Finding A Silver Lining – Orléans and Paris Part 2: A Hint of Parisian Luxury

We forced ourselves out of bed and made our way to the station. It was a cold and misty autumnal morning that was dripping with atmosphere.

Still in a mildly zombie like state we picked up some coffee and pastries for our journey to Paris.

Train: Intercity 14050 Orléans to Paris
Depart: Gare d’Orléans 09:28
Arrive: Gare d’Austerlitz 10:34
Seats: Unreserved (Standard Class)
Train: BB7200 Top Speed 99mph

We waited on the platform with just our coffees for warmth, awaiting our vintage train back to Paris.

It had been a strange, but emotional few days strolling around the beautiful and historic city of Orleans. Despite the circumstances this short trip was filled with fond memories that we have carried with us ever since. It still astounds me how one person in Anne-So’s Godfather could bring so many different types of people together.

Our train journey was an uneventful hour and we arrived into Paris on time.
We enjoyed our breakfast as we whizzed towards Paris.
The fog had lifted and it looked like we had an absolutely glorious day ahead of us.

Once across the Seine it was ten minutes on the Metro Line 13, my second favourite, followed by a short walk through some small and narrow streets to our hotel.

Hotel: Le Pavillon Des Lettres
Room: Deluxe Room (H)
Status: SLH Inspired

At first glance the hotel looked typically Parisian and things continued to delight as we entered the brightly white painted building that was Le Pavillon Des Lettres.

To our right was a cosy looking restaurant where we’d take breakfast the following morning and to the left was reception. We had a short wait whilst the lucky chap on duty was making arrangements for a somewhat demanding family who wanted to dine atop the Eiffel Tower. After a short wait we were warmly welcomed and handed the key to our room. Each of the 26 rooms at Le Pavillon Des Lettres are assigned a letter which corresponds to the name of a famous author.

We were given room H as in Victor Hugo, which was a Deluxe Room.

This was a one category upgrade based on our SLH status at the time of booking. Although our room was small at just 20m2 it was incredibly practical and well finished.

With a lunch reservation that I was really looking forward to fast approaching we didn’t have long to settle in before heading back out into the crisp autumn afternoon. It was a short fifteen minute ride on Line 9 to Rue des Boulets where our lunch spot, Fulgurances was located. What makes Fulgurances special is that the restaurant changes chefs on a regular basis. It’s not because they go full on Kitchen Nightmares, but instead it is to give highly rated sous chefs from notable restaurants the chance to show off their own skills and creativity for a few months at a time. During our visit the chef was Tamir Nahmias who was serving up an Israeli inspired cuisine which you can now find at his lunchtime spot Adar.

Although we probably had the worst seats in the house, towards the back and close by the toilets, service was friendly and the restaurant felt full and lively.

Could we have been in London or New York, quite possibly but seeing as I love both these cities that was not necessarily a bad thing!
Service started with a chilled bottle of filtered water and some bread and butter.

Our menu was seven small plates for a bargain 28 Euro each plus wine. After discussing our preferences and allergies the kitchen very kindly swapped out two of the dishes with ones that were more to my liking.

First up was a simple plate of hummus studded with whole chickpeas, simple but tasty.
Next to arrive was veal tartare with scallops.
Our third plate was a simple salad dressed with walnuts, parmesan and a quite magical honey dressing.
Plate number four was my favourite; deep fried octopus.

The octopus dish was not on the menu so we lucked out hugely as it was delicious.

Round five in the battle of the small plates was in fact a bowl, a bowl filled with steaming hot mussels in a tasty broth.
We adjusted our belts and buttons to make room for out final savoury dish; comfortingly soft beef meatballs with pine nuts and broccoli.

Unfortunately our dessert ruined me completely.

A chocolate halva babka… I could have eaten this over and over again, probably until I’d needed wheeling out of the restaurant.

It was nice that it came with vanilla ice cream but honestly it was just taking up space that could have been occupied with more babka!

After that amazing lunch we needed a good long walk to be ready for dinner.

Despite visiting Paris many, many times this was a part of the city we hadn’t really explored.

We started off spending a little bit of time in the Jardin des Archives Nationales before being lucky enough to be in town when the famous Brocante de la Rue de Bretagne was taking place.

After perusing the market we took a long slow walk along the Canal St Martin.

The light was beautiful and a feeling of extreme peace and joy washed over me.

Despite the sadness of the past few days I felt overwhelmingly happy, just watching the reflections in the water and not having a care in the world. By this time we had worked up a healthy appetite and after consulting Le Fooding we looked for a place for dinner. With it being a Saturday night in the hipster heart of Paris it wasn’t easy without a booking. One place still willing to take walk-ins was Nanashi, an Asian inspired restaurant with reasonable reviews. We joined the lengthy queue and hoped for the best. After an hour or so we finally made it inside the restaurant and not long after that were shown to our table.

I had the Don Kara Age and Anne-So had the Bento du Jour.

Both were tasty but the portions were small for the price. Oh the joys of a poor exchange rate and being in an expensive part of an expensive city.

We took the metro back to Mirmesnil and bursting for the loo took a very quick dash back to our hotel including having to embarrassingly ask the doorman at Le Bristol for directions! Exhausted and relieved we collapsed into bed and prepared for another day of sightseeing. It had been just the distraction we needed and it never felt better to be back in Paris.

We started our final morning in Paris with breakfast at the hotel, sorry there aren’t pictures but I promise that if you’re thinking of going to Paris I don’t need to show you a photo of a cup of coffee and a croissant.

Our plan for the morning was to visit Musée Jacquemart-André followed by one of our all time favourite haunts Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.

It was a short walk in the direction of Boulevard Hausmann, the kind of walk that was just a baguette wielding stripy shirted man away from screaming Paris.

OK, maybe not that kind of man but I’m sure you get the picture.

Once the vast mansion of a 19th Century private banker, the last owners Edouard and Nelie Jacquemart were serious art collectors and their wish after death was that the mansion and their collections be made available to the public.

In 1913 the museum was born and 1996 it was refurbished into the space we are familiar with today.

We spent ages wandering the halls and corridors of the beautiful mansion museum, so much so that we had to curtail our visit earlier than planned in order to make it to the HCB in time.

Whilst perhaps not one of the prime visit sites for a first time visitor, Musée Jacquemart-André is definitely worth a visit for the repeat visitor who has already completed their Parisian bingo card of things to see.

One of our favourite museums in Paris, this small and unassuming building always holds a fantastic photography exhibition.

In this instance it was celebrating the grainy night time reflections of the photographer Louis Faurer.

With it being Sunday and almost nowhere open for a late, late lunch we luckily stumbled upon a cheap as chips Japanese eatery Ten Chi for some gyozas, yakitori and sushi to tide us over till dinner.

It was simple and unpretentious fare but it kept us full.

Train: Eurostar Paris to London
Depart: Gare du Nord 19:13
Arrive: Ashford International 20:07
Seats: Carriage 3, Seats 55 and 56 (Standard Class)
Train: Class 373 Eurostar e300 Top Speed 186mph

After lunch all that was left was to make the somewhat forlorn trip back to our hotel to collect our bags as this trip came to to an end.

It had been an emotional ride but also a glorious and special journey we would never forget. Even as we queued at Gare du Nord to check in for our Eurostar we were glad we had made it, glad to have said good bye and grateful to be able to celebrate the things we held dear.

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