Thursday, June 3, 2010

Adventures in France, Days 1 & 2

Bonjour tout le monde!

All kinds of new stuff is happening right country, new marriage, new blog. And you want to hear all about it, right? Of course right. (Or, if not, you can block this site from ever appearing in your Google reader again. Behold the power of technology!)

First things first: we got married last Saturday. Cohen Hall was officially established on May 29, 2010; a joyous occasion which is now affectionately known as The Day Scott Got Medical Insurance. Also Dental and Vision. And the villagers rejoiced.

Seriously, though, it was totes rad. We had an amazing time with our family, friends, and friends who might as well be family. We laughed, we cried (okay, so that was just Scott), we danced, we ate too many crepes, and we loved every minute of it. As soon as we have the wedding photos, we'll be posting them for your viewing pleasure.

In the meantime, wanna hear about France?

We had an uneventful flight direct to Paris on Tuesday night and hopped off the plane into a beautiful sunny morning. In an effort to save our Euros for more important things (such as lunch at Le Cinq), we skipped the taxi stand in favor of public transit. Now, don't get me wrong, France has outstanding public transit. It makes Philly look like Omaha. But we were subsisting on a combined total of 4 hours of sleep, and were saddled with a wheeled suitcase, an oversized duffle, a smaller duffle, and my Longchamp bag, which might as well be a duffle. And thus began our 3.5 hour journey to Versailles. It began with a shuttle ride from Terminal 1 at CDG (aka The Terminal That Time Forgot) to Terminal 3, where we bought tickets for the train into Paris. We rode it to the Chatelet Les Halles stop, where we transferred to the Metro, and rode the #1 all the way out to La Defense. (This is also the leg of the trip wherein I nearly lost the wheeled suitcase in the jaws of an overzealous turnstile.) Then it was time to buy another ticket for the commuter train, which took us out to Versailles Rive Droite. We then walked the final 3/4 of a mile to our hotel, hauling our luggage behind us in that bizarre white chalky dust that France seems to enjoy so much.

Et Voila! Here were are at our hotel!

In all fairness, it was worth the trip. I mean, it's a freaking castle, after all. And the nice people at the Waldorf Astoria saw fit to upgrade us to a suite. Here is the main room:

The tile floor of our enormous bathroom:

This place is enormous. Here is Scott waving from our SECOND balcony:

And here I am lounging on our other balcony, while the sun sets over Versailles:

After a much needed nap, we headed into town in search of dinner. Of course, it was only 7 PM, and nothing was open yet. Dinner service in France doesn't really start until 8 PM, but we finally found a nice wine bar with a kind owner who let us sneak in early. Better still, the place rocked! We shared a goat cheese flan to start, followed by some cassoulet and the hands down hit of the night -- a falling-off-the-bones slow roasted duck with buttery crisp skin and fantastic herbed potatoes. OMG.

Food coma intact, we stumbled home to find that the maid service had left the following by our pillows. Any guesses?

Those are gold-dusted pop rocks, my friends. And no, we have no idea why.

Moving on. This "morning," we woke up at 11:30. The last time I woke up that late I'm pretty sure I had mono, but whatever. We rallied and headed out to the park. Next to the gold-dusted pop rocks, the most brilliant thing about our hotel is that it's located on the grounds of Versailles. Literally, the Grand Chateau is in our backyard. So, we spent most of the afternoon exploring the grounds, stopping every now and then for a ham and cheese baguette, a beer, or some fresh squeezed oj. We took a bunch of photos; here are just a few.

Walking into the park.

Somewhere in the gardens.

I'm sure this place has a name, but we skipped the guided tour, so I have no idea. It's cool though, huh?

Sheepish friends.

After hours of walking, we decided to hit the hotel pool and learned an important lesson: French pools are very serious, silent affairs -- much like libraries. We were not permitted to enter without our robes, our flip flops had to be left at the entrance, and anyone not sunning his or herself on the adjacent deck was swimming careful laps, solely for exercise purposes. Um, okay? We did a couple of underwater handstands and called it a day. Too bad, really, because the pool was lovely.

Already exhausted from the day's adventures, we knew we wouldn't make it through a late dinner. Instead, we hit the town center again in search of ice cream.


Scott declared this the best ice cream he's ever had. The shop is called San Luis Le Glacier, should you ever find yourself in downtown Versailles. I had burnt caramel and milk chocolate; Scott had vanilla and cinnamon. Both cones were beyond excellent and cost about 4 Euros each.

Speaking of 4 Euros, we're currently sitting on the balcony, drinking an excellent bottle of 4 Euro Gamay that tastes more like a 20 Euro bottle. Wine: the only thing that comes cheap in Paris. And it's the perfect thing to wash down a delicious, gourmet meal from the bastion of French cooking, Le Quick Burger.

No, really, we're serious.

The original idea was to take some sandwiches back to the hotel for dinner, but since sandwiches are really more of a lunchtime thing in France, and we don't have access to a kitchen, our options were limited. The local McDonald's, despite claiming to have a pistachio milkshake that has unfortunately piqued my interest, was deserted. But the Quick Burger was packed, so we decided to throw caution to the wind and try it out. I will go on record and say this: it is better than McDonald's. This is likely because they use real cheese at the Quick. Other than that, it's pretty standard fast food fare. Still, a fun experience.

It's a little after 8 PM here, and the sun is just starting to set. It won't get dark until nearly 11 PM, so we're going to take advantage of the balcony and this excellent Gamay.

À bientôt!


  1. Having some serious France envy over here!!!! More updates please. Love you guys!

  2. "Supreme Cheese!" Love it. And love Cohen Hall: the Blog, the Couple, the T-shirt. Sounds like you two are having a sublime time already, 2-balcony-gold-dusted-pop-rocks-style. LOVE!

  3. We are super spoiled now from having our friends around for three days in a row! Wish you guys were here...