Friday, July 29, 2011

Paris Day 6 - Chocolate Tour and Latin Quarter

It is my desire to try to experience many different adventures while in Paris so that perhaps I can better serve others who may wish to travel here some day.  With that thought in mind, I reserved in advance a spot on a local chocolate tour (significantly cheaper than the tour offered through context travel --- but we shall see if perhaps the old adage is true:  you get what you pay for).  The tour meets at 10:30 on Rue du Rivoli and lasts about two hours.  Since I was going to be in this area anyway, I decided to make this the day to visit the Latin Quarter.

A highlight on my personal list is to revisit Notre Dame cathedral and allow my camera to capture the mental images I have carried with me all these years.  Shakespeare and Co. is nearby and I may choose to revisit (or...if I chickened out on attending the reading Monday evening - then I will definitely stop by to see for the first time).  The museum pass is good for the Conciergerie, which I may not normally pay to enter, but it sounds interesting enough to enter "for free"  I am really quite excited to visit Luxembourg Gardens and really take in this idyllic setting and escaping from the city's cacophony for a while.  I have read such wonderful reviews of the Cafe Soufflot - as a real literary cafe - that I hope to experience for myself by eating either a late lunch or an early dinner.

Well, as I look over this particular pre-write it appears that I accomplished all that I set out to do - and then some.  I logged 22,300 steps today, so I apologize if this post is a little sketchy.  For those of you who traditionally train for marathons or run 5K events, that sounds like nothing - but for a relatively sedentary being like myself, that is exhausting work!

My leftovers from the day!
Everything from basic chocolate -
to Ganache - to chocolate tartes.
The chocolate tour was nothing short of SPECTACULAR!!  If you ever plan to come to Paris, I would not hesitate to recommend this tour to anyone.  It is easily the best value for the money so far.  We met Iris by the metro stop, Louvre - Rivoli, and I instantly knew that she was a winner.  She is passionate about chocolate and her enthusiasm is contagious.  We began our 2.5 hour tour by walking along the Rue St. Honore - which I learned is the oldest street in Paris and was used to carry the prisoners in the tumbrils from the Conciergerie to the Guillotene (this will be valuable information in my Brit Lit class when I teach A Tale of Two Cities).  We visited a pastry shop on this street and sampled an Opera that was exquisite - and a Mint Eclair, equally delicious.  We toured 4 different shops and sampled between 2 and 4 pieces of pastry and/or chocolate at each shop.  I simply could not eat all of it and tried to save at least half of what we were offered. This may perhaps be a full post for one of Beth F's Weekend Cooking segments. But like I said - truly a worthwhile experience.

I went back to the Louvre and finished touring the exhibits that I missed on Wednesday.  While I may not use my Museum Pass at many of the offered locations, I can tell you that it is easily worth the money if just to avoid the lines.  When I showed my pass I by-passed what was easily a 45 minute wait and was instantly welcomed into the museum.  Definitely worth the purchase- if you ask me.  I saw the Mona Lisa - along with other 1.5 million visitors waiting line (I exaggerate - but only slightly) and I spent quite a bit of time admiring the Winged Victory.  I am not much for sculpture - but I really love this particular statue.

After my stay at the Louvre I decided to rest a bit in the Tuileries Gardens and much to my surprise - and excitement - the bateaux were present.  I had read about these in several tour books and did not see them yesterday - but today, the man was present.  The first time I went by he had all the bateaux on his cart - but the second time they were all in the water - and apparently children purchase rental time for the 'stick' to push them around.  It was delightful to watch and quite reminiscent of how I imagine the children at the turn of the century passing the time in the park.

At this point it was about 3:30 and I decided to walk to the Ile de la Cite and use my museum pass to visit the Conciergerie - where the revolutionaries kept the prisoners and where they have recreated Marie Antoinette's chamber.  While I would normally not pay the entrance fee for this experience, since it was included with the museum pass, I was more than willing to make the time to go.  Again, I learned some valuable information that I can use in my Tale of Two Cities literary unit.

 I almost past by it....
I then walked along the Seine - on the left bank - in the hopes of finding the famous, Shakespeare and Co. shop.  And I did.  It was quite magical -- sort of hiding behind the wild flowers and nestled next to a quaint little cafe.  At first I just sat there and soaked up the atmosphere.  I then took a few pictures, and then returned later after dinner to take a look on the inside.  I have a feeling that this will end up as a separate post once I return home (I took lots of photos), but suffice it to say, I thought it was appropriate that I purchase the anniversary edition of Hemmingway's, A Moveable Feast.

I then decided to walk to a cafe that I had high hopes for:  Cafe Soufflot.  It ended being a longer distance than I anticipated and the "literary" portion of the cafe was definitely limited to the inside; I sat on the terrace.  I was absolutely starving since all I had to eat was the chocolate from the morning tour, and I decided to have une salade nicoise et un verre de l'eau.  There was a young gentlemen, I would guess early 40s or so, seated next to me, and he surmised that I was a foreigner.  He began a conversation in simple French and I was able to correspond rather well.  In fact, I felt quite proud of myself that I could converse on a variety of topics in his native language.  That is until he asked if I would like to come see his apartment which was just across the street.  WHAT?!  You've got to be kidding me.  The one time I am outgoing and friendly - rather than my usual standoffish, impersonal self, and I am picked up by a strange Parisian?!

Paris Plage - around Pont Neuf
Well, fortunately I saw enough of the Latin Quarter to decide that it is really not my style.  The clientele seems to be a bit too young (and pushy!) and the streets are a bit too crowded with trendy shops and eateries for my tastes.  So I can say that I have been there -but I do not feel the need to return this trip.  Although I may decided to visit Shakespeare and Co one more time --- and also the bouquinistes.

I ended the evening walking back to Notre Dame and taking a few pictures.  While I do not think I accomplished my goal of capturing the emotional imagery of the cathedral, I did manage to take a few photos.  I also managed to see the Paris Plage from afar - and know that I wish to return to this area for a closer look at this beach within the city.


  1. First of all, the chocolate tour sounds like it is to die for! It's a good thing I was already eating chocolate while reading this post or I would have been drooling. :)

    And I laughed out loud about the French man hitting on you. How flattering!

  2. Another fabulous day! And I LOVE your story about that fellow hitting on you:) What an adventure you're on, my dear!

  3. Curses! You ran into "the other woman" in my marriage.... Winged Victory. The Man would surely run away with her were she to come to life on that boat. She's a hard woman to compete with (very hard indeed...)

  4. A chocolate tour! Oh, doesn't that sound fabulous!

  5. Is it wrong for me to say that I loved that you were hit on my that Parisian man??? So Paris isn't it???

    A tour dedicated to all things chocolate?? This sounds so wonderful.
    I can't wait for your later posts with photos!!

  6. Another wonderful day in Paris. I've bookmarked your chocolate tour company- sounds amazing. And note to self- need to read A Tale of Two Cities!


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