Saturday, November 27, 2010

My self-indulgent trip to Paris, Part 1

Last weekend, I took a self-indulgent trip to Paris. I figured out that I was going to be short a few thousand miles for me to maintain 1k or 100,000 miles flyer status with United for 2011 unless I took an unplanned trip before the end of the year.

As those of you who fly frequently on United know, there are some nice benefits for 1k status such as free domestic upgrades, priority for standby flights, priority for international upgrades and no fees to check bags, so I decided I should take a trip to get the miles I was going to be short.

I calculated that a trip to France would get me the perfect number of miles I needed to maintain my 1k status. I didn't have enough time to go to Sablet so I went to Paris this past weekend; I flew on Thursday, arriving early Friday morning. My flight home was on Sunday afternoon.

Thanks to a recent post by Karen Fawcett at Bonjour Paris about some of her favorite neighborhoods and hotels, I got a room at a great little hotel in the 6th called A La Villa des Artistes. At least for this weekend, the room rates were a very reasonable (for Paris) 139 Euros per night.

As I said, I arrived early Friday morning (Thanks to my 1k status, I got upgraded for free to business class). After standing in line to get through passport check at Roissy Airport and an hour long ride in a taxi with a chatty driver through morning rush hour, I arrived at the hotel.

As those of you (whoever you kind souls are) who read Our House in Provence blog know, I am a foodie and wino and co-owner of a small French bistro in Northern California called Bistro Des Copains. So my agenda for my short visit to Paris was simple: eat two lunches and two dinners in good bistros.

Before leaving, I did a little research to help me choose where I would go for my bistro meals. I made my choices based upon an article by Alexander Lobrano in the November issue of Saveur Magazine entitled The 23 Best Bistros in Paris and a recent post by David Leibowitz on his blog.

Since it was way too early for lunch, I headed off to the area of Les Halles in the 1st arrondisement where the central wholesale food market used to be located to the culinary shops that are in that area. I was very happy to see that my hotel was just a few steps from the Vavin Metro station

Vavin Metro station is on line 4 which takes you directly to the Les Halles area without having to change metro lines. Besides being a relatively cheap and easy way to get around Paris, my favorite thing about the Paris Metro, is the musicians performing in the stations. This group was very good!

I spent the morning in foodie heaven, wandering in and out of Mora, La Bovida, and E. Dehillerin. There is every pot, pan, knife and culinary gadget imaginable for sale in these stores. Nearby G. Detou is stacked, literally floor to ceiling with everything a cook or baker could want.

I see many things I would buy if I could figure out how to get them home to California or to our house in Sablet. Since it seems to be more trouble than its worth right now, I limit my purchases to a tall Peugeot pepper mill for the Bistro and a smaller one for home.

When I walk out of the last store, its just before noon and time for lunch. I decide to walk to Allard since its a nice fall day in Paris and not too far away on Rue Saint-André des Arts in the 6th arrondisement.

Allard is one of Paris' oldest and one of its most beloved bistros (according to the Saveur article), established in 1931. You enter the bistro into what appears to be a tiny kitchen. You are not actually in the kitchen but you do have to dodge servers as you walk back to the dining room.

The server brings me a menu and list of the chef's daily additions. Since the 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau was released the day before (the wine is always released the third Thursday of November no matter when the grapes were harvested), I get a glass to accompany lunch. For once, the Beaujolais Nouveau is pretty good.

For my entrée - starter, I choose a roasted beet and mâche salad dressed with a creamy vinaigrette. The salad is brought out in a bowl with enough salad for two people.

For my plat - main course, I decide on the côtes de veau forestière, veal chop served with roasted potatoes and girolles mushrooms.

To finish, I decide I want to compare Allard's apple tarte tatin to the one we serve at Bistro Des Copains. The tarte was brought to the table with a little pot of crème fraiche.

I think the apple tarte tatin made with Gravenstein apples we serve at Bistro Des Copains is much better; you be the judge.

The meal was OK, certainly not the best one I had in Paris last weekend as I would find out. In part 2, I will tell you about a much better meal.


  1. Ah, what a life.. jetting off to Paris and eating in fancy places just because...

  2. What a great way to reach 100K. As for our olives, if we bring 180 kilos we get our OWN oil. But since Kerri and I have to harvest in batches (work, etc) we are just keep a tab at the mill and at the end we will be "paid" in oil -- but it will be community oil from the surrounding neighbors who also bring in olives. We have tasted our own in years past (when the owner hires the harvesting out to gardener), but the community oil will suit us fine as well. We should be in for 20+ liters by the time it's all done. We'll share it with the owners of the house. When do you come over would be fun to see you for an afternoon or evening.