Second full day in Paris and I still felt like I was walking around in a live action version of Pixar’s Ratatouille. There really is a “stereotype” to the way some French people look and I’m guessing that’s probably because the French are so proud to be French that they only marry other French people. The cross-pollination that’s been taking place for decades in the US is still just being accepted in France. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against patriotism and the pride of a nation, association, or group, but you’d think having giant eyebrows like Persian cats affixed to your forehead and a really arched and narrow parrot’s beak schnoz would be something a nation of trend setters would want to genetically breed out…right? At the very least, when the hairs in your ears are long enough to braid, it’s time to trim!
Arch de Triumph
Second full day in Paris and we started with coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, and some pastries in my cousin’s flat. Then we took the metro to the Arc de Triomphe, and climbed to the top to get another fantastic view of Paris, this time from the opposite end of the city from the Notre Dame Cathedral.
We sauntered down the Champs Elysee on our way to the Petit Palais (which is free). Along the way, we stopped at Laduree for some macarons (chocolate and vanilla) and I couldn’t help throw in a pistachio eclair.
At the end of the high end shopping strip of the Champs Elysee there was this bizarre stretch of booths for the holidays. Each of them sold chachkes or foods from around the world like crepes, waffles, sausages, burgers, pizza, etc. You name it, there was a booth for it. There was one booth that just sold cannelles so I bought one.
It was the perfect bite to hold me over until we made it across the Alexander III bridge which had some subtle humorous Christmas decorations. Then we made our way through the Tuileries Gardens and stopped for lunch at Café Renard, which most guide books said was a good place to stop.
Café Renard in the Tuileries
PROCEED WITH CAUTION! (I’ll tell you why in just a sec) Café Renard is your typical tourist trap. Great location and that’s why people eat here. Normally we’d look for something a little more off the beaten track, but we were hungry and the timing was such that if we didn’t eat then, we would have had to wait until we finished our tour of the Musee d’Orsay and nobody wants to tour one of the most beautiful museums in the world with a cranky whingy little brat (aka Jonathan who hasn’t eaten in two hours). So we stopped.
I had the leek quiche, which was excellent and Jonathan got the Croque Monsieur (which was strange because he normally doesn’t eat pork). Both were tasty and the view of the gardens, surrounding sculptures, and fountains are picturesque. The service at Café Renard was fine, and I actually felt bad, because we sat outside at a table that couldn’t have been further away from the kitchen, but c’est la vie. The prices were a little inflated, but that’s expected just because of the location of the restaurant. The reason I’m skeptical of Café Renard is that I think it’s where I got food poisoning! I know, can you believe the irony.
It wasn’t until I was staring at a self-portrait of Van Gough when I started to feel sick. Maybe it was the glass of red wine I had mixed with all the cheese and cream, but I have a cast iron stomach so something definitely wasn’t right. Jonathan had some bites of my quiche (and no that’s not a euphemism for something) and he was fine, but this came on too quickly to blame on anything else we’d eaten that day.
I barely made it through the Musee d’Orsay without rendering something priceless…worthless. FYI it’s a fantastic museum with the best collection of impressionist artwork. Not to mention they finished the renovation a few years ago and the building itself is just beautiful. But I was a mess. Not well at all. Even just the thought of food made me nauseous. So what did we do? We got on a crowded train at rush hour and headed to the Eiffel Tower. Ugh!
The structure is pretty amazing, and when you see it lit up at night with the sparkly flashes all over it blinging like the paparazzi you do get a little awestruck, but the stirring in my stomach wasn’t from romance and admiration….I was about to blow.
So we went to a café at the intersection of Rue du Mars and Rue Cler, which a lot of the guidebooks recommended as a great place for walking, shopping, and dining. Jonathan picked Le Café Du Marche and ordered the salad with goat cheese, which he said is probably one of the best salads he’s ever had. I had hot water with lemon. The bathroom was too small to puke in and this little shithead teenager kept knocking on the door, so I decided to hold it as best I could.
We took the metro home and got an impromptu jaz performance from some gypsies who got on our train car and started playing some Parisian style tunes with a base, clarinet and guitar. They were awesome and a necessary distraction for me.
After what seemed like 40 days and 40 nights, we got home and I practically reenacted that scene from the Exorcist only instead of everything coming out green it came out…..a la Moulin ROUGE!