I did not, however, really realize what I was signing myself up for. I've been fighting a bit of a cold and while I know I'm coming out of the worst of it I still have a horrible sinus headache and a sexy raspy voice to show for my troubles. So when we began to submerge ourselves into a crowd of shoppers and enter a shopping mall, I was a bit less than thrilled. Though my status as a female may suggest that I love shopping, shoes, and buying ridiculous amounts of purses and jewelry, I actually detest shopping. I go in and get out as quickly as possible. Don't let this fool you into thinking I don't like having new, shiny things, I just hate the process of going out and getting them myself. I'd rather go to the dentist. Add onto that a headache that felt like someone was poking into my temple with a small needle and I was slightly regretting this decision.
Gallerie Lafayette was absolutely packed with people going about their Christmas shopping. It was horrible, reminding me of a few horrible frat parties I attended in college when you know the only reason it's warm is because of all the people. Luckily this prepared me for such situations and I have no problems elbowing my way through a crowd to make sure I don't lose my fellow travelers. Sure I may have pushed an old lady a bit to catch up with Elze, but granny certainly wasn't having any problems herself, using her cane to beat fellow shoppers back so she could get the best deal on hosiery.
The dome of Gallerie Lafayette was absolutely beautiful, not to mention the gigantic christmas tree stretching up high into it. I've seen pictures of this numerous times and it was nice to see it with my very own eyes. Plus, I appreciated experiencing this part of Christmas without having to worry about the shopping that everyone else was suffering through.
We decided to venture up to the level of food because if there is any shopping that I do enjoy it's one where I can eat my purchases as I go. And this was a mecca of nourishment. Filled with little stands from some of the best pastry, cheese, asian, and cafe shops in Paris, it was a one-stop destination for all things gourmet. (Like Wal-Mart, Paris style.) As much as I love that stores in France are small and personal, it can become annoying when you have to go to fifty of them just to get some errands done. But here, you can get delicious asian dumplings right next to where you can buy gourmet cheeses after you've bought some desserts from the mini Sadaharu AOKI just behind you. On a different, less busy day, I would've loved to have spent more time here and eaten just a bit more.
Perhaps the highlight of the Gallerie Lafayette was when we passed through the men's underwear section. Elze was busy chatting on the phone with Suanne trying to figure out where the heck she was. There was a multitude of tiny men's underwear in shockingly neon colors and Elze's eye was obviously drawn to them. Next thing she realized was that she had been staring at a pair that happened to be filled, and by a real man! When she looked up and saw a gorgeous male model smiling and saying, "Bonjour!" she turned an instant red and walked away quickly. He laughed and went about his job of standing there and looking beautiful.
We finally emerged from the ridiculousness that was Gallerie Lafayette and made our way to Printemps for Cafe Pouchkine. Cafe Pouchkine isn't exactly what I would call a cafe since it is mostly a patisserie with limited seating (but then again, perhaps during a time that isn't the busiest shopping month of the year it would be sufficient). The pastries are fanciful and gorgeous, eye catching and tasty looking, making it hard to decide on just which one you want. I was also shocked to see how gigantic their viennoiserie were with some of the biggest pain au chocolat and croissants I've ever seen in my life. These people are obviously Russian, not French.
Elze, Christy and I all went for something chocolate which turned out to be a big mistake. They tasted like, well chocolate, and nothing else. But Elze's friend bought the millefeuille which looked more like a panetonne than traditionally millefeuille and tasting incredible! Suanne bought the Medovik which was a honey cake reminiscent of cheese cake and which I just couldn't get enough of. With layers of honey caramel, creme fraiche, and graham cracker crumb cake, it was one of the best cakes I've had in my life! The macarons were disappointing with the flavors tasting off in some way and the shells being too dense and caky. Obviously it was hit or miss here but with the hits being such great, fantabulous, mind blowing bullseyes, I will definitely have to return to do more tasting!