Saturday, October 17, 2009

Paris 2009: We're Not Meant to Visit Any Museums on This Trip...

Day 8: We started the day with an incredible lunch at Priori, suggested by Tony's friend Megan last night. I clutched onto her hand sketched map and found our way to this "secret" location - not likely secret for locals, but having walked the area for the last week, I can't believe we had no idea it existed! First we walked through the garden in the courtyard of the Palais Royale, which we did not know we were allowed in. After passing through the garden and a number of small shops, we came onto rue Vivienne and finally the cute gallerie Vivienne! The restaurant is a little cafe with tables taking up half the narrow walkway under the glass dome, a nice way to enjoy the sun on a cold day! I had the plat du jour, a rich bean soup served with guacamole and salad. A totally unlikely combo in my mind, but was good, trust! I really dislike beans and actually had no idea what was in the soup initially, but decided to order it after seeing it arrive on our neighbours' tables. The rosey, savoury soup was very good indeed, despite the beans :P It really hit the spot for the cooler weather we've been having! Tony had an amazing pasta with mushrooms, served as a salad with plenty of cheese. We loved having lunch in this quiet not-so-tourist spot - delicious and quaint, the kind of place we wish we could visit everyday to enjoy a long leisurely lunch.

Paris has a museum for everything and everywhere, but we haven't made it to any on this trip, always waiting for a rainy day to do indoor stuff. At the tower yesterday, I noticed a fashion museum I had not seen before: the Musee Galliera, housing the evolution of fashion through the years and its significance to the city. We chose this one over the fashion and textile museum close to the Louvre since the building exterior was so beautiful, not knowing much about either. We made our way to the lovely renaissance-style palace only to find it was temporarily CLOSED due to some fragile exhibit! What good is it if no one can see it? I was so sad to waste part of our LAST DAY in Paris commuting to a closed museum. Sigh. We fast forwarded our plans for the rest of the day and head over to Opera to do some real-time fashion exploration ala department stores! We first stopped in Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing store known for high quality casual wear at low prices. Apparently, it only just opened here in Paris last week and it was insane...MOB insane, we moved like cattle into the store. The line-up to pay was wrapped around the edges of the store, with a helpful staffer holding a "line ends here" sign 3 walls away from the cashiers. Thankfully, they see to have adopted Japanese efficiency because the line moved quickly. By the time we left, there was a line-up just to get into the 3 level store.

We made our way over to Au printemps for some last chance shopping. Shopping in Paris really is amazing, always the latest styles and colours in every brand imaginable. Department stores feature uber high end to affordable and fashionable love love. After some thorough browsing of clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories galore, we made our way back to the gourmet gallery at Lafayette across the street. One of our priorities for the day was to pick up some cheap wine and champagne to bring home, and also some more pate for the plane ride. I wish we could just freeze a bunch and take it home, but we'll just have to savour the last of it tomorrow as we fly back over the Atlantic.

We decided for once to try out one of the restaurants recommended in the Eyewitness Guide in the Opera district; but of course, we found it closed. Luckily, the concierge at the hotel it was attached to was very helpful and recommended a lovely french bistro not far away, Auberge St. Roche. It was a cute little restaurant indeed, and hidden down a side street that we never would have found on our own; in the end, we feel blessed that our original plans didn't work out but ended up trying something more local. Most of the restaurants here offer 3 course prix fix, and you choose the options. To start, Tony could not help but have foie gras since it was our last dinner in Paris! I had escargot served with french wild mushrooms in a cream sauce. For mains, I had swordfish, which caused me hesitation at first because it is generally tough, but at the auberge it was good - solid yet tender and seasoned just right. Perhaps the swordfish I have had in the past was just always overcooked. Tony had veal medallions in a light cream sauce, which was also delicious. We were sure one of us had to have veal since there were 3 different options on the menu - had to he a house special, right? We couldn't pass up dessert and had creme brulee and profiteroles. We both agreed they couldn't compare to the dessert we had at Coup d'Etat the first night (pannacotta and tiramisu) or the amazing apple crumble I had last night; but nonetheless, it was enjoyable.

After the late dinner, we made our slow stroll back to the hotel. Again, love how convenient everything is relative to where we are staying and how beautiful the city is to walk at night! I would come back to this location in a heartbeat, walking distance to most of the areas we have been this past week - there's no better way to enjoy the city.

Alas, we have to say au revoir to Paris tomorrow. One last meal, and maybe a last chance at some sort of museum in the morning? Over lunch, we both reflected on how relaxing our week has been - we would wake up and then decided where to go based on weather, walked to different sites and markets, found food as we went, and shopped as we liked. Feels like a life we could enjoy everyday. Europe, maybe you are in our future afterall...

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