Planes, Trains & Automobiles – A Visit to Paris & a European Thanksgiving

Even though I don’t really celebrate the meaning of Thanksgiving, what with the Pilgrims and the Indians, I have always enjoyed the holiday that completely revolved around gluttony and shopping.

I was sad at the thought that this year Thanksgiving was going to pass me by, and while all of my friends and family back home were celebrating I would be stuck at work and would go home to a regular meal; happily this was not the case.

Nate and Brent came to Europe to spend Thanksgiving week with Cornel and I, and it was a very unforgettable trip.

The week started on Friday where we picked up Nate and Brent in Paris, I’m sure they were exhausted but in order to adjust to the time lag we thought it would be best if they stayed awake all day.

The first order of business was finding the hotel and checking in. While driving to find the hotel we drove past Moulin Rouge and a lot of sex stores. The hotel was in Montmartre, a Paris neighborhood famous for the Moulin Rouge, artists, Sacre Coeur and as we found out -the red light district!

After checking into the hotel we decided to have a quick lunch and headed up Montmartre to Sacre Coeur. On the way we took in the artists square before going to the church and enjoying the views of Paris.

We toured the church and the small park below it and then headed down to the Louvre to enjoy the museum at night and of course get a view of the Mona Lisa.

We couldn’t help but enjoy the Roman statues that graced the entrance to the museum.

And of course some of the more famous pieces….

We made our way to the Mona Lisa ….

And took the time to appreciate some other pieces of fine art.

We also had to the take the picture to prove we were all actually in the Louvre, but I was too short and so it looks like I had two heads.

The boys were exhausted….and did their best to stay awake and fight the jet lag.

We finished our tour with the Venus DeMilo and then headed towards the Champs-Elysee, but first we took the time to ride on the Ferris-Wheel, which they only open during Christmas time. The views of Paris and the Champs-Elysee at night were amazing…and the cheesy 90’s pop playing in the cabin was hysterical.

Then it was time for the Champs-Elysee. It was decorated for Christmas and we just took a stroll and enjoyed the lights, taking a few detours to enjoy some more of the Christmas decorations that were starting to go up all over the city. We enjoyed some hot wine on our way to George V, a café on the Champs-Elysee, where we enjoyed some drinks before heading back to our hotel.

The next morning we woke up, had a traditional French breakfast, pain au chocolate and baguette with bread and jam, some coffee and we were on our way.

We stopped at Starbucks and enjoyed some modern art, and stopped to enjoy some of the sights before heading down to Notre Dame.

On the way to Notre Dame, we took the time to enjoy the shops…and the hats.

In order to better fit in, Nate and I purchased French hats, and I think we looked smashing.

We took a tour of the inside of the church and of the gargoyles on top. It was so windy and cold, but the views again, were impressive.

We continued to the Eiffel Tower.

We went all the way to the top and enjoyed the views and froze our butts off. We continued to the very top where, according to Brent, TomKat came to be, however, the spot was not properly marked.

At night they light up the Eiffel Tower in blue with the starts of the European Union, since France has the presidential seat for the next six months.

Before making it to the boat we stopped by the Tunnel where Princess Diana was killed, they have a torch statue in her memory.

We then took a cruise down the Seine River at night. Paris truly is the city of lights and it is so beautiful at night.

After the river tour we made our way back up to Montmartre, and decided to have a drink at Les Deux Moulins. If you have ever seen the movie Amelie Poulin, this is the café where the movie takes place. We had a few drinks and of course I had to take a picture with the movie poster. It was early, and we weren’t really tired, and when in Montmartre with nothing to do, you visit the red light district and we stopped into the erotic museum, which was both funny and disturbing, and since it is a public site I won’t post any pictures.

Our last day in Paris we made our way to the Dôme des Invalides, where Napoléon is buried.On our way across the Pont de Alexandre III it started snowing.

We saw Napoleon, his tomb and took a nice walk around the crypt.

Because it was cold and wet and slushy we decided to head back to Clermont-Ferrand.

Monday was our first full day in Clermont, and after lunch (or breakfast as the case may be), I decided to show the boys around. We arrived at Place Jaude, where the Christmas decorations were being put up, including the tree and the Ferris wheel. We went up a bit more to Place de la Victoire, where I tried to show them the Cathedral; however, it was closed so we popped into Café Pascal where we warmed up with some beers.

Having run out of things to show them in Clermont, we made our way to Frères Berthome, a brewery which has my favorite beer, Kriek, on tap. We continued our bar tour of Clermont and took a pit stop by Michelin. At about 10 p.m., after many bars and a few incidents later, we made our way to 1513 a crêperie where we had a dinner before heading on our way back home.

Early on Tuesday we were all supposed to hop on a train to Switzerland, however, since there would be no time to cook Thanskgiving dinner when we got back, I decided to stay behind to cook dinner and get everything ready. Nate and Brent headed of to Geneva, and I headed to buy my turkey.

Getting thanksgiving ready in a foreign country was very difficult and I appreciated all the things I took for granted, for one – the turkey. I looked and looked and looked and looked, and there was no such thing as a whole turkey to be found. There were whole chickens, feasants and ducks, but no turkeys. I bought 2 legs and three breasts and made a make-shift turkey. While there is no shortage of bread in France, it was very difficult to find the sweet rolls that I’m so used to having with dinner, but this was a much easier task than the turkey.

Also, the canned mushroom soup for the famed green bean casserole, there is no such thing as soup in a can, so I had to make my own sauce using mushrooms and cream.

In the end it all worked out and we all celebrated a delicious thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings: mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole and a raspberry tart for dessert, and even Jean-Baptiste got to enjoy some turkey.

We enjoyed the evening and got ready to head out to Barcelona early the next morning.
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