Europe Summer 2011 Day 1 - Paris

As some of you guys might know, I went to Paris/Netherlands for a week 2 weeks ago. I took about 1,500 photos on my iPhone and had a difficult time sifting through them, but I am going to do a day by day blog post for all 8 days just because I love to share my trip on the blog and also relive them through it! I have already selected and exported those photos on the plane ride back (14 hours, plenty of time) but decided to do the text part now.

So i finally went to Paris! It's been a long awaited dream of mine to go to the most romantic city in the world, and this year there was a fantastic opportunity with the Qatar 100th Destination 1-for-1 offer, which offered return tickets to Paris for just SGD 867! That is ridiculously cheap, so when it came out and Scott told me about it we had to grab the offer.

We boarded the plane on Friday night after a really rushed trip from work back home, and then cabbing to the airport during peak hour. Not fun, but it was worth it to catch a flight that will transport us to Paris!

We landed in Paris at 7am, and by the time we got out it was around 8am. We took a RER train into the city and also bought a 5-day transport pass from the airport station, which we realized was totally unnecessary because that pass included zone 3-5 train trips, and Paris was only at most to zone 2! That was the worst 50 euros spent. We consoled ourselves with the fact that we did not have to queue to buy metro tickets from the station at every juncture.

We then took a bus from the city and found our hotel after a little bit of intensive map reading and figuring out. The air was chilly! We landed at Cadet, Hotel Touring after a bit and deposited our luggage there because its too early to check in.

We then went for a walk to explore the city!

We first had our first ever meal, our breakfast, at a cafe! We bought bread from the boulangerie opposite and had a cuppa each. 

We then started along the Pigalle stretch, which is apparently their 'red light district'. We saw quite a few sex shops. And the Moulin Rouge windmill, which is THE moulin rouge, but we thought it was just an imitation! We are ignoramuses. Haha.

Wanted to get a french crepe! But this was an utter disappointment, along the Pigalle stretch on the way to the cemetery. Pre-made.. but quite fun to eat still.

The cemetery we visited was full of gothic-styled tombs and ancestral houses.

Here's me. Sunny first day out!

The really efficient us got out of the cemetery and walked to the Montmarte area! It was filled with touristy shops, and bistros lined with people having brunch on a Saturday.

There were many talented artists selling their works along the streets. This guy can really draw!

Along the famous church, there was like a farmers' market. This is a spice tent!

And we saw the famous Sacre Coeur! It is a church and very prominent in the city landscape.

On a Saturday spring day, it was filled with tourists! There are so many Americans. Surprisingly we did not see many Asians.

The panoramic view of the city was pleasant.

Totoro takes a touristy photo with the backdrop!

We saw a carousel down the way.

And it is time to make our way back to the hotel, and check in! It was really cool to just take in the sights and sounds of the city as sort of a little preview. But it was also nice to finally take a break and freshen up after a 14 hour flight. It is called Hotel Touring.

Our room was pretty decent for 85 euros a night. Central location, clean place and really surprisingly quiet at night.

It had quite a large bathroom that surprised me pleasantly after my encounters with Swiss ones.

We then met up with our friend Benoit! It was really cool to see him in Paris, we had so much fun bringing him around when he visited us in Singapore. Now it is his turn to show us his city, and he showed us all the cool parts!

We visited Colette, the coolest store in Paris. The air inside literally drips with coolness. We then went to grab some snacks and got ourselves a nice spot at the Tuileries garden beside the Louvre museum. It was such a perfect day to just sit and enjoy the sun at 6pm. Many others are doing the same, just sitting and enjoying the fine weather.

We enjoyed it together with a fine bottle of Italian champagne from Benoit. So tasty, so bubbly. Life can't get any better.

The grand palace / museum. We will be back to see it!

We took a metro from the coolest metro station entrance, Palais Royale, that had all these decorations around it. The metro entrances are all really quite unique, rather like the New York ones except the word "Metropolitan" looks like a sign from a horror movie.

Here's Benoit on the other side.

We were actually late to meet my pri sch friend for a dinner that was planned and reserved 3 months in advance. We had to hurry. Didn't really feel well then from lack of sleep + drinking bubbly, but I was fine when we reached the restaurant. It was a small hole in the wall place that is hugely popular called Chez L'Ami Jean.

It was the best meal I ever had in Paris, and possibly in my life.

Here's me with the guy that made it all happen!

It was rustic, it was noisy, and boy was it fantastic. We ordered 2 carte blanche (or white menu, which means its a tasting menu comprising of items decided for you by the chef) and a dinner set (entree, plat and dessert) between the 4 of us. A really good decision since we get to try everything in between us without being excessively stuffed such that it becomes unpleasant. We were moderately stuffed!

First up, the soup. It was fish soup.. and these are the anchovy bits before they pour the soup in. They graciously divided the portion into 4 even though there should be just 2 soups. I really like how they considered our 'sharing' arrangement even though the French are not big on sharing, it is more an Asian thing to do that.

The boys also ordered a bottle of red. I tasted it, not bad! There was a decanter and everything too.

The wait staff were really busy busy serving a full house. And one of them really looks like Audrey Tatou, that same aura! You can see the chef behind, and the superman drawing on the wall is a caricature of him. He is rather well-known for his bad temper it seems. The staff jumps at his every order. He's like a french Gordon Ramsay.

This appetiser is from the menu. Foie gras!

Very nice and creamy with interesting textures.

Next was a pot of clams, or scallops? I don't know, but the boys enjoyed it very much because it was juicy and fresh yet well flavoured. I'm not a huge fan of shellfish so I only tried a little, which tasted good!

Next up was the lamb rack. This was part of the menu as well. It was absolutely gorgeous and super well managed. Exquisite. Perfection on a plate.

The scallops came also with a pot of veggies. It was really something. Crunchy, juicy, refreshing and just so well flavoured. It makes veggies taste like.. a real dish! Usually they play a small supporting role but in this meal it was a star in the production too!

Then came the really interesting bit.. The ris de veau. We did not know what it was, and my friend who had researched it refused to tell us until we had tasted it. We hoped it was not brain, and stuck a fork in.

It wasn't brain, but it sure tasted like what I imagined brain to be like, only its not disgusting! It was fatty, and creamy. Like a light whipped foie gras?

Apparently it was the thymus gland of a young calf. I googled it when we got back to the hotel, and it's apparently an organ in between the lungs. I never knew that organ existed!

So now I can safely say that I have eaten a thymus gland before. This beats raw beef, diseased liver and snails hands down.

It was then time for dessert. Best tasting rice pudding ever in my life. Again, not kidding. It was close to mind blowing level. It came with caramel cream, and some granolas. It was a heavenly combination. I would have eaten the entire bowl if not for the fact that I already had some appetisers and some main courses.

This stuff is so damn good. We were also served some strawberry cream thing in a glass, and some cake thing, but those stuff are really mediocre compared to the juggernaut of a rice pudding. OMG I WANT SOME NOW.

Finally, here's the bill. For the best meal in my life (possibly), it was a small price.

So glad we managed to visit that place for dinner, and that welcomed us to Paris nicely! Go to my friend's blog for more photos of the dinner shot on a DSLR. Excellent end of a very long day in a very excellent city. Paris j'taime!

View also Paris Day 2, Day 3Day 4 and Day 5.

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