Monday, May 17:  Fine Dining

We slept in after our late evening, first because it was a darn good idea, but second, so as to not disturb Marie-France and Thierry. Eventually, everybody was up and about, and it was good to connect with the Manoncourts again. Thierry carefully explained to us the ratings of the various wines in a Bordeaux Wine supplement of The Point, which looked like a national news magazine. Of course, Figeac was only upstaged by a handful of other wines, many with names that even a novice wine aficionado would recognize.

Marie-France and Thierry invited us for lunch at the restaurant (Le Fregate) at the end of rue de Bac, where it meets the Seine. An even greater surprise was that Claire and Charles had business in the city later in the afternoon, and so they could join us also. The view over to the Louvre was fantastic, the food was great, and the company outstanding. I was asked to reprise several stories about my grandfather’s exploits during World War II in the Pacific, and so I will want to send documentation along later. Lunch until 3 PM was a bit much for the boys, but fortunately the placemats were made of paper and there were pens about. Still, we needed to get them moving. So we reluctantly said our final goodbyes to Marie-France and Thierry. Claire had proposed bringing the boys home with her for an overnight, which was a good idea. But with a full day’s worth of kid activities planned for tomorrow, we had to decline.

Today’s program was churches. First Saint Chapelle and its walls of pure stained glass. The sun was shining, and it was striking, but I guess it didn’t quite match up to the hype for me. Notre Dame was big, and the stained glass was striking, but the walk up the 400-something steps was the topper. It was a beautiful, clear day and the views were fantastic, especially from atop the south tower. Rick would approve. And you also got some real close-up looks at the gargoyles. (Photo 140)  (Photo 139)

Mildly exhausted from the warmth, your author broke with his financial scruples and capitulated to the tourist trade by purchasing a 5 euro soft drink (large, half-liter) at a bar across the street, and did likewise for the rest of the family. At least Pat had the good sense to get a small beer for less. Unfortunately, the great ice cream shop nearby was closed on Monday.

We finally decided to walk over by the Hotel d’Ville, to see about perhaps having dinner at Del Canto. We had been given a brochure by Claire and Charles which explained that the waiters and waitresses were opera students who break from their duties every twenty minutes to perform. We found the place, found that they had tables available at their opening time of 8 PM (in half-an-hour), and tried to hide the mild shock at the price for the set menu. 100 Latini units per person! But what an experience! The food was delicious (Italian!) and while we dined there was classical piano music played right next to our table. And indeed, there were several solo opera performances, about every twenty minutes, with volume that approached, but never attained, painful levels. Then there were some duets, with my favorite being conducted, back and forth, from the two ends of our table for a time. Later, there was a celebration of some sort, and it was unclear if this was part of the act or something unusual, but we all got small glasses of champagne and then all the performers (waiters/waitresses/students?) sang and cruised among all the tables clinking glasses. When one discovered the boys were using their water glasses, he raced off and returned with two champagne glasses full of apricot juice.

By 10:30 PM we were again pushing the boys’ limits and so set out to walk along the river back to rue de Bac. Almost home at 11 PM and we watched the Eiffel Tower’s lights break into their hourly display of randomness. It was a fitting end to a day of fine dining, Paris style.

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Photo 139  Robert and Gargoyles
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Photo 140  David and Gargoyles

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Photo 141  Robert and David Walk the Seine