Dona and Joe’s European Vacation, Episode 13: Or, Maybe You Find the Best Restaurant on the First Day of Your Visit

Okay, I take back what I wrote yesterday. We’re in Paris, in the 5th Arrondissement, and almost by accident we stumbled on a restaurant called La Maison de Verlaine. Stumbled, because in this neighborhood there are literally dozens of places from which to choose, and most likely any of them would have been fine, but sometimes a place has the perfect combination of authenticity, cuisine, and ambience.

The owner and staff were thoroughly French, but the clientele seemed to be from just about everywhere: Germany, England, France, the U.S., and elsewhere. Dona loved the diversity as well as the atmosphere. We’ve already booked a return reservation for our last night before returning home.

The 5th Arrondissement is also known, historically, as the Latin Quarter. There’s not much of that influence left, but the liveliness of the neighborhoods is incredible. We took a walk after dinner and saw literally hundreds of young people in bistros and bars, as well as in what must have once been a town circle, all just enjoying the evening. Makes one wish for another chance at youth, just to experience life differently.

To get here we took the Eurostar through the Chunnel (the Channel Tunnel, actually). At nearly 200 MPH we made the trip from London to Paris in a little over two hours. Once again the British and French have teamed up to create a super fast mode of transport (remember the Concorde?) that we Americans can only envy. But there are drawbacks at the respective ends. In London the security and boarding systems could be drastically improved. The Paris station (Gare du Nord) is in desperate need of repair, and they actually charge you to use the bathroom. I know that’s not much to complain about.