According to my vague blogging schedule, tonight should be a chocolate bar review. But it’s not. However, there is chocolate to be found in this story, so I do hope you’ll accept my travel story offering. There’s just ever so much I want to cover about Paris, and I fear it slipping away from memory if I leave it too late.
I believe I mentioned, days and days ago, that I left booking a train from Amsterdam to Paris too late and ended up having to catch four domestic trains rather than one Thalys in order to get to the home of the Moulin Rouge.
I got up at 6am on the Friday morning in order to catch a tram to Amsterdam’s central station, as I only had a 6 minute window between my first and second trains and wanted time up my sleeve in case this window turned into a brick wall.
Imagine my delight when the first train ran on time and, despite a last-minute platform change, I managed to skedaddle onto the second train with moments to spare. This second train also ran on time, and so I called my parents on Skype during my one hour break between the second and third trains to crow about how my trains were working, finally, after delays and train changes and latenesses with all my previous European voyages.
Third train – left on time. Brilliant! I shall be in Paris by 5pm! Hurrah!
Suddenly, my third train stopped. Not at the final station, which was my destination. People started piling off. Thank heavens for the American girl who spoke French and was able to ascertain that “someone didn’t come to work today”, which meant we all had to pile onto a bus for the remainder of the journey.
Sure, I was miserable at first and freaking out about whether there’d be another train to get me to Paris, but then I said “Hannah, if this hadn’t happened, you would never have got to see the little streets and stores and people of these tiny little French villages. I mean, look at your view!”
After much positive self-talk and mindfulness excercises, I got off the bus and, after not too long a wait, made it through my last train journey and navigated the metro to my hostel. (Of course, I stopped at a Monoprix with my luggage in tow even before checking into the hostel.)
Despite the 13 hour journey to Paris, things looked up. Until, of course, things (read: my entire left foot) started to look less “up” than incredibly swollen, and I ended up in tears on the phone to my parents at 1am.
Hence spending hours and hours in a French hospital emergency waiting room the next day, trying not to be irked that multiple people who arrived after me were being admitted before me.
After the unpleasantness of this experience, and more Skyping to the parents, I was determined to glean something lovely from the day. And in Hannah-world, that meant a visit to one of the famous patisseries I’ve heard and read so much about.
Cue two and half hours wandering around the Hotel des Invalides area, trying to find either of the places I’d marked on my map (I later discovered I’d somehow marked them on my map in a kind of reverse-diagonal spot to where they were), and asking no less than five Parisians for directions, each of whom managed to get me a little bit closer than the one before.
Eventually, I found this:
What’s in the box, in the box, what’s in the box today? (Sing along with me, Aussies!)
And now, because I’ve been talking altogether a lot, I shall grant you a break from my voice and entice you with a photo journey.
Looks amazing, right? It was called the Masai and, to paraphrase a movie that I will never watch on account of the fact that Tom Cruise makes me feel icky, it “had me at chocolate and peanut”. And gold flakes! And when I worked my way through it, there was a chocolate glaze, and chocolate mousse, and cream, and chocolate cake, and a peanut-chocolate mix at the bottom!
Should be amazing, right?
This was utterly, utterly disappointing. It tasted of nothing but bland chocolate mousse, with no distinct flavour from the cake or cream components, and the peanuts contributed nothing but a muted stale flavour, like raw old peanuts found in your 80-year-old-neighbour’s cupboard, next to her talcum powder.
I ate this in about two minutes flat, in huge spoonfuls, whereas the heavenliness that was Bruges’ pistachio treat was savoured in tiny mouthfuls over about 20 minutes.
I’m still a bit flabbergasted, really. Both treats look similar in their layers and components, and yet were so tremendously different in pleasurability. I’m sure there are people out there who would love the overwhelming, unrelenting sweet chocolateness of this Lenotre creation – but I ain’t one of them.
But never fear, beloved readers of mine – Paris and I may have had a rocky start, but in the following days I fell for this city hard, and have placed countless moan-worthy morsels in my mouth since.
Just you wait.