Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving in Burgundy... and snow! glorious snow!

And my birthday was a real treat as well. I arrived back in the city at the hotel absolutely ravenous (is this constant hunger a sign of something?) and decided to pop in at the restaurant I'd discovered the other night just next to the hotel, Les Anysetiers du Roy (an ancient spelling of roi, I understand). The place itself, a tiny, funky thousand year old (or something) corner building on the Rue St. Louis, was the former home of les pharmaciens to the king, who prepared digestifs and other 'remedies' for him with anise base. Probably just anisette, don't you think? But when you're king, you get to call hootch medicine and insist it be specially made.

I love this place. And Lillian herself, the chef de cuisine, made me a lovely supper of rabbit a la moutarde, a nice glass of Bordeaux and, as she was out of Ile Flottante for dessert and the bavarois as well I ordered a simple creme caramel and she put a candle in it! I was, needless to say, utterly charmed by not only this gesture, but as she cruised the room making sure everyone was happy earlier, she stopped at my table, insisted I had not availed myself of the finer points of my rabbit, picked up my knife and fork and proceeded to scrape the meat off the tiny bones, loaded a fork with it, saying "ce n'est pas biftek vous savez!" and literally fed me the rabbit. I could say nothing but, Merci, Maman, both of us laughing and I adored her. Please note: Lillian does employ a waiter, but he is by and large nowhere in evidence. He may or may not take your order and then disappear for an hour while she waits tables, cooks, serves wine and all without a lick of complaint, cheerful and grateful for the work she loves. I know this because I asked her if it was not difficult with the waiter disappearing periodically, at particularly busy moments as well, and she only laughed and said she loves her work! And this woman can cook! Everything she makes is delicious, and cheap. I shared a table with two female students from the states who were charming, one of whom lives on the Ile in a sort of pension for female students and workers – Les Visges maybe? I suppose some people would have felt sad eating their birthday dinner alone before the girls arrived, but I was in heaven, taking in the strange paintings on the walls and enjoying the relaxing classical music from which Lillian never strays.

So I may go back and take a few pictures of the place today, but here are some photos from the weekend in the country. A lovely time and just what the doctor ordered when I'd had enough of city life. I feel renewed!

winter vineyard

invisible dog?

So.......Back in the City of Light for two days prior to departing for the UK visit with a friend and then home to Boston and, hopefully, a pedicure and a nice hot stone massage with Wendy in Portland as soon as possible. Thanksgiving in Burgundy was relaxing and fun, as only a warm fire, a beauteous snowfall, congenial company and great wine in the rolling hills of the French countryside can be. Not that I have a huge frame of reference, but come on... you know what I mean! If you can get your hands on a '95 Gevrey Chambertins, do it. It's an out-of-body experience.

Think I'll hit le Louvre today. See what senior Botticelli has to tell me. Good thing he isn't alive or I'd be such a helpless groupie.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving from Paris, everyone!

Wednesday was a gorgeous fall day and I must have walked miles from the hotel up the river to the Petit Palais and down around le Marais and back. Hope your turkey is tender and your pie is as sweet as you want it to be.

A Paris postcard, sent with love on this day.

walk over to Ile de la Cite...

SMART-er car?

Notre Dame

lighting candles.... always

Notre Dame getting decked out for Christmas.

le pont des arts, where lovers place their padlocked hearts together along the bridge, true love, and throw away the key into the Seine. Isn't that just, well.... bless em all.

The Louvre is simply massive; its sheer size never ceases to amaze. Below is simply the south side, part of it, along the river. You could spend forever wandering its halls. That would be my idea of heaven, so long as food was served periodically.

glorious skies above the tuileries

takin the sun/ rest

up toward Champs elysees

this statue called The Nile

Le Petit Palais

garden at petit palais where you can have lunch/ tea

SMART(-est) car?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Anyone reading this today is a blessed human being (eg., you most likely have a turkey and a computer) and I am grateful to call you all my friends.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I couldn't begin to explain why folk s rave about the facade of Notre Dame when the rear view is so much more elegante and interesting.

Here's a little photo essay of today's meander over the river and through the woods... (to grandmother's house we go!), over the Pont St. Louis behind the Cathedral to the 5th and on into the 6th for lunch with She Who Shall Remain Nameless (let's just call her TKO for The Knowledgeable One – although she IS by anyone's standards a TKO - technical knock out, with her fabulous french twist and keen, curious mind.) We met at the cafe de Flore, for a little kir royale, salade nicoise and croque monsieur dejeuner, hot chocolat for dessert like no other, with the movers and shakers of Paris. The place, according to TKO, is still authentic home to the literary artsitic set, and one senses that. Moi, I liked the soap dispenser in the ladies room; it was an oval, as in huge egg shaped, yellow bar of soap affixed to the wall around a metal thingy, hanging off the wall like a droopy sconce. The most interesting soap dispenser I've seen so far. You just wet your hands and rub them around this big ol egg and scrub and rinse and voila!

Food in Paris may be a bit pricey, but law'! you thoroughly enjoy two hours eating a fairly small meal and just being out and about! I love it.

And according to TKO, Paris Walks is The thing to do if you want to know what buildings mean, as in, what happened there and why it's important. She's done many of them in the years she's lived here (hence her knowledgeability) and if I had a month here I would do all 30. There are markers all over the city on buildings as well if you read a little French, Today we passed the house where Descartes (of cogito ergo sum and Cartesian geometry fame, and he had lovely handwriting ) used to spent his time in Paris, I passed the brilliant Camille Claudel's former atelier just around the corner by the river on the Ile (she was Rodin's lover), and too many other historical markers to mention. But the city comes alive the more you know about the streets, and the buildings' histories.

Should mention I stopped in a luthier's shop (picture below) and he played a 20,000 euro Italian double bass for me that SANG! fabuleuse. Wouldn't W have loved to be there? I got a very interesting lesson on why if you play a stringed instrument, a large one, you want one with the Cremona (as in Italy) sound/tuning. And by 'tuning' he means the wood, and he showed me how you 'tune' the wood (maple and pine) before you even make the instrument. Amazing. You learn somethin every day in this world if you're lookin.

So come along on this little sojourn around the 4th (the Ile) and 5th (around the Sorbonne) arrondissement, which is my new favorite. The Steely Dan tune Aja kept running through my head "up on the hill". The hotel below (pink) is the most darling thing I've seen here yet, and it's affordable as well! Up and down alleys and sidestreets into the mystery that is Paris

hot chocolat at the cafe de flore on bd. st. germain

musee de cluny

deux cheveux!

La Sorbonne

the Pantheon, where my hero, Voltaire, is buried

former coffee grinder house (hence the hanging sign)

A Wallace fountain (click to learn more)

an adorable hotel in the 5th down an alleyway.. to die for

yours truly avec chapeau

where Camille Claudel lived and worked on the Ile ST. Louis bottom rt