September 17, 2007  •  Europe, France, Paris, Travel

I set the time on my travel alarm clock an hour ahead so unfortunately woke up an hour earlier than I needed to meet the group. Desperately in need of caffeine (which I only drink while traveling), my husband and I headed straight to our breakfast spot at the end of the street with views of the gorgeous apartments along the island with Notre Dame.We ordered a Grand Cafe Noisette which is basically a double espresso to which I added cream and sugar (how decadent!) and a ham and cheese omelet to share. The omelet was perfectly cooked and so large that together we couldn’t even finish it. I love how the Parisians serve you chocolate truffles at breakfast, although I could rarely fit one in.After breakfast we met up with our tour guide, Chris, from Paris Walks for a two hour private tour of the Ile de la Cite and the Ile Saint Louis. He shared incredible details about the design of Notre Dame, the history of the island, and the roots of Paris.After ending the tour in the Marais district we stopped for lunch along the Rue de Rivoli where I had my second Salad au Chevre Chaud – the salad featured a full 8 ounces of goat cheese which I couldn’t come close to eating.From here we jumped on the metro to head to Montmartre for the fabulous Sunday afternoon showings of art in the small square at the top.We all bought some street art, then took the funicular ride down and made our way again on the metro to the Arc de Triomphe. We strolled down the Champs Elysees and stopped for a cocktail and some snacks before catching the metro back to the hotel. I usually prefer walking in Paris, but by using the metro we covered huge ground in just one day.We had just enough time to clean up before our dinner reservations at Mon Veil Ami, where chef Alan Westerman has brought some excitement to traditional Alsatian dishes. Most everyone in the group was afraid of the menu, but I couldn’t have been more thrilled to be there. The meal started with an amuse bouche drink of either a light white wine or a V8 type of drink. I began with a country style pate en croute served with celery root in a creamy sauce and pickled red onions. It tasted fabulous, but was large enough for the table so I stopped after a few bites. I continued with a sea bream filet that was pan seared and served in a pot with caramelized fingerling potatoes, chorizo, red peppers and onions – outstanding! The rest of the group had a warm vegetable salad with olive tapenade on a crouton as a first course and a variety of entrees including chicken with roasted tomatoes in a consomme and veal with carrots and pasta. The sommelier helped me pick out some perfect wines for this meal: a Burgundy Pinot Noir and an Alsatian Reisling.

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