We got up and packed, then checked out and tossed our gear in the A4 for the trip back to Paris.
Rather than do the whole thing on the Autoroute, which is a snooze, we drove northeast along the Loire River past Amboise. The scenery was good, traffic light, and our favorite radio format (Nostalgique) turned out everything from Elvis to Motown. Aside from “Karen,” our GPS, telling us to make a right turn when there was no road on a couple of occasions, all went well. We use “Karen” primarily because her French pronunciation is even worse than ours.
Once on the A10 Autoroute, we cruised along with light traffic and no problems until we got close to Paris and Orly Airport (where we were to turn in our car) when Karen tried to send us off to God knows where. Fortunately, the Bevigator knows the route well and took us right where we needed to go – Karen sulked and kept muttering “recalculating.”
Baron’s Limo picked us up at Orly (they are terrific) and took us to the Sofitel near the Arc de Triomphe. Our usual Paris digs – Le Lavoisier – was full, so we opted for the Sofitel, and it was grand. A huge suite, nice lobby bar, and great location.
After a Kir and a glass of Chablis at the bar, we walked two blocks to the Balzac Hotel, home to Pierre Gagnaire, a three-star Michelin restaurant. This is generally considered the best food in Paris, and – having eaten here a couple of years back – we decided to try it again to confirm our previous experience. Marc and Catherine came up from Tours to meet us for dinner. The meal was exquisite, probably the best we have ever had. We opted for the tasting menu – seven courses in all. The flavors were incredible, and the presentation superb. The wines were also tops – flutes of Krug Brut Champagne to start, followed by a Pernand Vergelesses white Burgundy, and a Vacqueryas red from the Rhone.
Bev was taking photos of each plate as it appeared, having 1st gotten permission from the head waiter. At the end of the meal, Pierre Gagnaire came to the table and chatted with us. He was delightful, and asked if Bev would like to take photos in the kitchen, which she did. He returned to the table again, and asked if she would like a picture with him, in the kitchen. As you’ll see from our photos, both of them were beaming in a great photo taken by Catherine.
Totally stuffed, we waddled from the Balzac to Avenue Friedland, near our hotel, and bid farewell to Marc and Catherine, who will be coming to Boca to visit in September. Then, a short stroll to the Sofitel, and to bed. A memorable day.