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Christmas 2019 in Paris

Christmas 2019 in Paris
Christmas in Paris
via Delta One Suites & Air France La Première
December 2019

This morning, Mrs. SFO777 and I are off to Paris for Christmas week.  We've rented a two bedroom apartment in the 7th and will be spending most of the week with our Denver son and daughter-in-law.   Although we are flying Air France La Première home, we're on Delta today and their new Delta One Suites.  Not only was timing better but the price was certainly right at only 55,000 Flying Blue miles each.  I dropped Mrs. SFO777 off at Terminal 2 while I parked our car in the T4 garage, as we would be arriving back at the Bradley Terminal.  The zoo that is LAX...

Twenty minutes later, I'm back in T2 to pick up Mrs. SFO777 at the Delta One check-in lounge.

Surprisingly, we were escorted from the Delta One check-in lounge to the PreCheck entrance.   There was no one at the PreCheck line and we were at Gate 21A (aka the bus gate) a couple minutes later.   The TBIT bus departed as soon as we boarded.

Los Angeles LAX to Paris CDG
Delta DL 118
777-200ER
12:20p-8:00a +1
December 22, 2019
Delta One Suites 3A and 4A 

 

Business Class was invited to board after the usual handicapped, families with small children and those needing a little extra time. 

The new Delta One closed door suites.

Mrs. SFO777's suite 3A...

... and my Suite 4A.

OK so it's not First Class, but for Business Class, it's a very nice product.  

Today's menu...

With lots of pleasant and normal (compared to AA) sounding menu items.  

Once in the air, our excellent cabin crew started 10 hours of terrific service.  What a difference from American and such a pleasure to interact with genuinly friendly, service oriented staff who seem to love their jobs and airline.

The starter tray with onion soup, proscuitto with mozzarella and caesar salad.

Mrs. SFO777 enjoyed the vegan Baked Rigatoni option, with mushroom bolognese and Parmesan cheese.

My Marinara Braised Meatballs were delicious, with tomato, garlic bread and Gioia ricotta.

My cheese plate and a glass of port.

Limited snack basket station in the galley area at the front of the cabin.

Neither Mrs. SFO777 or I slept much as we both thought the bed, without any mattress, was just not very comfortable.  I did manage three hours of so-so airplane sleep and then took the breakfast tray mostly for the photo op.

We landed early but then taxied forever around rainy CDG...

... to a lovely remote tarmac position.  Ugh.

Where we waited 10 minutes for the stair truck driver to show up.  And when he did, he chose the uncovered stairs instead of the adjacent covered stairs.  OK, we not in La Première today.  :D

Our packed to the gills bus to the terminal.  Fortunately, we were one of the first ones on the bus and snagged two seats at the back of the bus.

The Priority lane was manned and we saved a lot of time bypassing the masses... for now.

Since it was winter with uncertain weather, we checked a bag but it came off the carousel pretty quickly.  And then there was the ordeal of trying to exit customs with a lot of brain dead zombie travellers who just stood there with the luggage blocking the way for anyone that wanted to get out.  We eventually escaped, found our driver and were on our way.

Bottom line.  Delta One is an excellent Business Class product with the best and most consistent service of the US3.   At the right price, I would definitely fly them again.  Then there is Mrs. SFO777, who was not as kind.   After starting off the day by commenting how friendly all the Delta employees were and noting that she was happy to be flying nonstop Business instead of First Class via Frankfurt, Mrs. SFO777 had done a complete 180 just 10 hours later.  She was now adament that "I never want to fly this Delta plane again" and "I'd rather fly First Class and connect in Frankfurt".   LOL.  That's the princess I know and love.  :)

After this morning, the forecast looked good and indeed weather the enitre week was about as good as you can expect for late December.

Despite the Metro strike and it being a Monday morning, the drive from the airport to our apartment was less than an hour.

And as if on cue, the sun came out as we crossed the Pont de l'Alma.

Our home for the next week... on avenue de la Bourbonnais.  Despite lots of research, finding a full two (king) bedroom, two bath spacious apartment in a nice area at a reasoable price was a challenge.   We finally settled on an 1,500 sq. ft. apartment in the 7th from parisforrent.com.

With elevator...

.. albeit a very tiny elevator with a 3 person, 225kg capacity.

Our modern apartment on the 7th floor of an 8 story building. 

And a full on Eiffel Tower view.

Our master suite, pics from parisforrent.com.

Bedroom 2.

After a couple hour nap, I headed out for water and other basic food supplies.  There was a convenient Franprix at the corner of our block.  Then towards rue St-Dominique for wine, cheese and fruit. 

Our wine store for the week...

And wonderful fromagerie.

Then past our restaurant for tonight.

The kids arrived around 3pm and promptly went for nap-time.   A little later, time for some wine and cheese with baguettes.

The view from our apartment with the top of the hour light show...

Just before 8pm, we headed for dinner at nearby Au Bon Accueil, a three minute walk from the apartment.

 

My paté.  Delicious.

My first Rum Baba of the week... delicious.

While three of us slept in, I went a few doors down the street from something for breakfast.

And then out for the day.   As corny as it can be, the best way to get an overview of any city is usually the Hop On Hop Off bus.   Since this was the kids' first visit to Paris, we decided on The Big Bus HOHO which started just two blocks from our apartment.  It was chilly but sunny as we headed for the upper level.

The gorgeous Christmas decorations at Galleries Lafayette.

And then continuing on our HOHO.

Past Notre-Dame...

I offer to pay, but oddly there were no takers.  LOL.

We got back to our Eiffel Tower starting point at around 4:30pm.

Then headed up to rue St-Dominique for more wine and cheese.

Yeah, that'll work.

With few restaurants open Christmas eve, we headed for the Crazy Horse.  Because... why not?

 

Christmas Day in Paris

After a late night at the Crazy Horse, followed by wine and Netflix back at the apartment, we all slept in until late morning.  With Mrs. SFO777 deciding to take the day off from sightseeing, the three of us headed out for lunch... or so we thought.   Christmas Day means a lot of restaurants are closed.  Buvette serves my favorites croques and they were on our list for lunch this week.  A recorded message on their phone line claimed "we are open on holidays".  So, we UBER'd through empty streets over to the 9th....  

... only to find that Buvette is indeed not open on all holidays. 

Fortunately, it was a gorgeous and balmy 12C/54F so we explored our way back through the picturesque streets of the 9th... looking for anything open that was ranked better than 5,000 Tripadvisor ranking of 17,000+ Paris restaurants. 

And then to a series of wonderful covered walkways and arcades that dates back to the 19th century.

Finally winding our way down to Le Grand Colbert which was on a "open Christmas Day" list.   This was the restaurant made famous in the 2003 Jack Nicholson/Diane Keaton movie Something's Gotta Give.  While they were open, the place was packed and there were no tables available,

At this point, we had walked all the way down to Rue Saint-Honoré and were getting desperate.  Now hungry with much lower standards expectations, we wandered into the first open resto that wasn't Tripadvisor ranked more than 5,000.

Cozy atmosphere and friendly staff.

We ordered... croque monsieurs, naturally.

Which were actually pretty good.  I'd say a 6 or 7 on the 10 point Buvette scale.

After lunch, we continued our walk down to Rue du Rivoli and across to the Louvre...

...  and the Tuileries which was packed with Christmas Day revelers.

And the Christmas markets...

With the sun setting, we took a taxing back to our apartment to relax and have a little more wine before heading out for dinner.  Our Christmas dinner was at L'Atelier Étoile de Joël Robuchon, located on the lower level of the  Publicis Drugstore building, at the top of the Champs-Élysées.

Beautiful setting and decor similar other his other l'Atelier restos.

Lots of starter options designed for sampling and sharing.

Our amazing Maine Lobster with truffles.

The Langoustine in ravioli with truffles was fabulous.

Le Burger.  OMG... with foie gras.

And more fois gras... with pâté en croûte and pistachios.

As if that wasn't enough, the star of the night was La Truffe Noire, one of the most incredible spaghetti dishes we have ever tasted... with egg, parmesan and truffles.

Just in case you were still hungry, the potato purée side with loads of butter.

And desserts, of course.

What an amazing experience, and one of the best meals of the year.

Today we're off to visit Versaiiles.  Our guide and driver picked us up at our apartment at 8:30am.  Not much traffic this morning and we were in Versailles a little after 9am.  We booked this tour with myprivateparis.com and were fortunate to have Flora as our guide.  Flora was absolutely wonderful... indeed one of the best guides we've had anywhere in years.

Outside in the beautiful Gardens of Versailles.

We were back in Paris by 1pm and decided to go directly to lunch at Café Constant on rue St-Dominique.  

The French Onion Soup was delicious.

As was the chicken.

My langoustine ravioli sounded better than it looked or tasted.

But the profiteroles were wonderful.

We spent the afternoon back at our apartment and then UBER'd to Le Bristol and dinner at one of favorites, 114 Faubourg.

Our delicious amuse bouche.

The incredible 114 Faubourg salad, one of the best anywhere... mesculin and crisp lettuce hearts, shavings of aged parmesan and black truffle dressing.

Mrs. SFO777Jr had the Rosini beef filet with potato mousseline and black truffle jus.

While the rest of us had the amazing Dover Sole Meunière.

 

After dinner, we went to look for Pharoan, le chat de la maison who Mrs. SFO777 befriended on our last visit.

But she was fast asleep in her room after another hard day of patrolling the hotel.

The amazing collection of letters from fans.

Today was supposed to be a double museum day, with Musée Picasso in the morning and Musée d'Orsay in the afternoon.  We were all tired and decided to blow off our 10am Picasso tickets especially since I had received an alert saying that the government employee strike might impact whether or not the museum would open today.   So we just relaxed until noon when we headed off for lunch at Alain Ducasse's fabulous Champeaux bistro in the Westfield Forum des Halles in the 2nd.   Comically, we ended up with the world's worst UBER driver, whose GPS wasn't working and who was way too timid a driver... to even be a driver. 

Three of us had Ducasse's iconic coquillettes jambon-comté-truffe noire, aka mac n cheese.   

Simply amazing.

And le Champeaux Burger, with foie gras.  OMG.

The Forum des Halles is not the more Uber/taxi friendly location, we started walking towards the Seine and the Musée d'Orsay.  

We saw no available taxis the entire walk and finally arrived at the d'Orsay a little after 2pm, where we met our guide Laure...

... who escorted us to the front of the queue and into the museum.

I was tired and feeling under the weather from a bug I picked up yesterday so Mrs. SFO777 and I decided to walk back to our apartment and rest up before dinner, which was at venerable Jules Verne at the Eiffel Tower.   When we arrived, a Jules Verne staffer escorted us to the front of the security queue to access the base of the tower.

And the very cool plaza level lobby where we waited for our turn in the elevator.

We last dined here some 9 years ago when it was an Alain Ducasse restaurant and really enjoyed the atmosphere and food.  But a lot has changed since then and not necessarily for the better.  Apparently, in the last few years Ducasse and partner chef Anton Frédéric had a dispute followed by litigation which Ducasse lost.  So he is not longer involved and it is now an Anton Frédéric restaurant.  The place has been complete renovated.  

The only good view tables are now two tops along the window.  For more than two diners, those get a few tables away from the windows but most bench seating... great for those sitting on the bench, but absolute garbage for those sitting in chairs facing the benches and what amount to a wall.   Why not install a mirror on the bench walls so everyone could have a city view??  Then there was the dreadful bright lighting eliminating any semblance of atmosphere. 

No idea what the counter is for as no one was there the night as it looked over scaffolding and steel.

Apparently someone has been to Gaggan Bangkok.

The prix fixe menu, either 5 courses or 7 courses.   And apparently no wine pairing option.

And then there was the "service".   Everything seemed rushed at the beginning and our primary server was not very good.  As soon as we sat down, we were all presented with the champagne by the glass menu.  Things improved when I started speaking French, rejected the champagne list and asked for the wine list.  

Food was generally good but certainly not worth the prices.  Then again, you are paying for the view... at least those seating by the window or on the bench.

The chicken was the best dish of the night.. roasted with bucatini, juice, light cream and black truffle.

All in all, a rather disappointing experience food that didn't impress but especially the lousy atmosphere and sub-par service. Can't imagine that we will ever some back except for the view.  After dinner, we walked down the stairs to the observation deck for some wonderful night time views of Paris.

I was under the weather this morning and decided to sleep in, while the others headed to see Napoleon at Les Invalides.   We agreed to meet after noon at Sacre Coeur.

From Sacre Coeur, we decided to walk to and try for lunch at Buvette.

Some seriously beautiful Christmas decoration at this boulangerie in the 9th.

And here we are again at Buvette, two days later...

... and Buvette is open.

 

The best croques on the planet, or at the best I have ever tasted.  

O-M-G.

My Pain perdu was amazing!

From Buvette, we UBER'd over to the Catacombs arriving just after 4pm.  Unfortunately, the ongoing government employee protests and strikes finally caught up with us as they decided to close early... at 4pm or 5 minutes before we arrived.  So sad,

So, we taxied home to rest up before dinner.  After more wine and cheese, we headed just down the street to Chez Pippo, a highly rated lafourchette.com (the European version of opentable.com) Italian restaurant.

Wonderful atmosphere and an amiable owner/host.

Our starters.   Di Bufalo Riva Bianca (Tomatoes from Sicilia, Taggiasche Olives, Basil).  Fabulous.

Calamari with homemade mayo.  Delicious.

For the mains, my Fettuccine Carbonara was out of this world.  OMG.

Back at the apartment, the our better halves watched Netflix while the guys streamed the LSU-Oklahoma CFB playoff game.   Pretty cool with the best ever coaching voice Ed Orgeron and the Eiffel Tower.

And Heisman winner Joe Burrow on his way to dismantling Oklahoma.

The kids left early Sunday morning for Beaune and Mrs. SFO777 and I slept in and relaxed all day in the apartment.   A little wine and cheese before dinner.

We walked back to rue St-Dominque, past rue Cler...

To Truffes Folies which features truffles and more truffles.

Tiny and quaint.

Since it was white truffle season, we both went with the Truffe blanche d'Alba specials for our mains.

Madame's Salade Truffes Folies

My Velouté de cèpes aux truffes was delicious.

Our mains... the Tagliatelles a la Truffe blanche...

... and my Risotto a la Truffe blanche were both disappointing.  Bland with not nearly enough truffes blanche.

On the other hand, the Tiramisu revisité à la truffe was amazing.

After dinner, we walked back to our apartment for our last night in Paris for this trip.

Monday morning and sadly, it's time to head home.  Not much traffic this morning and we were at Terminal 2E by 10:30am, just 40 minutes after we left the apartment.   La Première passengers have a separate drop off area at Porte 14...

... where a porter greeted us...

... and escorted us with our bags to the La Première check in lounge.

We gave our passports to our Personal Assistant, who went off to check us in.

A few minutes later, she escorted us to passport control and security using private La Première lanes each step of the way. 

And tthe to the La Première Lounge.

Beautifully decorated for Christmas.

We were the only passengers in the lounge since we arrived after the wave of morning flights had departed.

 

We headed to the dining area at around 11:30am for our date with Alain Ducasse.

We both ordered our favorite coquillettes jambon-comté-truffes, aka mac n cheese.

Which looked and tasted a little different from before... with a lot more veal stock.  Still excellent but we prefer the non veal stock version at Champeaux.

For dessert, one more rum baba for the road.  :)

 

Our new Personal Assistant came to retreive us at around T-30.   We waited briefly as she checked on the La Première swag I had inquired about just after we arrived.

Paris CDG to Los Angeles LAX
Air France AF 072
777-300ER (77W)
1:15pm-4:15pm
December 30, 2019
Suites 1E and 1F

From the elevator we were escorted down stairs for a few CBP mandated security questions, and then to our car for the ride to our plane.

Inside to the gate elevator for the quick ride up to the departures level.

Down the private La Première jet bridge where our PA introduced us to our cabin crew.

Since the First Class cabin was full today with both other passengers in their window seats, some pics from a previous flight. 

Back to today, a happy Mrs. SFO777 relieved to be on Air France and not Delta. 

Krug Grande Cuvée as our lovely pre-departure beverage.

As soon as we had settled into our seats, the captain came back to personally welcome us and inform us with our flight and arrival time.   I finally had a chance to open my La Première swag bag and see what was inside.  The had to be nicest USB memory stick I have ever seem. 

Once in the air, we closed our curtains for the ultimate in privacy.

Today's menu...

Meh... with not a lot that really excited us.

Since we had just had lunch, we passed on an immediate lunch and relaxed and slept for nearly five hours.  And then, showtime...

My chestnut and celeriac soup was quite tasty althought luke warm at best.

While Mrs. SFO777 had the Langoustines, caviar and fruit starter which she rated as "OK".

And a fresh garden salad which she loved with vinaigrette.

Pour moi, one more decadent round of foie gras.  

Probably the least favorite of the week.

For her main, Mrs. SFO777 went with lobster fricassé which was excellent despite looking like it had been run over by the catering truck.  Definitely a far cry from how it is typically served. 

My chicken and langoustine was also just OK.  The chicken a little dry after have spend an extra 5 hours in the galley.

Mrs. SFO777 enjoyed the grapes despite European's inability to produce grapes without seeds.

Shockingly I passed on dessert or other sweets and slept in my comfy bed most of the way back to LAX.

We landed on time at LAX where an LAX-based La Première PA met us and escorted us thru customs, then to baggage claim and outside.  Another great Air France La Première flight despite the so-so food.  Then again, since we had eaten both in the lounge prior to the flights and eaten our way around Paris this week, neither of us we really hungry.  

We loved our week in Paris and look forward to returning soon.  Thanks for following along on this report.