Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paris, Last Day Of October 2009, Grand Palais

On the last day of October, and with Doug's cold still apparent but he sounds much less congested, he insists that we go out into Paris Center. After a full day and a half of lounging, he's going to go crazy if he doesn't get out, he says. Obligingly, I shower and dress, fix a light breakfast of yogurt, a tangerine and some Petit Dejeuner biscuits. We down a cup of coffee and a glass of juice and viola, we're off.

We took the Line 8 to Line 1 Métro, getting off at Champs Elysée/Clemenceux and walked from there to the Grand Palais, just across the street. We entered to see the exhibit of Renior, an amazing walk through the life and time of this great painter from the time he was young until he was very old and severely crippled by arthritis. The exhibition was set up with 15 different rooms and it was easy to see how he moved from one masterpiece to another. For example, his early nudes were of very young girls with little background focus. His ultimate paintings of nudes were of fully developed with large women displayed in equally as large depiction of nature, making woman more of an equal with nature--natural--rather than a fragment of it. The result was bold and quite an amazing contrast to his early paintings.

Following the exhibition of Renior, we then took the Istanbul/Byzantium exhibition seeing many artifacts of the early days and the influence of this part of the world on Europe and its arts and customs.

By the time we spent a 5-hour day inside, we were not only exhausted mentally from so much stimulation, but we needed to have something to eat and to rest our weary feet.

We walked by the Presidential Palace and were fortunate enough to be walking by at the changing of the guard. We were awe stricken by the number of designer shops that surrounded the presidential palace, as if to say: This is for you Sarko and Carla! It was quite a display and we walked by each display window enjoying the dazzling arrays of le mode fashion in Paris.

We didn't see much in the way of brasseries and we were wondering where on earth to get something to eat when I came up with the brilliant idea of taking the Métro line 8 to Grenelle and going to Le Suffren. This is my favorite place to go for oysters, muscles and fries and they have an impressive but reasonable wine list as well. The apéro hour was just beginning, so we were lucky to score a nice table and our favorite waiter. We ordered a delicious crisp white wine called Rully 1er Cru from Bourgogne and it was absolutely wonderful and complimented the dozen sweet medium sized fresh oysters on the half-shell we ordered. After we rested from that taste treat, we each ordered a bowl of steamed muscles and frites. Honestly, there were so many muscles that neither of us were able to finish--although we came very near. It was difficult to stop but we felt it was that or we'd have to be carried home! We topped this delicious fresh seafood meal off with a noisette and then did, in fact, waddle back to the 15e on foot. It felt good to be out in the fresh air.

By the time we got to the 15e, rue du Commerce was buzzing with people. Our favorite stopping place, Café de Commerce, was already filled with groups of locals enjoying an apéro--you would have had to have arrived much earlier if you seriously expected to find a table there.

We stopped across the street at the little patisserie to buy some fresh bread for breakfast and also a couple of macaroons au chocolat to enjoy on the walk back to the apartment--they simply melt in your mouth and I'd love to know how to make them, delicious!

Tomorrow we're thinking about the market at Grenelle and perhaps a stroll along the Seine. Whatever we do, we'll certainly share it with you.

Enjoy our pictures from today and have a great morning, afternoon or evening (where ever you may be!).

At Café de Commerce You Need To Arrive Earlier Than 5pm For A Table!

It's The Saturday Night Shopping/Apéro Hour On rue du Commerce!

Memories For Barbara, You'll Love Her Blog If You Love Paris! (One Of Her Favorite Restos)

It's The Only Reason We Go To Le Suffren: Moules, Frites, Oysters & Impressive Wine List!

After A 5-Hour Musée Day, The Suffren Muscles Hit The Spot!

He's Smiling Because He Just Ordered Oysters, Muscles, Frites & An Excellent Rully 1er Cru White Wine from Le Bourgogne!

When In Town, The Place Sarko & Carla Hang Out

Private Entrance To The Presidential Palace

Presidential Palace, Changing Of The Guards

Every Worldly Designer Has A Shop Near Sarkozy's Home

All Gates Are Guarded Near The Presidential Palace In The 8e

A Couple Of Ominous Looking Guards Over These Windows

An Elegant Door, Complete With Relief Sculpture

A Lovely Fleur de Lis Window In The 8e, Near The Presidential Palace

A Scantly Clad Romanesque Statue Stands Guard Over This Beautiful Apartment

Presidential Palace Near Grand Palais

A Theater Across From The Grand Palais, Near The President's Palace

The Leaves Of Brown Come Tumbling Down

Samedi Dans Le Champs Elysée

Charles & Doug, Both Great Leaders (I'd Be Lost Without The One On The Right)

A View Of The Fountain At The Grand Palais

Early Modest Nude By Renoir



A Bit Of Renoir

The Wait Was Pleasant With The Musician's Addition

Marguerite Daisies Pepper The Landscape Of The Grand Palais Exterior Garden

We Guessed That These Two Might Be Bored Americans, Tired Of The Wait!

The Queque Wait Was 1.5 Hours From Here!

The Colorful Mums Out In The Garden At The Grand Palais

We Saw Both Exhibitions And Were Happy We Hadn't Missed Them!

The Grand Palais

Next Post: Paris November 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Paris, October 2009, At Home For The Day

Too Cold To Go Out? No Problem! We Enjoy Home Cooked Meal On A Friday

Can You Blame Me For Loving To Cook In France? What A Selection!

Bonjour! I hope you've had (or will have) a great day. Ours was quiet today.

We woke to find what we believe to be best described as a touch of winter in the air. If we were back in Iowa or Indiana we'd probably say that it looks like it might snow today. The sky is that solid gray that leaves you anticipating a snow storm later in the day.

After checking out the online weather sources for Paris and learning that by noon tomorrow we can expect a cold front with rain, we popped out for a short walk to Monoprix to buy a few supplies.

The Monoprix is a fun place to visit. Ours has an entry on the top floor where you can buy nearly anything you might need. They have toiletries, clothing, shoes, perfumes, household items, lingerie, toys, a book store and whatever fits your fancy. There is an escalator that leads down to the lower level, beneath the street (or you can take stairs or an elevator if you wish), and on the lower level is a full grocery store with lovely produce, a butcher, cheese monger, fish monger, a wine shop and all the groceries you might need. It's well-stocked and there are plenty of cashiers so one does not have to wait in line forever.

Our exchangers have a nice turquoise blue pull cart, that holds a lot of groceries, as well as some hand-held re-useable large grocery bags. We like to buy bottled water, since it makes the best coffee, and it is heavy so we generally take the pull cart and today was no exception. It's easier to cart home the delicious varieties of French wine that way, too!

Since Doug is still trying to get over a cold that started about 3-1/2 weeks ago, this seemed like a good day to stay in and get caught up on our blogging and get some chores done, but we also felt a bit closed in and saved the shopping for after lunch time.

Our host family recently purchased a new washer. Because space is very limited in French apartments, it's not exactly a huge washer but I can easily wash a few towels or a small load of clothing in it. The top of the machine pops up and in the interior of the machine there is a drum on it's side that opens sort of like a bingo cage. You put your load in, add a cap of detergent, select the type of fabric you're washing and hit the depart button. The least amount of time is 1 hour 20 minutes for synthetics and the most is over 2 hours for jeans. Needless to say, I've decided that all our laundry is synthetic whether true or not! With such a small load, it takes more time than I'm willing to invest otherwise.

The clothes dryer is very practical. It's economically efficient, at best, but I must say it really does take its time drying our clothing! Our building is heated by a boiler system that sends hot water through pipes, so it's never exceptionally warm in the apartment--but it is certainly comfortable for us--so it takes about a day and a half for clothes to dry. Also, our "dryer" only holds so many pieces of clothing, so it takes a bit of time to do laundry. We thought it might be best to take everything to the laverie, which is French for "laundry." However, it is about six euros per load to wash and about the same to dry--depending upon what it is. Much more expensive than doing it at home--unless time is of essence. We passed on the 24 euros laundry, and spent our day reading as the laundry did its thing.

So, on this cold wintery day our laundry is on the line drying and our cupboard is filled with delectable food that I'll cook in the French manner over the next few cold, rainy days.

We'll try to get out a bit tomorrow--perhaps before the storm hits--and get some more of Paris uploaded. However, the pictures below are definitely part of living here--for what it's worth!

Tonight I'll put my hand to biftek au poivre (steak with pepper) and some pomme frites and we'll enjoy it with some good Bordeaux we bought at Monoprix today. We also purchased two slices of Tart de Mère (it looks like a crumble of some sort, berry or pear) and we'll heat it up and put a dollop of ice cream on it. The French use ingredients that are fresh and seasonal. They don't import food from other places. Right now the berries have all but disappeared from stores and we are seeing tangerines, apples and pears. Also root vegetables and leeks have taken the place of spring and summer vegetables. I'm enjoying every minute of it, with my love of cuisine.

If you're at all interested, I prepared this small 3/4" filet mignon (which we shared) by first, in a separate skillet adding a generous pat of butter, thinly slicked half small yellow onion and four sliced mushrooms with a bit of salt and pepper, until soft and golden. In another small pan I melted a pat of butter and heated the pan (don't burn the butter) then put the olive oil rubbed filet which was generously covered in cracked fresh black pepper and salt, cooking it first on one side for a coupe of minutes, then flipping it and doing the same, removing it to a plate and covering it while I deglazed the pan with a splash of porto, added the onion and mushrooms and a splash of cream and let it cook off the alcohol for a few minutes while it thickened, stirring in another pat of butter and topped the steak with this lovely mixture. I'd sliced potatoes, salted them well, covered them with half and half and chives and some parmesan and baked them until bubbly and golden (350F for 55 min). With some Bordeaux, we dined with smiles! Easy, fast and delicious and cost was about eight euros for the two of us!

Where We Shop For Groceries

The Other Half Of Our Own French Laundry: Our Clothes Dryer

Our Own French Laundry (Washing Machine)

This Is What We Do, When Not Out And About: Blog!

Next Post: More Of Paris 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Paris, October 2009, Branly Museum

Although I'm not quite sure Doug has recovered, he insisted that we go out today.

Yesterday was a day of rest and all we did was go to Monoprix for a few groceries, the patisserie for some bread and to Café Dumont for a light lunch. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and sleeping for Doug in an effort to get him over this cold that is dogging him.

I did fix a fabulous dinner. I browned two small pork chops in a bit of butter, along with some sliced apples, fresh thyme sprig and a little finely chopped shallot. Once browned, I put a lid on it and let the pork cook in its own juices for about 20 minutes before removing it to a warm plate to rest. I deglazed the pan with some Calvados, added a splash of cream and another pat of butter and simmered it while everything came together and thickened. I poured it atop the apples and pork and pulled the baking dish of sliced potatoes, a few pats of sweet butter, some cream to cover, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese from the oven (it was bubbly and rich). We opened a nice bottle of Bordeaux and enjoyed a fabulous meal at home. French cuisine at its finest!

It was much sunnier yesterday, than today, but it was still only sweater weather. We took the Métro line from Boucicaut to Invalides, then took the RER one more stop to Pont de l'Alma and walked from there a short distance to the Branly Museum where they currently have an exhibition arranged by Sarkosy and the President of Mexico. The exhibition was Teotihuacan and exquisite. It wasn't possible to take many photographs because we weren't allowed flash and most items were encased in glass--which is never ideal for picture taking. Nonetheless, I captured a few things for your enjoyment.

The Branly also had exhibits from the Americas, Africa and Asia, so it took us 3.5 hours to get through the exhibits. By then we were hungry and foot weary.

We left the Branly and walked toward Champ de Mars, under the Eiffel and into the 15e, down Commerce, to the Café de Commerce hoping to get there before the pizza chef left for the day. We were not lucky enough to do so. The pizza oven was closed, so Doug settled for a burger and I settled for salmon tartare and we shared a small pichet of Bordeaux Superior, before walking home from there.

It's quite cool outside now and the sky is darkening. I did manage a few photos from the apartment in advance, but now it's looking like we'll get some weather. We actually just checked and a storm is coming our way and plans to stay for several days, peppering us with rain and stirring up some wind.

We may be taking a break from our adventures, depending upon the weather and Doug's condition.

Enjoy my post for the day and rest assured I'll be back with more shots of Paris as soon as I'm able.

We're Home At Last, View Across Our Street

View From Living/Dining Room Out Our Large Window

View From Our Bedroom Window

My Petite Kitchen Awaits My Magic For Dinner

If You Drive A Smart Car, You Can Park Anywhere!

Lions Stand Guard At This Door Into Hotel de Ville

The Magnificent Hotel de Ville

It's Obviously Not Apéro Time, Only 1 Lonely Nun Passes By This Bistro

Le Monsieur Awaits His Burger, At Café de Commerce

Today's Specials At Café de Commerce

An Unusual View Of The Eiffel As We Walk By

An Old Stone Structure Remnant Below The Eiffel In The Gardens

Branly Exit Leads To Champ de Mars & Eiffel

Sacrificial God, Evidenced By Red Tongue And Skeletal Appearance

Teotihuacan Gods

Teotihuacan Culture Artifacts

More Artifacts From Teotihuacan Culture 150-450 CE

A Teotihaucan God Sitting Cross-Legged. Coals Were Burned In His Hat During Ceremonies

The Reason We Visited This Day

Dispay Of Dolls Fro Oceania Cultures

Hawaiian Bowl With Gods At Both Ends To Protect User

Bracelets & Necklaces Of Wealthy Used For Bartering

Ancient Funerary Masks Depicting Decedent and Used At Death Ceremonies

An Example Of The Amazing Art From Primitive Civilizations

Branly Garden

A Cooler Day (60F) Brought Many People To The Exhibition At The Branly

A Pleasant Entrance To The Museum, Gardens & Art

Entrance To The Branly Museum, With Eiffel Looming Over It

This, My Friends, Is The BEST Navigator In All Of France!

Café Dumont Is A Sort Of Art Deco Hang Out/Bar In The 15e

We Stop For Lunch At Café Dumont, On The Way To Monoprix For Some Supplies

Next Post: More of Paris Fall 2009