There is a list of restaurants I've wanted to try in Paris that I have been checking off over the years. I've just checked one off of my "been there" list and added it to my "go again" list. Le Chalet des Iles on a small island in the ancient forest and park, Bois de Boulonge, is sheer magic. Making our way to the island, my friends and I walked along paths that we shared with bunnies and singing birds. We felt a little like Hansel and Gretel, thinking we should leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find our way back. Adding to the confusion, there were forks in the path with no signs indicating which way to go. We happened along a group of men playing pétanque, who took a break in their game to give us directions to the island. You could say we took the scenic route! It's all about the journey, right? Coming out of the woods, our first view of the lake was a stunning view of row boats and a mirror reflection of the tall trees against the clear blue sky with white puffy clouds. We made our way around the lake as it was getting close to our planned time to meet other friends and our 8 PM reservation. A little dusty and very thirsty, we happily saw the small ferry boat with the restaurant in the background. The view of the tables with their starched white tablecloths being set with candles, menus, and wine glasses as our ferry arrived on the island, added to the anticipation. The mâitre d' ushered us to our table on the patio. To start off, we chose a slightly chilled Brouilly wine as the warm sun settled down through the aged trees and onto the calm lake. Looking up we noticed a peacock perched on top of the edge of the trellis watching over us and keeping an eye out for his friends that roamed alongside the tables. Our waiter brought crusty rolls as we pondered our dinner choices. The menu mainly offered traditional French fare, and I chose the Filet of Beef with a Béarnaise Sauce and Potatoes Dauphine. In France, beef must be prepared rare or it is considered ruined. So ordering it medium will mean that it is still pretty rare. There were ten of us and we practiced the American habit of sharing a taste of each others food. We had bypassed the appetizers so a few of us had room for dessert. Of course, we tasted each of those as well! There was a trio of sorbets, Rhubarb Tart with Strawberries and Molten Salt Caramel Cake with Caramel Ice Cream. Phew! Satisfied, wiping our mouths with the crisp napkins, we reluctantly thought about getting the check. At that very moment one of the giant peacocks flew up into the tall tree above us, and yelped something that sounded like this, "You owe, you owe!!". Jaws dropped and we looked at each other saying "We know, we know!!". As we counted out our euros, we eerily felt the peacocks looking down. Night had now fallen and since getting lost in the bois was not a bonne idée, we took a direct route back. Stopping at the Trocadero before heading back on the metro, we sat for a few minutes and took in the sight of the Eiffel Tower. As it sparkled before us, we were all thinking about the next time we'd be back to our magic kingdom.
Written and photographed by Diane.