Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday - Thursday 14 - 15 December 2011. Travel Ottawa to Paris

The overnight flight to Paris was relatively uneventful although it was long and there were seemingly interminable waits at times.  The most entertaining was a family with two small girls at security in Ottawa.  They didn't like having to take off their coats and didn't want to give up their dolls which had to go through the X-ray machine.  They were eventually persuaded by a smiling security officer to allow their dolls to have their pictures taken.

Charles de Gaulle airport is always busy  and there is always something remarkable to see or experience. In the baggage hall waiting for our bags I found myself standing beside a soldier carrying an automatic weapon.  I was concentrating on the line of bags coming up the chute and when I next looked back he was gone - but there were several others interspersed with the people from the Air Canada flight.  On the way towards the RER station there was a huge pile of old cases and garbage bags on a trolley.  Someone, covered in a blanket, was half sitting on an adjacent bench half leaning on the pile.  Are they setting up housekeeping there?  Maybe this is how the authorities handle unattended bags?

We made it through Charles de Gaulle Airport quite quickly and caught the RER line B into the Gare du Nord.  The track is now all continuous rail and the train gave a very smooth ride.  Everywhere is green, partly as a result of the rain they have had in the last week or so but also because of the temperatures which have been above freezing.  The vast sprawling Bourget marshalling yard is passed on the left.  It is covered by overhead wires yet the yard switching is done by a double diesel cow and calf set.  Soon we passed a few rows of TGVs, Thalys and Eurostars and a quick view of Sacre Coeur told us it was time to get the cases down from the rack.  We transferred to the Metro line 2 and again were treated to a very smooth ride in one of the new trains - large windows and the wonderful destination boards lit up over every exit showing the next station.  Preston was waiting to greet us at the apartment where Gail has thoughtfully provided a bottle of champagne and some chocolates.

We had lunch at le Bistrot d'I-D on the rue de Levis which we hadn't been to before.  It was good but nothing fancy:
Blanquette de veau/sanglier (wild boar)
It is doubtful that I will be visiting the Blanc a Argent Railway at Valencay this time and so I decided to have a pichet of red Valencay.  Not much of a nose but very pleasant anyway.  The restaurant has a strange name but the sole waitress was very much on top of things.  She was well aware of where each table was in the meal and was very quick to seat customers.  Once they had come through the door she would quickly seat them to ensure they didn't escape.  She also worked well with the bar to get drinks orders out in good time.

The weather has been a little cold and blustery but with temperatures above zero.  Sunny one minute and railing the next.  We then did some grocery shopping (including an Epoisse cheese and a bottle of Oban single malt whiskey)  and came back for a rest.  There have been a  number of changes along the rue de Levis.  One boulanger who was very close to another award winning boulanger has gone into patisserie and there are one or two new green grocers as well.  The many green grocers take deliveries every day, during the day - contrast this with the Byward market which now has only one green grocer which takes delivery once a week.  No oysters on sale today - in fact no real signs of Christmas (holly and mistletoe for sale etc.).

We had forgotten to bring our champagne bottle stopper so we had to drink the entire bottle of Champagne Malard which is a Premier Cru from Epernay It is quite fruity with a hint of tangerine. 
To go with it we had bought a baguette from the award winning baker.  It had a firm crust and the texture was very bready - very good indeed.  Epoisse is a strange cheese.  It smells terrible but has a wonderful smooth, soft, creamy texture which goes well with baguettes and champagne.

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