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Wine in Bordeaux, Shopping in Paris

Wine in Bordeaux, Shopping in Paris
via Air France 77W La Première
September 2016
Mrs. SFO777 and I are off today for a week in France, 3 nights in Bordeaux and 3 nights in Paris.
We're both happy to be far away from American and back on the amazing Air France 77W, La Première service today from LAX.  
Lots of Saturday traffic on the 405 as it took nearly 90 minutes from southern OC.  We arrived at TBIT at exactly 2 hours before scheduled departure.

There was hardly anyone at the Air France counters.  Not sure why the La Première lane was roped off though. Painless check-in and our personalized Air France First Class service began, with our own La Première escort to security and then to the Qantas First Class Lounge.  Air France apparently used to use the Korean First Class Lounge but the new deal with Qantas is a major improvement.  



Today's lounge menu.

We ordered the Croque monsieur and Korean tacos.  Both were pretty institutional and we only had a little of each to tide us over until the real deal.

The Qantas lounge at LAX is very nice but not the wow that others seem to think it is.

At around T-40, another La Première agent arrived to escort us to our plane.  

Los Angeles-Paris
Air France 69
777-300ER (77W)
6:35p-2:00p +1
September 24, 2016
Suites 1E and 1F

We were warmly welcomed on board by the crew including our wonderful FA Caroline.  What a gorgeous cabin.  In my opinion, the most elegant First Class cabin in the skies.

And again today, the very strange "water only" policy until the doors close.  Just pay the CA tax on the champers.

Today's menu, featuring another one of our favorite chefs, Daniel Boulud.

And the wine list.  Nothing fancy but servicable selections.

And the star of the cabin!

A nice touch from the captain today as he walked into the cabin and personally welcomed the 4 of us on board, and apologized that he anticipated turbulence through much of the flight.
Once the doors closed, I heard the cork pop in the galley and Caroline brought out the Bollinger. 

Our classy cabin mate, another Hollywood type who I'm sure puts his feet on his furniture at home. 

After take-off, more Bollinger!

But a rather strange boxed snack unlike the usual plated nuts and fruit.  I'm thinking catering error today.  


Seasonal salad, just to say I had something healthy today.

Duck gâteau with truffles and Port wine sauce.

For our main, we both went Daniel Boulud and the Atlantic Lobster with curry, black rice and bok choy.

OMG... divine!

Said turbulence which came and went much of the flight, although nowhere near as bad as the wine on the ceiling on a Cathay flight a few years ago.

A little cheese?  Bien sûr.

For dessert, the Chocolate truffon and a little sorbet.


Preparing the bed for 1K.

After a movie, Mrs. SFO777 decided to call it a night.  The privacy curtains are one of the most brilliant ideas in air travel.

We both slept for a solid 6 hours and woke with about an hour to go.    We also both passed on breakfast.   I figured I'd wait to eat in the lounge.

We landed a few minutes late and then taxied for some 15 minutes before pulling into our gate.  
What can I say?  This was a spectacular flight with wonderful Air France service.  It doesn't get much better than this.

As the door opened, we were met by our lovely personal La Première assistant Georgette, would escorted us down the jet bridge and the stairs down to our waiting private car.

For the short drive to the La Première Lounge.

Some pics from our last visit a month ago.

But the best part was the Alain Ducasse menu.

Mrs. SFO777 passed on food but no way was I going to miss a chance for an Alain Ducasse meal.  With a glass of fabulous Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru.   

The foie gras de canard with brioche parisienne was fabulous.

The Croque-volaille with Comté and truffle noir was sensational.


At around T-20, Georgette escorted us downstairs to our waiting BMW.

And to our A320 to Bordeaux.

Air France 
September 25, 2016
Suites 1A and 1C

Georgette introduced us to our Purser who welcomed us on board and addressed us by name the entire flight.   Either from Georgette or in advance from the manifest, he knew that we were La Première passengers that had connected from LAX.  

On arrival at Bordeaux, we were met by yet another Air France personal assistant who escorted us off the plane and into the terminal...

... and outside to the taxi stand.  Wow.

Simply amazing ground service today from Air France.  And another reason while Air France La Première is the best overall First Class in the world.

After a short 25 minute taxi ride, we were in the heart of Centre-Ville Bordeaux and our hotel for the next three nights, the Intercontinental Le Grand - Bordeaux.   The is a beautiful classic hotel...

... with a roof top bar!


We had booked a Jr. Suite Opera View room, but were Virtuoso upgraded to a much larger Prestige Suite Opera View. 

Our view of the Opera House.

We checked in around 6:15pm and headed up to the rooftop bar, Night Beach, for a drink before dinner. 

And then downstairs for dinner Gordon Ramsay's Brasserie Le Bordeaux.  We've had some mixed recent experiences at some of Gordo's far flung restos, but food at The Brasserie is very good.   The only negative was a few service issues primarily caused by too few staff.

Mrs. SFO777's grilled Arcachon sole was amazing.

And my Fish & Chips.  OMG, really good.

OK, we really liked our wine tonight.

The Baba au Rhum was to die for.

As was the lemon merengue tart.

After a good night's sleep, we got up late and decided on breakfast in the room.  Why leave in a room like this?

By the time we'd had breakfast, showered and dressed, it was afternoon noon, of 1AM Pacific Time.  OK, even flying First Class, the first days in Europe are tough for those coming off of a 9 hour time difference.  We missed the morning Hop On Hop Off buses, so we decided to explore some of the city on foot.

We actually were heading for a particular highly rated cheese shop but found it closed... on a Monday?? 

We just made the 2:15p HOHO, which acually isn't a HOHO here.  Just does a one hour tour of the city.  Perfect for a first day.

An hour later, we're back near our hotel.

And back at the Brasserie for a very late light lunch.

After a nap and despite my suggestion that we try another restaurant, at 9pm we headed back downstairs to Le Bordeaux where Mrs. SFO777 wanted to try the Beef Wellington.

Food was great but more service issue.  There is just not enough at this place.   And this table cloth sat unchanged for the last hour we were there. 

OK, no more Gordon Ramsay this trip my love!

OK, this is going to be a long day.  Not a good night's sleep as we set our alarm for 2:45am to watch the debate.  Then back to bed at 5am only to get up at 8am to get ready for our wine tour day.   Meanwhile, our neighbor is oblivious to his imminent shower. 

Went with the Petit-déjeuner bien-être this morning, hoping to at least start to reign it in.

And then downstairs to meet our personable guide/driver Gilbert for today's tour of the Médoc.

Venerable Chateau Margaux, from a distance today because I waited until the last minute to book this day.

Our first stop was Chateux de Tertre, owned by Dutch businessman Eric Albada Jelgersma.

Then to lunch with Gilbert at Restaurant Savoie in the village of Margaux.

One of the best mille-feuilles ever.

A brief stop at the banks of the Garonne.

And finally to our Chateau Giscours, sister chateau to Chateau du Tretre.

This place is hopping today as it is the first day of harvest.

And to the chateau for some tasting.

Our Chateau Giscours guide Michel.

We bid adieu to our wonderful driver/guide Gilbert and promised to come back soon for a longer tour of Bordeaux wine regions.   A couple hours later, we walked to nearby Le Bouchon Bordelais.  Great atmosphere and food.



We arrived at Gare St-Jean 30 minutes before departure and had to wait with others for our track to be posted.   Major renovations ongoing here.

Bordeaux St-Jean to Paris Montparnasse
SNCF... means still no Wifi
TGV 2952
September 28, 2016
Voiture 12
Sieges 51, 54

First Class on the TGV is pretty comfortable 2-1 seating.  Although sitll no Wifi after all these years.  Heck, Thalys has had Wifi for 10 years.  Since the car was full, I was glad we had single seats facing each other.   Although Mrs. SFO777 had a brilliant idea for getting a more comfortable seating arrangement.  Why not buy 4 seats and get an entire 4 seat compartment?   Since I purchased our tickets directly on the SNCF website and not raileurope.com, our tickets only cost $45 each, so it would have only been $180 for the compartment.   Duh... why didn't I think of that?  

Time to check out the dining car.

My croque was surprisingly good.

In any language, this is a bizarre sign. 

Two and a half hours later, we arrived at Paris Montparnasse station in the 14th.

Sometimes, you just luck out.  While everyone else trudged all the way to the end of the track, we took the first escalator right to the taxi stand, where it was only 10 minute, 10 euro ride to our hotel near the Trocadero in the 16th.  Pretty nice views along the drive.

Although we had some service issues last year, we decided to return to the Shangri-La one more time.  It's a wonderful hotel in a quiet part of the 16th and with glorious views of the Eiffel Tower.  In addition, management acknowledged the failures and extended some some attracrtive courtesies and perks for this stay. 

Our lovely room 52, with terrace and Eiffel Tower view.



Out on the lovely terrace, those ugly apartment buildings are still there, but at least this room gives us a much better view than last year. 


Time for some champagne and pupus before heading out to dinner.

Tonight we're off to try Alain Ducasse's new brasserie Champeaux, at the still under construciton Canopée in Forum des Halles in the 1st.   The hotel's new BWM 7 series was available so we were dropped off in style, although this resto is hard to find with the on going construction.

We rejected the first table that the hostess with an attitude attempted to give us.  When I gave her attitude back in French, we got a much better table.  

And look what was on the menu tonight, the same Coquilletes with ham, comté and black truffles as on the La Première Lounge menu.    We shared it as our starter and it was divine as always.

For our main, we shared the extraodinary Crapaudine-style free-range chicken with lemon and frites.

Our desserts were amazing.

What a fabulous meal.  We Uber'd back to our hotel for the wonderful light show from our terrace.

Today is Mrs. SFO777's day as we're doing a combination Anniversary/Birthday shopping day.  And we have a car and driver today to make it easy.  Our wonderful driver Clément picked us up at 11am, and we're off into heavy Fashion Week traffic.

Our first stop was rue Cambon and the flagship Chanel store.

Next stop was Mrs. SFO777's favorite hair accessory shop, Alexandre de Paris.

Then over to the 8th and a wonderful local's spot, Chez André.

The sole was amazing, a la plancha pour madame, meunière pour moi.

Next stop was just up the street to Franck Namani where the staff rushes out to greet you when you pull up in an S class.  LOL.

And finally back to the other side of the 8th and Fabiana Filippi, on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.

Right across the street from the Élysée Palace, apparently waiting for Hollande to return.

Mercifully at just after 5pm, Mrs. SFO777 has had enough and we headed back to the hotel, to tally up the damage.  But I just keep remembering the wise adage... happy wife, happy life.

At 8pm, we headed out for dinner at one of our Paris favorites, 114 Faubourg in Le Bristol.

Mesclun salad and crisp lettuce hearts, shavings of aged parmesan, black truffle vinaigrette. One of the best salads anywhere. 

My langoustine ravioli and basil, whisked butter with lemon was wonderful.

Someone is happy. 

Madame's Roasted lamb from Lozère with fresh herbs, gnocchis with candied lemon and mashed zucchinis.

My Cod fillet and prawns perfumed in saffron, cooked potatoes in the shells’ juice.  Delicious. 

And amazing desserts to finish.

Another fabulous meal at a great restaurant.   Mrs. SFO777 with un chat du maison, one of Le Bristol's residence felines.

When we're in Paris, we always start thinking about getting an apartment.   Since we can live pretty much anywhere, and now that we are renters in So Cal, why not Paris?   So we're off today to explore the 7th and then back into the 8th.

Ah oui, c'est Paris.

With suggestions from our concierge Julien, we headed to rue Saint-Dominique and decided on the classic Café Constant.  Some pics from their maisonconstant.com website...

And today's special...

We split the delicious Artichoke heart salad with button mushrooms in vinaigrette. 

For our main, we went with the Escalope of veal Cordon-Bleu, as the Kids like it...  although it sounds much better in French... Escalope de veau Cordon-Bleu comme l’aiment nos enfants.


OMG, the profiteroles!

Nah, we didn't like it at all.

Back across the Seine, somehow exploring the 8th turned into "Let's go to Avenue Montaigne".   Woe is me.

I guess she wants me to see something.  LOL.

Back at the hotel, we rested up before staying in house and dining the hotel one Michelin star Cantonese restaurant, Shang Palace.  Food and service were both excellent, once we got past the "do you have another table" moment.