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Chocolate, Champagne and Automobiles

This entry will cover Thursday, September 30 to Saturday, October 2 ~ Why? Because I'm getting lazy and there's just so much to see and do, time is flying away from me!

When we last left our heros and heroines, they had just had a wonderful meal at La Grande Cascade to celebrate Den's 50th birthday. Thursday morning dawned grey and rainy but no matter ~ we have a tour of the Gerard Mulot patisserie at 10am through Meeting the French. We took the metro to the Glaciere stop in the 13th and walked one block to the bakery. This is a wonderful tour of the macaron and chocolate making facilities for all 3 Mulot bakeries. At 12 euros, it's one of the best bargains available in Paris, in my opinion.

We went into the back room to meet Patrick, who has been making macarons for Mr Mulot for over 25 years. He showed us how the process is still done mostly by hand, including the mixing of the macaron covers. The different flavours come from the inside filling and the covers just taste of almond paste, no matter what colours they are. We got to sample the 2 flavours they were making that morning, lemon and orange cinnamon. We then went into the chocolate making room, which is a lot smaller than you would think. Antoine is the very handsome chocolate master and he explained the different sources of chocolate to us and gave us samples from the different regions of the world. He also showed us how they make pralines and ganaches and offered us samples of these delicious little morsels. These hand made chocolates take up to 2 days to make which explains the high cost of the finished product. At the end of our tour, we were given little boxes with 4 Mulot treats.

We decided to walk down rue d'Alessia, a street full of outlet and destockage stores and look for bargains........and bargains we found! I got a beautiful spring/fall coat as did Jo and I also got a few cool tops to wear with my Guess jean leggings. We stopped for a baguette lunch to fortify ourselves and then walked through Montparnasse and onto Luxembourg Gardens, stopping for a little drink at an outside cafe to enjoy the sunshine which had replaced our rainy day sometimes in the late mornings. We sat and enjoyed the Gardens for about an hour and then walked slowly back to the apartment, picking up some fresh pasta and sauce to make an easy dinner in after our feast of the night before. We walked for about 7 hours today, through the 13th, 14th, 5th and 4th arrondissements and were all in bed by 10pm, tired but happy with our day.

Friday morning came very fast. We had an 8am train to Reims so we were up and out the door by 7:15. We made our train with minutes to spare and were in Reims before 9am. This was another day of walking and shopping, much to our surprise. We had come to Reims for the beautiful cathedral and a tour of Veuve Cliquot but were surprised to see all the great shopping to be had. We spend most of the morning getting some great bargains, stopping for lunch at a tiny middle eastern place for some grilled lamb and chicken plates with bulgar, salad and fries ~ not the lunch I was envisioning in the Champagne capital of the world, but it sure hit the spot! We decided to walk to the other end of town for our tour of Veuve Cliquot and got there about 30 minutes early.

We had a wonderful tour of the chalk caves and our guide gave us lots of history on Mme Cliquot, who was one of the first business women of her time. We learned how champagne is made and how the bottles are rotated and stored and then we had a tasting of La Grande Dame, the vintage that was created to celebrate Mme Cliquot.

After our tour, we walked back to the center of town and visited the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral. This church is massive and full of history, including the baptism of Pope Clovis and the coronation of almost all the kings and queens of France for over 1000 years. The Chagall windows alone are worth a trip, the blues and reds are so intense and the scenes so moving, I just sat there for about 10 minutes staring at them.

We walked slowly back to the train station and had a drink before boarding our 6:45 train back to Paris. I love train travel, it's so relaxing and comfortable. We were back in the city by 7:30 and it had started raining. We were hungry and decided to stop at the Leon de Bruxelles near La Bastille for some moules frits. It was just the right meal for a group of hungry, tired people laden down with shopping bags! We were back in the apartment by around 11pm, very happy with our daytrip to Reims.

We all slept in on Saturday morning and didn't get out until almost 2pm! We really needed to catch up on our rest and recharge our batteries. We decided to go to the 2010 Mondial de L'Automobile at the exhibit hall at La Porte de Versailles. This is a massive car show that is only on once every 2 years. Even if you don't like cars, it's worth going to see the spectacular displays the different auto makers put on, each one trying to outdo the other. All the luxury brands are here, including Mercedes, BMW, Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborguini, Lotus, Bentely, Rolls Royce as well as the regular cars for the rest of us! Den was excited to see the Mini Cooper exhibit and to sit in one of these very cool little cars. I think this may be our next car purchase.

We stayed until almost 7:30 and took the metro back. We again decided to have dinner before heading back to the apartment since we were all hungry. We were lucky to snag an outside table at Pizza Momo, a little place on rue St Antoine that Den and I have been to twice before. It's been around for 30 years and does a brisk business in takeout pizzas. Our waiter told us the pizza guy makes about 300 pizzas a day, one at a time in the little antiquated wood burning oven. We had pizza and pasta and wine and dessert, and enjoyed the people watching on this very busy street, made even busier because this was Nuit Blanche. Crowds of people were strolling around, making their plans to see the art exhibits that are only up until the wee hours of the morning. We walked back to the apartment after dinner to get rid of our bags and purses and were back out on the streets, excited to take part of this once a year extravaganza. The weather was just perfect for walking and the streets were filled with people looking for the displays. Hotel de Ville was all lit up with sayings in different languages, there was a long line up to get into Notre Dame which we opted out of and there was a fantastic light and music display on the bridge between Ile la Cite and Ile St Louis. I think there were hundreds of thousands of people walking around, and it was a very unique, special experience that I was really happy to take part in. We walked back through the little streets of Le Marais and saw several smaller displays on the way home. We were back by 1am, not having the stamina to stay up all night but thrilled to have been part of it all anyways.

We have dinner at Nomiya tonight and will probably just walk around the area and take it easy today. It's a beautiful sunny day and we will take full advantage of it.

Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone!

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