Le Soufflé et L’Orangerie

The ferris wheel at Les Tuileries

June 29, 2015 (Monday) – After exploring the Louvre Museum for the better half of a day, we came back out into the Parisian summer sun. We passed through the Tuileries Gardens to our lunch destination. We had to walk down the busy Rue de Rivoli and then weave along a couple of back streets before arriving at our lunch spot on Rue du Mont Thabor.

I had read about Le Soufflé on TripAdvisor. Thanks to a Facebook linkup, TripAdvisor told me that a friend of a friend had visited Paris and had given a great review of this restaurant. It wasn’t a very large place, but it was full even at around 2 in the afternoon. The restaurant has a very quaint decor with unique and beautiful paintings of eggs adorning the walls. I noticed that almost all the patrons in the restaurant were not speaking French. Most peculiar of all was that we were surrounded by 2 or 3 tables of Americans living in Paris. I eavesdropped on their conversations of working in Paris and of flying back home to New York and Minnesota.

On the menu, there was (you guessed it) soufflé – lots of soufflés. I never knew that these eggy puffed-up pastries could come in so many varieties. I’m not sure it was a good idea or not, but my wife and I both ordered the 3-course soufflé meal.

My first course was a soufflé tomato-basil soup. That went down in a hurry. The second was the main savoury soufflé. I had the beef bourguignon. I slowed right down near the end of the main dish. However, there was still dessert to follow. It was a wonderful green pistachio soufflé with a thick chocolate sauce to drizzle all over the dish. I wish I wasn’t so full for dessert. I don’t remember if I finished it or not. One thing is for certain, though. My wife and I both had our first ever soufflé food comas after our meal.

Thank goodness Paris is a walking city because we really needed to walk off our late and heavy lunch. Our late afternoon destination for the day was the Musée de l’Orangerie. This museum was high on my list of destinations because it is home to Claude Monet’s famous water lily paintings, Nymphéas. 

The two oval rooms at the top of the L’Orangerie are absolutely the showpiece of this museum. One can sit in the middle bench and lose one’s self in the beauty of the Nymphéas surrounding you with the natural sunlight streaming through a white translucent canopy above. The exhibit didn’t disappoint. The only issue, as with all Parisian museums, is the crowds that limit the enjoyment of some exhibits.

Then one moment as we were sitting on the bench looking around the room, I spotted a young Korean girl walk into the room. I commented to my wife that she looked like our classmate from last year. We had studied Japanese in Sapporo in July 2014. My wife and I were not totally certain. My wife got closer to the Korean girl to see if she could get a better glimpse. She even tried saying the Korean girl’s name to see if there was a reaction. It wasn’t until the Korean girl had turned and had my wife right in front of her that everything clicked.

Indeed, it was our classmate from our Japanese language school. What a serendipitous surprise to run into somebody we know halfway around the world. Needless to say, there were pictures taken and names tagged on social media. Our classmate was travelling with a fellow Korean through Europe and planned to stay a month visiting the continent.

A chance meeting with an old friend and Monet’s Nymphéas as the backdrop made our visit to the Musée de l’Orangerie very special and almost magical. I even forgot about the food coma by that point. Life could not have written a better script.

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