Paris - Day Three

Day Three in Paris!

The day started with finding more mosquito bites. Perfect.

I got a late start to my day. Part because I was waiting for the water to heat up in the hot water tank. Partly because I was searching online for another place to stay. I also had to go to the pharmacy this morning to get antihistamine tablets; hopefully the swelling from the bites will go down soon. I look a mess.

Decided to do a little shopping today. Here's the tough thing about retail therapy while on vacation: You can only take back so many pairs of shoes or handbags, and you have to be careful about weight restrictions. Unless you are filthy rich. If not, here's the solution around that. Actually, a couple solutions:

You can pack a small bag, and then buy all new clothes and shoes in your destination city; as well as a new suitcase. This works especially great in cities such as London or Paris. Pack only your favourite jeans and a couple tank tops and maybe one light sweater. I go a little further and pack one black simple cocktail dress and a pair of black heels. Maybe a strand of pearls (faux for travel). That way, if a special evening out suddenly comes up, you have something to wear. Okay, try and understand that I often go to the symphony or opera when I travel, and you'll realize this little black dress/heels/pearls trick is very handy.

You can do what I'm doing this trip. I packed a large backpack because I will be travelling for over a month. In the backpack, I put a folded up sleeping bag cover. Coming home, I will put my full backpack with items I've purchased into the sleeping bag cover, then fill up the extra space with my worn clothing. This is especially good if you are bringing, oh....I don't know...WINE home in your checked luggage. Pack the wine securely in the center of the backpack, use your own clothes as cushioning around the backpack in the sleeping bag cover, and check it through FRAGILE when checking in.

Another thing I've done (and will probably end up doing this trip) is send stuff home ahead of me. Half way through my trip, I'll go to the post office and get a shipping box. Then I put any brochures from museums, sweaters I don't need, clothing or shoes I've bought but don't plan on wearing during the trip, souvenirs....all go into the box (I remember the first time I travelled to Europe I took a curling and a flat iron. Ha! Those things got shipped back home in a hurry). I then ship it to a neighbours' or my parents' house. Just be sure to ship it ground or by boat if you are overseas. Shipping air is WAY too expensive. Unless, like I said, you're made of money. In which case, ignore and carry on.

During my aimless wandering of stores, I found Fauchon. And I fell in love instantly. I am a sucker for fantastic packaging and this company has done it right. Just look at the display of chocolates, candies, coffees and teas. And this was just one display, of which there were many. It was hard to look at the displays and not want to buy one of each.

There is a real culture of "à emporter" in Paris. This means to take and go or to take away. The store has a large delicatessen, as well as bakery and champagne selection. And I'm not talking cheap bottles of bubbly. From the main floor of the shop, you go downstairs to the "cave" (pronounced 'cav' ), where an amazing selection of vintage champagne awaits, perfectly chilled and ready to take with a box of French macarons to sit along the Seine asthe sun sets and watch the boats go by. Veuve Clicquot, Dom Perignon, Ruinart, Krug....pick your poison.

All the big name jewellers are located in and around the same area in Paris; Place de Vendôme. These are some serious displays of bling. Needless to say, these beauties were not part of my shopping purchases. At least not for today. But I spent a good amount of time peeking in all the windows. Each store has at least one security guard at the door; each dressed immaculately in a dark suit with French cuffs and cuff links. At least I think they were cuff links. They could have been security microphones. Some had ear pieces in. Like the Secret Service of jewellery stores.

Doing all that window shopping had worked up an appetite, so I made my way over to Angelina for a Croque Monsieur and a glass of champagne (yes, I know....spoilt rotten this one is). Angelina is a Paris landmark. The Salon de Thé first opened in 1903. It quickly became the place to be seen. Coco Chanel and Proust have been counted among its famous customers. It has long been a meeting place for the upper crust of Paris society. Or, at least, it used to be because today they let me in without question.

In any case, you either have to arrive early or come late in the afternoon, because they are quite busy. There is usually a line up everyday; not only to sit and enjoy tea but for their shop as well. There is a selection of house blended teas and coffees, hand made candies, chocolates and biscuits. The display cases offer a beautiful selection of fresh made pastries to take with you, and they are famous not only for these sweet treats, but for their house hot chocolate L'Africain. I saw table after table ordering the pitchers of warm milk and drinking chocolate, which you mix as you like at your table. It is served with a mountain of fresh whipped cream on the side. At €8.20 for hot chocolate that you pretty much make yourself, it is more like an event than a simple cup of cocoa.

After my bubbles and sandwich, I had a little strawberry, cream, custard and flaky pastry concoction; sort of like a fruit mille feuille. I also had a pot of their house tea, Mont-Blanc. Be forewarned if you order tea. It's premium black tea leaves, candied chestnut, toffee, orange blossom and apricot; and as such, you are charged a premium price. A hefty €7.50 price. But it is really yummy tea, and I did buy a tin of it to take home, which was a better deal at €13.00.
Refreshed and revived, I walked around the city for another couple hours, along the Avenue des Champs Élysées, tried to take some pictures of the Arc de Triomphe which didn't turn out well and made my way back to my apartment (and the mosquitoes).

Tomorrow will be another busy day.

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