Our third day in Paris began bright and early with our customary visit to the boulangerie across the road on rue de Rivoli for our breakfast croissants. Today, we decided to eat in. So we ordered a croissant with an espresso each, and hubby decided to try a palmier as well. (A palmier is a butterfly-shaped pastry, rolled in sugar and then baked.) It was delicious. And then the rain began. This crazy summer weather in Paris was showering us with rain at least once a day. We were beginning to think we brought the Melbourne weather with us.
By the time we finished our breakfast, the rain had stopped so we made our way to the metro station. Our first stop of the day was Musée de L’Orangerie. We stopped at the Concorde metro station. After the rain, the morning was a little fresh but the sky was beginning to clear and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day. We walked past the Place de la Concorde and made our way to Jardin des Tuileries. Outside the Jardin, we saw two police officers interrogating 2 gypsy girls. They even searched their bags. Hubby reckoned one of the girls was the same girl that approached us at Square Jean XXIII the previous day but they all looked the same to me so I couldn’t be sure.
We walked through part of Jardin des Tuileries and it was beautiful and serene. Hard to imagine we were right in the middle of a bustling city. Getting to Musée de L’Orangerie, we managed to just sneak in ahead of a tour group so the queue was minimal. I really liked this museum. It was just the right size, not too big. Monet’s Water Lilies against the white background of the room was very effective, I thought, and the collection of Impressionist paintings was substantial. There was also a temporary exhibit of modern art, which hubby enjoyed. We spent a good 2 hours at this museum.
Leaving the museum, we walked towards rue Royale. Our next stop was Ladurée. We have heard so much about the macarons at Ladurée that we had very high expectations, and we were not disappointed. Even in the middle of the day, there was a queue for the macarons. There is the tea room on one side, and the shop on the other. Joining the queue in the shop, I was first asked to pick a box – plain or gift-box, then the number of macarons I wanted, and then the flavours. We decided on Melon, Pistachio, Caramel with Salted Butter, Vanilla, Strawberry, Orange Blossom, Raspberry & Coconut. They were the yummiest things I have had in a long time – slightly chewy, with the most amazing ganache in the centre. The flavours were so natural and not too sweet.
Munching on our macarons like tourists, we headed towards Place de la Madeleine. Running short on time (again), we decided to skip shopping at Place de la Madeleine and headed for Lavinia on Boulevard de la Madeleine instead. This was our lunch stop. Lavinia is a massive wine store, with a restaurant right at the top. Hubby thought he had gone to French wine heaven. He fell in love with a Riedel wine decanter and wanted to buy it to take home with us. It was hard work convincing him that it was impossible to pack that into our luggage. Not giving up, he went to the service counter and asked if they would ship it back to Australia. He was very disappointed when they said they couldn’t ship glassware. Eventually, we sat down for lunch. The restaurant was very busy but service was prompt and friendly. The food was surprisingly good. We enjoyed our meal. When our coffees came round, the waiter brought out a glass filled with different types of French sweets and lollies. Some of them were very interesting.
After hubby bid a very sad farewell to his decanter, we wandered down rue Cambon. Coco Chanel opened her first boutique on this street at number 31 and I was keen to visit this iconic landmark. Walking into the boutique, it was not quite what I envisioned. The place was crawling with Asian tourists, many of them on their mobile phones, no doubt deep in conversation with someone else on the other side of the world, trying to ascertain if the store had the Chanel bag they were looking for. While I’ve never been a Chanel girl, I’ve always had a deep respect for the way Chanel did simple, casual elegance and I have never ruled out the possibility of purchasing a Chanel bag. So this was my chance or so I thought. The selection at the rue Cambon store was surprisingly limited, and the sales assistant seemed like he had seen way too many Asian tourists (not that I blame him). While I couldn’t find anything I liked, hubby found a tie he fancied. So our purchase from Coco Chanel’s original store was a tie, which was wrapped with the utmost care, and then placed in a massive Chanel shopping bag with rue Cambon inscribed on it. Such is the excess of the French.
Leaving rue Cambon, we walked down rue St. Honoré. Looking at the queues for Musée du Louvre, we decided to leave that for tomorrow, and headed back to Le Marais instead. We spent the late afternoon wandering around the streets of Le Marais. There were some interesting shops around the area. I was keen to check out La Niche by BHV and Un Chien dans le Marais to find a souvenir for our little girl. But I was very disappointed to find that the products available at La Niche was of poorer quality than some of the pet stores here in Melbourne, and while there were lots of Puppy Angel items at Un Chien dans le Marais, there was nothing distinctively French on sale. I was hoping to find a French outfit for our little girl but our search was in vain. We stopped by at Mariage Frerès to buy some tea to bring home with us. Their selection of teas was amazing. They would make good gifts.
After a shower and a well-deserved nap, we were ready for our big night out. I had booked a table for the two of us, for dinner, at the 3-Michelin starred restaurant Guy Savoy, 3 months ago. We took the metro to Charles de Gaulle-Étoile, and found we got there with half an hour to spare. Being early, we decided to head to the restaurant for an early drink anyway, but they were ready to take us to our table when we arrived. Trying to find the restaurant on rue Troyon, we walked past it twice without realizing it was there. Unassuming on the outside, the inside was simple, pure elegance. The restaurant was very quietly and simply decorated, but there was an air of luxury about the place. The seats were comfortable, the linen and table setting impeccable, the staff completely attentive. Throughout our entire meal, there was an endless procession of staff floating around us constantly making sure we were enjoying our meal. The service was the best I have ever experienced.
Once we were shown to our table, we were given our menus in French. The maître d’ arrived at our table with a warm and welcoming ‘Bon soir’ and proceeded to ask if we would like to have the menu explained to us in French. He was very accommodating when I explained to him that hubby didn’t speak French and that my French was very basic, and then proceeded to speak to us in perfect English. He even brought out a postcard and a pen, suggesting that we may like to write a postcard to send home while waiting for our meal. Our menu decision was unanimous – ‘Couleur, Textures et Saveurs’ menu. See this link for pics – http://www.guysavoy.com/en/guy-savoy-menu-plats/set-menu-colours-textures-and-savours-360,2
It consists of:-
- Clear iced poached oysters – prepared oysters set over an oyster puree and served with seaweed jelly.
- Blue lobster ‘raw-cooked’ in cold steam – lobster tartare cooked in lobster vinaigrette, lobster carpaccio, crisp lobster coral pancake, all seasoned with lobster vinaigrette.
- Whole grilled sea bass with sweet spices – thick fillet of sea bass grilled whole with the skin, accompanied with mushrooms, chard ribs, and fish stock infused with vanilla and sweet spices.
- Colours of caviar – caviar cream, caviar vinaigrette and green bean puree with Baeri and Imperial Oscietre caviar, hot sabayon with Baeri caviar.
- Foie gras and radish – escalope of duck foie gras, pan fried and then steam-baked with pink radishes.
- Artichoke and black truffle soup, layered brioche with mushrooms and truffles – artichoke soup with black truffles, slices of black truffle and Parmesan shavings. Layered brioche with mushrooms, spread with truffle butter.
- Saddle of lamb stuffed with herbs, lamb chop and summer vegetables au gratin, confit shoulder of lamb with crispy skin – an array of suckling lamb preparations : boulangere potato gratin and summer vegetable casserole with lamb stock and sweet onion stock arranged over sliced Brussel sprouts, cebette onions and roasted lamb chop and roasted stuffed saddle of lamb.
- Orange and black – large tender carrots in butter, with a bed of spinach, pan fried chanterelle mushrooms and coarse-ground black pepper.
- Matured cheese
- When tea meets ice – jasmine and matcha tea jellies, ice-cream & granitas, with tuile biscuits and jasmine and matcha tea.
- Multi-coloured – dark chocolate orb garnished with finely diced aloe vera and mango, then a banana and passionfruit sorbet. A hot mango nectar is poured on top to open the orb.
And yes, the meal was as jam-packed, crazy and amazing as it sounds. We ate from 7:30 to 12:30pm and it was pure indulgence from the very first bite, to the last. During our meal, Guy Savoy himself came out of the kitchen to greet his guests at every table.
Our meal began with glasses of pink Billecart champagne. We asked the sommelier to recommend a bottle of wine to go with our meal. Hubby had his heart set on a bottle from Bordeaux. But the sommelier, in typical French fashion, insisted that we must have a bottle of white as the red would not go with our meal. He was adamant and in the end, we had to concede. He chose a bottle of Patrick Javillier Clos du Cromin 2005 from Meursault Burgundy for us and of course, he was right. It was the perfect accompaniment to our meal.
The restaurant has a very strict dress-code. The men have to have a jacket on at all times, so we were a little too awestruck by our surroundings to take decent photos. The couple of shots we sneaked in with our iphone were too grainy to post. So I have no pics to showcase this delectable experience. 😦
There was the customary amuse bouche and then the bread cart came around. The bread cart had over 10 different types of bread, and the waiter explained each different bread to us in great detail and told us he would recommend the different breads to go with each course. There were two different types of butter on the table. The array of choices was staggering. The stand out course for me of the entire meal was the lobster – THE best lobster dish I have ever had, followed by the sea bass with its crispy skin and the artichoke and truffle soup was to die for. I thought I had died and gone to truffle heaven. Being a huge fan of caviar and foie gras, it was no surprise hubby also loved those two dishes. By the time the cheese cart came around, I felt like I would explode if I ate another bite. There were over 20 different cheeses on offer. Thinking that we would be done after we finished our desserts, we were surprised again when a dessert cart came around after that. I think we ended up having over 4 desserts in total, before finally finished off with coffee and petit fours. When we finally stopped eating at half past midnight, we could safely say we could not eat another bite. 979 euros later, and I can say I have never had a more decadent meal in my entire life. A short taxi ride later and we were back at the hotel and it was off to bed.