24 Decembre (Jeudi) - So far, the most adventurous we'd gotten was to walk up to BHV (a huge department store) and, though it doesn't seem like much, that's a pretty good walk. And we still have to walk back. It took us quite a while, because Robb wanted to check out every shoe store we passed, and there were quite a few along the way. After walking through the regular store to get warm, we crossed the street to BHV Homme (the men's store). We each bought a stocking cap (is that what they're called?) and Robb bought a couple of shirts. Then we walked up rue des Archives to Les Marrioners. I thought we were just going to have a glass of wine, but Robb, as usual, was hungry. He ordered something called a "Croquita", which turned out to be a kind of Croque Monsieur with herbs. I had a couple bites. It was delicious.
We had dinner again at Fontaine Sully and discovered that they're open 24/7, somewhat surprising for a French restaurant.
We're still having trouble with our French SIM cards. Mine sort of works, but Robb's is for "Urgences Seulement" (Emergencies Only). The Canadian company from which I purchased them is trying to get Orange to bring them online, but is not having much luck. Quel surprise.
25 Decembre (Vendredi) - The day got off to a great start; blue skies and sunshine and tempertures a little better than freezing. Today, we accomplished a couple of things. Well, tonight, really. We walked up to the taxi station because you can't just flag one down, even if you could figure out their lights. I was going to ask him to drive by way of la Place de la Concorde, but then I thought, well, it's the most logical way to go. Yeah, I know, expecting logic from a Frenchman, what nerve! But sure enough, that's the way he went, so we finally got to see the Champs-Elysées with its beautiful lights, as well as the Grand Roue de Paris. Les Champs-Elysées is even more beautiful in person than in all the pictures and videos. Here's a video featuring the Marché de Noël. There were a lot more lights and decorations on rue de Rivoli than I was expecting, also. L'Hôtel de Ville is spectacular and if I can force myself to go out into the cold to do it, I will take some video and a picture or two. Paris seems to be getting more and more commercial.
The main reason we had taken the taxi was to get to la Tour Eiffel for Christmas dinner. We could not believe the number of people who were there milling about with apparently no idea where they were going or why. Also, they've setup barriers all over the place making it the most frustrating experience I've ever had there. We asked a guy who seemed to be in charge of one of the barrier stations how to get up to Restaurant 58. The last time we were here, it was named Altitude 95 That alone was very confusing. I knew it had been renovated but I didn't know they had also changed the name. I'm not even sure it's owned by the same company. He sent us to the information booth, which he described as "a little hut". There we discovered that we would have to pay to take the elevator up to the restaurant. Talk about a scam! Not only that, but the elevator doesn't stop on the first floor, on which the restaurant is located. Noooo, they make you go to the second floor where you have the option of catching the elevator down to the first floor, or walking down the stairs. The reason for that, as explained by our waiter (from Texas no less), is because the company that operates la Tour Eiffel wants you to wander around the second floor in the hope that you'll happen into one of their souvenir shops and buy stuff. We decided to use the stairs (can you hear the buzzer?). It seemed like an interminable climb down, but we did eventualy get there and found the Restaurant 58.
We asked about sitting by the window and were told that people had called three months ago for that privilege and there was no way it was going to happen for us. We were seated at a table that was rather isolated from the rest, and the only view we had was of the waiters running (literally running) up and down the stairs with their orders. We were no sooner seated than we were presented with a glass of champagne (Alain DuCasse if you're interested) which was okay, but not great. There was already on the table a bottle of Evian water and a bottle of Bordeaux vin rouge.
The first course, choice of three, was foie gras. The presentation was fantastic, the foie gras, not so much. Our choice for the entrée was Noix de Coquilles Saint-Jacques. It came with some kind of vegetable, but we're still not certain what it was. There was also a small serving of polenta with chestnuts. We ordered a bottle of chardonnay to replace the red. It was a nice wine, but not memorable. The entrée was very good. The third course, was desert. I had a pear with chestnut icing. It was more like pear ice cream than a fruit. It was delicious. Robb had a rum cake. Although none of the courses could have been considered large, they were very filling, and neither of us could finish our desert. We finished with café.
After our meal, we walked out to the taxi stand. We barely had gotten there when a taxi pulled up beside us. Some jerk tried to push in front of us and take it, but the driver shooed him away and motioned for us to get in. Then we had a very scenic drive along the Seine back to the apartment. I'm glad we had dinner on la Tour Eiffel because it was a special event, but, for a number of reasons, I don't think I would ever do it again.
You may have noticed I haven't taken as many pictures as usual. Freezing weather is the reson for that. Have I mentioned how much I hate the cold?