Irregular Post; January Paris

Thursday Jan 12 2017


“Paris in winter?’

Yes, as you know, Paris in winter doesn’t really do sunny skies. Although we did experience one welcome morning with partly cloudy for a couple of hours. Typically, damp or drizzle or mist or light rain or just damp. Layer for all possibilities and, if you can, look currently stylish.

We have been on the go almost all day, every day. We got a Metro pass in December with our picture on it. It can be loaded for 7 days of unlimited rides on all trains and buses but it can only loaded for Monday to Monday. Meg is the Metro genius; I just follow and look for the signs.

Based on recommendations, we had reservations for food at two upscale establishments and visited three museums and a couple of markets and MANY streets. Louis Vuitton Museum, European Museum for Photography, the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation Museum. Lunch at Aux Lyonaise and dinner at L’Atelier.

Louis Vuitton Foundation is a Frank Gehry architecture building and had a major exhibition of master painter works that were in a russian collector’s collection; Picasso, Matisse, and MANYMANY more. Being the only museum open on Monday it was CROWDED. They do not have the infrastructure to handle those crowds. We waited on line for 90 minutes to buy tickets. TIP: do not go on Monday without a per-purchased ticket. GO for the earliest time they open in AM. Be prepared to look through crowds at the paintings.  Enjoy the interior architecture; it reminded me of the Star Wars Death Star

Tuesday’s lunch; hearty three course Lyonaise luncheon by Alan Ducasse (David got the reservations for us). Great food, done well, and presented well. Fotos later of the fare that included the charcuterie, my Pork Belly and super mashed potato and Meg’s quenelle (fish mousse). A super clementine tian with pistachio ice cream for me and cheese for Meg to finish. Meg noticed that there were very few women in the restaurant. Actually only about 10% and they were accompanied. I guess it is businessman’s power lunch spot.

A frustrating afternoon ensued. We metroed to BOTH photography museums in very different parts of the city only to find them both closed!! Cartier-Bresson was supposed to be open on Tuesday but they were NOT as the website said. Later we found out that it was to be an evening Opening Reception for the new exhibit of his work for a famous book that was translated into English as “The Decisive Moment”. The European Photography Foundation Museum was not open as well. Meg looked for the famous ice cream store in the Marais.  We found it but it was closed with the ice cream only available at cafes for a dear price. Across the Seine in the drizzle we walked. Shakespeare and Company for English books? Nope could not find it. Walked past the hotel that Jane and Nancy and we stayed at in a few years ago.  The through the streets to a rush hour metro and back to the hotel   TOO FULL from lunch we didn’t need dinner!  We just relaxed with some tea.

Wednesday was the opposite at the photography museums. The  European opening time was 11A and we were there.  Some very provocative stuff from people that I was not too familiar with. I had heard of Harry Callahan but did not know his stimulating work. The Serrano work was related to homeless of NYC and later Brussels. Powerful when in print but disheartening when seen in public on the streets of Paris etc.  An interesting Nixon collection of 24 prints of four sisters from spanning the decades from young to middle age.

We talked photography with a Toronto photographer/professor and later met him again in another part of the city at Cartier-Bresson in the afternoon. He had also been unsuccessful in visiting in the afternoon. While viewing the exhibition, I was approached by a young man with a video camera and microphone. He asked if I would be able to do an English interview about the new exhibit and Cartier-Bresson for Belgium TV!!!   “Sure.”   He had questions and I answered knowledgeably (fortunately). He had filmed my/us before in the exhibit before he asked and then more filming after. Very interesting; it reminded me of us being extras in a tiny movie in Lowell but this time I had a speaking role!

Back to home/hotel ”Astotel 34B” dress for dinner. Meg changed her trousers for black leggings and dress. I put on a different shirt under my standard sweater. Off we went in the drizzle for a 6:30P reservation (by David) at Joel Rubichon’s L’Atelier. I understand that the 6:30 time is done mostly by tourists. Serious diners do not go until after 8P . Old folks like me need time to digest some before I go to bed at 10P.

Interesting concept restaurant inspired by the fusion of Spanish tapas and French cuisine.  We sat on high bar chairs at the fancy viewing bar looking into the open kitchen. One could talk food with your near neighbors.  I could see how they make the famous mashed potatoes that taste soo gooood. Food is $mall plate$ to main entree$. We ordered small and medium sized plates from light to hearty for sharing. A start of carpaccio of sea breen LOVELY; light, thin slices in a citrus “broth” and a traditional ceviche to share for comparison. Chestnut soup with three kinds of “bacon”.  Switch from white wine to red for the heavier food to come.  Then burger sliders with foie gras and frites, (David’s favorite). To finish we had two mains that we shared; breast of pigeon!! with foie gras wrapped in a savoy cabbage leaf, and marrow on toast. Meg really did not like the medium rare pigeon’s texture so I had to eat hers. We both finished up with the marrow on toast. Interesting and filling.

Dessert time. Meg had four sorbets one of which was a basil sorbet. Yummy. I asked the “waiter” for help; “The Pear”, he said. “OK”. Amazing; a “standing pear” on a bed of pear sauce (like apple sauce) but wait! The pear was hard-solid; No hollow!  The exterior was a thin sugar shell that had been molded and was filled with pear sorbet and pear sauce and some raisins. FULL after 2 hours of fine dining. It did lighten my wallet a little.

Drizzle as we walked back to the Metro. The light beam from Eiffel swung across the sky behind some restaurants and wet winter streets. Drizzle when we walked back to the hotel.

The 34B is the best hotel we’ve used in a long while. A three star MODERN comfortable well appointed with a fine buffet breakfast in a large open room. Each gets their own two cup pot of tea or coffee. “More?” Snacks and beverages are available all day and evening. We had some hot tea before retiring to our room. People use the room as a meeting space, work space, and relaxing space all day.

OKay. Repack time and get ready to head back home. We’ve been on the road a month. Time to get back to “work”. I have to prepare for a show next Wednesday at Pinkham Notch Camp. I am sure there is a ton of mail and end of the year things waiting. I wonder how winter in Andover looks. Oh well…..

“travel light and wear a smile.”

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