"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lover's Weekend - Day Two: Saturday

"No city but this, my friend, no city I know.
Gives romance such as chance to grow and grow.
Paris loves lovers, for lovers it's heaven above."
- Fred Astair, Silk Stockings (1957)

Bonjour les Amoureux!

Ahhhh, your first full day in Paris!

Thursday, you spent several hours in an airport and took an overnight flight to Paris. Friday, you landed in Paris in the morning, dropped off your bags at your hotel, broke your fast at Pain et Chocolat, took a Tuk Tuk tour, had a romantic dinner, strolled to the Eiffel Tower, and had a lover's champagne night cap (Boom Chika Wow-Wow)... 

You'd think that you'd sleep in (and you may). But jet-lag is a powerful thang, so don't be surprised if you spontaneously wake up around 6 or 7 a.m. (you're still on U.S. time afterall). Don't fight it - get out into the city! Another day, endless possibilities! And a whole lot of romance to be had ;-)

Hotel Le Tourville's cozy dining cave

The breakfast at Hotel Le Tourville is excellent. But if you're eager to get out into early morning Paris, I have the perfect spot for your petite dejeuner (breakfast) - Le Petit Cler...

*Whether you break your fast at the hotel, or at Le Petit Cler, ask your concierge to make reservations for you before you do anything else: Bateau Parisians (lunch), Au Petit Tonneau (dinner), and Au Lapin Agile (show).

And be sure to order coffee to your room, to savor while you get ready to meet the day - no one should be forced to venture out into the morning without at least one cup of coffee first!

Time to eat. But before you do, you've got one more stop to make...

rue Cler's newspaper kiosk
*the post office is directly across the street

As you leave the hotel, turn right and head towards avenue La Motte Piquet. Cross the street, turn right, walk a few feet and you'll see rue Cler, immediately to your left. A few steps down rue Cler, on the right hand side of the street you'll come to this newspaper stand.

There's an amazing array of magazines and newspapers from around the world (in their native languages of course). Buy the day's edition of The International Herald Tribune & Financial Times newspapers. Now continue down the street to Le Petit Cler:

Le Petit Cler - 29, rue Cler

Enjoy your walk down rue Cler. You'll walk nearly the entire street in order to get to your ultimate breakfast destination. Rue Cler is a 7 days a week market street. Everyone who lives in the arrondissement (and many who do not) do all of their food and wine shopping here [for full deets on this magical street Parisien, - here]

*Don't be fooled - along the way you'll pass several very lovely looking restaurants, but that's all they are: pretty. In actuality they are tourist traps, expensive tourists traps with shitty overpriced food and coffee. Keep walking!

Le Petit Cler is a tiny cafe that is evenly filled with tourists (in the know) and locals. While it's smack dab in the middle of a tourist mecca, it feels (and IS) a small neighborhood favorite. It's simple and 'homey,' but also elegant and quintessentially oh so Parisien!

When you get to the cafe, grab a table outside as far under the canopy as possible. That's where the best people wathching seats are (and closest to the outdoor heaters). I've sat there on an 40 degree October day and had to take off my thick sweater coat and scarf - it was like a warm summer day, and I hate to be cold. Thus, you'll have a warm and cozy seat - perfect for snuggling.

Le Petit Cler offers prix fixe petit dejenuer Americane - 15E (the same price as Hotel le Tourville): amazingly fresh bread, butter, jam, fresh squeezed juice, a small bowl of creamy scrambled eggs or an omelette, and a coffee of your choice. I suggest a Cafe Creme (thick, rich, creamy and perfectly sweet. No sugar needed - yummy!)

Mr. Gorgeous, Coco and I break our fast here every morning - SO GOOD! Read your paper (yeah, it's romantic to read it together), pour over your guidebooks and maps, nibble, sip and watch the world go by ;-)  Your plans are set, your tummy is full, time to venture!

- Hop into a cab and go to the Jardin de Tuileries (place de la Concorde entrance). Explore this beautiful urban park.

Musee l'Orangerie - is tucked in a corner of the gardens

The Musee d l'Orangerie is an art gallery of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings (you'll find it on the Place de la Concorde entrance). Of course, it's most famous for housing Monet's 8 humongous Water Lillies murals.

The museum was chosen and arranged by Monet to showcase his masterpieces - and they are magnifique! The murals are in a huge circular gallery that is suffused with natural light, from a skylight that encompasses the entire ceiling - created to Monet's exact specifications.

You have to visit rue de Rivoli (across the street from the Jardins des Tuileries) - the tourist's souvenir mecca! This long narrow sidewalk is where you can get the best t-shirts, key chains, posters, bags, berets, mugs, shot glasses and every other type of souvenir Parisien - at the best prices. You can shop for yourself and all of your family and friends, one-stop-shopping!

rue de Rivoli

Be sure to visit Galignani's

After wandering the gardens, gazing at murals and a bit of power shopping, it's just about time for lunch. And I've got the perfect place for lovers: gorgeous, great view and romantic - Bateaux Parisians...

Bateaux Parisians - you board at the Port de la Bourdonnais,
(just tell your cabbie: Bateaux Parisians, Port de la Bourdonnais)

Bateaux Paisiens is literally a floating glass encased luxury restaurant, that conducts the most fabulous tours down the Seine while you're fine dining. I suggest that you take their lunch tour the "Paris Irisistible" for 80E pp (@ $100 each) - Yeah, it ain't cheap but it's so worth it and you get a great 'bang-for-your-buck:'

*Choice of 3 Appetizers
*Choice of 3 Main Dishes (Fish, Chicken, Steak, or Veal)
*A Cheese course
*Choice of 4 desserts
*1/2 bottle each of red and white
*soft drinks, water (flat, sparkling, or both)
*coffee and/or tea
*An amazing tour (music, dancing, and a good time)

Your intimate table for two awaits...

The live music is incredibly romantic

This tour is not at all like a garden variety tour. As you sail past major monuments (i.e. the Eiffel Tower, La Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, etc.) There is musical accompaniment (piano, violin and singing), with very brief descriptions of the monuments (in English). Particular songs accomany particular monuments. For example, when Notre Dame comes into view - 'Ave Maria' begins to play hauntingly in the background.

When you approach the smaller version of the Statue of Liberty (the larger one was a gift to the U.S. from France), the musicians break into a raucous round of 'New York, New York.' The statue is the turn around point of the lunch cruise, about an hour in. Of course by then, everyone is feeling pretty loose - everyone joins in a sing-along. There's even a dance floor and by the end of the tour, the floor is crowded with people dancing to a foot tapping polka - SO much fun!

While Bateaux Parisians is family friendly, it's true calling is a romantic lunch for two - an unforgettable, ridiculously romantic Parisian adventure. The tour leaves at 12:45 and lasts for 2 hours. Hotel Le Tourville's concierge can make your reservations for you (@mail ahead).

Now it's time to head back to the hotel for a siesta. You've got a big night ahead of you. If you don't have too many bags, might I suggest that you walk back to your hotel - or as far as you're able? It'll take you about an hour - if you do it right - slow with lots of stops. For your last few minutes at the cafe, map out your route home. If you can't make it all of the way, there's lots of Taxi stands along the way. When you get back to Hotel Le Tourville, take a siesta - you've earned it! Just make sure to ask just ask your concierge to make your reservations, and at Au Lapin Agile as well, before you retire.

*Feel free to call the Tuk Tuk company and arrange for a ride home!

Au Petit Tonneau - 20, rue Surcouf

This is the only picture that I could find of the restaurant online. But that's not surprising. You see, the kind, talented and fabulous proprietress of Au Petit Tonneau - Ginette Boyer - is seriously old school. She does not have a website or an @mail address. I don't even think that she owns a pc. Mr. Gorgeous and I first discovered Au Petit Tonneau in 2000, loved it so much that we return every trip. 

The restaurant is very small, seating 25 to 40 people when full, maybe. The building that houses the restaurant is more than 100 years old. The cozy room, with its tiny bar, a miniscule kitchen barely large enough to fit Madame Boyer, vintage light fixtures, art work on the walls that is obviously fine and expensive, white linen covered tables, the soft murmer of half a dozen different languages amid the muffled clink of wine glasses and silver. The scene is so intimate, authentic and romantic, it's nearly unbearable.

Stepping through the doors of Au Petit Tonneau is like stepping through a portal in time - truly Time Lady worthy. For a moment, please indulge the historian that suffuses every molecule of my being, when I describe my first impression of this restaurant:

When Mr. Gorgeous and I stepped inside and sat down, I felt like we were World War II French Resistance sympathizers coming to a place where we knew that Nazi/Vichy were 'most' unwelcome. In my fertile historian's imagination, I could clearly see a Sherlock Holmes looking fellow (the Robert Downy Jr. hott version) in quiet, deep, clandestine conversasion with a gorgeous Black woman (think Josephine Baker). Exchanging secret documents to aid the Allies? Yeah, this place does that to a person.

Okay, back to the particulars...

While Madame has an amazing, comprehensive wine list - when the waitress (and only other server) takes your drink order, she'll ask red, white or rose; that's for the house wine. Than she'll bring your choice in a short, fat handmade clay pitcher - delicious and cheap. As for the menu? It's simple, elegant, hearty and delicious: 3-4 appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts. Madame Boyer's veal stew is frigging amazing! Madame buys her supplies fresh, 3-4 days a week at Rungis (a massive wholesale food market on the edge of Paris). She serves everything uber fresh til it runs out. EVERYTHING is amazing.

  with Madame Boyer (she's holding Coco), 2009

This is not a trendy, hot spot filled with the young and beautiful. The decor is a mixture of antique and vintage furniture - very early 20th century. More than half of the patrons, on any given day and evening, are regulars. And I mean regulars - they have lunch and dinner there at least 4 days a week. This is also a place where Americans religiously visit when they're in town. Be prepared to strike up a conversasion with the people sitting on either side of you - most likely on both sides of you. And don't be surprised to when most of the other patrons in the place join in.

Maybe it's the small room, the intimate atmosphere, the fact that Madame Boyer moves from table to table between cooking in her kitchen, her tiny white dog sleeping beneath one of the tables, or her black cat sleeping atop another - heck, it's a combination of all of the above! Take your pick but, before you're halfway through your dinner the restauant is transformed into a friend's salon. Excellent food and wine, a welcoming patroness, and friendly fellow diners = a perfect dinner Parisien.

Au Petit Tonneau is decidedly low key. If you want an even more lively dinner, go to L'Auberge Bressane - 16 avenue de la Motte-Picquet (it shares the same address as Pain et Chocolat, but is next door - yeah I don't get that either).

Ask Madame Boyet to call a Taxi for you because you can't walk to your next destination. You're pleasantly full - on excellent food, excellent wine, and excellent conversasion. Now, you're ready for something truly Parisian, something truly unique...

Au Lapin Agile - Chansons, Humor, Poesie
22, rue de Saules (18th er)

Au Lapin Agile (the Nimble Rabbit) is the oldest caberet in Paris (circa 1852). It's located just behind the Sacre Coeur Basilica, in the Montmartre District (the 18th). At the turn of the 20th century, it was a favorite gathering spot for now famous, then struggling artists and writers including: Picasso, Modigliani, Apollinaire, and Utrillo. Today, the caberet is a fascinating mix of songs, music, and poetry - all wrapped up in a welcoming, endearing kitschy atmosphere. In the present day, Au Lapin Agile firmly adheres to it's roots. It remains open as long as there's someone who wants to continue the experience.


How can I explain the ridiculous wonderful that is this caberet? It's a tiny theatre, to enter the main room, you have to pass thru huge heavy red velvet drapes. The room (the entire place, actually) is so old, so historical it 'creaks. Along the walls are benches, in the middle of the room are several dark wood tables and benches. Finally, along one wall is an upright piano.

Every wall is covered with dozens of paintings, swords, axes, feathers, and theatre props of every era. At the piano sits a tiny gray haired man who plays the piano like a dynamo. Doesn't matter what genre, he plays classical, caberet, broadway, opera, etc. Of course he accompanies nearly a half dozen (usually more) performers.

This fellow sang old French standards - so cool!

Pete and I loved this place! Like all of our adventures in Paris, we seek and/or create, there's a motely mix of fellow adventurers: expats, French, and people from all over the world. This place has the surreal feel of stepping back in time. Again, not trendy or of the moment, but soooo cool. Most of the entertainers are fabulous.

Be forewarned, nothing here is in English, except some of the Broadway songs. No worries - all of the people who work here speak English and are very friendly. You will feel like you've been transported through time, to a simpler purer place. No strobe lights, no d.j., no huge flat screens. This is another Time Lady worthy experience.

Leave your pre-conceived notions and expectations at the door. Don't expand your boundaries, obliterate them. At Au Lapin Agile you must suspend what you know (or what you think you know) and what you are comfortable with - this is pure Parisian romance, enjoy to the fullest. The host will call a cab for you. This is the best idea, for you'll most likely be slightly stumbling as you make your way home... (Boom Chika Wow Wow).

Next: Day Three - Sunday

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!


Mr. Gorgeous and I at Au Lapin Agile


  1. Hello Diva Love! I am so happy you are going back to Paris! Bring me something Diva-ish, too! You look great on the beach! You are something to behold!

  2. You have created so many perfect Paris moments...

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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