Untours Cafe

Today was Tower Day! We started off early to get to Montparnasse Tower, a huge skyscraper that gives a wonderful view, from the roof, of the Eiffel Tower and of Paris and its other landmarks. We got there at opening, and though there were lots of tourists, we were soon whisked up to the top floor. From there, we ignored the picture taking ( just say "non, merci"and go on), and then we climbed another two or three flights to the roof. The views were spectacular, even tho the day was not the clearest weather. It truly was fantastic up there! We got back down and went through the shopping area attached to the complex. (I should have bought that Longchamps purse at Lafayette Galleries, it was on sale!! And Bon Marche is not far away either!)
From there we took the bus to the Eiffel Tower. We had no problem with our individual bus passes and we used every one during the two weeks we were there. Thanks, Untours! The Eiffel Tower was breathtaking! It is so huge! Sooo much bigger than I ever imagined. And it was thronged with tourists. We had tickets, bought online, to go up in the tower at the end of our stay. They were the first and best I could buy, the minute they went on sale. And they were for 8 PM. I was really distressed by this, but it turned out to be the best time in the world! So after perusing the Iron Lady from many angles, we walked to the Batobus docks and took a hop on, hop off boat tour. It was a beautiful day on the Seine, and I would highly advise this tour to anyone there. Our first hop off was at the Jardin du Plantes, Paris' beautiful botanic garden. Full of gorgeous dahlias, an amusing exhibition in the greenhouses, ancient trees, lovely allees, it was a magical place. We had an ice cream while there to refresh, then went back and hopped on the boat again. Our next stop was at the Louvre, not to actually go to the museums, but to shop underground at the Carousel. (The museum passes are for two consecutive days, and we had those days already planned out. So it wasn't really heresy!!). After shopping and looking at the tourist traps along Rue de Rivoli, we decided to try to locate O Chateau, the wine shop with which I had made reservations for our tour of Reims. We found it on Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau, and decided to have an early dinner there. It was quite good and the wine was divine. Along the way there we happened upon E. Dehillerin, a gourmet cooking store that was Julia Child's favorite place to buy pots and pans in Paris! It was so cool, it looked like nothing had changed since the 1800's, and was full of arcane and unknowable cooking stuff. I'm a pretty good cook, but some things I had no idea what they were used for! It was fun to browse around until they closed. But it had been a long day, so we went back home to the Marais with a stop at our pastry shop.

Sunday October 5, 2014

Today we set out to go to Luxembourg Gardens and the Rodin Museum, as well as the Pompidou. It was free museum Sunday (the first Sunday of every month) so we were going to work in a couple of museums without starting our two day passes. Got to LG without any problem at all; the weather had turned and was grey and windy, but still not rainy and the gardens were impossibly beautiful. Statuary, flowers, pony rides for kids, boules, sailboats on the pond for kids, it was a wonderful place to people watch and linger. We took a bus in the direction of Rodin, but due to a demonstration, the bus didn't go the route he usually would have gone. At one point, it just stopped and the driver said everyone had to get off, they could not go any further because of the demonstration. We didn't quite know what direction to go, and of course took off in the wrong direction. We got thoroughly lost, and ended up back at Pont St. Michel--not where we wanted to be. We were pretty tired and decided to just do the Pompidou museum instead as it was closer to our familiar area. It was so much fun! We love modern art, and it was an amusing, amazing museum. We spent quite a long time there, and then walked around the fountain outside too, just strolling the area, finally ending up strolling Rue de Rosiers (hello Repetto flats!) and lots of other unique shops with vintage stuff and new. Quite a fun end to a puzzling day!

Monday October 6, 2014

Today was the day for our guided tour of Reims and the champagne country. I had booked this tour online through the wine shop O Chateau, and though it was expensive, it was worth every dime. First, we were in a minibus with six other people, including our guide Richard. And once we realized how far it was from Paris, I was really really glad I let someone else do the planning. I don't know, I guess you could go around Reims itself without a car, but to get to the artisanal champagne houses, I don't think it could be managed without one. And Reims is way bigger than you think, it is not a quaint French village. It was about an hour once everyone was picked up to get there, and the first house we visited was Pommery. It's a major champagne house, but they had a good tour through the caves and the outside, and a great tasting room. We didn't expect to be able to go to Reims cathedral, but Richard managed a short stop there too. The cathedral is undergoing major renovation but was still open and so beautiful. The Gothic lines were incredible. From there we were driven to Maison-Penet, a very small house, where we were treated to a divine multi course lunch with champagne for every course. I can't even remember what we had, but it was bountiful and assorted--a huge salad, little savory shortbread wafers, charcuterie, cheese plates (I tracked down one of those cheeses at Lafayette Galleries and took an entire wheel home!), lovely tomatoes, all of it local and prepared in the kitchen of the owner's house. We sat down with him to eat! It was wonderful, and from there we went to have a look at his vines. Then we were taken to Lancelot-Penet, another artisanal house. None of these champagnes were available here in the US, and we did end up bringing home two bottles in our checked bag. We had a lovely tasting at Lancelot-Penet, met the owner there too. It was a divine day! We were picked up at 7:30 AM, and got back to Paris at 8:30 PM! A long, educational, fun, and lovely day. Our fellow travelers were all very nice, and Richard was a hoot. As I said, some things are expensive, but some things are worth the $$. And this trip was worth it!

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