All in France

Paris 2

Dinner party was a great success. Food was very good, and as the cook I am allowed to say that, the wines were excellent and the guests were charming and witty, in English and in French. As the evening advanced and the level in the wine bottles lowered, we were given some hilarious lessons in idiomatic French, many of which cannot be used in polite company. Birthday cake was excellent and we sang Happy Birthday in both official languages. Party ended late in the evening ....

Paris 1

Weather has finally broken. Distinctly chillier, wind picking up and skies overcast for the first time since we arrived. Rain forecast for tomorrow but we have had a very good run so can't complain about our change of fortune.

Yesterday we were up early for a run out to Clingancourt, the very large Paris flea market in the northern suburbs. Since we had a dinner party planned for the evening and needed to get back in time to shop, prepare the apt for guests and organize the meal, we decided to arrive at the market an hour later than the official opening time of 8 am. Jane, V and I took the subway out and arrived shortly after 9 to find that most of the vendors did not feel the same urgency....

Paris - Days Five and Six

After yesterday's very pleasant weather, our day began more in the Provence mode than we would have liked, with grey skies and a steady cold rain.Not much fun slogging through the rain to look at sights so decided that today we would visit Le Bon Marché, our favourite department store in Paris and pick up any bits and pieces that we still needed to fill in the shopping gaps. It's a wonderful 19'th century building, straddling the 6'th and 7'th on the left side of the river, with a fabulous food hall and wine cellar. Took the Métro and arrived at about 11:00 and very surprised at how quiet and un-busy it was. First stop the food section and picked up some long pepper, a hard to find type of type of dried pepper that looks like a small black dry catkin, and which tastes like black pepper but with floral notes that span a much wider and richer taste spectrum than ordinary black pepper as well as a bottle of sel de citron which looks and smells wonderfully lemony and which will work very well sprinkled on asparagus or grilled fish. V loaded up on freshly baked Madelines....

Paris - Days Three and Four

Saturday morning arrived very early, so to compensate, we arose very late and didn't manage to organize ourselves and leave for the day until well after 11:00. A bright sunny day with a brisk nippy little breeze, a very good day for walking so the plan was to explore the Marais with, en route, a visit to the Pompidou Centre. On our way to Boulevard de Sébastopol, the main artery along which we had planned to begin our walk, we discovered and wandered through the Passage du Grand Cerf, a very elegant glass roofed passageway of about 100 metres linking two roads and lined with very interesting shops. At the end of the passage was an attractive little café, Le Pas Sage, where we decided to stop for lunch; appearances can be deceiving unfortunately and the dishes were ambitious failures, not ordinary or boring but examples of creativity getting ahead of technique and skill....

Paris - Days One and Two

Up early on Thursday morning, packed and enjoyed the suddenly ever-present sunshine. Our TGV to Paris is at 11:45 so left about 10:15 and ambled our way to the train station bought some sandwiches for the trip, and relaxed on the platform until the train arrived. Our luggage, like us, has gained considerable weight since we arrived. My two bottles of pinot, V's very large earthenware jug a duplicate of which she had admired at La Cloiserie and tracked down at a local store, and multiple acquisitions both large and small. Coming down from the airport last week we had taken two first class seats which, since the train is a two story affair, were on an upper level. Going back up to Paris we were on 2'nd class tickets which are on the lower level of the train which makes stowing luggage much easier, and apart from the difference in altitude, there really is not much difference in the classes; such is not always the case....

Provence - Day Nine

Yesterday's red sky at night was a snare and a delusion; could hear the rain drumming on the roof overnight and it greeted us when we rose to start the day. There are a number of villages perchés, old medieval towns built on the heights of the highlands in the region that we have been wanting to visit, but had delayed since there was not much point of driving up in the rain only to be greeted by cloud-covered vistas when we reached the top, but since today was our last day we decided to go anyway. Chugged our way up the hills to Bonnieux, where there was a restaurant that had been recommended and arrived at its doors as the town clock struck twelve. The restaurant was not yet open but fortunately we stuck our head in the door and made a reservation for 12:30 when it opened. I say fortunately because, as it was May Day and a holiday, the town was full and when we returned at 12:30 for our table, the place was packed and people were being turned away....

Provence - Days Seven and Eight

Monday was an "offal" day, both dining and weather. Rain once again but we decided to drive to Lourmarin for lunch, wander and explore. We went back to the little brasserie where we had lunched on Friday and since we were returning to La Cloiserie in Ansouis for dinner we did not want a three course set menu for lunch but simply one dish from the carte. I ordered an anduilette and a beer, still more food than was necessary, but....