In Paris Indulging Copiously on Desire
It’s not everyday a resident strolls down the Champs-Elysées, but at Christmas time, it’s virtually essential to the spirit.
With a visiting friend Sunday evening, we started out at Place de la Concorde to take a three-turn ride on the “Grande Roue.” Sitting with four others in one of its warm and toasty cabins, we hit the top just at the moment when the Eiffel Tower did its light dance for us to see from on high. Down below, we could see the red and white ribbon of headlights along the Champs-Elysées ending at the Arc de Triomphe, bordered by the trees laced in white lights.
Along the Champs-Elysées from the Place to “Rond Point” is the annual Christmas Market with one stand after another of gift goodies. On a Sunday evening it was wall-to-wall strollers, drinking “Vin Chaud,” sampling street food and maneuvering the muddy sidewalks in the wet and wintery weather. We couldn’t help but chuckle how interspersed among the vendors of tree ornaments, wooly mitten and gaudy jewelry were stands selling caviar and foie gras. Would you expect less at a Paris market?
Dinner took place at Ladurée, one of the Champs prettiest restaurants. Founded in 1862, Ladurée is still making what is thought to be the finest “macarons” (macaroons), but that’s not all it’s good for. Forty-five pastry chefs and 40 talented cooks prepare dishes that marry pastry with fish, meat, poultry and vegetables in a creative and passionate way. It is a little more expensive than some, but less than others along the world’s most famous avenue, and worth the experience. (Ladurée, 75, avenue des Champs Elysées, 75008 Paris, Tel: 01.40.75.08.75).
Another part of Paris life a resident sometimes forgets to experience became our Monday afternoon outing — starting with lunch under the glass dome at the Brasserie Printemps at Au Printemps and then shopping in the “Grands Magazins.”
Au Printemps does little to promote its beautiful restaurant/salon de thé, as it seems hidden on the 6th floor of the Printemps de la Mode store. Once inside, it has the most amazing attribute, besides the many-meter-high Christmas tree and stunning stained glass coupole: acoustics. Despite that fact that hundreds of people are in close proximity as you dine, you hear nothing but your own voices and you can feel like you’re in an intimate space removed from the others. The glass top tables reflect the colors of the dome and everything seems to sparkle. I must add, too, that the Chicken Caesar Salad (which the French attempt and at which they rarely succeed) is among the best I’ve had.
Galeries Lafayette wins the prize for the most beautiful tree, almost as high as it’s dome. The circular pattern of this famous department store cleverly moves you in spirals throughout all its departments. I got lost in the luxury lingerie corner, one of France’s specialties with which other countries have a hard time competing. The price tags are healthy, but where else can one indulge so copiously on that which creates so much desire?
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
(A reflection at Brasserie Printemps)