Paris France - Been a whirl wind trip, but always great to see the sights and share them

I had a bit of work to do in Paris last week and given my travel schedule, it made sense to go from Paris directly to my other business trip rather than coming home and turning around the same day and flying back in the same direction.  That allowed me to have a bit of time for some sight seeing.  I knew that I would be jet lagged when returning back to the US if I didn't try to manipulate my sleep.  I was departing Paris at 4 in the afternoon and with the time difference, scheduled to arrive in New York City at 7:30 PM the same day (thought it is a 10 hour flight or so).  So my genius plan was to stay up as late as I possibly could on Friday night in Paris, then sleep as late as I could and try to go to bed at a regular bed time in the US.  To my delight and surprise it really worked well and it sort of resolved any jet lag that I normally have after a long flight like that.

I decided to take the Metro (or the tube as they call it in France) over to the Plaza Concorde and walk near the Eiffel tower to see the light show at the top of every hour, walk back toward the Opera, and ultimately back toward my hotel.  I didn't leave my hotel until about 10:30pm and the plan was to grab a bit of a late dinner since I hadn't eaten since we wrapped up our customer meeting on Friday at about 6pm.
My Co-worker Patrice was wonderful on the drive back from the customer site taking me down one of his favorite streets that leads to the Eiffel tower.  I was asking him if he ever takes the scenery for granted given that he lives there and sees it every day.  It was cool to hear his response as a proud Parisian, he said he never gets tired of it and is still amazed at it's beauty.

Here is a great photo that I took from the car as we drove toward the Eiffel tower at night.

So to go back in time a little bit, I had to go and check out a type of restaurant one of my neighbors told me about.  He had spent 2 years in France and Switzerland and always spoke of "raccalette" where you would be served hard meats, breads and potatoes, and then they would come around with this gooey raccalette cheese and scrape the melted cheese onto you food.
Think of a deconstructed fondue.  When Deb and I went to Paris a few years ago, we found a fondue kind of place and it was good, but I think I found one that was a bit more like what Charlie had described all those years ago.

I received a plate of the meats, potato and breads.  Then they brought out this tabletop broiler if you will with a swing away platform.  They dropped a big ole pound block of cheese on it and pushed it under the broiler.  You would swing it out when you wanted to rest, and swing it under the heat to melt it into a great consistency for slathering over bread or potato.  It was so darn good.

Each morning I would stop by Starbucks which my French co-workers thought was pretty funny.  I am a coffee fan, but I can't get used to the small strong espresso style coffee that is served in much of Europe and Paris was not exception.  I loved the croissants in the local cafe's but couldn't bear the coffee.  This is just my personal taste, but the Starbucks allowed me to feel a bit at home given how often  I find myself working in a Starbucks (heading there in a few minutes to start my day today too)

One evening after work, I went to dinner with Patrice my co-worker.  He had a great recommendation for a restaurant fairly close by, good food and not too expensive. We were seated just before the line formed out front to get in (or as they refer to it in Paris, the Queue).  We were seated at a table for 4 and there were just 2 of us.  I put my bag in the seat next to me and Patrice let me know that they would likely seat someone there with us.  Sure enough they ended up seating 2 other parties of 1 at our table which was a bit different, but a nice experience.

I was in France, so I had to get some escargot.  It was really good, but I was so worried that I was going to sling one of those little critters across the table getting it out of the shell with the tongs and little fork they provided.  Disaster was averted and they were really good,

I then had beef cheeks and it was so tender they could have been cut with a spoon.  It seemed that many of the meals were served with noodles of some kind which for some reason surprised me a little bit for being in Paris.    I also didn't see all of the really rich sauces and cream based sides on all of the dishes.  They certainly existed, but it was easy to eat fairly healthy on this trip as well.

It was kind of cool, they wrote the order on the table and then when it came time to pay the bill, they just wrote out the cost for each item and totaled it up right on the table cover and then you pay from that instead of with a regular check.  This may be the first time ever that I had to take a photo of a written on table cloth to turn in for a receipt with my expense report.
The meals they serve can be fairly large by the time you have each course, so it was still a bit interesting while I continue to work to lose weight and figure out how to order at a restaurant like that. Sadly the trick is that you just send a bunch of the food back uneaten at the end of the meal.

We went and held our meeting with our customer, which was neat.  I won't mention the name here, but they were very friendly and most accommodating by speaking English or after discussing something in French, translating what the discussion was about.  My French is limited to Please, Thank you, Hello, Toilettes, your welcome, and goodbye, so I really appreciated them accommodating me in that way.   (Side commentary, it seems that so many in the US get annoyed when someone is here and doesn't speak English, yet the French were very generous when it came to accommodating me)

So back to my evening out.  I departed the hotel in the District 9 of Paris and walked a few blocks to the tube to catch it to the furthest point that I was going to go that night and then walk back.  The metro is really easy and convenient to take when visiting Paris, even taking connections was simple and last time we were there we ended up taking several transfers to a train station to Versailles and even to Normandy.  Really good transportation all around.    The photo on the train was taken just as I departed the train at Concorde Station (which is just at the North end of Plaza de' Concorde).

From here I walked up and around the plaza itself.
They still had some of the Christmas decorations up in the site midway through January and one of those is a very large ferris wheel that they put up at the Plaza.
  This is very large, as a Texas and familiar with the Texas State Fair wheel, I would say it was very close to that size.  I was also amazed by a few things in the plaza.  The traffic for one was not busy at this time of night, but I had been in a car in this area before.  It is nuts.  The traffic goes around the circle (turn about) some 8-12 wide with no seeming organization.
Add to that the mopeds and scooters that buzz in and out and around the cars and it looks like bees swarming a honey comb.  I really should have figured out a way to do a fast motion video from above.  Hind sight is 20/20 but that might have been really cool to see.

The street lights also were so ornate, it was amazing.  They were marble bases with decorative columns that were carved and accented with gold carvings. They were sort of shaped like a cactus in the southwest, but amazingly beautiful.  They were all over the plaza as were these large fountains and statues in each corner of the plaza.  There was some serious money spent here, but it looks like it was a long time ago and just remains that beautiful.  I am sure there are crews that keep them clean and maintained, but they look as I assume they did many hundreds of years ago.

From here I had to go get a better look at the Eiffel tower and it's light show, but you can watch the video that is below for that as it is hard to capture the moving lights in a still image.  I did walk around and look at the river Seine and even saw quite a few live aboard that were there along the river front.  They were in barge style boats and the vibe was a little bit like Seattle's floating homes, even though these were really boats, not actual homes.

After quite a nice walk around I headed up and over toward the opera where Deb and I stayed last time we were in town.  We saw this little place called "American Dream" which is a diner.  When we were here last time we went in and had dinner (kind of a bar food joint) and the server kept asking us if we had gone upstairs.  I didn't get it but we finished our dinner and then went upstairs with the other people we were with.  It was quite a sight, it was a restaurant, but there were topless women dancing on the counters.  A bit of an odd combo, nudity and dinner, but we looked around and moved on.

I did go by and saw the outside of that place which is what made me realize I was very near where we stayed last time.  I did walk along the front of the Opera and you can see the ornate detail and gold in the front of the building.  For clarity, I am also putting up a closeup of the section above the entry so you can see the detail.  (Keep in mind this was taken at night with a video camera, and it is still amazing)

All in all the trip was really cool.   I was glad I got to go again and am getting a bit more amazed when I go to place that are so much "older" than America.  From our American perspective, nothing here is more than 250 years old, so to go to France or Rome and see things that were built 500 years ago is just truly amazing to me. In the case of Rome, some of these things were built 1600 years ago.  Just crazy to me, but it is truly amazing.

Below is a youtube video showing a bit of a walk-about in the Opera District, The Plaza de' Concorde and the Eiffel tower. I hope you enjoy it.. If you are receiving this blog via email or on a device that won't play the embedded video, click this link for the video directly on Youtube.  The link is