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Monday, November 21, 2011

A Parisian Birthday weekend

What an amazing birthday weekend in Paris!

I arrived in Paris on Wednesday afternoon and made my way to a friend's flat I was staying in near Les Halles. Walking from there, I explored around the Marais, the neighborhood where I've probably spent the most time in Paris. Lots of changes, including the fact that my old favorite bar was now a jewelry store.

It was a cold, damp day, so for lunch I had a nice bowl of soupe  gratinée à l'oignon (what we would call "French Onion Soup."  This was at a nice little corner restaurant called Les Philosophes, which was fortunately still there. I sat outside, under a heat lamp, and watched the people stroll by as I ate a delicious meal.

That night, I met my friends Julien and Sarah at La Conserverie, which was wonderful. I had a very nice fois gras and a duck cassoulet. This was an awesome little loungie place with surprisingly good food and great specialty cocktails. (In case you try to find it, it is at 37 bis rue du sentier, near the Bonne Nouvelle station of the metro. It's pretty hidden from the outside.)

The next day, I awoke pretty early to make it to a day long meeting. The best thing about this day was that I happened to be there on the day that Boujolais Nouveau was released. (It's basically the first wine of the vintage released on the third Thursday of November.) It was quite a celebration. Sarah and I met on the Champs-Elysees and went to Le Deauville for my first taste of this year's Beaujolais Nouveau. Then, we went to a huge club-like party celebrating the new vintage which was actually a bar on top of a Häagen Dazs. Finally, we met up with Julien at Au Petit Chavignol (78, Rue de Tocqueville  75017) for a wonderful meal, and lots more Beaujolais Nouveau.  There was a woman performing named Chantal who played an organ grinder ("son orgue de Barbarie"). After some drama and a fight broke out, the owner invited us to stay as he kept serving us more wine for free. 

Friday afternoon Julien and I went to a few bars in the Marais, then headed back to where I was staying on Montorgueil to grab the card of a recommended restaurant. It was a great little Italian place with amazing dishes with lots of truffles! L'osteria dell Anima (37 rue Oberkampf). 

The next day was my actual birthday. It was a beautiful day, so I got up and took a nice long walk down the Seine. I walked from Les Halles to L'hotel de Ville, then down the Seine to Pont de l'Alma.

Some scenes along the way: 

Île de la Cité 

Musée d'Orsay 

 It was here by Pont de l'Alma where the tunnel is where  Princess Diana died. The torch of the Statue of Liberty now makes the spot as an unofficial memorial.

I took the Metro back up to the Marais, had some lunch, then grabbed some chocolate ice cream from Le Berthillon on Île Saint-Louis, sat by the Seine and gazed at the Notre Dame. 

That night, I met Sarah and Julien for some drinks, then later had dinner in Pigalle. Then, our friend Antoine was deejaying at a club in Pigalle called Chez Moune (54, rue Pigalle). Antoine did a great job, but the club was a little snooty. And I couldn't figure out exactly why.  It seemed dark and grungy, but evidently it has been around since 1936 and all the hipsters go there. 

After Antoine's DJ shift was over, we left to go to another bar in Pigalle that was closer to his place, more of a neighborhood hangout. It was already early morning that got even earlier fast. But you only have a birthday in Paris every so often...

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