WE got up early the next day to visit the Eiffel Tower and tour the immediate area. After all, one just has to have day and nighttime shots of it. Starting off from our exit at Trocadero, we slowly photowalked our way to the site. This monsieur grabbed a Croque Monsieur and coffee from a sidewalk food kiosk along the way and enjoyed an instant picnic overlooking the Siene. The petulant weather became cooperative as we neared the tower to allow our money shots. Impressive in standard side- view, the Eiffel is even more impressive up close and from underneath like an architect/engineer/designer’s wet dream. We’ve pre-booked evening tickets for entry up the tower and were to return that same night.
We regrouped at the hotel to checkout and move to the Northwest, modern quarter for the remaining days. Our exit on Rue Mongue emptied into a food market which we swept through for lunch finds before our scheduled departure. We picked up random items including cheeses and Saucisse séche — freshly-made, naturally-cured sausage sold by weight. In transit, I French-“quiched” the biggest single-serve slice I’ve ever had that had with it the understanding of why the people of the Lorraine region love their bacon like life.
We rolled into the residential area of La Defense to Melon District, a very new and modern budget hotel way above its humble label and pricing. A reservation mishap had me gladly accepting a double room for myself instead of sharing a quad. We were keen on not wasting any daylight and immediately set out to see more sights before our scheduled entry up the Eiffel at nine.
The Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmarte easily became one of my favorite landmarks in Paris. It looks like I wasn’t the only one as the sloped lawn and steps leading up to it were filled with a motley crew of interesting characters both local and tourist. I chanced upon this Tibetan/Mongolian tourist — my best guess by the embroidered design on her dress — who graciously allowed me to take a photo.
“What’s French for Pug?”, I asked the owner of Teresa, a two-year old rescue pug I met at Rue du Chevalier de la Barre shop street. “Le pug.”, she replied. That set a more jovial mood for the group as we pushed further into the village.
One of the oldest restaurants on Place du Tertre, La Mère Catherine, supposedly birthed the “bistro” in 1814 after a group of Russian soldiers demanded for their drinks to be brought to their table quickly, in Russian,bystro. I was served duck breast medium rare at just right before this trip so this French parallel leaped from the menu. Succulent pieces of duck breast with an almost porcine layer of fat all done beautifully medium to point of the exotic sense of what’s quite unusual for me. Spicy in Europe is also far from its general concept in Asia and just simply meant it had many types of spices with this Magret De Canard Aux Épices leaning towards the classic l’orange.
Dinner was a bit too enjoyable and we found ourselves rushing to make our scheduled Eiffel Tower tour meetup. The brisk walk from the Metro exit had us passing by numerous ambient vendors and cups-and-balls tricksters on the sidewalk of Quai Branly. Of the many, there was an eye-catching display of White Sausages on Stir-fried Slaw. When did street food start looking this good?
The large lift slowly moved up the tower’s Sommet as dusk faded into bright moonlight to reveal the cityscape in a bluish hue. Paris is not called the City of Lights for nothing with views of the city I swear would move one to tears. It did me. The thrills were capped with the spill of going out the wrong exit back at La Defense, taking us over an hour and three blocks off course to the hotel. We all wordlessly retired knowing a bigger day was ahead with the Louvre on the docket.
(To be continued…)