We arrived at Charles de Gaulle early yesterday morning. We’re spending a week in Paris and Burgundy to celebrate our one year anniversary and attend the wedding of some friends. The journey from Sydney to Paris was no mean feat. After some 22 hours in the air, plus a plane change in Kuala Lumpur, we were ready to move our rusty limbs. We dropped our bags at our hotel and hit the pavement. It was 830am and the streets were empty. And when I say empty, I mean deserted. We’d never seen Paris like this.
Over the course of our 5 mile run from George V, across the Seine (Pont de l’Alma) and around the gardens of L’es Invalides, we encountered no more than a handful of casual joggers, a few people walking their dogs and maybe a couple of out-of-towners, who stopped us for directions. At a cool 18C, the weather was perfect. Mottled sunlight, a light breeze and very little humidity. It felt like we had the city of light all to ourselves and it was incredible. Our run slowed to a walk as we neared the end of our loop. And, as we wandered through the cobbled streets and along the wide, leafy boulevards, we lost our way.
After a much needed shower back at our hotel, we headed over to the 7th arrondissement for lunch. I have a very authoritative list of “must-eat” Parisien restaurants, thanks to a business school classmate, and his recommendation to eat at La Fontaine de Mars did not disappoint. It was still fairly early by French standards so we managed to snag a table outside on Rue Saint-Dominique. The menu at La Fontaine is somewhat traditional with a focus on cuisine from Southwestern France (the region we are heading to later this week).
Our waiter was lovely and happy to entertain my rusty French. We ordered the oeufs en meurette and roulé d’aubergine confite au chèvre frais for our entrées and the confit de canard and a lobster salad for our plats. Everything was mouthwateringly delicious and beautifully presented. Dollops of fresh goat cheese ensconced in wafer-thin, delicately-rolled carpaccio of aubergine, sitting on top of a red pepper and tomato coulis — what’s not to like? The duck confit was perfect: tender (meat falling off the bone), flavorful, juicy and crisp, all at once; the lobster was succulent and perfectly dressed but the pièce de résistance, in my opinion were the eggs. Poached and swimming in a hearty red wine stew, studded with the occasional lardon and pearl onion, we just couldn’t get enough and found ourselves soaking up every last drop with crusty white bread.
Despite the hype surrounding the Obamas’ lunch here and the row of restaurants on Saint-Dominique, we found La Fontaine to be fairly low key, authentic and reasonable. Highly recommend!