Barb and Baden’s Excellent Paris Adventure – Part 4

Shopping Mecca
You knew that it was just a matter of time before I talked about shopping.

For all of the places that Barb and I have been to, we are both of the opinion that Paris has the best shopping in the world. I should qualify what we mean by best because I think that people may have different opinions about what this means. First, we’re not talking about great bargains. As a general rule, most things in Paris (and Europe by and large) range from slightly more expensive to quite a bit. There are exceptions to this like wine which is typically cheaper here but as a rule, don’t come to Europe if you’re looking for a cheap vacation.

What we do mean by the best shopping is the sheer selection of high quality products in single, large locations. Namely, the department stores.

By far the biggest and best department store in Paris (in our opinion) is the Galeries Lafayette located on Boul. Haussmann. Right next to Galeries Lafayette is a department store which we consider the #2 called Printemps. Between these two stores, they take up about 6 city blocks.

Galeries Lafayette is comprised of the main building which had 6 floors pretty much dedicated to women’s wear. One whole floor is just women’s shoes.

Notice to all men: under no circumstances should you ever consider going to the women’s shoe floor. The carnage is simply unbearable. In fact, stay away from the entire main building of Galeries Lafayette. Only agree to meet your wife on neutral ground like on the street.

Wisely, Galeries Lafayette (as well as Printemps) both have dedicated buildings for men’s wear. Between the two department stores, there are a combined 9 floors of men’s wear.

The building called Printemps de la Mode is the main store for women’s wear spread across 7 floors.

If none of this were enough, both stores have dedicated maison stores for all kinds of house wares. No fewer than 11 floors (in total) are dedicated to house wares.

Barb and I have long ago agreed that we don’t shop together. Even if we weren’t in Paris where the men’s and women’s stores were actually in separate buildings, we have found that it is best four our relationship to just say goodbye and meet back at the hotel on our own schedule.

What this all usually means is that Barb will go her way and I will hopefully see her back at the hotel some time before we fly back to Vancouver (4 days from now).

I, on the other hand, will go through the combined 8 floors of men’s wear, try on several jackets, purchase one and be out the door under 90 minutes.

Suffice to say, while Barb and I both enjoy shopping in Europe, we have a slightly different approach to it.

The Search for Coq au Vin
Coq au Vin is one of those traditional French dishes that really sounds more fancy than it really is. Basically just chicken cooked in a wine sauce, it really isn’t all that difficult to make but for some reason Barb has been trying to find Coq au Vin on the menu on every trip to France that we have made and has never seen it. On Tuesday night she was finally able to find it.

At a restaurant called the Auberge de la Reine Blanche (30 Rue Saint-Louis en L’ile), we were both able to enjoy a nice relaxing dinner but most importantly, Barb was able to cross off Coq au Vin from her list.

Speaking of relaxing dinners, we have been finding ourselves eating later and later every night. As I write this (on Thursday night), we have been sitting down for dinner approaching 9PM. Most of this is due to us coming back to the hotel in the late afternoon (around 4 or 5PM) from a full day exploring the city and then having a quick snooze. Often, this quick sleep turns into us waking up after 8PM so hence the late dinners.

Not that we mind. We deliberately don’t pay much heed to the time while we’re here so eating later isn’t a huge concern for us. We have been ending our evening with a stroll along the Seine for an hour or so and have found that this has been the best way to work off some of that late night food.

Speaking of late night food, the all time record for us for eating late was on our trip to Spain about 4 years ago. On that particular vacation, we found that showing up at a restaurant at 9PM meant that we would be dining alone and that people would typically be coming in just as we were finishing. As a result, we gradually shifted our schedule to start eating later and later. By the last half of our time in Spain, we were usually eating dinner between 10 and 11PM!

Paris from the top
As I mentioned earlier, we had made several visits to the Eiffel tower on each of our three visits to Paris but there was one this that remained that we wanted to do in this category: to go up to the top of the Eiffel tower.

Given the hugely popular appeal of the Eiffel tower, it’s not too surprising that getting to the top of the tower involves braving huge lineups to get tickets before you even set foot in the tower.

Depending on how adventuresome you are, you can take the stairs or elevators to the first or second platforms but only an elevator will take you to the very top level. Since we wanted to go to the top, we were getting tickets for the elevator.

I’ve already mentioned that the whole Eiffel tower thing is pretty high on the touristy scale but quite honestly, you really have to put this all aside because the view from the top of the tower is pretty spectacular.

It goes without saying that you should try and do a trip up the Eiffel tower on a sunny day because the entire city becomes visible from end to end and you’ll come away with some pretty great photographs. At the time of this writing, the trip to the very top of the Eiffel tower costs €11.50. Consider this money well spent.

Our favourite Parisian Pizza
On one of the days that we went to Boul. Haussmann to do some shopping, we made a point of stopping in at one of our favourite restaurants for lunch: Pizza Pino (27 Boul. des Italiens).

Pizza Pino happens to be the only restaurant that Barb and I have been to in Paris on all three of our visits. After going there the fist time in 2002, we have made a point of seeking it out at least once every time we are here. In every case, we always order the same type of pizza: the Palerme.

As you might be able to see in this picture, the unique thing about the Palerme at Pizza Pino is the egg that they add into the centre of pizza. We had heard of an egg pizza before we went to Paris the first time but now of course we look forward to it each time.

Take our word for this. If you’re in Paris, get yourself to Pizza Pino and order a Palerme. You won’t regret and and you’ll thank us for the advice.

While on the subject of pizza, I can’t help but reminisce about the very best pizza that I have ever had. It wasn’t in Paris but in Naples.

On Our Excellent Italian Adventure – Part 7 (I’ll have to put the link to that article on my blog when I get back home), I had talked about going to myself to Naples while Barb, Peter and Liz went to Pompeii. In Naples, I happened to stumble upon a restaurant called Pizzaria Trianon and had pizza lunch that will be the benchmark of pizzas for me for the rest of my life.

I’m finishing up this segment of our Excellent Paris Adventure on Friday night and while we have more than three days left before we come home, I will post the final installment of our Excellent Paris Adventure in a few days.


Continue reading the final chapter of our Excellent Paris Adventure …