On Friday July 3rd, two days after we got back home from Barcelona, Greg's parents and brother Pete, Jill and Keith landed here in Germany. On Saturday, Greg, Billy and I took Jill and Keith to Paris for the weekend, while Pete stayed behind to watch the other three children. (I asked Greg: "Is your dad really going to be OK with staying back and watching them all weekend?" The answer: "GLADLY." Pete's not a huge fan of travel, so he was happy not to have to make that trip.)
As Greg and I have visited different European cities over the last few years, we've often wondered aloud -- if we were to ever travel with Keith, who is in a wheelchair, how much of these different cities would be accessible to him? We were soon to find out.
On our one full day there, Sunday, we drove all around the city looking for open pastry shops, even though we were pretty sure none would be open (after the morning, they weren't). However, this worked out well, as we were able to show Keith all of the sights of Paris without even getting out of the car, while following our GPS from one address to another.
Here's a colorful, kind of strange fountain area we found.
While Greg was taking that picture, Jill took this:
I know, Oh Man, How Amazing. :)
Notre Dame de Paris:
Last time I was in France, I didn't get much Foie Gras for some reason (price? availability? Not sure.) This time, I wasn't going to let opportunity pass me by.
It's possible that I'm actually Foie Gras-ed out for a bit. Didn't think it was possible, but I'm not even sure I want to look at another plate of that right now.
I was nursing Billy while on the go (sometimes he's just gotta eat, and there's no time to stop and sit somewhere). Jill and I noticed this nursing sculpture through an art gallery window as we walked by. The sculpture is kind of disturbing (a breast turning into a child...), but the situation overall was funny.
Paris is busy and full of narrow streets, but with our human navigator (Greg) and GPS put together, we managed to find everything we were looking for.
We'd made reservations ahead of time at different restaurants we'd picked out for our dinners and one lunch, and when Greg called, he made sure to specify that one in our party is in a wheelchair. The staff at each place assured him that it wouldn't be a problem. This is the restaurant we went to on the first night:
The stroller ended up being put in a side/back ally, and a few chairs were moved around so that Keith fit, but it was quite a squeeze. Thankfully, the staff here as well as every other place we went to were terribly accommodating and gracious, and found a way to seat us -- even to the extent of re-seating some guests who were already there, at one place!
I tried two pastries I'd only read of before, a Canelé and a Financier:
The Canelé is slightly crisp on the outside, and tender and almost custardy on the inside, flavored lightly with almond paste. The Financier is like an overgrown butter cookie.
Of course I had to have a few of these:
Mille-feuille (in the US it's a Napoleon). My friend Heather commanded me to go and eat some for her too. What was I supposed to do? Such sacrifice I make for friends.
Did someone not like their bike?
Café Crème. Mmmmm..........
Jill and I both shot out the window to capture all of the beautiful sights as we passed by (en route from one closed pastry shop to another). Here we must have both been trying to get the same shot:
But, while I carefully poked my head out just a bit, that was nothing compared to the great lengths Jill was willing to go to for the perfect (?) shot:
(Notice that Billy's got her by the hair.)
On Monday we finally managed to hit two of the biggest pastry shops on our list.
La Maison du Chocolate:
So far, these are the best chocolates I've ever had. In my life.
Also, I've had Macarons before, but none compared to the ones I got here.
The shell gives the barest resistance before cracking between the teeth, revealing a creamy but firm ganach of fine chocolate that is barely discernible from the inside of the meringue cookie. Oh dear goodness gracious. Now I need to learn to make them and refine my own technique. I must make some to rival these. (Because seriously, I can't just be going to Paris all the time just to buy these. That would be kind of silly. Kind of.)
The other Big Pastry Shop was Fauchon:
One afternoon before dinner, we visited this beautiful park:
We didn't manage to make it to Paris' current central marketplace, but we did eat our last lunch just around the corner from the former Les Halles (functioned up until 1971 when it was moved to the new location):
Beautiful, and strange in it's emptiness.
Of course, we paid a visit to Paris' famed Eiffle tower:
I was surprised before and surprised again at just how huge the structure is. It's difficult to convey the grand scale of it, and how it feels to stand directly underneath and look up.
Can you find Greg, Keith and Jill in this picture?
Greg and I in this one?
This view is from the Statue of Liberty replica:
Here's the replica itself:
A teeny bit...surprising, I suppose, to see it in it's Parisian setting.
View of the tower at night from the Sacré-Coeur:
Basilique Sacré-Coeur - my favorite spot in Paris:
A happy fellow who cut his first tooth on Sunday:
One of my favorite dinners was this lamb brain I got at Chez Denise:
Creamy, savory, and good. I've been wanting to try brains for a while now, but wanted to get them somewhere that makes them regularly, and well. I'm glad I picked this one to start.
Strange side-of-the-road art (???):
If anyone knows what or why, please enlighten me.
Paris was just as beautiful as I'd remembered, and the food even better this time, when we'd planned more carefully. Paris is not at all wheel-chair friendly, and repeatedly there were challenges to maneuvering through the city and it's narrow buildings, etc., but in the end, it didn't stop us from doing anything we'd planned on doing. I'm so glad we got the chance to visit again. I'm sure it won't be the last time.
More pictures in the Flickr set here!
Thank you Pete for letting us have such a great weekend away!!