A ride to Orient Express

One of the colleagues with whom I went to lunch yesterday had a hard time finding someting to eat — it turns out that she keeps Kosher. And so she actually took me seriously when I talked about going into Paris to have falafel in the Marais. But the Marais is a long way from La Defense, so we decided to look around for alternatives.

I tried to find Kosher (Cacher) restaurants on Paris WebCity, with very limited success. So I fell back to the ultimate resource — Google. A quick search for “Paris Kosher restaurant” gave a recentarticle in the Forward as the first hit. So I looked at the article, which pointed me to the Kosher in Paris web site, which was exactly what we needed.

A few minutes later, we’d settled on Orient Express, at 18 rue Jouffroy D’abbans in the 17th (phone +33 1 40 53 88 88). I called them (using my trusty IP phone, which meant that the call was actually dialed from my office in California!); fortunately, they spoke more English than I spoke French, and were able to tell me roughly where they were. We decided that, rather than take the Metro and walk, we’d take a taxi.

That was an expensive decision. The receptionist at IBM said that she’d call us a taxi — that worked fine, but when we got in, we discovered that the meter was already over 8 Euros (the driver must have started the meter when he arrived at IBM). Then the driver fiddled around trying to find his GPS remote control (another Euro gone) and eventually decided he’d call for directions while driving. Which he did, and we took a direct route.

8pm is still rush hour in Paris, at least for the trip from La Defense to the Etoile. The trip around the Etoile was exciting, too — I’m glad I didn’t have to drive. Once we left the Etoile, there was much less traffic, and we got to the restaurant quickly.

The food was good (not superb, but I’d go back quite happily). I decided to have shwarma rather than falafel; my colleague had a steak (she’d been unable to eat meat since arriving in Paris, and had to be awfully careful at the reception earlier in the evening (as had I — they love to sneak pork and shellfish in odd places)). It was nice to be at a resturant where we could eat anything safely, even if we didn’t know exactly what it was.

After dinner, we walked to the RER station at the Etoile (about 15 minutes’ walk, which was no problem), and bought tickets to go back to La Defense. Unfortunately, we bought zone 1 tickets but we needed zone 3 tickets. And when we tried to exit, the turnstile wouldn’t let us out. And we couldn’t find any place to make up the difference, or anyone to ask. Fortunately, two French-speaking ladies had also only bought zone 1 tickets, and they were able to get a guard to unlock the door and let us all out.

From there, all we had to do was find an exit to the outside world which was still open at 10pm — that was not as easy as it might have been, but we succeeded, and then walked our separate ways to our hotels.

I suffered a bit from jetlag, I guess, because I couldn’t fall asleep right away, but it wasn’t too bad — I was asleep by midnight, and I slept until the alarm went off at 7am.