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Paris in February
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's what I like about you Griffin.... no fussing over the small stuff - just head straight for the top of the pile!

Versailles is pretty, but Fontainbleu is beautiful.... Wink

Donna told me last night that the cousins place is the "servants quarters" to the main chateau!!!!!!!! Mighty fine servants digs I say!
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aha-- servant's quarters--that could explain the simplicity I got from the rooms.

Thank you for your "meeting report", Debbie. I think everybody loves to read these.
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Griffin



Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 932
Location: England

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ohh, well in that case, Donna can have the servants quarters and we'll have the main chateau! Very Happy
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Judy



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 1196
Location: buried under a pile of books somewhere in Adelaide, South Australia

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Debbie and Donna, your evening together sounds wonderful - great to read that you had such a good time.

Any photos?
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Embarassed Heaps of photos taken of Guy la Griffe, but we were having such a good time chatting that we didn't stop to take photos of us I don't think.... Embarassed

When Donna gets home and sorts through her photos she may have some to share.

Griffin... once again, you are the ideas man!! I think that would be an acceptable substitution. We can ask Donna's cousin to decorate for us in the same style and then live quite happily in the resultant splendour. Wink
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simona



Joined: 11 Mar 2005
Posts: 696
Location: israel

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Donna, welcome back. I'm sure you had a most wonderful trip, and Paris is beautiful in February , especially if you have the good luck you had and the weather was fine and clear .
I hope you will post more of your adventures as well as photos , but I confess that I'm really curious about your dinner at Aux Lyonnais. I thought of going there many times, but somehow, the menu did not really enticed me, and I also heard the tables are tiny ( and I'm nor really tiny) , and I do like a little space between me and the others. But still, we'll be back in Paris I hope, soon, maybe in April, so your opinion is important,
Thanks.


No more war, more space between tables at french restaurants!!!!
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donna, in addition to the highlight dinner(s), could you elaborate on the feeling/mood of the city/citizens of Paris? A short story/screenplay will be fine!! (You said you wanted to "inhale" while there--I took that to mean *not* just the bakeries!)

Was the $ problem bad enough that you would discourage others (Americans) to travel right now?
Did you see the public bicycles?
Did your husband find any specific bread favorite?
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Salut Mes Amis!

I have been reluctant to start this post until I was less jet-lagged and had time to sit down. But I'm back home after my day at work and I'm a little better rested than I have been, so...

What can I say? It was a dream of a trip! Debbie kindly arranged the absolute MOST AMAZING WEATHER in the world! It was cold, but not freezing, at night (high 30's F) and cool (40's & 50's F)and sunny with nary a cloud in sight during the day. From the very first breakfast with a view of Notre Dame to the very last breakfast at Angelina's (for the brilliant hot chocolate) I was in absolute heaven!

Best meals: Aux Lyonnais - on Saturday night for my actual birthday - was just fabulous. There were 5 of us (friends from Granville in Normandy) and every single entree and plat principal was just succulent and delectable. I had the rilletes de porc mixed with foie gras as an entree and scallops on leeks for the main dish - everything just melted in my mouth. Ben had duck and navets (turnips) - again just brilliant. I had the chocolat lava cake for dessert - that's not the name they gave it, but it's what I call it. OMG! Superlative! Ben ordered a vanilla souffle, which, when they brought it to the table, they deflated and dropped in a scoop of pear sorbet. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Simona, you are correct - it is somewhat close inside and we sat cheek by jowl with another family, but we were at the banquette. The tables with chairs seemed to have more room. And I must say the service is exquisite, including the sensitivity to allow us to dawdle over coffee.

Cafe Constant in the 7eme was also a delight. Recommended by my husband's cousin - he of the bed & breakfast. We wandered in with no reservations and had a wonderful meal! Christian Constant apparently has 2 other restos in Paris with stars and this is just a little bistro with great food and attentive service and a very strong (but affordable) wine list. I had quail and Sam had scallops, shared an entree of artichokes & mushrooms. Had cheese for dessert.

The first day we were there - we decided to head over to the 1eme arr. for a little auld lang syne for me and Ben (who had stayed there on a high school class trip). I wanted to hit E. Dehillerin - had not been there for 30-odd years. Despite the fact that gentrification has hit the 1eme (after the closing of Les Halles and subsequent transformation into a mall), Dehillerin seems to have changed not a hair! It's the same crowded, dusty place inside, although the clerks are younger than the ones I fondly recall! I couldn't actually find anything I needed desperately enough to buy! But I should mention that my first knives (as a young bride) were purchased there and I still use them, so you can't beat the quality! I did find it interesting that I did not see ANY carbon steel knives this time - which is what we were admonished to buy back in the day. I saw only stainless and ceramic.

Afterwards we headed down the street to Au Pied de Cochon for onion soup. Sam & Ben ordered andouillette - an aquired taste if there ever was one! I hadn't realized what the change in the neighborhood would do to the resto - from a noisy crowded "joint" where the porters from Les Halles would go at 2 or 3 AM after hauling sides of beef all night to a genteel, white table cloth restaurant. I felt a little crazy, after having described it to Sam & Ben. On one of my earliest trips to Paris, I ended up there eating onion soup and oysters at 2:00 AM - it sure didn't feel the same! Afterwards we hit Mora and A. Simone, as well as Les Verrieres (sp ?) across from Dehillerin. I was on the trail of earthenware caquelons for onion soup. I have a set of 3 I bought in France a very long time ago and I was hoping for something similar, but no such luck. People kept shoving Emile Henri casseroles at me. Oh well!

We wound up the afternoon with hot chocolate at Angelina's on the rue de Rivoli - which should not be missed! This is not your grandma's hot chocolate! It definitely should be classified as a controlled substance!Laughing

I had called Le Severo (steak/frites) for reservations for Friday evening about a week before we left and had to leave a message on voice mail. Apparently, that wasn't good enough, because we called in the afternoon and they did not have our reservation and could not take us that evening. Boo hoo... we meant to go back, but never did - so now I have something to look forward to on my next trip!

Saturday morning we were up & at 'em early for the Batignolles Marche Biologique. Had a lovely wander around, bought some great whole grain bread, cheese and lovely fruit (to sustain us between restos!). I wanted to buy everything! I did treat myself to a beautiful wool scarf - the only non-food item I purchased on the entire trip!

Next off to the Bakery tour - at Le Grand Richelieu Boulangerie on rue de Richelieu

http://www.meetingthefrench.com/reservation.php?Submit=1&Type=9&day=7&yearmonth=2008-2&TypeMenu=&IdQuartier=&Langue=&x=53&y=12

This was terrific fun and Sam and Ben were in their element! Sam (through me) explained to the boulanger about no-knead bread. But Monsieur was not interested!

Sunday we slept late and headed to the Marais Jewish district for falafels -rue des Rosiers. The line was down the block and it was mostly French speakers (as opposed to American tourists). For 5 Euros you get a smashingly good falafel. Then across the street to a Jewish bakery for strudel des pommes fondantes. The apples are caramelised with citrus peel before being baked in the strudel dough. oh yeah!

Wandered around the Marais and then decided to head for Jardin de Luxembourg - stopping before the park for goodies at Dalloyau. Some of the patisseries look like architecture!

After another cross country trek to Montmartre, we headed to Terminus de Nord on the advice of Erin & Simona, but were terribly put off by "barkers" coming out to lure us into the resto - very persistent people. We ended up eating at Cafe du Nord nearby and I had a very succulent roasted chicken, Ben had duck & Sam had mussels. All quite good.

Monday we put Ben on the plane home, took a boat ride (brrrr...) and headed again to Montmartre for dinner with the beauteous Debbie and her warm & charming DH, Wayne. The highlight here being that we got to meet Guy le Griffe - who really is almost better than Debbie describes him! This cat has personality PLUS and is such a handsome fellow! He seemed to warm to us right away and allowed belly rubs and cuddling! Of course we brought him toys and fishy snacks! Maybe that did the trick! Cool

After being toasted with a lovely sparkling Cremant d'Alsace (oooh, for me?) we headed to La Divette du Moulin on rue Lepic for duck (me) and steak tartare (Sam). My duck was flavored with ginger - but quite subtly.
Then a stroll through Montmartre with a guided tour of Debbie's hangouts.

It was a pure delight to meet Debbie and Wayne. As I have experienced with my other C&Z connections, we hit it off right away and had a MILLION things to talk about. Wayne is an (electrical?) engineer so he and Sam had a lot to talk about also. They are having quite an adventure living in France - learning a new language as adults can be daunting, but they've risen to the challenge! Impressive!

Tuesday we took the train out to Montmirail and the Chambre d'hote owned by Sam's cousin and his wife - Rik & Nancy. They are in FULL renovation mode. The pictures on the website were taken before the rooms were undergoing electrical and plumbing work. They will look even better by May, when they plan to have their first guests! It's an idyllic site in La Perche - I believe it's the southern tip of Normandy. They are getting ready to paint in the next couple of weeks and then a thorough scrub down and re-situating the furniture. Plus planting the front garden. They have also bought a little plot for a potager - but it's about a block away from the house. They plan to grow as many of the flowers for the house as they can and also the salad greens and herbs. Rik & Nance have a very modest appartement on the top floor with slanted walls and HUGE beams!

Wednesday we did our "souvenir" shopping! Confit de canard, pates, cassoulet, fleur de sel, sel gris, fromages (vacuum packed - sous vide) chocolat...what more could I want from Paris? Good thing we packed light on the way over, because both bags were within ounces of the weight limit on the way back!

We also visited the Petit Palais, just off the Champs Elysees. I had never been to this Museum - owned by the City of Paris. It's a small but delightful collection of medieval and Renaissance artifacts, as well as 18th & 19th C. art, including sculpture & some Impressionist pieces. Beautiful space, easily navigable, wonderful art. Plus it's free admission! (Hey, it was our last day!)

The last morning we headed to Angelina's for another go at the hot chocolate! I bough a packet of the cocoa powder to bring home. We'll see if I can duplicate it Chez Moi!

I would say I could have/would have stayed a lot longer if at all possible, but I count my blessings that I got to go at all. Also, with the weak dollar, it was PRICEY even for simple meals. Which did put a damper on the enjoyment meter! However...

Overall, it was the trip of a lifetime! As many times as I've been to Paris, this time felt incredibly special - I think because so many people conspired to make it special for me! Props to: Sam for making it happen at all; to Ben for the generosity of time and love and photographic talent he shared with us; to Tracie, my principal, who, when asked if I could take a week off said "How can I say no to THAT?"; to Debbie & Wayne for their hospitality, b'day presents and teaching me about a new bubbly; to Rik & Nance for taking a day off of renovations to entertain us; to Philippe & Armelle for coming down from Granville - and bringing my FAVORITE rilletes de canard; to Clotilde for several years of posts about places I knew I needed to go to; and especially to all the friends here at C&Z for sharing experiences of places to go, things to see and memories of meals eaten. I felt feted from the first! I will truly never forget a moment of this trip.

And I will return!
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Barbara



Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 899
Location: Gold Coast Australia

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donna I really enjoyed reading your adventures. Sounds like a fabulous time.
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am so glad you enjoyed Aux Lyonnaise! What a wonderful way to spend your birthday.
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simona



Joined: 11 Mar 2005
Posts: 696
Location: israel

PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donna, thanks for the wonderful description of your Paris experince. I'm sorry for the gare du Nord resto, it wasn't like that the day I was there, I do understand you, I also hate to be i"invited" in a restaurant.
As for the Aux Lyonnais: maybe I'll give it a try in about two weeks, I'm "jumping" to Paris for 3 days after a week in the Tatra mountains in Slovakia, where I have to accompany my husband , -who can't travel alone,- to a cogress he wants very much to be part of . He will return home from Vienna with another member of this meeting and I will take the plane for Paris to meet my best friend who lives in LA and happens to be in Paris. We will be just the two of us, and she is a freak of restaurants, so I believe we'll "do" six in three days. I hope I'll have some time to step in a museum or two while she hoovers the shops.
Thanks for the updated tips

No more war, Paris and its macarons are waiting!!
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 2:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simona, it wasn't terrible at Terminus du Nord. If Sam and I had been by ourselves, we probably would have gone in - however Ben has no patience for that sort of thing and was really put off by it. Plus he was hungry - and he is terribly grumpy when he is hungry! I joked about needing to carry a zip lock bag with cheese cubes and crackers in my bag for him - as I did when he was younger. He is generally the most easy going of people in the world - but make sure his blood sugar stays up! I can attribute all of the few tantrums he had as a child to low blood sugar!

It's another place I'll have the opportunity to return to!
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow Donna---what a great great trip. Thanks for sharing.

Simona---I'm thrilled you'll be able to get to Paris for a break after all! Best to Haim!
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yesterday, when I arrived home after work, I found a package from my son on the front porch. He had told me it was coming, but I had no idea what it could be.

Well, imagine my surprise when I opened it to find a BEE-YOO-TEE-FULL hardbound album of pictures he had taken the three days we were together in Paris! He did it on iPhoto, and it is just such a stunningly delightful memento of our time together! I was absolutely speechless and in tears!

His photography skills are just outstanding, so not only does it bring back so many happy memories, but it's a delight to see his art.

I am going to ask him to send me a CD so I can post few of them on Flickr so others can share in my enjoyment!
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simona



Joined: 11 Mar 2005
Posts: 696
Location: israel

PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I'm off tomorrow, and looking forward to meet Debbie in Paris.
I'm a little scarrred by the frost in the mountains, but who sais I have to leave the Spa Hotel ? I don't ski, so I'll have a lot of resting and a lot of massage of my tired bones.
Thank you David, it is indeed a much needed break for both me and haim!

No more war, I shall report from the peace zones of Slovakia- Tatry mountains, Vienna and Paris when back.
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