April 13, 2008

Ice cream and long walks

Posted in Exploring, Food, Visitors tagged , , , , , , , at 9:49 pm by Lauren

On the last day of my brother’s visit  – Sunday, March 23 – he and his friends had hit all the major attractions, so we turned to City Walks for entertainment. They narrowed the choices to two, and we decided we could do both. Then, in my usual overachieving spirit, I shuffled through the box and found another walk that was “on the way” (though really it was about a twenty-block round-trip detour). I took a quick poll: how far did we want to walk that day? Dave and Alan immediately voted for “around ten miles.” We were off.


But before we really took off, we needed fuel. Alan, Dave, and Megan hadn’t yet tried Berthillon ice cream. We swung by and came away with a quarter of the flavors Berthillon offers. Though I was disappointed (frankly, dismayed) that they did not have my beloved pear sorbet on the menu (or a new crush, turron ice cream), I was nonetheless pleased with my choices of praline aux pignons (pecan ice cream with pine nuts) and caramel gingembre (caramel ginger). Megan tasted an interesting raspberry sorbet made with rose water. Allen played it safe with classics coffee and raspberry. Dave and Alan were the bravest. Alan opted for caramel au beurre sale along with marrons glaces au rhum (candied chesnuts and rum). Dave chose agenaise, a mix of prunes and armagnac liquor, both specialities of the Agenaise region. When the French put alcohol in something you can taste it, as Alan and Dave learned.


With ice cream for lunch, we were fueled and ready to go. We set off on foot towards Palais Royal, my little detour. First we threaded our way through Galerie Vivienne, but since it was a Sunday the shops were all closed. Still, it was quiet and picturesque.



From Gallerie Vivienne, we found some back entrance to Palais Royal, which I never would have suspected without explicit City Walk directions. We paused for a quick photoshoot, in which Alan, Megan, and Dave took pictures of each other jumping. I think this is an ultimate thing. The trick, according to Dave, is to kick your legs up into the air so that it looks like you got maximum air. Allen and I declined to try it.


Exiting Palais Royal, we followed Rue de Rivoli down to Place de la Concorde and took a right on Rue Royale towards La Madeleine. It was time for macarons. (Of course we were going to Laduree!) We ordered a box of 15, each with three flavors to munch on, and then an amazing thing happened – we did not eat them immediately that very minute. Then I exercised severe restraint to not bring them up because Dave was on to me not being a very patient person when it comes to eating anything within reach immediately this very minute. (Oh look! A gaufre au miel! Nom nom nom nom…) But we soon reached the square Louis XVI, where some other wise person suggested eating our macarons. Hallelujah! Afterwards, Megan stomped on the box. It seemed like the right thing to do, she said. As long as there were no macarons in it, I was happy to let the box go to whatever fate awaited it, even stomping. Then, because we hadn’t done enough walking yet, we headed back to the metro and Bois de Boulogne.


From the metro La Muette, reaching Bois de Boulogne took at least twenty minutes. It involved a stop at one of the free toilet contraptions. Allen and I did not use it, but our touristing friends were more brave. Then onward! When we finally reached Bois de Boulogne, it wasn’t exactly what I expected. I was thinking there would be more bois, like in Bois de Vincennes. But I suspect we were only at the periphery, so it didn’t exactly look like a nature walk. We did a circuit of the two lakes – the smaller Lac Superieur and the larger Lac Inferieur. (Who names these things?) The Lac Inferieur had a charming island with a little gazebo on one end. You can take a rowboat or ferry from the shore to the island and eat at a little restaurant there. But it was cold, and we’d been walking a long time, so we sat at a little snack bar instead with all the dogs, and we munched on warm French fries.


On the way back around the lake, we resisted Alan and Dave’s pleas to stop and throw a disk. Fortunately Megan was on our side, or Allen and I would have been revealed (like it’s a secret) for the lazy people that we are. We returned to the metro and went to dinner at our favorite Italian place, L’Epicerie Fuxia. (And to think that Alan and guests almost didn’t make it to the restaurant where we take all our guests, just so we can have an excuse to go there more often!) Once we’d filled our rumbling tummies with hot fresh Italian food (and some tiramisu and caramel panna cotta to boot), we returned to Ile Saint Louis, where we sent a contingent back to Berthillon. (Actually, we’d been debating our Berthillon purchase for hours, finally choosing a half liter of cherry sorbet and a half liter of caramel au beurre sale. And because I was panicked from not having seen pear on the a la carte scoop menu, I had to ask for and buy a half liter of pear sorbet as well. Then we sat in the apartment watching Flight of the Conchords and eating Berthillon to the point of sickness. Let no one say we don’t know how to treat our guests, particularly on their last night in Paris.


1 Comment »

  1. Tom Stine said,

    Greetings! I just found your blog because I was doing a bit of research on my favorite Bertillon ice cream, Agenaise. And that lead me to this article.

    I’ve loved my several trips to Paris, and so I’m intrigued to find your blog. I plan on reading more posts. Bonne journee!

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