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Friday, October 20, 2017

A Perfectly Parisian Birthday

I woke up on Thursday morning a year older. I do not mind getting older except for the creaking body parts. I still love celebrating my birthday and enjoy hearing from people all the world over thanks to the wonder of social media. I even received posted cards on the day! Always a treat to get real mail.
The day began with Doug presenting me with a big box filled with goodies to enjoy throughout the day.  Red roses, fois gras, jams, cheeses, sausage, yogurts (French yogurt is other-worldly), wine, the most heavenly cookies ever baked and a cake from a place we’ve walked by but had not to date taken time to taste. It was perfect. We had planned on a picnic supper that night because the weather has been amazing and we had friends coming in from Sweden so he had assembled it all so that it would be ready that evening. We had a modest breakfast, well, mine included a chocolate chip cookie, and off we went to enjoy this fantastic city. 
First stop was at one of my favorite places in the entire city: Sainte Chapelle. This wonder of gothic architecture and stained glass sits in the very center of Paris and radiates beauty. We had been before but it has been many years so we decided to soak in the beauty. It is dazzling. The windows represent such beautiful imagery from scripture and the architecture of it all is just so delicately gorgeous. The sun was shining enough to get the brightness that comes through stained glass when the light hits it just right and we enjoyed the beauty of our first stop.
From there we headed to the Conciergerie, the former palace and prison that figured largely in the French Revolution. We had never been here, only admiring the impressive fortress from the outside. Nothing like guillotines and revolutions to make you grateful for another year of life! For a French history buff, this is a must see exhibit. Carefully presented with a lot to read, it was enlightening for those of us whose main source of the French Revolution is the musical Les Miserables. I said to Doug as we entered the exhibit that we should just start belting out tunes from the musical to add flavor to our visit.Tempting as it was to break into song, we held back. French history is pretty complex and it was great to get a deeper look into those complexities. 
From there, hunger was gnawing at us so we were off to our next stop: Lunch. I had done some research on the Steak/Frites culture in Paris and had really wanted to try a classic French steak restaurant. One had been recommended by friends who live here but it was too far away. I had remembered the name of a place that was much closer so off we went. We were not disappointed. Relais de l’entrecote fit the bill perfectly. No menu. They offer one meal. Salad and steak/frites.  We said ok, let’s do this. It was delicious. By far the VERY BEST FRIES I’ve had in Paris. Just as we were savoring the last tasty morsels on our plate, the waitress returned to ask if we were ready for the second portion. WHAAAT? Another round?! A new, piping hot plate of steak and fries appeared on our plates and we could not be more delighted. I slipped in that these were the best fries and that I was celebrating my birthday! She heaped on another pile! We were in our glory. Serving it up in two portions is brilliant because everything was piping hot the second time a round as well instead of it sitting on the plate to get cold. It was such a great lunch. We skipped desert knowing that we had goodies at home.
The last thing that I wanted to do during the day was to go on a boat ride. One company, Vedettes de Paris, offers up a free ride with a glass of champagne on your birthday! You just have to show ID and voilá, free ticket, free glass! It was such a beautiful afternoon that it was a perfect post-lunch activity. We were both so sleepy from the delicious lunch and sunshine and walking around so it was nice to relax on the boat watching this gorgeous city go by.
After a nice afternoon nap, our dear friends Hannah and Sven, arrived from Stockholm. We assembled the picnic supper but stayed inside to indulge. It was so delicious! The perfect way to sample so many wonderful things. We popped the cork on one of our precious bottles of Champagne from Champagne and all were happy. 
We took a walk to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up and returned home to indulge in this beautiful cake. It’s hard to explain exactly what this is but there is meringue and cream and shaved chocolate on the outside. Not too heavy, not overly sweet, it was just right. 
What a day. Perfect. Memorable. Delightful. I’m grateful for my husband’s creativity and game spirit in making the day so special for me. 
The birthday celebrations continued on to Friday night with a birthday dinner that Hannah and Sven treated us to near the Latin Quarter. They even sang in Swedish, quietly, one more time!    Le Bistrot d’Henri was a wonderful spot to eat some French delights such as snails, kidney, scallops, and beef bourguignon.  The evening ended with ice cream from Amorino, my very favorite gelato place in all of Paris, maybe even in the whole world!  
I am so thankful for the voices of many around the world who took time to wish me well. Mine is a life well-lived, surrounded by friends and loved ones and I am deeply grateful.