Friday, June 30, 2017

Boulevards are best when rain threatens

June 30, 2017 – One way to plan a day of walking in Paris when rain showers are predicted is to find a route in which you stay on the boulevards.  On the boulevard, there is always someplace to find shelter from the storm.

Shelter could be a bus stop, an awning, a doorway, a shop, a larger store, a brasserie.  The boulevards have it all.  Some broad avenues do, too.

Unpredictable rainshowers dominated the weather forecast yesterday, so we decided to walk along the grandest boulevard of all, the boulevard Saint Germain.  (I don’t think the Champs Elysées is the greatest for walking in the rain, especially because half of it is park with not much shelter because trees don’t count.   And the non-park, more commercial section of the Champs Elysées is very commercial, slightly tacky, and too full of tourists, in my opinion.)

Delacroix's  mural of Jacob wrestling with the angel (in the Saint Sulpice church).

To reach the boulevard Saint Germain, we walked along the broad avenue de la Motte Picquet, across the Esplanade des Invalides (fortunately there was no rain while we crossed that open expanse), and along the rue de l’Université to the point where it intersects with the boulevard Saint Germain. 
The window shopping is fantastic along that boulevard.  We gaped and gazed at ultra-chic furniture, fashion, jewelry, and books – yes, books.  The big Sonia Rykiel boutique has floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on every wall.  The shelves are full of books – not just decorative books.  Paperbacks were everywhere.  The fashions were displayed in the middle of each high-ceilinged space.  The effect was marvelous. 

When we reached the neighborhood of Saint Sulpice, where we have often stayed in past Septembers, we simply had to walk down through the rue des Canettes to the Place Saint Sulpice so that we could visit the church.  The Place was full of little white tents sheltering people who were selling ugly ceramics.  I’ve seen this festival before, and each time I see it, I think all the wares are ugly.  The criteria for that show must include ugliness (of the ceramics, not the people).

Heliodorus being driven from the temple -- a mural by Delacroix in the Saint Sulpice church.

I could not get a good photograph of the front of the magnificent church because of that ceramics show/festival, but I did manage to photograph the restored Delacroix paintings just inside the church, in the Chapel of the Holy Angels.  The Delacroix restoration project concluded in November of last year.  We did make a small donation to the project fund last summer.  For us, it was satisfying to see the completed work.  We like Delacroix paintings for their drama and emotion.  Charles Baudelaire described Delacroix as the most remarkable painter of his time.

On the ceiling of Saint Sulpice's Chapel of the Holy Angels is a painting on canvas,
depicting Saint Michael.
The restoration of these three Delacroix works was overseen by the French government because Saint Sulpice is a historic monument.  Ten restorers worked on the project.  The cleaning protocol that they used was developed by Professor Richard Wolbers from the University of Delaware, in the U.S.A.
An organist was practicing on the grand Cavaille-Coll organ.  That music made it difficult to leave, so we stayed a while.  For me, the church of Saint Sulpice has a spiritual effect.  When we did leave, I felt calm and somewhat renewed.

The magnificent Cavaille-Coll organ in Saint Sulpice.

We decided to visit our friends the Bs (name withheld for privacy) because we have been worried about them.  We’d not heard from them in a while.  Their place was nearby, so we went around the corner.  Miraculously, somehow I still had the door code for the building.  We entered the courtyard, climbed the steps to their apartments, and rang the doorbell on the larger apartment.  There was no answer, so I was in the process of leaving one of my cards when a woman climbed the stairs and greeted us in English. 

We explained that we were there to see the Bs, and that I was leaving my card.  We exchanged names and she said, “Oh, yes, you’re the people from Florida.  I’ve heard so much about you.”  Then she, Sandra, told us that E B had suffered a terrible fall in May, while getting off a city bus.  She did not think the Bs were home, but soon the door to the smaller apartment opened onto the landing.  There were the Bs.  She was wrapped in a back brace.

Sandra excused herself and went into the bigger apartment while we chatted with the Bs, whose son and family will soon be visiting and would be able to help R B take care of E B.  Still, I offered to do anything I could to help them during the two months that we are here.  I hope they take me up on the offer.  We love the Bs, and we told them so.

The interior of the Saint Sulpice churrch.

We did not want to stay long because we knew they were tired, so we said our good-byes, and Tom and I walked over to the Café de la Mairie to have a bite to eat.  When we were fortified, we went back up the boulevard and continued our hike to the Place Maubert, where we were able to catch the line 10 of the metro which swept us quickly back to our neighborhood. 

By the time rush hour started, we were at home, resting.  Then the rain came.  By evening, the weather was cool, clear, and delightful again.

We dined at my favorite restaurant in Paris, l’Alchimie.  Chef Eric Rogoff gets even better every year.  The restaurant is clearly prospering.  We shared a wonderful, layered slice of paté foie gras to begin the meal.  Then I had a delicate, twirled filet of sea bass stuffed with a freshly made tapenade, sitting atop a bed of creamy polenta.  Heavenly.  

Pate foie gras at l'Alchimie

"Tournedos": of sea bass stuffed with olive tapenade, on
a bed of creamy polenta.
Tom had a manly, thick veal chop – a t-bone, really.  It had a seared, buttery crust, was juicy inside, and was in a pepper sauce that was thick and flavorful.  Tom only ate half of the broccoli flan that was served with the veal chop.  The server, Madame Rogoff, teased him about not eating all of his vegetables.  For dessert, he consumed a strawberry tart as well as “my” dessert, three scoops of sherbet. 

I’m so pleased that Tom has his appetite back.  When he was ill for months, he lost a lot of weight and his appetite was zilch.  But he’s back – the Energizer bunny, with his drum, is back.  I’m thankful beyond belief.
Tom's veal chop at l'Alchimie.

Madame Rogoff's exquisite printing of the menu at l'Alchimie.
Tom's desserts: a strawberry tart, and raspberry,
fig, and pina colalda.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A fine museum and a fine dinner

June 29, 2017 – The Petit Palais is a stunningly beautiful museum in the middle of Paris.  Admission is free, yet the permanent collections include very important Impressionist and other paintings.  The size of the museum restricts how much can be displayed at once, and the City of Paris resists the urge to clutter this place devoted to showing off its Fine Arts collections.  Works are rotated; every time we go to the Petit we see works that are new to our eyes, and we see old “friends.”  I have the impression that the City of Paris has lots of storage for artworks not currently on display at museums.

The garden in the Petit Palais, as seen from the cafe.

The Petit Palais building itself is a work of art, meticulously maintained.  Its centerpiece is a round, central garden.  Facing the garden is an inviting café, with food and beverages served cafeteria-style.  We started our visit there, because it was lunchtime.  Mine was a piece of steamed cod on a generous bed of peas, carrots, and small lima beans.  Tom’s lunch was basically desert:  a lemon tart, a piece of orange pound cake, and coffee.

Our walk to the museum took about a half hour, but it was interrupted by a haircut for Tom.  We were walking up the rue de la Croix-Nivert, right past Look Coiffeur, the barbershop run by French-North Africans where Tom gets at least one haircut every year.  I suggested that he stop there if the barbers weren’t busy, and they weren’t.  I told Tom I’d wait near the “improper lion,” a name that we Cooleys have given to a statue in the Square Cambronne, a few blocks to the northeast of Look Coiffeur.
I entertained myself with people-watching and playing with the settings on my aging camera (Nikon Coolpix S6800).  I’d only been waiting about 25 minutes when Tom appeared.  His haircut looks good.

The "improper lion" statue in the Square Cambronne.

After we walked around the back and side of the École Militaire, we explored a street that we’d never yet walked along (imagine that!) – the rue Chevert.  This is a quiet lane that stretches between the École Militaire and Les Invalides.  On it we noticed the Hotel Muguet, a well-located three-star accommodation with air conditioning.

The Hotel Muguet on the rue Chevert.

The next section of our stroll was up the calm, western edge of the Esplanade des Invalides.  Then we crossed the mad intersection Quai D’Orsay to traverse the Seine on the most beautiful bridge in France, the Pont Alexandre III.

When it was time to walk home after our leisurely museum visit, we chose to walk along the Seine even though rain clouds were threatening.  Amazingly, the dark shapes passed us by, one after another.  We were unexpectedly dry when we reached our neighborhood, where we ran a few errands before going inside to rest up for dinner at Le Blavet, a longtime favorite resto that is a 12-minute walk from our apartment.

We had a dinner of classics:  paté foie gras for Tom, and tartare of salmon for me, then sole meuniere for Tom and duck breast in sweet-and-sour sauce for me.  Finally, dessert was an apple tart with ice cream for Tom, and a rich, dark moelleux au chocolat for me.  It was a fine feast, which we enjoyed in the table set directly in the resto’s front window.

Tartare of salmon.

Duck breast in sweet and sour sauce

Sole meunierel

Moelleux au chocolat.

Apple tart with ice cream.
In the news, we notice that Donald Trump will be here in Paris for Bastille Day.  While it is a grand tradition for the President of France to invite a President of another country to sit with him during that holiday’s main events, I have difficulty imagining President Trump sitting through the very long, somber military parade that takes up the entire morning.  Then there is a garden party in the afternoon at the Elysée Palace.  I predict that Melania Trump will wear a wonderful garden-party dress, and Donald will wear the usual somewhat ill-fitting suit.  Also in the afternoon, the two main TV stations (France 2 and 3) each have a journalist who, together, interview the French president.  In the evening, the City of Paris puts on a stupendous fireworks display and concert.  It’s the best.  It’s incredible.  It’s yuge.  Really yuge.

Some entertainment that we were looking forward to this week was a big-band jazz concert at the Luxembourg Gardens on Saturday evening.  But alas, I read online yesterday that it has been cancelled due to security concerns.  Darn.

We’ll carry on, however, walking and walking, enjoying the delightful sights and sounds in the city.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Feasting on the sights in the 15th

The Allée des Cygnes. 
June 28, 2017 -- Translated literally, "femme de menage" means "woman of the household," but what it really means is "cleaning woman."  I prefer "housekeeper," although housekeeping extends far beyond cleaning.

Maria is the "femme de menage" for the apartment where we stay in Paris -- except for the several weeks in July and August when she returns to her native Portugal for vacation.  Monday at mid-day was her time to take over the apartment to clean it, so after we all chatted briefly, Tom and I vacated the place so that we could walk and run some errands.

The weather was gorgeous again, and Monday traffic was in full swing.  We walked to the Allée des Cygnes (Swan's Way) for a peaceful stroll on that island in the Seine, with no cars.

The island also has no water, so all of the grass was a crispy light brown.  The trees, however, were just fine.  The trees give the Allée  its grace, beauty, and shade.  Almost every one of the trees are described by a plaque placed nearby.

Dog owners like to use the Allée  as a dog park.  Many dogs there are set free, off their leashes, although that is almost surely against the law in Paris.  Owners make sure their dogs behave, so that law enforcement will not be called to police this little doggie paradise.

Memorial flowers were attached to the fence in a spot about mid-way down the Allée.  We do not know who is being remembered here, or why.

Most summers, we do not see any swans around the Allée .  But on Monday, one large, lovely swan was swimming on the left bank side.

When we’d finished a circuit on the Allée , we decided to dine at the pleasant intersection of the rues Saint Charles and Rue du Theatre.  I indulged in a big, healthy salade niçoise, and Tom had a croque monsieur.  Our entertainment was a young man at the table next to us.  He was trying to sell supplemental health insurance to a young professional woman.  He talked non-stop, in fairly good, well-enunciated French.  I took this as an opportunity to work on my French listening comprehension.  The young guy was a terrible salesman because he talked too much, and he didn’t listen to his customer – or even give her much of any opportunity to speak about what product(s) she and her business might need.  A good salesperson always takes time to learn about his/her customers and their businesses.
Tom with his croque, I with my Nicoise salad  adorned by a tiny French flag.

 They eventually departed; we then ate our lunches in peace.
After lunch, we traced our steps back to a shoe store on the rue Saint Charles.  This was no “shop”; it was a real, sizeable “store.”  I enjoyed browsing around while Tom shopped the sale.  Some items were marked down 50%!  He eventually decided on some sturdy, real leather walking shoes with lots of beautiful stitching.  These were made for a French company in India.  The craftsmanship is impressive.  The price?  A mere 27 euros!

Then it was time to pick up the sheets at the French laundry on our way back to the apartment.  The young woman running the laundry could not have been nicer. 

Next was the bakery for Tom’s daily baguette (well, almost daily), and after that, we ducked into the fromagerie just to buy some butter from Brittany.

Another walk took us down to the Parc André Citroën, in the more southerly part of the 15th.  I decided that the best way to walk to that park is down the rest of the rue Saint Charles, turning toward the park just after passing the historic Grenelle cemetery

Looking into the Grenelle cemetery.

The open air market operates on several blocks of the rue Saint Charles on Tuesdays, so we strolled slowly through the busy shoppers, taking in the sights and smells of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as a mind-boggling array of fresh fish.

Between the cemetery and the Parc André Citroën, we stopped in the walled Caroline Aigle garden.  This calm and serene spot is named for the first female French fighter pilot who would have become an astronaut if cancer had not killed her at age 33.

In the Parc, we sat for a while, looking at the magnolia trees that have been trimmed so carefully in that utterly French way.

Magnolia trees in the Parc Andre Citroen.

Our next walk (yesterday afternoon) was in the 7th arrondissement, up the avenue de la Motte Picquet to the rue Cler, which has a couple pedestrianized blocks that are always fun to explore.  We strolled down the rue de Grenelle and up the rue de Bourgogne to the Place du Palais Bourgogne.  Inside the Palais, the French legislature had just begun a new session.  The area was abuzz with activity.

We began our walk back to the apartment as it started to rain.  When we reached the Esplanade des Invalides, the rain intensified, so we descended to the line 8 of the metro there – as did many other people!  We managed to fit into the full subway car.  By the time we reached our stop at the Place du Commerce, the rain was lighter.

We took shelter in Le Commerce Café, where we ate hamburgers.  Tom’s was called a “Napo” burger, and mine was the “Obama” burger.  I chose the Obama burger because it has the kind of pickles that I like, and because it has that “sauce Americaine,” something that is unlike anything you’ll find in the U.S.

Now the weather is pleasantly a bit cooler than it has been, so more adventures are in store.  Stay tuned!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Taking time to see and smell the roses

The Pantheon.
June 26, 2017 – Roses are still blooming in Paris in June.  They are past their prime, but still beautifully expressing exuberant splashes of color.  When I think of roses in Paris I think of the Jardin des Plantes, over in the 5th arrondissement.  Of course, we have roses in the 15th arrondissement, too, including the red beauties in the neglected front garden of the École Militaire – roses in a blood red hue, appropriate for that War College.  But we do not have roses in Sanibel, except for the ones in bouquets that Tom brings home from Costco (rainforest-friendly roses).

Roses in front of the Ecole Militaire.

The roses in the Jardin des Plantes are arranged in a well-tended formal corner near the natural history museum entrance.  Some grow on trellises which grace a lovely walk.  How I remember seeing my mom and dad on that walk, under the rose-laden trellises, years ago when they visited Paris before taking a river cruise.

Before the bloom was any more off the rose, Tom and I decided to visit the Jardin des Plantes.  After an easy and direct subway ride, we left the Austerlitz train station and entered the Jardin.  We strolled slowly through the main garden until we finally reached the rose garden.  After soaking that in, we visited the new/renewed biodiversity garden and saw a photographic exhibition about the gardeners.

Flowers adorn the steps leading up to the rue Rollin.
From there, a short stroll took us out of the Jardin and over to the former Roman arena, recreation area, called the Arènes de Lutece.  Tom’s goal was to wander through the heart of the 5th arrondissement, which is full of sights, one right after the other.  Shortly after we traversed the arena and we found ourselves across the street from Hemingway’s tackiest apartment in Paris, on the rue Cardinal Lemoine near the rue Monge.  We decided to save the colorful rue Mouffetard for another walk on another day, and instead headed past the famed Lycée Henri IV to the stately Pantheon, where so many of France’s heroes are interred.  Another short stroll down the rue Soufflot took us to the gateway into the Luxembourg Gardens.  We enjoyed refreshments at the outdoor café in the Gardens, and then tried to walk out the gate onto the rue Vaugirard near the Musée du Luxembourg, but that didn’t happen.  Some formal event was taking place in the Orangerie, and a huge area around it was barricaded and posted with security guards.  We exited across from the rue de Fleurus instead, and decided to take that charming street, past Gertrude Stein’s old place, in the direction of home.

A small boy practices on his cello while mom works on her Ipad on the rue Rollin.
Dinner was next door at Le Café du Commerce.  The special of the day was a whole dorade royale (golden sea bream), and I could not resist it.  When a server brought it to me, she asked if I’d like to have her “prepare” it.  She meant debone it, and I replied, “No thank you, I will do it.”  She was surprised and said, “Are you sure?”  To that I replied, “I’m from Florida,” by way of explanation.  She said “Okay.”  (That conversation was all in French, by the way.)

If I debone the fish myself, I get more fish off the bone and it does not get cold before I can consume it.  Tom had beef carpaccio again.  Then he indulged in a café gourmand, which was pretty and nice.  My dessert was a little glass of Grand Marnier.  Mmmmm.  So good.

Cafe gourmand at Le Cafe du Commerce.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Celebrating a birthday in Paris

June 25, 2017 --  The weather was gorgeous:  blue sky, puffy little white clouds, cool enough to wear real shoes and socks, and warm enough to wear a T-shirt and no jacket.  Our goal was to walk along the Seine, perhaps all the way to the Jardin des Plantes.

Getting started was a challenge, because we were distracted by the abundant shopping opportunities.  Tom needs things:  shoes, a blazer, etc.  The aptly named Rue du Commerce has things -- not touristy things, but real things, that people really need.

Clothing and wares were being displayed out on the sidewalk in front of many shops.  We were witnessing the weekend of a Rue du Commerce street fair -- something that we remember attending years ago.  We usually are not in Paris until July.  This year is different from most; we're experiencing June.

Street fair at one end of the Rue du Commerce.

Yesterday was Tom's 75th birthday.  So we shopped for him.  First we looked at an entire rack of men's walking shoes out on the sidewalk.  He seriously considered one pair, but decided to wait.  "Maybe I'll try gluing my old shoes together one more time," he said.  I replied, "Well, maybe you could take them to the shoe repair place on our street."

We are guilty of being frugal, but we also know how to stimulate the economy in our own meager way.  We moved on to the Celio shop, a place where we'd purchased a rain jacket for Tom in the past.

Celio's prices are good, and so there were a number of people shopping there.  I'm always wary of empty shops, or shops where there are no French people spending money.  We knew right where the blazers were.  Within a few minutes of perusing them, a salesman cheerily swept by to welcome us and point out where the mirrors were as Tom was about to try on the first blazer.

Weirdly, these blazers were marked S, M, L, and XL for the sizes.  Clearly they were made for an English speaking market.  But that market must have been for very small English speakers.  I'm not sure where in the world that would be.  Tom, after his illnesses a year and a half to two years ago, is not large.  He is quite medium -- a 40 regular kind of guy.  Knowing these blazers would probably run small, he tried a Large.  Nope.  Large was too small.  There was only one XL in black.  He tried it, and it fit beautifully, but the sleeves were a little too long. Tom has unusually long arms, so he didn't expect this anomaly.

The price was amazing:  30 percent off of 49.99!  Tom was going to buy it and just make do with the slightly long sleeves.  I encouraged him to buy it, and then go to the tailor across from our building to have the sleeves shortened.  Tom didn't want to spend the money.  I said, "Even if it costs 35 euros to alter the blazer, it is still worth it, and you'll feel better wearing it if the sleeves are the right length."

When I convinced him that it couldn't hurt to ask, we backtracked around the corner, onto the Rue du Theatre, and entered the tailor's shop.

This was a Saturday, but yes, the shop was open.  The tailor and his friend were sitting around with not much to do.  We'd shopped there before; I bought a suede jacket there once, and had the sleeves shortened by the tailor.  Leather seems to be a specialty at this plain little shop/workshop.

Quickly and professionally, the tailor pinned up one of the jacket sleeves to mark the proper length.  Tom asked "how much?" in French.  Twenty-five euros was the answer!  And the finished blazer will be ready on Monday afternoon.  I love customized, quick service!

View of the Eiffel Tower and garden at the Musee du Quai Branly.

Off we went again, making our way successfully this time, to the end of the Rue du Commerce and up to the Avenue de la Bourdonnais, where I checked out a little shoe store that advertises on Google that it carries Skechers.  Alas, the little shop did not have my size.  We walked on to the garden at the Musee du Quai Branly.

The garden is more lush and green than ever.  The foliage and exotic grasses are wildly growing together.  The place reminds us of South Florida, but better.

We were both hungry, so we stepped into the cafe facing the garden.  Tom consumed a dish of rich ice cream, which almost had to be Berthillon.  I ate a salad with wonderful goat cheese.  Fortified, we left the garden, crossed the quai, and walked down to the banks of the Seine.

The throngs of pedestrians there grew thicker and thicker as we walked.  We saw that this was the second of two "Olympic Days" for which a large assortment of games were set up for all, young and old, to play.  Ping pong was a popular one.

When we reached the far side of the Pont Alexandre III, we looked up and saw two colorful diving platforms set up on the bridge.  At twenty minutes before 3PM, people were starting to gather, looking up at the platforms.   We decided to join them to watch the divers.  After we'd waiting several minutes, a large screen behind us illuminated with a video explanation of the event about to take place.  The divers would not be diving, but rather working their way down long pieces of fabric, doing acrobatics along the way.

Acrobatic "diver" leaving one of the platforms on the Pont Alexandre III.

Finally, at 3PM, a diver appeared.  She was an athletic-looking young woman in a red one-piece swimsuit.  She performed her act to the amplified sound of Vivaldi's Four Seasons.  Slowly, she lowered herself along the lengths of fabric, wrapping them this way and that, around her body, as she pivoted, twirled, did somersaults, etc.  I can't say that the "choreography" had anything to do with the Four Seasons, but it was interesting -- much like what circus acrobats have been doing for many years.

As we stood there, I became slightly uncomfortable as people standing near me pressed into my space.  When the first act was almost over, I turned to Tom, who was standing behind me.  Then I saw that the crowd behind us had grown tremendously.  There were no spaces between people.  The entire space was full of humans who had no room to move.

After the lady in the red suit finished and the Four Seasons had concluded, Tom and I decided to try to make our way out of the crowd.  Fortunately, some other people decided to try to leave, too.  At first, nobody could move.  That was truly frightening.  Everyone stayed calm, however, and eventually, there was a little movement this way, and a little movement that way.  It took twenty minutes or more, but finally, Tom and I were moving.  We almost got separated at one point, but soon all was well again, and we continued our walk on toward Notre Dame.

As a general rule, we avoid crowds.  The Olympic Days crowd was one nobody would have predicted.

The Seine, looking toward the Ile de la Cite.

We'd been on our feet for hours, so we rested a few times on old limestone benches.  At last, we were across from Notre Dame on the left bank, gazing up as we walked at the cathedral's lacy grandeur.

Across from the far end of the church, we climbed the steps to the street level, crossed the quai, and started walking down the rue Maitre Albert when we saw the perfect sidewalk cafe for pausing for beverages on the rue des Grands Degres.  So, pause we did, for a bottle of sparkling water to share, coffee for Tom and a glass of chardonnay for me.  The large, garrulous man sitting at the table next to us was evidently the owner of the place.  He was consuming mussels from a big red pot which was accompanied by a small mountain of fries.  The man periodically dumped fries into the pot.

We finished our beverages, paid the tab, left a pour boire (a couple euros), said good-day  to the garrulous man, and went on our way down the Rue Maitre Albert to the line 10 metro at Place Maubert Mutualite.

Quaint old storefront on the Rue des Grands Degres.

Soon we were back at the apartment, where we rested up for the next adventure:  Tom's birthday dinner at La Gauloise.

While we were resting, we heard drums.  Something musical was happening at the street fair, six stories below.  The sound of the drums grew louder.  Then there was music with the drums.  We walked out on our balcony and looked down.  Soon, a colorful group of Brazilian musicians and dancers appeared at the intersection, where they paused and the dancers showed off their flamboyant garb and exotic moves.

I told Tom I'd ordered the girl dancers and the drum line for this birthday.  I wish I had thought of it.

Brazilian dancers and musicians on the Rue due Commerce and Rue du Theatre.

Dinner was at La Gauloise -- one of our longtime, favorite, traditional Parisian restaurants.  The classic interior of the restaurant was half full of families having dinner together.  They were all French.  Just like when we had lunch at the Trois Garcons brasserie the day before, we did not hear any English being spoken in the restaurant.

Dinner was simple and elegant.  We skipped the starters and Tom ordered a thick, juicy filet of beef in a nice black pepper sauce, accompanied by a small salad.  My main course was a filet of dorade royale (golden sea bream) accompanied by Spring vegetables.  We each had an outstanding souffle Grand Marnier.

I mentioned the lunch we had on the 23rd at the Trois Garcons brasserie on the rue de la Croix Nivert.  My dish was fish and veggies there, too:  a slightly seared piece of red tuna with marinated, thin, crispy slices of beets, fancy radishes, and a few cucumbers.  The dish was colorful and delicious.  Tom had a slate of mixed charcuterie -- so copious that he sneaked some of it away into folded paper napkin, then into a shopping bag to take home.

Wallace Fountain near the Trois Garcons brasserie.
That outing on the 23rd was our first daytime adventure for this summer, even though we arrived in Paris on the 21st.  The first two days were consumed by an oppressive heat wave and episode of pollution (bad ozone).  We just hibernated, unpacked, and recovered from jet lag during those two days.  Oh, we did manage to go out for supplies at the grocery, fromagerie, and bakery, but we know better than to try to go traipsing about normally during a heat wave in Paris.

And we had a nice dinner at La Terrasse as the weather was breaking on the evening of the 22nd.  I had a perfectly juicy and tender duck breast with vegetables and Tom consumed a beef carpaccio with salad.  Service was so professional and the ambiance was so Parisian.  It was a good way to start.

Amazingly, the weather became suddenly much better on Friday, without any noticeable storm front.  And so it goes -- all seems to be well in Paris now.