Monday, June 13, 2011

Instead of leaving for the airport...

We left our hotel for a jog down Champs Elysees instead. A brisk pace, all the way down to the Tuileries, around the big fountain, and back to our hotel for a lonnnnnng breakfast over several cups of coffee and a newspaper. Mid-morning, we decided to shower and head out to see a couple of other sights that we wanted to see, but weren't top priority for us in our first days there. 

Stop one, L'Hotel national des Invalides. It used to be a hospital for veterans (part of it still functions as one), but now it has mostly been turned into a museum of France's military history. Most key, is it houses the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte. 

From the front...these huge cannons lined the entire wall all the way down the building.

The courtyard inside, where the military used to practice their formations and drills.

Napoleon's tomb.

We strolled through the parts that we were interested in seeing, but we didn't cover all of the exhibits. The place was huge! We just stopped at anything that caught our eye, and then moved on. We had decided to have a leisurely slow day, so we grabbed a panini and a crepe from a to-go window at a braisserie and headed to the lawn of the Eiffel Tower for lunch. You know, no big deal to stare up at it while you eat your leisurely French lunch. Not at all. 

Our view over lunch.

Me doing some heavy research on the best shopping and ice cream parlors around.

We ended up heading back down the Champs Elysees for some shopping, but ironically, I didn't buy a thing! Eric was such a good sport going into all of the stores and perusing the women's clothing and jewelry with me :) I mean, I'm just really not a Louis Vuitton/Prada/Chanel label carrying kind of girl. The way I see it, if I'm going to tote around your label, you should be paying me for the advertisement. At the end of the day, the only shirt (at some small French store that I cannot remember the name of) that I really liked didn't come in my size. *Sigh.*  

All in all we had a fun afternoon, and we headed back to the hotel for some hor dourves and a drink before going to dinner. We ended up going to a small little restaurant that we had seen out walking around. They had beef bourguignon on the menu for that night, and Eric really wanted to try some before we left France! I must say that we ordered the ONLY thing that we didn't like the entire time we were on vacation at that restaurant. Neither of us have qualms about ordering things when we don't know what it is. I love trying the authentic cuisine of wherever we happen to be traveling. I ordered their special of the night, the fish salad. The fish that I got was raw, but cured and seasoned really well, and it was delicious. I just had to put a piece of lettuce over the little head staring back up at me on the plate :) Eric's starter on the other hand....was called Turrine. People, never ever ever order Turrine. In short, it is a gelatinous meatloaf made with ground up....whatever they can find to put in it. Eric was lucky enough to have fish in his. Gag! He tried it, I tried it, but it just wasn't for us. However, we didn't want to send the plate back full of food! So he forced down as much as he could...I suggested wrapping it in a napkin and hiding it in my bag, but we decided it was way too smelly for that! It has the texture of Spam sort of. (I think it was the texture that really got us, not so much the taste.) What was really funny was that ALL the French people sitting around us ordered the same thing and devoured it as if it were the most delicious thing they had ever eaten. Maybe it's an acquired taste, I don't know. I unfortunately don't have a picture of our actual dish, but this is what it looks like...

After our appetizer experience, which was well made I'm sure, but just not our style, our arrived, thank goodness. The beef bourguignon was so hearty...perfect for a chilly night! We did not leave the waiter wondering if we liked this dish...he took away completely empty plates when we were finished.

After a couple of glasses of red wine, we walked back down to see the Arch de Triomphe lit up on the way back to our hotel, our nightly tradition,  and called it a night over a cafe back in the Executive Lounge.

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