Saturday, October 6, 2012

Paris ~ ♥ Rue de Grenelle




We arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport on a SmartWings flight from Prague in the early afternoon.


Charles de Gaulle Airport, Terminal 3
 is rated, by at least one travel writer, as
 the 5th worst airport terminal in the world
Collecting our bags, exiting the terminal, and hailing a taxi all went smoothly and quickly ... Gus begs to differ as to the terminal's ranking. Our ride into central Paris took, at most, 45 minutes. Ian and Judy's apartment building is in the 7th arrondissement (Left Bank) ~
 
105 Rue de Grenelle
We entered a passageway which led to a courtyard. To our left was the main entrance to the building. Here, we rang the apartment button marked M et Mme Irvine. The door unlocked and we took the elevator to the 4th floor (equivalent to the 5th floor in the U.S. since, in France, the ground floor counts as zero). Our friends were waiting ...

 
Gus, Judy, and Ian
... yet, waiting was quickly replaced by "let's go pick up a few things" ~
 
Fromagerie Barthélemy
 
If one were to ask "what is the best cheese shop in Paris?", the simple and convenient answer is to say “whichever one is near your apartment.” For Ian and Judy the answer to both is Barthélemy. The shop has a  nostalgic touch that makes you believe that this fromagerie has probably been around since Louis XIV. Once you walk in, you’ll be surprised, too. The shop is so tiny, and so packed with cheese, that a handful of customers already constitutes a crowd here. Judy admitted that she has been a bit intimidated to buy cheese here; if the proprietress, Mme Barthélemy, "doesn’t like your nose, you’d better not provoke her anger." We left the shop with three wonderful cheeses which we would enjoy over the next few days; yet more importantly, we did not suffer the wrath of Mme Barthélemy.
 
Ryst - Dupeyron

Charming wine and liquor store on the posh Rue du Bac provides a range of top quality everyday wines, collectible bottles, and one of the best spirit collections in the city. We picked up 5 or 6 bottles for the upcoming week.
 
Cheese, wine ... wait a moment, a "few things' must include pastries ~ 
  
La Pâtisserie des Rêves
La Pâtisserie des Rêves is, true to its name, the pastry shop of dreams. We came, we saw, and we took home an éclair, a financier, and a lemon tart ... all nicely packaged up and placed in a stylish pink bag.

Returning to the apartment we quickly put things away, settled in, and cleaned up. Judy had made dinner reservations for 8:00 pm at La Laiterie Sainte-Clotilde. Ian, working from "home", needed to spend some time on a conference call. As 8 o'clock approached, we headed out to the restaurant without Ian ... he would catch up in 10-15 minutes. Ian and Judy had truly become Bobos, in the best since of the word.

La Laiterie is situated among apartment
buildings on a quiet part of rue de Bellechasse
The restaurant was quite busy, even though it was still early, making the restaurant feel like some sort of neighborhood hot spot - without the buzz factor of other hip(er) places. After 15 minutes, Ian hadn't caught up with us, we ordered. A short, seasonal menu (three entrees, three plats, three desserts) and easy, affordable wine. We were each pleased with our selections ... Ian joined us and ordered ... La Laiterie was perfect for a first night, cozy and comfortable dinner. 

We woke up to a beautiful sunny day. Today we plan to exchange our tourist status for that of Parisian residents ... we are to ride bikes in Bois de Boulogne where Parisians go to breathe and enjoy spacious green surroundings.

Gus, having just acquired his bike for the day

Paris isn't known as a city of bicycles ~ or bicyclists ~ but this is changing. The City operates a Vélib' bike-rental program with thousands of three-speed unisex bikes at hundreds of stations or "service points" around the city. You'll pay €1,70 for a day ticket or €8 for a seven-day ticket, which lets you take an unlimited number of 30-minute journeys. Trips longer than 30 minutes incur small additional "usage charges."
 
Bois de Boulogne where Parisians go to
breathe and enjoy spacious green surroundings.
Cycle paths of nearly 5 miles weave through large lawns and patches of forest.


Joan and Gus
standing in Catelan Meadow

Ian and Judy

The lower lake in the Bois de Boulogne
  
Le Chalet des Iles
Lac Inférieur du Bois de Boulogne - Porte de la Muette
 

Fashionably dressed ladies prancing
about in their La Belle Epoque era
walking-dresses
Ladies could be on their way to join
Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party

Leaving Bois de Boulogne, we rode our bikes to a Vélib service point conveniently located next to
a metro station. We returned our bikes and boarded the metro for a ride to the general area of Canal Saint-Martin and more specifically Bassin de la Villette ~

Bassin de la Villette
connects the Canal de l'Ourcq to the Canal Saint-Martin
and is a component of the network of canals in Paris

Canal Saint-Martin

Ian, Judy, and Gus
on the Quai de Valmy
We walked along the Quai and Boulevard Richard-Lenoir for maybe 2 miles until we reached The Place de la Bastille.

The Place de la Bastille
The Place de la Bastille is a square in which the Bastille prison stood until the 'Storming of the Bastille' on July 14, 1789 and its subsequent physical destruction during the French Revolution; no vestige of it remains.

Third annual Festival Bastille Quartier Libre 

1940s-era Bistro perfectly preserved with true Parisian vibes



Presented with a resolutely traditional and  no-frills French bistro menu ...  Gus ordered  "La tentation de St Antoine, pied, groin, oreille et queue de porc panées et grillées" or what only a person, like Saint Anthony, that was mentally and spiritually tormented would choose to eat. Breaded and grilled pigs' feet, groin, ears, and tail ... a dish that should not tempt anyone, anywhere, or at anytime ... now obsolete, groin refers to a ‘pig’s snout’.
 
Our walk of digestion back to the apartment took us past ~
 
North entrance to Les Invalides ...

and turning to the west The Eiffel Tower lit up at night and sparkling
 
After a short jaunt we were home. We all slept well, awoke, drank coffee, slowly moved about, and by 11 o'clock were out and on our way to Boulevard Raspail Organic Market (Sunday's only). 

Two blocks from the market, we passed by
 Ina Garten's Paris Apartment on the top floor
The visuals at the market are fantastically colorful and delightfully charming as the French make artwork out  of all of their displays.

Bounty of produce


First stand on the right.
Potato Galette (Galette Pomme de Terre) produced as you watch.
 There was long line of people patiently waiting to buy theirs.

Olives

Dried fruits and nuts

Cape Gooseberry (Physalis)

Spectacular peonies

Goat cheese (Chèvre)

Boudin blanc de Rethel, Boudin noir, museau, and other charcuterie

Beef tongue
Succulent roasting chickens

Paella Stall
for vegetarian paella to go

Canneles de bordeaux, brownies, and cookies

Crab legs (Pattes de Crabe)

Incredible fish

Delightfully crusty,  fresh baguettes
 In the middle of the market is a wonderful ménagerie of farm animals.






 
Raspail farmer's market is a treat ... the whole experience is entertainment in itself.

Upon return to the apartment, we put away the cornucopia of items we procured from the market. At this point we presented ourselves with the question ... what are we going to do with these wonderful ingredients? The answer ~


Poached shrimp with celery root remoulade

Braised chicken legs with pearl onions

Haricots verts  with lemon

Herbed mashed potatoes

Crusty baguette

White Burgundy

Dinner was casual yet elegant, simple yet complicated, and most importantly delicious.
 
We cleaned up. The time was now ... Gus and Joan bid adieu and left the apartment for Pont de l'Archevêché. Our walk took us along the Seine, the air was chilly and crisp, the moon three quarters full ... we were approaching midnight in Paris.
 
 
Institut de France

Quai des Grands Augustine and Quai St. Michel
Cafe Le Depart on the corner

 Notre Dame de Paris

The bridge links the  5th Arrondissement
to the 4th Arrondissement, at the Île de la Cité

 Welcome to the bridge of loving couples!
 
A bridge crossing the Seine river in Paris; resplendent with 'love padlocks'. You hang a lock on it with the name of you & your wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, best-friend (an inscription and a date is optional, yet completes the eternal remembrance) then throw the key into the river. So even though the friend/relationship may end, you can’t remove the lock. It stays there forever, as relevance to someone once a part of your life.
 

JOAN & BRENT
ALWAYS FOREVER
18.6.94

 
I Love You Always Forever, written and performed by Donna Lewis
 
Monday was to have us leave Paris for the day.  


Foire Nationale aux Antiquités à la Brocante et aux Jambons ile de Chatou 
This fair is France’s largest antiques and gourmet food fair and it’s held twice a year in the Parisian suburb of Ile de Chatou. Aside from the plethora of antiques, is that it is an opportunity to eat ham like it’s going out of style.   While one could assume that the odd combo of selling pork and antiques was a marketing ploy to get reluctant husbands to go brocanting, the fair’s origins date back to the Middle Ages. The way this particular market started is a great story. In the Middle Ages, during Holy Week, pork butchers came to Paris selling their products. One year an enterprising butcher decided that he wanted to “bring home more bacon” so he started selling not only braised ham but the equipment for making it as well. The other vendors caught on to the idea and started bringing more items, focusing on specialties from their region, namely furniture, pottery and antiques. Before they knew it, a festival celebrating both the flea market and ham was born.

Guan Yin,
Goddess of Compassion, Mercy and Kindness
 is considered to be a mother-goddess and patron of seamen
Joan, after extensive buyer's contemplation and an intense negotiation with the French vendor purchased this statue of the goddess which now resides in California.

French Rattan Cane Bistro Chairs
Although lovely and very tempting, we passed on this fun set of outdoor furniture.


Côte de Bœuf and frites
While our plan was to "pig-out" for lunch, once we saw the thick cut rib-eye steaks each weighing a kilo or more being grilled, we recanted. We asked that the steak be cooked "blue" (think going from medium, to medium rare, to rare, to very rare, and to our final destination blue) and for the meat to be sliced off the bone. The meat was juicy and full of rich flavor but was extremely chewy; don't think that we will ever order beef cooked "blue" again.


Domaine Chapelle tasting booth

The River Seine at Chatou
Chatou was a meeting point for Impressionist painters (Monet, Sisley, Morisot, Manet, Pissarro, and Prins) who frequented it in the second half of the 19th century. It was a place where Renoir painted numerous pieces, most notably the Déjeuner des canotiers (Luncheon of the Boating Party) in 1881.
 
Joan and Gus used the next morning to visit the Musée Rodin, but first  passed by these two shops that simply called out for their images to be captured ~

Café window displaying desserts available for lunch

Boutique flower shop
with a beautiful assortment of hydrangeas

A few blocks later ~   
 
Musée Rodin
 
The Musée Rodin contains most of Rodin's significant creations, including The Thinker and The Kiss . Many of his sculptures are displayed in the museum's extensive garden. The museum is one of the most accessible museums in Paris. The gardens around the museum building contain many of the famous sculptures in natural settings. Behind the museum building is a small lake and casual restaurant.
 


 

 





 





After a wonderful morning at the Musée Rodin we met back up with our friends.

Gus, waiting

Joan, waiting

Judy & Ian, arriving

Lunch was fabulous ~
 
 
Chez l'Ami Jean
a Basque bistro
Chez l’Ami Jean offers several pre fixe menus, as well as an a la carte menu during lunch service. We sat down at a tiny cozy four-top along the wall. We all chose the 32€ three-course set, which included a starter, main, and dessert. The meal was a panoply of eating pleasure: the entrées were exceptional; the plats impressed; and the desserts were a great finish. Très “cramped” – “if the tables were any closer together, you’d be French kissing” your neighbor – still, the “skilled and cheeky” servers make it work.

Chef Stéphane Jégo
A glimpse in the kitchen window will silence anyone who whines about his or her kitchen. At lunch and dinner, the wild-eyed Jégo and three cooks send out 60 entrees using just four burners, a grill, a salamander and a “piano” cook top. The menu is often tweaked and reprinted between seatings. The key, Jégo said, is the mise en place. “It’s an organized mess,” he said. “The mise en place started ten years ago, and it never stops. If it does, we’re dead.”


The Musée de l'Orangerie 
The Musée de l'Orangerie is an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. Though most famous for being the permanent home for eight Water Lilies murals by Monet, the museum also contains works by CézanneMatisseModiglianiPicassoRenoirRousseauSisleySoutine, and Utrillo, among others. Photographs of the Water Lilies were not permitted, however, most all of the other paintings in the permanent collection were allowed to be photographed.
 
 















Leaving the museum we had lunch at ~


Café Diane in the Tuileries Gardens,
unfortunately the weather was a bit too cold and we ate inside

Grande Allée ending at the Louvre 


Gus standing in front of  the Louvre Pyramid
which serves as the main entrance to the Lourve Museum
This visit to the Louvre took us to Napoleon III's apartments. Napoleon III's reign from 1852 to 1870 goes down in history for considerably changing the face of Paris. The splendor of the apartments cannot be adequately captured in a photograph ...  imagine men in costume and women in crinoline gowns entertaining themselves in these luxurious settings with a piano recital as background music.






Devoting only a few hours to certainly one of the world's most magnificent museums we left, met  outside by a wet drizzle, and ventured over to one of our favorite Parisian cafés ~

Café Le Nemours
We had almost 1½ hours before we were to meet Ian and Judy for dinner. We paid our check, got up, opened our umbrella, and walked to the entrance of Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre metro station. Boarding the line 1 (yellow) and riding to Conncorde, we transferred to the purple line 8 (light purple) and rode to La Motte Picquet Grenelle and exited.



It was a little over a mile to the restaurant and it had stopped raining. Walking northeast along Avenue de la Motte-Piquet we turned left on Avenue de La Bourdonnais and finally right onto Rue de Monttessuy. We were 45 minutes early ~
 
 
The Eiffel Tower,
view from in front of the restaurant
before dinner

Au Bon Accueil,
our restaurant destination
This very popular, small, neighborhood restaurant is indeed welcoming and its menu is rather appealing with imaginative, well prepared food; a fine wine list with many excellent options by the glass. However, unlike the previous occasion when we ate at this restaurant, tonight the service was rather unpleasant.

The Eiffel Tower,
view from in front of the restaurant
after dinner
After leaving the restaurant, we all enjoyed the short 5 minute walk over to the base of the Eiffel Tower ~

Eiffel Tower I

Eiffel Tower II,
when one shot just is not enough
We returned to the apartment with anticipation of the 2012 U.S. Presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. Paris time the debate coverage would begin at 2:00 am. We all laid down for a hour or two ... four emerged, wide awake, "fired-up and ready to go" ... Gus still believes that Barry won the debate!

One full day, remains, do not waste it. Lunch at  ~

La Table d’Aki
The menu centered on fish; sophisticated dishes that sparkled with freshness and flawless execution. Lunch was simply fabulous. After lunch we split-up and went different ways ~ handyman Ian to the hardware store and back to the apartment, Joan to accomplish some "last-day" boutique shopping, and Gus and Judy to pick up ingredients for dinner ~

Joël Robuchon’s Macaroni with Fresh Truffles
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons sea salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
16 large macaroni, such as zitoni
3 tablespoons Truffle Butter
3/4 cup freshly grated Swiss Gruyère cheese
Freshly ground white pepper
4 fresh black truffles (about 3 ounces total),

cleaned and sliced into thick rounds

Minced fresh chives, for garnish

 Truffle Butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons minced truffle peelings
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

First stop, yes we know that the beginning of black truffle season is still 2 months away ~
 
Truffes Folies, a shop in the 7th,
was redolent with the earthy aroma of mushrooms
 
Next we went to Rue de Cler, one of the best market streets in Paris, to pick-up the rest of our ingredients ~







 We tried to stay with what was on our list ... alas, we may have picked up a few extra items.
 
Preparing dinner was relatively easy and quick yet the result was sublime. We had a salad, dressed in a simple vinaigrette, along with macaroni followed by a few delicious cheeses. Life is good ... friends, food, and Paris. Thank you Judy and Ian.
 
Au revoir Paris ... hello ~
 
 
 
 

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