Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday, August 14: Good Afternoon, Paris

On Tuesday we were up and at 'em at the crack of noon. I soon learned what a prime location my sister was residing in. She was just around the corner from Rue Montparnasse, she regularly walked past the Luxembourg Gardens on her way to work, and, best of all, she was only about two blocks from Rue Mouffetard. A quick Google search yielded some lovely photos (none of mine were that great) and the information that this charming hill-climbing street of markets has been around since the first century. This is where we headed to find a meal.

Our stop at the extremely fragrant (some would say stinky) fromagerie was the most fun. A long line allowed us plenty of time to pick out which cheese to try. This was not an easy decision. When it was our turn, the proprietor asked Hillary what she would like. He knew from her previous visits that she was trying to learn French, so he spoke clearly, and gently repeated (correctly) any mispronounced words. He was so gracious and encouraging. We wanted honey as well, but were stumped as to which to choose from among the tiny jars, each a different shade of amber. I managed to convey that we'd like something to go with the fresh goat cheese we'd picked out. His face lit up, and he immediately picked up the darkest of the lot, miel du bois, and assured us that it would be delicious. Feeling downright pleased with ourselves, and not a bit like tourists, we bought some figs, baguette and a pastry and proceeded home to enjoy our lunch.

We hadn't made definite plans for the day, so we decided on rather late notice to go to the Decorative Arts Museum. This museum had been closed for renovation on two of my previous visits to Paris, which was very irksome. It was the only "sight" I really wanted to see on this trip. We got there with about two hours until closing, figuring this would be just enough time. We spent a good long while in the gift shop, ogling all of the modern housewares and crazy jewelry, like these spun gold necklaces.

We bought our tickets and moved as quickly as we could through the displays. At last we found ourselves at what appeared to be the end. But where was the jewelry I'd been looking for? The history of fashion? Bewildered, we walked back over near the ticket counter to try to decipher the sign that was, of course, only in French. Apparently there were more expensive tickets that we should have bought to see all the items I actually WANTED to see. There was no way for us to know what these other collections actually contained by reading their names printed on the sign. With only about 15 minutes left, we weren't about to pay all over again and then some. Reluctant to believe what had just happened, we stood and stared at that sign for a good long while. Such a long while, in fact, that a handsome young museum worker thought it would be really funny to pick up the sign and place it about two inches from our noses. And it actually was pretty funny. But he shouldn't have been surprised that we didn't take him up on his suggestion that we come back when he was working the next day.

I've always taken offense to the idea in popular culture that all a woman's emotional needs can be met by chocolate. That was before I had the chocolate at Angelina's. Thick, creamy, and almost as dark as motor oil, you can see from my smile that it was a good antidote to my recent disappointment.

Our final outing of the day was our dinner at Le Comptoir du Relais. It left nothing to desire as far as authentic French atmosphere, but I was a little disappointed that they did not offer the famous prix-fixe meal I'd read about online. In fact, the menu had such a massive number of choices that it took us at least a half an hour to choose what to even start with. For example, if one wants a sausage course, how to differentiate between the six on offer? Our main courses were truly nothing special, but for my starter I ordered foie gras for the first (and probably last, because it's just so mean! but good!) time. It was on a salad of green beans and artichokes, topped by bits of fried onion. That was a definite star of the evening. Even better was the rhubarb panna cotta, which we figured must be good when we saw the woman at the table next to us do everything short of licking the dish to eat every last bite of hers. It was really perfect.

Juli, this goofy photo of me reaching for my purse is here so I can show you that,on my big night out, I was wearing the necklace you gave me! And I was thrilled to do so.

On our walk home we passed countless beguiling cafes that looked like they would be such fun to stop in for a drink, but my big sister-ness kicked in and we decided it would be best that the under-the-weather Hillary go to bed. A full day, nonetheless.


Nancy said...

So that's how to enjoy figs? Your pics make them look yummy! Now I might just have to try some from that huge plant in the grove.

I'm loving your posts and pics! Thanks!

Gypmar said...

I'll have to confess that the figs were a little on the underripe side. Still good, though! And very photogenic.

Glad you're enjoying the posts...it's somehow less fun to blog about things after-the-fact, but it's worth it to be able to share my fantastic trip with everyone!