Bastille Day has been a favorite holiday of mine for years even though I’m not French and I don’t live in France. Nonetheless, growing up, Bastille Day meant amazing rowdy brunches at French Bistros. Pain perdu anyone?
Once Jim and I met, Bastille Day took on a whole new meaning and became “Best Deal Day.” You see, the 6-month anniversary of our first date was Bastille Day and Jim sent flowers to me on that year and every year thereafter – until this one actually, hmmm. . . . But I digress. The second time he sent me flowers the florist wrote “Happy Best Deal Day” instead of Bastille on the card. It’s been our “Best Deal Day” ever since.
This year, however, I got to be where it all happened – Paris.
I found out through friends that there was a parade, then most people opted for lunch in the park and fireworks that night. Visions of the Rose Parade filled my head. As it turns out, the parade is a military parade, complete with flyover. Even though there were to be no floats, Kate and I decided we definitely needed to check that out.
We headed to the metro bright and early (aka 9:30 am), found our stop closed, got off on the next, and followed the crowd. All the while, the sky was an ominous looking grey.
We hadn’t eaten yet and figured we would find someplace on the way to the parade – wrong. We did, however, find a great spot to watch the parade, right along the barricade. After about 1/2 hour we were treated to a series of serious military flyovers.
We learned that the parade route split a ways up from where we were so we would only see 1/2 of the parade and Kate’s hopes of seeing President Sarkozy – who was leading the parade – were dashed. It didn’t matter though, because after the third regiment passed us, the sky opened up and a full-scale deluge was unleashed.
Raincoat and umbrellaless, we made a dash for shelter and found it 50 feet away in the famed French teahouse Laduree – the Royale location. Established in 1862, Laduree has been keeping its clients in tea, pastries and world-famous macarons ever since.
We hustled in for breakfast and tea. As Laduree filled up with rain-drenched clients, Kate and I pondered our tea choices. We each ordered the Champs Elysee Breakfast – eggs (we ordered ours scrambled), your choice of freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice, a basket of mini-pastries, a fresh fruit salad and your choice of coffee, hot chocolate or tea. I ordered the The Melange Laduree and Kate ordered the The Marie Antoinette, a blend of china teas mixed with essential oils of citrus fruit, rose and jasmine, scattered with dried bits of honey and fruit.
The juice and pastries arrived first – a sampling of mini chocolate croissants, brioche con sucre (brioche with sugar crystals on top), and the classic croissant. They were delicious and a perfect complement to the tea that swiftly arrived. The eggs were not quite what we had in mind as they were soup like in texture (and served with a spoon). The taste was good but the texture, which was cream of wheat like, was off-putting. The fruit salad completed the meal as a perfect palate cleanser. As we waited out the rain and enjoyed our breakfast we saw more military men and even tanks roll by.
When we spotted a break in the rain we paid our bill, purchased some tea and pastries to go and dashed to the metro. It was pouring again when we reached our stop at St. Sulpice.
The rain had stopped by 9:00 pm and at 10:00 pm it was time to head down to the Eiffel Tower and the Champs de Mars for a fireworks spectacular. We ended up heading to the middle of the Pont de Alexander III and waiting for the festivities to begin. The show got underway around 11 pm and all I can say is WOW!