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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 10th, 2015, 05:43 AM
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Hi Denisea, continuing to enjoy your TR! Makes us hungry. Thanks for your detailed report! Brings back wonderful holiday memories. Glad you had such a good trip!

We loved Paris at Christmas, but really enjoyed several visits in warmer seasons, our latest being in mid-Sept after a few weeks in the Alps. Hope to post that part of our TR soon.
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Old Jan 10th, 2015, 07:26 AM
  #122  
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I need to get there in warm weather-- a number of places I want to visit but aren't open or not at their best at Christmas time. Giverny and Vaux le Vicomte are two that come to mind.
Unless I can't swing it with my new position, Positano and Rome are coming up in May--should be fun and much warmer!!!
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Old Jan 10th, 2015, 08:33 AM
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Totally love your report. I'm still working my way through it. We were supposed to travel to Paris in December but due to an unexpected medical problem, we had to postpone. "The good news?" my husband says is that we now have something to look forward to. LOL

We leave at the end of February and are planning on doing the same as you this time. Shopping and restaurants. Having been to Paris several times, I am more interested in the streets than the museums this time. We are lucky to be staying with American friends who live there. Le Souffle has been recommended to us many times but I have never gotten there so now, due to your glowing review, it is going on the "definite list".

And chèvre chaud salad is AMAZING! I remember my first and that is the one thing I have been dreaming of ever since we started planning this trip. Can not wait for that first bite!

Thanks for the TR.
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Old Jan 10th, 2015, 09:00 AM
  #124  
 
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Hi denisea:

While you would like to be there in warmer weather, I yearn to be in Paris for Christmas! Oh, to go to a concert at Sainte Chapelle followed by dinner at Reed on Christmas Eve would be wonderful! I sighed as I read your descriptions!

What was on the musical program at Sainte Chapelle?
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Old Jan 10th, 2015, 11:03 AM
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We do love Le Souffle and have been several times and always enjoyed. We always get souffle (why wouldn't you) but I have heard the offerings on the menu outside of souffles are forgettable.. If you happen to be making a visit to Chanel on rue Cambon, it's around the corner. I will be seeking out the chevre salad now that I have had it. So good.

2010---I can't remember the program. It is not Christmas music and their are 8 vocalists and they are excellent. I think there is some Albinoni, Vivaldi and maybe Pachelbel on the program. i did not purchase a program. Christmas is a fantastic time in Paris, absolutely but I do want to get there at some point when Giverny is open!!
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Old Jan 10th, 2015, 11:31 AM
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40 years ago, I was the English teacher of the owners and waiters of Le Soufflé. They always gave me an excellent sandwich to eat before the class, but they never gave me a soufflé.
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Old Jan 10th, 2015, 12:50 PM
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Kerouac....I think you should negotiated yourself at least one soufflé!
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Old Jan 10th, 2015, 01:07 PM
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Love it, love it, love it.

Having been to Paris several times, it's fun reading your trip report. It's like I'm walking the streets in Paris once again.

How nice that you were able to meet with everyone at Reed for Christmas Eve. Florent is my only French friend (thanks to Joan, of course!).

~Roberta
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Old Jan 10th, 2015, 03:19 PM
  #129  
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Thanks Roberta. We love Florent and Mika-- always so much fun. I appreciate the kind words--this is my least creative TR and I took no notes and very few photos. There is probably less detail than ever!
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Old Jan 10th, 2015, 07:14 PM
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denisea-Your wonderful trip reports about the holidays in Paris have tipped me over the edge and I am scheming right now to get my family there this year for the holidays. As I told my husband, the kids are grown and none of us need anything, so instead of buying gifts we should go to Paris for the holidays, right? Thank you for this great addition to your wonderful series of reports.

One question - how did you make your reservation at Reed? I am taking my sister to Paris in May for her 50th birthday and we'll be staying in an apartment on rue de Grenelle; after Joan's glowing reviews of Reed and now yours, I'm determined to eat there during my coming trip.

Merci mille fois for your wonderful view of Paris.

P.S. "Chanello" - love this. Too pricey for my budget but I do think a trip to Hermès is in order for my beloved sister's birthday gift.
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Old Jan 10th, 2015, 10:50 PM
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I spent last evening with Catherine. Great meal, as usual, and we had time to catch up on many things. You can email her:
[email protected]

Enjoy,

Joan
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Old Jan 11th, 2015, 02:00 AM
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Don't want to hijack denisea's thread but, dlejhunt, if your sister is at all into food or cooking you may want to consider a cooking class with Catherine Reed. We did it last trip and loved it!
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Old Jan 11th, 2015, 02:08 AM
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Yes, Catherine and I talked about Judy's class last night.

Catherine is doing more and more classes as her reputation seems to be growing. This is what she would really like to do on a full time basis.

a bientot..

Joan
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Old Jan 11th, 2015, 05:43 AM
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I heard from Catherine a few days ago. I think the events in Paris of this week were a bit stunning for her. I hope things are settling down. She is lovely and I haven't taken her cooking class but I probably should if she teaches how to make her risotto.

As Joan mentioned, just email Catherine for a reservation. The restaurant is small and I love the colors in the dining room. We always enjoy it.

We were inspired to go to Paris for Christmas by another trip report years ago and it is a great way to spend the holidays. We don't have kids but we aren't close with family and don't need gifts, so the vacation and shopping there is our "Christmas". The first few years we shopped and never bought a thing, so we were also happy just to go.

PS Can't take credit for Chanello---stolen from SATC.
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Old Jan 11th, 2015, 05:55 AM
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Catherine's cooking class is so much fun although I was also hoping we would have made her risotto but it was something else but still make her cream puffs to this day...sooo delicious.
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Old Jan 11th, 2015, 06:57 AM
  #136  
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Christmas Day, December 25 2014

Super lazy in the AM. I honestly can’t remember if we went down the Le Bonaparte, or not. I don’t think we did We had a little baguette with salted butter, some Roquefort and saucisson for “brunch”. As always, we had our holiday music going through our little Bluetooth Bose speaker—love it! We were too lazy to open the bottle of Champagne we bought and had dinner plans, so didn’t want to “pop our cork” too early on Christmas.

We saw some sun and blue sky which had been in very short supply on this trip. We decided we needed to get up and out while the weather was nice. We headed down to the Seine and over to Notre Dame (total zoo) and then over to Isle St Louis to browse.

The St Regis café was packed, so we walked on by. Most things were closed on the island. We still did some window shopping and also looked at many of the small, but interesting restaurants there. We then made one of the biggest Paris mistakes ever…venturing into a boulangerie that we didn’t know. We bought the 2 most stale palmiers in Paris and also overdone for my taste. The man who sold them to us was probably the rudest person we have encountered in France (this is where that stereotype comes from). I guess he was not happy about having to sell that stale pastry to tourists on Christmas Day. I get it. I was bummed that I had gotten these awful “pastries” when I feel sure that somewhere nearby there had to be a perfectly delicious palmier waiting for me. We ventured into a church where we heard singing and it looked like a quartet practicing but it was nice to hear. We considered walking over to the Hotel de Ville but decided we were too lazy for that.

I am not sure why, but we ended up crossing the river and working our way back to the apartment through the worst of the 5th. If I had a dollar for every kebab stand and gyro take out spot we passed, I coulda paid for that Chanel necklace. ☺ It was crowded and for me, the worst of Paris. I definitely avoid places where the menu is posted in pictures. This area of the Latin Quarter feels more like a fair and if someone had been selling funnel cakes, it wouldn’t have surprised me. I needed to get cash but I wasn’t gonna get it in this area. Didn’t feel smart.

As we were crossing street, Chaz noticed a few police cars that passed us and he said they were all dressed in assault gear, all black, face shields, etc….foreshadowing for the Charlie Hebdo massacre it seems now.

We wandered the streets closer to our apartment. Plenty of people out and plenty of things open. It seemed like a ton of people travelled in on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to be in Paris for NYE. That Laduree by our apartment is always busy!! Maybe I should have gone there for my palmier.

We freshened up and snagged a seat outside at le Bonaparte and waited for our friends to meet us for a pre-dinner drink. While Pierre wasn’t there, we found another waiter who was nice enough to help configure seats for 4 outside. It was packed so we were lucky to get seats at all. The downside was that all the Japanese tourists we had been seeing at Laduree, where at Le Bonaparte puffing away on Marlboros (that they hold in front of your face, instead of their own face). These kids are young, attractive and I can’t imagine why anyone in this day and age starts smoking. I know, I sound old but ugh! It’s a pretty disgusting habit, costs a fortune to do and ruins your health. I will never get it.

So, here is a new trend….when your cig runs out you switch to an e-cig for a few minutes before your fire up anther Marlboro. All while downing some espresso, so there is a lot of stimulation. And, Merry Christmas to me, the kid next to me (holding that cig in my face) must have TB as he would hack and hack and then spit whatever came up into the ashtray. OMG---totally gag worthy. Now, in my book, that is rude. That’s a moment to have in the restroom or at least not where others are eating and drinking. Sorry for the realism here!!

Our friends arrived and were OK with all the smoking so we had a glass of wine before we headed over to L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon for Christmas dinner. I love that they bring the bottle out to fill your wine glass instead of doing it behind a counter. At least, it feels like you are getting what you order.

We headed to Robuchon on foot AND, we didn’t get lost. We got there a few minutes early and they will not open the door before 6:30pm. We were first in line and decided to wait it out in front as the crowd was building. They tell you that you can wait in the hotel lobby next door, if you want. A few years ago, Robuchon added a few tables to the side and that is where we were seated and I was not excited about that. Part of the fun is seeing the kitchen. The server assured us it would be better for conversation with 4 of us and we reluctantly accepted the table. Boy, were we sorry. As it makes it much easier for them to pay no attention to you.

This was easily some of the worst service we ever got, especially at Robuchon. It’s always bad to get poor service but even worse when you recommended the restaurant. Now, they accept reservations for the 6:30pm seating and they seat the entire restaurant at the same time. So, they need to be able to handle that and they could not the night we were there. We waited 35 minutes and hadn’t ordered anything, including wine, which is not acceptable. We could not get anyone’s attention! There was a table of four fellow Americans who needed a lot of translating and explanation (and I have to say might have been better off at Chez Clement) that dominated one server’s time. On the other side of us was a table of 8 that took all the other servers attention. There was a table of 2 ladies next to us from Hong Kong who also could get no one’s attention. We struck up a conversation with them and they were great fun. One was an attorney and the other a pastry chef. They had lived in California for years and had just arrived that day from Hong Kong.

I couldn’t take the complete lack of service and attention and went up front to get a manager. We got the sommelier immediately and he came to the table ASAP and we at least, got wine ordered. I think our friends were still upset with the service because there were bread baskets right behind and they didn’t give us one---it didn’t bother me as much. I think sometimes, they have an order to when they give you bread and in the mean time, a plate of charcuterie and beef carpaccio appeared, compliments of the house. My intention in voicing my displeasure is never to get anything at no charge, but I did appreciate the offering and it was excellent.

If you can’t handle seating everyone at the same time---don’t do it. Stagger it so you can provide the level of service expected at this type of restaurant.

I thought the service improved after that but our friends were not happy at all. I felt really bad about that.

I think I knew the food was going to be so good that I just wanted to get started on that. Again, they had the famous Robuchon “spaghetti” on the menu—which is essentially carbonara with seared pork belly and it is to die for. To see it listed as spaghetti on the menu make me laugh. It truly is THAT good and it didn’t disappoint. We all got it for our entrée and everyone was happy with the dish (but not the service).

Everyone but me got the grilled lamb for their main course, I got the black cod in yuzu and it was very good and a bit unique. I believe everyone enjoyed their lamb. We also were given those buttery, famous mashed potatoes. They are worth the price of admission---smooth as silk and artery clogging, but the ultimate comfort food.

Dessert was chocolate ice cream for our friends and a passion fruit souffle for us. The pastry chef next to us also got the souffle and said it was underdone---not to me. To me, perfect.

So the meal was great but the service was not good. Not sure if we will go back…we walked back to Le Bonaparte and left them to head to our apartment. They were checking out the movie theatre that is there and planning to go to a movie the next night.

For me, it was a very good Christmas and I have probably never done less on Christmas.

Next up – Chartres and Bistro Belhara with Joan, Florent, Mike and “Madame jus de tomate”
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Old Jan 11th, 2015, 09:25 AM
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We have Robuchon on our list for our upcoming trip. I'm hoping we have better service. Yep they absolutely will not let you in until the clock strikes 6:30. I forgot about that. If you do decide to go back, try the fois gras sliders. Soooo good!
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Old Jan 11th, 2015, 09:37 AM
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It must have been so disappointing thinking you were taking your friends for an awesome dining experience and then being let down. Happy to hear the meal was good though!
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Old Jan 11th, 2015, 09:39 AM
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Hi denisea,

Like so many others, I am really enjoying your trip! I'll be in Paris later this year, so I am taking lots of notes -- I thank you so much for sharing so many delights!

Your TR, however, is making me SO restless!!

s
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Old Jan 11th, 2015, 09:50 AM
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Add me to those who would help you with the foie gras!
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