January 9, 2011

Arriving in Paris

After several days in England we headed to the City of Lights, Paris. To get here we took the Eurostar train from St Pancras Station in London under the English Channel, through the French countryside, and into the city of Paris. Arriving at Gard du Nord we found a cab and headed to our hotel.

We decided to stay in the 5th arrondissement on a quiet side street.

After checking into our hotel we went out to enjoy the evening. First we went to a cafe for some tea, coffee, and people watching. After relaxing a bit we took the Metro to the Palais Royal stop near the Musée du Louvre.

Being rush hour, the Metro was packed. Coming from London, this is a very different European city. People push onto the trains and it feels more intense. Jonathan mentioned he felt Paris is akin to NYC. It definitely has a big city feel. London, on the other hand even though it is a large has the feel of small villages.

Once we were on the left bank we walked along Rue Saint-Honoré stopping in a few shops and enjoying the Paris evening. When we went to Place Vendôme we walked around the square and looked at the sparkling Christmas lights.

Next we headed to Galleries Vivienne on Rue des Petit Champs. This is a beautiful old shopping arcade with a tile mosaic floor. It is also home to one of my favorite wine shops in Paris.

Finally we went to Willi's Wine Bar, a favorite restaurant of mine from Paris visits past. I was happy to have the opportunity to return with Jonathan.

Dinner in France is a leisurely experience. You start with an aperitif or wine and relax. Then you receive your entree (appetizer in French), followed by your plat (main course), and the cheese or dessert.

At Willi's Jonathan and I shared a bottle of wine from the Rhone Region. For food I got a artichoke and chestnut soup and Jonathan had foie gras to start. The soup was fantastic - rich and flavorful. And, of course, Jonathan enjoyed his foie gras. Then for the main course I got a vegetable dish with stewed beans, carrots, and other vegetables served with fresh arugula and creamy polenta. Again it was very good.

From my past visits to this restaurant the thing I remembered the most was the chocolate terrine. So, for dessert Jonathan and I shared one of these. The smooth, rich chocolate terrine was served with a white chocolate sauce - and it was as good as I remembered it!

And so, the Parisian part of our adventure began...

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