Saturday, September 15, 2012

Riding the Rails and Eating Lightly, Sort of...

After my indulgent lunch at Les Ombres, I needed a walk, with my destination being Bon Marche, the very nice Left Bank department store. Knowing that I had discount designer clothes shopping planned for the next day, I wanted to "do my homework" and check out what was in Bon Marche's in-store designer boutiques.

Mostly, the outlets sell past season merchandise, but sometimes I've found current season overstock there. I needed a feel for prices and styles.

About halfway through what would have been at least a half-hour walk, I decided to hop on the Metro. I love the Paris Metro and it goes pretty much everywhere. A ticket, with as many connections as you need to make between lines costs 1.07 euros about $1.25.

While Right Bank department stores, Printemps and Galleries Lafayette, are more well known, attract more tourists, and are glitzier, Bon Marche is something of a hidden treasure in a nice section of the 6th.

My only purchases were in their Food Halls where they have an enormous selection of prepared, packaged, and fresh foods. this is one of my favorite places to buy small specialty foods to take home.

I took my time on the walk home, including stopping to rest in this small neighborhood park.

For dinner, I really did "lighten up'" with meal of crepes at a nearby crepe place called Crepescule. All they serve are crepes, the true Brittany-style crepes, both savory and sweet. My savory one was filled with ham, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and pesto. For dessert, I enjoyed a banana crepe that was sprinkled with sugar.

Crepescule features Hard Cider as a beverage; it's typical in Brittany and starting to become a popular alcoholic beverage in the States.

My next day was a big one on the Metro as I traversed Paris several times, starting with the Jardin des Plantes, another of Paris's hidden treasures, In the 5th, these huge gardens are more than just formal gardens. They include a wonderful zoo, several natural sciences museums and institutes, and an amazing labyrinth which, I am embarrassed to admit, I forgot to go time.

But I did enjoy my peaceful time here.

Leaving the calm of the Jardin des Plantes, I stepped out into the bustle of the Gare d'Austerlitz neighborhood and spied a McDonald's, one of the McDonald's that also has a McCafe.

I'm not usually a McDonald's fan, when out of the country, I find them a bit of a haven for a quick meal or cup of coffee at a reasonable price in a clean comfortable setting.

My lunch of a Chicken Bacon wrap was perfect and I even made it "Le Menu" by adding a drink and fries...all for 6.60 euros.

I loved that my fries came with not just ketchup but Pommes Frites Sauce, a spicy mayonnaise whose recipe I'd love.

Not only was lunch good, but all McDonald's have free WIFI and free clean restrooms.

I did not have dessert at my lunchtime McDonald's, but saved it for my afternoon tea break a bit later at a McCafe near the Louvre.

Yes, that's the typical pastry counter at a Paris McCafe and, yes, the McCafes do serve tea in a china pot with a real cup and saucer!!

My outlet shopping yielded no treasures, but was worth the try. To my disappointment, Cacharel, my favorite here, no longer has an outlet.

Undaunted, I Metroed back to the Louvre, mainly to stop at Paris's other Apple store to make a quick purchase and use their free wifi. The store is in Le Carrousel du Louvre, an upscale underground shopping center, right under the Louvre's glass pyramid.

If you come to the Louvre on the Metro, the station exit goes right through the shopping area I've walked that way many times, but never paid much attention to what was there. This time I did and it has a great selection of many of Paris's most famous shops whose main locations are scattered all over the city. If you have limited time and want to shop, your choices include Laduree, where the colorful macarons first were created, Mariage Frere for tea, Lalique for crystal, and a spacious upstairs food court with good quality restaurants.

While I did not take the time for the Louvre itself, I did look at its free exhibits off the shopping area...then back on the Metro to my neighborhood.

After more than 24 hours of lighter eating, I was ready to indulge in a dinner at Truffes Folies, a truffle restaurant and shop a few doors from my hotel.

Just about everything on the menu of this tiny 20 -seat restaurant includes fresh truffles. When you walk in, you are engulfed in the fragrance of truffles.

There are bottles of Black and White truffle oil on each table.

My first course was a salad of mache lettuce with roasted tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and, of course, truffle oil and shaved truffles.

For my main course, I had truffled tortellini.

Both dishes were amazingly wonderful.

I passed on truffled desserts and went for vanilla, strawberry, and banana ice cream.

After all, this, I slept well to get ready for my last day in Paris before heading home.

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