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Lunch at Le Jules Verne (within Le Tour Eiffel) and a cruise along the Seine

Posted by Ailsa B du Bois on May 22, 2009

This morning Fred, Philippe, Laurie & I were all tremendously excited to get into Philippe’s Renault and zip over to Le Tour Eiffel for our very special lunch at the critically acclaimed and celebrated modern French cuisine restaurant, Le Jules Verne.  We skipped the 2 hour queue, and went straight to the restaurant’s exclusive elevator up 134 metres along the angled leg of the tower.  We were very lucky to be given a prized window table, and to be blessed with a clear, warm day.  The view over the Left Bank was to die for, and the cutlery, the plates, the glass-ware all innovative and highly modern.  We opted for a set menu, which is written up as 3 courses, but was in fact 5 courses (2 of which were dessert).  Each course was accompanied by a dedicated glass off wine or sauterne, appropriate to the texture and taste of the specific meal.  We were offered a delicious array of unique breads and croissant type creations to have with the main course, and it was seriously sublime.  Upon leaving in an advanced state of gentle euphoria, ‘ladies’ are presented with a gift of 3 madeleine’s (petite sponge cakes of delicate consistency).  Alaine Ducasse is the Managing Chef, and his expertise certainly are evident here in terms of creative direction and supreme quality and attention to detail.  It is true that it cost a week (or two) of an average salary to indulge in this way (and I heard a very urbane French Canadian man at the next table remark that they’d lapsed on a mortgage payment to be there, which is fair comment!), but it was well worth it, in every respect.  We will never forget this special day, and it was so lovely to be able to treat our friends’ who are getting married next Friday.  This gesture of an extraordinary luncheon within a global architectural icon, was our way of wishing them congratulations, a happy future together, and also to say thank-you for hosting us, and being so generous with their hospitality.  It is such a joy to be here in Paris, with these two absolutely wonderful people.  And it must be said that this whole dream-like experience is an exceptionally rare treat.

After lunch we floated down to the general look-out area, and took some happy snaps (some of which I will upload onto FaceBook).  We then seperated to glide off in different, but comparably dreamy, directions.  Laurie and I skipped another queue (which looked to be up to an hour long), and used our pre-paid tickets (courtest of Fred) to board the Bateaux Parisienne for an hour’s boat cruise up to near the Champs-Elysées, and back again.  Most relaxing, though in fact we felt so relaxed we could have quite easily fallen into the Seine and floated away blissfully…  But, we didn’t!

Next we wandered over to a little market street called Rue Cler, and observed old fashioned style butchers, fish stores, fruit and veg stores, chocolatiers, patissereies and florists’.  It was like the little red beetle children’s books I have from the 1960’s: so sweet.  We felt we had to buy something, however small, so when we found a huge, but completely unpretentious, cheese store, we ventured to purchase a round of Neufchàtel, fromage artisanal au lait cru, fabrique en Normandie.  We looked with some slight discomfort at cheeses with thick patches of furry mould, and while we have no doubt they may be delicious, it’s just a step too far for our Anglo sensibilities.  Anyway, we’re home now in Le Marais, and Philippe is cooking dinner for us: goat’s cheese with crusty bread, then fish for main with thick white asparagus.  All this walking we’ve done may well be erased by these gastronomic  ways of ours, but we are on vacation, and so ‘Voilà’!

Other observations of today include witnessing a thief, dressed in a suave fasion, running like hell on wheels from under the Le Tour Eiffel, almost crashing into Laurie on his way, and being pursued at a ferocious speed by 3 men dressed in black, with gold and hot pink Eifell Tower key rings jangling by the dozen from their belt rings, and off they all went, crashing through the otherwise genteel park of Ecole Militaire…  On the Met home we changed at Operà Station, and witnessed some almost frightening crush of humanity trying to squueze both in and out of the Met doors.  But all things considered, we’re finding the public transport here very civilised.  The mood on the Met is friendly, and relaxed, and people chat away comfortably.  Also the African French in the inner city are very cultivated and stylish, diverse in their physical beauty, and hold the integrity of the cultures’ from which they have emigrated.  It’s really nice to see.

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