On a recent Friday evening in August, we boarded a double-decker bus for an extraordinary gourmet excursion through the French capital. What made this so special is the dining room on the top deck of the bus that affords remarkable views of the city. During our two-hour journey, the waitstaff served us a four-course meal as we meandered past glorious Parisian landmarks.
To begin the adventure, we arrived at the point of embarkment on Avenue des Champs-Elysées around 8:00 p.m. We were greeted at the entrance to the bus by a bilingual maître d’, who took a photograph of us at our request and then invited us to step onboard. As we climbed the stairs to the upper level, we noted a kitchen and a serving counter on the ground level. When we reached the top deck, a waitress invited us to settle into a table at the front of the bus. There, we had a superb view of the Champs-Elysées, a street that is often described as “the most beautiful avenue in the world.”
While waiting for the bus excursion to begin we each ordered a glass of champagne. Cleverly-designed drink holders affixed to the dining table secured our beverages and prevented them from spilling once the bus got underway.
The driver started the engine, the bus pulled into traffic, and we began moving slowly down the avenue. As we sampled the first starter, a generous disk of chopped, lightly-smoked salmon served with a dollop of confit of tomato and red onions, the bus proceeded down the Champs-Elysées to Place de La Concorde. There, the Luxor obelisk and two great fountains stood proudly in the evening twilight as the bus rounded the square and proceeded up Rue Royale to Place de la Madeleine and then on to Place de l’Opéra. All along the way, a laptop-size screen affixed to the side of our table presented pertinent information about the sights that we came upon.
From Place de l’Opéra the bus made its way down Avenue de l’Opéra and then proceeded through Place du Carrousel, where we had a marvelous view of the glass pyramid of the Louvre. After turning left on Quai François Mitterrand, it proceeded to Place du Châtelet and then crossed the river onto the Left Bank. By the time we passed Notre Dame Cathedral, which stands on Ile de la Cité between the Right Bank and the Left Bank, we had been served a delicious artichoke velouté, our second starter.
Arriving on the Left Bank, the bus turned right onto Quai des Grands Augustins and followed the stretch of road that borders the Seine toward Les Invalides. Along the way we were served the main course, a cut of tender veal accompanied by ginger-flavored carrots and purée of celery root.
Skirting Les Invalides, we headed to the Eiffel Tower. We arrived there just before 10:00 p.m. The bus parked near Pont d’Iéna, where we disembarked so that we could view the tower’s sparkling light show.
We re-boarded the bus about fifteen minutes later and inched across the bridge to climb Avenue de Mun to Place du Trocadéro. Along the way we were served an exotic dessert — a dome of mascarpone cream resting on a genoise base coated with a mango-flavored topping. After the bus circled Place du Trocadero, it turned onto Avenue Kléber and proceeded to the monumental Arc de Triomphe. From there it turned onto the Champs-Elysées and returned to the starting point.
It was a splendid journey and a splendid meal. The city revealed its beauty all along the way and the waitstaff was gracious and helpful.
Bus Toqué was founded in February 2018 by Vincent Durand, creator of Auto Passion Café, a restaurant and cocktail bar located on Boulevard Brune in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. Cuisine aboard the bus is prepared by Chef Kevin Peperty.
Bus Toqué runs three different services: a Left Bank lunch tour from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., a Parisian dinner tour from 6:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m., and a “Paris-by-night” tour from 8:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. To learn more about this unique dining experience and to book a table, click here: https://bustoque.fr/en/concept/.
Bon appétit !