For Hank's and my 5th wedding anniversary, we splashed out a bit and had a lovely long weekend trip to Paris. We found a really great deal on a 4* hotel in the area just by the Eiffel Tower, surrounded by quiet streets, tons of boulangeries, and gourmet cafes. I don't think we would have had nearly as good a time if Hank hadn't started eating fish a few weeks ago, however -- it's not a veg-friendly place, really. (Hank would have been just fine surviving on Nutella crepes, I'm sure, but it's always nice to have options.)
We did a lot of the basic touristy walking around bits - Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, those sorts of things. We also toured the inside of a fair number of shops - hey, it's the end-of-season sales... in PARIS! How could we not? We each bought a few things, and I found a baking store - natch. Picked up a nice new crepe pan and a few other bits for baking fun. Hank also picked up a very snappy beret, which he wore to work (all day at work, I should say) on our first day back. His French office mate had a few chuckles, but the girls in the office said he was tres chic. (Back off, ladies...)
We also went out to Versailles. The last time I'd been I really thought Versailles had been a disappointment - lots of dust bunnies in all the rooms, really nothing fabulous to see about it. This time we took a separate tour of the private rooms of Louis XIV - XVI, where they keep the bulk of the original furnishings that they've had to purchase back (it was mostly auctioned off during the revolution). The outside of the buildings were also in the process of being cleaned -- the place was really very wonderful and gave me more of the impression about how it would have been back in the day. The gardens are of course just massive - we barely made it through any of them due to exhaustion & the heat (we Brits aren't used to this thing you people refer to as "the sun"). I tried to convince Hank to take me on a paddle boat, but as I was suggesting that he do all of the paddling, I don't think we would have gone very far.
The food was, of course, stunning. We treated ourselves to La Table, one of Joel Robuchon's restaurants in Paris. The funniest part was actually the guy sitting next to us trying to order rose wine with dinner, to which the waiter said (in your best French waiter accent), "Non." It was the only moderately snooty service we had at all, and it wasn't at all directed towards us. I even had one of the waiters compliment my French... score! But the food overall was just so amazing. We had absolutely wonderful fresh fish dishes, and at La Table I had duck that I'll remember for the rest of my life! They also served us the richest mashed potatoes ever from personal ceramic crockery that they bring to the table and spoon gently (and artfully) upon your plate. There was a open-air market on Sunday just at the metro stop nearby our hotel that we walked through... everything looked just as perfect as Whole Foods, but without the Whole Paycheck prices. Perfect radishes to be eaten with butter & fleur de sel, whole (and I do mean whole) chickens, ducks and geese, zillions of cheeses and pasteries... it really made us miss California. I've long been trying to defend London food, but really after seeing just what anyone can pick up for a few Euros at a farmers market in Paris, I think I need to give London some tough love and say to put France in charge of food in England. It's such a travesty that the only place I can even see food that pretty is in Whole Foods that just opened up in Kensington (affording it is an entirely different matter).
Sorry, photos are still on the camera... but I'll post them to Flickr soon, I swear.
On the topic of coming home, Hank and I have just under 3 weeks left in London... sniff. I'm starting to wrap up projects, and arranging transportation for the cats, our stuff, and eventually ourselves back to California. (Can you believe that round-trip tickets cost about 1/3 less than one-way tickets?? What kind of math do they use??)