Thursday, July 26, 2018

Les Chiens de France: Paris Day 1 & 2

Sunday, July 8
After dropping off the rental car, we waited for the high-speed train from Bordeaux. The noon train was delayed nearly two hours, but thankfully our train was on time. We arrived at Gare Montparnasse, and our apartment was right across the street. The view was as promised, and it was very, very hot. I foolishly thought air-conditioning would be cooling, but the stand-alone unit, with a vent that we stuck out the sliding door was not effective. Found a fan in the closet, but the knob to turn it on was missing. Agh! Emailed the apartment host who said another fan would be delivered on Monday. After settling in and doing laundry, picked up some items at the Casino supermarket that was open on Sunday afternoon (toilet paper, yogurt, sparking water, etc), signed up for a week of Velib bike share, then set off to find an open resto, as many are closed on Sunday. The Velib bikes looked different from four years ago, and none of the stations had any working bikes. Hmph. But we saw a beagle mix named Elise!
  
Elise, beagle mix in Paris

Found Cafe Constant, but there was a wait, so we walked a few doors down to the sister resto, Cocottes, where almost everything is served in little cast iron pots. They forgot my apertif (spritz), which made me cranky, but overall the meal was good.

After dinner we walked to the Champs de Mars, where the grass looked dry and dead compared to our last visits. Maybe a water shortage? Then I saw a rat! After which we saw the rat sign. Yikes. 

Stop aux rats

We looked for bikes at a few more Velib stations before giving up and walking the rest of the way (I sent a message to cancel the subscription). The apartment had cooled down since we lowered the window shade before we left, and we watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle from the balcony. Love that sparkle! 

Evening view

Monday July 9
Woke up to blue skies and warm weather; quite exciting, as it had rained during our previousParis visits, both in summer. Dan had muesli and sheep yogurt for breakfast (ew), cows yogurt with nectarines and coffee for me. On the terrace with the Eiffel Tower view, of course. 

Morning view

Dan did a couple more loads of laundry, and then we set off. First to the Orange store to top up data for my phone. Then onto the metro station. We tried three machines before finally successfully recharging our Navigo Découverte passes for the week. (We got the passes on our first trip in 2012, didn’t use them in 2014 because we rode Velib bikes.) Saw a group of youth scouts - both girls and boys - while waiting for our metro. We got off at Madeleine where Dan refilled our mustard crock -from our last trip - at Maille. Got a couple more crocks (balsamic/port and truffle) so we'll have to return when those are finished. 

Maille

Maille

Then we walked to Le Grand Véfour, passing many Japanese restos on the way. I had read about a bunch of fancy restos that have special lunch menus, and originally was going to try Le Cinq or Guy Savoy, but ended up choosing Le Grand Véfour (Guy Savoy requires jacket). They let Dan in even though he was wearing shorts. It’s a very old place on the edge of the garden of the Palais Royal, and the interior of the resto is very lovely. It all feels very Parisian, though of course several tables of Asian tourists. The amuse-bouche was a shrimp on a cold foam thingy - refreshing. For starters, I had foie gras, and Dan had a cold shellfish gel thingy, both delicious. Mains: Dan had monkfish, and duck for me. Yum! Next was the cheese cart - my first time - so many choices! I picked three cows milk varieties, and Dan had sheeps, and a sheep/goat mix. He enjoyed all three of his. The Savoie was delicious, but sadly I could not finish my cheeses. Too much food. Then there was a pre-dessert dessert. It was weird, and I didn’t like it. The real dessert was next. Dan had a berry gel-foam thing with pistachio accents, and I had a delicious chocolate tart thingy, covered in more chocolate. Desserts were served with petit fours and fruit pates. I asked to wrap up the petit fours because I just couldn’t eat them. I took the fruit pates too. To end the meal, they brought out what looked like an angel food bundt cake, but said it’s a biscuit of the chef, or some such thing, and cut a slice for each of us. I took a small bite. Might be flavored with some nut liquor. Seemed like an odd way to end the meal, but maybe it’s his signature thing. The maitre’d left off a zero on the credit card bill, but Dan was honest and pointed it out.

Cheese cart

Dessert

We walked/Metro to the Musée Jacquemart-André, which is a very beautiful home with an extensive art collection, mostly Italian. The audio guide was helpful. I particularly enjoyed the gold-gilded double staircase, although slightly distracted by two young ladies, one posing, the other taking many Instagram-style photos. Much lifting of the skirt and flipping of the long hair. Perhaps a fashion/style blogger/influencer/etc. After touring the rooms, we had a drink in the tea room, also very pretty. Coffee for me, and Breton cider for Dan. Then we saw the Mary Cassatt exhibit; thankfully there was English audio guide since all the descriptions were in French. We enjoyed the fruit pates in the courtyard.

Musée Jacquemart-André

Musée Jacquemart-André

After the museum we walked to Parc Monceau, passing many lovely buildings. We didn’t see many dogs at the park, one beagle mix (no photo) and a funny dachshund in a grassy area with a no dogs allowed sign - scofflaw!

Hmm

Then the metro back to our apartment. I was still full from lunch, but Dan needed dinner, so we picked up a salad and a baguette. Shared the salad, and he had sardine rilletes with cornichons on baguette. Leftover petit fours for dessert, then watched the Eiffel Tower twinkle on the hour.

Sunset

Night view

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