PARIS - DAY 3
Today we woke up later than usual after a fun-filled day and night spent at the fabulous Disneyland Paris. We packed up our belongings and took the train back into the city. By the time we got back to our hotel to drop off our stuff, it was lunch time. At this point we’ve been in Paris for three days and haven’t had a single onion soup (or what we call French onion soup here in America). Upon perusing tirelessly on Yelp, we find the most reviewed spot for just this just a short walk away. The café is called La Jacobine and is tucked away on the outskirts of the Saint-Germaine-des-Pres part of Paris. If you don’t know much about this area of Paris, it’s one of the most popular among the tourists and for good reason--- plenty of great cafes, shopping, and walking distance to many great sights. The Onion soup here was outstanding. They give you a large crock of it covered in just the right amount of melted cheese and served steaming hot--- just the way we like it! Now that we’ve had our “French Onion soup” fix, we were off to this bookstore we read raving reviews on. The bookstore was less than a 5 minute walk from the café we just ate at, so why not!
We walk up to a quaint, two story building with the name “Shakespeare & Company” adorning the front. Inside, the place has a bohemian/rustic vibe. As far as the selection goes, you’ll find everything from current novels to works from Ernest Hemingway. What we really appreciated was that they have an entire section towards the entrance of the store where you can find works where the author either wrote about Paris in the book or actually wrote the piece while in Paris. We opted to purchase a few books in this section because, why not!? When in Paris right? The best part about purchasing books from this store--- you get a stamp that says the name of the bookstore along with Paris, France--- maybe you’re not as nerdy as us, but we thought this was the best part, so we had a special memory to keep with us from the trip. Before continuing with our day, we decide to drop off our newly purchased books--- we may have gone overboard.
Next stop for us is probably the first place many will visit while in Paris--- Louvre. This place is an absolute must and draws hordes of tourists, so definitely try and plan on getting here early on in your day. We obviously did not do that. However, the crowds weren’t awful, but we definitely felt like we had to fight our way to see some of the more famous works of art. One of the immediate impressions we had was, “wow this place is MASSIVE.” There is absolutely no way you can truly appreciate the Louvre in a single day--- there’s just so many works of art stretching across what seems like miles (it probably is, to be honest). We weren’t really in the mood to spend the entire day here, so we did a self-guided tour. Maybe it was just us, but the handheld device they gave us to help navigate our way through the museum wasn’t as user friendly as we wanted--- it was pretty “hi-tech” though with a screen to help direct you to particular works of art or areas of the museum. After about an hour dealing with fighting our way to view the various sculptures and art, we were ready to leave. Then we remember, wait, we HAVE to at least say we saw the Mona Lisa while here. After finally finding our way to the room where the painting was located, we realize there is a separate queue just to see this infamous work of art. Welp, we’re already here, so we waited. The line went much quicker than expected and we especially appreciated how they set this up--- it avoided having people cut in front of you while trying to view the piece. We were even able to take an unobstructed picture. And no, we did not take a selfie like the countless others did.
Once we got our more touristy stop out of the way for the day, we decided to head over to the Tuileries Garden Market. This was just what we needed. The grounds were set up with an impressive Christmas Market filled with local vendors offering everything from crepes (which were AMAZING) to crafts you can purchase as “keep-sakes.” This wasn’t the best Christmas Market we’ve visited while in Europe, but it was still worthwhile.
After spending about two hours at the market, we decided to “wing” the rest of our day by walking around and enjoying Paris. First thought was, “let’s go grab a nice glass of wine somewhere.” I’m glad we decided to do this because we stumbled across a place by the name of O Chateau where we thought we were just coming in for a glass of wine but ended up partaking in our very first Grand Cru tasting. It’s really a coincidence how we found out about this private tasting event (it was held in a room tucked away from the public in the back of the establishment). What happened is we ordered our wine at the bar and overheard a couple come in and state to the bartender that they were there for the Grand Cru tasting. As soon as we heard that, we’re like “wait, how do we do this!?” We asked the bartender and she summoned the sommelier up to the bar. He informed us that he luckily had some spots left for his private tasting and would give us a discount… thankfully so, because apparently these tastings aren’t cheap. With the discount we ended up spending about $400 for the two of us. We spent the next three hours learning all about champagne and wine. This was the most romantic way to learn about what makes French wine so unique. Fun fact: they don’t categorize their wines like “new world wines'' (e.g., The United States). What does this mean? To put it simply, in America when you want a Pinot Noir, you’ll receive a Pinot Noir and it’ll more than likely live up to your expectations. Not in France though--- they don’t categorize it so broadly by the grape but are more specific with narrowing each wine down to the very region/vineyard it was grown and label it as such---This allows for you to find the exact wine you enjoy that much easier based on the geographic location the grape-varietal was grown.
After our time spent sipping on the most delicious wines and enjoying the included charcuterie, we left feeling a little lighter on our feet and “bubbly,” so to speak. This was the perfect “pre-game” for the next thing on our agenda--- a cabaret! Now, before you get ahead of yourself with thinking the only and best cabaret in Paris is Moulin Rouge, you may want to do your research on the options in the area. We decided against Moulin Rouge for a more intimate and artistic show… Crazy Horse. Take note--- you will definitely want to book your cabaret experience in advance (we did). Upon arrival, we were ushered to our seat or lack thereof. We had a partially obstructed view and noticed it was shoved to the side of the stage. Not exactly what we wanted for our first cabaret experience. It’s odd because we purchased their “upgraded seat package” along with a ½ bottle of champagne. Anyway, we saw the most perfect pair of seats, upfront and center, with no one sitting in them. In fact, they were the only seats in the place not filled (the venue is quite small and holds what seemed like 50-80 guests.) We asked about those particular seats and were told they were the VIP seats and came with a $350 upgrade fee, but as a perk, came with a bottle of Dom Perignon (this actually was a pretty solid deal considering what bars charge for a bottle of Dom Perignon alone). We’re so glad we did this (if you have the extra money, we recommend you do the same); as we had a blast at the show. The show lasts for a little over an hour and half and is quite the production (it exceeded our expectations for a cabaret—do note though, this is a nude cabaret, but both tasteful and artistic). We can assure you that you will not leave thinking, “wow, I just went to a very expensive striptease.” This was anything but that. We’ll digress from providing any more spoilers though. Just go and enjoy the show! You won’t regret it. After the show and a bottle of bubbly consumed, we felt we had a rather eventful and successful day in Paris and headed back in for the evening. As always, until next time our fellow Wanderers!