Spring showers soaked Paris for a week. On Monday, the rain was so heavy that at times people literally hid in storefront alcoves. I meant to take pictures of the new canopy over Les Halles, but the brief moments when it wasn’t pouring were so rare that I didn’t want to risk ruining my new camera. The only outdoor shot I got was this “canopy” in the five minutes it cleared enough to take a shot.

With weather like this, we literally just ran into a restaurant nearby, the chain from Brussels, Léon. My friends who live in Brussels say that they eat there, so caught between the downpour and flooded streets, we decided to try it. They are famous for their mussels, guaranteed fresh and inspected, and they offer an incredible lunch menu of salad, mussels, coffee and dessert for under 12€ ($15 US). Being in France means a nice selection of wines, and being a Belgian chain means their beer selection is equally good. My friend ordered the menu and I ordered the regular portion of mussels marinière. They offer many varieties from creamy to curry, and if you’re not a fan of mussels, they also have pasta, burgers, chicken, and fish, but why come here for a burger? The salad wasn’t particularly inspired, but decent and fresh.

This huge receptacle for our leftover mussel shells was in the shape of a mussel 🙂

My regular size portion was 800 grams, nearly two pounds, and yes I happily ate it all! The lunch menu portion is 400 grams since you get salad and dessert. My French friend taught me how to use the shells as “pinchers” to grab the mussels and I had fun playing with my food as I ate it 🙂

Fries accompany all the mussels, and this is one of the only things that I’ve ever seen here served with as many refills as you wish. They were obviously previously frozen, but not bad.

The dessert with coffee was a crème brulée and a very sweet rich chocolate mousse. All in all, a very decent meal for the price and our waitress was wonderfully friendly and efficient, so much so that my native French friend tipped her (usually no one tips here since service is included on the bill). They have locations all over the touristy areas, so if you are on the Champs-Elysées and looking for a decent place to eat, this is a safe bet; it’s like going to a Cheescake Factory in the US, nothing spectacular, but you won’t walk away hungry or angry.

My favorite “dessert” is a clear sunny day, when you can actually see La Défense instead of hazy pollution

and when the only water spouts come from fountains 🙂