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Paris- Cold, Rainy & Wonderful! Mar 13

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Mar 31st, 2013, 08:43 AM
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Paris- Cold, Rainy & Wonderful! Mar 13

My DH and I usually go to France at the end of March and this year my sister, S & BIL (also S) joined us. In June they will celebrate their 30th anniversary and they spent their honeymoon in Paris. They had been back to Paris since then but not recently. Two reasons they joined us in March are 1 (and I think primary!) is that a March trip doesn’t impact their softball schedule and 2 that I would make all the arrangements. The benefit to us other than the pleasure of their company was that my sister speaks French pretty much fluently. It is always interesting to watch because her whole body language changes when she does.

So after I got them to agree and book airfare I scoured the internet for an appropriate apartment. I wanted something with two bedrooms & two baths which aren’t common in Paris. We were very lucky to find an apartment in the 6th off of rue Cherche-midi that fit the bill. http://www.vrbo.com/92761 The only minor complaints we had was that the toilet for the second bathroom was by the front door, we couldn’t get the safe open (if it had been a major problem we would have called the owner who was very nice) and it took both couples almost the full week to figure out how to get the correct temperature balance in the showers. One seemed too hot and the other too cold but as I said it was more user error. The apartment was very comfortable for two couples.

We all arrived on Sat March 16th avoiding the very beautiful (but inconvenient snow) that Nikki shows in her beautiful photos (http://fodors.com/community/europe/s...ris-photos.cfm). I arrived from India (where I had spent two weeks for work) at 6AM and walked over to CDG Terminal 1 to wait for S & BIL to arrive at 9:30am. We then took a cab to the apartment which due to an error on my part wasn’t ready for us. The owner showed us around, let us leave our luggage and gave us the keys. We walked around the neighborhood, popped into Le Grand Epiciere and found a place around the corner for lunch. By the time we were done the apartment was ready. My DH came in later in the afternoon and took the Air France bus to Montparnasse.
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Mar 31st, 2013, 08:45 AM
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Once we all had settled in a little we headed to Place Madeleine to see the exhibit “Van Gogh, dreaming of Japan”. It was the last day of the exhibit and therefore very crowded. We were lucky that we needed the English guide because we didn’t have to crowd by the walls with the narrative. It was a very interesting exhibit and made one look at not only Van Gogh’s work in a different manner but it seemed to apply to other Impressionist works we saw over the week. After the exhibit we stopped at Lavinia where my BIL started his quest to Absolute Raspberry (the only place we saw it all week was in the duty free shop in CDG!) and my sister & I got down to the important things and bought a bottle each of champagne and a rose cremant from Alsace.

Back in the neighborhood we stocked up on supplies for the next day when these shops were shut and we were to host several Fodorites for dinner. The area around the apartment was great since there were a number of high quality shops within a block or two including Fromagerie Quatrehomme. The wine store that was mentioned on Paris by Mouth was closed though so we had to venture further afield for wines.

For our first night’s dinner I booked a table at Le Petit Pontoise (9 Rue de Pontoise, 75005 Paris). We had been before and thought it would be a perfect French bistro to say ‘You are in Paris!!’. It was as usual crowded but since we had a table in the corner we were comfortable. I didn’t take the notes about meals that I usually do so I don’t remember every course we had over the week. I do remember the highlights though. For this night the entrée special was a whole artichoke with vinaigrette and it was no surprise that my sister pounced on that. The other entrees were baked cheese ravioli, tatin tarte of artichoke & veggies, shrimp with a great sauce & rocket salad. The plats that followed were ris de veau (yummy!!), rack of lamb, magret de canard and Canard Parmetier with foie gras. All was wonderful but we were practically asleep in our plates so skipped dessert and headed back to the apartment.
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Mar 31st, 2013, 08:56 AM
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Great start! I'm along for the ride. cj
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Mar 31st, 2013, 09:03 AM
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AGM_Cape_Cod:

Lovely. Following with interest.

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Mar 31st, 2013, 10:28 AM
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I want to relive it....keep writing please!!!
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Mar 31st, 2013, 10:51 AM
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There were no mornings that we were up and out early. For all of us it had been a busy winter and this was our first time off so relaxation was part of the schedule. My sister worried when she saw the list of things I wanted to do that this would be a forced march around Paris.

Sunday morning it is traditional for my DH and I to go to the Marché biologique on Boulevard Raspail. At one end of the market across Raspail where it meets the end of rue Cherche-midi is a guy who makes galettes. Not the buckwheat kind from Normandy, these are potato, onion and Comté cheese galettes. We always have one each and walk the market. Then we get another for the walk home. It was delightful to introduce my S & BIL to these treats.

Since we were having guests to dinner we shopped in the market. I would normally want to actually cook for this kind of get together but decided to take it easy. So first we got a roast chicken and the potatoes that benefit from the drippings. We purchased salad fixings, olives, artichokes, artichoke hearts, a kind of pesto made from seaweed and fresh herbs, two kinds of pate, and a bottle of fresh squeezed orange juice. My BIL was entranced by the trumpet player across from the galette maker. He said it was wonderful standing there is a warm spot that smelled so good and listen to the music. He wanted to ask the trumpeter to play something of Satchmo’s and worked up the nerve only to find out that he didn’t speak French or English being from Croatia. Then he played a Satchmo tune and my BIL was in heaven.

We returned to the apartment and stored all our goodies. In the afternoon we walked over to rue de Seine and bought bread and goodies at Gerard Mulot. We wandered over to see if there was room in L’Avant Comptoir and sure enough we squeezed in. After glasses of wine, foie gras brochette, a tuna skewer, artichoke galette and a ham & cheese crepe we started to exit. There we met some Americans who were in Paris for the Omnivore Festival. One guy owned a place in San Francisco called Commonwealth and his friend owned a place in Manhattan called Mission Chinese. My S & BIL were thrilled since they live outside NYC and travel to SF for business. Last year I went to the Festival with Nikki and with my S & BIL didn’t go this time. Sorry that I didn’t make time for it.

Dinner was a great success. I have made a number of friends in the Fodor’s community. One couple we meet while in Paris 4-5 years ago and Nikki I met at one of the Boston GTGs. We made a big salad with shredded chicken as a main course with the pesto mixed with vinegar and olive oil as the dressing. The pates and olives were the entrée. We had bought three cheeses at Fromagerie Quatrehomme for a cheese course. We were too stuffed to finish with the patisserie from Gerard Mulot.
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Mar 31st, 2013, 10:56 AM
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Welcome home. I was there with you in spirit.
MORE!!
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Mar 31st, 2013, 11:00 AM
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ttt - wanting to join in, if only vicariously.

As we were in Paris this time last year and missed Omnivore then, I'm still hoping to get there one day!

and your dinner sounds great.
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Mar 31st, 2013, 11:02 AM
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The apartment looks great! Looking forward to more...
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Mar 31st, 2013, 11:10 AM
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AGM - love hearing about your trip. These great reports keep Paris alive for mme til next time! Hope to see you again in Boston for the GTG.
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Mar 31st, 2013, 11:53 AM
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I can give personal testimony......the dinner was great!
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Mar 31st, 2013, 12:33 PM
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Yes, more, please! JR and I stayed in a hotel on Cherche Midi--what a wonderful neighborhood. The apartment looks gorgeous.

There was a Van Gogh exhibit in DC some years ago and some of his Asian art was included. As you say, one has a very different "take" on him after seeing his variety.
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Mar 31st, 2013, 12:37 PM
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Wonderful!
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Mar 31st, 2013, 12:42 PM
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Really like the apartment! Thanks for all the details. Cannot imagine that snow, and in March. Wow.

Commonwealth is a pretty good restaurant. The first Mission Chinese was here (in SF); the offshoot is in the LES. I like Mission Chinese better than Commonwealth, though admittedly they're entirely different experiences.

Looking forward to more.
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Mar 31st, 2013, 02:07 PM
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Very nice apartment. It's fun following along with you in our favorite city.
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Mar 31st, 2013, 02:23 PM
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AGM, I'm loving this report. Looking forward to more. Thanks.
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Mar 31st, 2013, 05:48 PM
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Monday morning my DH & I wandered down the street to the boulangerie for croissants and bread for breakfast. I was laughing with my DH yesterday about how even the last day that my BIL was in Paris he bought 3-4 pastries at the boulangerie. After breakfast we went to the Montparnasse station to get our Navigo passes. Even though I had told everyone to bring photos we had to use the machine in the station. We found our photos when we got home-isn’t it always the way? I always feel like a local with the pass.

From there we went to boulevard Haussmann to see Le Musée Jacquemart-André. It is a gem of a museum though not part of the museum pass. Because they were filming a segment on an upcoming exhibit we couldn’t enter the museum through the usual rooms. I love the idea of the walls that retract into the basement to make a larger salon for guests. I got confused about where those rooms were since we were out of order. Not a problem. My S&BIL really liked the museum.

As we headed back to the Metro my sister said ‘what is that place?’ She found another source for Armagnac - Armagnac Castarède-so of course we had to go in and my DH & BIL tried some. Since they had both of our anniversary years (we can’t afford our birth years!) we bought bottles. This is our type of shopping in Paris.

After the Armagnac tasting we headed for L'As Du Fallafel for lunch. This was a place my S & BIL had tried in prior trips to Paris. There were long debates about which falafel place they had gone to but when they said there was a window I knew it had to be L'As Du Fallafel. Sure enough they recognized the place and we all had the fabulous sandwiches. Afterwards we wandered around the Marais doing some window shopping but nothing jumped out at us.

Monday evening we went to a place in the 15th that had been recommended by my BIL’s BIL who grew up in Paris. We started out and I had directions by bus. When we got to where I thought the bus stop should be there was nothing and it started to rain. We went up to the Gare Montparnasse and to see if we could get a cab. It was raining really hard by now and it was getting late for our 8:30 reservations. The guard at the station said we had to go out around the left side of the building to get a taxi but he was wrong. Finally we found the cab stand within the Gare.

We were drenched but we got to Le Grand Pan (20, rue Rosenwald - 75015 Paris) and our table was waiting. We started with cider based cocktails which were very nice. The entrees were a charcuterie plate, oysters with a cod foam, artichoke puree with smoked herring and an asparagus dish. The oysters and artichokes were a little fishery than we liked. A number of the plats were for two and my BIL wanted the Faux Filet. So we ordered the Cote de Veau for two which was plenty for three. There were great steak fries, the thick kind, and mesclun salad. As I remember the desserts were good –one with chocolate and the other pear but I don’t recall any details. With a bottle of Vacqueyras the bill came to €202.00.

My BIL noticed that the table next to us had a digestif with ice in it. The two gentlemen noticed his interest (which was more for the ice then the liquid) and we started chatting. They were drinking Patxaran which is a Basque drink. That started us looking for it wherever we went. Not surprisingly they had it at Chez L’Ami Jean. Though the rain had ended we took a taxi back to the apartment. They are so accommodating about calling cabs for you.
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Apr 1st, 2013, 09:47 AM
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Sounds like a wonderful trip so far - looking forward to more!

Thanks for sharing.
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Apr 1st, 2013, 05:36 PM
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On our way back from the Marais on Monday we stopped at the Centre Pompidou to see about getting into the Dali exhibit. Since the wait was two hours we passed but we bought museum passes for the next two days. We started at the Orangerie which we discovered was closed on Tuesdays.

So we went across the river to the Musee D’Orsay. We hadn’t been there since the renovations which we discovered are still in process. We all got audio guides and visited old friends in the Impressionist rooms. Several of my favorites were missing especially Gustave Caillebotte’s Les raboteurs de parquet [The Floor Planers]-ah, well we will have to return.

From the D’Orsay we wandered over to Le Comptoir for lunch since we had plans that evening. We scored two of the small tables on the sidewalk. We were lucky that the weather was nice at that point. The heaters and a blanket behind my back kept me toasty. I had the special entrée of asparagus with a lemon sabayon – we generally share all dishes passing them around the table. I hated to part with my asparagus. My sister & DH had the artichoke & foie gras soup and my BIL had the Oeuf Mayonnaise. It was a surprising choice to me but very good and an eye opener. My sister had the special Blanquette de Veau, I had scallops with yuzu & endive, my DH had the tuna with seasonal vegetables and my BIL had the decadent green bean & foie gras salad. We accompanied this with a bottle of Alsatian Riesling. We indulged in dessert passing around the crème caramel, peche melba, apple tart and a grapefruit special. My sister loved the bag they used as an ice bucket and bought one for a souvenir which brought the tab to €226.00

We had concert tickets that evening. Nikki was going to see a favorite performer-Sanseverino at a venue in the 20th so we had decided to join her. I am amazed we made it out of the apartment and probably only did because I had paid for the tickets already. When we got off the metro of course I headed in the wrong direction at first. It wouldn’t have been so bad but it was pouring by that point. We were drenched by the time we found our way to the venue. Nikki had wisely taken a cab and scored a location on the floor of the club. We all had our doubts about this evening and agreed that if it wasn’t to our taste we would leave early. It was a great night. Though even my sister’s skills couldn’t keep up with the fast and colloquial French that Sanseverino spoke & sang we had a lot of fun and stay to the end.
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Apr 2nd, 2013, 06:37 AM
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Loving this report.
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