Last weekend I left Paris to return to the United States. Since that time, the volcanic explosion in Iceland has wreaked havoc with air connections to and from Europe, so I’m glad I got away when I did.
In my last post, I talked about the first two days of trip. I meant to include a picture of the band at Le Petit Journal, so I’ll include one here:
On the third night of the trip, I met with a couple of my colleagues and we headed out to a local Malakoff restaurant called Le Timbre Poste (translated as the postage stamp). We were looking for it and one of my friends said that it was very bright. Moments later, a festive riot of neon in colors like pink and yellow appeared to our left – we’d found our destination.
The interior of this place reminded me of other restaurants I’d been to in Paris – lots of tables were packed into a relatively small space and the atmosphere felt almost festive. Our waitress was very friendly and very tolerant of our less than perfect French. From the extensive menu, I chose a salad of greens and goat cheese and a main dish of Magrets de Canard (scallops of duck). I was the only one at the table interested in wine, so I bought a half bottle of a red Bordeux. The wine was on the young side, but fit the food very well. On this night, we all talked about our initial experiences visiting Paris. Two of us – myself included – had gone to Paris for our honeymoons. Our mood improved as the evening went on, thanks to the tasty dishes and with help from the wine. My main dish was both filling and delicious.
The next night I was on my own, but a stateside colleague emailed me a couple of suggestions. Game for a new dining experience, I looked up his suggested seafood restaurant – Vin et Marée – on the Internet and discovered they had four locations in Paris, including one in nearby Montparnasse. This dining establishment had an elegant feel to it and many of the patrons wore dressy outfits. After a long week, I was tired, so I struggled a bit to read the menu of specials on the blackboard propped up by table. The 2nd item on the chalk drawn menu was not translatable by either me or the French couple at the next table who tried to help. Turned out écrevisse means crayfish. The dish itself had three mounds of the crayfish, which looked like lobster, but had a more subtle taste, all surrounding a kind of eggplant mousse. Very tasty.
My main dish was a favorite of mine, seafood choucroute, which combined a melange of seafood with classic brasserie style sauerkraut. They really knew what they were doing on this dish. While working my way through it, I sipped from a carafe of white Loire wine. I thought I was done, but the dessert menu seduced me. I got the healthiest thing on the chalkboard, a ring of fruit surrounding a boule of sorbet:
After all of that, I walked around for a while around Montparnasse, which has a wide variety of nightlife including many bars, cafes and other attractions, then headed back to the hotel.
The next morning was to be my last in Paris, so I needed to get packed and ready to go. Once I'd taken care of that, I took the metro to one of my favorite areas in the Left Bank, the very energetic area along the street called St. Germain des Pres. From the metro, one ascends the steps and exit directly in front of church. Looking across, I noticed one of my favorite haunts in town, the famous café Les Deux Magots. Feeling its magnetic attraction, I ambled over to it and took a seat in the glassed-in non smoking area (still a rarity in Paris). From here, I had a fine view of the street and the row of customers in front of me. The restaurant looks like this:
By now I was very hungry and began to peruse the menu. My original plan had been to get a continental breakfast, but I changed my mind and ordered a Norwegian salmon sandwich instead of a croissant, along with a Cafe Creme and orange juice. While waiting for my order, I watched the passersby, who were typically well-dressed and included a mix of business people, students, tourists, intellectuals and artists. Soon, a few young people sat in front of me and I watched with amusement as the blonde-haired woman just beyond the glass partition teased her hair nervously with quick movements of her fingertips and fingernails painted indigo.
The drinks soon arrived and I delighted in the fresh squeezed orange juice. The coffee was not quite as strong as I'd been drinking earlier this trip, but still gave me the desired lift. A couple of minutes later, my sandwich arrived, a long baguette, sliced in two, with long strips of salmon and a topping of cucumber strips. Voila. Breakfast had turned into brunch and I'd eliminated the need to have one more meal before leaving Paris. I had a few other adventures on this trip, but the tellling will have to wait for another time. I'll leave you with one last picture from a walk along the nearby Rue de Buci, a bustling street filled with open air markets and on this day, many signs of spring.