I believe I am finally on the Parisian time clock! I woke up this morning and ran down to the hotel "spa" (gym) for a mini boot camp work out before our day began. The hotel offers a complimentary breakfast buffet. This is nothing like the breakfast buffets you are used to at a typical hotel. The food was delicious, and the coffee is very strong - but so smooth.
Afterwards we headed out for a day of food tasting and sightseeing. There was still some fog at 9:15am and this, accompanied by the unfamiliar cadence of parisien sirens only added to the ambiance. We went to a French market where we tried zucchini topped with ice cream... an interesting flavor combination that started out cool and sweet, changed to smoky (think Gouda cheese) and then mildly crunchy. It was ... interesting. Not bad, but not something I would purposefully order! We also tried a violet tea drink with a piece of crystallized violet that tasted just like candy - delicious!
The market was a riot of gorgeous colors, fresh produce, and wonderful scents.
Here's something I love about Paris. For 1 Euro you can rent a bike for half an hour (longer, of course, for more Euros) to make your way across the city. There are bike "lots" all over the city where you can simply swipe a credit card to unlock a bike. When you lock the bike up at any "station" the time-clock automatically stops on your card. Brilliant!
Same goes for cars, which they also offer in NYC and Chicago, but the bikes I'm not so sure they offer elsewhere (please do correct me if you know differently).
But I digress. The highlight of our morning was a visit to a french chocolatier, where the owner educated us on the differences among various types of chocolate and offered several samples. Again... delicious!
We were free to wander and find a restaurant for lunch. We left our group and found a wonderful restaurant in the 6th arrondissment - near (or in? not sure) St. Germaine Square. Let me digress for a moment to explain further about the 6th arron. This is the most exclusive area to live in all of Paris. Apartments here sell for $12,000 per square meter. Can you imagine?
St. Germaine Square is the place to see and be seen. In his day, Hemingway used to write in the small establishments here, because a cup of coffee was just 10 Euros, and there was heat - a warm place for a starving writer to work all day.
We visited Le Procope which is the oldest restaurant in the city. This was a place where Le Voltaire and Bonaparte use to visit. Bonaparte once left his hat as payment because he did not have enough money to pay his bill. His hat still resides in the restaurant today.
So... we sat outside a cafe for lunch of course, and people-watched, then rejoined our group to head back to the Champs Elysee where we took a pastry class with Chef Matthew.
He was very charming, and the desserts were outstanding. He taught us how to make Macaroons, Chocolate Tarts and Tiramisu - Delicious!
Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel. My dad and I decided to walk to the Apple store here and received very simple directions from the conceirge at our hotel. Simple my ass. Paris is not as easy to navigate as NYC (their grid system, to me, is quite simple). After a few wrong turns and two attempts to ask non-enlish speaking french people for directions, we finally found it. This Apple store is like a church! But of course, it's in Paris, what did we expect?
We did a little shopping then walked the mile or two back to the hotel, stopping once at a market for a bottle of wine, then again for a quick bite to eat before finally heading back to our hotel.
It has been a very long, but wonderful day.