Thursday, February 16, 2012
Like previous posts, pictures are coming as I’m stealing them from Jason this weekend (promise!!).
After all of the build up, finally it was time for us to go. Jason and I brought our suitcases for the weekend to work with us and ended up leaving early (around 3:30pm) to start on our journey. There are two major ways to get to Paris from London. You can either fly or take the Eurostar train. On the surface, flying is probably vastly cheaper unless you book Eurostar tickets far enough in advance, but even then Jason and I figure at the end of the day the price difference probably isn’t really significant. The extra 20-50£ you spend on the Eurostar saves you enormous amounts of time and headache. So ultimately it just comes down to what you prefer. By Eurostar, you can get into the center of Paris in approximately 2.5 to 3 hours. I don’t remember what time Jason and I got in, but it was probably around 9 or 10 by the time we’d checked into our hotel.
Hotel de Batignolles
The hotel was really great. It wasn’t especially fancy or anything, but it was clean and warm and functional. The receptionists were all very pleasant and helpful, and it was conveniently located within easy walking distance to Moulin Rouge and Montemarte. It also was really rather reasonably priced all in all. Jason and I would definitely stay again.
Not wanting to miss out on any dinner, Jason and I headed right out and wandered down to the Moulin Rouge, which was just around the corner from where we were staying. The street on which the Moulin Rouge is located was, as you would expect, pretty busy. Leading up to the Moulin Rouge from the hotel are a number of different restaurants, bars, pubs, and cafes. The Moulin Rouge itself pretty much dominates the street and incidentally stands as an iconic harbinger to the longest continuous stretch of adult toy stores, movie theatres, and strip clubs I have ever seen. I swear I would not be shocked if it went on for a good mile or two without interruption.
As might be expected, a large crowd is ever-present in the shadow of the giant red windmill crowning the entrance to the Moulin Rouge.
A little bit of history:
The Moulin Rouge (literally Red Mill in French for the red windmill marking its roof) is known as the “spiritual birthplace” of modern day can-can dancing. It is now a cabaret where for the exorbitant price of 200€ per person you can enjoy dinner and a show (For 100€ per person you can see the show only). Word to the wise, order tickets well in advance of your trip for it is unlikely tickets will be available at the door…at least on a weekend.
Cafe de Luna
Lacking pretty severely in the way of dinner options given how late it was getting, we stopped in at this little restaurant on the corner of Place de Clichy. I think it was meant to be an Italian restaurant, but the food was generic enough (and sported enough “French” dishes) that it wasn’t terribly authentic. The food was decent and the servers fairly nice and attentive (they also spoke a functional amount of English), despite Jason’s nearly killing one of the poor guys 2 or 3 times by accidentally tripping them! I actually felt a bit bad for my ginger giant. Most everywhere we went had little tiny tables, so often he’d have to sit sideways, using aisles for leg room. Cafe de Luna could have been the beginning of a long weekend of flying French garçons but thankfully was the only significant instance where the unwary service personnel nearly found themselves flat on the floor.
It was here that Jason and I had our first, and only for this trip, foray into French delicacies by ordering an appetizer of cuisses de grenouilles, frog legs. A couple of observations:
- Frog leg meat is white and a similar consistency to some types of white fish. It is somewhat flaky like tilapia though more moist and a bit more substantial than fish meat.
- The taste of these in particular was underwhelming, though this could probably be the fault of poor chefs rather than the legs themselves. They were doused in some kind of tomatoes sauce which was nice (it somewhat masked the very blatant “leg” appearance) and distracted a little from the dish as a whole, but the sauce was bland and uninspired.
- There is a very hard part on the legs that I initially thought was the foot. Further research suggests it’s actually the spine. Also, there are bones in the legs (thin like in chicken wings). That seems like is should go without saying, but I was actually kind of surprised by this.
- All in all, I would be willing to try them again, but ultimately wasn’t overly impressed (or disgusted) by them.