Friday May 25, 2012 & Saturday May 26, 2012 — Paris

Up at 7:30. Put the computer away and packed the last few items. David made ham and cheese sandwiches for our trek to Paris. We bade farewell to Patrick, leaving him with a “thank you” of three bottles of wine – a red, white, and rosé, then hopped in the car for the drive to the Gare TGV in Avignon.

Traffic was light until we hit the bridge on the outskirts of Avignon, always a bottleneck in the morning. The delay wasn’t too bad, and – after a stop to top off with diesel – we were at the station. David dropped off the car, and we were set to go an hour after leaving the mas – good to know for future planning.

The train rolled in on time, and we were off to Paris at 300 kilometers per hour. The sandwiches hit the spot, and in no time we were at Gare de Lyon in Paris. The car service from the Sofitel picked us up for the drive to the hotel. The weather was gorgeous, the traffic light (Monday is another holiday, so folks were heading out from Paris for the long weekend), and the driver talkative and charming. We checked in to the Sofitel and were disappointed to find that their renovation involved converting the charming rooms into “mod” ones – all white mica walls and black and white furniture that really didn’t function well. To boot, the room, and the lobby, were very hot. A quick check revealed that the AC for the entire hotel had been out for a day or so, and wasn’t expected to be functional  until early June.

We headed over to the Champs for a quick stroll, but the crowds were really heavy, so we exited on Rue Balzac and headed for the quieter Avenue Friedland and a seat at a table at Marie-Suzy Café. We people watched for a bit with a kir, then headed back to the hotel to get ready for our dinner at Dominique Bouchet, our favorite restaurant in Paris.

Bouchet now offers a limo service – 36 euro for transport to the restaurant and return. While it is only a 15-minute walk, we decided to take advantage of it, and had a delightful ride to the restaurant. We found that Yann, the restaurant manager for the past several years, had left with one of the chefs to start their own restaurant in the 9th arrondissement. Michel Le Meur is now the restaurant manager and sommelier, a very nice gentleman with a terrific knowledge of wines and food pairings. As always, the staff, food, and wine were all superb. After drinking local Provencal wines for the past two weeks, we opted for a Meursault, my favorite white wine, to go with our meal: an asparagus starter followed by lobster stuffed rigatoni for David; a shrimp tempura appetizer followed by cod for me. We both skipped dessert, but a small plate of sweets appeared anyway. Another terrific meal, and back to the hotel.

Saturday morning we went to the American Hospital for dialysis, finishing a bit after noon, then decided to go to the Place de l’Alma for lunch and some café time. After once again struggling with the pronunciation of Place de l’Alma (apparently David didn’t put enough emphasis on the final “ah” sound…) we made our way up the Avenue de la Grand Armée, around the Etoile, and down the Champs and Boulevard George V to our destination. It was a gorgeous day, so mandated dining outside, preferably with views of the Eiffel Tower. We checked out the menus at a few of our favorite spots, and decided to eat at Chez Francis – not the best food, but the best views and atmosphere.

As usual, the service was rushed and a bit sloppy – they brought the wrong wine and mixed up who ordered what – but it all worked out and we had a relaxed meal, interrupted only by a family whose baby was apparently in training for the finals of the “most annoying crying baby in France” contest. Fortunately, they left quickly, perhaps urged on by hostile glances from everyone around them. The food was not memorable enough to note, so I won’t (we both had something fish-like).

After a leisurely espresso, we headed into the Metro and took the #9 line to Saint-Philippe du Roule, then walked to Avenue Friedland, and grabbed a table at the Café Balzac for a kir and some people watching. After that, it was back to the hotel to pack. We headed down to the lobby bar for a glass of wine and light snack, then it was off to bed.

Tomorrow we head home.

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