Grace’s Birthday Trip – Part 2: Paris

On Monday, March 26, we flew back to Paris from Nice. Although we both would have enjoyed staying in Provence for another day or two, I did not want to travel on Grace’s birthday. I didn’t have much planned in Paris besides some shows and dinner on our birthday. When we checked into the Four Seasons Hotel George V, I was psyched that they had already upgraded us, which was part of my plan. I asked what would have happened if I had booked the upgraded room and the kind gentleman said we would have been upgraded to a suite. After mulling it over, he cut me a deal and I said what the heck. The room and the views were amazing.

Monday night, we headed towards Le Bataclan to see The Shins. We stepped out of the taxi and immediately someone asked Grace if we needed tickets and she said, “Yes!” This did not help our negotiations. I talked him down 10 euros. We had drinks and a snack (fried potatoes in France are alone worth the trip) at a bar next door before the show and only entered after the opening act. There was enough movement at that time that we were able to get close to the front of the floor. It was awesome. Afterwards, we had a midnight snack at some cafe on the Champs-Élysées.

Tuesday, we slept in and had our usual breakfast in the room. It was Grace’s birthday and a day of leisure. Frances called the hotel and arranged a treatment in the spa in the afternoon. I went out at that time to walk around and take some pictures. I posted earlier about Florence + The Machine and dinner at Joel Rubuchon. We’re still enjoying the memory of that evening.

On Wednesday, we decided to be tourists after all and took a taxi to the Sacré Cœur. It was beautiful (no photos allowed inside) and we both marveled at the architecture. The views from that vantage in the city were also amazing. We then went to Musée de l’Orangerie. I typically am interested in the architecture over the art, but both were impressive in this case. We walked all the way back to the hotel (that’s long for us), stopping for a snack on the way back (I was sampling Croque Madames all over the city). We found out our friend from home, Lauren, was in Paris for business. We met with Lauren and her colleague, Denise, for drinks at Pershing Hall, which is just down the street from our hotel. Afterwards, we had an amazing meal together at Antoine, which was right on the Seine with views of the Eiffel Tower. Like every other dinner so far on the trip, we shut down the restaurant.

Thursday was our last full day in Paris. After breakfast (at lunch time), we went to the Musée d’Orsay for a couple hours. I wanted to look for some vintage posters, so we walked over to this great art district in Saint Germaine. We walked back over the Seine and through the Louvre (mostly because we heard there was a cool Apple store there, but it wasn’t obvious where it was located). We wanted to grab a taxi, but had a hard time finding one at that hour. We continued walking, took a turn, and coincidentally found the little hotel at which we stayed previously.

That evening, we met our friend, Gina, who is living in Paris. We hadn’t been to Le Bar at the George V and she wanted to check it out, too, so we met there. Grace and I wanted to try Le Cinq, which is the gastronomic restaurant at the hotel. We ordered the tasting menu and it was one of the best meals we’ve ever had. Grace also ordered a flight of wines, and after a couple cocktails at the bar, she hit a wall around the 5th course. She was done (wasted). I was too full to carry on at that point, too, but wanted to at least see the cheese and dessert courses. Grace threatened to pull out the guns, so I knew it was time for her to go. I urged her to head up to the room, but she decided to stick it out. I told the server we were done, done, but she said we had to try the dessert and was nice enough to bring the final two courses at the same time. It was worth playing through the pain.

Grace made good on her word and pulled out the guns on the way to the elevator. She FaceTimed the kids and had no recollection of it the following day (“ooh, I wish we called the kids last night…”). We packed and slept a few hours before breakfast arrived at 5:15am. We left Paris early in the morning for our next destination (the only one Grace didn’t guess).

Some say the George V is the finest hotel in Paris and maybe even the world. I haven’t traveled enough to confirm or dispute this. I can say, however, that it was the nicest place we’ve stayed. Somehow, at both Terre Blanche and the George V, everyone knows your name, even people you haven’t met. The service at both hotels was as spectacular as the properties themselves.

I expect we’ll go somewhere new on our next big trip (maybe 2022?), but you can never go wrong in Paris. Until next time…

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Florence + the Machine and Dinner in Paris

So the irony about going to Paris to see The Civil Wars is that they cancelled the show last week. I was so bummed. They reschedule the entire leg of their tour except for a couple shows last week in Northern UK. I even considered re-routing through Edinburgh where they were playing their last scheduled show, but I couldn’t secure tickets. I emailed with the manager of the venue and he very candidly advised that we shouldn’t fly all the way up there because the show had been sold out for a while and he already had a long waiting list.

When we got to Paris, I explained to Grace the situation. On a whim, I found out The Shins were playing that evening and Grace indulged me enough to head over to the venue to get tickets and go. I thought it was a great show, but Grace wasn’t too familiar with their music. Plus, we had general admission and it was hot, crowded and sweaty. Uh oh.

It was uh oh because I had bought tickets to see Florence + the Machine on our birthday before we arrived. It was also uh oh because they were also General Admission and Grace’s tank for cramming in with kids half our age was close to empty. She indulged me again and we went a little early, staked our claim very close to the stage and had a snack before the show started. A typical angsty brit-pop group (Spector) opened up and they were great.

Florence took the stage right at 9pm and it was electric. To say her voice soars does not give her enough credit. I was a little stressed about our timing because we had a dinner reservation at 10:30pm. She played Shake It Out and Dog Days are Over earlier in the set, for which I was relieved because I thought for sure they would be encore songs. During the latter, Grace and I were bouncing around with several thousand Parisienne youth and it was amazing.

It was easily one of the best shows I’ve ever seen and thankfully Grace felt the same way. I will always think of Paris (and being here with Grace) when I listen to them now. Here’s to making new memories and growing older without getting old!I should mention that we finished celebrating Grace’s 40th birthday at Restaurant L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. One of my sweet colleagues, Laurie, not only made excellent recommendations for our entire trip, but she also made the reservation for me. We had a memorable meal there and the service and venue were perfect. Merci!

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