Paris: Day 6 - Montparnasse Pontoise
For our last full day in Paris, I only had one goal for the day, and that was to see as much of Paris as I could at once in the same shot. Also, we were getting even more tired by the day, so it couldn’t really be asked for us to do a lot of running around, even as much as we did the day before. We got up at our usual time, and started the day out right with a breakfast stop at a café around noon. It was the same café that has some merengues in every flavor you can imagine the size of your head. Diana was very entranced by them, thinking they would collapse in an instant with some stuff.
The café experence was still pretty stressful - but less so, because we are finally getting used to it. A café is a little easier on the manners because most of the time you can sit down and just order what you want, and they don’t mind if you just have some coffee with your meal. At a restaurant or bar they look at you weird when you ask to have a coffee before the last thing in the meal, even after dessert. I had a café crema which is similar to a cappuccino at least and a ham and cheese sandwich that was pretty good but not too filling. I am a little worried about how badly I will end up off track for the diet plan when I get back. I only have a couple of days until my next report, so you all will know soon.
Our next stop was Montparnasse Tower, which is a building in the south part of Paris which is otherwise pretty nondescript except that it is very tall. Of course, because it is tall and in Paris then they can make a decent amount of money just carting tourists up to the top to take pictures off. It was 11,50 € a piece to get up there, which I didn’t really mind but still seems like a lot. I really like high places and vantage points that are above the cities, so I was not balking too much, but if the cost had been a little more, I might have thought differently.
The view from the top is spectacular, and really if you had a great camera it would be the best place to take a lot of pictures on your trip. They have two levels, one which is completely enclosed by the building, but you can also go onto the roof of the building which is surrounded by glass but open to the top! It was pretty amazing to go onto the top of the tower and look around the city. Diana commented that we should have done it on the first day of the trip, because it really gave her a sense of how large the city was. For me it just solidified my thought that Paris is really a urban city - for every direction that you can see, there are buildings which are at least four stories tall, and it is only broken by the large gardens which are spread throughout the city itself. It was actually a great day outside, possibly the best day to be outside on top of the building, because it wasn’t really chilly up there. I took at least 100 pictures with my cell phone, it worked out great.
When we were done on the top of the tower, we went down and looked at some of the shops which were in a shopping center that they call Galleries Layfayette. It was mostly just like a normal mall, but there were dotted within it some French like shops like a chain patisserie and such. The brands were different but otherwise it could have been a mall in the US. It was the first time that we saw something similar on our Paris trip, so I don’t think that they are all that common. We sat and had a drink for a little while and talked a bit.
We wanted to see if we could see the Catacombs of Paris because it was in the same general area of the tower. We walked past the cemeterie which is a real working cemetery, and down the street looking at the shops. When we got to the catacombs (at least the part open to the public), they had some people at the end of the line which were telling people that it was iffy if they queued up now whether they would get in. The last entry was at 4pm, and it was almost 3:30 at that point. We decided that it wasn’t that important to see. We walked down the street for a while and saw some more shops, and stopped and bought some things that we couldn’t get in the states. That area of town was a lot less touristy than the areas that we had been in so far - we actually met a shopkeeper who didn’t speak any English! It was the first time, but Diana still got what she needed.
We took the metro back to the hotel and hung out in the room a while, having a siesta of sorts. I was still set on going to a real French restaurant and getting le menu. I had picked out Le Petit Pontoise, but I was at this point not caring too much about it, and didn’t call for reservations or anything, I figured that we would just see if it was possible and if it was then great, and if not, then we would go to a fondue place that we had spotted on the way home. I did the blogging for the day and took a nap, and checked into our flight which was just the next day by then. We also pre-packed as much as we could so that we could have a smooth getaway in the morning.
On our way out of the hotel to go to dinner, we got stopped by the conciergé and he mentioned another restaurant which he recommended, and was very insistent. He gave us a card and called ahead for us. I said that we would check it out, he was quite insistent. So we walked up to the Quai next to the seine and checked it out, but it was 45 € for le menu and that was a bit more than I had planned on spending. Also we got a bad feeling because there was basically no one there and the other restaurants on the Quai were pretty full at that point. We decided to head to Le Petit Pontoise after all.
That was possibly the best decision of the night, because the restaurant and the meal were absolutely wonderful. It was possibly the best meal of the trip, and definitely the most French of the trip that we had in the whole thing. It was 37 € per, but completely worth it - we had appetizers and main course, and dessert with it. Diana finally tried Fois Gras, which I had a little bit of and is insane, insanely rich. I couldn’t have even a little bit more of it. I started with some honey ravioli and then had some shellfish risotto. We ordered a bottle of wine which was fantastic, and the waitress was really great. The decor in the restaurant was really cute as well, with a lot of boat pictures on the wall. It was a small room and there was another large party, we had a great time there and talked about our trip. I had my first creme brulee for dessert, which is super sweet and almost too sweet for me.
We were tired afterwards, and it was late - we started dinner at about 8:30pm, which is typical, and we ended up leaving around midnight. I only wish that we had had as great a restaurant experience every night that we were there. It was expensive though, so possibly not. ;) We went back to the hotel, apologized to the pushy concierge saying that it was a bit too expensive, and back up to the room. Our last full day went well, I think.