I woke up today and an unhappy feeling came over me… I didn’t want to leave. I’ve had beyond a wonderful experience here and did not want it to end. But, as they say, we must go back to the ‘real world’. So, I decided to make my last day one of decadence, luxury and indulgence… truly Parisian.
First, I hopped the metro to Rue Cler, a market street that is closed to auto traffic. I did a little Christmas shopping at a chocolate shop there and found my way to a Boulangerie where I tried my first Croissant aux amandes and chocolat. A croissant with marzipan and chocolate inside is perhaps my version of heaven in the form of venoisse.
Since I was about a 15 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, and I really really wanted to climb up, I headed over and checked out the seen.
Open.No line. And ice skating had just opened! What a workout the climb was!
And finally, after squeezing my American feet into a posh, European size, I skated… or, you know…
The view was just breathtaking.
And then I ran into my friends from the hotel, recent Dental School graduates from South Africa.
The Eiffel Tower is truly a must see/do in Paris. It is a joy for children and rather romantic for adults. There is a luxury restaurant in the tower called Le Jules Verne that looks unbelievable. However, I’m more of a bistro girl myself, or in Summer, one partial to grabbing some cheese at the fromagerie, a bottle of vin, and a crunchy baguette and setting up camp on a monument or in the Luxembourg park. Just as romantic but it won’t cost one month’s rent to do.
Next, back to St. Germain where I grabbed a cafe from the cornere brasserie (standing at the bar yielded a cafe for 1/4 the price of sitting) and then took a stroll through the beautiful Luxembourg gardens and did a little shopping spree at my favorite, Longchamp. Now, let the record show that I was not going to buy myself anything. But, when the saleswoman said, “6 more euros for the VAT refund (12% back of purchases of 175E or more) I lost my poise and ran for this beauty:
I was tempted the other day when browsing but convinced myself, no. But today I thought, ‘why not?’ It is less than half the price as in the US AND I get the discount. Joyeaux Noel to me!
Next, shopping at Pierre Herme for a selection of macarons for Luke to try. I got a little excited here, too, and got one of each (a beautiful box for 16E-the least expensive box. The woman in front ofme spent 200E). Those of you who have had Pierre Herme macarons before understand. Those of you who haven’t? I may have a couple extra up for grabs for the person with the best offer.
Finally, at 15:00 I set out to find a perfect lunch spot. I decided on indulging on lunch versus dinner so that I’d have the evening to finish shopping, pack and unwind. I have heard wonderful things about Le Comptoir du Relais from many Paris expats so I knew I would be in for a fabulously Parisian meal. When the place was packed full at 15:00, I knew I was on to something.
I got the last single seat inside (right by the door so it was a tad uncomfortable) while the next guests were seated outside with a Le Comp blanket. The place was exactly how you imagine a Parisian bistro to be; jam packed with locals, moderately priced and seasonal dishes, and great music spilling out onto the sidewalk.
I immediately spotted the Salad niçois for 14,00 E and a crisp glass of vin blanc.
Oh mon dieu, what a delight! The salad was served with beautifully rich ‘brown bread’ a great change of pace from baguette.
Next to me sat two older gentleman who felt in the mood to chat. I gave him a puzzled look and said “Je ne parle francais, Je parle anglais.”
He repeated in English, “Where you from?”
“The US,” I started, “Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”
“Ah, Pennsylvania, ze movie Deer Hunter, oui?”
“Uh, yes, I think so. And, Rocky?”
“Ah, yes Rocky!”
The conversation turned to when I was leaving and when I’d return. I said hopefully sooner rather than later.
“Good, I live in St. Germain. You like it here?”
“Yes, mon dieu, I love it here. It is my favorite area so far.”
“Good. You email me and I find you apartment to rent for one month.”
Sounds good to me. He grabbed my Moleskine, filled with the secrets from Le Cordon Bleu as well as all of my personal thoughts through the course of the trip. He proceeded to write his name, phone number, email and the name of his favorite restaurant.
He and his companion left, I smiled and resumed what was perhaps on of the best meals of my stay.
The rest of the afternoon consisted of a little more Christmas shopping, packing, and finally a taste of Buche de Noel (Glace version). And so ends my culinary tour of Paris on a high note.
This time tomorrow, I will be close to arrival at Philadelphia Airport, undoubtedly stricken with intense jet lag.
A bientot, Paris, and merci beaucoup. This city has truly inspired me reaffirmed my sense of self sufficiency and confidence. Further, I’m more inspired now than I have ever been to pursue my dreams until they become my ‘real world’.