Thursday, October 14, 2010

Paris - Day 1

So we arrived in Paris after lunchtime today - after losing an hour crossing the channel. We got the RER into the city from Charles De Gaulle (in spite of their being strikes, which we read about in the UK) - and found our way to the apartment. In retrospect, a taxi would have been far more convenient and possibly not that more expensive, but some old backpacking habits are hard to shrug off I guess.

We were greeted by Phillipe, who showed us around the place - I paid particular attention to the workings of the espresso machine, less so to that of the cooktop and oven. Having said that, the first thing I got organised was a load of laundry, unavoidable even on holiday.

The apartment block is pretty boring, built in wings around a central courtyard garden. It reminds me somewhat of a university campus - but appears to have a wide range of residents of all ages. It's in the 7th Arrondissemetn, very close to the Champs de Mars, and therefore, the Eiffel Tower. On the inside though, it's compact but comfortable - the bathroom in particular is very nice - and the view is pretty amazing.

There's a very chatty and comprehensive guide to our area in the apartment, and they've included lots of information on local restaurants and food markets where the owners and their friends like to frequent and recommend. Listed in their top five is the corner brasserie - Cafe Suffren - so that's where we headed out for dinner tonight.

It's a typical corner style cafe, with awnings and outdoor seating. A pedestrian was hit by a motorcycle as we were crossing the road,the motorcyclist swore and hurled abuse at the pedestrian who shrugged and kept walking, whilst in the centre of the chaotic intersection a tiny ancient car was stalled fatally and the driver was frantically trying to start it up again, causing all kinds of horn-blowing and swearing and fist waving - it was a quintessentially Parisian kind of traffic scene - shambolic and starkly dangerous, but with pretty harmless outcome. In any case, the kids were astounded at the spectacle.

In a way it's great that they're at an age now where they just order off the normal menu, because we all get to try different things - but of course there is the corresponding expense that goes with it. However, we all treated ourselves tonight to two courses, and shared some starters as well.

We shared two starters - a country style chicken pate and a saucisson brioche - the pate came typically with a bitter leaf salad raddicchio, cornichons and brown rye bread toast. It was delicious; a chunky and rich with a rustic terrine-like texture. The saucisson brioche was like a posh toad in the hole, with a lovely deep onioney verjuice reduction sauce.

Our main courses were hearty cuts of meat with frites or garlicky roasted potatoes. There were some lovely girelle mushrooms on one of the beef dishes - and the side salads were beautifully dressed and the mother in me was pleased to see they all got eaten.

For dessert, I had what was described as a 'sweet coffee' - which was an espresso with a selection of very cute petite fours. The tiny macaron was hardly as wide as my thumb - and the raspberry tartlet was divine, rasperries are in season at the moment and are only one euro per punnet in the market .. I see a lot of raspberries during the next week ..

After dinner we had a lovely post-prandial stroll around the park. It was late, almost ten o clock, and even though the elevators were still working in the tower pediments, the crowds and the hawkers were pretty much dwindled by then.

We stopped along to way to savour the moment - 'are we really here?' - and when we got to the centre we didn't forget to look up.

We haven't fully decided what we're going to do tomorrow yet - we might get a picnic together and head off to Versailles, or maybe we'll see the Mona Lisa, or perhaps race paper boats in the Luxembourg Gardens. Whatever we do, I'll try and check in again, even if it's just to tell you what we ate again!


drkknits said...

oh youre there! how fabulous! yes yes more detail about the food. and when are you going to la drougerie???

Donna said...

The Kid wishes she were there. Me too!

Rose Red said...

I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but SO ENVIOUS!! Sounds absolutely wonderful, as do all the possibilities for tomorrow.

And I remember being amazed (and horrified) at traffic in Paris. OMG, I would NEVER drive there!!

Jussi said...

oh between you in Paris and GrannyG in New York I am so enjoying the food descriptions - keep it up!

NessaKnits said...

One of the ladies in our knitting group has just come back from Paris in the last two weeks. Two shops she went to while there are Chat' Laine (a wool shop, for wool), and Ultramod Mercerie (like a haberdashery, for a row counter). She knitted a lovely multi coloured pair of bed socks while on holidays with her wool purchased, which I will be posting on my blog when I get myself organised. Hope you enjoy your holiday.

travellersyarn said...

Wow, sounds fabulous! Will you post a link to the apartment? Always good to know great places to stay in Paris.

Please keep up the food commentary - I love it.