(I'm home! And I taught a full day of school! And ran speech practice! And learning even occurred at both! On the part of the students! And now I get to catch you up on the last two days in Paris!)
Our museum passes expired Thursday, so we felt less hard-pressed to get out of beds and get cracking Friday morning (and no, that's not a typo. I typed "get out of bed" originally, but given our tight space and the maid's non-too-subtle suggestions via blankets and bed positioning of how she thought we should be sleeping I wanted to clarify that we were indeed in two separate beds). We hit snooze several times on the alarm, and took our leisurely time getting ready. It was nice, actually. Almost like we were on vacation.
When we finally did get out the door, the first order of business was breakfast. We decided to try a new bakery ("new" as in not Paul's) we had passed and that I had seen recommended on my Pastry App (more about that in a moment). When I saw their wall of bread that was so reminiscent of the framed cereal display at my parents' house, I knew I'd like them.
We picked out our treats (including their highly-recommended cookie) and ate them at a counter-top while I looked up the location of a FNAC bookstore. There was one only a few blocks away, so off we went!
It had been days since I had been to a bookstore, so you can imagine my delight. Jason dove into the fiction section to resupply his home library while I went to the kids/young adult section to peruse.
It was fun to see the offerings of a big-chain French bookstore. In addition to all sorts of great books with excellent covers they had a whole display of Tintin-related merchandise for the movie, of course, several versions of Trivial Pursuit (I would have gotten the French Food version for my family had I not thought the language would be a bit of an issue), and recipe kits that included miniature pots, presses, and croissant-cutters.
We walked to the Luxemburg Gardens next which, despite being only a block away from our hotel, we had not yet visited. There were bright, beautiful, giant polka-dots of chrysanthemums all along the walls, a group of middle-school-aged kids chasing each other as they waited for something, joggers (as promised in the Stuff Parisians Like book), and a few other lunch-break wanderers like us. Even in the winter the park was lovely, and I was thrilled when it started to rain almost-but-not-quite snowflakes that remained minute drops of water when they landed and sparkled on our jackets and hair.
As the almost-snow continued, we headed out of the park to find lunch at a nearby cafe. We went off-book for the meal and found again that we were disappointed. We kept our choices light in anticipation of our afternoon plans - just a salad each and a cheese plate to share since there had been a disturbing lack of cheese so far in our trip. Alas, it was the same quality that you could find at any grocery store in the States. So it was with renewed purposed that I set to work mapping out our afternoon plans.
Originally we were going to visit Montmartre and Sacre Coeur, but this morning Jason said, "What if instead we go to different specialty shops and find the best of various treats like pastries and chocolates and eat our way around town all afternoon?"
"I think doing that would make my parents more proud of me than when I got my master's degree or IB diploma," was my reply.
So I downloaded David Lebovitz's Pastry App (thanks again for the recommendation, Pepere!), which I used over the remains of our cheese plate to map out a route for the afternoon. We were off!
(By the way, there's no need for me to rate or review everything we tried, since it was all absolutely delicious and well worth future visits. We chose well, and we have the App to thank for it.)
First Stop: Eric Kayser
I sampled: Baguette Sandwich (salami and butter), pain au chocolate, pecan/chocolate chip cookie
Second Stop: Pierre Herme
I sampled: "MOGADOR - Ganache au chocolat au lait et au fruit de la passion, biscuit macaron fruit de la passion, pâte d’amande fondante au macaron fruit de la passion, enrobés de chocolat au lait"
Third Stop: Laduree
Specialty: Macarons (and I finally understood what all the fuss was about!)
I sampled: Lemon macaron
Fourth Stop: Chapon
Specialty: Chocolate Mousse Tasting Bar (I KNOW! Right?)
I sampled: Madagascar with carmelized pecans sprinkled on top
I also couldn't resist those green balls in the background. They were too pretty! So I got one of those as well and had it after the ballet. Turns out it was a Lime Caramel dipped in dark chocolate. Here it is on my bed:
Fifth Stop: Barthelemy
I sampled: Well, here's the thing. We didn't get the names of what we bought. Which is more than a dommage, it's a horror because it means we can't search fruitlessly for that deliciously runny cheese and lament that it's not available in the US because there's absolutely no way a cheese that delicious would be approved by the FDA. So let's just look at the pictures of that cheese again and mourn our cheese-name ignorance.
We didn't eat the cheese right away because we needed to dash back to the hotel to dress for the ballet.
The rest of the story will have to wait, though, because it's eight o'clock and my brain thinks it's 4:00 AM, and I need to get my tired self to bed so I can teach the wee ones again tomorrow. I'll write more soon, I promise.