Barb and Baden’s Excellent Paris Adventure – Part 3

The first night on any of our trips to Europe is always the toughest. In general we start running out of energy around 6PM but we usually try and stay up as late as we can the first night in the attempt to get our body used to the 9 hour time difference as quickly as possible.
This is often easier said than done but our experience has shown that we are usually fully used to our new time zone within 24-36 hours.

We were fortunate enough to get our room on the rear side of the hotel as the front side facing Rue de la Harpe is incredibly busy and we would probably have heard people into all hours of the morning. Despite the street that the hotel is on being pedestrian-only (for the most part), there are so many restaurants nearby that there is a lot of foot traffic.

Speaking of being woken up in the morning, we seem to have this consistent pattern of being woken up in the morning when staying at hotels by construction crews who are working on nearby buildings. Barb and I were recollecting that more than once we remember guys on scaffolding walking around looking in our window when we were waking up (of course with the windows open the night before). Fortunately, this did not happen this time. Of course, we still have 7 more nights to go so anything is possible.

Beaucoup de pain aux chocolate
It would just be criminal to come to Paris and not have not have croissants for breakfast. Croissants with a nice café creme (coffee with lots of creme) is just a great start to a Parisian morning and it just can’t be beat.

But wait, it can!

Many trips to Paris ago, I discovered the natural evolution of the simple croissant. By combining a strip of chocolate to a croissant and shaping it in a rectangle shape, you have the pain aux chocolate.

It’s amusing that just a week or so ago I received an email from my friend Frank (whom I stayed with on my German Adventure 6 months ago) whom I had told about our upcoming trip to Paris and he had recounted all of the pain aux chocolates that he had eaten over the years in Paris.

All I can say is that it’s lucky that I don’t have access to this kind of food close to where I live as it would be difficult to not eat this kind of breakfast every day.

Parisian Picnic
Speaking of decadent eating, we decided that today we would pickup some food from a local market and have lunch in a park instead of eating inside. The weather was still cooperating and it wold have been a shame to not take advantage of it.

We ended up picking up a nice sesame baguette, some goat cheese and fois gras for lunch. We added some nice ripe strawberries and peaches and one or two pastries. Barb was even able to find a small, single serving of red wine as well.

We looked on the map and found the nearest park to be a place called Parc de Monceau and settled on a shady spot of grass for our bounty.

Of everything that we ate today for lunch, the strawberries had to be the biggest surprise. It has to be literally years since I have eaten such flavorful strawberries. Sadly, most strawberries that are found in stores are terrible and often white in the middle with very little taste. These one were red all the way through and incredibly sweet.

Of course, don’t get me wrong, goat cheese, fois gras and a baguette will never be a bad thing but you see I was expecting those to be great.

On the way home from our picnic (which lasted until at least 3:00), we decided to take a metro over to see the Eiffel Tower.

Of course, we had seen the Eiffel tower at least 10 times by now and there is not a more touristy place in all of Europe (with the dozens of hawkers selling those cheap miniature Eiffel tower replicas). However, all things considered, Barb and I could do nothing but just sit on a bench and look at the tower for a long time and be happy.

On our way from the Eiffel tower, we continued to walk along the bank of the Seine about three more bridges as I wanted to see the Statue of Liberty which is located at the Pont de Grenelle. The Parisian version of the statue is a smaller version of the one in New York (which, not everyone knows, was given to the US by the French).

Before I forget, I wanted to set the record straight that the picture of Barb at the top of the last Excellent Paris Adventure posting was taken before she went to her hair salon appointment. Here is a more current picture.

As it so happened, we were spending a leisurely morning just walking around the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area and decided to have lunch at a small shop called La Fromagerie 31 (64 Rue de Seine). Neither of us are sure what the “31” part of the name means but Barb had heard of this place before we left Vancouver and decided to try it out after we just happened to find it by chance.

As you might have guessed by the name, La Fromagerie 31 specializes in cheeses. However you may think that you have seen cheese shops in the past, nothing can prepare you for this one. There are easily over 100 types of cheeses available and the vast majority of them are on shelves fully unwrapped. As a result of this, you are hit with a wall of the most delicious cheese smell as soon as you walk into the store.

It goes without saying that the lactose intolerant need not bother visiting this shop.

The vast majority of the cheese on the shelves have that white or dark green coating on the outside and a steady stream of customers who came to the shop either bought an assortment of cheese by the slice or whole blocks of cheese to go. The rest of us were there to have some kind of cheese-related food for lunch.

Barb decided to order a chef’s selection of 5 different cheeses (above picture) and mine was called a Tartine d’Oceane.

Barb was told by the waiter that she should start with one of the specific types of cheese and work in order to the strongest flavour. Mine was a soft white cheese on a slice of Poilâne bread covered with prawns and assorted vegetables.

We washed down both of our choices with a half litre of great local red wine.

Barb and I agreed that the cheese lunch that we had at La Fromagerie 31 was going to be one of the high points of our Paris trips. We’re both wondering how we might be able to buy some of the great cheese and bring it home with us and get it past the Canada Customs people. Luckily we have a few more days to think about that particular problem.


Continue reading the next chapter of our Excellent Paris Adventure …