Paris Jan 20-22, 2015

A few weeks ago I got to spend a quick 48 hrs in Paris. Jotting down some notes to remember my trip.

Tuesday:

  • Landed at CDG around 11am. I am fan of this Air Transat route as the late departure (10pm) maximizes my day back home and late landing minimizes delay until most hotels will let you check-in. It’s also easier to sleep when the plane doesn’t take off at 6:30pm. Worth noting the price difference between carriers for this trip: Air Transat $675, BA $1900, Air Canada $2900. WTF.
  • Took an UberX to the hotel. UberX in Paris beyond impressive. I consistently got high-end, spacious cars and the service was always immaculate. Drivers opening doors, free bottle of water, mints, iPhone charger available to the back seat, etc.
  • Checked-in at the Hyatt Regency. Not my first choice but everyone was staying there. “Would Monsieur like a high room with a view on the Sacré Coeur?”. You bet I would! I get to the 28th floor and the room is simply appalling. It looked like it wasn’t refreshed in 20 years and as you see below, the paint was peeling off the walls. I went back to the lobby, showed the picture to the manager and he switched my room without saying a word. Much better.
  • Put my stuff down and started thinking about lunch. I was starving as I have a strict no plane food policy. A quick Foursquare check to see what’s good and close to the hotel wasn’t fruitful. I didn’t have much time so I decided to just UberX it to St-Germain to hit up a familiar brasserie before settling in for work.
  • Hesitated a bit between the classics (if not cliché) Deux Magots, Brasserie Lipp and Café de Flore. They are all old faves and I was torn. In the end, the choice was easy as only Lipp had a front-row terrasse seat. There is no way I am going to any of these places to sit inside.
  • Wanted coffee nearby and since I couldn’t find anything decent on Foursquare (again) I just walked 2 blocks to Ladurée. Again, very cliché and I was hoping to try something new but in the end I was happy to be in familiar territory with such great memories.
  • Got back to the hotel for a super quick nap, worked out and worked for a few hours.
  • By the time, I got my work done it was almost 11pm and I was starving. The Hyatt’s concierge was not very helpful so I just decided to keep things simple and head to a nearby Relais de Venise. I love how the only choice you have is how you want your steak cooked. The steak frites was impeccable and comforting in its familiarity.

Wednesday:

  • Started the day with another FitStar workout and worked for a few hours.
  • Met with my cousin Rob for lunch. We just got out of the hotel, hit up the first brasserie we saw and ordered a raw seafood patter with a côte de boeuf to share. Before we even got the main course, we got a call from my uncle to meet in hotel lobby in 15 mins. Needless to say the cote was devoured in record time and we were a few mins late.
  • We all headed to the Faculty of Medicine at Université Paris Descartes for the National Academy of Medicine award ceremony (the reason of this trip). My uncle was honoured for his numerous contributions in his field of liver surgery. The ceremony itself was long but I couldn’t be prouder of my uncle for this incredible achievement. The academy only welcomes less than 50 foreigners (non-French nationals) to its ranks so this is a pretty big deal. His childhood friend (also a physician) flew in from Cairo for the ceremony.
  • Following the ceremony, a cocktail was given in the Faculty Museum. I was mesmerized by all the old surgery tools, some of them dating from the 18th century. Most of these tools looked like torture devices but the craftsmanship was just magnificent. Some of these instruments were over 200 years old and looked brand new. Famous surgeons of the time would order custom made kits from famous "couteliers"[1]. Each kit was tailored to the surgeon's handedness, size, etc and often had the user's initials carved on a handle made of a noble material.
  • Dinner was at Le Doyen (***). The restaurant was first opened in 1779 and changed name and owners throughout the years. We had a private room for 12 of us. It was elegant without being stuffy. I wish I kept a copy of the menu because unfortunately I don't remember the details now of what I ate. What I do remember is that every bite was flawless and I was almost nostalgic after each one as I knew I wouldn't taste something like this anytime soon. Also, they had the best olive bread I've ever had. I must've inhaled at least 8 small buns. I don't have a particularly sweet tooth but I can say that it was also probably the best dessert I ever had.
  • As everyone headed home, Rob and I split from the group to get a nightcap at the Ritz' Hemingway Bar. We got to Place Vendôme and realized that the Ritz was still closed for renovation. We then set out for the Georges V's bar where we each drank a couple of old-fashioneds, compared notes on our jobs and generally caught up. It was obvious that the staff was tired and ready to close up so we didn't want to overstay our welcome, knocked back our drinks and went home.

Thursday:

  • UberX’ed it to airport, flew home and went straight to work exhausted but feeling blessed for those great 48 hours.

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[1] Google Translate tells me that coutelier is cutler in English, which is "a person who makes, sells, or repairs knives and other cutting instruments".