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Paris Is for Pleasure: Eight Days of Solo Dining, Wandering and Decadence

Paris Is for Pleasure: Eight Days of Solo Dining, Wandering and Decadence

Jun 11th, 2009, 08:41 AM
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LCI, the sweets at Jacques Genin are very, very good. It's also just a nice place to sit and have a coffee or hot chocolate near-to-but-out-of the tourist frenzy. I bought mango-passionfruit caramels for my dog-sitter. When I came home she had just had a tooth filled and couldn't take them. So I ended up having to eat them myself. Oh well.
Leely2 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 09:21 AM
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Leely2 - Hi again Leely! Please tell me how to "Hi-lite" the headings of my paragraphs or change them to a different colour!
I am about to attempt my trip report in the next two or three days and think the added emphasis helps.
Thanks Leely, Tod
tod is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 09:28 AM
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tod, to bold, type
< then the letter b then a closing > . Like so, but without spaces: < b >

Then include the content you want bolded.

Then to unbold (important ) :
< / b >
Again, type it without the spaces.

You can do the same with the letter I for italics.
Leely2 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 09:36 AM
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Victor Hugo, Proust, Blake and Le Cinq: a Perfect Paris Fantasy
This day was my big fine dining/ballet day. I woke up early, went for a run (good girl), and hurried over to Maison Victor Hugo. I’m a literature buff and love 19th-century novels, so this was a treat for me. It’s right on Place des Vosges and walking into the hushed atmosphere of Hugo’s home, it’s not difficult to feel transported back in time.

It is a very easy museum, small, with some of Hugo’s furniture, mementos and many of his drawings. Very good audioguide; you pick and choose how much detail you want. Some juicy gossip occasionally (this might be a slight exaggeration).

Admission is free.

Maison de Victor Hugo
6 Place des Vosges, 4th

Shopping sidenote:
As I was leaving for Le Cinq I noticed that half a block down my street there was a vintage clothing store. I walked in, asked where the ceintures were, tried on a simple, thin black belt that set off my dress perfectly, bought it. The woman working there took the tag off and put it on me in an even more perfect way—off I went.

I kicked myself (hard) for wasting good museum and public-park time looking for a dang belt all over the Marais, the rue de Rivoli, even Les Halles when this nice quiet place was within shouting distance.

Hopped in a cab at Saint-Paul I was only about 4 minutes late for my lunch reservation.

Lunching at Le Cinq
What can I say about Le Cinq? Fodorite Plafield has written a great report of her recent lunch there. She has more food expertise than I, so readers may want to head over to her thread for a more evocative description.

The room is of course beautiful, smaller and more intimate than I had imagined. The ambience is calm and quiet without feeling somber. I felt pretty intimidated at first but the service is so gracious that my cares quickly melted away. The little stool made my bag feel very comfortable and included as well.

The sommelier is, I believe, well-renowned in the Paris wine world--anyway he was really nice and chose great wines by the glass for us. When I had thought I was going to dine there solo, I had asked Julot about ordering wine because I know it can be very, very expensive in these types of places. And of course sometimes there are no prices on the menu. He had advised being direct and saying something along the lines of, “I’d like a glass of wine with each of my courses but I do not want it to double my bill.”

In the end my menu did have prices for wines by the glass. If I remember correctly, the prices ranged from 18€ to maybe 23€. So I couldn’t have done too much damage anyway.

I did not make the coupe de champagne mistake this time—you can really get in trouble there, I suppose. No prices, many choices.

Back to Lunch
The bread is terrific You choose between three or four types. They bring Tuscan olive oil, sweet butter and seaweed butter. My fave was the seaweed butter because of the salt factor.

Both my dining companion/food consultant and I opted for the menu, which is, I think 90 €. We ended up choosing the same dishes: foie gras with cherries followed by pigeon.

Amuses arrived: a shot of gazpacho, fried chard ravioli and a shrimp and squid bite with veggies. All delicious. My fave: shrimp/squid.

Chef Briffard sent over an off-menu tuna dish which the sommelier matched with glasses of Sancerre. Okay, this was the best tuna I have ever had in my life. It was served two ways: as tuna tartare with black caviar on top, sitting on some kind of fruit(?)/faintly sweet gelee with red caviar and fava beans. Then a seared tuna steak, rich rich rich, tender on the inside with a crisp crust, served with light spring vegetables. Asian influences. The giveaway for me was that the tartare was served with chopsticks. Then a tomator/basil/goat milk sorbet to cleanse the palate.

The foie gras with cherries and cherry chutney, some crispy crunchy stuff on top, salsify: great. Served with a sweet, heavy Puglian wine.

Then the pigeon. It was served: with a jus, some kind of green and almonds stuffed in two pieces, a leg, silken mashed potatoes, spring vegetables, this green thing that the veggies sat on that was made of pea pods? I wasn’t as crazy about that but it did look very pretty. The pigeon itself was fantastic, perfectly cooked, very flavorful and we couldn’t get enough of the jus. Served with a Vosne-Romanée.

Pre-desserts, dessert, mignardises with coffee, and finally a little box of candies “pour cesoir.” The desserts, as I had heard, weren't superlative, but mine--the passionfruit/gianduja souffle--was pretty good. And I liked all the little snacky sweets.

I didn’t get out of there until 4:15. Total was 141€ pp.

Almost done!
Leely2 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 01:54 PM
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Leely, my arteries are coming out in sympathy.
we went to Victor Hugo's house half a life-time ago when DH worked in Paris for a while, and we were newly marrried.

be still my beating heart. [no, calm down, it was the coldest spring in Paris for 40 years].

i still remember being very impressed by the atmosphere in the house.

loving the report,

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 06:11 PM
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Victor Hugo, Proust, Blake and Le Cinq: a Perfect Paris Fantasy, con'td.
After lunch I waddled down to the Petit Palais, an easy walk, for a much-quicker-than-planned viewing of the William Blake exhibition. It was interesting, but didn't blow me away, maybe because I hustled through. In fact, I don't really recall it at all. Was I even there? Food coma...

I had also wanted to see the Byzantine art show upstairs but the timing didn't work out.

Fun fact:
The girl who had been working at Victor Hugo in the morning was working at Petit Palais that afternoon. We recognized each other. She said, "Oh, you're following me!" I said, "Au contraire, mademoiselle, you are following me." Who says Parisians aren't friendly? Then we laughed and she, remembering my audioguide intensity from earlier that day, told me there was an audioguide for the Petit Palais but I didn't have enough time so I couldn't take advantage.

And now I've been to the Petit Palais twice and have yet to monitor the audioguide. This is a research project for someone out there...

Permanent collections are free. Pony up for the special stuff. Absolutely worth a visit regardless. Relaxing and pretty. Sit down for a coffee in the courtyard in nice weather.

Petit Palais
Avenue Winston Churchill, 8th


A Night at the Opera
Rushed home to change (lower shoes, no belt) for the evening at the Palais Garnier to see the Ballet de l´Opéra de Paris's performance of Roland Petit's Proust ou les intermittences du coeur.

I won't pretend to know anything--anything--about ballet, but this was a HIGHLIGHT of my week. I got home all overexcited and posted on Fodor's about it:

"I am in Paris now and just got home from the ballet. I am not a huge dance fan but am a huge Proust fan and I was dazzled. Whether you want to see a how the Ballet de l´Opéra interprets À la recherche du temps perdu or you love dance or you want to experience an evening in the Palais Garnier, if you are headed to Paris soon by all means go."

"I was a bit dubious during parts of the first act--some of it seemed a bit literal and sorta hamfisted to me. It was also very, very hot in there. However, like the novels themselves, the whole production grew on me; the more I saw and heard, the more I wanted."

(I don't remember Nude Orgy Scene from the novels, but then I haven´t finished them all. Probably a metaphor.)

I was so hot and a sleepy right before inermission that I contemplated leaving--food coma again--when we had the break. I was sooo glad I stayed! Everything came together for me and at the end of the performance I was clapping so hard I thought my hands would bleed.

I am a feast-or-famine type, so take my review for what it's worth.

I was in the 3rd floor, box 25, seat 3--not as bad as I had imagined because the box was not full. We had four empty seats among us. My ticket was 40€.

When we got out at 9:30 it was still light. I meandered home, taking in all the beauty that the city has to offer, overjoyed and surprised that I of all people have found the good fortune to partake of it. This is when I knew that for some lucky few, every so often, Paris Is for Pleasure.


Coming Up, the End and a Final Fodor's GTG at Le Gaigne...
Leely2 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 06:12 PM
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Annhig, yes, my arteries were dutifully clogged. But it doesn't count if you're on vacation, right? How lucky you were to live in Paris, even during the coldest winter.
Leely2 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 06:36 PM
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I am so jealous of the last evening! (Now I wish I had sprung for the $404 airfare even though Dave's apartment wasn't available for the week).

Great photos inside Palais Garnier-- you have very steady hands for those 1/6 sec shots.
MademoiselleFifi is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 07:08 PM
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Um, thanks, I have terribly unsteady hands (the DTs) and cannot for the life of me post-process, but more importantly Fifi, have you finished your report? Your readership is waiting...

No pressure!
Leely2 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 08:16 PM
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Oh, there's nothing better than leaving the theater really happy and excited!

I remember feeling overwhelmed after seeing the Paris Opera Ballet last year- watching the best dancers in the world do such a fantastic performance in such a magnificant theater, then stepping out into the middle of such a beautiful city, with all the Soutines and other paintings still swimming in my head...I was practically babbling to myself on the metro home.

Stendhal Syndrome, for real.

And hmmmm. Yes Fifi, we are waiting... O
Apres_Londee is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 08:34 PM
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I've been following this report and fantasizing about a solo trip to Paris again. So the other night, when the $404 airfare appeared, at 2 AM I pulled the trigger and will be going in November. Thank you for the inspiration.
Nikki is online now  
Jun 11th, 2009, 11:57 PM
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Hi Leely, loving the report. I had to laugh (at myself) I was looking at the photos of the cakes and at the bottom of the picture there is the photo description of the image, ie large, small and medium size. I of course read it to mean the cake size could be bigger yet!!!! I got all excited and then realised they were in fact talking about the photo and not the cake!!! I missed this cake place so I will add it to my next time list.

I am home now and am pining already for the next trip. I have just filed all my maps and books away in my "voyage" big plastic box, I had to sticky tape my favourite map of Paris together as it is splitting and I couldn't get the same scale map again. I like that overall picture when I plan as well as using the little arrondisement guide.

You certainly enjoyed some super meals, well done you. And you are so slim (and not dorky either) (Ok well maybe just a little bit - only joking, cos I have now met you I feel I can joke) Hope you don't mind.

Keep writing we are still reading.
schnauzer is online now  
Jun 12th, 2009, 07:10 AM
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Nikki, good for you! How fun. Will you stay at the apartment in Batignolles? I remember thinking how nice that looked.

Hi Schnauzer, I am glad you are home safe and sound and hopefully well-rested. A box for all the voyage stuff. Brilliant idea. I wouldn't have to hunt around Paris for a map if I had one.

Apres, are you planning a trip soon?

I will wrap this up this weekend. Thanks for bearing with me. I hope there is at least some useful information among all the chaff. I forgot to put a winky-smiley face next to the "I will be somewhat brief" claim at the beginning of this report.
Leely2 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2009, 07:15 AM
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I will not be at the Batignolles apartment this time, I'll be staying at an apartment I rented before near the Bassin de l'Arsenal.
Nikki is online now  
Jun 12th, 2009, 10:12 AM
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May I ask for a link to the apartment near the Bassin? The reason I ask is that friends will be keeping their canal boat in the Arsenal marina for a time, and we may be borrowing it to do some canal cruising. It would be nice to have a nearby apartment for a week or so, either before or after we use the boat.


nukesafe is offline  
Jun 12th, 2009, 10:37 AM
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Nukesafe, that sounds wonderful! Here is the apartment: http://www.vrbo.com/24464

I describe it in my trip report:

Nikki is online now  
Jun 12th, 2009, 10:49 AM
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Great apartment! I really like that location too.
Leely2 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2009, 11:08 AM
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Thank you Nikki! That sounds ideal for our purposes.

nukesafe is offline  
Jun 12th, 2009, 11:37 PM
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Nikki, just read your trip report from last year, I wish I had seen it before I went away this year!! Even though we think we have the finger on the pulse sometimes reports just get away from us. Was the apartment quiet and close to bread shops and basic food stuffs?

Hi Leely, sorry to ask a question in your report, still enjoying it.
schnauzer is online now  
Jun 13th, 2009, 04:05 AM
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Hi Leely2,
I'm totally enjoying your report. I will be going back to Paris solo Sep 29-Oct 6. This is my fifth trip--not all solo.

I'm very new to travel forums. I notice in one of your posts you mentioned that you met some Fodorites for dinner. How did you arrange for that? While I love Paris solo, it would really be nice to arrange to meet some folks for a meal or coffee and compare notes. I plan to go to Giverny this time and would really like to find a companion to make the day trip more fun.

FancyNancyPittsburgh is offline  

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