14 December 2010

PARIS: Day 4

CA is motivated to explore Rue Cler, a pedestrian market street on the left bank just beyond the Metro École Militaire. We recently read Rick Steve’s article in a travel magazine where he explores this street with a local friend. Since it’s a little off the the beaten track we head there for coffee and a very cold stroll.

There’s enough frost on the pavement in the Tuileries this morning that we first think it’s snowed, although the pavement and sidewalks are clear. It’s just very cold today, and although the sun is out there’s a bit of wind and I’m very thankful for the red leather gloves I bought at the Christmas market last night.

The red gloves. They sure looked red, lipstick red, last night under the stars, streetlights, and the blinking Eiffel Tower. In the light of day they’re more a rougey red—red with a definite pinkish cast. I still like them, but they certainly clash with my red knit scarf.

After Rue Cler (not a location we need to revisit), we walk around École Militaire and then turn toward the gold-leafed dome of Invalides—Napolean's final resting place. A spectacular sight. I was here just once—our first trip in 1999—on my own, unsure at first of what I’d discovered. It’s awesome, especially in the sunny light of this winter day.

We decide to walk along Rue de Varenne toward St. Germain for some window shopping, discovering a darling children’s bookshop along the way. Unfortunately, we can't remember the name, but it's just next to Hotel Relais Bosquet at 19 Rue du Champ de Mars.

Just window shopping...

There’s another Christmas market near the St. Germain des Prés Metro, and we can’t resist strolling through before heading to Le Relais de l’Entrecôte for lunch. We’d planned on dinner tonight, but we’re here and we’re hungry.

We enjoy a spectacular entrecôte, the frites and the “secret” sauce are first rate. Last time we made the mistake of eating at Le Relais de l’Entrecôte in the 8th just off the Champs Elysée,  and were very disappointed. The St. Germain location at 20 rue Saint-Benoît affirms our expectations and first experience with LG in 2007. MK and DM were out on their own one day during our visit, and we were in charge of LG. We were all over the city that day, ending up here for dinner. We were seated against the wall of mirrors, and LG was very well-behaved. She loved the frites, and spent her time trying to entertain the diners at other tables. Another great Paris memory.

Anyway, we have a delightful meal and we're finally learning to stretch out déjeuner with a glass or two of wine and a lot of lingering. It's warm in here, and the wait staff has been particularly attentive and accomodating. The steak is perfectly prepared, the frites are hot and crunchy, and the mysterious, secret sauce as good as remembered.

I spend a couple of hours in the hotel room to warm up and finish my book, while CA visits the new Spring Boutique for a wine tasting. He can't buy more wine because of baggage weight restrictions (he's already stockpiled 3 bottles) but he enjoys his experience and the converation, and can't resist booking lunch reservations for tomorrow.

About 7:00pm we bundle up—did I mention that it’s cold today? The coldest we’ve ever had in Paris—and go for a walkabout. Not sure whether we’ll require dinner we walk Place de Madeleine and then Opera, window shopping and venturing into the few shops open after 7:00pm—Decathalon and Habitat, for two.

I’m intent on circling Place Vendôme until I find the small grocery store I visited in 2008. It's not that it's so special, but it's the closest to our hotel and we did buy some good chocolate there. I remember it’s near Pain Quotidien—a Belgium chain of cafes that feature natural and organic selections. We eventually walk into Place de Marche Honoré and violà! We decide that we're not hungry enough for full dinner, but soup sounds good.

CA orders a vegetable quiche and salad, and I opt for the tomato soup, salad, and a sandwich stack of organic bread, ham, and cheese. Really too much food, but delicious and the soup begins to warm me up. I finish off my meal with a pot of English Breakfast tea, which is served in a simple cream-colored small cappuccino bowl. I want a stack of these bowls. I know I can find something similar at home, but I’d hoped to buy some here. I love warming myself by wrapping my hands around the bowl—many times I drink coffee or tea just to clutch the warm cup.

It’s a short walk back to our hotel—to facilitate our next visit to Paris, let me be specific:

If we walk left out of the hotel and turn left on Rue l’Alger, walking toward Rue St. Honoré and turn right, it’s a very short walk to Place de Marche St. Honoré on the left. We go one block on PDMSH and it’s on the right. The Franprix grocery store is just next door to Pain Quotidien.

Another full and lovely day in Paris.

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