Despite the sunshine that lit up the city well until 10pm last night, we turned in early unable to fight the exhaustion any longer. Earlier in the evening we watched most of the Euro 2012 final soccer game huddled in front of our miniature flat screen while munching on mini toasts with black olive tapenade. It was quite a relaxing and quiet way to spend our first evening in Paris.
Although we both slept well, our bodies have not yet adjusted to the 6 hour time difference. As a result we were both wide awake at 2am, tossing and turning and craving more sleep. We did, eventually, fall asleep again and awoke at 10am to a Paris alive and churning with people.
Feeling refreshed and ready for a new day, we made our way down to the cafe below for some much needed French espresso. Here espresso is served in tiny porcelain cups, perfectly placed on a matching porcelain saucer. Coffee here is rarely portable and is meant to be enjoyed sitting in one place with good china. No paper cups, lids, or coffee collars here.
Since dining in a cafe is supposed to be a relaxing experience, waiters and waitresses will let you sit at your table for as long as you wish. We find this to be a delightful change of pace from the US where most restaurants are looking to turn over tables as soon as the last morsel of food is swallowed. When you have finished your meal and you are ready to leave, you just ask for the check (l’addition). Don’t expect to get the check quickly either. This morning we waited up to a half hour for a check for two espressos. This may sound totally frustrating, but its not, especially when Paris surrounds you.
After our morning at the cafe, we went in search of a grocery store to pick up some bottled water and snacks for our apartment. While I do plan to cook meals during our stay here, I hope to get most of the ingredients for those meals at the local markets, bakeries, and cheese shops. The grocery stores are small and seem to be more useful for those quick and convenient purchases like orange juice, bottled water, and mini toasts. One can never have too many mini toasts.
Next we took a walk in search of the Jardin des Tuileries, the beautiful garden that leads to the entrance of the Louvre. Here you can grab a chair and sit with your feet up at one of the many fountains or stroll down the beautiful tree lined paths. The grass is so green and so perfectly manicured it almost looks fake.
Though this is a very crowded and touristy area at midday, we still ventured over to a favorite cafe we ate at the last time we were here. All we wanted was a croque monsieur, a simple ham and melted cheese sandwich. The cheese, robust in flavor, is melted on the top of the bread, while a thin slice of ham rests between the two slices. This particular cafe, La Terrasse de Pomone, serves this classic sandwich with a green salad topped with a light mustard-like dressing. Using your knife and fork, sink your fork into the greens, then a piece of the sandwich, and what you get is heavenly. Just be sure to keep your eye on the goods. The pigeons are frequent customers here and find the menu quite satisfying if you are willing to share.
Upon exiting the gardens we walked right into a carnival. Since we’ve never been to a French carnival, we decided to take a walk through it. We are sure glad we did! It was absolutely hilarious and definitely entertaining.
While some parts resembled a typical American carnival with bumper cars and fun houses, other parts were totally unlike anything we’ve ever seen at a carnival. For example, the phrase “personal bubble” takes on a whole new meaning for us now after seeing this:
This particular attraction was called le magique bulles, translated “the magic balls”. Basically, you sit at the edge of pool, they drape plastic over you, then blow it up with air. Then they dump you and your personal bubble in the pool where you can roll around and bump into other people’s personal bubbles. It was definitely fun to watch.
We were also pretty surprised that this carnival brought its own log flume. Imagine that, a portable log flume! While all of the attractions were fun to look at, they also looked clean and quite safe. I would challenge Paul to a round in the personal bubble tank, but I’m pretty sure neither one of us is coordinated enough not to hurt ourselves.
We had a pretty healthy walk back to our apartment in the Les Halles district. On our way we looked for a restaurant, Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie, that I had researched and wanted to find. It is small and serves some French classics like caussolet and foie gras, both of which I cannot wait to try. Attached and right next door is a small market which sells various meats, wine, jarred cassoulet and other tasty treats. We plan to head over there and snatch a table for a late dinner tonight.
Paul plans on taking some photos in the evening light tonight. And, just in case you are wondering, we have snuck a few peeks of the Eiffel Tower from afar. It is just as beautiful from a distance as it is up close.
I cannot believe we are here and am already eager to show our moms around when they arrive. I’ve fallen completely in love all over again, just like I did the first time I was here. Except this time, I’m not gushing about a ring and a tower, but immersing myself in the culture of Paris, taking it easy, and enjoying every minute with my husband, who started this whole thing, right here…