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Happy Birthday to Me, Part Deux

How wonderful to wake up in Paris on your birthday! We were both up by around 9 (we are on vacation!), had breakfast in the apartment and were ready to go by about 10:30. We have decided to spend the day at Vallee des Village, an outlet mall on the outskirts of Paris. I know this probably sounds strange to many (most) of you, but I love outlet shopping and although we've read that we probably won't find anything to buy there, I can't resist going at least once. It's one of those "satisfy my curiosity" things and if it doesn't work out, we just won't have to come back again.

We walked to the Gare de Lyon, enjoying another neighbourhood we had not seen yet. When we got there, we realized that the famous Le Train Bleu restaurant was here. We snuck in for a quick peek, what a beautiful setting for a restaurant, overlooking the train station, all gilt and mirrors, pomp and circumstance. We had thought about coming here for a meal, and read that it was more about the atmosphere than the food. Having seen it and read the menu, we may still come back next week, just to experience what it would be like to sit and eat in such grandour!

We took the RER to the outlet mall (this cost almost 25 euros, our regular bus/metro tickets don't work once you leave Paris proper), had a quick lunch and off we go to find me a birthday present (although it will be very hard to top meeting Robert Plant, the night before!). We spent the afternoon walking around, enjoying another beautiful warm, sunny day. Den found some sandals, a shirt and some undies (oops, sorry, too much information!) and I bought a couple of t-shirts for Sebastian and one for my daughter's fiance. Another reason I had really wanted to come here today is that my daughter Danielle, who is having her college graduation in June, loves Burberry and there is a Burberry outlet here. I wanted to buy her either a purse or a watch if it was within our budget. Unfortunately, even at outlet prices, the purses are still out of reach of mere mortals and there was a very small selection of watches, none of which I liked enough to buy.

We went to all the shops and I realized that I have very expensive tastes, but unfortunately, I don't have the bank account to match my tastes!! The things I could afford, I didn't like...........I find a lot of the Parisian fashion to be very young, very colourful and very shapeless! The designers who had clothing more to my taste (well cut, classic pieces for work) were still over priced for me. I did try on a beautiful Dolce and Gabbana suit and dress, but couldn't talk myself into paying those prices. Still, it wasn't a total waste, we had a great time walking around and looking at how the other half shops. I love being in a shopping environment so I still enjoyed my day and got the mall out of my system.

For those who are thinking of going, there is a good mix of regular outlets (Timberland, Reebok, Nike, Vans, Diesel, Miss Sixty, etc) and very high end designers (Armani, Christian Lacroix, Kelzo, Furla, Longchamps, Cerutti, Dolce & Gabbana, and many more). Don't make the same mistake we did, we took the RER right to the end of the line and got off at Disneyland (I swear this is what the website for the mall told me to do) but had to get back on and backtrack one stop. When you leave the RER, you walk through a long inside mall with many of the regular stores you would find in Paris until you come to the food court and then you step outside, across the street and into Vallee des Villages.

At 5:30, we realized we had a ways to go to get back home and make our 8pm reservation at Les Fables de la Fontaine, so we hightailed it back to the RER. It's about a half hour ride, then we took the metro one stop to Bastille and powerwalked back to the apartment. Had time for a (very) quick shower, made myself look as good as a 48 year old grandma can, and took a cab to the restaurant, making it with 5 minutes to spare!

If Vallee des Villages didn't live up to my expectations, Les Fables de la Fontaine most certainly did. What a glorious meal! We managed to score one of the few tiny tables on the terrace and began with a glass of Pommery rose champagne. This was the first time I enjoyed rose champagne, it was heavenly, bubbly, not too dry, it made my mouth very happy (not the last time my mouth would be happy that night, believe me). Although a splurge at 18 euros/per glass, it was definitely worth it and has spoiled me for the champagne that mere mortals (like me) have been drinking before this moment. We were given a little ameuse guele while we were making our food choices ~ a little blend of parmesan and some other mousse that was very light and airy, with a wonderful blend of flavours. A preview of things to come. We asked about the menu of the day, there is only a tasting menu available or the chef will create something just for you, but we were both intrigued by the choices of the carte du jour and chose from there.

Appetizers are 18 euros each, main dishes 28 euros and dessert 10. The wine list has something in every price list. We asked the waiter if our choice of Loire Valley Sancerre would go well with the meals we had chosen and he actually led us to a less expensive bottle of Touraine (a wine I was not familiar with, but which was very light and didn't compete with the wonderful flavours of our meal). Den and I were pleasantly surprised that he didn't try to upsell us, as he easily could have.

Den chose croustillant de lagoustines au basilic (6 euros supplement) and I had the carpaccio de thon rouge au gigembre, avec mousse de parmesan. Both starters were sublime (I'm sorry, not being a food writer, I am starting to run out of ways to say that this food was so damn good!!) and beautifull presented on small black flat platters. My tuna was melt in your mouth freshness itself, and Den's scampi were lightly fried (kind of tempura like) and served with a wonderful dipping sauce and a tiny salad of many wonderful things! (ya gotta like my way with words ~ "wonderful things" ~ how's that for a detailed description?).

For our mains, I chose rotie de lottes (which translated as devilfish!!) with a mousse of artichokes and a bouillon mousseux de cerises. This was one of the most delicious fish dishes I have ever tasted, the fish was cut like a medaillon, wrapped in a paper thin slice of proscuitto and sitting in a frothy sauce of ingredients I will never ever be able to describe. I ate every last bite with a smile on my face. Den had aiguilette de dorade (sea bream) on a bed of sauteed eggplant and something else (I can't read my own notes, a combination of too much wine and, as those who know me will attest, the worst handwriting in the world!). His was also very good, with 2 nice pieces of what looked like roasted fillets with the crispy skin on, lying on the eggplant and something else!

You'd think that after a meal like this, with each ingredient combining perfectly to make your taste buds come alive, that dessert would be almost an afterthought. Wrong!! Den had poached pears with a light caramel sauce and an emulsion of white chocolate and wasabi (!). His was good, but was outdone by my strawberry cream of marscapone with black cherry jam and pistachio mousse. Can anyone say heaven (or sex) on a plate!! This was so airy, so light, so delicious, that I was swooning with every bite.

The bill, with a bottle of water but no coffee (I didn't want anything to interrupt the lingering flavour of my dessert) was a very reasonable 178 euros. We paid 272 euros last year for lunch at Jules Verne and I thought our meal at Fables de La Fontaine was just as good, if not better in taste and design (although it's hard to compete with the views of the Jules Verne).

We left the restaurant a little after 10:30 and walked to the Eiffle Tower (five minutes). There wa virtually no line up and we were in the elevators in another 10 minutes! The top level was still closed, but we stood and looked over Paris from the 2nd level and the twinkling lights came on to wish me Happy Birthday. It just doesn't get much better than this, and Den and I kissed and looked at each other in wonder that we are lucky enough to be able to do stuff like this! Den took lots of pictures and we were back down about an hour later, took a cab home and were in bed a little past midnight. Somehow, turning 48 wasn't so bad!!

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Comments (1)

Kim:

Lovely photo!

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