DAY TWO: PRISONERS AT LE JULES VERNE

In honor of Robert’s birthday – we overslept – surprise! Then we got carried away at the breakfast buffet in the hotel and ate too much before heading out to locate the Eiffel Tower, where we had a 1:00 lunch reservation at Le Jules Verne. We’d been to Le Jules Verne during our previous trip four years ago and it had been a highlight of the trip. At that time it was a two star Michelin restaurant. During our absence they had lost a star. We would soon know why.

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Video ascending the Eiffel Tower.

The service and food were impeccable. I totally won the order war.  Robert requested guinea fowl and I ordered lamb.

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It looked as though we were going to have another perfect experience – until something happened.  I can only assume the manager who had been present throughout the early part of our meal waved goodbye to his staff and left for the day because they suddenly forgot they were waiting on us, and instead every table in the restaurant was waiting on them.

Waiting for a refill of water. A refill of wine. A check. Anything.

We are familiar with lengthy meals and taking our time, but truly, service (or lack therof) was obviously how they’d lost that star. The staff hovered between the dining rooms, chatting with each other and ignoring their tables. It was a sour note on what had been such a promising start. A chorus of “l’addition!” rang out when one of the wait staff mistakenly wandered back into the dining room.

Once we paid the bill – or “ransom” as I called it, we descended and walked through the Champ de Mars toward the Musée de l’Armée.

If you have a chance to visit the Musee de l’Armée and it is more than 80 degrees outside, DON’T GO. Not kidding.

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The museum itself is fascinating, especially the medieval weaponry and armor as far as I’m concerned, but we began to realize as we made our way chronologically through the various sections, that air conditioning was non-existent. There are no words for how miserable we were. Wait. Yes there are: Hot, sticky, sweaty, Sweet baby Jesus…

Much like the Germans, we rushed into WWI haphazardly and made straight for WWII heated, offended and destined for disappointment. 

Eventually, we gave up trying to soak up the history and dragged ourselves toward the exit. The last stop of the day was the Dome de Invalides, where we sought Napolean’s tomb.  Here is where my ignorance knew no bounds. We approached an archway to our right, where I began snapping photos of what I thought was the little guy’s tomb. It was impressive indeed.

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Then we realized it wasn’t his. This is one of those times the ability to read French would be really handy. We noticed a good deal of people looking over a railing in the center of the room and made our way over. What did we see?  A freaking ridiculously oversized “tomb.” Seriously. Talk about compensating!

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Note: Napolean lies within six separate coffins. They are made of iron, mahogany, two of lead, ebony, and an outer one of red porphyry. Don’t ask me why. 

After fooling around and taking photos of Robert with the gargantuan repository of Monsieur Bonaparte, we caught a cab back to the hotel, cleaned up, and strolled to a quaint neighborhood café near the market, L’Atelier Du Marché.

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Here, we were having a lovely evening when in came a pack of screeching American women.  Approximately six of them came  in sounding like twice as many. The table behind us, with two men and a woman (all French) turned annoyed eyes on the group and one issued a few sharp, “shhh, shhhh, shhhhh” reprimand.  Surprise!  They didn’t hear – or care.  We went from being able to talk quietly to each other over a relaxed meal to discussing how best to shut them up without bloodshed. We felt it necessary to apologize to the owner and our server on behalf of all Americans. They kindly accepted and assured us most guests were NOT like the ones that were currently spoiling everyone’s evening.

As we exited, Robert stopped at their table and stood staring at them all, shaking his head. I’m sure they missed the subtle hint that they were rude hyenas.

Most rude hyenas do.

Day 3 to come!

 

 

 

DINING AND BOATS (PARIS, DAY THREE)

Day three found us preparing for our much-anticipated lunch at the Eiffel Tower (La Tour Eiffel). Robert made reservations in advance for Le Jules Verne restaurant, which sits 125 meters high in the Tower – or about a third of the way up. Several benefits here. One, it’s a Michelin 2 star rated restaurant. Two, lunch is less expensive than dinner, and three, you can enjoy the view without waiting in line for hours, or paying the extra ticket fee.

The restaurant entrance is to one side, and private. You are escorted up the elevator by an attendant who deposits you in the lap of luxury. We were one of the first seated, and as we made our way down the line of wait staff, we were greeted by neatly dressed men and women who welcomed us with “Bon jour madame, monsieur.” I felt as though I were in a receiving line to meet the Queen. Once in the dining area we tried in vain to resist the urge to gape.

We maintained our dignity just long enough to agree to an aperitif when we couldn’t stand it a moment longer. I wanted to photograph everything. The tables, the place settings, the view… it was ridiculous. With champagne in hand I looked across the table at Robert and saw a look on his face I don’t know that I have ever seen. For a moment I thought he might well up with tears. Which of course made me well up with tears. (Perhaps we are way too affected by dining experiences and amazing views.) I think day three, at such a location, jolted us into the reality that we were in Paris. France. Finally. Again I wondered how I would ever convince Robert to return home.

Of course, we were not too intimidated by the surroundings to include the lovely Flat Marketing team.

At which point we became the giddy American tourists again.

We selected from a prix fixe menu, and each item arriving at the table was more creatively arranged than the last. It was almost a crime to destroy them by taking a bite.

This was even prettier but I had to re-create it when Robert nearly throttled me for removing a piece of the “country toast” before snapping a photo.

Afterward, we stepped out to the second level viewing area. It was getting cooler and the wind was whipping up. Security was watching so closely one came up and told me to close the flap of my purse, which I had open right in front of me (between myself and the railing) while I snapped a picture. I became instantly paranoid, which is probably a good thing.

To walk off the rich lunch, we strolled along the Seine until it began to rain and we had to seek shelter next to a food vendor’s shop. Although it didn’t last long, we were now damp and cold, so we made our way back to the metro (which was still giving us fits with the passes) and returned to the hotel to get ready for our dinner cruise with Bateaux Parisiens. This trip is all about the food, apparently.

We splurged because I was wearing ridiculously high heels and took a cab directly to the river to board the boat for an 8:00 departure. What ensued can only be described as a romantic food and drink fest. I think we had two bottles of wine. (Hey, they came with the dinner, basically. One red and one white. Plus an aperitif to start.) Champagne, anyone? Why yes, thank you.

If you go to Paris, you MUST do this cruise. The food was excellent (from what I remember), and you see beautiful sites, all lit up along the river. People dancing on the banks, other boats passing by… it was an event to remember. Unfortunately, I did have one of those directionally challenged moments while on board. If Robert had his own blog, it would no doubt focus on, nay, LAMENT my total inability to recognize anywhere I am or from where I’ve come. Seriously. Every day we took the same route to the metro, and every day on the way back to the hotel I would have SWORN we had taken a wrong turn. Nothing looked familiar.

Anyway, at one point, I excused myself to powder my nose, which involved going below deck. Upon resurfacing, I headed toward the left (port) side of the boat and got to the very bow without having seen our table, or my husband. I circled back on the starboard side, by which time, considering the small size of the boat, I had drawn attention from the wait staff. I informed the only one brave enough to ask that I had lost my husband. I am also ashamed to say I asked if there was another level to the boat, which is really sad because I had been sitting under the lovely glass top looking out all evening.

The waiter asked what side of the boat I’d been sitting on. I told him the left. He pointed and sent me on my way. Lo and behold, there was Robert sitting at a table wondering what had happened to me. I swear he ducked under the table when I passed just to mess with my head.

Regardless of my lack of an internal compass, we had a lovely evening and returned via cab to the hotel with only one near altercation. There was quite a bit of taxi cab line-crashing going on that evening and I may or may not have been quietly threatening to punch someone in the face if they stole my cab one more time when out of the blue came what appeared to be a homeless, drunk, French Santa Claus. He and Robert immediately took charge of the situation, bringing order to the chaos. Another international incident was averted, and Homeless Santa was tipped a euro as he opened the door to our chariot.