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Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Enlightened Traveler: A Paris Institution Returns

Ladurée, the historic Parisian patisserie and tea room, suffered a disastrous fire in 2011 that caused the landmark to close for a year. It has just reopened, it's 19th-Century opulence fully restored and good as new, according to press reports.

Some years ago, The Luxurist and his Lovely Luxurista arrived in Paris on Christmas Eve, two weary pilgrims without a dinner reservation.

Summoning up his flawless French, he called several of his preferred restaurants only to learn that they were fully booked.

(Yes, The Luxurist speaks French impeccably. Doesn't everyone?)

Normally in a situation like this, The Luxurist would follow his own advice:  keep talking politely but firmly until the voice on the other side of the aparatus gives in. It turns out that French restaurateurs can be an uncompassionate lot on Christmas Eve, a day when you think even the French would be a bit more accommodating.

But I digress.

And so The Luxurist and his LL decided to head out on foot in search of a meal. They were soon on the Champs Elysées in front of Ladurée.

It was far past afternoon teatime. The Luxurist and his LL stepped inside anyway to find many well dressed and very contented Parisians sitting down to, not petit fours and chocolat chaud, but, in fact, dinner.

Mr. L and Mrs. LL were seated next to a handsome French couple. The husband told them that he was executive chef for Air France first class and that he and his wife came to Ladurée every Christmas Eve.

Thus they began a memorable night of good food and pleasant conversation.

Also read: Why You Should Spend the Holidays in Paris

While Ladurée's premises have been refreshed, not so its unfortunate reputation as a tourist destination during the day.

I use the term "tourist destination"  to be kind.  You, dear reader, can divine the true meaning of the term.

But, again, I digress.

At night, it's a different story.  If you find yourself in Paris with no dinner plans and no concierge at your service,  you might give Ladurée a try.

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