Ever since I was a kid I was fascinated with Paris. To me, Paris is not only the most beautiful city in the world, but also the epitome of man's artistic prowess. Everything about this city is an assault to my senses and I am always happy to assume the role of a flâneur whenever I have a chance to be here.
I have been fortunate to visit Paris many times and hope to continue doing so in the future. One of the things that I learned to appreciate early on was the distinct character of each arrondissement along with its own personality. Some of my most cherished memories were made up of opposite experiences, like the first time that I stayed in a sumptuous suite at the Intercontinental Le Grand in the luxurious Right Bank or another time that I patronized a one star property in a working class neighborhood in the Left Bank. I believe that one must experience these contrasts in order to gain a better understanding of this city. It's hard to pinpoint a favorite area of the city for me, but some of the corners that I enjoy are Place Vendôme, Place de la Madelaine, Canal St. Martin, and St. Germain among others.
Food is just as compelling as the sights, and I have fond memories of these as well. Unfortunately I do not have pictures of my meals, as I did not want to draw attention to myself in a crowded place. Some of my favorite dishes were cassoulet at La Régalade, gigot d'agneau (roast lamb) at Le Train Bleu (meal is ok, but you come here for the fantastic ambience), rabbit in mustard sauce, pig's feet and skate cheeks at other restaurants whose names evade me now.
Here are some snapshots of Paris starting with the iconic Eiffel Tower.
Walking along the Seine
An encounter with a charming citizen
Canal St. Martin
Jardin du Luxembourg
Pretty soon my Parisian trip was coming to an end and I took the RER to get to the airport. My flight departed from gate F49 in 2F. Check in was efficient I made my way to the AF Affaires lounge. The lounge was rather small with basic packaged snacks and a few sandwiches during certain times. I did not spend too much time here.
Small room with seats and tables
At the departure gate I could take a peek at my plane
Interesting patterns at CDG
Boarding was orderly and upon entering a FA greeted me and then pointed me to my seat. The flight was not very full today and there were a lot of open seats. It was perhaps 50% full in J.
View of massive engine
Pre-departure drinks were offered and after take off service began with a hot towel and menu distribution.
Choice of Hors d'Oeuvre
Prepared duck foie gras flavored with champagne and apricot-fig chutney
Shrimp with basil and marinated fennel with lemon
Choice of Main Courses
Veal accompanied by sauteed vegetables and artichokes prepared with white wine, olive oil and garlic
Fillet of pollack complemented by caper vinaigrette and mashed potatoes with olives
Plate du jour - Fillet of guinea hen baked and served with a port wine jus reduction, accompanied by spinach and penne pasta with pesto
Our Special Selection of Cheese
Camembert, Fourme d'Ambert, Sainte-Maure
Assortment of Desserts
Chocolate dessert, apple crumble, sherbet served with cookies, choice of fresh fruit
Espresso is served at our bar Espace
Brochette of dried fruit, pastrami, fresh goat cheese with Poilane bread
Drink with Fauchon cashews
I was a bit hungry and asked the FA if I could have try the shrimp appetizer. He said that he was going to check to make sure he had enough and after a few minutes he brought me the shrimps. They tasted fine but I still preferred the foie gras.
Then it was time for the main course and I chose the veal. I thought the portion was somewhat on the small side but it was good. The vegetables were a bit overdone though.
This was followed by the cheese plate. I almost forgot to take a picture of it so that explains the odd piece on the left.
For dessert I ordered the chocolate dessert and sherbet with cookies.
I read a book in the meantime and a few hours later it was time for the second meal.
This snack was just a teaser. Why even bother if you are giving such a small serving. I thought it was weird that they had plain yogurt and did not offered a flavored one instead.
Meanwhile, the sun was setting outside.
Arrival was on time and at the end of the flight the FA shook passengers' hands thanking them for flying AF, which was a nice touch and left a very positive impression.
Air France Lounge - 2F, F1
Paris - CDG
Montreal - YUL
I enjoyed this flight in part because the FA that I had was proactive and engaging. The meal service was adequate, but nothing truly exceptional. This was a bit disappointing since one would expect the meals served onboard AF to display the great culinary tradition that France is famous for. Alas, the same can be said about the Chinese carriers. Why can't AF be more like AZ and TK which proudly represent the gastronomic greatness of their respective countries when it comes to catering on long haul premium cabins?
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