Friday, March 03, 2006

"Tell Us about Paris!" Day Four (Saturday)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Well, Saturday for the main part was the day of disappointing food. Or it could have just been my mood. The weather was permanently overcast, and I always feel drained and easily irritated when I can't see the sun.

We were all a little late getting started on Saturday morning. KT, Doug and I agreed to meet Lyle & Jim at Hotel De Ville. All feeling a little hungry, we looked around for a place to have a petit dejeuner. We ended up at this place called Paul. Now, Paul was busy. Usually that's a sign of a good restaurant. Or at least a scene, you know, a place where people go to be seen being there.

Paul was neither of those. It was expensive, and it was not good. We paid more than what we would pay in our hotel to have coffee that tasted like it had been sitting around for hours. Ewww!

Because the service was super slow (not even the casual French service can explain it) we had to rush out and find my uncles. Once we'd met up, the group went into the BHV which is a department store near the Hotel De Ville. We looked around, and then made our way on the metro towards the Eiffel Tower.

It was a grey, dreary day, but worse than the rain was the wind. It kept turning our inexpensive umbrellas inside out.

Oh, and at the Eiffel Tower, they have Army guys with semi-automatics on patrol. It's eerie. You just want to walk up and go "can I have my picture taken with you because no one's going to believe me?" But they looked unapproachable. I don't think you're supposed to talk to the men with machine guns.

The private lift to Jules Verne was broken, so we waited outside to take one of the regular lifts up. Once inside, it's clear you've come to a very class place. Elegence in the decor, low voices, good taste and money all around.

The first time I went there, I was intimidated. I kept thinking someone was going to throw me out because I wasn't dressed well enough or didn't look that I had enough money to be there. But no, if you're paying, they'll serve you. But if you inconvienence them by... say, being in the bathroom when the appetizers come so they have to wait to perform their syncronized reveal, they get pissy with you. (Pissy is the best way to describe it, because it's that uptight displeasure that's not really called for.)

Ok. They got pissy when KT and I were in the bathroom instead of sitting at the table waiting for appetizers like we were 'supposed' to be.

Also? Women are specifically given menus that do not have the prices on them.

Anyway, since it's on the second level observation deck of the tower, it's a fanastic view—completely sheltered from the elements.

The first time I went to Jules Verne, the food was the best I'd ever tasted. Everything from appetizer to the coffee after dessert was indescrible.

This time... not so much. The appetizer (little poppy seed buns, one filled with crab and the other with lobster) were amazing. The dessert (a raspberry, chocolate and mousse cake with raspberry sherbet) was to die for. The coffee erased all thoughts of the "truck stop/continental breakfast at the Super 8" coffee we'd had at Paul.

But the entree of duck? My uncle makes better duck. The duck at Au Chenziot on Thursday night was better. Plus, the price that the meal came to this time was (per-person) almost triple what it was the last time we were there.

So, it was a bit of a let down for those of us who had been there before.

After Jules Verne, our run of not-so-great luck continued. Jim led us on a mapquest adventure to find a store called "All Things Eiffel." We located the store, only to discover it was closed on Saturdays.

After some debate over what do with the rest of our afternoon, we returned to the hotel to change our shoes/put on warmer tops, and then KT and I returned to Lafayette Galleries. The only time we used the subway on our own, and there's a protest of some kind outside at the Republique. No problems for us, other than some old French man trying to pick me up. Anyway, we made it to the Opera stop without any problems. Looked around and left as the stores were closing, the only success of our trip was me finding a souvenir for my friend Kim and KT purchasing striped gloves.

Returning to the hotel, we learned a restaurant that I wanted to return to couldn't fit us in until 11 pm. KT and I decided that since we had to leave the hotel at 11 am the next morning, that probably wasn't a good idea. (We wouldn't have been home until 2 am because that's how meals work in Paris.)

Instead we went to Barcane, which someone thought we might have ate at on the previous trip or considered eating at. It was...okay. It definitely wasn't Les Petits Marsailles.

After Barcane, Jim and Doug drug KT and I out to see the sights. Since it was our last night there, it was our last chance to see "The City of Lights."

Our plan was to see L'Arc De Triomphe and then walk back down the Champs Elysees towards a metro stop. We did, but on our way to the Arc, we were treated with the on-hour light show the lit up Eiffel Tower has. It's Vegas-Jackpot-Disco-Crazy. The tower strobes. It looks like it's celebrating or maybe high on extasy. It's brilliant in that way that makes you want to laugh at how overdone it is.

It reminded of the little tree we had on the bar at Christmas. It was strung with these rice lights that had a random pattern setting. Every once in a while it would hit what we could only describe as "jackpot disco" where the lights would all flash in a moving pattern. That's right, the Eiffel Tower was trumphed by our bar tree.

We also saw La Place Victor Hugo. It's very close to the Arc.

And the Arc... is huge. Everything in Paris is, actually. It's size makes it real in a way that reproductions at themeparks leave you feeling cheated. (My reaction to the Paris Hotel in Vegas? "The Eiffel Tower is bigger than that." Hell, I think the Tokyo Tower is bigger.)

It's humbling and inspiring at the same time.

The Champs Elysees was packed, everyone walking up and down. None of the stores were open, most had been or had just closed. But there's clubs and restaurants up and down the street, and a lot of people seemed to be doing what we were doing... just walking around taking it all in.

We caught the last train back to our hotel.

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