Lazy, lazy day! I woke up at 6 and tried to listen to KQED in San Francisco, but it kept cutting out, so I gave up, and just listened to the street noises. Very quiet today. Mary and I planned to go to lunch with her daughter Cece and boyfriend JJ, and we would meet them at noon at the Hotel Saint James Albany. I was trying to keep an ear open for bus sounds, but promptly fell back asleep until 9 a.m. Lots of time before we needed to leave, so I started reading.
Really, I did mean to take a shower… But all of a sudden it was 11:15 and we needed to get moving. So I found my nicest tee shirt and got dressed, while Mary rested after her ablutions. We tried to call the hotel, but got some recording in French which of course neither of us could make heads or tails of. Being late was not an option. Downstairs we managed to flag down a taxi and were on our way.
Miracle of miracles, it was only 11 euros, thanks to the taxi meter. And we stopped right at the belted-off stop in front of the hotel. After stepping through this fantastic arctic entry, circular doors that open, let you in, then the doors on the other side open and you’re in the hotel lobby. Beautiful hotel, tastefully decorated for Christmas. The staff was very helpful and Cece was down shortly to meet us. Mary was full of questions for Cece, one of which was “Where are we eating?”. Cece guided us over to the concierge, and he suggested a nice place about 5 minutes from the hotel. Since Cece & JJ still needed shower and dress, I volunteered to scout out restaurants. I really didn’t want to sit still in the lobby, so it was a great excuse to get up and wander around.
The building just down the street was where the German general in charge of Paris surrendered to the allies, saving Paris. Apparently bombs had planted throughout Paris and if he had not surrendered, the plan was to destroy Paris. I am thoroughly grateful that Paris was not destroyed! What a beautiful city! Mary really wanted to eat at the Hotel Meurice, where this happened, so we passed by a couple different places before stopping there. It was pretty pricey, but still under 40 euros, which I was okay with. Hey it’s Christmas! Splurge a little!
And I was so glad we did! What an experience… We ate in the small hotel bar as the Dali lunchroom was fully seated. The waiters are all attired in coats and ties, super dressy. Our coats were whisked off to a coatroom out of our sight. Chairs were pulled out to seat Mary and me, while Cece & JJ sat at the couch. Menus were produced, and we had to laugh at Cece and JJ, because they selected the Pop Art Hamburger, while Mary & I had french fare. I chose scallops with smoked cauliflower and Mary had Chicken Rivoli, chicken with artichokes.
My dinner arrived first, well before everyone else’s, and at first we wondered if it was some sort of appetizer. About 8 small scallop circles over a skimpy pile of cauliflower. I didn’t really recognize it as my dinner for a good 10 minutes. And I was the only one willing to taste it, so luckily it was my dinner!
The hamburgers were actually steak sandwiches with french fries and very good, according to Cece & JJ. Mary’s chicken had a delicious sauce… Wish I’d gotten the recipe. After the plates were taken away, we got two dishes of chocolates, most of which I got to eat because no one else liked chocolate that much. Of course that was just a lovely treat. Cece & JJ had cappuchinos while I had a chocolate souffle. The cappuchinos came with more chocolates, and I wanted so badly to get a little doggy bag, but oh so tacky to ask for one! So I left them on the table.
Before we left, I had to make a trip to the toilet after hearing Mary & Cece’s glowing reports. Oh my! An electronic toilet that I would LOVE to have in my outhouse in Fairbanks! Or at least the heated seat part I would love to have. Had to try out the bidet too, of course. Quite pleasant! Not sure if I would use it very often if I had one, but it was an interesting experience. The hand washing part was pretty normal, except for the cloth towels that really do dry your hands.
While we ate, I, of course, was gawking around, staring at everyone and seeing what they were eating. I glanced back at the gentleman behind us, dressed in a suit complete with vest and tie, and he said Merry Christmas, to which I responded with Joyeux Noel. I think he was enjoying eavesdropping on our conversation. I meant to say goodbye to him too, when we left, but forgot. I’ll always wonder what might have happened…
Mary wanted to see Cece & JJ’s room, so we rode the elevator which was probably twice the size of the one at the Hotel Saint Marcel, where Mary & I are staying. Likewise, Cece & JJ’s room is twice as large too, with a toilet and sink in one room and the bathtub/shower in another, with a heated towel rack. There is a spa and exercise room in the hotel, which we toured. Beautiful swimming pool, small but perfect for lap swimming. And you get a hotel bathrobe and slipper set. I’m jealous, a little!
We caught another taxi home and Mary promptly fell asleep. She’s been battling an awful cold, and between that and her leg (she broke her leg last year and it’s been difficult for her to walk very far), she has been having a tough time. I goofed around on the iPad and finally realized it was almost dark and if I wanted to see anything on a walk I’d better get going. I can’t believe it took me so long to realize that we were within 2-3 miles of pretty much everywhere I’d been for the last couple of days. The embroidery shops were farther away, but Notre Dame, Cece & JJ’s hotel, Musee d’Orsay, the Louvre, l’Orangerie… A good share of the places I’ve seen are very close to our hotel. Tomorrow I am walking to Le Marais, the Jewish quarter, and I’ll be able to walk along the Rue LePrince, which is named after a friend’s relative. And the Jardin Luxembourg.
Tonight I started out by walking by the Natural History Museum and Jardin des Plantes, which unfortunately was closing just as I went by. I kept going and stumbled on this cute little street, Rue Mouffetard, with tons of restaurants and little shops, that is apparently walking only. Many of the restaurants were open even though it is Christmas. I might have to drag Mary here tomorrow night; we could take a taxi so we could enjoy walking along Rue Mouffetard. I stopped at Starbuck’s-barf, but I wanted a decaf coffee, which “it was too late, they were closing in less than an hour”. What the hell closing had to do with decaf coffee I have no idea. So I kinda stomped out of there, but what the heck, it’s just coffee. So I wandered around a bit more, finally got back to Blvd Saint Marcel, and stopped at Le Canon des Gobelins where I had two Jamison’s and a plate of Fines Claire, these specially grown oysters. Not that I needed more to eat, but oysters… I couldn’t resist.
So, now I will stumble home and add some photos and get this online for you!