Friday, July 31
Getting there was kind of an ordeal. After the RER train broke down one stop away from the airport on the day we arrived, I thought my experiences with travel disruptions would be over. Not so.
Overall, the metro in Paris is great. It runs everywhere I needed to go, so I decided to take metro to Poilane. So, I got out my little ticket, entered the station, and got on a waiting train. Well, there was a disruption almost immediately after getting on. Not knowing French, I simply followed the others out of the metro car after the announcement in French was made several stops before my intended station. No one seemed that upset. I waited with the other morning commuters until another train came and got one. Two stations were passed and another French announcement came on over the loudspeaker. This time, people seemed to be getting perturbed.
Once again, we had to exit at this station, only this time there were metro employees yelling at us to get out of the station. I asked someone I heard speaking English what was going on and he didn't seem to know, either. Oh well... I'll just walk, I thought.
I had a copy of Clotilde Dusoulier's (Chocolate and Zuchinni) wonderful book Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris with me and found what sounded like a great crepe stand to check out before hitting Poilane. Well, sadly, after checking multiple maps and wandering small streets, the spot was no longer there (now up on Clotilde's updates page). Perhaps someone was trying to make sure I arrived at Poilane on an empty stomach, I thought.
Giving up, I popped in to the cafe next door and grabbed a coffee at the counter, just like the dapper businessmen who came in for a few seconds to read the paper and drink a quick coffee. It was a cool environment.
Moving on, I was only a few blocks away from the charming bakery known as Poilane. I peeked inside and finally spot those signature loaves with the trademark P stamped on the front.
I told the friendly salesperson I'd like one pain au chocolat & one small loaf of bread, paid the clerk, sampled one of their famous "punition" butter cookies, and made my way out to find some place to dive into the goodies (I was hungry since there had been no crepes earlier).
I had read that eating in public, other than at street cafes, was considered uncouth in Paris, so I tried to avoid smearing chocolate all over my face and avoided eye contact with all passerbys.
It was so good--buttery, flakey, and just enough chocolate. I ate it so fast that I actually walked back to the bakery and got two more, plus two croissants for good measure.
There's definitely a reason Poilane is considered by some to the best bread in Paris. You have to check it out if you make it there. I miss it already.