Thursday, July 19, 2012

Paris: Day Seven, Saturday

On Saturday, we hopped aboard a 9:00 a.m. TGV train (record-holding high-speed train that goes about 200 mph!) from Paris to Reims (pronounced "Ronse"), which is in the Champagne region of France.We first hit up the Notre-Dame de Reims. Kings of France used to be coronated here.

J. taking a snapshot of Notre-Dame de Reims:

A pretty cathedral window:

The view from the floor under a candle chandelier:

Down the hallway to the back of the cathedral:

Han, me, and J.

Ken and Han photoshoot:

We walked about 1.5 miles to get to the Pommery Champagne house, where we did a Champagne cave tour and tasing. J. outside of the entrance:

Pommery was founded in 1858.

Pommery's caves are something like eleven miles long; this is where all the magic happens in producing the Champagne. We, of course, did not tour all eleven miles of the caves, but just a small portion of them. The flight of what felt like a million steps you have to walk down to go into the caves:

This room held lots of super old Pommery Champagne, and honestly, I forget what was so important about them. I'll supplement with some other interesting information...One cool thing about the Pommery Champagne house is that they produced the first Brut Champagne, which is the driest (lease sweet) of sparkling wines. According to our tour guide, Brut Champagne is the healthiest wine because it has the lease amount of sugar in it (about 9-10 grams of sugar per bottle) Hip hip hooray!

Okay, this sommelier in the picture below was a pivotal character in my life (dramatic, much?) because he poured me my first legitimate glass of Champagne ever. I mean, I've had my fair share of Cava and Prosecco (friends and I affectionately call it Champ), but "Champagne" is a legally protected name reserved for only certain sparkling wines from the Champagne region produced to meet specific requirements.

And here we go with a photo shoot. J. with her Champ:

We each sampled two: plain (?) and a rose:

Ken and Han sampling theirs:

On the way back to town, we bought pastries from this place. I got a raspberry tart.

Some fun graffiti on the way back into town: a girl with a pet rabbit on a leash, eeek, so cute.

Our waitress at lunch:

Our train wasn't departing for a couple of hours, and we were tired of walking around, so we plopped down in a park to eat our yummies and indulge in some more Champagne:

Once back in Paris, we hit up a cafe for J. to get some escargot. It was at this brasserie where I drank what I declared to be the worst glass of wine in all of France. Lame. Ken and J. at the brasserie:

Han at the brasserie:

We needed a midnight snack, so we ordered shaved lamb sandwiches with tzatziki sauce, which were out of this world. It was in this little sandwich shop where a man told J. and I that his father told him to marry an American woman. This is the only picture I have of all four of us from the entire trip:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Paris: Day Six, Friday

On Friday, J. and I found ourselves wandering through Le Marais over in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. We went in a cool vintage store, where I bought a blue floral vintage shirt dress. J. got a couple of dresses as well. Then we found a little gem of a shop: Margo Milin (4, rue Malher). Being in Margo Milin was my favorite shopping experience in Paris, and I will tell you why. The boutique was adorable and very carefully curated, and at first I wondered if the young woman in the shop was Margo. My suspicion was confirmed when an article of clothing parachuted to the floor from its hanger and she immediately ran over to gently collect it and carefully hang it back up. Instantly, I knew that she was Margo and that all the contents in the boutique were her babies. It made me very happy to see her taking care of something she had labored over. Margo told me that she buys haute couture designer fabrics (such as Hermes) in small quantities (20-30 meter pieces) so it's affordable, but in return, her inventory is made of very fine textiles. Everything in the shop was beautiful and felt so good on my bod; I wish I could have gotten one of everything. Alas, I had to choose one thing: a cotton sateen-lyrca bright periwinkle blue dress.

Inside Margo Milin (that's my dress hanging left-center):

Margo herself:

We walked around some other stores in the area (Cos, Fragonard, to name a couple) and had a snack at a little cafe before going back to the 8th arrond. where we were staying.

Snacking in Le Marais:

 This is the menu from a place that we walked by called Cafe America. I'm dying to know what is in their Obama shake:
After this day of shopping, we were so exhausted. In fact, I lost sleep every day on this trip. My downfall is that I like to stay up late and get up early, especially while traveling, but friends, that is a short-lived venture for me (and perhaps any normal person). Han and Ken were doing dinner on their own, so J. and I went back to Le Relais de l'Entrecote, except this time at a location right off the Champs-Elysees. We sat outside, ordered a bottle of red wine, ate steak frite and dessert (I got profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce), and had such nice conversation, all with the Eiffel Tower sparkling at us. I'd probably rank this at the top of my favorite dining experiences in Paris.

View from my table at  Le Relais de l'Entrecote Friday night:

We walked straight home and went to sleep after dinner, as we had to be ready for a very early Saturday morning...