Two more days after today: two more activities and two more meals. Yesterday’s “activity” was shopping, as I wanted to see some of the high-end department stores near the Opéra. Though I’ve been to Paris several times, and lived here for over eight months all told, I never went to these places. Plus my friend had some shopping to do. So we hiked it up to the Opéra, or rather the Opéra Garnier, one of the loveliest buildings in Paris—an elaborate structure built between 1861 and1875.
The interior is as gilded and gaudy as the exterior, and of course it’s the site of the book and musical Phantom of the Opera. Now that there’s a new Opera in the Bastille, two blocks from where I’m staying, this building is used mostly for ballet:
Nearby is one of the most famous department stores in the world, the flagship store of the Galeries Lafayette:
The Art Nouveau structure with its fantastic interior, consisting of open floors topped with a huge multicolored glass dome, was built between 1905 and 1912.
The famous names in fashion—Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, and so on—all have sub-departments where you can buy off-the-rack clothing, shoes, perfumes, and so on. You even have to wait in line to get into a few of these sub-stores, and some Asian tours go as one big group with a leader who holds a colored flag to keep the gang together:
A tour group waits in a long line just to see the Louis Vuitton merchandise:
But my favorite designer here was the eccentric Karl Lagerfeld, who’s the creative director of Chanel and Fendi, and also has his own fashion line. His own line is appealing because it features his beloved Persian cat, Choupette, undoubtedly the world’s richest feline. Choupette has made millions of Euros doing advertising (no cat food ads, which Lagerfeld considers “unsophisticated”), has two of her own personal maids, and gets her own hotel room when Lagerfeld is traveling. (She also has her own Instagram and Facebook pages.) Here is the duo:
— KARL LAGERFELD (@KarlLagerfeld) February 8, 2017
So Choupette is on many of Lagerfeld’s own products:
. . . even eye shadow:
Many wonders lie within the store, including huge Steiff giraffes in the children’s department:
And dominatrix-style stilettos, which in this case cost 1250 Euros (nearly $1500 US):
But I was allowed to go along on a lingerie-shopping excursion. There is a whole FLOOR of the stuff, and it’s pretty much what you’d imagine French lingerie to be like: lacy and expensive.
A small part of the Intimate Apparel Floor:
Dominatrix wear, as in the shoes above, seems to be an “in” thing. Note the whip:
Yes, that’s a 255-Euro bra ($302).
And this, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, is approximately $525 worth of high-end French lingerie from the house of Eres. But if you get it made to order and fitted, it costs way more!
From the roof of the store one gets a fantastic view of Paris, even more atmospheric yesterday as it was raining:
Across the street the Galeries has its food and cookware store, with a superb collection of wines, including Bordeaux that goes back to the 1920s. A few foodstuffs:
Various kinds of salt:
Lunch was reserved at a local place, Le Bon Georges, which had good ratings as a non-touristy bistro with superb food. Well, it was non-touristy, as we were the only foreigners in the place, but the food was simply overrated. This proves a theory which is mine: not all places where foreigners eat in Paris are bad, and there are highly rated places where the French eat that are not good.
Le Bon Georges looks like a bistro but doesn’t act like a bistro: the wines are overpriced, the portions niggardly and, most important, the food wasn’t that tasty. The place is renowned for its aged beef, but I’ve had better beef at Chez Denise, and in larger portions. And as for aging, the stuff doesn’t hold a candle to Chicago’s 45-day-old dry-aged beef, though Bon Georges’ boeuf was said to be aged eight weeks.
The fish tartare was pronounced too fishy and not tasty. And when you see flowers and decorations in your bistro food, beware! They are prioritizing looks over taste:
My entrée, terrine de canard with figs, was good, but the slices were thin. The decorative radish slices were superfluous:
A main course, partly cooked skipjack tuna, which was pronounced “pretty good but not outstanding”. Note the flowers. The side dish of peas and asparagus was okay, but they used the tough butt ends of the white asparagus, which is not the best part:
My steak of aged beef, cooked rare. It was tender but had very little flavor, and was quite small. The house frites, said to be great in the review above, were not memorable:
After this disappointment, I proposed that we bail on dessert and find a really slap-up place to have a great sweet course. It turned out that we were not far from Angelina, a venerable and lovely place founded in 1903; as Wikipedia notes:
Angelina is a famous tea house located at 226 Rue de Rivoli in the 1st arrondissement of Paris.
Angelina is known primarily for its almost pudding-like hot chocolate (chocolat l’africain) and for its Mont Blanc dessert. The name is also marketed internationally for sweets.
Here it is; there was a line outside, and the place was full of tourists. But there I had one of the best dessert courses of my life:
The lovely interior:
For about three Euros more than dessert at Le Bon (?) Georges, we had a huge jug of that fantastic hot chocolate (with a ramekin of whipped cream) and a pastry. Below is the famous Mont Blanc and a “Mademoiselle“: a “chou pastry biscuit, raspberry cream, light vanilla cream, and a fresh raspberry.”
In all the months I lived in Paris I never had a Mont Blanc pastry, and now I regret it. It’s basically a mound of thick whipped cream heaped into a meringue shell, and densely topped with spaghetti-like icing made of sweetened chestnut paste. It was fantastic.
Here it is dissected:
This redeemed a mediocre meal (at least compared to the best we’ve had), and, with blood sugar spiking, it was time to head back for a postprandial nap.