Thursday, December 9, 2010

My self-indulgent trip to Paris - Part 4

A week ago,I took a self-indulgent trip to Paris. After learning that I was short a few thousand miles to maintain my status as a 1K flyer with United Airlines, I packed my bags for a quick trip before the end of the year. I didn't have enough time to go to Sablet so I went to Paris; I flew on Thursday, arriving early Friday morning. My flight home was on Sunday afternoon.

After lunch at La Fontaine de Mars on Saturday, cousin Matthias and I walked to the Metro station and squeezed ourselves onto the crowded train and headed toward Place de la Bastille near where his apartment is located.

If you don't know, Place de la Bastille is a large square, where the Bastille prison stood until the 'Storming of the Bastille' and was later destroyed between July 14, 1789 and July 14, 1790 during the French Revolution. The square straddles 3 arrondissements of Paris, namely the 4th, 11th and 12th.

In the center of Place de la Bastille stands the July Column (Colonne de Juillet), which to my surprise doesn't commemorate the storming of the Bastille but rather the Trois Glorieuses, the "three glorious" days in July 1830 that saw the fall of Charles X of France and the start of the "July Monarchy" of Louis-Philippe.

I don't usually spend a lot of time visiting museums or art galleries as they typically bore me, but I accepted Matthias' invite to accompany him to meet his Sorbonne classmate Astrid at the Centre Pompidou and see the Arman exhibition.

As I found out, Arman was a leading figure of post-war art. A founding member of New Realism, a movement promoting new "ways of approaching the real", Arman made art from manufactured objects produced by the consumer society. In my opinion, it looked like art made from junk collected from garbage.

The view from Centre Pompidou's upper level down to the square below looked quite mystical in the waning light of the day.

We invited Astrid to eat dinner with us at Le Cochon à l'Oreille, another bistro included on Alexander Lobrano's list of 23 best Paris bistros. Being a typical girl, Astrid wouldn't go to dinner until she changed clothes (I thought she looked cute the way she was, but what do I know).

We met up, Astrid in her newly changed outfit, in front of Le Cochon à l'Oreille (the pig has the ear) on Rue Montmartre in the 1st arrondissement near Les Halles.

We walked into the tiny belle epoque dining room with its old zinc counter, antique pay telephone and wooden booths, all charming reminders of Les Halles' heyday as the City's celebrated food market.

One wall of the Bistro is covered with ceramic tiles that depict scenes of Les Halles' market in all its chaotic splendor.

Madame, we later found out she was the wife of the patron - owner, came over to greet us and check our names against her list of reservations. She told the waiter to seat us and he directed us to an empty booth. Before we got there, madame loudly rebuffed him saying that wouldn't work because it would be too difficult for us to get out of the booth after we finished eating.

The two got into a loud conversation including hand gesticulations pointing to the booth and then to me. This was not a discrete discussion about where to place a guest; no it was loud and it was clear it was me, not us, she was worried about. I was not offended in the least because it was so entertaining to watch.

Madame finished the argument by saying that yes, I could get into the booth no problem, but I wouldn't be able to get out after eating her food. So in the end, they pushed two round tables together in a corner and we sat there. We would have been fine in a booth but madame would have no part of that.

Matthias and Astrid sitting in our corner of the dining room. I thought they looked quite cozy but I was assured they are only friends and that Matthias has a girlfriend by the name of Aurelie.

The waiter propped the slate blackboard with the menu for the day on a nearby chair for us to consider. Astrid ordered the fillet and the waiter asked cuisson - doneness of the meat? Bien cuit - well done she replied; he said non mademoiselle, we will not serve the fillet bien cuit.

Our starters included escargots.

Oeuf en Meurette, poached egg in a rich reduction of red wine, stock, lardons and croutons.

Foie gras with toast.

Here we are at our "roomy" corner table. We ordered a bottle of the newly released Nouveau Beajolais to accompany our dinners.

For main course, instead of the fillet she originally ordered, Astrid chose the braised jarret d'agneau - lamb shank. It was tender and fell off the bone.

Steak au poivre and fries. I ordered "a point" and to my mind it was pretty close to rare but delicious. The fries were the best I have had in a long time. Delicious and perfectly crispy.

Fillet au poivre with more of those delicious fries.

For dessert, we chose a chocolate pot de creme.

And two tarte aux raisins - raisin tarts. First time, I have ever had a raisin tart and I hope not the last.

After dinner, we walked out to the street. We did la bise - exchanged kisses on alternating cheeks and Matthias and Astrid headed to the Metro station to go home and I grabbed a taxi to go back to my hotel.

Sunday morning, my self-indulgent weekend in Paris coming to an end, I grabbed a taxi to the airport. It was pouring rain! I had a great weekend, good food, wine and weather plus I had a chance to spend time with Matthias. I am sure this won't be the last self-indulgent trip I make to Paris.


  1. The tart is a GRAPE tart, not a "raisin" tart...

  2. Raisins are dried grapes. The way they described how the tart was made was from reconstituted raisins. I did not get the impression from how it was described that the tart was made from fresh grapes but I could be wrong.

  3. Well, from the photo it certainly looks like fresh green grapes. And in french, "raisin" is a grape, and "raisin sec" is a raisin.

    BTW, great photos, thanks for that, hope you missed that big snow they just had!

  4. You are probably correct about the grapes. Thanks for the feedback about the pictures.

  5. Braised lamb shank or barely grilled slab of beef? Braise easy choice. Does you house in Sablet have an outdoor seating area over the garage?


  6. Jenny - We have a terrace over the garage with access through large doors off of the kitchen and living room. We also have a terrace off of the master bedroom on the upper floor.

  7. Looks wonderful. You probably have said, but how many bedrooms--baths?


  8. We have three large bedrooms and three bathrooms. There is also a sofa/sleeper where one person or child could sleep. We are very fortunate! If you have not looked at our web site, you should as there is quite a bit more information and pictures about the house than on the blog. Let me know if you have other questions.

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