Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paris - Au Pied de Couchon - E. Dehillerin

Decided to stay in the neighborhood today and enjoy the local shops. What good finds.

Au Pied de Cochon (This blog excerpt was sent to me by Ginan. I took one little side street and there it was, very close to the apartment!)

As famous a brasserie then as it is now, Julia [Child] came here—sometimes in the hours just before dawn after a night out—for their traditional onion soup.

Visit It: One of the few remnants of Les Halles' raucous all-night past is this brasserie, which has been open every day since 1946. Now run by the Frères Blanc group, it still draws both a French and a foreign crowd with round-the-clock hours and trademark traditional fare such as seafood platters, breaded pigs' trotters, beer-braised pork knuckle with sauerkraut, and cheese-crusted onion soup. It's perfect ribsticking fare for a winter's day or to finish off a bar crawl. The dining room, with its white tablecloths and little piggy details, feels resolutely cheerful. 6 rue Coquillière. 01–40–13–77–00. AE, DC, MC, V. Metro stop: Les Halles.
The reviewer was correct. The French Onion soup was really good with a cheesy crust on top.
The blog article also recommended what turned out to be another spot very close to the apartment.
E. Dehillerin
Julia Child was a regular here; and this is where she'd buy kitchenware while she was attending cooking school at Le Cordon Bleu.
Visit It: E. Dehellerin has been around since 1820. Never mind the creaky stairs; their huge range of professional cookware in enamel, stainless steel, or fiery copper is gorgeous. 18–20 rue Coquillière, 1er, Louvre/Tuileries (I don't think that this is the closest Metro stop.)

The store was packed with shoppers and is filled with everything that you would ever need! This is one of the nicer displays. Everything inside was stacked industrial, for real cooks and chefs! I could have spent a fortune in here.

This is the front window display and shows the diversity of the store..

Friday, October 30, 2009

Le Tir Bouchon - Paris

ohhhh, this was yummy. We thought that the restaurant would open for a late dinner at 7PM. You know that we are new Europeans. WELL, we discovered once we walked to the restaurant that they don't open until 7:30. We pretended to read the menu, as if deciding if we were going to actually eat there, and then went for a walk in the nearby "passage" (Covered shopping street)
We were back at the door of the restaurant, with our American tails wagging, desperately wanting to come inside, precisely at 7:30 PM. We were accepted with the graciousness of our hosts, and selected a seat (all of them were open!). This is what the restaurant looks like when you are the only one in it.
I ordered a "menu", which is their entre (appetizer), plat (main course) and dessert (same for one messes with that word!). I had this yummy dish of lamb and veal in a dark gravy with mushrooms. Brought tears to me eyes with the first taste. This went very well with the first bottle of red wine.

My main course was salmon. It was thinly sliced with a nice sized slice of mozzerella cheese in between. Basil dribble was over the entire dish and the fish was on a wonderful bed of vegetables, all thinly sliced. This went very well with the second bottle of red wine.

We took our time and after dining for about 80 minutes, were ready for dessert. I ordered creme brulee and dug in, then remembered to take a photo for you. It was sooooo good.

This was a great dinner at the cutest little restaurant. With 14 tables serving maximum 44 people, it was a cozy and delightful place to spend the evening meal. We finished and left just as the locals were starting to crowd the place.
Oh, and earlier, as we walked past Cafe Etienne Marcel, our waitress from the night before nearly hugged me. She was very warm and asked when we were returning. I think that we are all NBF.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Fall Day in Giverny, Normandy

The Fall brought many colors to Monet's home and pond in Giverny. The weeping willows, normally green, were lightly painted with golden yellow.

I think that these two trees are Japanese Maples. One was brilliant orange and the other was breathtaking red.

Some flowers remained in bloom around the pond.

This shot is from the far side of the pond. You can see the yellow and deep purple leaves on the left, and in the lower right is the vine covered bridge (blue).

This is taken from underneath a willow, with the red, orange and purple trees in the background.

After visiting the gardens and the house, we walked through the town of Giverny to a restaurant in an old tavern. The name was Hotel Baudy, once a hangout for American impressionist. It was located at 81, rue Claude Monet (pretty snazzy).

We sat outside in the terrace overlooking an open field (someone's back yard). We had the "menu" for the day. Goat cheese with mushrooms and Pepperoni (the waiter explained that "pepperoni" was an incorrect translation and it really "peppers".), turkey with cream gravy and mushrooms, and scallopped potatoes, and homemade apple torte (pie) for desert. Oh, yes, and since it is lunchtime in France, we had wine. And ended the meal with cafe and creme. Yummy.

Travel for the day took us on Metro 4, changed to Metro 3 and on to St. Lazare. Walked to Gare St. Lazare (rail station) and took the 8:20 AM train to Vernon. Hopped a ready bus from Vernon to Giverny and walked through town. The town is small and situated on a hill. Looks a lot like southwestern Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday in the Marais District

Today's target - the Marais District. We hopped on the #4 Metro at Les Halles, changed at Chatalet and boarded the #1 to Hotel de Ville. The streets were buzzing and busy as usual. The metro brought us up to street level a small distrance from the huge store, Bazar de Hotel de Ville. (BHV for the big shoppers) We toured from top to bottom, rested with a cappacino, and then moved on to our ultimate target.

Ginan introduced me to the wonderful tea from Mariage Freres at the Cultured Cup in Dallas. I've been buying teas from them for the past two or three years, and their Paris shop was on my list of must see places. We walked down a little side street, crossed rue de Mauvais Garcon (street of the bad boys?) and turned left on rue de Bourge-Tubourg. I stopped a woman who was walking and asked her is she could tell me how to find the Mariage Frere store. Her face lit up and she pointed in the direction of the store and asked if we were going to have tea. Of course! We found the marvelous store further down the street and on the right.

When I walked in the front door, I was mesmerized by the wonderful smell of the tea. I just closed my eyes and inhaled. What a joy! We looked around the shop and decided to be seated for tea and shop a little later.

We selected tea and deserts...great choice. I choose Marco Polo again. It took a while for the tea to come to the table (and the menu explained that the tea must be made to perfection, which always takes a little more time). The desert plate was yummy also, and consisted of a pink macaroon, creme brule, leppine, financier (spelling?) and a madeleine. We took our time (about 2 hours) and enjoyed the tea and the British mom and son sitting next to us.

After shopping at the tea store, we headed back to the Metro. These bicycle stands are all over Paris. You register, about 30 euros a year, and take the bikes from place to place. 1/2 hour is included with every check out, and an additional 90 minutes is only another Euro. More on this later as there is a stand near the apartment.

Remember that we talked about the fancy Metro signs earlier? Well, here is a shot of one of the regular boring ones.

As we came through the Metro stations on the way back to our area, we came upon students from the local orchestra playing. They filled the hallways with beautiful classical music.
Exiting the Metro in the neighborhood, I rounded the corner to see St. Eustache lit up beautifully. This is one of the 15 photos that I took (I found some new settings on my camera!)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday on Ile de la Cite

Today started with late coffee, but we gained an hour because the Europeans started daylight savings time this weekend. Surprise!

The plan was to go to the Ile de la Cite, the island we visited to see Notre Dame, and finish the Rick Steves Historic Paris walking tour that we had started last week. We walked on rue Montmontre to the Les Halles metro station and took the train to the Cite stop. What a wonderful surprise when we came up out of the metro. The metro sign was one of the old ones, the art deco ones, and not many of these still exist. (I'll take a picture of the new ones at a later date so that ou can see the difference.)

We went directly to St. Chapelle, but the sign said that they were going to close between 1 and 2:15 PM. We decided to go to the little cafe across the street, Cafe Deux Palais. We sat outside to take in the street scene. We were not disappointed! This is hard to see in the picture, but the group gathering on the right side of the photo were protesting, and lined up on the left side of the photo in dark blue were the police. The building that is to the left outside of the picture was the "Palace of Justice". So they group was protesting in front of this major government building. There were photographers, so I will try to find something on line or in a newspaper tomorrow about the demonstration. It was peaceful, with a couple of slogan T Shirts, face masks that cover the mouth, and handcuffs. Quite entertaining. When we asked the waiter what was going on, he just shrugged and said (in English) "Oh, eet eez just zee French, madame. Eet eez alwayz zum zing."

After lunch, we saw that the line was HUGE for the church, so we went to the Conciergerie. I didn't take any photos (sorry) because I have so many of them from the last trip and wanted to save photo space on my camera for the church.

By the time we finished with the first tour, the line was still long but it was now or never. So, we got in line and waited our turn. This is what the street looked like as we waited.
After inching along for about 20 minutes, we rounded the corner to see that we had to go through a security check. Because the grounds are shared with the court building, different security is in effect. No big deal, just like the airline check-in except we were allowed to keep our shoes on. Then it was free-wheeling touring once we were inside the grounds.
This is the wooden spire of the church. They are working on the exterior of the building with a little facelift. A sign was posted about the ongoing restorations and they are very proud of the project.

This is a photo of the front of the church.

You enter through the bottom floor, where the peasants would have entered. They worshipped below in the smaller, lower area.

There was a winding stair case that took us to the upper floor. The first thing that catches your eye is the high ceilings. The painting style draws your eyes up to see the drama.

The room is surrounded by fabulous stained glass windows. One side is a little dark because a building is right next to it, but the other side allows the light to shine in. Beautiful. There are seats all around so that you can sit and look at the stained glass.

The magnificent part is the front by the alter. This is what it looked like today. There is a restoration project going on for the next few years.

Luckily, they have a beautiful photo on an easel at the front of the room that shows you what the completed alter section looks like. Wow. This is worth visiting again when it is completely restored.

We left the church and walked south on Boulevard du Palais to the Pont Saint-Michel (bridge). Crossing the traffic to get on to the bridge was insane. A bus, double long, was trying to make a right hand turn on to the bridge and traffic would not yield. The driver kept inching forward and suddenly he won and could complete the turn. We zipped across the street while the pedestrian light was green and safely made it to the other side. The bridge was crowded with a student group gathering, and as we made our way past them, the view was astounding.

Looking west from the bridge, I just had to stop and take a photo of the Seine and the Pont Neuf (bridge. "Neuf" means "new" and this is the oldest bridge. Go figure.)

We stopped at some of the local shops (I HAD to have two more scarves!) and decided to take the Saint-Michel Metro as our return route. Since it was rush hour, we decided to give traffic another hour to calm and had cappuccinos at the cafe La Fountaine Saint-Michel. We passed the time people watching and decided that this area, Rive Gauche/Left Bank, was an active part of the city with a wide collection of people. Tourists, students and locals all hurried past on their way home, or out. (Joan, I didn't see any new fashion trends. It looks like fishnet stockings are the statement for this Fall.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday in the St. Germain area

I took the smaller camera with me today so that I could take photos for the blog. Here is a thumbnail sketch of the day's adventures in the Left Bank area.

This is the fountain in front of St. Sulpice church. This church is neo classical modeled on St Paul's in London. There are three Delacroix murals inside the church. Sunday mass was being held when we walked in, so we sat down and enjoyed.
The church is known for their awesome organ. The organist played during the service, and also after the service had ended. For you "DaVinci Code" fans, this is the church that played an important role in the book, although there is a sign saying that the story was fiction.
We left St. Sulpice and walked across the plaza for lunch. There is a cute little place, Cafe de la Mairie. We had omelettes and caffe creme (like a latte). The seating inside was nice, and you can see that they had an extensive outside seating area also.

Just a short walk down rue St. Sulpice, and a left on rue de Seine, we found Gerard Mulot's pastery shop. I wrote a seperate blog entry on this fabulous place because it was so awesome.

I had a chocolate macaroon (for Coco!) and it was sooo good. It is not coconut, like the macaroons in the USA. This is two cake like halves with filling in the middle. I nearly forgot to take a photo once I took a bite!

We walked west on rue St. Germain-des-Pres until we came to...(guess) St. Germain-des-Pres. The red coloring in the front of the church is an ivy covering. Big applause for the Fall colors!
St. Germain-des-Pres is the oldest church in Paris, from the 11th century. The restored interior is painted in the medieval manner. The church is in the Romanesque style with round, not pointed, arches over the nave. (Description Credit: Rick Steves Paris)
Per Rick Steves, "the square outside is one of Paris' great gather spots on warm evenings". Well, it was a fun gathering spot on a sunny midday Sunday. A "jazz originale" band was playing on the corner. Hot stuff!

We returned to rue St. Germain-des-Pres and walked past the Odeon theatres to Boulevard de Saint Michel (We call it "Boule Miche", because we think that we are locals now!!) On the corner we found the Cluny Museum with medieval exhibits. The heads from the 24 guys in front of Notre Dame are in here (a little beat up, but who would look good after being buried for 200 years?). The Roman baths were closed. I was more fascinated with the door and matching flower.

The day was delightful. We walked north on Boule Miche until we came to the Metro, then jumped on a train to Les Halles and the neighberhood. We had dinner at Cafe de Etienne Marcel next door to the apartment and had yummy french fries (the fries looked so good that we just ordered whatever came with the fries...heee heee), a cup of Mariage Frere "Marco Polo" tea for my sister Ginan, and finished with a cappucino. Oh, and a little wine because, after all, it is Paris.

Paris - Delightful Sunday Street Market

We enjoyed the morning coffee and then went towards the Metro. What a surprise to discover a street market was opened on a normally busy street. Food smells were wonderful. This man is pulling cooked chickens off of a sword.
There were flower stalls along the street.

Butcher stands had an assortment of meats.
I got falafel and some other ravioli thing. Heated, bagged, and ready to eat as you walk. It didn't last very long.
The fruit stands had a quite a variety of great looking fruits.
It looks like everyone in the neighborhood turns out for these Sunday morning street markets.