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yk's Trip Report to Loire Valley & Paris (inclu lots of good food, a gorgeous chateau wedding, and barely survived the strike in Paris!)

yk's Trip Report to Loire Valley & Paris (inclu lots of good food, a gorgeous chateau wedding, and barely survived the strike in Paris!)

Old Oct 21st, 2007, 06:30 AM
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yk's Trip Report to Loire Valley & Paris (inclu lots of good food, a gorgeous chateau wedding, and barely survived the strike in Paris!)

Hi Fodorites-

We just returned from a wonderful trip to France (October 11-20, 2007). The main reason to go was to attend our friends' wedding in the Loire Valley. Our itinerary was as follows:

Oct 11-13 Wedding
Oct 14-17 Loire Valley
Oct 18-20 Paris (during the strike)

Who "we" are?
Some of you may have read my trip reports before. Anyway, on this trip, "we" are myself and DH, both in our 30s. My parents (60s & 70s) joined us from Oct 14 onward. In Paris, my parents did their own sightseeing.
[My parents actually flew to Brussels the week before and they traveled on their own in Belgium, Luxembourg, Nancy and then to the Loire.]

All 4 of us have been to Paris before, with Dad having been the most times. Mom, Dad and I visited briefly to the Loire Valley (mainly Blois) in the early 80s. I myself revisited the Loire Valley (using public transport) in the early 90s. This is DH's first time to the Loire.

Preparation
I read many trip reports here - so thanks to all who have posted them.

The main preparation I did was reading a few books about the history of the Loire before the trip. Thanks to those who replied to my thread
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=35068574

I read Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Loire Valley section of Ina Caro's The Road from the Past, and part of Diane Haeger's Courtesan (about François I, Henri II, Diane de Poitiers, and Catherine de Medici).

Weather
We were lucky to have sunny weather almost everyday. We had rain one morning. The first half of the trip temps were 50s-60s, the second half was cooler, 40s-50s. I get cold easily, so on the 2nd half of the trip, I had wool gloves, scarf and wool hat on.

-----------------------------

Okay, instead of my usual trip report format (day-to-day account), this time I'll list it by several headings:
Where we stayed
What we did
What/Where we ate
The Wedding
The Strike
Driving in France

I possibly will come up with a few more as I go on...
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 07:12 AM
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Where We Stayed

Château de la Bourdaisière near Montlouis-sur-Loire
P M de Broglie
37270 Montlouis-sur-Loire
Val de Loire
Tél: +33 (0) 2 47 45 16 31
Fax: +33 (0) 2 47 45 09 11
http://www.chateaulabourdaisiere.com

This is where the wedding took place. Our friends (neither one is French nor of French descendant) decided to celebrate their wedding in the Loire. They rented out the entire Chateau for the wedding weekend. It has 20 rooms total, most of them are in the Chateau itself, a few in the "Pavilion" next door. You can see photos of the rooms from the website.

Our room was the "Claude de France" - on the [US] first floor. It is absolutely beautiful. I also got to see a few other rooms. Every room is decorated differently.

The Chateau also has a large Salon with a working fireplace where our group retired to each evening.

The major "complaint" we have is the bathroom - the bathtub has a hand-held showerhead with no shower curtain. For those of us who are used to taking showers instead of baths, it became a challenge. Basically one has to sqaut in the bathtub while using the showerhead in order not to splash water all over the floor.

There is no TV, no internet access. I think it's a great place for an escape. If you are the type who needs to be connected to the rest of the world and needs lots of entertainment - this is not the place for you.

The chateau grounds is beautiful, and the garden is world famous for its tomatoes. It has an annual festival in the fall (we were there a few weeks later, though there were still tomatoes available).

-------------------------

Le Clos d'Amboise in Amboise
27, rue Rabelais
37400 AMBOISE - FRANCE
Tel.: 33 (0)2 47 30 10 20
Fax : 33 (0)2 47 57 33 43
http://www.leclosamboise.com/UK.asp

We stayed at the 2 cheapest rooms. Both are on the top floor [US 2nd floor], for € 75 per room per night. Breakfast is € 10 per person extra.

The hotel is very nice and has a charming garden/courtyard. Our room faces the garden and also can see the Amboise Chateau. Location is great, just a few minutes walk to the Chateau and center of town.

I find our rooms to be comfortable and charming. The bathroom fixtures are all modern. The rooms are on the small side, but expected given they're the cheapest.

Ammenities include minibar, TV (1 English channel - CNN), hairdryer. There is no in-room safe. No elevator, no A/C.

Breakfast buffet has a good selection - croissants, breads, cold cuts, hard and soft cheeses, jams, cereals, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, coffee/tea, juices.

The only complaint we have is the parking lot (inside the hotel grounds). It is quite small - and can be difficult to maneuver if your car is big and the lot is full.

--------------------------

Hotel de Saint-Germain in Paris [2 star]
50 rue du Four, 75006
http://www.hotel-saint-germain.com/

Be aware that there are many hotels in the 6th eme called "Hotel Saint Germain." This is the one on rue du Four.

We have stayed here 2 years ago and found it "acceptable." It is not the best, but for its price and location, I didn't think we could do better. On this trip, I wanted to stay in the 6th again, and this is the only hotel that fits the bill.

Our rooms were € 110 per night. Compared to the room we stayed at 2 years ago, this time ours was slightly larger. Even though the hotel is non-smoking, our room still has cigarette smell, though our parents' room doesn't. We had a double (room 34) and their twin (room 35) is slightly larger than ours.

Amenities include hairdryer, minibar. No in-room safe. There is a small elevator and has A/C. It also has free WiFi.

Location is excellent, especially when we were faced with the strike. DH & I walked everywhere. There are lots of expensive boutiques in the neighborhood.

Our room faces the street, so it can get noisy at night. The major downside of this hotel is it sits right above the subway line. Each time it passes by, it is quite noisy. If you are a light sleeper, this is not the place for you.

Breakfast is € 10 per person - not a good deal as it is not a buffet. It includes coffee, OJ, a bread basket (3 pieces) and cereal.

The closest PAUL boulangerie is located on rue de Seine (corner of rue de Buci).
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 08:23 AM
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the husband says to bkmk
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 09:50 AM
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"to love, honor and obey" ?
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 12:15 PM
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What we Did

Loire Valley

Château de la Bourdaisière

Even though the Chateau is now a hotel, it's worth visiting its Tomato Garden if you're in the area during the fall. It is world-famous and has a tomato conservatory. There are hundreds of different tomato varieties in all shapes and sizes and colors. There is also a gift shop. The Chateau is owned by the de Broglie brothers (both princes).

The Chateau was orginally built by François I for one of his mistresses.

Château d'Amboise
http://www.chateau-amboise.com/
Initially a medieval fortress, it was expanded by François I. It was also where Charles VIII banged his head on a door and died hours later. From the Chateau, one has a great view of the Loire river below.

Château du Clos Lucé in Amboise
www.vinci-closluce.com
This is where Leonardo da Vinci lived during the last 4 years of his life. He was invited there from Italy by François I. The inside of the Chateau has period furnishings. The ground floor has models of Leonardo's inventions. The large Park behind the Chateau is also worth visiting. Several life-sized models of his inventions are scattered in the park, and some of them actually are operable.

Chateau & Jardins de Villandry
http://www.chateauvillandry.com/
Villandry is most famous for its gardens. One can choose to visit just the gardens; or Chateau & Gardens. We did both. The most memorable room in the Chateau shows a moorish gilded ceiling imported from Toledo.

The Gardens are impressive - divided into many sections. Well worth a visit.

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud
http://www.abbaye-fontevraud.com/web/
The Abbey was founded almost 1000 years ago. This is where the effigies of Eleanor of Aquitaine, her husband Henri II of England, and their son Richard the Lionheart are. I have to say, I didn't find the visit that exciting, despite the readings I had done before the trip.

Chambord
The largest of all Loire Valley chateaux, Chambord was also built by François I. Everywhere one looks, one can see his Salamander and "F" initials. There are lots of rooms to visit, but the most worthwhile spot is the roof where one can get close to the chimneys and a great view of the canal and surrounding forest. There is a 15-min introductory film on the first floor which was quite good.

We also rented the audioguide (€4) which I guess wasn't really necessary afterall. Each room has English displays.

Chenonceau
http://www.chenonceau.com
Probably the most famous Chateau of the Loire Valley, it spans across the River Cher. This was built by François I's tax collector - but given to François I when he went bankrupt. Henri II gave it to his mistress Diane de Poitiers, but she was kicked out of it by Catherine de Medici after Henri II died. The rooms are interesting to visit - including the kitchen, Catherine's bedroom, Diane's bedroom, and Louise of Lorraine's bedroom which is completely decorated in black after her husband's death.

We did the i-pod audio/visual guide (€4) which was 45 minutes. One can skip it also as a English brochure covers a good amount of information.

We spent another hour strolling the 2 gardens plus the 16th century farmhouse which has a vegetable garden.

Chinon
We arrived at Chinon around 4:45pm. By the time we got to the Chateau, it was closing time (5pm). We then went down by the bank of River Vienne and walked around for a bit. The Chinon chateau is in ruins. It was where Henri II of England lived, ruled, and died during the 12th century. 2 centuries later, it was where Joan of Arc recognized the Dauphin (who later became Charles VII).

It is a nice little town to walk around. The view (from across the Vienne River) of the town & massive chateau looming above is wonderful.

--------------------
The following Chateaux we only stopped for a few moments without visiting the inside:

Chaumont-sur-Loire
This Chateau was given to Diane de Poitiers by Catherine de Medici after she was kicked out of Chenonceau. It is up on a hill and has a great view of the Loire River below. The outside of the chateau is actually quite pretty. One can visit the grounds and garden without paying admission. We spent about 30 mins there.

Usse, Azay-le-Rideau, Cheverny
We drove past all these chateaux. One can see Usse pretty well from the parking lot across the street. For Azay-le-Rideau, we arrived later afternoon and the main gate was closed. It was quite a distance from the main gate to the chateau. For Cheverny, one cannot even catch a glimpse of the chateau from the outside.

We did all the above in 3 days. One may say we did "too much" but none of us felt rushed. I think we saw a good selection of chateaux as each one is quite different from one another.
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 02:35 PM
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Bookmarking.
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 03:49 PM
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What we Did (continued)

Vendome


On the way from Amboise to Paris, we decided to take the smaller route, N10, instead of A10. N10 takes us through Vendome and Chartres.

Vendome is a little picturesque town with River Loir (no "e") running through it. This was the day we had rain, but by the time we arrived (around 10:30a) the rain had died down.

We walked around town for about an hour. We saw the huge 15th-c gate Porte St Georges, Place St Martin (a 15th-c bell tower, and a statue of Marchal Rochambeau who led the French Army in the American Revolution), and Trinity Church.

There is a chateau up the hill in town but we didn't have time for it.

Chartres
We mainly came here for its cathedral, which is a UNESCO heritage site. Unfortunately, the weather was overcast, and it was quite dark inside the cathedral. I hate to say this, but I was unimpressed. Maybe I would have felt differently if it were a sunny day.

After the cathedral, we stopped by the Tourist Information center for a map of the "tourist circuit walk." The self-guided walk takes probably an hour, but we quit soon after because it was very cold and windy.

Overall, it was a rather disappointing visit to Chartres. I guess I need to give it another chance but it won't be any time soon.

Paris

Paris Walks
(6th eme)
http://www.paris-walks.com/

A 2-hour walk in the 6th eme (€ 10pp) - including visiting St Sulpice and St Germain des Pres. I thought it was pretty good though DH thought it was just ok. Our group had over 20 people, and at times it was difficult to hear our guide due to street noise and size of the group.

Self-guided walk in Marais
Before the trip, I found this 2003 thread by Degas:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34454657

Then I made a Google map of this area with the key buildings:
http://tinyurl.com/2px2nt

We followed the map roughly, and stopped at Mariage Frères for tea.

Pompidou
We bought our 2-day museum pass there and saw the permanent collection on the 4th floor. I find Modern Art museums in Europe in general have a better variety than those in the US.

Sainte Chappelle
We arrived at 9:30a which was right at opening. No lines at all which was great, as the day before we passed by in the afternoon and there was a long line.

Even though the morning sun wasn't that strong, the stained glass inside was still breathtaking.

Musee National du Moyen Age (Cluny Museum)
http://www.musee-moyenage.fr/ang/index.html
This is our first time visiting. We aren't into medieval stuff, but it was interesting to see the Gallo-Roman baths, and the famous "Lady and the Unicorn" tapestries.

Musée de l'Orangerie
http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/
Monet's waterlillies are displayed in 2 oval rooms on the first floor. Below ground are several galleries with more paintings. We went around 3:30p on a Friday afternoon, and it was quite crowded unfortunately. We did not get the audioguide.

Louvre
On our previous trip to Paris two years ago, we had spent an entire day at the Louvre.

On this trip, I mainly wanted to revisit the Flemish, Dutch, Germain paintings (2nd floor Richelieu).

We arrived around 5pm on Friday and the museum was supposed to open until 10pm (confirmed by the information desk inside the Pyramid). Unfortunately, they didn't tell us the 2nd floor Richelieu would close at 6pm that night! We actually first went to the Richelieu cafe for a break, hence by the time we finished, the floor was closed! I was very disappointed, needless to say.
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 05:08 PM
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What/Where we Ate

Loire Valley

Restaurant La Cave
in Montlouis [D] (D = Dinner)
http://www.restaurant-la-cave.com/
Route de l'Aquarium
37270 MONTLOUIS-sur-LOIRE
Tel: 00 33 (0)2 47 45 05 05
Fax: 00 33 (0)2 47 50 98 44

The wedding guests ate here the night before the wedding. The wedding couple had pre-arranged with the restaurant for a 4-course dinner plus wine and coffee (€38pp).
Entree - Salmon Tartare
Plat - tournedos de canard et legumes (plus potato au gratin on the side)
Fromage - sainte maure chaud sur lit de verdure (warm goat cheese on a bed ofgreens)
Dessert - Framboisiere (raspberry dessert)

Food was excellent.

Wedding Reception Dinner
This was the best meal of the trip. It was catered and we had an 8-course dinner:
Amuse bouche (pumpkin soup)
Seafood salad (with lobster, shrimp and scallops)
Turbot wrapped in bacon
Sorbet in Vodka
Duck (with potatoes and mushrooms)
Salad
Fromage (I chose six different kinds! So Delicious!)
Dessert plate (2 slices of cake, sorbet, creme brulee, and tarte tartin)

La Terrasse Renaisance a Creperie inside Clos Luce in Amboise [L (L=lunch)]
http://www.vinci-closluce.com/en/res...enaissance.htm

Among the 4 of us, we only ordered 3 crepes as we weren't that hungry. Food was decent. Total was €17.

Restaurant L'Alliance in Amboise [D]
http://www.leblason.fr/loire-valley/restaurantgb.html
14 rue Joyeuse
37400 Amboise
+33 (0)2 47 30 52 13

It is just behind Hotel La Blason. Food was excellent. One can order a la carte or various priced menus.

3 of us went for the €20 3-course menu, Dad had the €28 4-course menu.

Entrees - Dad had Foie Gras pate; Mom had a puff pastry pot with mussels in a curry sauce inside; DH & I had a goat cheese filo served over green salad

Plats - Dad had duck, Mom had swordfish, DH had beef kabob, I had tripe sausage

Desserts - Dad had a strawberry plate which had strawberry prepared in 4 different ways. Mom and I had a fruit salad. Forgot what DH had.

The extra course was Fromage. Total was €98.

More food to come...
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 05:24 PM
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Looking forward to more food! As always.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 01:12 AM
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Yum!
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 02:04 AM
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hi, yk,

i really like your trip report format - makes it so easy to read and find information for later.

looking forward to your personal impressions- to come soon I hope.

regards, ann
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 04:46 AM
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yk...Have had time to read your report now and absolutely love the format. It makes it easier to concentrate on specific areas of your trip and compare places/ideas. Thank you.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 06:29 AM
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Thank you for posting this was up on your other thread. I would have missed it.

Lots of wonderful/useful info here for my upcoming trip.

Would you recommend your hotel in Amboise? I was kind of considering it as have already stayed at Les Minimes.

Liked your format. For any first timers on here the links are valuable.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 07:28 AM
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I'm enjoying the format as well (though I also enjoy travelogue formats... stream of consciousness formats... etc!) I really appreciate your organization and details!
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 08:11 AM
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Thank you for your excellent post. Your format is great and intriguing to read, clear and beautiful and informative. I love your discovery of places to stay and their sites.

"Stream of consciousness" formats, which I also enjoy, could easily be incorporated within your broader format. (for those of us in future trip reports). I have been to Paris (my love) several times, but have not yet visited the Loire Valley. Will I ever "complete" my exploration of Paris? Each time I return, more and more worlds open up to me. There is never a sense of repetition or, to use that odious phrase, "been there, done that". Your valuable post is now inn my "Short trips from Paris" folder. Merci.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 05:11 PM
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I'm glad that you guys seem to enjoy this format - this is the first time I've tried it. I have to admit that it was NeoPatrick who inspired me to write mine this way. Patrick posted his multiple trip reports this past summer (Manhattan, London, Rome etc) and he sort of did it this way, and I enjoyed reading those.

hopingtotravel- We enjoyed our stay at Le Clos d'Amboise. Of course, if your budget allows, I would suggest go for the bigger/nicer rooms. We were happy with our budget rooms, though we're budget travelers anyway.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 06:43 PM
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What/Where we Ate in Loire Valley continued

L'Etape Gourmande
Domaine de la Giraudiere
in Villandry [L]
http://www.letapegourmande.com/indexen.html
37510 Villandry
Tel. +33 (0)2 47 50 08 60
Fax. +33 (0)2 47 50 06 60

This is located 1 km south of Villandry, and is a goat farm. This is recommended by quite a few Fodorites. The restaurant has a nice central fireplace and warm atmosphere.

We all had a 2-course menu (either Entrée + Plat or Plat + Fromage/dessert) for €20,50. There are many selections for each course.

Entrées - Dad had foie gras, Mom had goat terrine, DH had "brick" of goat cheese which was similar to the goat cheese filo he had the night before at Restaurant L'Alliance, I had a tartare of goat cheese.

Plats - DH & I both had a Cep Mushroom ravioli (which unfortunately came in a very heavy cheese sauce), Mom had sucking pig

Dad decided to have a fromage plate.

Since it is a goat farm, we assumed the goat cheese we ate is made on premise. Everything was excellent (DH liked the ravioli but it was just too much for me), and the fresh goat cheese is just something we can't get here in the US. Total bill was around €100.

Excellent recommendation from Fodorites here.

Creperie Anne de Bretagne in Amboise [D]
1 rampe du château

This was a rather forgettable dinner. The creperie is located about 50 yards from the ramp that goes up to Chateau Amboise.

DH & Mom both ordered Onion soup which was quite decent. I had a vegeterian crepe that was blah. DH had an escargot crepe that was not bad. Forgot what else Mom had. Dad only ordered dessert. [We weren't too hungry that night.] Total was €63 for the 4 of us.

Grill Bar Le Saint Louis at Chambord [L]
Place St Louis. 41250. Chambord

This place is right near the entrance to Chateau Chambord. Between the parking lot and the chateau, there is a small square where there are 3 restaurants, and Le Saint Louis is one of them.

Dad had just a piece of cake + coffee
Mom had a seafood salad (lots of smoked salmon and shrimp)
DH had plat du jour which was lamb curry (delicious)
I had a champignon Omlette (nothing special)

Overall, decent food. Total was €36 for 4 of us.

Le Parvis in Amboise [D]
3 bis, rue Mirabeau
37400 Amboise
Tel: 02 47 57 50 07

The restaurant is tucked in a small side street just off Rue Victor Hugo (the main drag next to the Chateau). 2 of us had 2-course and 2 had 3-course

Entrées - Dad had tomato soup (wonderful homemade), Mom had scallop terrine, DH & I both had a Prosciutto with mozarella salad

Plats - Dad & DH both had Coq au Vin, mom had a special 3-fish plate (baked), I had a delicious lamb kabob.

Desserts - a chocolate mousse and a capuccino ice cream

Overall food was pretty good. I think my plat was the best dish. Dinner was €64

Crêperie du Cygne in Chartres [L]
20 Place Cygne
28000 Chartres

We stumbled across this place when we were searching for lunch. From the outside, the place looked full. However, Madame then came out of the restaurant and told us there is an upstairs where we could sit. This place looks like a Mom and Pop diner and Madame was very hospitable.

We had 2 galettes (savory buckwheat crepes), 1 omelette, and 1 sweet crepe. Food was alright as I don't think anyone can cook these wrong. We also had 1 cider, 1 juice and 1 tea. Total was €35,20.

-------------------------
That's it for the Loire Valley. Next to come is restaurants we ate in Paris.
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Old Oct 26th, 2007, 03:48 PM
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Between work duties and World Series, I haven't had time to finish the rest of the trip report.

I'll try to write some more this weekend.
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Old Oct 27th, 2007, 03:25 PM
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What/Where we ate in Paris

Brasserie Flo
(inside Terminal 2F at CDG) [L]

We ate there when we first arrived in France. We had a 4-hr layover at CDG between our arrival from the US and our TGV train to Tours.

For lunch, they offer a €22,90 2-course menu; a €29,90 3-course menu; and a la carte. We both went for the 2-course.

Entrées - DH had a cold tomato soup with chorizo sausage with olive oil sorbet on top; I had a legumes salad topped with poached egg

Plats - We both had duck confit with panfried potatoes

Food was pretty good though we felt it was a bit pricey. We also didn't like the fact that there's no room to store luggage.

Le Petit Prince de Paris [D]
12, rue de Lanneau
75005 Paris
01 43 54 77 26

We ate here on our first night in Paris. We actually got to the restaurant at around 6:45p, to find that it doesn't open until 7:30p. We put our name down on the reservation list. We walked around the Sorbonne neighborhood and the Pantheon and returned at 7:30p.

I think this was overall the best meal we had on the trip. Best in the sense that every dish each person ordered was delicious.

Dad ordered their special Duck plate. It comes in a huge platter, with duck being prepared in at least 10 or more ways (pate, duck breast, duck gizzard, foie gras, potatoes panfried in duck fat etc).

Entrées - Mom had a delicious zucchini soup. DH & I both had salmon carpaccio (excellent).

Plats - DH had pork cutlet in honey & red wine sauce, I had a Bass filet with tomato/mushroom puree, Mom had Beef Bourguignon.

Desserts - we shared 2: a banana mousse with mango puree, and a chocolate mousse + white chocolate mousse + almond icecream

Everything was exceptionally good. Our bill was €112,50

La Citrouille [L]
10 rue Grégoire de Tours
75006 Paris
01 43 29 90 41
Métro : ODEON

We ate here after our morning 6th eme walk with Paris Walks. We didn't have a place in mind for lunch, and stumbled upon this restaurant.

For lunch, they have a €12 3-course or a €15 3-course menu.

Entrées - Dad & I both had onion soup (just ok), Mom had escargot, DH had mussels in a garlic sauce

Plats - Dad & DH had grilled lamb, I had some kind of a white fish with cream sauce, Mom had leg of duck (very big and juicy, the best duck leg we had on this trip)

Desserts - crepe with honey + icecream, crepe with chocolate sauce, apple tart. I chose Fromage blanc with miel - this is the first time I've had fromage blanc which I quite enjoyed.

Total was €51.

Le Temps Perdu [D]
54, rue de Seine
75006 Paris
01 46 34 12 08
http://www.le-temps-perdu.com/

€17,80 for 2-course menu; or €24,70 for 3-course. DH & I had 2-course only.

Entrées - DH had their homemade tomato tartare (very light and delicious), I had soup with mussels + vegetable julienne

Plats - DH had rabbit with mustard sauce, I had duck confit with hash browns

Overall pretty good food though my duck was on the dry side. Dinner for 2 was €50

Le Pre Verre [L]
8, rue Thenard
75005 Paris
01 43 54 59 47
http://www.lepreverre.com

We tried to eat here for dinner 2 years ago but were turned away as we didn't have reservations. We showed up at 12 noon (opening time) for lunch without a reservation and we were seated downstairs.

The a la carte prices can add up quickly, fortunately they have a lunch formule for €13 which includes:
starter, main course, 1 glass of wine, and coffee

There are no choices for the formule. On the day we went, we had:
Avocado salad with sesame sauce
Filet de Lieu Noir (a kind of white fish like Pollock) with citron sauce and couscous

The food is fabulous and beautiful presentation. I'd say this place serves more contemporary dishes than other more traditional restaurants we have tried.

Le Petit Saint Benoit [D]
4, rue Saint-Benoît
75006 Paris
Phone 01 42 60 27 92
http://www.petit-st-benoit.com/

This place has been around for years and was packed on the Friday night we went. Tables were close together.

I don't think they have prix-fixe menus. We ordered a la carte.

DH had escargots and then plat du jour which was panfried sole with boiled potatoes.

I had soup de legume, then grilled lamb shank with mashed potatoes.

For desserts, DH had a lemon meringue which is served in a hollowed-out lemon! I had another fromage blanc with miel.

Our bill was €50,50 for 2.

Mariage Frères [tea]
35 rue du Bourg-Tibourg
75004 Paris
01 42 72 28 11
http://www.mariagefreres.com/

This is our first time here. Once we sat down, we were given this thick tea menu... My goodness, there are hundreds of teas to choose from. In the cafe section, one can see the tea steward who works tirelessly behind the counter preparing pots of teas for customers. Behind him is a huge shelve/cabinet with several hundred of cubbyholes, one for each tin of tea. It was fun to watch him prepare the tea.

Each pot is €8 - €12, and holds at least 4 full cups. (We didn't know, so we each ordered a pot. 2 people can easily share 1 pot.)

DH ordered L’aventurier. Me, being less adventurous, went for the Five O'clock tea.

DH also had 2 scones (comes with butter and jam). I had this unbelievably good dessert called "Bulle de Neige." It is made with a dome of Fromage Blanc flavored with White Magic Tea and strawberries filling. The dome is surrounded by small cubes of green apple jello.

Our bill was €34.

Cafe Richelieu inside Louvre [tea]

This is on the 1st floor of the Richelieu wing, and is a serviced cafe. Their hot chocolate is quite good. We also shared a gaufre (Belgian waffle). Total was €13,10.

boulangerie PAUL [breakfast]
http://www.paul.fr/

We went to the one on the corner of rue de Seine and rue de Buci. This one has a formal sit-down area and a casual sit-down area.

We ate at the casual section (serviced). A "continental breakfast" includes coffee (or tea or hot chocolate), fresh-squeezed orange juice, one bread (choice of croissants or bread). It was €7,50 or so. DH was still hungry after that, so he had another 1/2 baguette with jam and butter.

---------------------

We also had ice cream at Berthillon on Ile St Louis; and macarons from Laduree.

A word about the macarons. This is the first time I've had them. They are really from out of this world! I bought 8, of 4 flavors: Rose, Lemon, Coffee, and chocolate. Each one has such delicate flavor... I only wish I had bought more. 8 macarons cost just under €9.

That's all for the food on this trip!

final word about food

Overall I think we ate very well on this trip. I find the prices cheaper than the US. In most restaurants, their 3-course menu is €25 or less. Even with the poor exchange rate, this comes out to about US $35. This includes tax and service already. In the US, it's not unusual to see a main course priced at $30 or above.

I find the food we ate had excellent flavors. There were no over-salted dishes. Here in Dallas, almost every restaurant (moderate or expensive ones) put way too much salt in the food.

The French people in general are very relaxed when they eat out. No one is rushing. It took me almost a week to get used to it. Unlike the US, there's no waitstaff coming up within a minute to say, "Hi, my name is _____ and I'll be your server today. How are y'all doing tonight?" It's not unusual for us to wait 10 minutes before the waitstaff comes over to acknowledge us.

Anyway, it's just our cultural difference and I'm not saying the US way or the French way is better.
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Old Oct 28th, 2007, 03:34 PM
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yk
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The Wedding
My friends decided to have a destination wedding and picked the Loire Valley. Château de la Bourdaisière is just a few Kms from Tours, so it is relatively easy to get to from the US.

The morning of the wedding was a bit chilly and gloomy. There is a lot of fog/mist in the Loire Valley each morning. After breakfast, DH & I visited the famous tomato garden. They grow hundreds of varieties of tomatoes there. Since the annual festival had already taken place a few weeks earlier, we were told that we could pick the tomatoes and eat them. I did, and they were delicious.

In the afternoon, me and a few other gals along with the bride went to a coiffure in Montlouis to get our hair done. The hair salon was recommended by the staff at the chateau. It probably is the first time that salon gets 5 American women customers! None of the stylists there speak English. Fortunately, a few of us do (not me) and the bride was able to explain to the stylist how she wanted her hair done. Prices ranged from €16 (styling only) to €21 (I had wash, blow dry, and styling) to €60s (for long hair: curling and up-do). Overall it was quite fun for us.

By around 3pm, the sun finally burned the mist off and it was a gorgeous afternoon without a cloud in the deep blue sky. The wedding ceremony was held in the garden of the chateau at 5pm. After the short ceremony, we took pictures with the couple, then retreated to the cocktail area. The hors d'ouvres are not just pretty to look at but also delicious.

The reception dinner (which I described earlier) lasted about 5 hours. Afterwards, we retreated to the Grand Salon of the chateau and hung out until the wee hours in the morning.
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