The other couples in our group were up early to visit the Louvre, but I slept in until 10 am and woke up feeling great. I walked along the Rue Ile St Louis to see the shops before joining my husband at our favorite spot at the end of the island for a cafe noisette.
We then walked to meet the group and joined them for lunch at a bistro in the Saint Germain des pres area. I enjoyed the classic roast chicken with frites (fries) and mixed salad. After lunch two went home to rest and the other four of us headed to the Eiffel Tower, passing the Hotel Invalides (above) on the way. After walking back we stopped for the obligatory (at least to us anyway!) drink at our favorite spot on our island and I enjoyed my champagne almost as much as I enjoyed the waiter singing to me (“Michele, my belle”) and cracking open hazelnuts from the tree next to us with the pliers he had found behind the bar.
After a quick snack on a butter and sugar crepe and cleaning up we set out for dinner on the right bank at Benoit, one of the few remaining classic Parisian bistros owned by the Alain Ducasse group. After wandering forever we found it tucked away on Rue St. Martin, and slipped inside for dinner. The bistro certainly was classic, which meant loud, hot, crowded, and with spotty service. The group was less than enthused and the evening was a disappointment to me since I had looked forward to this dinner for months. But despite the service, the food was great:
The French serve the foie gras uncooked and in this case with a delightful individual brioche muffin cooked and served in it’s own tin.
While most of the group was intimidated by the menu (things like pig’s feet), I figured “when in Paris…” and ordered the cassoulet. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned and contained a myriad of meats (chicken, pork, sausage) along with tender white beans in a slightly thickened sauce. It was perfect with a 2002 St. Julien wine.