Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Je Reviens … I have returned.
One of the great French painters, Paul Cezanne is famous for saying “Right now a moment of time is passing by! We must become that moment.”
My time in Paris has passed. Judging by the 800 plus photos I managed to take I certainly captured, if not became, the moment!
It was a lovely trip filled with everything the French are famous for -- fine food, fabulous wine, good friends, first-rate art and serendipitous moments. So play some Edith Piaf or Charles Trenet on your i-Tunes and travel along with me for a few minutes.
THE FOOD: We ate and drank our way through Paris and Normandy. French fare, Italian seafood, Far Eastern curries, Moroccan feasts, Tibetan delights. Thank goodness petite portions are the culture-spanning national norm! As a failed carnivore, I can recommend:
* The Mushroom Garlic Ravioli at the nouvelle Le Fin Gourmet on the Ile St Louis, Paris.
* Lotte Provencale (monk fish) at the picturesque La Coup Chou in the 5th arrondissement.
* Assiette d’Crudites (portions of shredded carrots vinaigrette, marinated beets and mustardy celery root on a bed of lettuce) at the cafeteria at Les Invalides.
* Lunch on the terrace of The Terra Café at the Musee d’Art Americain in Giverny was a charming affair. The salads, cheese plates and veggie quiches (which are scrumptious and totally unlike American ones) are presented on slate boards and are artistically garnished.
* Whatever fish is being offered a l’Oseille (with sorrel sauce) at the Ferme de la Grande Cour, in the peaceful countryside area of Cote de Grace, Honfleur.
* Normandy cider with a plate of local cheeses in the garden of La Cour St-Catherine, our amiable B & B near the Main Square and docks in Honfleur.
* Crepes at any sidewalk cafe are usually good bets, too.
THE WINE: I drink mainly reds. The vin maison (house wines served by the carafe) were generally fine but we also had some very good but more expensive bottles of French reds. My companions often started off their meals with an aperitif of kir (white wine and black current syrup) or kir royale (champagne with black current syrup). In Normandy, I switched to the local hard cider.
THE FRIENDS: In addition to Ev and I (who hadn’t been to France in over 20 years), the always adventurous and cheerful Chris and Karen made up our group.
Chris was last in France when he was stationed in England several decades ago. It was Karen’s first trip.
My British cousin Suzanne and her partner Richard joined us during our stay in Honfleur. Suzanne and Richard reveled in the British Pound’s favorable exchange rate with the Euro while the rest of us cringed, as our dollars seemed to evaporate as quickly as we exchanged them for Euros.
SIGHTSEEING: We arrived in Paris at 6:15 AM on the day before Bastille Day (more about that later) and hit the ground running. After dropping our bags at the hotel (our rooms wouldn’t be ready til mid-day), we walked over to Notre Dame Cathedral.
About an hour later Chris and Karen headed off to the Musee d’Orsay and Eiffel Tour, while Ev and I checked out a café, followed by careful observation of the flowers, fountains and pond in the Luxembourg Gardens.
We found a shady park bench. Listening to several military marching bands practicing (or perhaps giving a sneak preview concert) helped pass the time until our rooms were ready.
Cezanne also said “The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.”
Although I didn’t come across any carrots in the museums of Paris, I did celebrate Bastille Day in a big way. To Be Continued…