In the fall, I posted the first two post Skip sent of their Paris trip. Having known them for years, I wanted to share their great experiences. I will get the rest posted within the next week. So, keep watching. It was terrific to see them again.

We got a late start (again) this morning and missed our proposed “launch” time by almost an hour. The beignets (with apple filling) we bought last night were matched with a big pot of plunged coffee and the conversation that followed between the three of us just rambled on and on.

Then it was off to challenge the Metro to see how lost we could get (seeing how it’s been thirty-plus years since we meandered through the Parisian system). It’s like riding a bike. Once you learn, it’s easy to pick-up again….and off we went.

Once off the cross-town Metro from Place d’Italie, we walked a half dozen or so blocks to the base of the Tour Eiffel where we had to take the obligatory photo op so folks back home would know we were really not in Woonsocket.

Our goal was to get to the quai (pier) at the foot of the Tour Eiffel where we were booked for a luncheon cruise on board the MV Cristal, one of the Bateux fleet of riverboats (even fancier than the ones in London we have enjoyed over the years).

I thought London’s Thames was a busy waterway for tour and sightseeing boats along with working vessels of every size and shape. The Seine is the Thames on steroids with an almost endless stream of craft working the river at any given time. The Cristal is nothing more than a fancy, mobile (floating) restaurant with unlimited vistas through its glass walls and ceilings, Our luncheon cruise was only about 60% full which resulted in more attentive service which was already excellent.

We were greeted with a glass of Kir vin blanc (Kir Royal blended with some delicious white for a reddish tint). We each had a choice of four starters, four main courses, a single palette cleanser and four deserts. (The London luncheon cruises were much more limited in their selections).

We mixed and matched our appetizers with Fran ordering a Presse de canard au foie gras, celei remoulade (pressed duck terrine with foie gras confit ). It was absolutely delicious. I opted for a Salmon Gravlex served on bed of Belgian endive. Yum. Chris selected a creamy pumpkin soup blended with chestnut and pine nuts (Bouillon creme de potiron with chataignes et pignons). These were served with a nicely chilled bottle of Chardonnay. Mmmmmm.

For the main course, Chris and Fran ordered a braised beef dish served in individual baking dishes with a light layer of mashed potato and a browned dusting of Parmesan (parmentier?). Melt in your mouth delicious. My choice was for a loin of pork served as a single, large medallion on a bed of buttered braised cabbage with a sage sauce. Excellent, and served with a bottle of Medoc (Terres des Granges 2009). A perfect match.

The fourth course was a beautifully plated Morbier cheese served with an apple and raisin condiment.

Being chocolate aficionados, Fran and I selected a chocolate cream (mousse) served with a Madeleine sponge (that’s a cake) while Chris went for creamed rice with a caramel sauce.

Our luncheon cruise was roughly two hours in length and was a leisurely meander up and down the Seine through the very heart of Paris with views of every major waterfront attraction in the city. Rather than a continuous blather of a traditional tour guide, luncheon guests were provided with an illustrated map of the highlights and an occasional verbal commentary offered by an unobtrusive program coordinator. Our ride could not have been smoother even though we encountered numerous wakes of other vessels on the river. It’s a wonderful way to be introduced to the city and to some delicious hospitality and cuisine. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. They had to roll us off the boat. Actually, with two bottles of wine, we almost floated off.

Our fifteen-minute walk to the Metro stop was almost a necessity to help us settle our bodies (and minds). Thirteen stops later, we were back at Place d Italie where Fran insisted on a “shortcut” through the Printemps Department Store and the gallery of little shops in the shopping center. Oh brother. We were accompanied on our walk from the Metro by the retarded wino on his way to his favorite bench in front of our building to serenade and dance for the masses.

Dinner consisted of a baguette or two, a round of cheese, a bottle of red something and conversation about memories of a delightful day in the city of lights.

And thus ended our Wednesday in Paris. The Tour Eiffel is twinkling in the distance to signify that it’s eleven o’clock. Regards, Skip

The Epicurean Explorer

President, International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association

Editor-at-Large, CityRoom

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