We head to SFO airport from our home in Dublin California by cab. Our flight is at 2:50pm so we leave around 11am. We manage to have a quick 40min trip across the bay in a neat cab with a pleasant, coherent and odor free cab driver. Total Fare including tip around $110.
We get through ticketing and security without hassle with around 90 mins before boarding time.
Everytime I fly I'm amazed how badly people behave when boarding a plane. We all have assigned seating so it's not like you're going to miss out if you're not the first person on the plane, right? Then why is there always someone in seating group D trying to jump the line when they call setaing group A? Then there are the people who have to stand with all their luggage right in the middle and 8 inches away from the entrance to the gangway no matter what seating group they're in.
My faith in human nature is restored while we're boading the plane. As we pass one the hostesses, she stumbles and Sheryl offers to help. In return the hostess gives Sheryl a glass of champagne off her tray.
Then when we get to our seats I remember we're on a United flight. No personal media station - and I decided not to bring my portable DVD player. Doh! Stuck watching sanitized family movies on the central video screens.
Our flight leaves on time. Luckily I was tired enough and managed to get around 5 or 6 hours sleep (out of a 10 hour flight). Watched some pathetic version of the Three Muskateers for the last hour or so of the the flight. We land in Frankfurt on time at around 10:15am local time.
Picked up our (pre-booked) rental car from Avis at Frankfurt, got a free upgrade (woohoo!) and hit the road by 11am local time. Man, these Germans drive fast. Got the family mini-van up to around 160kph and still getting passed like we're standing still.
Got to Metz around 1:30pm. Went for a walk around town and found the local town square (Rue St Louis). Had lunch outside in the square at a cafe named Wenge. Great food although the language problem meant we got nothing that we actually ordered. Money well spent on that French learning program.
Left Metz and drove on to Verdun. Arrived at Verdun at 4pm. At Verdun we stopped at a couple of WWI memorials. We skipped the memorial and went straight to the Ossuary. It was late afternoon and not many people around, we got to see the place in silence which kind of suited the ambience of the place. After the Ossuary we drove down to the Trench of the Bayonettes where a company of French soldiers was buried alive from the barage of German artillary. You can read more about it here: http://atlasobscura.com/place/trench-bayonets
From Verdun we drove straight to Reims - actually our Hotel, L'Assiette Champenoise (http://www.assiettechampenoise.com), is in Tinqueux, just on the outskirts of Reims. Arrived at the hotel around 7pm. Very nice. Check out the photos, the Hotel looks great (inside and out). After a quick shower and change of clothes we decide to dine in at the Hotel's restaurant. Now I know it's an up-scale, goumet experience and we're planning on a big dinner the following night but we can't be bothered going out foraging.
Wow. Dinner was fantastic. Our night started with an aperitif in the Champagne Bar while we select our meal from the menu and our wine from their extensive 25 page wine list. There are around 8 pages just for Champagnes. By the way, no prices on the menu they give to Sheryl. Only I get to know how much the meal will be. Two fixed priced tasting menus plus the a la carte.
Of course, we select the chefs tasting menu - I choose menu A while Sheryl chooses menu B (they had fancy names but I forgot write them down). There was no associated wine pairing so I selected a 2006 Sancerre since our food menu is predominantly seafood.
(My descriptions - I didn't copy down the menu which I'm sure were much more eloquent)
We start with a small seafood mousse. Delicate light, fluffy and not too fishy. Don't know what was in it but it was yummo.
For Sheryl, Poached Asparagus on a Truffle Mayonaise and a Truffle butter mousse
For me, Grilled Scallops on a Wasabe wafer and a piquant vegetable mousse on the side
S: Fried Shrimp Ball filled with tiny shrimp in a delicious creamy, smoky broth. Arrives as a simple, golf ball sized fried orb. But, once you cut into it, the bowl fills with a pungent fried shrimp broth. Delicious.
C: John Dory fillet with Green and Red Chinese cabbage. A little bland but still nice.
S: A Grilled Sea Bass on a bed of lemon, ginger and finely chopped almonds.
C: A small square of braised veal layered with fat and served with a rich au jus reduced toa fine syrup.
S: Citrus Chicken and pear
Before dessert, the table is laid with a huge selection of chocolate and confectionary which we thought was dessert. When they do bring dessert, it is fantastic. Four different kinds of apple confection - a spongy apple center wrapped in a fine transparent apple candy and an apple puree. All the same flavor but the textures made all the difference.
Dinner was simpy awesome. Service was superb.
Finished the night with a 100yr old Grand Marnier at the bar.
Check out the photos from our first day here: https://plus.google.com/photos/108907385842640009035/albums/5726852882379030497
Up early. A bit of reverse Jet Lag has us up by 6:30am.
Early morning walk in Tinequeux. Lovely breakfast at the hotel.
At the Porte Mars by 9:30am.
Wander through Reims end u[p at the Cathedral around noon.
Head to Hautvilliers via Dizy, Bouzy & Ay. Stopped at the abbey in Hautvilliers where Dom Perignon is buried.
Dinner at Le Parc (Les Creyures)
Ouch. My legs are aching this morning. It was a struggle to get out of bed. Didn't manage to get down for breakfast until around 10am. A short 15 min walk to the Pyramind which acts as the entrancee to the Louvre.
We already have our tickets which we purchased online ahead of time. Good choice since the lines were already rediculous. Once inside we formulated our plan of attack. There are three wings to the Louvre, the Richleau (left), Denon (right) and the Sully (behind the pyramid). The Mona Lisa is housed in the Denon wing with the rest of the Italians. We decide to hit that last.
Don't know if I have to detail our route yet. I'll update it later. In the meantime, here are todays pics:
By 3pm we could hardly walk anymore so we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel. Stopped at a sidewalkk cafe on the way home and had un Cheeseburger Francaise. Interesting. Lots of Tarragon, not my favorite herb but after the first few moutfulls, not too shabby. For one thing, the meat wasn't cooked within an inch of its life like it would be if this was somewhere in California.
We stumbled back to the hotel by around 4:30. We are both so tired that we could barely...zzzzzzzzzzzz.......
...oops. By the time we regained conciousness it's around 9pm. We splash on a little cold water and head out for dinner.