It's hard to describe, but there are days like today that don't come all that often, and when you see them all you want to do is grab ahold of them and never let go. We woke up a little after 6AM after a full nights rest. Combined we got over 24 hours worth of sleep and we woke up energized for the day. I went down to the hotels newly refurbished gym and ran while Jenn got ready. We left our hotel a little after 9AM and got a cup of coffee and a hot chocolate a Starbucks around the corner and hit the metro towards the Notre Dame.
Each day of this trip, Jenn has an itinerary planned. For those that know me, know that I love having a plan for the day, so the fact that Jenn did this for me is incredibly special. We made our way to the Notre Dame but not to see the historic landmark but to go to a bookstore called Shakespeare and Company. It's been around since the early 1950's but I only became aware of it from one of my favorite movies of all-time, Midnight in Paris. Jenn knowing my love for both books and the Woody Allen movie made this our first stop for the day and it was a true delight. The book store is small, quaint, and smelled of an old book store. It was one of those stores that makes you want to read more, experience more, and be more. We spent a good half-hour, picked up a book for our bookshelf, and made our way back to the Notre Dame to take some photos.
The next stop on the itinerary was a restaurant Jenn found in her research called Chez Fernand. What drove Jenn to this eatery was its authentic french vibe and cuisine and boy was she right. However, before we got to lunch we had a 40 minute walk from the Notre Dame to the restaurant. Along the way we got to explore much of the city, walk through the Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Garden), and enjoy the beautiful day.
We made it to the restaurant and were warmly greeted by several of the staff and got a beautiful window seat looking at onto the street, perfect for people watching. We started off with a glass of red wine. The waiter then proceeded to bring over a giant black board menu that was completely in French. The waiter who spoke pretty good english was gracious enough to help us stumble through the menu. Jenn was tempted to get the lasagna but made a last minute change and went with the andouillette a sausage dish that came with fries and a salad. I went with the waiters recommendation of the beef bourguignon. This was a Jenn dish if I ever saw one. In fact we switched meals half way through so we both got to enjoy the meals. Both entrees were great, although a little too heavy for lunch. Luckily after a 40-minute walk and a lot more walking to come that wasn't going to be a problem.
From lunch we made our way to the Eiffel tower via the metro. If you're in Paris its hard not to want to stop by the magnificent monument. I will say throughout Paris there's an increased security presence. Which on one hand you're happy for that but on the other it's terrible to think that a place as beautiful as Paris is in need of so much security. The reason I bring this up is that there's now extra security surrounding the entry to the Eiffel tower. Not that we were planning to go up to the top or eat at Le Jules Verne again, but just was sad to see. We did however take a ton of photos and walked by the nearby surrounding area.
After the Eiffel we made our way back to the Metro and took it to the Arc de Triumph, snapped some shots, did a little bit of window shopping down Champs-Élysées and made our way back to the hotel. By the time we got back to our hotel it was a little after 4PM and we had done over 25,000 steps and were exhausted. We spent the next two hours relaxing and getting ready for a special dinner Jenn had planned for the evening.
In 2014 we had reservations at one of the most popular restaurants in Paris, Spring. However Paris fell at the end of our trip and by that point we had gone over budget and were exhausted and decided against a lavish expensive dinner. Well Jenn remembered all about how much research I had done previously and how excited I was to eat there. Have I mentioned how insanely lucky I am? I have a wife that remembers a restaurant we had reservations to, two years ago, didn't even eat at, and made sure we went back there on this trip. Pretty incredible, and lucky for both of us the food did not disappoint.
When the Uber dropped us off, and we walked into the restaurant I had a brief moment of horror as my new blue suit with a white undershirt matched perfectly the restaurants main host for the evening. We literally were wearing the exact same outfit. As I sat down I quickly put the jacket on the chair to try and hide the fact that I matched the staff.
We were seated and told the concept of the restaurant. Pretty simple really. They make one menu each day a seven course meal. They let us know that they would rather not tell us the menu and if there is anything in particular we wouldn't want to see on our plate. Otherwise the whole experience would be a surprise and we would get to know each course as they arrived. An incredible concept and one that we fully embraced. The other reccomendation we took was to go with the wine pairings which had five glasses of wine (one champagne, two white, one red, and one dessert wine) which was paired with each course. If a pairing option is available we love to go with it, and our pairings at Spring did not disappoint.
The one downside to not getting a menu is that its going to be impossible for me to fully recap the courses and exactly what we ate, especially the first course. The first course along with a nice glass of champagne had some crackers with something like a tuna tartare but with other fish. It was absolutely incredible in flavor and presentation. However we noticed something about the restaurant after the first course. The wait staff which was plentiful, a couple of waiters per table, was all about your pace. You eat fast, like we did on our first course (I'm in animal when it comes to champagne) they serve the next course, but if you take your time then they will as well. By the second course which was a glass of sauvignon blanc with a lobster salad we got refills on our wine for each course from then on. Tables around us which came in at the same time didn't get any refills on wine and were out of the restaurant nearly an hour before we got done. For the money and the experience we wanted to make it last and boy did we enjoy our meal. Back to the lobster salad though, it might have been one of my favorite courses. The lobster pieces were giant and fresh and simply perfect, and the rest of the salad paired really nicely with the fresh lobster. Even Jenn who revolts even at the word salad enjoyed the lobster.
The third course of our meal was a glass of chardonnay accompanied with a monk fish and zucchini dish that was out of this world. The monk fish was moist, with great flavor, and the zucchini was fresh and a nice combination with the fish. The chardonnay was the least favorite wine of the night, a little to dry and not overly complex.
For the fourth course we had a french red wine (didn't catch the name) but I do remember it was a 2000 vintage, and it was out of this world. Granted we were both five or six glasses in by this point, but from what I remember the wine was incredible. To accompany the wine we had a beautiful duck with an amazing side dish that at this point I can only mention that it was delicious not remembering exactly what it was.
For our final three courses of the night was three separate desserts with a glass of dessert wine. The three desserts consisted of a raspberry and chocolate sorbet, a fruit dish, and a vanilla ice cream with some fruit shavings on top. The three desserts were out of this world, and the dessert wine was fine, although not really Jenn or my cup of tea. They did bring out my dessert with a candle which was nice, although Jenn had promised me she hadn't told anyone it was my birthday. I ended the meal with an espresso and we spent a good half hour just laughing over dessert and our experience at Spring. It was truly remarkable.
After dinner we walked from the restaurant to the Seine River and walked along the river as well as the nearby bridges. We found a spot right above the river to dangle our feet over the water and watch the sunset until a little before midnight. We sat there for almost two hours, talking, laughing, reminiscing, and talking about the future. It was one of those rare moments where the whole world quiets around you, and all you are is in that moment. You know its a great moment at the time but you don't realize how great until as the sun sets and the sky turns darker and darker you lose track of everything. It was an absolutely incredible way to end the evening.
We grabbed an Uber back to our hotel and turned in for the night. Today was one of those days that I couldn't have possibly dreamed up any better. It was a magnificent day, and one that I will absolutely never forget.