An evening in Paris

History, fashion, love, and French cuisine makes for a ‘heady experience’ and Paris is a ‘must see’ finds Aruna  Rathod

Paris is called the city of love and the setting is just so right for love. Getting off at the Charles de Gaulle airport, the Citroen takes us to the hotel on the outskirts of Paris. The setting is peaceful, there is a huge Carrefour (the supermarket) to explore and with lovely weather, the sun out all day and nightfall only at_10 pm – soak in Paris by night.

After a quick meal at the hotel’s restaurant, fish in lemon basil sauce served with pasta or greens, its late afternoon, and time to do a tour of Paris. When in Paris, a quick tour of the Louvre is a must. A huge complex that is marked by the glass pyramid, it is filled with history and the arts, a must-see (even if you avoid some of the paintings and sculptures) is the Mona Lisa. The painting is not as big as we imagine it would be it’s a small three feet by three feet frame and the lady smiles (or does she?)! Feeling fulfilled, next we proceed, to the bohemian district of Montmartre which is situated on a hill and our vehicle goes up a steep road, flanked by beautiful Parisian villas and buildings. This is a district famous for painters, studios and cafes. Right on the top of the hill is the famous Basilica of the Sacré Coeur. By now the weather is a little cold, the wind is strong at times, accompanied by a light drizzle, making it romantic. Outside the magnificent church, one can stand and just watch the dense landscape of Paris from the viewing points on the lawns of the church. After taking in the magnificent views, we walk back towards our vehicle, and decide to have a quick espresso that warms us up in one of the laid back cafes. Some artists offer to do your portrait for a few Euros, and it’s interesting to watch with a few deft strokes, peoples’ faces coming alive on paper. You could buy some water colour impressions of the Sacré Coeur too.

The next spot is the iconic Eiffel tower. A few poses and after marvelling at the wonderful structure, and the entertainment that comes with people watching, makes the Eiffel tower a memorable experience. A group of musicians from Brazil belt out some wonderful music, teenagers pose in groups, lovers want to make it ‘the moment in Paris’ and families are thrilled at the technical marvel waiting to go up to watch the view. What makes Paris endearing is most of the monuments are quite close to each other, hence an evening is enough if you just want to witness the historical sites.

About two kilometres away, the next stop is the Arc D’Triomphe – a magnificent edifice, an arch built between 1806 and 1836, it stands at the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, also known as the “Place de l’Étoile”. It is from this famous Arc, that the most fashionable street of Paris begins – the Champs-Élysées, which houses showrooms of the most coveted designers – Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Cartier, Guerlain and Tiffany & Co. among others. The buzz of Champs Elysees fascinates me and a continuous stream of cars, well-dressed Parisians, tourists and locals at the cafes, sipping coffee or wine and the setting sun lends a magical glow to this super plush quarter of Paris. Fouquets, one of the most exclusive and expensive restaurants is located on this famous street. It is a meeting place of the rich and famous today and in the past,  it played host to legends like Charlie Chaplin to Marlene Dietrich, Winston Churchill to Jackie Onassis. As tourists, we watch the al fresco dining to the shaded conservatory area. And you could sip on some of the best champagnes (obviously!!) like Deutz Classic, Ruinart “R” Bollinger Special Cuvée, Taittinger “Count of Champagne” Pol Roger “Cuvée Chrurchill” Laurent Perrier “Grand Siècle” Krug “Grande Cuvée “Pommery” Cuvée Louise “L.Roederer” Crystal “rosé Moët Chandon” Don Perignon “Dom Ruinart … and indulge in some exquisite French delicacies.

Around 8 pm or so, it’s time for the Lido Show. Its dinner time and we sit at the table and are served the dinner which begins with the Lido champagne being served in tall wine glasses. The bottle cools down in the bucket of ice as we start placing our dinner order. The three-course dinner is called the Soiree Panache – Evening with Panache, we presume – and later find out that we are right. The starter is a salad – vegetables in papillote with their juices. The presentation is dramatic and we are curious when a transparent pouch is served on the table with the veggies inside. We later find out that Papillote is a method of cooking in parchment paper (or a pouch), where the contents are steam cooked and preserved.

There’s something inherently festive about opening a packet at the table to free a cloud of fragrant steam. For those who would prefer not too much of drama, the Caesar salad with prawns was a good bet. The second course is Duckling fillet with three peppers, anna potatoes and shallot confit or pan seared filthead bream, risotto-style paella pancake and the dessert was a choice between an amazing apricot cheesecake or a raspberry and lemon verbena ‘bonheur’ pompom macaroon. After being satiated with all things French, it’s time for the performance! A good two-hour dance performance, each act melts into another and the grace and finesse of the dancers is something to be marvelled at. Photography is not allowed. An ice skating act makes us hold our breath.

Post dinner, it’s time to head to the hotel, and our vehicle takes a detour and we witness the Eiffel tower by night and it was a sight to behold. Lit from the top to the bottom, the structure stands proud, and this sight is etched in my heart, and reminds me of Paris whenever I dream of France.

Text & Pics: Aruna Rathod

Author: Planet Goa Team
For us at Planet-Goa, our team is driven by that feeling of exhilaration that one gets when discovering that something ‘unique’ and ‘new’ about Goa for our ever-so-discerning readers.

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