Vacances à Paris!

September 13, 2013

We depart for London on British Airways at 7:25 p.m. but there is already a delay?! I was notified at 7:00 this morning that the plane would depart late. Really? They've got 12 hours to fix the problem. I'm not going to read anything into this but it is Friday, the 13th, isn't it?

September 14, 2013

We departed Phoenix an hour late. We arrived in London on time. Apparently there were heavy tailwinds. We departed London an hour late. We arrived in Paris an hour late. Apparently there was no wind at all. We were dropped at our apartment by a gladiator taxi driver fighting for any advantage in the deadly combat of Paris driving. It was raining like only the Irish know rain. We dropped our sacs à dos in the flat, grabbed our parapluies and headed for the nearest bistro. Foie gras, vin rouge, pain...who needs anything more?

September 15, 2013

Interrupted sleep because of Tom's snoring led me to the couch to watch an episode of Dexter and eventually sleep again. Today was a day to get acquainted with our arrondissement. We walked the cobbled streets, ate, listened to a piano concert in an old church and ate some more. We start our French classes tomorrow morning. Stay tuned...

 street scene

street scene

 bistrot

bistrot

 on the left bank

on the left bank

September 16, 2013

Needless to say, I'm exhausted. Three hours of french class and six hours of sightseeing, not to mention, a bit of jet lag makes for a tiring day. I'm not sure I have what it takes to compose a journal entry so I am going to post some pictures in place of words. After all, a picture paints a thousand of them. 

 Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

 Eiffel from top of the Arc

Eiffel from top of the Arc

 Tuileries

Tuileries

September 17, 2013

Let me give you a recipe for a typical day in the life of me since I arrived à Paris. First, get out of bed and make an extra strong coffee in the Bialetti, add beaucoup cream.  Next, prepare for french class, then head there. Participate for three hours or until your head explodes from too much french and depart. Go to the nearest bistro and eat any of the magnificent salads on the menu, especially those with foie gras or raw boeuf. Do not forget to add red wine! Saunter the cobbled rue des petits carreaux, (that's our street) and stock up on baguettes, cheese, wine and pâte. Do not let Tom talk you in to resting. Continue on any of the self-guided walking tours you desire, today, the Marais. If you wander too far, take the metro home but, be sure you get on the train going in the right direction. Arrive home exhausted and make sure you have a bottle of Bordeaux waiting to be uncorked. C'est facile, n'est-ce pas?

 

 in the Marais

in the Marais

 Marais Boucherie

Marais Boucherie

September 21, 2013

Oh là là I have neglected my journal. There is simply no time to sit and write in English when I am trying to immerse myself in French. Pas le temps! Although, I could tell you about last night. We had seen Anthony Bourdain's eating tour of Paris several years ago, during that depressingly dark time when the United States was hell-bent on demonizing the French for having the good sense to stay out of Bush's disastrous Irqai interventionism and small minded political simpletons were inventing embarrassing words like Freedom fries as a cute way to divorce ourselves from the good judgment displayed by our allies. Bourdain's show was an attempt to show stupid Americans that the French way of life had much to recommend, particularly to a war like, blood thirsty nation like ours was at the time. 

Among the various places Bourdain visited was Chez Robert et Louise, a tiny, easily missed restaurant in the Marais at 64 La Rue Vieille du Temple. We made reservations for dix-neuf heures (7:00 pm) as we passed by the restaurant on the way to the Left Bank. When we popped our heads in it was all we remembered from the show. We trundled about the Ile de la Cité and Ile de St. Louis and plunged rather haphazardly into the left bank for the balance of the afternoon, killing time until dinner. We stopped at Le St. Andre for another of my many afternoon verres du vin and there met a very genial fellow from Albania. He was all about the Belushis and the city of Albany, New York and gave us the name of some Albanian who won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1998. Vive L'Albania!

Anyway, our many plans to visit Shakespeare & Co and the St. Germain des Prés came to naught because we just couldn't navigate the streets correctly to get there in the time we had, so we had to dash down the Metro with little time to spare. It was a crushing rush-hour on Friday afternoon, requiring full-on combat skills to jam yourself on the already overcrowded metro cars. But we did as the Parisiens do and got back to the Rue Vieille du Temple and arrived at Chez Robert et Louise a little early. We were the only ones there and were seated. The open wood fire stove was galloping. As the night rolled on a gaggle of Norwegians joined us at our table (it's all farmhouse seating) who spoke better English than French and with whom we struck up an immediate friendship. Later Bernard Thomas and his thinly disguised "protégée" took up the last two seats at the table and Tom had the temerity to make a suggestion to him from the menu. It seems our rather grand Bernard Thomas had lived close to the restaurant for 50 years, knew the people who ran the place and the menu better than anyone in the world, and needed little help from Tom. He was mortified for his presumptuousness and said so three or four times. International incidents can begin just this way. Seems Bernard Thomas is the conductor of the Paris Chamber Orchestra and is a very elegant, sophisticated (Gaullic to the core), Parisian artiste. The conversation was glinting like light off of chandeliers, sometimes in French, often in English and in the background, the lilting sounds of Norwegian. The food was astonishing. We started with blood sausage (Boudin noir) followed by sautéed potatoes and wood fired steaks. I had a much needed Port after dinner, Tom indulged in a kind of lemon meringue pie because the patisserie had not made the apple crumble he really craved. It was one of those serendipitous evenings that one simply cannot plan or dare to expect but which one is blessed to have if one by luck is in the right place at the right time. Three hours later, when we got up to leave, we were all fast friends, had taken photos of each other and shook each others' hands calling one another "mes amis." Vive la France

 

 Maestro Bernard Thomas

Maestro Bernard Thomas

 Chez Philippe

Chez Philippe

 Chez Julien

Chez Julien

 Lost in Paris

Lost in Paris

 Crêperie

Crêperie