Sunday, 16 October 2011

Last Day in Paris ~ A vendage, tourist stuff and dinner at an old favourite

How does a trip that you have planned for almost a year go by in the blink of an eye? When we boarded the plane on September 17, we smiled and said to each other, "wow, 3 weeks of bliss ahead of us! It's like an eternity."  Well, eternity ends today.  After 21 days of discovery, wonder, awe, magnificent sunsets, age old ruins, near misses (almost being pockpicketed at the Athens port), delicious meals, meeting so many wonderful new people, unspoilt beaches, serene parks and countless hours of walking and exploring, our last day of vacation was now upon us.

But we were not sad ~ maybe a little wistful to come to the end of our long awaited, long planned odyssey, but also so grateful to be able to enjoy such a unique, perfect trip and ready to go home and see our family and hug our adorable grandson, Sebastian.  A big consolation is that we will be back in Paris next May with Sebastian to see this unbelievable city through his eyes.  As well, Den informed me last night to stop looking for a place to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary next year ~ he just wants to go back to Naxos and Santorini.

So, Saturday, October 8 ~ we both slept in a little after our walking and eating extravaganza of the day before.  Den made us a delicious breakfast of French Toast with the dense cake bread we had bought at the Marche in Bercy yesterday (I may or may not have spread Speculoo tartinage on it, lol).

 We decided to take the time to pack most of our stuff this morning so that we could go out and enjoy our last day without worrying about this task all day.  I also wanted to make sure that all our new purchases and clothing would fit into the new suitcase we had bought at the BHV sale earlier in the week.  We had to throw out one of our suitcases because the wheels had given out after lugging it on too many ferries and airports during the trip.

We left the apartment around 10:30am and took the metro to Lamark Caulaincourt in the heart of the 18th.  We had no plan as to which way we were going, we just wanted to enjoy the little backstreets of Montmartre and soak up the village atmosphere of this arrondissement high above the rest of Paris.

Sitting in a cafe having a glass of wine ~ this is Paris!

the lovely stairwells of Montmartre

windmill in the background

this little boy was riding his scooter in the Monop ~ Den just got him as he scooted by!

 We whiled away the morning just going this way and that, not really having any destination in mind, but enjoying the tiny streets, the beautiful views of Paris down below, and dreamt of being able to afford an apartment in one of the beautiful buildings we saw everywhere.  We happened on to the back side of Sacre Coeur where the Vendage de Montmartre was in full swing.  I had known the Vengage was this weekend but it really wasn't our destination.  In retrospect, we are very happy we came upon it, since we spent a great couple of hours enjoying the crowds, the food, the wine (mulled wine for 2 euros that warmed up my bones on this rainy afternoon) and the festive atmosphere.

posters of past Montmartre Vendages

She's everywhere!

really everywhere,lol

love that woman with the fur coat and hat!

I think this is the Mayor of the 18th

lots of people enjoying the Vendage despite the rain

Another peek at the ET

 We actually enjoyed 2 lunches ~ some wonderful chicken in a ginger sauce and sweet potato fries from one of the stands selling stuff from the islands (that was the theme for the vendage this year) and then Den was so excited to see baguettes of magret de canard and foie gras (which we had had in late November at one of the Christmas booths on the Champs Elysees) that we just had to split one, with a coupe de champage!  Now that is street food, my friends!

lovely magret all ready for our sandwiches!

That is one happy woman!
We spent another few hours wandering around the vendage and Den took lots of pictures from Sacre Coeur and the area surrounding it.  We walked away from the crowds and down a long stairwell at rue M Utrillo and then along rue de Clignancourt and hopped on the metro at Barbes Rouchecouart.

Anyone hungry?

dancers coming back from a parade (I think!)

Once we got back to the apartment, we relaxed a bit and then decided to take the 69 bus again so that Den could take a few pictures of the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero.  It was cold and rainy, but it was our last day and my hubby has gone along with everything I wanted to do so it was the least I could do for him. He just loves to take his pictures and he thought the cloudy rainy day would make for some lovely shots of the EF.  We went to a little cafe in the Marais to fortify ourselves with some cafe cremes and a creme brulee first and ended up people watching from our little table on the terrrace of Pick Clops on the corner of Vielle de Temple and Roi de Sicile for almost an hour.

We hopped on the bus and rode the streets of Paris right to the Champ de Mars terminus. We watched some men playing petanque and then walked over to the Tower, right under it and across the Seine and climbed the steps of the Trocadero where Den took some great pictures.

It was pretty cold and windy by now, so we got on the metro and got off at the Carrousel du Louvre, the shopping center adjacent to the Louvre.  We had dinner reservations at 8:30 at a little bistro in the 1st and it was already past 6pm so we didn't really want to go back to the apartment and out again.  We just wanted to stay warm and just walk over to the restaurant when it was time for dinner.  We knew there was an Apple store in the mall but we were both surprised and touched at the memorials left for Steve Jobs at the entrance to the store.

We left the mall and walked over to the Louvre courtyard where Den took a few pictures of the magnificent building lit up at night.

We then walked slowly along rue Rivoli to Au Vieux Comptoir, a little wine bar/bistro on rue Lavandiere Ste Opportune.  We had first been there 2 years ago when a local we had met at another little place in the Marais suggested it to us.  We liked it so much the first time, we went back a second time during the same trip.  We were going to go last year, but on the last day, suffered from an overload of rich food and wine and cancelled our reservation.  This year, we were determined to go back and had made our reservation early in the week to ensure we didn't miss out.

We had a lovely table in the corner of the crowded room.  After making our dinner choices and ordering the recommended wine, we sat back and enjoyed our last dinner in Paris and indeed, of our 3 week magical vacation.

Den started with the foie gras creme brulee, which is as decadent and delicious as it sounds!

I had the dish I had been dreaming about since coming here 2 years ago ~ figs with serrano ham served in a balsamic reduction ~ the combination of sweet and salty is the perfect combination and the entree was as orgasmic as I remembered it!

Den had the quasi de veau, a beautiful piece of veal served in a creme sauce with mushrooms.  I went with a French classic, boeuf bourgignon, which was served in a little cast iron cocotte and had been slow cooked for 6 hours, resulting in a rich, dark sauce and tender pieces of beef.

Stuffed to the gills, we shared the chocolate duo of a dark chocolate sorbet (which was very truffle like in consistency) and a molten lava chocolate cake.  It was death by chocolate and we were ready to sacrifice ourselves.

Dinner was 110 euros and was a wonderful splurge to end our trip.  Service was warm and friendly, the room was filled with Parisians enjoying a Saturday night outing and the food was just right ~ French classics done right and served with joy and pride.

We walked back slowly to our apartment and went to bed delighted and grateful for the time we have been able to share together.  This truly has been one of the best trips we have ever taken.

7:30am came quickly, we finished our packing, had a last croissant and pain au chocolat and were downstairs waiting for our shuttle driver at 9:30.  He got us to CDG in no time at all on a quiet Sunday morning.  Our flight was delayed about an hour, but we had a smooth flight and I watched 3 movies based in Paris over the 7 hour flight ~ it seemed like a good idea at the time, but it really made me miss Paris by the time we landed.

Customs, the ride home and hugs from Sebastian completed our time in Europe.  We discovered a new country which we really loved and deepened our relationship with the City of Light.  We are so blessed.

Now back to reality!