Day 4: Heights and Depths

Our day began at the Eiffel Tower around 11am. Two of the elevators were being renovated (apparently they were actually being modernized) and we aren’t fans of heights, so we decided to skip the lines. Today was the first day we had sun – the sky was clear and bright blue, the city looked very different.

Which was especially fortunate since today was our lunch/tour aboard the Batueax Parisiens which left Pier 3B at 12:30, packed with tourists from all over. We were seated on the port side of the boat, right at the window, and given a glass of kir royale. As we slowly moved up the Seine from the base of the Eiffel Tower we went past Les Invalides (Napoleon’s Tomb), the National Assembly (city hall), Le Musee d’Orsay (more on this later), L’Institut de France (responsible for the lack of changes in and correct usage of French), Notre Dame, La Bibliotheque Nationale (a library containing more than 12 million books), L’Hotel de Ville (the original town hall), La Conciergerie (former palace, used as a prison during The Revolution), the Louvre, Le Palais de Chaillot and then the Statue of Liberty (a much smaller copy of the one found in America).

There was very little explanation of what we saw, but it didn’t really matter. There was a very good violinist and pianist who played throughout our meal. What about the food? It was surprisingly good. We were prepared for airline food, and instead we got upscale bistro. My salmon gravlax with cucumber and peas was lovely, as was Js chicken terrine with pistachio nuts, and sweet onion preserve. J’s beef main course was incredibly rich and delicious, as was my duck confit. For dessert we finished with warm apple tarts and mascarpone ice cream.

It was almost 3pm when we finished, so we caught the Batobus and went up to the Musse D’Orsay.

Holy wow. The Louvre may be big, but d’Orsay is SO MUCH BETTER. Again, thank you Rick Steves. We spent hours here, wandering around, and could easily spend hours more. Cassat, Cezanne, Corot, Courbet, Degas, Manet, Monet, Pissaro, Renoir, Seurat, Toulopuse-Latrec, van Gogh, and even a couple of Whistlers. They kicked us out at closing or we wouldn’t have left. There were sculptures, too. (can you tell I loved it and was overwhelmed?)

Special coolness: they had a 1/24 replica of the Opera House, complete with cut away section so we could see how it was all put together.

We staggered away and had a bit of a lie-down before dinner.

Brasserie Bofinger was our destination based on recommendations like:

“At the grand old age of 134, it lays reasonable claim to being the very father of the Parisian brasserie. . . Inside it is a confection of dark polished wood, shining brass and comfortable banquettes. The whole of the interior – including the deliciously Victorian urinals in the basement – is now a protected national monument. But the crowning glory is the intricate glass dome above the central dining room. . . Bofinger continues to be what it has always been: the classic Parisian brasserie.”

Sadly we were seated upstairs, which is paneled in dark wood and cozy. Mostly we had the worst service we encountered in our whole trip. It boils down to this: I was given a single glass of wine (ordered with our meal) and never once given the opportunity to order another NOR was I ever asked if I wanted a refill. In a country that prides itself on the vin ordinaire being very good and pairing wine with your meal, I think this was absolutely unacceptable. Not to mention all of the money they lost. Let me be clear: We were prepared to have (and had consistently enjoyed) a leisurely meal while in Paris. However the time between our courses was much too long and we ultimately felt ignored. My meal was utterly forgettable, although Js charcuterie (sausages and sauerkraut) was quite tasty. Really, it was the only negative experience we had.

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