July 15, 2018

Europe 2018 day 16: Champion du Monde

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It's Sunday in Paris where many outlets are closed, including your neighborhood boulangeries.  Since we can't get our caffeine fix at Eric Kayser and we were reluctant to patronize a touristy café with tables on the sidewalk, we decided to grab breakfast at... McDo!

Œuf McMuffin bacon et beef

McMuffin jambon Emmental fondu

We grabbed a taxi to visit Fondation Louis Vuitton, which is adjacent to the Jardin d'Acclimatation and not far from the apartment. It's an impressive structure designed by Frank Gehry, with terraces where one can relax while getting a view of the nearby parks and the skyscrapers in the distance.

One of the more interesting pieces in the current exhibit, "In Tune with the World", was Untitled by Dan Flavin.


Given this was Louis Vuitton, we weren't the least bit surprised to find Murakami Takashi (村上隆) represented here. Time to whip out the Insta360 ONE inside this particular room.

I had a very particular place in mind for lunch today... not for their savory items but for a particular dessert.  So off to Le Royal Monceau we went, and we parked ourselves inside the outdoor courtyard of Le Bar Long.

I wanted something simple, so I just took a Croque Madame which came with some frites. These were OK and I most certainly overpaid for what I got.

Ispahan kakigori par Pierre Hermé - BABY, THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME FOR... My whole reason of being here.  On top of the shaved ice we've got rose syrup, raspberry coulis, a scoop of Ispahan sorbet encased in the middle, marinated lychees, fresh raspberries, and raspberry-flavored macaron biscuits.  Very, very refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day.

Our celebrity sighting of the day, and indeed of the trip, was Chef Matsuhisa Nobuyuki (松久信幸) who happens to run Matsuhisa Paris within the hotel. He was dining at another table across the courtyard, and many of the hotel staff came to take their selfies with him.

We rushed back to the apartment after lunch to change.  France was playing in the finals of the World Cup today, and of course I wore my navy blue T-shirt and shorts in support of Les Bleus.  Someone on FB had suggested that we go watch the live broadcast at Le Chalet XVI because the place had "big screens" and "usually very quiet". Not having had made any reservations elsewhere, I decided to drag Hello Kitty there.  And since we couldn't pick up a taxi, we walked a good 20 minutes or so on foot.

Only to find that the restaurant was completely packed, and instead of a "big screen" as promised, there were several smaller screens.  So it's not difficult to imagine Hello Kitty's mood at this point, as we knew we would have to stand for the next two hours.  But the mood improved as soon as the first goal was scored against Croatia, and we were glad to have watched the World Cup Finals in a French bar surrounded by French football fans who were complete strangers to us.  That was certainly entertaining.

We started to walk back to the apartment after France's victory when it dawned on me that we were pretty close to the Trocadéro. And since we still haven't gotten a decent look at the Tour Eiffel, I figured we should detour for a look on such a fine day. We found lots of people in a celebratory mood.


The crowd was moving towards the Arc de Triomphe, so we simply walked with them.  The Place Charles de Gaule had been blocked off to vehicular traffic, and was now full of people.  We saw people waving flags, setting off firecrackers and colored smoke, singing, and dancing on top of bus stops.  The whole city was on fire, and it was amazing that we were in the middle of it.

After taking a quick break at home, we decided to go get ourselves some dinner.  On a Sunday night.  On the day France won the World Cup.  We knew this would be incredibly challenging, so we called Hyatt Regency Etoile and asked about booking a table at Windo. Whoever was on the other end of the line told us not to worry and to just go over, so we walked westward along the Avenue de la Grande-Armée. People were still all over the streets, and we saw that a car has been overturned and smashed.

We went up to the 34th floor, only to find that Windo was under renovation.  The person on the phone had said nothing.  So we went back to the lobby level and got a table at Mayo.  I could see that the place was severely short-staffed, and fully expected a long wait for food.  Very few other tables were getting their food, so we waited.  And waited.

About an order after we placed our order, our waiter came over to inform us that one of the dishes we had ordered - and we only ordered two items - was unavailable.  He was very apologetic, and I knew it wasn't his fault, but this was fucking ridiculous.  The kitchen sent word ONE HOUR after we ordered that they couldn't give us what we wanted?!  We paid for our drinks and left.

Given the lack of dining establishments which were open at 10pm on a Sunday night, McDo was completely packed.  I was resigned to the fact that our dinner would end up being the 2-day-old loaf of bread with figs that I'd bought from Eric Kayser, until I walked past Duret Mandarin (福臨門酒家) just around the block from the apartment.  We had walked past this Chinese restaurant for the past 5 days, but of course we weren't gonna eat Chinese food in Paris...

Faced with the prospect of subsisting on semi-stale bread and water, I decided to stand outside the door of the restaurant - even though the sign indicated that they were closed.  I kept looking at the owners inside, and Hello Kitty would tell me that I had the "sad puppy" look.  Eventually the owners took pity on me, and came to ask me what I wanted.

As the chef was knocking off, the owners asked whether we could settle for take-out instead of dining in.  We were only too happy to have some hot food tonight, and ordered 2 simple items which would have been quick to prepare.

Crab meat fried rice - well, it's actually imitation crab meat with diced barbecued pork, but it didn't matter.  This was comfort food.

Stir-fried vegetables - veg is always good, and comforting.

This has been a helluva day. When I planned our trip, the only criterion was that we had to be in Paris on Bastille Day, and what we experienced today was totally expected, and as clichéd as it sounds - probably once in a lifetime. It's not something that I'll forget for the rest of my days.

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