Today was the most intense driving day of the entire trip, but our awesomely skilled driver Bernard got us there earlier than expected, as usual. Joe said that Bernard got us places so fast he often felt stupid for giving us wrong arrival times. Plus Bernard’s a genuinely good coach driver, I never once felt nauseous as I sometimes do on other coaches.

Our long run of good luck ended and Paris we cloudy for almost our entire stay. The sun rallied a bit though in the afternoon, just long enough for me to get a few good pictures:

We had grand plans of doing a night tour of Paris, visiting the Champs Elysees, Notre Dame, Louvre, Bastille and Eiffel Tower after sunset. But we arrived so unexpectedly early (hail touring in winter, no traffic) we gave up on that. We could have stayed out late, but we were both tired anyway. It’s weird how on this trip we still have energy after a long hard day of walking, but a day of sitting on the bus just takes it out of us.

So anyway we just walked from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc du Triomphe, then down the Champs Elysees until the Grande and Petit Palais, then back to the Eiffel Tower along the Seine. On the Champs Elysees we ventured into the venerable Lauduree patisserie, established 1861. Our purpose here was to finally reach a verdict on the question: are macarons actually good or are they completely overrated?

Left to right: lemon, don't remember, raspberry, blackcurrent, cherry blossom, red fruits

We’ve always leaned toward macarons being not very good and completely overrated, but we had to try really genuine macarons before being sure. We decided that these were very good … for macarons. Macarons in general are still completely overrated. These macarons cost me 15 euros.

The tiny glimpses I could catch of Lauduree’s pastry display case looked exquisite, but I couldn’t gawk at it to my heart’s content due to the immense line of people the stretched out of the door. The only way to get a closer look would have been to stand in line, but it would have been a waste of time. And then you hardly get a second to look before a salesperson is asking you what you want. Terrible. Thankfully, the macaron only line was shorter, though I think we just got lucky because by the time we paid, that line had stretched out the door as well.

After we got back to the Eiffel Tower to meet our tour group, we waited until 7PM to see the lights twinkle, it was pretty spectacular. The best part was the the lights are so intense that if you look at buildings several blocks away you can see the reflections in all the windows, and that just adds to the display.

I have a video of it twinkling linked from my post containing links to all the pictures, just turn your sound off before playing or all you will hear is the shrieks and screaming of the group of overly excited Japanese girls next to us.

After we got back to the hotel our intention was to look up some nice place to eat in the Latin Quarter or someplace cool like that, but we decided we were too tired and just ate in the hotel. This turned out to be a great decision, and the food was surprisingly good and cheap. I had seared pork medallions in apricot-green-tea jus with a side of ratatouille, and Alex had the dish of the day, a turkey in mustard sauce with a side of fries, mostly because it came with the dessert buffet included. Both mains were very good. The desserts were great as well, we tried some decent tiramisu, raspberry tart, mousse … tons of things.