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Paris: in which Ackislander founders in the 6th

Paris: in which Ackislander founders in the 6th

Old Jun 15th, 2015, 08:05 AM
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Paris: in which Ackislander founders in the 6th

After studiously avoiding major tourist sites, we went to the Jardin du Luxembourg on Saturday. We should have known that there would be trouble when the 38 bus didn't come and didn't come. Finally, we took Metro Line 4 to Vavin.

We could have gotten off at Odeon and walked up hill, but our reason for this trip in our overall garden theme was to see the orchards in the southernmost part of the Jardin, the part closest to Vavin.

Well, there there they were! I gather that the orchards had been much more extensive at one time, but what is left is pretty nifty.

Apples and pears are espaliered within an inch of their lives, and every tiny fruit was carefully wrapped in a small white paper bag to preserve it from bugs. The areas with stone fruits like cherries were netted on all side to protect them from birds. You could have an orchard like this if you were rich enough. No, I'm not either!

I hoped to see small pears in bottles hanging on the branches the way they do for Poire Williams liqueur, but they apparently don't do that here. But what they do is awesome. I love the idea of urban gardens and would love to see Elie Zabar's rooftop garden above his shop on the Upper West Side. Maybe he has an orchard by now, too.

We drifted north on the west side of the Jardin, following bursts of color through the trees and taking pictures of statuary. It wasn't very busy, though there were more picnics as we got closer to noon. We wound up at the Palm House/Orangerie, which has always been a favorite since we watched them moving giant potted palms indoors with forklifts one autumn. My wife was insanely jealous. She needs at least a Bobcat!

We were feeling a bit peckish and made our way to a cafe on Vaugirard facing the Jardin. The menu was fine but this is what I got for eating outdoors in the 6th: when I ordered boeuf tartare, the waiter asked if I knew I was ordering raw meat. Mmmm. OK. When he brought it, he showed me the sauces and condiments and showed me that I would have to mix them. Mmmm. OK. Oh, well, this is what you get at a tourist cafe in a high tourist area. The meat was fine, the frites were excellent, and I could have let it go except that when we went around the corner,there was the Bastide de l'Odeon, where I could have eaten very well indeed for only a little more money! Tant pis pour moi!

We went back into the Jardin to hear a jolly high school jazz band and watch the kids sailing boats. It was a lovely day and a great day out, just not quite what we expected!
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 08:13 AM
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Having watched an American business guest stare in horror at the raw egg on the mound of red meat when he thought he was getting a burger I can understand the waiter's, how shall we say, concern ;-)
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 08:49 AM
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I wouldn't call the Luxembourg gardens a tourist site, any more than I would the Tuileries, but there are a lot of tourists around that area and in it (but plenty of locals are, also). Those gardens that have been a part of a city for 400 years.

Lots of waiters ask people that in Paris if they don't think they are local, I've heard that before, and many of them don't actually know what they are ordering. It isn't being in the Luxembourg gardens so much as they could tell you were an American tourist, I think. He was just trying to be helpful, not insulting.
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 08:50 AM
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And luckily the "hamburger à cheval" has disappeared from most menus in this century since too many tourists with an insufficient command of the language thought that it was a "hamburger de cheval.

(For anybody still in the dark, a hamburger à cheval is a grilled ground beef patty with a fried egg "riding horseback" on it.)
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 09:28 AM
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Whatever; the Jardin du Luxembourg is still one of my favorite places to go in Paris. I always enjoy seeing the flowers, watching people watching people, listening to music from the bandstand (if we're lucky), and watching the French (mostly) play basketball and tennis. And, I love the area around the Jardin, especially the St. Sulpice quartier and rues d'Assas and Vaugirard. Besides, how many Americans knowingly order raw hamburger, even if served with frites?
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 09:30 AM
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Good points, Christina.

While there were plenty of people in the Jardin, I would guess that by far the majority were not tourists but people enjoying the day with their families.

I did notice, however, because I have been spending lots of time in other parts of Paris on this trip, that the vast majority of people in the Jardin were Caucasian, not the rule for much of the city.

However, I did see for the first time a woman member of the Gendarmerie guarding the Senat with machine gun and bulletproof vest. As well armed as we and our police in the US have traditionally been, it was a first for me.

I have to say, I haven't had the experience before of being asked if I knew what I was ordering, even when I have ordered horse or donkey in Verona. Novelty keeps us young!
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 10:39 AM
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Thanks for using "espalier," Ackislander. I never had a clue what it meant (even though it was the name of one of Boston's better food joints for many years), but I just looked it up.

And I'm not sure about Paris, but if you order a "sandwich américain" in Brussels, you might be very surprised at what you get: a nice lump of seasoned, raw, chopped beef on a baguette.
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 10:54 AM
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If you order un américain in northeastern France, it means that it is full of fried onions.
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 11:19 AM
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In Mustang, Oklahoma, what the northeastern French call an "americaine" is called an "onion burger".

Onions are fried on a grill. A big lump of very loosely packed ground beef is dropped on top, and the two are gradually melded together with a spatula, ultimately forming something like a hamburger.

The Harvard Faculty Club was reputedly one of the last places in Boston where you could get a "hamburger de cheval", said to be a holdover from WWII rationing, though I bought ground horse meat in the North End inadvertently in 1978 or 1979. We were too poor to throw it out, so I fed my family horseburgers that Saturday night. They tasted fine, but the insides never turned brown.
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 11:56 AM
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Liked your tripreport Ackis.
On the subject of the Américain, where I live we can have an 'américain de cheval'. We got once an américain de poulin (calf ?).
The mix of some raw meat with some Belgian fries - is something just great... cold and hot, meat and fries.
With a beer. A good amber looking beer, fresh and well ....
Jeezzzzz where is the fridge !
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 12:03 PM
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We "lived" on Rue du Cherche Midi and I'm surprised that Vauvin was the closest metro to Jardin. Am I misremembering? Off to the maps...
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 12:06 PM
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Ours was Vaneau so I misremembered. Sorry!
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 12:17 PM
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Enjoying your reports from Paris. We ate at Bastide de l'Odeon last May and the food was very good and the prix fixe was a real deal!
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 03:35 PM
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TDudette, one of my favorite places to stay in Paris -- that is, before I had a [now ex-]spouse with a friend who let us stay for free on r Didot -- was on r du Cherche-Midi, the Hotel Ferrandi. Long gone, alas. (The hotel, not the street.)
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