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Friday, February 22, 2013

Champagne!

So I had la canard. Also delicious. So was that bread and that wine.

On Wednesday, we went out to Versailles. It was a little chilly to tour the gardens but the palace was beautiful. The opulence of everything was overwhelming at times. Those Louis really didn't mess around. That was followed by some down time in the afternoon and then dinner at what claims to be the oldest cafe in the world. I'm not sure how true that is, but a bunch of famous people did eat there, including Napoleon. I got to have my coq au vin, which was good but a little on the dry side, if we're being honest. Kevin really enjoyed his duck and he also had some very tasty potatoes that I stole a few of. Then, it was back to the hotel to get a good night's sleep before one of our earlier mornings.

Bright and early on Thursday, we hopped on a train and headed out to Epernay to visit Mo√ęt et Chandon, the makers of the world's best champagne. We had a lovely tour of their cellars, which are over 28km long and we got to see a LOT of champagne. Some of the vaults had over 10,000 bottles in them. Then it was time for some champagne tasting - we had a flute of the 2004 grand vintage and one of the 2002 rose grande vintage. Both were delicious. Then it was on to Reims for lunch and to stock up on champagne we don't get in Canada before heading back to Paris for dinner.

Today, we've had a quiet day. We headed up to the 18th arondissement to see Sacre Coeur - we were unaware there were so many steps to get there. It was a cold, windy day so we didn't hang around too long. Then it was into the 6th for some shopping - rather unsuccessful, though. Now, we're figuring out where to have our last dinner in Paris and then we'll come back to the hotel for one last night and to pack for our flight out tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I want to eat my weight in bread

Okay, so where was I? Right. About to visit France's largest glacier. So I hopped aboard an old-timey train and while it chugged its way up a mountain (to a height of about 6000 feet), I snapped a tonne of photos of the absolutely stunning scenery. It was gorgeous. Once I got up the mountain, I took a cable car partway down to the glacier and then descended 380 steps to get to an ice cave.

Holy guacamole, the ice cave is one of the coolest, most amazing things I've ever seen in my life. There's no way to really describe what it was like to go through a cave made entirely of ice. It was surreal, breathtaking, and just a little bit tempting to lick. Then it was back up the stairs, back up the cable car and back down the mountain. Before meeting Kevin back at our hotel, I stopped for a delicious crepe. It was delicious. Then, it was time to catch our night train to Paris.

Once we arrived in Paris in the morning, we made our way to our hotel, where our room was already ready, dropped our stuff and headed over to the Louvre. We wandered around for a couple of hours, drinking in our fill of art. Happily, because it's February, the crowds were very light and we got to see a lot. After that, we walked over to the Eiffel tour and headed on up to the top to check out the city.

After that, it was back to the hotel for a rest to gear up for the day's main event. Dinner.

We found a nice little place near our hotel and I don't know what I ordered but it was amazing. I know it was lamb. I know there were mashed potatoes. But I'm not sure what else was involved. I suspect the mashed potatoes were around 3 parts butter to 1 part potato. And they were heaven. And so was the lamb. And so was the bread. And the wine. And so was the tarte tatin I had for dessert. Just heaven.

Today was also a busy day. We started with a couple of pastries on our way to the subway to visit Le Musee D'Orsay, which is crammed full of Impressionist painting. We saw a lot of Monet, my particular favourite, and a number of other beautiful works. Then it was on to Notre Dame where we headed into the Archeological Museum to see some of the ruins of the ancient settlements before heading into the church. It was fascinating to wander through and so hard to believe it was nearly torn down at one point. Then, it was over to Champs Elysses to wander up the road and then take in L'Arc de Triomphe. Amazing. Just amazing.

Now, we're trying to decide on where to go for tonight's dinner. I'm hoping to have coq au vin or confit de canard. With bread. And wine.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Nestled all snug in the Alps

Well, it's Sunday and we're in Chamonix. It's been a fantastic few days so far.

Our trip started with our first class flight - courtesy of upgrade credits Kevin accumulated over the last year with all the travelling he's done for work. He certainly appreciated the extra leg room and I liked being able to put my seat down flat for sleeping. Our flight was good and we breezed through customs, etc. in Geneva and soon we were en route to our hotel.

Chamonix has a number of little villages and the one we picked to stay in was Les Praz. Our hotel was lovely and you could almost throw a rock and hit the gondola to go up the mountain. The view from our room was an amazing view of the mountains. It was so picturesque. After a shower, we headed into town to check out what was there. The bus from Les Praz into the heart of the town was about five minutes so it didn't take very long. Once we were there, we wandered around the streets before getting some dinner (delicious!) and then heading back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

Yesterday, Kevin had a great day snowboarding - we're looking forward to seeing the photos and videos that come off his GoPro. I spent my day heading 12,000 feet up to see the summit of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in this area. This was accomplished by what I believe is the world's highest cable car. It was pretty high! It was pretty chilly at the top, even for a Canadian girl, but it was amazing to see. It was a nice clear day so I could see for miles and got some amazing photos of the Alps. I also had some lunch and I doubt I will ever eat so high above see level again.

Today, we've packed up our bags in anticipation of heading to Paris on the overnight train. Kevin is snowboarding again and I'm heading off to see France's largest glacier in about 20 minutes. I think it'll be another good day for both of us!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles

Well, I can only assume I do. So far, I've loved Paris from afar. But soon, I'll be up close and personal with it because we're going to Paris & the Alps in just over a month.

Specifically, we're head to Chamonix via the Geneva airport. Chamonix was the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924 so going there is almost exactly like if I was going to the actual Olympics. It has some pretty good skiing, since it sits in the Alps, which EDP is pretty keen on. And it also has lots of spas and boutiques, which I'm pretty keen on.

From there, we're taking an overnight train to Paris where we plan on taking in the obvious sites (The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame, Musee D'Orsay, Champs D'Elysses, Arc de Triomphe) with a day trip out to Versailles and another out to Epernay to visit Moet & Chandon & Reims.

After that, it's home again.  For now, the anticipation and the planning is keeping me excited.  We have flights & hotels & trains all booked so now it's just the wait.