Saturday, September 15, 2012

Last Day in Paris

I saved a few of my favorite places for my last day in Paris.

My first stop was in the Marais at Place des Vosges. the weather was not very nice...cloudy and slightly cool.

So, when I arrived at the beautiful square park at mid-morning, it was quite kids with nannies, no sun bathers, few people sitting on benches. Still, it's a lovely spot with four identical quadrants, each with a fountain.

I then wandered around the Marais which is the old Jewish quarter of Paris and also has many unique boutiques.

Rue de Rosiers is the main street in the Jewish quarter.

I was surprised to discover that Goldenberg's, the best know Jewish deli, now houses two clothing shops, despite keeping its original signage outside.

Many of the other delis and bakeries were overflowing with customers who lined up all the way out into the street. Looking in some deli display cases, I learned that corned beef is called "pickel" in France.

My lunch plan was tea at the original Mariage Freres tea room in the Marais. Mariage Freres are the oldest tea merchants in France. I'm a fan of their teas and always treat myself to a tea lunch in this shop.

The tea room is elegant, with a table of sweets at one end and a tea bar which looks like their tea shop at the front. It is at the tea bar that all of the hundreds of varieties of tea are stocked, ready to be prepared for tea room customers.

I usually order the Classic Brunch at Mariage Frere, but this time, decided on the Zen Lover.

My choice of tea was a new blend: Jasmine White..very light, with a strong jasmine flavor.

In addition to the tea, the Zen Lover includes scones or muffins, orange juice, chicken breast poached in tea, asparagus, and a dessert choice.

My scones were accompanied two pots of tea-infused fruit jellies and a pot of butter.

On each table there are containers of Matcha Salt and Green Tea Sesame Salt. Of course I tried them both and wanted to buy some Matcha salt to take home...until I discovered that it was 20 euro for the container and decided to pass....but, I'm still thinking about it as I write this blog post on the airplane...missed opportunity.

After my leisurely tea lunch, it was time for more walking and a few more stops on my list of favorites.

I passed the Pompidou Center which houses the Modern Art Museum and France's first free public library.

Next on my route was St. Eustache, one of my favorite churches. I was fortunate to be inside when this Sunday's featured organist was practicing. I and all those inside we're treated to a beautiful organ concert.

Almost behind St. Eustache is E. Dehillerin, the professional cookware shop from which all of my cooking knives and many of my baking and cooking pans come from. Their knives are of such high quality, I am still using some that are 40 years old.

It's always a treat to come here. I first learned of Dehilleran from Julia Child and her early cooking shows on public television. This is where she shopped for cookware.
The stop at E. Dehillerin was pretty much the end of my day's places to go.

But, on my way to the Metro, I walked through another favorite, the gardens and courtyard of the Palais Royal.

There is such a curious contrast between the formal gardens and walkways around them and the fanciful black and white posts in the courtyard.

And so, ended my 2012 visit to France.

Yes, there was one more dinner at Cafe Constant where I had the Artichoke and Mushroom Salad, poached Sea Bream, and a flaky slice of Apple Tart...I'll spare those of you who have been " dining" vicariously with me these past few weeks the photos, mainly because I've not yet uploaded them.

Thanks for traveling with me; it's been fun!

Riding the Rails and Eating Lightly, Sort of...

After my indulgent lunch at Les Ombres, I needed a walk, with my destination being Bon Marche, the very nice Left Bank department store. Knowing that I had discount designer clothes shopping planned for the next day, I wanted to "do my homework" and check out what was in Bon Marche's in-store designer boutiques.

Mostly, the outlets sell past season merchandise, but sometimes I've found current season overstock there. I needed a feel for prices and styles.

About halfway through what would have been at least a half-hour walk, I decided to hop on the Metro. I love the Paris Metro and it goes pretty much everywhere. A ticket, with as many connections as you need to make between lines costs 1.07 euros about $1.25.

While Right Bank department stores, Printemps and Galleries Lafayette, are more well known, attract more tourists, and are glitzier, Bon Marche is something of a hidden treasure in a nice section of the 6th.

My only purchases were in their Food Halls where they have an enormous selection of prepared, packaged, and fresh foods. this is one of my favorite places to buy small specialty foods to take home.

I took my time on the walk home, including stopping to rest in this small neighborhood park.

For dinner, I really did "lighten up'" with meal of crepes at a nearby crepe place called Crepescule. All they serve are crepes, the true Brittany-style crepes, both savory and sweet. My savory one was filled with ham, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and pesto. For dessert, I enjoyed a banana crepe that was sprinkled with sugar.

Crepescule features Hard Cider as a beverage; it's typical in Brittany and starting to become a popular alcoholic beverage in the States.

My next day was a big one on the Metro as I traversed Paris several times, starting with the Jardin des Plantes, another of Paris's hidden treasures, In the 5th, these huge gardens are more than just formal gardens. They include a wonderful zoo, several natural sciences museums and institutes, and an amazing labyrinth which, I am embarrassed to admit, I forgot to go time.

But I did enjoy my peaceful time here.

Leaving the calm of the Jardin des Plantes, I stepped out into the bustle of the Gare d'Austerlitz neighborhood and spied a McDonald's, one of the McDonald's that also has a McCafe.

I'm not usually a McDonald's fan, when out of the country, I find them a bit of a haven for a quick meal or cup of coffee at a reasonable price in a clean comfortable setting.

My lunch of a Chicken Bacon wrap was perfect and I even made it "Le Menu" by adding a drink and fries...all for 6.60 euros.

I loved that my fries came with not just ketchup but Pommes Frites Sauce, a spicy mayonnaise whose recipe I'd love.

Not only was lunch good, but all McDonald's have free WIFI and free clean restrooms.

I did not have dessert at my lunchtime McDonald's, but saved it for my afternoon tea break a bit later at a McCafe near the Louvre.

Yes, that's the typical pastry counter at a Paris McCafe and, yes, the McCafes do serve tea in a china pot with a real cup and saucer!!

My outlet shopping yielded no treasures, but was worth the try. To my disappointment, Cacharel, my favorite here, no longer has an outlet.

Undaunted, I Metroed back to the Louvre, mainly to stop at Paris's other Apple store to make a quick purchase and use their free wifi. The store is in Le Carrousel du Louvre, an upscale underground shopping center, right under the Louvre's glass pyramid.

If you come to the Louvre on the Metro, the station exit goes right through the shopping area I've walked that way many times, but never paid much attention to what was there. This time I did and it has a great selection of many of Paris's most famous shops whose main locations are scattered all over the city. If you have limited time and want to shop, your choices include Laduree, where the colorful macarons first were created, Mariage Frere for tea, Lalique for crystal, and a spacious upstairs food court with good quality restaurants.

While I did not take the time for the Louvre itself, I did look at its free exhibits off the shopping area...then back on the Metro to my neighborhood.

After more than 24 hours of lighter eating, I was ready to indulge in a dinner at Truffes Folies, a truffle restaurant and shop a few doors from my hotel.

Just about everything on the menu of this tiny 20 -seat restaurant includes fresh truffles. When you walk in, you are engulfed in the fragrance of truffles.

There are bottles of Black and White truffle oil on each table.

My first course was a salad of mache lettuce with roasted tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and, of course, truffle oil and shaved truffles.

For my main course, I had truffled tortellini.

Both dishes were amazingly wonderful.

I passed on truffled desserts and went for vanilla, strawberry, and banana ice cream.

After all, this, I slept well to get ready for my last day in Paris before heading home.