornelius01, O Chateau is far better than Willi's!
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Old Jan 8th, 2015, 01:09 PM
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O Chateau has been on our list and we haven't made it yet. Our friends had really good memories of Willi's and wanted to go back there. I don't think it was as they remembered it. Win some, lose some.
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Old Jan 8th, 2015, 01:44 PM
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denisea, we used to love Willi's. They remodeled, changed their menu and it just wasn't the same. Part of the fun in Paris is finding new, wonderful places to go and, sometimes, kicking the old ones to the curb!
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Old Jan 8th, 2015, 01:54 PM
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Another vote for O Chateau. We did it last February and had a blast. Looking forward to you report on Reed. We have enjoyed eating there the last few years.
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Old Jan 8th, 2015, 03:43 PM
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Yes, Judy. Our friends noticed that they had remodeled. the menu was not that interesting. We will have to get to O Chateau next trip. Lisa---Reed is coming soon.
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Old Jan 8th, 2015, 03:52 PM
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Wednesday, December 24 Christmas Eve 2014

We had plans to meet our friends around 11am. We made our usual stop at Le Bonaparte for pain au chocolat, espresso and café crème. We decided to take the Metro a few stops and then walk the rest of the way to the markets at Maubert Mutualite. I thought we might want a few things to snack on Christmas morning. The Christmas market stalls in front on the Cluny had better stuff than the ones near us at Germain des Pres—more real food like olives and saucisson. If you are in the area, it would be a good place to check out.

We wanted to get some bread at the patisserie and I was hoping for a palmier. I knew Chaz would remember his great love from last time, chouqettes. Baguette, check. Palmiers, no check (bummer). Chouqettes, check. They are tasty. Next, Laurent Dubois for some blue cheese and salted butter. Check. Last stop, the traiteur for saucisson, check. My system of a few French words and charades has really worked for me at the markets.

Well, Chaz went to the apartment to drop off the goods and I decided to buy a carnet of Metro tickets and get some cash from the ATM.

Which reminds me of the panicked few days before we left for Paris. We left on Thursday and the previous Saturday, I was at the grocery store and decided to get some cash. We had dinner plans and I knew we would need cash for the valet. I go through the process and then see on the screen “your card is expired, check with your bank”. WTF (sorry)? Huh? It expired November 30. This will not do.

Fortunately, there is a branch of the bank at the grocery store and I asked about this issue. At first, they told me the cards go out automatically and that I had probably just missed the unmarked envelope. (Amazingly, I had a check with me and got some cash that way). They checked my account and a card had not gone out at all (they were stunned). Perfect. I explained that we are leaving on Wednesday (OK, a white lie but I was gonna need my ATM card, so I justified it in my head). The teller says they can expedite but I will have to pay extra. I don’t think so. In the least bitchy tone I could use, I replied “In all fairness, you all didn’t send me a card so I shouldn’t have to pay a fee here”. At just that time, the manager scooted into view, on his rolling chair and took my side on the matter. He assured me they could get me a card on Tuesday but couldn’t guarantee what time the card would arrive. He also gave me his card and promised that if the card didn’t arrive before we left, he would get me one in France. They told me they would finish the transaction and that I could go. I asked them to email once all was completed, so I would know for sure it had been taken care of (and they did an hour later). Well, Tuesday came and went and no card. Awesome. Did I mention that I was in the process of resigning that week and had emotional calls with my director, leadership team and then my team on Wednesday AM—more stress and drama is exactly what I was hoping for!??! Well, the calls were made and survived and then an avalanche of phone calls (and some of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me) and then the card finally came. So after all that, and my immediate activation of the card, a call to the bank to provide the travel dates/info and an ATM visit here (just to be sure it worked)….we rejoin our program in Paris, already in progress…I go to get cash at an ATM.

I made a mistake in how much I asked for, I guess, but I went through the usual process and got a message on screen that said the maximum allowable withdrawal is 9 euros. WHAT? So, not a Merry Christmas moment. Well, I figured I had nothing to lose but to try again and in my semi-panicked state I only asked for 100 euros and got that but really needed more. I told Catherine Reed we would pay in cash that night. I still don’t know the issue was---what is the maximum number of euros you can get at a time or per day? I usually get 300 euros when I go (I think). Nothing to be done about it and I didn't want to tempt the ATM gods by a 3rd attempt in one day. I headed down rue Bonaparte and thought I would catch Chaz but our friends were at Le Bonaparte and waved me in. Chaz arrived a few minutes later and had another double espresso (I wasn’t saying anything as he still hadn’t been in a Starbucks and we passed two that AM—loving that streak).

We had gotten our friends interested in Creed and decided to visit the one on rue de Saint-Peres. We made it there (and later found we could have taken a much more direct route, but who cares)? They both made selections and true to Creed form, were loaded up with samples. They both travel like I do, so it’s great to have those travel size samples.

We re-traced some steps from earlier in the trip and took them to La Maison de Chou for naturelle crème puffs, we hit Le Dernier Goutte for a bottle of Champs for Christmas (and they looked for the Sauternes MA liked at Willi’s) and we also visited Henri LeRoux for them to buy gifts for friends. Lotsa a good gifts in a Parisian candy store. We started to look for Allard, which is where our CE lunch table was reserved. We had passed it twice in our wanderings but this time, I was pretty sure we missed a turn somewhere. I walked into La Palette and asked a waiter (who said he didn’t speak English and I don’t believe it). The amazing thing is that he understood me saying rue St Andre des Arts and I understood his directions to the street. Stunning, really. We opened the door, right into the kitchen and turned around and looked for another door. Turns out there isn’t one. I think the restaurant must have expanded to the other side of the kitchen, at some point. It’s odd to walk right into the kitchen “pass”. There are dining areas to the left and right. We were seated and the server brought a little cucumber salad to us.

Menus were delivered and we started perusing the classics they serve at Allard. They do several things for two, and we chose Dover sole menuiere. Our friends, roasted chicken for two. We decided to share some fall vegetables and roasted new potatoes as sides. We hadn’t seen any wines we really knew and many were pricey, so the sommelier visited us.

She made a great recommendation and I was happy to have JA with us, as he can convince Chaz more readily to try a white wine. We got a Rhone wine, Francois Villard Saint Peray and we all really loved it. Not sweet, nice fruit and a minerally finish. If you see it, get it!

Our friends also ordered a mushroom salad which we were told was fresh mushrooms tossed in heavy cream. The other 3 loved it—I hate mushrooms so didn’t taste it.

The sole came out and OMG was huge!! Not for two, for 3-4! They took it away too fast to debone it for us to get a picture. The chicken also looked wonderful. I also fell in love with the simple perfection of very small potatoes, simply roasted with a nice amount of course salt. So good! The sole was terrific and everyone was happy with their lunch. Chaz and MA saw profiteroles at the next table, so they were looking ahead to dessert. Both couples split profiteroles and they were also terrific.

We paid our check and it was spitting rain. We were parting ways when they realized they had all the crème puffs. No way to carry them, so Chaz and I took the bullet and ate ours in the street. Poor us. Still a favorite for this trip. We headed to the apartment and they went back to their hotel before our concert at Ste. Chapelle that night.

Next---Christmas Eve part two—Ste Chapelle and Reed
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 05:23 AM
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I am so glad to hear you had a good experience at Allard. I did not a few years back, but it was dinner so maybe that makes a difference (extremely rushed service was my biggest complaint.)

I can't imagine how stressful all that work stuff was right before the trip. Fortunately, it didn't seem to run you down at all!

Still enjoying your report....
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 05:45 AM
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Well there you have it Denisea- you have inspired me to book yet another trip to Paris! This will be our 5th trip together as well and we enjoy many of the same restaurants and shopping experiences!
I booked the apartment and flights yesterday and have many months until September to plan.
I will be interested in hearing of your day trip to Chartres as that has been on our list but we have never managed to leave the city once we arrive.
Looking forward to the rest of your report!
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 05:49 AM
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that must have been quite a sight...after a major league lunch and desert...then stuffing creme puffs in the street? Sorry but this is just too entertaining.
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 06:03 AM
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Wonderful TR.
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 06:18 AM
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Yikes! Between the job change and the cc mess you really needed some Paris love. Creme puffs in the street sounds like a good dose of it.

Dover Sole is one of my favorites so I made note of your visit to Allard. We've walked past it many times and now will put it on our list.
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 06:19 AM
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About ten years ago my daughter and I went to Allard for diner and could not find the entrance. We walked back and forth in front of the windows looking for a door. Finally we just decided to enter the kitchen. Weirdest front door I have ever seen. I am sure the people sitting at the tables on the street got a chuckle seeing these two women trying to get inside. We had the duck with 200 olives. It was definitely olive overload for that meal.

Loving your report. You have given me many new shops to check into for my Sept. trip. My daughter has forbid me from another L.V. purse, but since reading your report, am looking at maybe a Chanel trinket. Thanks for the idea.

What kind of store is Creed?
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 07:17 AM
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YankyGal--that's the fun and frustration of it all. You have favories and go back and they disappoint. Allard is a place I had read mixed reviews on and I wasn't that excited about going to. Turned out great.

Ralstonian--I am honored! Having someone book a trip because of a TR is so cool. It's how we got to Paris in the first place several years ago.


TPAYT--There was no way I was gonna let that creme puff get away but they were all packaged together and we had nothing to put them in ---good thing they are only a bit or two.

benitakaren--Creed is a fragrance store. The shop in the 8th also carries some shirts but they are well known for fragrances. We love them. I believe their is a ship in NYC and Neiman Marcus carries Creed but they do not have all the fragrances.

Thanks to everyone for your engagement and responses. All the best to those living and visiting Paris right now...I hope this is over soon.
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 09:41 AM
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Your thoughts to Pais are heartfelt and I totally agree.

We were in France during the 9/11 attack on NYC and the French people were more than gracious in their reactions to us Americans. We were hugged many times on the Paris streets and given condolences. I only hope Americans can be as thoughtful to the French even though most of us will not encounter a French person visiting here.
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 09:55 AM
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I had been in Paris exactly one month before 9/11. I remember thinking how frightened I would be to be outside the US and not know how/when I could get back. I can only imagine how grateful you were for the support and kindness shown to you by strangers.
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 01:24 PM
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We were also in Paris when 9/11 happened and experienced only sadness from the Parisians...lots of hugs and tears....they felt so sad for us. We had no idea when we would get a flight back to the US so was not the best of times in Paris but we managed to make the most of it.
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 04:06 PM
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Immensely enjoying your TR!
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Old Jan 10th, 2015, 04:55 AM
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Christmas Eve, continued

Not sure why, but Christmas Eve in Paris seems to always be a drizzly, dreary affair. This year’s weather was a carbon copy of last year’s weather. Oh, well. We began walking from our apartment along the Seine and down to Sainte Chapelle to meet our friends for the concert. Not fun weather to be out in and especially not out front waiting to get in but it didn’t take too long and we went through the familiar process of the security screen. We didn’t have to wait long and we made our way and on to our seats down front. I noticed at least 3 musicians coming in late as we were waiting to get in. We also noticed a very long motorcade of police across the river from us, as we were walking over. We waited about 15 minutes past 6pm before the concert started. This church is go beautiful and I hate that our friends had never been to see the stained glass in daylight. There is still some renovation work going on here.

The concert was lovely but the same as last year, only with no encores. I was a little sad to not hear The Christmas Song, as they did last year to end. I was a bit concerned about catching a cab afterwards to get over to Reed but we didn’t have to wait too long before we had one. I always end up in the front with the crazy cab drivers, somehow. There was a point in a traffic jam where the driver bumped mirrors with another car but he got there. We used more cabs this year and technology has ruined the cab business. None of them know the city anymore, it seems. It’s all about GPS. We went the wrong way on rue St Dominique but we got there pretty quick all the same (bigger taxi rant later in the trip).

We had been told by Catherine Reed that we had 2 surprises awaiting us. We quickly discovered them upon entering Reed. Our friends Florent and Mika were in the restaurant working with her that night and Florent was our server. So that was fun, right off the bat. The dinner was a set menu, so no risotto for me (my favorite at Reed). Catherine sent us the menu ahead of time. We could see the roasted turkeys in the kitchen as we walked in. It was great to see Catherine, the “boys” and those turkeys! Florent had developed an eye infection that was being treated and I think it was pretty painful for him—he was not at 100%.

The starter was raw scallops and oysters that really good and super fresh. Next, some rich foie gras was served. (And yep, we had some champagne along with this, in case you were wondering). I can never finish foie gras—I can always shovel in something sweet, but foie gras is so rich and I think I left half of it on the plate.

Joan and Florent’s mom also stopped in and we chatted with them for a little bit and Maman told us we couldn’t call her Maman any more, so we spent some time learning her name (and still don’t pronounce it correctly). We would see them a few nights later for dinner.

The main course was very Thanksgiving/Christmas, a huge serving for Turkey with sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts. I was served a turkey breast but was secretly jealous that the men got the leg and dark meat. ☺ It was a lot of food and I will admit, I don’t like sweet potatoes, so that stayed on the plate. I am sure they were good—I just don’t care for them no matter how they are cooked.

The dessert was a buche de noel made for the table. Ours was orange flavored and very good. Catherine also brought out a slice of a chocolate pie that she had, as well to give us a taste of chocolate.

Our friends had been trying all day to get info on a midnight mass they could attend that night. She had really wanted to go to Sacre Coeur but had been told that getting back would be a pain with busy streets and metro stations. Then the hotel suggested Roch but the mass was earlier, so they were heading to the Madeleine for mass instead.

They needed to get going and Catherine gave them easy Metro directions to get to the church. We stayed to pay the bill and chat for a little bit. The all still had at least an hour of work ahead of them, so we decided we should head to bed, so they could finish up and do the same. We saw taxis at the metro station and decided to go by cab rather than Metro. Merry Christmas to all and to all, a good night.
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Old Jan 10th, 2015, 05:32 AM
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Denise,

I would have finished the fois gras for you. I am really missing it right now. Enjoying your report.

Lisa
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