Saturday, October 30, 2010

Paris 2010-7

25 Octobre (Lundi) - Started with a trip to G-20 for a few essentials and some chocolate.  All of a sudden I have this craving for chocolate.  Wonder where that came from?

Then, we bundled up and hopped the métro to Italie2 in the 13é.  I love riding the Ligne 6 métro  (be sure to scroll to the bottom for some very good pictures) because a lot of it is above ground.  Of course, my favorite part is when it passes la Tour Eiffel and la Seine.  Fantastic views of both!  This has been a strange Paris visit, because I am alternately loving and hating it.  A lot of the hate is caused by the very cold weather, of course.

In Italie2, we came across Celio, and since everyone was staring at my Dolphin cap, I bought a cap that looked really nice and even has a 'bill'. Unfortunately, when I got out into the cold, the wind just whipped through it like I was wearing nothing. Drat, I HATE the cold, and especially the windy cold!  Robb bought another suitcase similar to mine with four wheels.  The guy who invented them is most definitely a genius.  Now, if only they came in a size just a little larger.

Because of the suitcase, we took a taxi back.  During the ride we saw these signs, the PanthéonNotre Dame, the Louvre the statue represents the city of Marseille.  We also saw they are working on the Louvre, but I couldn't get a good picture from our side of the Seine.
Dinner tonight at Chez Clément, the site of our first meal in Paris this trip.  The staff was much more friendly this time.  In fact, the guy who gave us a hard time before, was nowhere to be seen.  My dinner consisted of Crème de champignons "Maison" (a really great mushroom soup), Travers de porc au miel et épices, pommes Pont-Neuf (I found the description of the French fries quite funny and the pork was ribs which I would not have ordered had I known, even though they were also very good).  Coupe Mont-Blanc was the dessert and it is an ice cream sundae with chestnut sauce. Robb's dinner started with Salades fraîches de saison (salad with cabbage and jicama).  He then had Noix de Saint-Jacques, légumes oubliés (scallops and forgotten veggies - which were forgotten because we didn't recognize most of them).  His dessert was Tarte Tatin à l'envers et sa crème fraîche d'Isigny (an apple tart with créme fraîche which is sort of like whipped cream but not).

26 Octobre (Mardi) - Walked to the 30 Bus stop.  Just acoss the street was a pharmacie, so we went over and I bought a package of PepcidDuo.  Then back to the bus stop.  We rode the 30 Bus to the Trocadero to check out the Architecture Museum.  I knew it would be closed today, but I wasn't exactly certain where it was located or how to enter.  We both saw it as soon as we got off the bus and walked to the corner.  There are several other things in the Palais de Chaillot (commonly called the Trocadero, but the Trocadero is actually the name of the area, not the building) and there is a ticket office there which was open.  I asked the guy there how to get to the Architucture Museum and he obliged with the information I needed.  We're not sure yet, if we're going tomorrow or Thursday.

After getting my information, we went out and walked a little.  I took the obligatory pictures: the golden statues with a view of la Tour Eiffel, Apollon Musagète (Apollo), and a picture of some of the knock-off copies being sold by the blacks.

We caught the bus back and stopped into Brasserie l'Étoile for a café.

Dinner at Thai Siam on Avenue Wagram. It's a very prettily decorated place, as are most oriental restaurants. We wanted to sit at one of the window tables, but after only a couple minutes, we became aware of why we were the only ones sitting in that area. It was freezing and actually felt like they had the air conditioning on. We moved to an inside table. My dinner began with Ho Mok Pla (steamed fish in a white curry sauce). Robb had Pet Yang (roasted duck with veggies). We drank Pinot Noir d'Alsace, which was listed as a rosé, but was red. For dessert, we both had the Beignet de Banane (flambé bananas), we didn't like it.

Upon leaving, I took a picture of l'Arc de Triomphe at night.

27 Octobre (Mercredi) - Woke up to no hot water this morning. The water heater is one of those that only heats the water as you use it. It's another love-hate relationship. I love the way it saves on electricity, but so far, I've never seen one that heats enough water for a full shower. Ours works on gas, so apparently the gas had been turned off for some reason. 

Around 14h15, while Robb was out getting bread, a repairman came to check the gas in the apartment. All was well and he left. I tried the water, but it wasn't heating. That meant it had to be reset. I called Jean-Michel and he told me how to do it, so now we have hot water again.

When Robb returned, we walked down and got the 30 Bus to the Trocadero and Palais de Chaillot, with the intention of checking out La Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine (the City of Architecture and Heritage). "Mais au'jourdhui il est fermée" (but today it is closed). We asked but no one has any idea when it will re-open. So we came out and I took a couple photos, statue of Foch and a couple of buildings on Avenue du President Wilson.

Since we couldn't do that, we thought we would go back, get the métro and check out the Louvre. We haven't been there in ages.

The first problem was we got off at the Louvre-Rivoli station, from which we used to be able to enter the Louvre. No longer, but I did get an example of how Paris is changing (and not for the better). This copy of an ancient relief has been in this station since before our first visit and had suffered no damage.  How sick must one be to do this kind of damage?

 We climbed the steps to the sidewalk and started to the museum, when I detoured to get a photo of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois. When the Louvre was still a royal palace, this was the royal church. Just around the corner, on rue de Rivoli, is l'Église Réformée de l'Oratoire du Louvre. A little further down the street is the Conseil d'Etat (Council of State) and the Hôtel du Louvre.

It was only minutes later that everything went to hell and Robb managed to get himself lost. He says one of those supposedly deaf people accosted him and he lost sight of me. I guess I need to explain that Robb never walks beside me, he always walks a couple of steps behind. And, of course, when he gets lost, he never stops, he continues to wander around, so I would have to get really lucky to find him, especially in a crowd like there was today in that area. I waited for quite awhile until it became obvious he wasn't going to show up and took the métro home, where I found him waiting. He had taken a taxi.

Dinner at Lacombe. We both had the duck with winter fruit and pureed potatoes. It was very good. Dessert was disappointing for me. I had what they called 'carrot cake'. It wasn't like any I've ever had before. I'm not really sure what Robb had. It looked a little like a macaron, but wasn't.

28 Octobre (Jeudi) - Robb had an early meeting with his BNP representative, so we were up bright and early. The reason for the early meeting was because there was another retirement demonstration scheduled for around noon. We took the 43 Bus to Gare St-Lazarre where we got the 81 Bus to Opéra. We saw no grève, but I was surprised to see construction on the Opéra, and there were police vehicles filled with policeman all up and down the boulevard. We stopped at the American Bistro for a cafe and watched as they pulled into position. By the time we left, there was still no demonstration, but it had screwed up the bus service.

We decided to walk up to Galeries Lafayette, where just beyond it, I saw another of those temporary buildings. I'm still not sure what they are but they seem to have something to do with construction of some sort. We left Galeries Lafayette and walked up to Trinité, because I thought maybe we could get the 43 Bus back to the apartment. Then we decided, instead, to take the Ligne 12 métro to Concorde where we could get the Ligne 1 métro to Saint Paul.

 We were walking past Saint Paul, but detoured to have our first look inside. It was very nice, but looked like most of the other churches we've seen in the past three months. We continued to Fontaine Sully where we were greeted warmly by the owner. We sat at a table by the window from which we had this view.

We left Fontaine Sully, caught the 76 Bus to BHV, walked through to BHV Homme, bought nothing again and finally walked to Les Marrionners where we would meet Rhino75. We were an hour early because we thought the place would be full, but it wasn't. Steve showed up and we chatted for an hour or so.

We were going to hang out and go back to Fontaine Sully for dinner because they were having tartiflette, but I was just too knackered, so we caught the métro home.

You can see all the Paris pictures here: Paris 2010  
À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Paris 2010-6

22 Octobre (Vendredi) - I see on the news, that the strike is going on and now the disruptive criminal set is joining the fray.  Burning cars, looting and just generally taking advantage of the situation as those assholes are wont to do.  So far, we haven't seen any demonstrations, nor has it interfered with our getting where we want to go.  As for people walking to the airport, that can only mean my favorite people in the city (namely the taxi drivers - you do see that description is dripping with venom, right?) are refusing to drive them.
This must be a winter plant.  How else could it thrive in these freezing temperatures?
23 Octobre (Samedi) - It's dark, wet and cold.  As we were on our way to Monoprix to get some essentials, I looked across to rue Poncelet and saw the street market about which Jean-Michel had told us when we first arrived.  Until today, I thought he had spoken about something many blocks from here.
We made our purchases and took them back to the apartment.
Then we walked back to rue Poncelet.  The first thing we noticed was that there were two streets on which markets were open, and thriving.  Rue Bayen, perpendicular to rue Pocelet, was also part of the market scene.  First we walked down rue Poncelet.  There were places selling just about everything, but I think the seafood places were most remarkable for their size and selection.  One place was selling packages of two dozen escargot à la bourguignonne, ready to be cooked (heated) and eaten.  We didn't buy
We stopped at a Nicolas wine store.  Robb bought a bottle of Bergerac.
Then we walked down rue Bayen.  It was pretty much the same as rue Poncelet.  
After leaving the street markets, we went back to Monoprix to get the orange juice Robb had forgotten earlier.  We just made it back to the apartment before a thunder storm passed through.
Dinner tonight at Kyo Fuji.  As soon as you sit down, and even before they bring you the menu, you are presented with a kir. A nicely appointed interior only added to the very good food.  We started with Soupe Unod (shrimp, noodles and veggies in a luscious bouillon), followed by a brochette du canard (duck on a stick) and dessert, Parfait Caramel (caramel ice cream - for me) and Parfait Café (coffee ice cream - for Robb).  They were both excellent, but the Parfait Café was superior.
24 Octobre (Dimanche) - The day started with such promise.  The sun was out and we had tentative plans for a little trip around the city.  It all came to a screeching halt when the sun disappeared and we realized today is Sunday and the things we wanted to visit would be closed.  Aye, que vida!  So ist das Leben!  C'est la vie! 
After a bit of internet sesrching, we determined that the place we wanted to visit was indeed open today.  So off we went to the Chocolate Museum, which is named Choco-Story.  It entailed taking a bus and two métros.  We almost cancelled our plan when we were walking to the bus stop because it started to sprinkle a little, but we stuck it out and by the time we got off the bus, the rain had stopped.  We paid the extra €3 which included a tasting and hot chocolate after the tour.  I wasn't sure what to expect. but it was very interesting.  It included the history of chocolate and its introduction into Europe. There were several videos and a lot of displays throughout the three floors.  The hot chocolate at the end was also quite interesting because you had several different kinds from which to chose.  I would recommend it, if for no other reason than the history lesson.
On the way back home, I saw a couple of interesting signs in the Ligne 9 métro station.  There is a rock star in France named M, who is apparently doing a concert at Bercy (a big sports and entertainment complex in the 12é).  There was a sign for a LIVE concert by another 'M'.  I'm really curious as to how they plan to bring that one off.
You can see all the Paris pictures here: Paris 2010
À la prochaine, mes amis.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Paris 2010-5

18 Octobre (Lundi) - Woke up in the middle of the night, freezing!  Searched for another duvet, but all I could find was a couple of duvet covers, so I threw them on the bed.  That was a little better.  The temperature dropped below freezing last night.  You would think they would adjust the heat to compensate, but apparently that's like expecting air conditioning, it's not going to happen. There is no way I could ever live in a building with chauffage collectif.  For those who may not know what that is, it means the heating is controlled by the building concierge, or what we in the States would call the building manager, and not by a thermostat over which you have control.

Because Robb isn't feeling well, we're not doing much for a day or two.  We walked around to the pharmacie.  He bought a package of Jour et Nuit (day and night cold medicine) and some Advil.  Then a stop at Monoprix for wine and snack stuff, and then, home.

The oil tank drivers have joined the strike and the gas stations are running out of gas.

Dinner at Del Papa.  It was excellent and we had a good time chatting with the waiter.  We had planned to go to the Hippopotamus.  In fact, we actually did go in, but the place was jammed with people and I over heard one of the waiters tell another guy there would be a ten minute wait.  So, since I knew it was just around the corner, we went to Del Papa, which we loved.  Merci beaucoup, R.

19 Octobre (Mardi) - Robb is still ot feeling too well.  We had sort of planned to go to Italie2 but decided it probably wouldn't be a good idea right now.  We also wanted to go to the auto show and we're hoping we can do that before we run out of time.

I walked down to Pharmacie 24 and bought some Jour et Nuit just in case I need it.  While I was there I got some Prontalgine (medicine with codeine), which can be purchased over the counter without a prescription.

Then I walked around to Monoprix to get some beurre (butter).  And took a picture of one of the cheese sections so you can see there is a huge selection from which to choose. I also bought some chocolate madeleines (cookies) that I've had my eye on for a while.  When I came out of Monoprix, it was raining, but by the time I got back to the apartment, the sun was out.  Of course, that didn't last long.

Dinner at Bistro de 4 Saisons was good and strange at the same time.  We sat at a table in the back.  I was just about to complain to Robb that we were sitting in a draft, when I noticed they had the air conditioning on.  Now kids, it was barely five degrees outside and they had their A/C on!  The good news is that the meal was very good.  We both had magret de canard (duck).  We drank Bourgogne (a red wine).  We both had panna cotta for dessert.

Last night when we came out of the restaurant, I got the answer to 'when would they turn on the lights'.  They were on.  Tonight, when we went to dinner at Bistro de 4 Saisons, just across the street from Del Papa, they were not.  I was disappointed because I wasn't happy with my picture, but when we left after dinner, they were and I shot a short video.  I'm not really happy with that either because it's in black and white.

20 Octobre (Mercredi) - A strange day, weather wise.  It's quite cold, of course, but big white clouds are streaming across the sky at rocket speed.  One minute there is bright sunlight, the next, it's dull and grey.
We had planned to go to the Paris Auto Show today, but when I checked the website, I noticed it had closed on the seventeenth.

So once again the big event of the day was a trip to Monoprix.

One of these is a cat and one is me.  Which is which?

A fantastic dinner at Chez Starman.  We both had the Hachis Parmentier (Shepherd's Pie) with Taboulé á l'Orientale (Coucous with Mint and Raisins). From our exclusive table, we had a great view of the dishwasher, but if we leaned to the right, we could clearly see the micro-onde (microwave).

21 Octobre (Jeudi) - We started by walking down to the local branch of BNP, so Robb could write himself a checque to get some money.  God forbid it should be that simple.  The eye-rolling, tongue-clicking, overweight clerk made him fill out a bunch of forms so he could get a temporary debit card, which he would then have to take out to the ATM, get his money, then come back into the bank and return the card to the clerk.  I suggested to Robb that if an American bank came to Europe and did business the way they do in the US, the European banks would be out of business within a week.

Then we caught the 92 Bus to Étoile, where we boarded the Ligne 1 métro to Hôtel de Ville.  When we got off the métro, I discovered something I hadn't known.  You have the option of taking the exit up to the street, or you can enter BHV (one of our favorite department stores) through the bricolage (do-it-yourself) department, which is what we did.  Since we were there, I bought some shoelaces which were just a tad too short and more AA batteries.  The batteries here do not last long at all, yet they're the same batteries we buy in the US that last three or four times as long.

After my purchases in BHV, we took the escalator to the ground floor (rez-de-chausée).  We left the store by the main exit, which brought us onto rue de Rivoli.  We passed several outside stands where we bought nothing, and walked to rue du Renard.  We turned right and walked up to the Pompidou.  We went inside, and after checking out the exhibits, decided to not buy a ticket.  Robb was feeling hunger pains, so we went up to the restaurant, but the food looked like it had been sitting there all day.

I suggested we go to Les Marrionniers on rue des Archives, just around the corner.  The outside tables were mostly all taken, but there was only one other customer inside.  We got a table at the window, ordered a coupe (glass) de champagne and a Créme Catalane (like a créme brulée but sort of chocolaty) and relaxed.  After, we walked back to BHV to go through there to the métro because I (rightfully) thought it would be warmer.

Dinner at Pizza Trionfo.  Excellent again.  Something new tonight.  I asked if I could take my left over food home and he was very happy to accommodate me. So now I have diner pour demain (dinner for tomorrow).
You can see all the Paris pictures here: Paris 2010

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Paris 2010-4

15 Octobre (Vendredi) - No sun and colder.  Strike Day Four.

The repairman showed up around noon.  A really nice guy with little English.  Evidently, it was the socks falling out of the open door that was keeping it from spinning back to the top.  The repair guy used a wire coat hanger to remove the socks and once he had the last one out, the door swung to the top.  One problem down, one to go.  The latch on the main door is missing a spring and they need to replace the whole door.  He'll be back around 16h00 or 17h00 to do that.

In the meantime, we walked down to FNAC (which the French pronounce Fuh-nack, as do I) to get our tickets to the Monet show.  So all we have to do now, is get ourselves there by 19h00 on Samedi (Saturday).  Robb bought another headset with microphone. because his isn't working so good after he dropped it the other day.  After we left FNAC, I noticed they had placed Christmas lights on the trees.  I wonder when they turn them on.

The repair guy came back around 16h30.  He was finished in less than five minutes.  I tossed in my socks and had no problem.

Dinner at Chez Gabrielle just up the street, another nine table place.  I had the Piccata de Veau (slices of veal) in a creamy pepper sauce with grapes.  Robb had Saint-Jacques (it was supposed to be a flambé, but wasn't).  Both were excellent.  We drank Sancerre blanc (white).  For dessert, Robb had the Peche aux Rhum et Créme Brulée (Peach half with rum sauce and Créme Brulée) and I had Framboise avec Créme de Fraise (raspberries with strawberry flavored whipped cream).

16 Octobre (Samedi) - Strike Day Five.

Caught the 43 Bus to Trinité, which is only a couple blocks behind Galleries Lafayette.  Checked to find the return bus stop, but the street was all torn up, so there was no way because the bus would have to detour for a few blocks.  That, of course, meant that we would have to take a taxi.   Walked down to, and through, Galeries Lafayette to Printemps, with a brief stop at H&M.  All the stores were very crowded.  We found nothing we wanted to buy, so walked back to Galeries Lafayette and got a taxi home.  On the bus, and in the taxi, saw restaurant Del Papa, which was recommended by a French friend.  Hope to try it one evening.

Around a quarter after six, we walked down past this school and these penguins, then got on the 93 Bus to the Grand Palais.  On the way to see this, we stopped to look at the sky, which was a lot prettier in real life than this picture.  Even though we were early (our tickets were for 19h00) we had no problem and walked right in.  The exhibit was huge and crowded.  I had no idea Monet was so prolific and I have to say, I much preferred the stuff he did before his impressionistic days.  It was kind of surreal to see right in front of us, paintings that we had only seen in pictures.  All of his most famous paintings were there, except the most famous, Impression, Soleil Levant.  But it was definitely worth the visit.  On the way out, we filled out a questionnaire and were given a key ring for our effort.

After the exhibit, we trekked down the steps to the Clemenceau métro station and rode to the St. Paul station from which we walked to Fontaine Sully for dinner.  It was good as usual.  The restaurant was also crowded again.  There seems to be crowds everywhere.  We've never seen Paris like this.

17 Octobre (Dimanche) - And the strike-to-accomplish-nothing continues.

No hint of sunshine and very cold.  Robb is not feeling well (he doesn't think he has a cold, but his nose is running and he feels out-of-sorts).  I had a terrible night of leg cramps and got very little sleep.

We walked to Pharmacie 24.  Talk about misleading names.  It's closed on Sunday.  It's too cold to do much of anything, and because it's Sunday, most everything is closed.

The guy across the street has his window open.  Somewhere in our building, someone is practicing piano.  When he/she plays a piece (he/she usually plays classical pieces), he/she is very good.  I guess "practice does make perfect".

Oh, by the way, did I mention the guy above us is renovating his apartment? Le sigh!

You can see all the Paris pictures here: Paris 2010

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Paris 2010-3

11 Octobre (Lundi) - HEAT!!!  Sometime during the night, the heat was turned on.  Of course, we still have no control over how warm, or when, but at least, it's better than nothing.

We walked down to the Monoprix to get some stuff.   The first thing we saw was a couple of guys delivering furniture to an apartment on an upper floor.  This is one of the methods they use to do that.  One wonders how people got their furniture up those tiny little stairways before they had these things.  I suppose they used a block-and-tackle method.

On the way to Monoprix, I took a photo of the trees because, as you can see, nearly all the leaves are off, and it appears they've been trimmed back. On the way back, I saw a Porsche SUV.  Really, a PORSCHE SUV.  And I thought only Americans were stupid. 

I was down to my last pair of clean socks, so I gathered up the dirty ones and tossed them into the washer.  I started to close the 'door', when the damned thing swung around with the open door on the bottom.  I've tried several times, but there is no way to get it open.  Jean-Michel is coming to have a look around 16h00.

The repairman has been called and will arrive between 10h00 and 13h00 on Friday.  The very good news is that we will have to pay the repairman, but Luc will reimburse us.  I didn't feel quite so bad after Jean-Michel told me that the last time they had a problem with the washer, it was because the people didn't put the clothes into the washer compartment, they just tossed them into the machine and turned it on.

We walked down to 
FNAC on the corner of Avenue des Ternes and Avenue MacMahon.  Robb bought two CDs.  Michel Sardou and Yannick Noah.

There is to be a major strike tomorrow, so today was wasted and tomorrow doesn't look any better.

Well, we've finally done it.  We've found the worst restaurant in Paris; 
L'Orée des Champs, at 35, Avenue des Ternes in the 17é.  Not only was there really nothing from which to chose on the menu, but what we finally settled for was less than good. I ordered the Soupe aux Legumes (vegetable soup).  The packaged soup we've been buying at Monoprix is far better.  Robb ordered some kind of open-faced sandwich, which he only ate because he was really hungry.

12 Octobre (Mardi) - Day One of the strike.  I'm hoping there is only one day, but they're talking on the news that it could go on longer.  The buses are running, but rather sporadically.  I saw the 31 Bus sitting at the bus stop.  It was there for quite a while...with passengers sitting quietly, waiting to get to their destinations.  I've seen the bus drivers do that before.  It's their way of participating in the strike.  They don't actually stop driving, they just slow everything down a bit.

We didn't want to take a chance, so we didn't do much today except walk around a little.  First we walked up to Place Étoile because Robb had seen a 
building he thought looked like the Samaritain
e, a department store that no longer exists.  It didn't look at all the same.  It does house the Publicisdrugstore, which is the closest thing to an American drug store you'll find here.  Though, unlike American stores, this one is very compartmentalised.  We left by the back entrance and wandered around those streets.

Then we walked over to the 
Champs-Élysées (the sunny side, for me). Stopped at Celio and Robb bought another shirt.

Then over and down Avenue Hoche where I saw a couple of interesting buildings.  One had an interesting 
façade.  The other appeared to be a pre-fab building.  Google street view has it when they had just put up the girder-like foundation.  Stopped at Franprix.  Robb bought wine and haricot verts.

Down Avenue Hoche to rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, where we thought about going into the tea house of 
Mariage Frères, but Robb didn't feel like he should drink tea.  We also didn't stop at the Maison du Chocolat, just across the street, where the macarons seemed a little costly.  But we may go back and get a couple anyway.

Dinner at 
Lacombe, next door to the restaurant from hell.  The thing is, from the direction we entered hell, we couldn't see Lacombe.  It wasn't until we left that we saw it.  We both had the Noix de Saint-Jacques (scallops) with puréed potatoes.  It was excellent.  For dessert, Robb had an Éclair Café, I had the Tartes aux Pommes avec Glace (Apple Tart with Ice Cream).

13 Octobre (Mecredi) - Day two of the strike.

Caught the 92 Bus and rode to the Bosquet-Rapp stop which is only a 
block or two from the Musée du Quai Branly, to which we've never been before.  It's a large and interesting collection, but everything is so poorly lit, that after a while, I got a headache from trying to see things.  The best thing about the Branly is the view from the top floor.  Of course, it is practically next door to La Tour Eiffel.

After the Branly, we decided to go to 
Galleries Lafayette, so we boarded the 80 Bus, rode to Gare Saint-Lazarre, got the 20 Bus to Opéra.  From l'Opéra, we walked to the department store which is just behind it.  When we passed the Opéra, I took a photo of the performers entrance.  We walked around checking out all the way-over-priced stuff but bought nothing.  On the way out, the label on Robb's sweater (that he's had for at least three years) set off the detection machine.  As we were leaving, we heard it going off almost constantly.  There was obviously something wrong with it, but the security guys had to search the person who set it off each time.

When we got back to 
Gare Saint-Lazarre, we couldn't find the stop for the 43 Bus going in the right direction, so we caught it and rode to the end of the line.  It took forever because traffic was so heavy and they were working on the streets.  But we made it, stopping into Mariage Fréres to check out their tea selection, but really to get warm before walking home.

Well, we've had our second worst meal in Paris.  We went to 
La Fabbrica, which apparently used to be a boulangerie.  It's too bad they aren't any longer, because the Italian restaurant that is there now really sucks.  I had Linguini Alle Volgone (linguini in clam sauce).  Robb had Scallopini di Vitello (breaded veal).  Robb said his was 'okay', but mine was bad.  Most of the clam shells were broken and with every mouthful of linguini, I got pieces of the shells.  Not to mention that the linguini was way undercooked.

I have to say, if this was our first trip to Paris, it most likely would have been the last.

14 Octobre (Juedi) - Colder but sunny.  Day three of the strike.  So far, it hasn't really affected us.  The buses and the métro (for the most part) are running pretty much on schedule.  At least, the ones we use.  The thing that pisses me off most about these stupid strikes, is that they never accomplish anything, they just disrupt everybody's lives.  And this one even more so, because the government is not going to back down.  I seriously suspect that the strikes are more about getting a free day off, than actually trying to make a point.

Caught the 92 Bus to Étoile, where we waited for the 73 Bus.  On the way to the 
bus stop, I saw another of those pre-fab buildings.  The 73 Bus let us off about a half-block from the Musée d'Orsay.  The first thing I saw was the statue of Thomas Jefferson on the rive gauche side of the Passerelle Léopold Sédar-Senghor.  We crossed the street to have a look at a dockside restaurant (Le Quai).  To get to the restaurant, you can use the stairs that go down to the Batobus station. The Batobus is a river taxi that only has eight stops. I think it's just a wee bit too chilly to be eating on the river, if it's even open this time of year.

We crossed back over and entered the  
Musée d'Orsay.  We had to go through a security check before we could buy our tickets, but it was only minimal.  They are renovatinng the fifth floor where all the Impressionist paintings used to be, so they are now on the first floor.  It could be just me, but they seemed to have a lot more Renoirs this time.  Most of their Monet paintings are at the Grand Palais.  And speaking of that, while we were having a snack in the beautiful restaurant on the second floor, I noticed the woman at the next table had a Monet book.  I asked if she had been to the Grand Palais. She replied that she was going next week.  Then she informed us of something I really should have known; we can buy tickets to the Monet exhibition at the FNAC, and there just happens to be one a couple blocks from the apartment.  We will be there tomorrow after the laundry repairman leaves.

Upon leaving the 
Orsay, I noticed the Legion of Honor museum just next door but it was late, so we didn't even try to go in. Another time perhaps.

Since we went to the Italian place across the street and I saw tartiflette on the menu, I've been desiring it.  Tonight we went back, and much to my chagrin, I discovered it's a tartiflette pizza.  It was really good, but when your mind is set on one thing and you get something else, it's disappointing as hell.  Ah well, c'est la vie.

You can see all the Paris pictures here: 
Paris 2010

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Paris 2010-2

8 Octobre (Vendredi) - Another beautiful sunny and warm day after a terrible night.

Robb apparently has a condition called diverticulitis, which flares up occasionally and when it does, he has to be careful what he eats.  Obviously, dinner last night was not a good idea and we will be back to eating soup for a few days or a week.

He says he feels okay now and we're going to try to ride over to BNP Paribas, Robb's bank, on Boulevard des Italiens.  To do that, we caught the 43 Bus to Gare Saint-Lazarre where we got the 20 Bus to the Opéra.  Boulevard des Italiens is only a few blocks from there.  We were early enough that we stopped at Librairie del Duca and I bought a couple of CD packages. Four CDs for €12.  I got Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt.  Robb bought Stan Getz.  While at the librairie (oh, in France, a librairie is a book store), I noticed the store that used to be FNAC is now a Monoprix.  Right after I noticed that, I noticed that this has now become this.  You can't see it in the picture, but the whole place is gutted.  It must have been quite a fire.

Robb completed his business at the bank and we were off to Italie2 so we could go to Tati to get the pictures we need for our Navigo passes.  We walked down to rue du 4 Septembre and hopped on the 20 Bus to Gare de Lyon.  We were going to take the 57 Bus to Place d'Italie, but it was taking forever to arrive and more and more people were qeueing up, so we walked over to Gare de Lyon and caught a taxi.  On our way to the taxi stand, we saw a gréve (strike) taking place in front of the train station.  It was somewhat small as gréves go, only a handful of people were taking part.

Here's some advice about taxis during rush hour: DON'T.  The taxis don't charge by the eighth of a mile like they used to, they charge by time, so while you're sitting at a traffic light in very heavy traffic, the meter is ticking happily.  What should have been about a €4 or €5 ride, cost us €11.
We got our pictures at Tati and wandered around the mall for a while.  We came across Jules, another of our favorite stores.  Robb bought a couple pairs of jeans and a shirt.  I bought rien (nothing).  I think we'll be buying another suitcase.

It was after 19h00, so we decided to take the métro back to Charles de Gaulle-Étoile.  I thought we could take the Champs-Elysées exit and use the escalator, but somehow we took the wrong exit and there was no escalator.  At least, it was downhill to the apartment. 

9 Octobre (Samedi) - Today, while standing on our balcon (which you can see is only big enough to stand), I saw the primary reason that parking on the corners should be illegal and result in a very heavy fine.  Two pompier trucks came down the street.  One appeared to be a regular fire truck, but the other was an emergency vehicle.  They couldn't get past the corner because a guy was parked there.  They had to wait until he came back and moved his car.  Now suppose there had been a real emergency with someone's life at stake?  It's great that the French feel the world is theirs to do with as they please, but even the dullest fool can see that blocking the street is just wrong.

At the bank yesterday, I saw another Parisian first.  The receptionist was chewing gum.

Today, we spent the day doing mostly nothing but walking around.  We started with a walk down Avenue des Ternes, stopping at every bank we passed, in which Robb would try to change his large notes for smaller ones.  He was turned down at every bank, including a branch of BNP, his bank. 

During our walk, we came across an interesting church, Saint Ferdinand.  We went inside to have a look.  It was very nice. On the way back to the apartment, we stopped at Monoprix to get some wine and more soup.

I decided to go to G-20 to get batteries for my camera because they were just trop cher (too expensive) at Monoprix.  The wine was way over-priced at Monoprix also.  Speaking of batteries, has anyone used those rechargeable batteries?  Are they worth the cost? 

After getting the batteries and leaving G-20, we walked up to Place Charles de Gaulle-Étoile.  We hung out for awhile, then I got brave.  I decided we could walk all the way around the Place.  Now, to those of you for whom walking is easy, let me tell you, that's quite a long walk for me.  It took some time, but we made it all the way around to the Champs-Elysées.  Just in time for a parade that an elderly Frenchman informed us, takes place every evening.  I'm sorry I didn't have my camera with me, but it was an impromptu trip.

10 Octobre (Dimanche) - Sunny, bright but much cooler.  The good news is that the afternoon sun warms the apartment for a few hours.  The bad news is that shortly after the sun disappears, it gets cold rapidly.  

We almost made it here.  We started by walking to the 31 Bus stop  Saw this version of Paris Post-Its.  Caught the bus to Étoile.  Before, we got off the bus, I saw the MacMahon Cinema was doing a tribute to Tony Curtis.  Walked over and waited for the 73 Bus which would drop us at the Champs-Elysées Clemenceau stop, which is a few feet from the Grand Palais.  We waited few minutes, then I checked the Time of Arrival screen. Pas de Service (no bus today).  I cussed a lot as we walked to the métro station.
Note to the Mayor of Paris:  If you hope to eliminate automobile traffic in your city, you need to have a RELIABLE alternative! 

We rode to the Champs-Elysées Clemenceau station, took the escalator, and upon exiting, discovered our previous mistake. To see the Monet show, you don't enter through the main entrance in the front, you go to the back.

There were a couple of security people directing traffic.  If you were one of the smart ones, and had bought your ticket online, you go right in.  If you're not-so-smart (us) you go this way, where you stand in line for hours for the privilege of buying your ticket.  We waited, in the cold of the shade, until we realized that the place would close before we even got to the ticket window.  Gadzooks, foiled again!

Well, at least we got out of the apartment for a few hours. Ours is the second from the top.

You can see all the Paris pictures here: Paris 2010
À la prochaine, mes amis.