Last weekend Ed and I took advantage of the fact that we now live in Europe. We left work early on the Friday, hopped on the train and arrived in Paris in time for dinner. Popping up out of the metro right in front of the Arc De Triomphe, all lit up in a warm yellow light, was pretty spectacular. After an 'Arc De Selfie' as Ed termed it, we checked in to our hotel and then jumped back on the metro to have dinner at Maceo.
Maceo is a fairly traditional French restaurant near the Louvre with one very important difference: it had not one, but two vegetarian options on its menu. Given how difficult it is to find an old-school high end restaurant with good vegetarian options in Paris, I booked this place as soon as we decided to come to Paris. It was a difficult decision about whether to come to Paris as planned so soon after the Paris attacks, but in the end I'm very glad we did. Our waitress at Maceo was lovely and had excellent English. We chatted about where we were from and how we were unsure whether it was the right thing to do to weekend in Paris. She assured us it was, that Parisians just wanted to get on with life and also encourage tourists to come back. Her normally packed restaurant was only half full. I can see why it was normally full. It was a great meal at Maceo - typically French with small but very rich and beautifully presented dishes. I had a vegetable soup with poached quail egg to start, gnocchi cooked with butter and roasted autumn fruit for mains and a chocolate mousse served with lime sorbet (a oddly good combination) for dessert.
In the morning I downloaded the David Lebovitz Paris Pastry app and then dragged Ed many blocks for highly rated croissants. We dipped them in my super rich and thick hot chocolate and then headed to the Champs Elysees for some shopping and to see the Christmas markets and then we walked down to the Louvre. It started to rain while we were at the Louvre but it had stopped by about 6pm, so it was perfect timing really. We caught up for wines with some of Ed's friends who are now living in Paris, shopped, ate a lot more cake (Laduree and Demontel were highlights) and then waddled back to the train on Sunday afternoon.
Adventures have not been limited to Paris, of course. I have also enjoyed some excellent meals - especially at the famous Ottolengi and its new sister Nopi - and plenty of cake in London in the last few weeks (special mention goes to Hummingbird Bakery's chocolate malt layer cake).
Ed and I also went to the Natural History Museum a few weeks ago. They have an impressive dinosaur bone collection housed in an immense and beautiful building. The majority of the displays are quite old school and static (stuffed animals in glass cases - eww), but the dinosaurs are worth seeing, as are the new areas on earthquakes and volcanos (hello year 8 geography!) and the De Beers sponsored section on diamonds and other pretty things that come from the earth. I was also really interested to learn about a couple of very early dinosaur collectors and donors to the museum who were women. I have this image of these women digging around in the sand after plesiosaur fossils in full corset and bonnet. Go girl!
Speaking of digging around in the sand (or the rough)...we also managed to fit in a spot of golf in London. Indoor mini-golf, that is. Our friend Tim found a great pop up bar that runs mini golf inside a disused tunnel section of the tube. It's uber cool and oddly addictive. After a less than ideal start, I actually really got into it, finishing the game with a satisfying hole-in one!
I'll be back in Australia for a flying visit to Queensland and Melbourne in about a week. I can't wait to see friends and family, and soak up a whole lot of warm weather!