Sunday, December 25, 2011

Chestnuts Roasted in Paris

Merry Christmas! We made it to Paris without incident and enjoyed a quick dinner last night before crashing – for 11 hours. It felt wonderful to just sleep, and we woke up refreshed and ready for a beautiful Christmas in Paris. We kept reminding ourselves how crazy it was to be in Paris on Christmas Day! What a wonderful present to each other – and one we will certainly never forget.

First let me catch up on last night; we ate a delicious meal at a nearby café (it was one of only a handful of places open on Christmas Eve). Terry had salmon in a beurre blanc sauce and loved it. I had shrimp (crevette) risotto, which absolutely melted my taste buds. We enjoyed freshly baked French bread that far exceeded every expectation I had for the name. And for dessert, a chocolate éclair that I won’t even try to describe in words.

For those already exhausted (disgusted?) by these descriptions, today’s meals weren’t quite as delectable, but they still hit the spot. We walked to the center of Paris and stumbled upon the traditional Christmas markets (village du Noel, I think), rows upon rows of street vendors selling crepes, sweets, lunches, clothing, trinkets, anything you can imagine. We wandered around, enjoying the fact that we happened to be able to listen to Christmas music (Michael Buble, no less!) while walking through Paris on Christmas Day. We even stopped for roasted chestnuts! (Not my favorite nut, but cool to say we tried them.) For breakfast we each enjoyed a crepe, and for lunch we ventured up Champs-Elysee to a little café/deli for sandwiches. Both meals were good but nothing too special. After tons more walking (today’s sights included Notre Dame, Shakespeare & Company bookstore, most of the bridges across the Seine, the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysee, and a few more), we enjoyed a casual dinner at a large café near the Eiffel Tower. Terry had moules frites; I had the croque monsieur; we shared a bowl of French onion soup and crème brulee. Everything was yummy and satisfying but not quite as good as last night.

In total, we are guessing that we walked something like 12 miles today. We started around 11 am and didn’t sit (except a 20 minute lunch) until dinner at 7 pm. Then we walked about two miles home. It’s a rough estimate, but if we’re wrong my feet would beg to differ. Ouch!

Our favorite things about Paris so far:
  • The cafes and streets are exactly as romantic and beautiful as the movies suggest
  • The people have been fairly friendly and certainly not aloof or snobby
  • We’ve seen (and even met!) several other young American couples on holiday in Europe
  • The food is incredible
  • The weather is much like San Francisco: cool and a bit windy but lovely
  • Perhaps because we’re visiting in winter, it’s not too crowded
  • The lights around the city make it even more beautiful

Now we’re back at the hotel (I’ll write more about our great hotel in another post), and we got to enjoy a quick chat with my parents via Skype. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend using Skype to stay in touch with friends and loved ones while you or they travel. It was easy to set up and wonderful to see them on Christmas!

Tonight Terry and I are planning out our next few days in Paris and then tucking in with our books. I believe tomorrow’s plan includes climbing the Eiffel Tower, walking along Rue Cler, a picnic lunch while people watching and reading, and a walk to Montmartre, Moulin Rouge, Picasso’s studio, and Sacre-Coeur. Not a bad Monday if you ask me!

I hope you had (or are having!) a beautiful and very merry Christmas. 


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