Let's hear it for jumbo meringues as big as your face! As someone who likes to make, eat, and even paint desserts, I can say that Paris is a wonderland of beautiful sweets, and Jeff and I felt like Hansel and Gretel most of the time.
In an attempt to adjust to Paris time quickly, we resisted the temptation to take a nap (I had been awake for 20+ hours by then) and headed in the general direction of the Eiffel Tower. Jeff's iPhone has an app that helped us navigate the Metro system--all you have to do is type in where you are and where you want to go, and the app tells you what lines to take and where to get off. Highly recommended if you have no sense of direction like me, and a nice backup if you know what's going on, like Jeff.
In case you've never been to Paris, the Metro is an efficient and reliable way to get around once you understand it, and if you enjoy surreptitiously glancing at bored Parisians without being some kind of creep, it's truly the way to go.
The Metro is also a great way to get The Metro by 80s pop group Berlin firmly lodged in your head for days at a time.
Jeff wanted to treat me to a couple of surprises before we did any actual sightseeing. "I think we should get some chocolate first," Jeff said, and have truer words ever been spoken? Does a more agreeable sentence exist in the English language? Soon enough we were gaping at an over-the-top variety of candy from chocolatier Jean-Paul Hevin. The small shop's interior, which looked sort of like this (forgot to take photos due to excitement), displayed the chocolates under glass as if they were precious jewels.
We bought a small grab bag (grab box) of variety chocolates and sat on a bench across the street and shared them, marveling at the unexpected flavor combinations and also loving the old reliables. Again I was too excited and hungry to take any photos, but I believe that blog photos of chocolate are a form of torture to most readers; wouldn't you agree? So here's a picture of the box instead.
Also photographed: my leopard (cheetah?) print gloves, big chunka Navajo turquoise, and red coat. Something about seeing those colors together brings me irrational joy, and when I wasn't surreptiously glancing at Parisians on the Metro, I amused myself by looking at my left wrist.
Chocolate appetizers devoured, Jeff led me to Le Petit Cler, a restaurant he'd researched that used pain Poilâne in its croque monsieur/madame. This was a huge deal to us because according to food writer David Lebovitz, pain Poilâne is "considered the best bread in the world."
Also we have had a four-year running joke about a dish I fix called croque monsieur bake, and loosely translated "croque monsieur" means "mister crunchy," and I'm sorry but few things are funnier to me. If you'd like to learn more about Mr. Crunchy, and I don't know why you would, please click here.
We sat in Le Petit Cler's very petit dining room (which was doing brisk, late-lunch business) and waited for our Crunchies to arrive, elbow-to-elbow with locals and a number of their children. Sidebar: French children were a revelation to us, and recent articles like this one rang true. Patient, quiet and exceptionally well-behaved as a rule, they made American children seem like entitled little monsters, I'm sorry to say. (And while I am not a parent, I worked in a middle school for years and witnessed firsthand the best and the worst that American children have to offer, believe me.) While in Paris, we saw one child throwing a legitimate fit while outside a toy store. His father consoled him while a sibling recorded the event on his camera--could tantrums be so rare in Paris that they are filmworthy? This outlier aside, we found a kinship with these serious mini Parisians and admired their cuteness.
What you have here is a 4"x10" oval slice of the aforementioned pain Poilâne, its interior soft and complex, its exterior crunchy and slightly smoky, topped with a slice of ham and an exorbitant, indecent amount of Gruyere cheese that had been broiled until bubbly and golden brown, and crowned with an egg. It was one of those dining experiences where the food was so good and we were so tired and hungry that all we could do was gaze across the table at each other, slowly shaking our heads in disbelief.
And then we were off to find an Art Nouveau doorway Jeff's daughter Melissa thought we should see:
The address of this doorway: 29 Avenue Rapp, just a random street. Salvador Dali called this the most erotic facade in Paris, and it includes a bust of designer Jules Lavirott's wife in the center, Adam and Eve, and a giant penis. Oooh, dirty architectural joke, let's try to find it!
Soon we rounded a corner and WHOA EIFFEL TOWER HELLO.
In my previous trip to Paris, I had not visited the tower and was never anywhere particularly close to it, as my companion didn't want to do anything touristy. But honestly, suddently encountering the Eiffel Tower looming like Godzilla in the middle distance was a flat-out thrill, and ladies, I'm sure you know who I felt like.
We walked to the tower, becoming increasingly giddy. It's just so big. I've seen it a million times in books, movies, and on television, but those don't capture the scale of the thing, especially when you're close enough to see the underside of its lower platform. It occurred to me that the Eiffel Tower is like an upside-down tornado, and that idea made me love it ten times more.
Predictably, the closer to the tower we got, the crazier the number of tourists became, and we couldn't bring ourselves to stand in their endless lines. We enjoyed the tower from ground level and were more than content with that.
(The next photos of the tower were taken by Jeff when he was in Paris about a month before he met me.)
It started to rain, so we made our way back home. We pulled out the bed, checked our email, listened to some highly appropriate Lou Reed songs on Jeff's iPhone (it plugged into the apartment's alarm clock), and we fell asleep.