Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday 31 December - Montsouris Park and New Year's Eve

I took a look at Gare du Nord this morning while Mary and Pat went back to Le Bon Marche to get some housewares.
A bi-mode/bi-courante in TER colors in the Gare du Nord
These date back to the 1970s and have been displaced from the main line express routes such as Paris - Strasbourg but still do good work on the outer suburban trains

The Thalys TGVs have an attractive livery
Gare du Nord was pretty busy and security was tight.  A group of SNCF police took on a homeless woman who made a squat in the concourse.  They made her move on but also she had to pick up all her cardboard bits and pieces.  She was really lighting into one of the uniforms and giving him what for - to the amusement of the rest.

This afternoon we went to Parc Montsouris which is on the other side of town but easily accessible through RER line B to Cite Universitaire.

The waterfall is similar to those found in Square Batignolles.

The ponies were standing very quietly together waiting non-existent riders.  We speculated that some of them were asleep.
We had a special meal at Aux Isles Marquises which is where we have been for December 31 for many years.  We were greeted like old friends by Madame and her husband, the chef, came out specially to greet us.  The service was well paced and the food excellent.  We started with a bottle of champagne and switched to Saumur Champigny for the meat course.
Oyster in a jelly.  Quite unusual.
We tucked right in to the fois gras so quickly that we didn't think to take a picture
Rosace de homard
Whitefish with truffles and vegetables, including grosnes (at 9 o'clock)
Granite de champagne to clean the palate.
Chevreuil de venaison
Dessert - including a pastry with hazelnut mousse on right.
The Paris transport is free today from 1700 until midday tomorrow.  Getting across to the restaurant, although it was the other side of Montparnasse, was very easy.  The metro was crowded but not frantic and the crowds were subdued.  It was raining when we came back so that should damp down things on the Champs Elysees.  It was good to renew acquaintances at Aux Isles Marquises.
Happy New Year Everyone
Happy New Year Everyone

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday 30 December - Le Train Bleu

I met Mary and Pat at the Gare de Lyon for lunch.  They had spent the morning at the Musee D'Orsay enjoying the exhibit of Impressionism and Fashion.  The restored interior is very attractive. I took a roundabout route via the Vanve market, Mouffetarde and the SNCF Gare de Bercy.
Porte de Vanves
A Wallace Fountain at Mouffetarde
The Gare de Bercy is very small - just four stub ended tracks.  The trains are not frequent.  This train has just arrived from Clermont Ferrand.

The Train Bleu cat was prowling around.  The waiter told us he was not a pet but an employee as there are lots of mice around and he is kept busy.
The food and the service were superb.  The waiter was friendly but busy but he was there when we needed him.

We started with poached organic egg on mushrooms in a sauce (Mary); Lyon sausage (Pat); hare in a canneloni shell with a rich spice (Colin)
For the plat there was duck shepherds pie (parmentier) with a rich sauce (Mary and Colin; Salmon (Pat)
The dessert was profiteroles (Pat); Mille feuille au citron (Mary); baba au rhum (Colin)
One and a half bottles of Cotes de Bourg.
The decor is extraordinary
We then made an abortive trip back to Sevres Babylon to find Le Bon Marche was closed than back to the apartment for a rest.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturday 29 December - Notre Dame, Hotel de Ville and much more

Sea urchins, razor clams and lobster - rue de Levis
We went all over the place today starting off at Notre Dame.  I was horrified to see the ghastly structure they have built in front of the church to celebrate its 850th anniversary.  It is impossible to get a good view of the exterior.

We went early but the place was still quite busy.  There was then a walk to Hotel de Ville where Pat rented skates for a spin on the ice.

Click above to see Pat skating
Place des Vosges and then via the National Archives to the Pompidou Centre with the enormous line ups.
National Archives
The Pompidou Centre is similar to North American steam locomotives - they hung all the guts on the ourside.
A quick trip across town to admire St. Sulpice which has been well restored outside.

St. Sulpice has large windows which let in a lot of light.  Much better than most churches of this era.
The organist was practicing.  It was an unfamiliar piece, probably J.S. Bach.  Click below to see three videos and hear the organ.

We then walked along to Le Bon Marche on Sevres which is a large departmental store with lots of staff and few customers.  The staff was very pleasant making eye contact and smiling "Bonjour."  There is a large epicerie right next door which was filled with interesting things.

We had a snack at a brasserie right outside.
I was treated to the pleasure of an old style toilet at the Brasserie.  Don't stand on the porcelain while flushing as the water overflows.  The lights were on a timer and went out at a critical juncture - remember where the light switch is before you start.
We then went across town to the Madeleine to visit the Apple store.  Mary bailed out here and left Pat and me to try to see the window displays on the Boulevard Hausseman.  It was very very crowded and very very unpleasant and we got out to the metro as soon as possible.

We set out to go to Le Relais de Venise but it was full so we went round the corner to a low end place.  The waiter was very pleasant and the food was good but not exceptional. A man at a table not far off was robbed.  He had taken off his jacket and put it over the back of his chair, leaving his wallet in the inside pocket.  Someone at the next table took his wallet.  That is a good lesson and is why I keep my wallet, cell phone and camera in front zip pockets in my pants.

I finished the day with chocolate tart and Calvados

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday 28 December - Pat Arrives Finally

We went out to Charles de Gaulle airport this morning to meet Pat Hurley who arrived 8 minutes and a day late because of bad snow conditions in Windsor, Ontario.  We quickly returned to the apartment using RER line B and the first order of business was lunch at Bistrot d'I-D.
First beverage was a coupe de champagne
Second beverage was a glass or three of Saumur Champigny
To start we shared a house terrine.
Mary - scallops with a creamy risotto.
Pat - wild boar with fries
Colin - Magret de canard with scalloped potatoes.
The meal was excellent and our server was pleasant, friendly and attentive.
After a short rest we decided to walk along to the Square des Batignoles
On the way to Batignolles the kids were having a great time at the roundabout where the city was giving free rides.

After a walk through the park we decided to catch the bus to Gare Saint Lazare.  There were some homeless drunk people at the bus stop.  The woman recognized my Stade Francais rugby hat and we started to talk about rugby.  They thought the best team was the New Zealand All Blacks but they were pleased that they were beaten by England recently.  It was a good job the bus came when it did because I am sure the bus shelter was about to blow up from the accumulated alcohol fumes. 

We admired the recently completed main hall at Saint Lazare then walked back past the music shops on rue de Rome.

In the evening we took the bus to the Trocadero.  I sat next to an unshaven security guard named Claude who was taking up two seats.  He was from Brittany and couldn't understand why I liked Parisians.  He was going to work on the night shift at the museum at Trocadero.  We arrived just in time to see the sparkling lights on the Eiffel Tower then back to the Etoile to see the lights on the Champs Elysees.  The metro took us to the Montmartre funicular again just in time to see the next session of sparkling lights on the Eiffel Tower.  We were beginning to flag so a short walk around Montmartre and we took the funicular and metro back to the apartment.
From the Trocadero

From  Montmartre

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thursday 27 December - Flaneur

Pat Hurley has been delayed a day in her arrival here so Mary went off to the Pompidou Centre while I bought a mobilis ticket and explored some more.
It was raining lightly when I left so it seemed a good day to be selling umbrellas.  However, the sun broke out quickly although there was a silver lining in that there were very high winds so maybe a few umbrellas were blown inside out.
After finding an old electric I hadn't seen before at Gare Saint Lazare I decided to follow Denis Desmarais' advice and go to see the TGV Atlantique sidings at Chatillon.  I found them easily enough but Denis omitted to say that the only way to get a good look was to pretend that he had left something on the train and could he please try and find it.
I then went to Porte de Vanves and took the T3a tram to Avenue de France.

The next stop was at Porte de Charenton.  This time I walked back along the roadway/tramway to the bridge over the Villeneuve St. George yards.

From the same location it is possible to see the trams as well.
I continued on to Porte de Vincennes and changed to tram T3b to go all the way through to Porte de la Chapelle.  Metro back to Gare Saint Lazare and walked back from there.
Dinner this evening was at Le Patio Provencal on rue des Dames.  It was the first time we had been there and we found it very good.  The service was well paced and the meal well prepared,  Sorry Brian, no pictures
Shrimp and avocado in a mayonnaise and vinegar sauce/salad with gizzards prosciuttoand parmesan.
Veal provencal style with olives, mixed vegetables/confit de canard with pasta.
Tarte aux poires/Tarte au citron meringue
Half bottle of Saumur Champigny
E-mailing Joanne Rivard while waiting for the Sleepy Time tea to mash