May 12, 2014

Paris Part 3

The Eiffel Tower at night

After our visit to the Louvre, we relaxed at home before making our dinner reservation. This was, by far, one of the most interesting nights we spent in Paris. The restaurant is quite small and cozy, tucked away in a corner of Paris.

My wonderful Grandparents and mother at dinner

The man who is the manager of the small restaurant (by small I mean small, it was only one room with a bar and an adjoining kitchen. There was also a really small staircase that opened down that you reached by literally climbing inside one of the cabinets behind the bar), he is also the "waiter" of the restaurant that brought your food and checked on you constantly, was charming and very nice. As with many French men and women, he was naturally charming and flirty--we forged a wonderful friendship during the course of our 3 hour meal.
A gorgeous-looking cheese plate next to me

We were the only diners at the very beginning of our meal, eventually three business men showed up as well however the rest of the fully-booked restaurant wouldn't show up for hours yet. Parisians eat much later than we're used to so we were the select few diners at the beginning of the dinner service everywhere we went.
They clean up nicely…at least I think anyway

The meal was exquisite, amazing, fantasmagorical. I nearly rolled out of the restaurant I was so stuffed after it was over. The entire evening was wonderful, our host was funny, flirty, and great at what he did and overall I would definitely recommend this restaurant to everyone and anyone traveling to Paris. Paul Chêne is the name of the restaurant, you can find their website here. (Just a little hint, the house champagne was the absolute best that I had the entire trip!)
Ma mère et moi dans le restaurant Paul Chêne
Selfie game a solid 5.6

The next morning we were all up bright and early to meet our walking tour that started at the beautiful Palais Garnier. Our guide was very funny and personable, perfect for us. Her company is Discover Walks and they work completely off tips, you don't pay unless you like the tour. They also only hire native people from the city so they know all the small nooks and crannies you wouldn't see on a conventional tour.
One of the musical-ode columns on the side, this one is for Bach

We met our guide on the front steps of the Palais Garnier, named after the architect of the grand opera house: Charles Garnier. To us, this building was grand and breathtaking and we were awestruck. But our guide let us in on a little secret…the Parisians aren't so fond of the setting of Phantom of the Opera, mainly because of the huge mix of architectural styles. "It's too much!" She explained. 
Another behind-the-scenes secret: that giant square part of the building to the left of the picture? There are five floors in that building just to hold the scenery needed for the operas held here.

I appreciated all the nods to different architectural styles and was itching to go inside, however our tour did not pass through the grand doors but instead continued down the busy street. This was definitely the loudest street we had come across in Paris, cars zoomed by and bicyclists rang their bells and walkers chatted on their cellphones in the concise French, very little of which I could understand (no matter what I told my grandparents). 
Très jolie, non? 

I was very glad when our large party turned down a side alley and came across a hidden square with a beautiful statue in the middle. She explained that it was an ode to a man who used to host infamous prostitute parties for important men before Queen Victoria heard of this man (who went by an important and presumptuous code name) and demanded to be invited to his "parliament sessions". That'd rather be like inviting your grandmother to an orgy…not exactly good for British-French relations. So…the man faked the meeting and Queen Victoria was completely fooled!
The architecture of Paris really struck me as gorgeous, as does the architecture of Washington D.C. (still)

We continued along our tour, down across a very famous and very expensive shopping street housing the likes of Cartier and Tiffanies. We also spotted the shop where Coco Chanel got her start and the hotel Ritz-Carlton(currently under construction)where our guide and her brother had a run-in with Beyoncé.
Napoleon's Needle: impressive and yet also overbearing

We moved on down the street to these huge gardens in between the Louvre and the center square of Paris, with the Eiffel Tower always visible in the distance. 
The symmetry of the garden really spoke to me

Once used only as the Royal gardens, people would pass by and not be able to enter the giant gates. But now the gates are open and the park is flooded with pigeons, coffee stands, playgrounds, and strolling couples. 
The obelisk in the center of the roundabout "square" with the Arc de Triomph in the distance

After our wonderful, wonderful tour we explored some churches and cathedrals that, sadly, I was unable to photograph. However, we stopped in the biggest wine store/café in Europe (my mother's personal Disneyland) and I ate a chocolate éclair for lunch. 'Twas delicious. 
Don't know if that's real gold but I do know it was real good

Stay tuned for my next installment! (Hint: it includes a spiritual experience, and lotsa' chocolate)


(Read Paris Part 4 here!)

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