Epic Europe Trip 2014 Day 17: Midnight in Paris

Although it has been six years since the last time either Jenn or I were in Paris it feels like we never left. This city is full of wonder and magic and beauty. Every corner we walk by either Jenn or I is pointing at amazing architecture or a cafe we want to try. Its so easy to just get lost in the wonder that is Paris. 

We woke up this morning to our first full day in Paris. We got up around 8AM and were down at Cafe M on the first floor of the Hyatt Paris Madeleine for our free breakfast. Things are always a bit sweeter when they are unexpected like being upgraded to this amazing deluxe room and getting free breakfast. We made our way down to breakfast. I started with their coffee which was still really weak so I upgraded to a cappuccino. We both got scrambled eggs with bacon which was by far the best we've had all trip. They had a breakfast buffet that we ate a few bites from but with a big lunch upcoming we decided to take it easy on breakfast this morning.

After a nice breakfast we headed back to our room to get ready for the day. The big plan for this morning was to head to the Eiffel tower and have lunch at the world renowned Le Jules Verne restaurant on the second level of the Eiffel tower. More on that in a bit. Jenn mapped our route on the Metro and we made our way from our hotel to the Eiffel Tower. Jenn is such a pro at this by now. We had to make four different line changes to get there and we didn't miss a beat. Twenty minutes later we were standing in front of the Eiffel tower in by far the prettiest day I've ever seen in Paris.

There's always that magical moment that happens whenever you reach a place of pure beauty. For Jenn and I it hit right as we rounded the corner and stood face to face with the Eiffel Tower. I'm not sure how to describe the sensation. We have so many Paris pictures throughout our home and we talk about going back to Paris all the time. Standing in front of the Eiffel Tower I guess is a realization of all those times we've longingly stared at the picture of Paris over our fire place. It was a magical moment and we did our best to capture as much of it as possible. We easily took 150 photos. If I was a betting man I'd probably take the over on that estimate. 

After we killed the batteries of every device we had that was able to take pictures it was time to head to lunch at the world renowned Le Jules Verne restaurant. There's a lot that makes eating at Le Jules Verne special but the first thing is getting to the restaurant. Instead of having to go up the stairs or wait in line to go up the elevator (which can take hours) you walk to the side of the Eiffel to an entrance set aside only for guests of the restaurant. We walked up to the restaurant and confirmed our reservation which we made almost two months ago. According to the maitre d' the average booking is made almost six months in advance and they are booked solid from now until the beginning of 2015. Once we were checked in we made our way up the private elevator up the Eiffel Tower to the second floor where Le Jules Verne restaurant is.

We walked in to the restaurant handed the hostess our jackets and were taken to our seats with a wonderful view overlooking Paris. Originally when we booked our lunch at Le Jules Verne it was literally the only available time/date during our stay in Paris. The good news was that for lunch they had a special 3-course menu which was "only" €98 per person. Stay with me. When we sat down and our waiter handed us the menu that special 3 course menu was no where to be seen. So I did some quick research on my phone and realized we had done a bit of a miscalculation. The 3 course meal is only available on weekdays and today is Saturday. Jenn and I both had to take a deep breath as we looked at the available 5 and six course options (double the price of 3-course) and laughed. When in Rome (yes I realize I'm in Paris).

When we got over the sticker shock that was our impending lunch we sat back and enjoyed what turned out to be a phenomenal meal. We started off with two of the most expensive glasses of wine we've ever had that were amazing. We then both opted for the five course meal experience. The only difference between the 5 and 6 courses was that with the 5 you choose between meat and fish and with the 6 course you get both. Not wanting to be complete gluttons we went with the 5 courses. 

What I love about prix-fix menus is that it forces you to try things you would never order. The first course was an absolute over-the-top experience. We started our meals with Half smoked back of salmon and gold caviar. I've had caviar once in Vegas at a fancy dinner with Jenn, Jake and Ally. This was Jenn's first time and we both really enjoyed the first course. 

Our second course was by far the worst of the lineup. It was the ‘Lucien Tendret’ style pâté en croûte, crunchy pickled vegetables. To be honest I'm still not exactly sure what it was but neither Jenn or I really enjoyed it all that much. 

From there the meal took a great turn to some truly out of this world dishes starting with the Sautéed scallops, raw/cooked cauliflower. This had a perfectly cooked scallop in the middle of an amazing corn chowder style base. There was so much flavor in the broth that really mixed nicely with the scallop. Both Jenn and I cleaned the bowl on this one. 

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From there it came down to our choice between meat and fish. We both chose the meat as we aren't huge fans of Sea Bass. The meat today was a Truffled saddle of hare, shoulder stuffed with foie gras. Neither of us had ever had Rabbit before but I'm glad we got to try it first at Le Jules Verne. Its a little gamey but ours was bursting with flavor and was unlike anything I've ever eaten before.

To round out our meal was dessert time. We started with a citrus salad which neither Jenn or I cared for much. Then we got onto the good stuff with the dessert menu. The menu called for Crispy Tower nut, chocolate from our Factory in Paris and praline but really what came out was an assortment of dishes. We started with a chocolate cake which might have been the richest thing I've ever tasted. We had some marshmallows that were flavored with pistachio. We also had an assortment of macaroons and chocolates to eat as well. 

At this point we were both ready to burst after one of the best meals we've ever had. It wasn't up to the same level of Chef Ramsay's London experience in New York but it was one of the finest dining experiences we've ever had. Combine that with being in Paris and in the Eiffel Tower and you really couldn't put a price on it. Well you could but I don't really want to talk about that. Regardless I'm 99% sure we were the only ones taking the Metro to eat at the restaurant. People were putting down some pretty insane tabs in there. The two guys sitting next to us were talking like they wracked up a bar tab the night before the size of one or two of my paychecks. 

We picked up our coats at the front desk and then made our way out to the platform right outside the Le Jules Verne. We took a bunch of pictures on the Eiffel Tower and once again headed to the gift shop. This has been a dangerous attraction for Jenn in Paris and we once again loaded up on Christmas decorations before making our way back to Le Jules Verne and taking the private elevator back down to ground level. 

After that giant meal we were both exhausted so we jumped on the Metro and headed back to our hotel. Having plans for this evening we decided it would be best to try and rest until we had to head out from our hotel at 8PM to go to the Moulin Rogue. 

When we were planning our days in Paris we wanted to figure out what sort of show we should go see. In 2008 we saw an ballet at the Opera House which was fantastic. But we wanted to do something more Paris. Jenn loves the movie Moulin Rogue so we before we left for the trip we purchased two tickets to the 9PM showing of the Moulin Rouge. So at 8PM we left our hotel for the Metro which lets off right in front of the Moulin Rouge. We got there right when they started letting everyone in. We got sat a table right in the middle of the stage with perfect views. A few minutes later the bottle of champagne we ordered with the tickets was delivered to our table and the show started 15 minutes later.

The show is probably exactly what you would expect. It's a variety show with singing, dancing, some specials acts, and a ton of topless women. Some of the best acts were the skaters who did some pretty insane tricks on a small circular platform, the lady who swims with pythons in a  huge water tank and they had a ventriloquist who was very entertaining. The show lasts a full two hours and had the sold out crowd entertained from start to finish. Especially the couple across from us who came into the event a little intoxicated. Jenn loved every second of it and I know we're both glad we went. It was nice having a bottle of champagne with the show as well even if it wasn't the best stuff in the world. 

After the show it was a little after 11PM and we rode the Metro back to our hotel and got there a little before midnight. Today turned out to be one of the best days of the trip so far. We had amazing food, great entertainment, and more then anything got to experience the best city in the world together.