Paris was 24 hours of awesome. My favorite wingman met me at Gare de Lyon, we dropped off my stuff–which all fit in my laptop bag–and kicked off the day with lunch in an outdoor cafe near the Louvre. The sun was shining, the people-watching was great, and we won our first battle against grapes, duck livers, and snails. After a lazy lunch, though, what to do, what to do?
I pulled up Google Maps on my phone and searched for Museums around us; it didn’t let me down. The National Picasso Museum, while not exactly close, looked the most interesting and digestable in an afternoon. So we walked over to the East side of Paris, enjoying the glorious weather.
Picasso‘s works weren’t exactly what I was expecting–which was a pleasant surprise. They were presented chronologically, which my readers know I love (a la my musical explorations), so it was apparent how his style evolved over time. It was interesting to see that he had dabbled in classical and impressionist (like his good friend Henri Matisse) styles before really finding the cubist and other styles for which he is–in my mind–famous. I also didn’t realize that he had done so much sculpting, so it was interesting to see his later-life sculptural interpretations of his earlier-life paintings. Cool.
We then ambled all the way back to Paris’s west side to visit Lavinia, a wine store that had been recommended to us as the “Spec’s of Paris.” Spec’s (the largest wine/spirits store in the world, just a few blocks from my house in Houston) it was not, but it was definitely cool and had an awesome selection of French wines, which was exactly what we were seeking. We spent 90 minutes inspecting every bottle and debating the pros and cons to kill time before dinner. We walked across the Seine, stopped for a quick cafe, and then finally arrived at Aux Charpentiers, my favorite little restaurant in Paris.
Joel, the general manager is always extremely gracious and this time was no exception. We started off with some champagne to nourish us while we poured over the menu. At long last we decided on three courses and got down to work. First up: foie gras paired with a sauternes and, naturally, escargot. Hassin and Cox: 2, Duck livers and snails: 0.
Next course: roast duck in a dark sauce (the contents of which escape me) and sardine fillets marinated in citrus. The piece de resistance here, though, was the 2002 Chateau Lynch-Bages Pauillac. 2002 wasn’t a stellar year in Bordeaux but Lynch-Bages has never let us down and we figured that the 2002 might be more approachable now than a blockbuster like 2003 or 2005. We were right! It was drinking beautifully and, although it would have paired better with one of the beef entrees, it still went smashingly. Well structured, layers of currant and peppery spice with a long finish. Delicious!
We ended with a poached pear drowned in a cassis wine reduction and something very chocolatey with raspberry sauce. Perhaps the sweetest treat of all, though, was our bill, which was 1/2 what we paid for lunch. I love Aux Charpentiers!
Having won another victory over grapes, duck livers, snails, AND the recession, we had no choice but to celebrate. We decided that the rest of the night would be devoted to Guinness. We wound our way to the Latin Quarter, resolving to stop at every bar we encountered that advertised Guinness. The fact that we didn’t know exactly where the Latin Quarter was (In fact, looking at a map now, we may have actually already been in the Latin Quarter when we embarked!) only supported our Guinnessification.
Our meandering took us into places ranging from dodgy pubs to swank cocktail lounges. In one of the latter establishments we saw advertised a Cocktail du Jour. We asked the bartender, who must have been 8′ tall, what it was and she didn’t know; we were the first to inquire about it all day. Naturally, we had to have it and it turned out to be a foaming, glowing punch bowl of sorts with lots of straws. So much for our Guinness-only night but we figured that a diverse porfolio never hurt anyone.
Finally we arrived at a bar that was playing great rock music. Plus we met some law students from La Sorbonne who were cool so we decided to stay. A couple of Guinnesses turned into a few, flaming shots were ordered, and here the details start to become hazy.
Our bar eventually shut down and the girls invited us to come with them to an after-hours location. We headed off toward this mystery destination but one of the girls got very upset when I jokingly tried to sell her to her friend for 10 euros. This meant one of two things: either this girl was a total drama queen or I had had enough to drink that things I found funny weren’t quite as amusing to others. In either case, we figured it was time to call it a night.
Sunday morning came too early and I had over 100 new emails to sift through on the train back to Lausanne. Oh well, what a great time and I’ll be back there next weekend!