This is what I learned on a recent trip: Paris is a gourmet feast of sight, sounds, food and wine.
Upon arrival in the city, the early morning fragrance coming out of the cafes is that of fresh croissants in the oven. You then know you have arrived in Paris.
Check in into your hotel and prepare for the delights of the city. A visit to one of the many open air food markets in something that should not be missed. There are all sorts of fresh vegetables, meat, fowl and fresh fish available for purchase. Unlike the way we typically shop in America, Parisians buy most of their food from these markets and prepare it that same day.
The must see sight is the Eiffel Tower. An interesting bit of information: When it first opened in 1889, it was considered a monstrosity. Now it is practically impossible to imagine Paris without it. If you have the time, it is worth the wait in line to take the elevator to the top for a panoramic view of the city. The Arc de Triomphe is Napoleon's monument to himself (no ego there!). The traffic circle around it is named for Charles de Gaulle. Parisians refer to it as “L Etoile,“ or, "the star." Tourists who get caught in this traffic circle have less kind names for it.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame is another important sight. Walk through the inside and admire the beautiful stained glass windows. The world famous gargoyles surround the outside of the cathedral.
One of my favorite parts of Paris is Sacre-Cour and Montmartre. Sacre-Coeur is a breathtaking church perched atop Montmartre. The view from here rivals the view from the Eiffel tower. If you are feeling energetic, you can climb the steps to the top. Personally I prefer to take the funicular. It is a faster easier way to get to the top and it only requires a metro ticket. The Place du Tertre is a square full of artists. Want a portrait of yourself? There are many portrait artists all with different styles from serious to caricatures.
Landscapes and impressionists also can also be found. Sit at one of the outdoor cafes, order a glass of wine and watch the world go by.
Anyone who know me knows that I could not go to Paris without taking a short tour to Reims ( champagne houses are located here). It is a 45-minute trip On the TVG and worth a day trip. It is possible to leave in the morning and be back in Paris for dinner. Taittinger champagne caves are a short taxi ride or a 20-minute walk from the train station. The tour is very interesting. You descend to the chalk caves 60 feet below the earth’s surface. There are bottles and bottles of champagne stored here.
I could live down there. It is an interesting and informative tour of how champagne is produced and it finishes with a glass or three of champagne.
What would a column on Paris be without talking about wine? Oh la la: French wine and food!
I tasted some wonderful wine and food on this trip. A Sancerre wine is divine with shellfish. Rosés say "France" like nothing else; They are fresh and bright with aromas of summer fruit. Rosés compliment appetizers and salads. White Rhone wines, with flavors of almond and stone fruit, go well with rich butter sauces.
Cote du Beaune Burgundy with accents of apple, truffle and vanilla, also match with the famous French butter sauces. Chateauneuf du Pape can be made from 13 different grape varieties. Most are red, but some white varieties can be added. They are a great match for pate.
Only red wine is produced in the Medoc and what great reds they are. Dark and rich Medoc wines go well with meat dishes and stews. St. Emilion wines are soft with low tannins and dark fruit a good choice for blue cheese or Brie. These wines are all good reasons to visit Paris — not that you need a reason to visit.
A few recommended wines you can find here are:
- Les Griottes Sancerre
- Les Dauphins Rose
- Domaine de Chateaumar Chateauneuf Du Pape
- Chateau Patache d’Aux Medoc