Paris – It is what it is

St. Germain – photo credit to Fodor’s!

Night was falling as we left the Jardin Luxembourg. Neither BH nor I was remotely hungry but neither one of us wanted to get back to our marginal neighborhood at 10 pm and look for food there. So we walked some more. We found the fancy shops (Laboutin for $1700 euros) and enjoyed the setting sun.

And then we turned a corner somewhere and found all the people in Paris. Yes, they were all in St. Germain, and they were all eating. Sidewalk cafes, inside restaurants, people walking, chatting, laughing. I admit that the cacophony of the area made me want to escape just a little bit…and so we cut up a side street and chose a restaurant, any restaurant, to have a snack. For anyone who cares, it was a place called Chalet Gregoire, which was not nearly the best food we had in Paris, yet miles better than many a place we go to in Boston.

And this is where we made our mistake. As I’ve said before, EVERYTHING on a French menu looks amazing because it is French. I call my friend Guillaume “Bergaire” because when he ordered a McDonald’s hamburger as a “Am-bergaire”, it sounded delicious. Well, when you’re a starving graduate student, perhaps everything sounds delicious. I still say he should market for a burger company. So instead of ordering a small appetizer or two, or a salad, we looked at the prix fixe (fixed price) menu and all of a sudden had ordered a three course meal. And ate way too much. The Beef Bourguignon was delicious, very filling but (shhhhh, don’t tell the French) my mom’s is better. Julia Child recipe, just fyi, the Art of French Cooking 😉

As we waited between courses, we chatted with the couple next to us. The restaurant and cafe tables are very close together in France–I definitely would not want to try to have a secret conversation. And so I said something to BH in Portuguese, fortunately not critical of my neighbors, and the man turned and said “Are you Brazilian?” –well, not to me because well, obviously not, but to BH.  The couple was somewhere in their early 80s and were having a nice travel about Europe–and had lived 12 years in Brazil. Seriously, what are the chances?

We left the restaurant overstuffed but happy, and decided to skip the metro home and walk again. Night had fallen and the lights…oh, the lights. I have no idea why they call Paris the city of lights, really, but it must be because of all the lit-up buildings, the lamps along the river, the churches with their golden domes of light. Crossing the L’Ile de la Cité, it again occurred to me exactly how lucky I am.


After a tranquil night, we left late morning to get a blue line train to Charles de Gaulle. That involved a bit of suitcase up the big steps, bumpity bump to the train station at Gare du Nord and down the escalator, figuring out the electronic ticket machines (which fortunately talk to you in three languages!) and making sure we were headed the right direction.

I am not a huge fan of CDG, I must say. The Paris train comes into a central spot and then you must switch to the inter-terminal shuttle train. We got on the wrong side and had to fight like salmon against the river to get back to the right side. Then another 15 minutes to get to Terminal 1, which is dark and round. Seriously it feels a tiny bit like a circle of hell. From city of lights, to terminal of dark. Up the habitrail escalator to the gates. Off again to Iceland and its yummy salmon sandwiches.

A bientot, Paris, let’s make it sooner rather than later!


Tomorrow: Maine. Because that transition works, right?


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