Paris – Jour 1

Nous sommes arrivés!!! After 23 hours of long haul flying we have made it to Paris. Coming through immigration and picking up our luggage was relatively easy – although we didn’t go through customs – which seemed really weird. Or maybe there’s customs officers tracking us down as we speak…

Confronted with the decision on how to transfer from CDG Airport to Paris – we decided to take Bubblez’ advice – and head to Paris via train. This was helped along by the fact that we actually had some time to kill before we could call our real estate agent to arrange entry to our apartment. We had arrived at 6am – and couldn’t call her until 9am. It was only after we’d bought our tickets that we found out that the RER train was closed down for the weekend to do repairs.

Oh my goodness – are you ready for an adventure… after one shuttle train, one bus ride, and another train ride into Paris we finally emerged at Rue de Rivoli – slightly dishevelled and certainly without our bearings (thanks to the fact that I didn’t keep a map handy in our hand luggage). Not to worry – we had arrived at about 8:45am (That’s right people – almost 3 hours later – I’m sure that’s not normal). The up-side – it was great timing to make our phone call.

We needed some change to make the phone call – and so decided to have a proper breakfast (as opposed to the cold croissant and cold cuts that we had on the plane at about 5am). At the time we were standing outside the golden arches – and were tempted for about 10 seconds due to exhaustion and disorientation – but we couldn’t do that to you dear readers – you’ll be happy to know that we chose to eat at a French café across the road instead – Café Benjamin.

After we ordered some breakfast I asked the lovely waiter if we could break a note so that I could make a phone call – he was very good at explaining that the public phones only take phone cards or credit cards. Yay – I had one of those. After a few failed attempts at working out the phone number system – I got through to the answering machine (quelle horreur!) – so I left a message for the agent to call me at the restaurant – which she did and we arranged to meet in about 40 minutes.

Crepe with strawberry jam

Fried eggs with shredded ham

Breakfast consisted of a very jammy, tough crepe for me – and fried eggs (omelette style) with shredded ham for Andrew. Ah well – it wasn’t great – but the waiter was extremely friendly and it was a welcome place to rest our weary bones.

A very cheeky photo that Andrew took showing just how dishevelled I was!  I can’t believe he didn’t tell me about my hair!!

After breakfast – we got our mojo on and walked the streets of Paris slightly lost but wandering hopefully in the general direction of our apartment, dragging our luggage with us. Such tourists!! Voila! We found the apartment just on time, met our real estate agent and were oriented to the dishwasher, the stove top and microwave – she then left us to our own devices.

I quickly decided that I needed a cup of tea – but there were no supplies, so this necessitated a bit of an exploration of our surrounds. We all know how I get when I need a cup of tea!! So we headed out and found ourselves in a cute little market on Rue Montmartre where we bought a few staples. We also found a marché on Rue Montergueil which helped us out with some grocery items, and then we headed home. It was only 11:00am!

A cup of tea and a shower later – we finally felt a little bit more human. After vacillating about whether or not to have a nap – we decided lunch would work much more favourably. We didn’t want to travel far, so I suggested the little bistro on our street where we had nearly knocked over some Parisiens with our luggage earlier….

We wanted to keep it light – I have duck l’orange on my mind for dinner tonight – so Andrew ordered a hamburger and I ordered lamb chops! I’m not sure if it qualified as light – but people, we’d been up since forever!  We also ordered a 500ml carafe of Bordeaux which only cost us €14 – it was delicious!! I think we may be ruined for Australian wine after this trip!!

The hamburger was very good – soft bread, good meat and good frites. Andrew was a happy camper.

My lamb cutlets were also great, although much paler than our Aussie lamb… they still tasted great. And the beans were fabulous – cooked really well then sautéed with butter to the point where some of them were a little charred. Delicious!

I have to say the service was sterling from this little bistro – apart from feeling so relaxed and very French – the waitress was very helpful and chipper – and even offered to take this lovely pic of us!!

After bolstering ourselves with food and wine – we decided it would be good to go for a walk in the sunshine. 23⁰C and blue skies – interestingly very little shade because none of the buildings are higher than 6 or 7 stories!!  We didn’t go too far, but checked out the Louvre, Pont des Artes, and St Germain l’Auxerrois… check out the montage below…

Andrew lamented that everywhere you looked was a photo opportunity – so we’ll probably come back with thousands of pics, but will attempt to whittle it down to the very best for you!

For dinner we thought it best to stay close to the apartment, and so I chose a restaurant that had come highly recommended by a friend – L’Escargot! We were told to order the duck a l’orange – I needed no further convincing – but given it was a dish to be shared – I had to convince Andrew!! He was OK with the choice (but I’ll probably have to find a steak frites place tomorrow to make it up to him).

So, we headed down to Rue Montergueil – which is probably the equivalent of our Hardware Street – crowded cheek to jowl with people on fake wicker chairs looking out to the street. We found our restaurant – which was slightly quieter than the others. It was, dear people, snails on overdrive – just about every entrée had snails in it (Andrew even made me crack open the complimentary gougeres to show him that there weren’t snails hidden inside) – so we decided to skip the entrée and go straight to main course. Just as well – because then we realised that main course was served as two dishes anyway.

Me sitting at L’Escargot!

The first dish was the breast and wing – served with an orange sauce, braised witlof and roasted truss tomatoes. The duck breast was pretty nice – but overall we found it to be a bit tough. They actually didn’t let it rest enough (there was quite a lot of juices on the plate that shouldn’t have been there), and I was a bit disappointed that the skin wasn’t crispy (although Andrew found one patch of crispy skin on the wing) – and where were the duck fat potatoes?? Didn’t someone tell the French about duck fat potatoes???

The second course was the leg which had been pan fried – so it was a little bit crispier than the earlier dish. This was served with zucchini and squash – and some more of those roasted truss tomatoes. Again, the meat was a bit tough. Not the best duck I’ve had and Andrew generously proclaimed that my duck was better…

We decided that we should have dessert, mainly because there was a chocolate fondant with salted caramel sauce on the menu. Hello!!

In the end, Andrew chose the chocolate fondant – and thankfully the centre was oozy chocolatey goodness – however, the salted caramel didn’t appear to be salted, and was pretty stingy on the plate. Of course, we’ve been devilishly spoiled with the dark ale pudding with salted caramel at The Commoner in Fitzroy – which according to Andrew is a kick-ass dessert that couldn’t be beaten in this particular round of Paris vs Melbourne.

My dessert was spectacularly presented á table! Fiery and attention grabbing – crépes Suzette served with flaming Cointreau! These crepes were good – and a very generous serve of three. The only thing missing was some double crème to counteract the intensity of the orange sauce – so I stole Andrew’s! Now before you start sending emails, it’s ok people – he wasn’t using it – he had a dob of vanilla ice cream as well!

So, overall – today was a convenience dining day – ironically I’d rate our local bistro, L’Imprimerie the best so far. But I’m looking forward to seeing if we can lift the overall standard over the coming couple of days. Stay tuned….