Friday, January 1, 2016

Blog for 2016

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Thursday 31 December - New Years Eve

There are some pleasant patches of color in the parks - Square des Batignlles
It was a beautiful bright and sunny day today although the wind was a little cold - nothing my parka couldn't handle.  I went for a walk through the Square des Batignolles then to Clichy and on to Au Pullman model railway shop and finally Saint-Lazare which was busy but not frantic.

Of course, the main meal of the day would be the menu de Saint Sylvestre this evening but we "snacked" on a brioche at lunchtime.

The brioche came from the bakery at the top end of the rue de Levis by the metro station.  It as infused with butter and honey
Public transport was free in Paris from 1700 on Thursday until 1200 on Friday and the RER was running all night.  Service is particularly good as well - the metro lines we rode were all running on three minute intervals.  The trains were not very crowded, yet the RATP had its platform staff out at Saint-Lazare to ensure people did not try to rush the closing doors.  There must have been at least 6 staff on each platform.

We arrived at Aux Iles Marquises in good time but several other tables were already in use. Apart from one other table, the restaurant was filled with people from the area, most of whom were greeted with hugs and kisses by Mme. Thiery
It seems hard to believe we have been coming here for New Years Eve for ten years (with just one year missing)

Of course, no decisions were necessary over the meal, other than how we wanted the venison cooked, so we were able to concentrate on the drinks.  Aux Iles Marquises has a good selection of half bottles of wine. So we chose half bottles - of champagne, a Puilly Fume white and a Saumur Champigny red. The champagne was good as were the two Loire Valley wines which have become our favorites.  And so to the meal.
Amuse bouches
Rosache de homard avec lit de mache.  The hard lobster work had already been done and the salad had a very creamy dressing with nut (probably walnut) oil.  The mango made a pleasant counterpoint.
Consomme de huitres et sa frissures de legumes.  Again the hard oyster work had been done.  They were freshly opened and placed in the soup just before serving.
Escalope de foie gras de canard chaud aux raisin.  The foie gras was covered in sliced lychees and the grape sauce was very rich and sweet.  I had to ask for additional bread to sop up the sauce as I didn't intend to leave any of it
 There followed a granite de champagne which cleared the palate for the meat course.
Noisettes de chevreuil venaison avec mousseline de marrons.  The venison was excellent and the chestnut mousse went well with it.  The little accompaniments  were interesting - grognes, chips, apples, fungus and redcurrants.  Again, the sauce had to be carefully sopped up.
Farandole de desserts.  The problem here was deciding where to start.  The pecan tart was excellent as was the chestnut cream slice.  The tropical fruit was fresh and a good way to finish
There were mignardises with coffee
We said goodbye to our good friend Madame Thiery and made a hopeful reservation for next year
The metro brought us back in time to celebrate the New Year at the apartment.  The metro was not crowded.  The city of Paris tried to reduce the numbers gathering on the Champs Elysees this year. Trains were not stop at the Champs Elysees station.  It was pretty quiet in our district although a few wandering groups were to be heard until around four o'clock.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wednesday 30 December - Versailles and Beethoven's Ninth

Blazon of the day - on a Z6400 series electric train at Versailles Rive Droite.
We used a mobilis ticket to go to Versailles today.  The line from Saint-Lazare via La Defense to Versailles Rive Droite is the most convenient.  These trains date from the mid to late 1970s and are beginning to show their age.  We were rattling along and there was a very loud bang.  My first thought was that we had run over a torpedo, but some of the lights went out - circuit breaker.  A minute or so later there was another loud bang and the lights came back.  This was quite an entertining ride what with the loud traction motor sounds and views of the Eiffel Tower after La Defense.

We bought a quick lunch and walked into the grounds of the Chateau,  There were evidently a lot of tourists visiting Versailles, and many had rented four person electric golf carts to get around - not a good idea as many parts of the grounds were formerly a long way off for the average tourist.  The trianon and the lake are now within easy reach.

This is as close to the chateau with its screaming hordes as we came.
There were a lot of magpies in the fields with the sheep.  They rode on the sheeps' backs which caused some annoyance.
On the way back we ran parallel with a train from Normandie with this locomotive in push mode.
This evening we attended a concert at La Madeleine.  The performance was of the Mendelsohn Psalm 42 and Beethoven;s Ninth Symphony (The Choral).  The venue is superb but the acoustics can be difficult at times, particularly during the loud passages.  At the end of each section the echo lasted a second or so.  Nevertheless it was a very good performance that we both enjoyed.
Paul Kuentz, orchestra,chorus and soloists taking a bow
The metro with a change at Saint-Lazare got us there and back in very good time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tuesday 29 December - Hotel de Ville, Place des Vosges and Ile de Saint Louis

It was a beautiful warm day today with a lot of sunshine.  We went first to the Hotel de Ville to see what was happening there.  The usual skating rink has been replaced by a display of endangered animals.  There is normally a photographic display which was replaced by some pictures and comments from the recent global warming summit meeting which was held here in November.  The message was that technology is helping us in the fight towards sustainability but we have a long way to go .
At the Hotel de Ville the free manege was put to good use

The rue de Rivoli was not very busy and it was a pleasant stroll to the Hotel de Sully and the Place des Vosges.  We picked up a quiche and ate it sitting on a bench in the sun. There were a great number of sparrows in the vegetation in the Hotel de Sully and it looked as if the bushes were in a wind.
sun bathing at the Hotel de Sully
The Htel de Sully exhibits some movement in the building
A wonderful display of seafood near the Bastille
The Bastille was busy and the Christmas funfair was in full swing.

The Ile de Saint-Louis was quite busy but the crowds at Notre Dame were very heavy indeed - the heaviest we have seen in Paris on this trip.  We were not encouraged to linger and caught the metro back to Villiers.  Some grocery shopping was in order and we managed to score a barbecued poulet fermier and roast potatoes at our favorite butcher.  One surprise was that Nicolas, the local wine merchant, did not have Izarra (either yellow or green).  This will become a cause celebre.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Monday 28 December - Icelandic Movie

I took a quick look at the Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est this morning.  Both were very busy,  Gare de l'Est seemed to keep its normal air of calm.  The piano has been moved away from the platform end into the shopping area.
Gare de l'Est
One of the new Eurostar trains which have just been put into service to London.  The train length problem has evidently been resolved.
I saw one of the old 170xx locomotives on a local train at Gare de l'Est but could not get close enough to see the number.  First one I have seen on this trip.

I took the bus back from the Gare de l'Est.  The ride along rue Magenta to Barbes-Rochcchouart is always interesting as it passes through an accumulation of shops selling, wedding and formal wear, shoes etc.  Some of the gowns and suits are pretty garish. 

This afternoon we went to an Icelandic movie at a cinema just off the Boulevard de Clichy.  With French subtitles, it was quite good but with only a handful of people it is not hard to understand why it was not in the first run places.  The building was interesting as it has been renovated from a much older cinema and there was an interesting display of old celluloid projectors.  The theatre itself was extremely large. 

We had planned on having barbecued chicken this evening but it turned out that all of the butchers on Levis (all four of them) were closed today.  The back off was an excellent meal at the Bistro D'I-D which is very close to the apartment.
The terrine du moment was very good indeed if a little too much 
Civet du sanglier (wild boar) with tagliatelle came in a rich well herbed and spiced sauce.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday 27 December - Mouffetarde, Dancing in the Street

We took the metro to the Monge market which was very quiet and then walked to the Rue Mouffetarde.  This is normally busy on a Sunday but today it was very quiet indeed.  Tourism is obviously down heavily but it may be that Parisians have taken the opportunity to go out of town for the period between Christmas and the New Year.  So far as we were concerned it was good being able to move around easily.

On Sunday mornings a group of locals get together with a piano accordion and a guitar and sing and dance in the area at the bottom of the street close to the church. When we passed first the accordionist was trying to get people together by singing La Mer.  A little later a couple were dancing and the seats for the spectators were beginning to fill up.  I found the video was a little difficult because of the constant stream of people.

Seats are provided, along with song sheets, for the spectators.
The pigeons were enjoying the entertainment
This was a truly local Parisian experience and we spent some time watching the crowd and the dancing.  We had a hankering to go back to a restaurant on Mouffetarde to which we have been several tmes.  Mary liked the poele de St-Jacques which many tourists took as being chicken rather than scallops.  This time the menu has been changed slightly to St-Jacques a la Provencal which is more explicit.  It was very very good as was my confit de canard.  As usual we started with the onion soup which was very good but in a large bowl.

Confit de canard
The Jardins de Luxembourg were quite busy in the warm sun but surprisingly there were no boats being sailed in the pond in front of the Senate building.  The gulls and mallards had the water to themselves.

The restoration work on the front of St-Sulpice has been finished and it looks great.  Once again, there were few people around.

A large Wallace fountain at St-Sulpice

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Saturday 26 December - Buttes Chaumont

Typical classic entrance to the metro.
It was mild and sunny today and Buttes Chaumont was at its best.  I lot of work has been done in this park and the results are very good.  The one disappointment was that the overlook was closed for renovations.

There were many holly trees with lots of red berries
The originalreinforced concrete fences are very much in evidence
The island is a haven for bird life
We walked back to the canal at Jaures and came back almost to the Bastille.  Unfortunately the city has caged off the canal with nasty green fencing and has destroyed what was formerly a pleasant walk into an obstacle course. 
There must be fish in the canal
Mary came straight back while I looked in at Saint-Lazare which was very quiet indeed.
Dinner this evening was a very good cassoulet from a jar purchased from the charcuterie.  It was full of sausage and chicken.  
Dessert was the Christmas special from the new meringue shop on Levis - variations on pavlova.  Chestnut cream with maron glace, orange and crystallized orange peel.