So we bid London farewell with one fewer member in our tour group and headed on the Eurostar from London St. Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord.  Oh Paris!  City of Lights, city of love.  We had a very short time in Paris, hardly long enough to do it justice.  In the two-and-a-half days, I squeezed in trips to Notre Dame Cathedral, Musee d’Orsay, Versailles, a Seine boat cruise, the Latin Quarter, Musee du Louvre, the Champs Elysees, and the Eiffel Tower.  Phew!

Along the while, we had some interesting eats.  The first night, we dined at Le Saint Germain after Musee d’Orsay.  We were starving and ready to keel over so I made the executive decision to head over to Saint Germain where I’d heard there was good food.  We stopped at this brasserie on a street corner (very typical of Paris, no?) and a cute waiter handed us a menu.  I barely looked at it and said YES PLEASE FEED ME.  We shared some escargot (just me and Mom: Dad isn’t quite at that level yet), I had a canard dish (shredded duck under a layer of mashed potatoes), Dad had a roast poulet with fries, and Mom had a sandwich with smoked salmon.  The escargot was fantastic.  We had six fat snails the size of ping pong balls, a clamp to grab them, and a two-tined fork to jab out the meat and spin them out of the shells.  Okay, so the idea is kind of gross, but it really did taste delicious.  Our escargot weren’t soaking in butter as I’ve had them before, but rather just covered by enough pureed parsley and light butter flavor.  They were screaming hot and juicy.  Next to us, an older French couple struck up a conversation about whether we Americans enjoyed the escargot.  I honestly answered yes, and the gentleman told me about how he prepares escargot…with a shot of absinthe injected into the snail meat.  Ooooh.  My duck was also really cool: when the waiter placed a square dish in front of me, not in the least bit resembling duck, I was befuddled, but after digging into the potato layer atop I found the shredded duck.  The duck meat was salty, but paired nicely with the potatoes overhead.  It was also surprisingly filling: I was nearly full halfway through the dish.

Very good for my first real brasserie experience.  I had eaten in similar restaurants in Paris before and in New York for that matter, but those times didn’t feel all that real to me.  Why?  In Le Saint Germain, we suffocated in cigarette smoke and haze.  Locals conversed with us.  I tried out some rudimentary French.  It was really fun and unique!

I’d be lying if I said I was above McDonald’s.  Though I rarely eat there in the States, we found McDon to be very convenient and quite authentic in Paris.  I ordered from McCafe for breakfast twice: cafĂ© au lait et pain au chocolat et croissant.  So, their pain au chocolat isn’t amazing and their croissant is nothing to call home about, I thought they were quite good and served the immediate purpose of breakfast.  Mom, on the other hand, enjoyed her bacon-egg-and-cheese and orange juice daily.  The rest of the breakfast items in the glass case looked too indulgent for breakfast, though I wouldn’t discount them for dessert; these included tiramisu, lemon tart, and macarons.

Many friends of mine who had visited Paris recommended the Latin Quarter, particularly one street called Rue Mouffetard.  My friends obviously know me well because I fell in love with Rue Mouffetard, a narrow lane with tons of restaurants with outdoor seating and locals spilling out into the street.  We had dinner at Chez Nicos, a famous hole-in-the-wall crepe place.  I heard their Crepe du Chef was the thing to get: eggplant, mozzarella, feta, onions, and tomatoes.  Now…I was quite disappointed in Chez Nicos.  The guy making our crepes had a stack of pre-made crepes sitting on a hot plate.  No!  That’s breaking the main tenant of crepe-making!  I want to see your batter pour out from a ladle and be spread across the hot plate with a funny spatula stick!  Their second issue was that, although the first bite of my crepe was quite good, there were diminishing returns: a few more bites down, it tasted less delicious…and then less delicious…and then more and more of the same.  The third issue was that I nearly choked on a huge stretchy mass of cheese and eggplant that wandered into my throat at the same time.  So, Rue Mouffetard yay, Chez Nicos nay.

The next day, I met a friend near Montparnasse for lunch.  We wandered around a market and then found ourselves at a boulangerie for lunch.  We had the quiche lorraine and ham gruyere sandwiches.  I loved my quiche: it was quite egg-y but had nice salty chunks of ham studded in the custard.  The quiche was a revelation to my mom, who was still raving about it afterwards.

During the course of our wandering down the Champs Elysees, I was desperate to try the macarons at THE flagship Laduree.  So imagine my disappointment when we get there and the place is boarded up, under construction.  Instead, they set up a tent outside to sell their pastries.  Not that the tent wasn’t beautifully decorated with chandeliers and frilly satin, but I was sad that I didn’t get to see their tea room and their full spread of stuff.  I got a handful of macarons for not-cheap: salted caramel, vanilla, rose petal, citron, pistachio, and raspberry.  They were all amazing: every good thing you hear about Laduree is true!  In fact, I’d never tasted a vanilla macaron that made me so happy.  Something as simple as vanilla, you’d be surprised how many macarons can’t convey a good vanilla flavor.  I also swooned when I bit into the rose macaron.  It was very fragrant and stuffed with a fat glob of rosy buttercream.  Heaven, absolutely heaven.

Our last activity in Paris was to climb the Eiffel Tower.  Not really climb, because that would be 1,665 steps, but rather stand in line and take an elevator to the top.  The view from the top is truly spectacular.  Every city has its beautiful skyline and sparkling lights, but there really is something special about Paris at night.  Gorgeous.  After we had our fill, we ran down to a stall just across the street for crepes.  I sat and ate my poulet fromage crepe while watching the majestic Eiffel Tower.  It was really incredible.