Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lune de Miel - Part VII - A Perfect Picnic

Day 6 - It was hard to make it out of bed. Our wedding and Paris marching exhaustion was catching up to us, and we were le tired. No hotel breakfast - we slept straight through it.

Instead of our usual spread of cheeses, breads and D.'s 5-6 pain au chocolats, we had the best lunchtime fare Paris could offer. Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you L'As du Fallafal!!!


Only a few blocks from our chambre at Pl. Vosges stands a monument to the greatest of street foods. We visited this favorite spot several times during my last stay in Paris, although we were never quite sure how we found it in the winding streets of the Marais. D. and I came prepared with map and found it quickly as the crowds in front of us started to build.

IMG_6371Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A PicnicIMG_6367
We were told to get in line (as VIP's) where we ordered two shawarma with everything plus hot sauce (picant). Our wait was rewarded at the window where I was handed a fond memory of France in the form of warm chewy pita bread overflowing with shredded meat from the kebab, tender morsels of fried eggplant, mountains of purple cabbage and green cucumber slaw all topped with a heavy drizzle of tzatziki and a dollop of red pepper sauce that was really more flavor than heat.



Heaven. We stand off to the side devouring our pita pockets of joy and then fight impending food comas as we slowly shuffle towards the metro and off to Les Invalides - a Parisian landmark I'd yet to visit.

I believe it was Louis XIV who began construction on Les Invalides as a sort of hospital/barracks to house wounded veterans from his wars. The formula was a mix of religious and military where soldiers could heal while working in workshops, attending church and in a way, extending their military careers.

Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A Picnic
The barracks and workshops have been converted into a museum of French military history, and the grand church which once allowed king and soldiers to pray together by entering on two different sides of two churches joined together by a glass wall at the apse to create an impression of unity - is now a tomb to Napoleon and Napoleon III along with many other military greats and family members from the man who gave rise to the term "nepotism."

Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A Picnic
Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A Picnic

We spent most of our abbreviated day in the military museum, with far too much time in the ancient armor which resulted in us nearly missing an important segment of history: revolution-2nd Empire which had been recently renovated and re-opened since D.'s last visit. Our speed through of those 100 years probably left a lot to be desired for him. Another reason to return.

I think the highlight of the visit was the new map and model museum housed in the attic where massive scale-models of French fortresses from the late 1700's were housed. Not only were the fortresses from the 1700's (and earlier) the models themselves were built for Louis' court for defense strategy sessions in the 1700's. After climbing the stairs to the darkened attic (for the preservation of the models) D. may or may not have exclaimed, breathlessly "this is the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life."

Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A Picnic

Fortresses explored - Napoleon sped through and some time at the church with plenty of magic hour light spilling through the amber-colored windows onto the baldacchino at the altar, and we were ready to eat, again.

Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A Picnic

Before moving on, I'm reminded of much of the day's hilarity, whether the cannon that we imagined shoots out a long string of play-doh spaghetti or the armee de bebe made up of decorative childrens' suits of armor - or anything else we saw and laughed at. I know this will make no sense to anyone, but I will read it and remember.

So we were in a bit of a pickle about what to do for dinner. We were in close proximity to the Eiffel Tower and didn't know if we would be again on our trip. The weather was parfait for a picnic, but it was also Sunday, so the supermarchés were fermé and the selection at the épiceries, not so hot. We made it as far as a baguette and a warmed up slice of quiche quickly melting in its wax paper at the bottom of my bag. Melt down was imminent - so we detoured for a boisson - a leffe at Le Champ de Mars (the cafe).

Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A Picnic

Resourceful D. ran around and acquired a bottle of wine, some cheeses, a saucisson and some fresh berries all before I finished my beer. Picnic in hand we proceeded to the Champ de Mars (the place) at the base of the tower where we feasted and remembered a four-hour picnic on Bastille Day five years earlier with plus friends, plus food and plus plus wine, preceeded, of course by a picnic seven years earlier where flush with sips of wine, my first sight of the sparkling monument and experiencing it all with my new boyfriend,  I could have never imagined what the future held. D. polished off his requisite wedge of roquefort, I nibbled port salut and marvelled at how quickly time flies and how improbable that a girl from Colorado would watch her life change through snapshots taken in the city of lights.

After dining, reclining and a quick cafe at a nearby bistro that was too nearby to be anything authentic, we walked down the Seine and across the bridge to the Trocadero for a fantastic view of the sparkling tower before calling it a night and vowing to wake up earlier the next day to take in the Louvre.

Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A Picnic