A May 2005 trip
to Paris by VictoriaLevy
Quote: Victoria and Kelly find the real magic of Paris in the springtime, avoiding all other tourist clichés, while eating some of the most amazing food on the planet, pretending to be French, and actually fooling some French people, fussing over every cat we encountered on the way.
We requested a room with a view of the Eiffel Tower, and we definitely got what we wanted. We did agree to share a queen-sized bed, but we're cousins, so we didn't care. It was worth it. They gave us what we felt was the best room in the house (207). It had its own balcony with three star-shaped lights, facing the tower and the bustling intersection below. The room was sort of triangular and definitely not huge, but it suited our needs very well. The bathroom was clean and modern and had a huge tub which I took long, hot baths in every night. They provided us with lots of fluffy towels, nice soap, and good-smelling shampoos and lotions each day.
We stayed for 7 nights, and our bill ended up being about $1,100 for the whole week. The hotel also has Internet service, free local telephone calls, and a free breakfast, which we never got up early enough to try. This hotel is also steps from the Metro, tons of amazing shopping, The Rue Cler, a post office, the Tower, excellent restaurants, and Les Invalides. It was truly "Splendid". The address is not as listed above. Someone changed it. It is 29 Avenue de Tourville.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 5, 2005
54 RUE FONDARY
Paris, France 75015
When we arrived, there was a wait, and I was shy about speaking French, but the owner was very nice and did not speak back to me in English, which made me happy. Kelly learned her first new French word, cendrier (ashtray), and was amazed that in France people can smoke inside and that it is assumed that you will have wine with lunch.
We had the three-course prix-fixe, which seemed so insanely cheap that we thought there was some sort of misunderstanding. I had a salad with mustardy vinaigrette that had blood-red tomatoes dripping with flavor. That, along with the Poilane bread soaked in the salad dressing, would have been enough to make me happy. We each decided to try to duck confit, which was a thick duck leg and thigh that seemed to be deep-fried, and not in a bad way. It was really crispy and salty, and the duck meat was tender and yummy. It came with cubes of fried potato loaded with chopped, raw garlic and parsley. For dessert, Kelly had an ice-cream Charlotte, and I had chocolate mousse. We were thrilled and went back again on our last day. One of our favorite things was the restaurant's darling cat, Caramel, who is a friendly, playful ginger kitty. We fed her vanilla ice cream and she was immediately our friend.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 3, 2005
Bistro du Septieme
La Tour Maubourg
The menu is small and never the same, because they buy the food fresh at the market each day and only get what is fresh and in season. The day we were there was in spring, so all of Paris seemed to be celebrating an abundance of asparagus and wild strawberries. Luckily, these are two things Kelly and I adore. Our meal began with an asparagus-Parmesan risotto. It was creamy, cheesy heaven. I have dreams about it. It was topped with a little lemon zest and chives for a bit of a citrusy zing.
For my "plat", or main course, I had a filet of beef with mashed potatoes. Now, I know this sounds rather common, but I assure you, there was nothing common about it. It came with some roasted spring veggies on the side and some sort of demi-glace sauce. I don't know what they did to these mashed potatoes, but my goodness. I can only imagine the amounts of cream and butter involved. Kelly had a roasted lamb with couscous that was so tender you could eat it with a spoon. She loved it. They served it with a sprig of thyme lit on fire so that it gave off little puffs of herb-scented smoke as you ate. It was like having a little stick of incense on your plate and a very nice touch.
Dessert was equally perfect. I love how in France, everyone gets their own dessert, unlike at home. I had a wild strawberry tart. It was a small shortbread shell, crispy and buttery (of course), filled with tiny wild strawberries. They were raw and just topped the crust rather than being baked inside of it. On top of that was a generous helping of thick, sweet vanilla custard and then a cumulous cloud of whipped cream. If I were on death row, this could have been my last meal. Kelly had her first creme brulee here. How anyone can get through 25 years of life without having creme brulee is shocking, but if you want to lose your creme brulee virginity, there is no better place than this. It was perfect. I am glad my fiance was not with me this evening, as the erotic noises that this food elicited from me would have surely made him jealous. I want to go back to Paris just to eat here. Go! You will be happy too.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 4, 2005
Le P'tit Troquet
28 Rue de L'Exposition
Paris, France 75007
01 47 05 80 39
I started my meal with a unique salad of haricot verts, mushrooms, and herbs. It was so good that I figured out how to recreate it at home so I could have it over and over. Kelly had frog legs, which she tried to eat with a knife and fork before our sympathetic waitress showed her how to do it. Kelly loved her frog legs, but I decided not to try them. I turn suddenly kosher in the face of weird food.
I had a roasted chicken in a morel cream sauce. Yum, morels! It came with pommes frites, but it was so rich that I took some of Kelly's mashed potatoes instead. For dessert, we shared a plate of profiteroles with a very dark, lush chocolate sauce.
Beware that there is no prix-fixe menu here. It is all á la carte, so it can end up a little more expensive than other restaurants in Paris if you get all the courses. Portions here were large enough for us to feel quite full, though.
At the end of dinner, the wait staff brought us free shots of some sort of clear apple liqueur with ice in it for being the best Americans to visit their very French restaurant. They even complimented our French. We had a wonderful time here, and it ended up being our whole evening out. We were so satisfied that we didn’t need to go anywhere else.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 4, 2005
16 Avenue de la Motte Picquet
+33 1 47 05 98 37
Kelly started her meal with a Parmesan salad, and I had tomatoes and mozzarella, which was a little disappointing to me because I get this at home all the time. We both decided to have a main coarse of sauteed scallops with fettucine. When the scallops arrived, I was somewhat alarmed to find that in France, you get the whole scallop. I am used to a little round white thing, but here it was a big round white thing attached to a green thing and an orange thing. I was incredibly skeeved out about this, but Kelly ate it with wild abandon. The fettucine was homemade and slightly bland for my liking. I was having a hard time with the scallops. They were next to raw, which I understand is how you are supposed to eat them, but I couldn't handle it. I filled up on bread, and Kelly ate my jiggly shellfish. I have to tell you that you should not take my not liking the scallops as a bad review of Le Maupertu. It was my own fault. I should have known that I don't like seafood and ordered something else.
Luckily dessert was much better. I had a warm chocolate cake, which wasn't exactly a cake. It was one of those little round patties of chocolate cake-like substance that is served hot and oozes melted chocolate when you cut into it. This simply cannot ever be bad, and it wasn't. Kelly got a more interesting dessert, and I became jealous of it and kept stealing spoonfuls of her sour cherry sorbet, which was so flavorful and wonderful that it's hard to accurately describe. It tasted like those little dried cherries that I just love, and it was velvety smooth, sweet and tart and refreshing. It was served with thin little almond wafers that went perfectly with it.
In all, I must give Le Maupertu a good rating. It had a pleasant atmosphere and wonderfully polite, elegant service. My complaint was that the menu had too few choices, which led me to panic and order something I didn't like, but overall, it was a good experience, if a little pricey. Here is the English version of the website, with good pictures and a menu:
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 5, 2005
94 Blvd. De La Tour Maubourg
Paris, France 75007
If you won't heed our advice and you must go, whatever you do, do not eat anything here. The food is dreadful, and this is probably the only place where you will find the stereotypical rude French waiters. It is because they are tired of dealing with non-French-speaking, fanny-pack-toting, tourist-T-shirt-wearing tour groups from Minnesota all day. I would be rude, too. Please, jump right back on the Métro and get out of there. My advice is to go see the pretty Place de La Concorde and cross back over to the Left Bank as soon as you can.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on August 3, 2005
Arc de Triomphe
Paris, France 75008
+33 (1) 55 37 73 77
Attraction | "Ile St. Louis"
Kelly and I skipped over the narrow cobblestone streets and delighted in all the food shops. We bought souvenirs at a shop called L'Epicerie, which has an array of honeys, jams, and very unique-flavored sugars in lovely glass bottles. There is a nice scarf shop and some small cafés. We liked sitting at Flore en L'Ile, because it overlooks the backside of Notre Dame and is right at the end of the bridge on the river. There was even a man playing the accordion. I felt like I was in a scene from Amelie - it was just SO French and quaint and perfect. We watched the sunset and sighed over and over. If you go here and do not have a Berthillon ice-cream cone, then you are sadly missing out. It really is the best ice cream in the world.
Ile de la Cité/Ile Saint-Louis
Centre of Paris in the Seine
Attraction | "Palace of Versailles"
Versailles is enormous. We should have gone earlier and been more well prepared. If I had to do it over, I would have done more research, worn more comfortable clothes and shoes, and planned for an entire day. We just went for an afternoon. I also would have brought a snack of some sort.
I liked the gardens the best although they were starkly lacking in flowers. They are mostly trimmed hedges and fountains. Inside the palace is not as opulent as I had imagined. By today's standards, it's very tacky and Donald Trump-ish. The Hall of Mirrors is under renovation, so don't expect to see that. Kelly was disappointed. The lines were horrendous, and it was extremely crowded. One thing I would have liked to do was to ride the horse-drawn carriages through the gardens, but it's 80 euros for about 20 minutes, so it's expensive. Its hard to take pretty pictures because there are just too many people.
In all, it was nice to say we went to Versailles, but it wasn't a particularly moving or even educational experience. I still, however, recommend it.
Some interesting things about Versailles are that there are rumors it is haunted, especially the Petit Trianon. People have claimed to have been transported back in time and have seen ghosts strolling the gardens.
Another thing I recently read on chocolateandzucchini.com was that Versailles actually has a real, working garden and a shop where you can buy produce and products made from things grown right there. I wish I had known about this before I went.
On the way back to the station, there is a lovely crepe place. I don't remember the name, but the service was good, and they made excellent, crispy, lacy buckwheat crepes filled with ham, cheese, and asparagus.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 18, 2005
Palace of Versailles (Chateau de Versailles)
20 Km Sw Of Paris
01 30 83 78 00
Fort Lauderdale, Florida