After two days of constantly running around Paris going from site to site it was nice to take a night and meet up with an old college friend Tony who got married to a French girl and moved over seas. We started off hanging out at one of his late night spots which he compared to Denny’s, Le Tambour where we snacked on some various pig meat, and a few pints of beers. While Tony ate a steak frites, Joy and I shared a French Onion soup which had half the amount of onions and twice the amount of cheese in the soup.
After we had filled up with some food we took a stroll down the street for some whiskey and continue out discussion about the differences in the mindset between the French and Americans, and how there’s so much possibilities to get all sorts of clients but its so difficult to run in a business because of all the social services built in to the work society. (If you get laid off, you get a year’s salary).
With a flight to catch in the morning, we had to cut the night a little shorter than i probably could’ve gone. Since we had such a light dinner we were hungry walking back to our apartment and figured that we haven’t had a crepe yet, so we headed to a corner shop with a line down the street. We ordered a Nutella, and Coconut crepe which was HUGE, and warm and gooey. After scarfing down the crepe we headed back to our place but stumbled upon a fry shop and got one last snack to eat back at home.
The strangest thing i found about Paris was that there is nothing open at 7am in the city. While waiting for our cab to the airport i tried to find a boulangerie to find a croissant and coffee to snack on, but as i was walking around the city the only thing open were the bars still. There weren’t a lot of people in them, but there were people still up from the night before still drinking, people peeing in the streets, couples fighting, and this one girl stumbling around who eventually just decided to take a nap in the middle of the street.
Macarons are kind of a big deal in Paris, and one of the great debates of the city is LadurÃ©e vs. Pierre HermÃ©. We luckily were able to try a sampling from both places and in my opinion both were great. Joy said that she preferred Pierre, but i really couldn’t differentiate much difference. I guess it didn’t help since we got 3 different flavors from each place so there was no real baseline to compare, but Joy said that the texture from Pierre was better and it was also true that my favorite flavor was the Mosaic : Pistache, Cannelle de Ceylan & Griottine (Pistachio, Cinnamon & Cherry).
With a good foundation of how the French make their macarons, we took a class on how to make them at La Cuisine Paris. The two hour class had us go into group and go step by step of the baking process from measuring the ingredients, to making the chocolate ganche, mixing the meringue batter, piping, baking and finally filling them. After the cooking was done each person had a dozen or so personally made macaron to take home.
A few notes that we learned from our class is that there are two methods of making the meringue, an Italian (Pierre Herme & the one we were taught) and a French (Laduree) method. The guy who opened Pierre actually once worked for Laduree, and always opens a shop nearby any Laduree. The shells typically don’t have a difference in taste, and the color is purely for for identification of what type of macaron it is. It was a very fun class that we’ll try at home.
The second morning in Paris was a little more relaxed with no reservation time to meet and a little more knowledge of the city we took our time walking from our flat to the Louvre. On the way there we stopped by a bakery and picked up another freshly baked croissant and snacked on it for the rest of our walk.
We got to the museum before it opened and there was a good lined formed already, and i had planned to go through the mall as all the guidebooks say, but i had no idea where the mall was in relation to the quad of the main entrance. We gave up and stood and line, and it wasn’t really that bad once they started letting people in, and it just happened to be the bag check that took a long time and once you were down stairs there were plenty of machines to buy your ticket and just walk into the galleries.
Once inside we headed straight to the Mona Lisa since again all the guidebooks said that the Mona Lisa would be busy. The Mona Lisa is pretty deep inside of the Museum and on the way there we passed by one of the other Big 3 of the museum that was on my list to see, the Winged Victory of Samothrace which was probably my favorite of the 3.
After a few more turns and another long hallway of paintings we made it to the Mona Lisa. It was nice being there early with only one row of people in front of the painting. It only took a second to make it to the very front and center to take a picture and i even went back to the side to actually really look at it more closely.
I was surprised by a few things once we got there. First the room where the painting lives is HUGE, basically the size of a small warehouse, and most pictures of the crowds i see seem like the painting is in a hallway with no where to move. To get a sense of the size of the room, this painting sits on the opposite wall of the Mona Lisa. The second this is that the painting was bigger than i expected. My sister made it out to me that it was like 8×11, but really its a typically poster size.
The major piece of the Louvre that we needed to see was the Venus De Milo. Unfortunately multiple Asian tour groups got there before us and were swarming around it like obnoxious bees talking loudly and trying take self shot pictures with it. We didn’t want to get associated with them so we looked, shot and moved on.
We lingered around another 30 minutes or so mainly around the other greek sculptures but decided to skip some of the other wings of the museum for another trip to Paris.