I had made plans after we'd done quite a bit of walking and of course shopping during the day. We'd already done nearly 12 miles and would end up at nearly 15. Of course there was the requisite nap and taking a leisurely walk before dinner.
It is indeed the city of light, regardless of what the true story behind that nickname.
Just take a look at Invalides, lights shining brightly even on a foggy night like this.
We meandered our way to our dining destination; Restaurant David Toutain in Arrondissement 7. I picked David Toutain because of the namesake's innovation and skill, especially with vegetable dishes, something the Missus is leaning toward these days. I thought I'd save the heavier and more traditional dishes for Burgundy, where we were headed in the morning. I'm not going to make this a very long post, as while we really enjoyed this meal, and found a wine that we kept searching for throughout Beaune and Burgundy, a fabulous and amazing white from the Domaine Alain Gras in Saint Romain (we even went to the Domain), this meal was over shadowed with an amazing meal from Sola that we'd have on the way back.
Still, that is not to say the meal wasn't innovative, starting with the amazing combination of Salsify with White Chocolate.
Earthy tones with a very mildly sweet and creamy "dip".
It was a show of creativity and the presentation was quite interesting.
This brioche was addictive.....
An interesting variety of textures and techniques; a bit of molecular gastronomy here and there.
Yes, there was quinoa, fried, airy pork skin, thin slices of walnut.....
And one spectacular piece of Cod, that had the Missus and I staring at each other. The texture was so decadent and buttery; I'm thinking this was sous-vide.
We're still talking about how amazing the fish in this dish was.....
Another fantastic dish was the Smoked Eel in Black Sesame; not something I'd generally think would go well together.
But the strong, smoky flavor of the eel really stood up well to the powerful nutty flavor of black sesame. The toothsome texture of the fish and the thick sauce complimented each other as well.
At the end, there was dessert.....a lot of dessert.....
The Entremets (palate cleansing course) was another amazing combination of flavors that worked together; Cauliflower Puree with White Chocolate and Coconut Ice Cream.
Dessert is of course, the Missus's thing and She really enjoyed Herself.
I thought the presentation of the Churros was a bit much.....
The staff here was amazing; professional yet friendly and warm. When the Sommelier noticed we enjoyed the Alain Gras so much, he gave us a second glass, and then matched it flawlessly with a few other dishes to display the fine range of the wine. The actual restaurant is quite discreet, no big signs, just a simple "DT" carved in the doorway.
While I'm not sure we'll be back soon; I'm glad we had the experience.
Restaurant David Toutain 29 Rue Surcouf 75007 Paris, France
We walked back to our hotel, quite happy with our time in Paris. Heck, even the Eiffel Tower surrounded by fog looks quite romantic, don't you think?
After our very nice and refreshing stop at Laduree, the Missus was itching to do some shopping.
I was however, quite surprised that She kept a rather leisurely pace as we headed down Champs-Élysées.
And while we didn't visit the exhibition at the Grand Palais, which was actually built as an exhibition hall for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, the building has had many uses over the years. During World War I it served as military hospital, during the Nazi occupation a truck depot.
We stopped at the statue of Charles de Gaulle on Place Clemenceau to take a photo.
This area, full of lovely green spaces is called des Jardin des Champs-Élysées and is quite lovely. There are many statues and fountains located on the garden grounds. This one, named "Fontaine des Ambassadeurs", also known as the "Venus Fountain" dates back to 1840.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées ends at a large public square, Place de la Concorde, know for its two grand fountains.
And one dramatic looking, gold topped obelisk, which was originally located at the entrance of Luxor Temple in Eqypt. If you've read our posts on Istanbul, Rome, and even Brno, you'll know that the Missus has a thing for Obelisks, so we had to stop here. The Luxor Obelisk is supposedly over 3000 years old and was shipped from Luxor in 1832, arriving in Paris late in 1833. The pedestal details how the obelisk was transported to Paris, quite an engineering feat back in the day. The original pedestal resides in the Louvre. The gold leaf Pyramidion was installed in 1998 to replace one that had been missing since the 6th century.
It's quite a busy area.
We were going to check out Place de la Madeleine, but by this time the Missus was focused. So we turned left on Rue Saint Honore, then left on Rue Cambon, and arrived at the Missus's destination in the very upscale Opera Neighborhood.
They flagship store of Chanel......sigh. It was quite an experience, with one on one service, refreshment, and so on. I won't go into how much $$$$, or should I say "€€€€" the Missus spent. But let's just say She was quite happy...except for not having shoes in Her size.
In case you're thinking about stopping by:
Chanel Cambon 31 Rue Cambon 75001 Paris, France
The Missus, disappointed in Chanel not having the shoes She wanted, had a plan B so we headed off. At least I know why they call this area "Opera". It's because of the Palais Garnier, the striking looking Opera House.
Around the corner from the Opera House on Rue de la Paix is a location of Repetto. Repetto was founded in 1947 as a maker of ballet shoes. It is super popular in Japan. Being married to the Missus has its hazards; I know more about handbags and women's shoes than any red blooded male should. Anyway, the shoes are quite beautiful. The Missus requested black; but the savvy saleswoman brought out a pair of the Repetto BB in Flame Red and told the Missus they were the number one selling shoe in Japan! I gotta admit, they did look good, so I told the Missus buy them both (She's since bought four more.....sigh). Here's a wonderful blog post if you want to know more about Repetto shoes. There was one funny thing that happened. As I paid for the shoes, the young lady who helped us looked at my name and started talking to me in fluent Japanese! Ok......tis was starting to get a bit surreal. In chatting I found out she was one-quarter Japanese, though she didn't look it at all, and felt more comfortable speaking in Japanese than English!
Boutique Repetto 22 Rue de la Paix 75002 Paris, France
Lest you think I've gone around the bend and this has suddenly become a fashion blog.....
The Missus and I were getting somewhat hungry. While we didn't want too much to eat since we had quite a dinner planned, a croissant and coffee was just not going to do. Looking at my trusty Google Map, I noticed one of the places I entered, an interesting concept restaurant named Boco.
Created by two brothers, Vincent and Simon Ferniot, the shop is basically what I'd call Fast-Casual...or perhaps "Fast-Bistro". It has definitive French twist. Most of the items are served in a "bocal" (glass jar), which, in additional to being recyclable, means you can eat it in the restaurant, or take it home with you. In fact we saw two folks come in and leave with bags full of jars. I read that most ingredients are organic, and here's the kicker, are recipes from a star studded cast of chefs.
You basically pick your stuff out....let them know if you want to eat in, whereupon they'll heat up the items that need it, or take it to go.
Word of warning; this ain't super cheap. Especially if you visit the shop in Orly Airport. But just wanting a smaller sized meal, this proved to be quite relaxed and nice.
We started with Rabbit Rillettes and Celeriac...sorry no photo, we were hungry and just whacked this.
This recipe was courtesy of multi-Michelin starred chef Stéphane Décotterd. It was refreshing, the lapin perhaps a bit on the dry side, but the celeriac and mustard-aioli based sauce was really nice. Not too rich, nice acidity.
The Missus loved the Ouef Moelleux et Mousse de Courge au Lard.
Think of it as a perfect poached egg in a pumpkin mousse, with bacon. This recipe courtesy of Gilles Goujon, whose name I recognized. He is the chef and owner of Three Michelin starred L'Auberge du Vieux Puits.
My favorite dish was the lamb confit over winter vegetable ratatouille.
So perfectly gamey...at Orly, the whole dining area of Boco there smelled like this. Kinda scary to Americans, comforting to me. Loved the sauce, a bit of acid, some tanginess, I think from a tomato product, with an interesting sweetness. The lamb was both tender and gamey...the flavor of the green pasture coming through.
Overall we enjoyed this meal. It was comforting, the portion sizes not too large, definitely not like your friendly neighborhood Chiptole, Five Guys, Luna Grill, or Panera. The young man working here was very friendly. Not everyone's cup of tea....but if we had one on the corner, I'd be there quite often.
boco 3 Rue Danielle Casanova 75001 Paris, France
From here we headed back, walking through the Jardine de Tuileries. Folks were out and about, socializing. We stopped to watch this game of bocce.
A couple of the guys waved me down...wanting me to embarrass participate. I just laughed and nodded a solid negative. Where was the uptight and serious French folks told me about?
Surely not here in the park...enjoying the fall colors or lounging by the fountains.
We walked along the Seine and past Place de la Concorde.
Passing by the steady gaze of the statue that represents the City of Lyon.
And over the bridge.
We meandered our way back to our hotel on Avenue de la Bourdonnais.
We decided to take a short nap. As we unloaded our bags, you could see that the Missus had "made out".
Our first night in Paris was rather low-keyed. We got a great night's sleep and the Missus was ready to go in the morning. The skies were overcast and hazy, but that didn't stop folks from enjoying the Eiffel Tower....like these Nuns, with smartphones and iPads, taking selfies even!
We had an outline of what the Missus wanted to do on this day and crossed the Seine on Pont d'lena.
I guess they decided not to turn on the fountains in Jardins du Trocadero because of the rather dreary weather on this morning.
From the Palais de Chaillot, the Missus decided She watned to wander Avenue d'Eylau and Rue de Longchamps to Avenue Victor Hugo where we stopped for some espresso and shared a croissant. Up Victot Hugo, we then crossed the super crazy roundabout and headed up Avenue Raymond Poincare to one of the richest and most prestigious streets in Paris; Avenue Foch. Finally stopping at the Arc de Triomphe.
This iconic to celebrate and symbolize France's victories and those who fought for and died for the country in a very Roman way. Take a look at the sculpture of Napoleon being crowned by the Goddess of Victory.
And while Napoleon died long before the completion of the Arc, his remains were passed through the Arc on its return from Saint Helena, on its way to Invalidies.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I was buried here on Armistice Day in 1920.
We decided to take the stairs, all 284 of them to the top.
The stairs weren't too bad, but somewhat dizzying.
The view from the top, even on a overcast, foggy day was still stunning.
And we'd be crossing over to Avenue des Champs-Élysées upon leaving.
There were a few "musts" on the Missus's list for being in Paris for the first time; one of them was a walk down Champs-Élysées. It was a pleasant walk, but really didn't have any of the type of shopping for the Missus's taste. There were some interesting things though, like why no "Golden Arches" for what is considered the "the largest McDonald's Restaurant in the world"?
Apparently, there's some strict sign codes on the Champs-Élysées and if Mickey D's, or "MacDo" as they call them here, wanted to operate on the Avenue. By the way, did you know that the second largest market for McDonalds is France? WTH..... But, according to this posting in NPR, there may be some really good reasons why.
The one must stop for the missus was the Flagship store of Laduree, established in 1862, one of the two "King of Macarons" in France; the other being Pierre Herme, whose namesake used to work for Laduree.
Man, this place was quite....well fancy schmancy.....the boutique and even the counter.
We decided to head to the back area; the "Bar Laduree", which has a bit of a strange underwater theme. Had me humming "Octopus's Garden" by the Beatles.
It seemed to be just the right place to take a break and the Missus's sweet tooth was telling Her it needed to be tended to.
I started with a café noir. I love the way that these lovely shops always provide a little piece of chocolate with your coffee.....or rather, the Missus loves collecting these little tidbits.
Not being big on sweets, it was the Missus ordering all the way. A couple of macarons, which we ended up taking with us. And something from the dessert menu called the Ispahan, which are rosewater macarons sandwiching raspberries and lychee. Not cheap at 12,5€, but it was something that even I enjoyed.
Note overly sweet, with a nice balance of tartness. This was quite fragrant and very elegant as I felt like a complete barbarian trying to eat this.
The Missus loved it and She also enjoyed Her macarons which we ended up taking to go.
The service was very professional, the vibe relaxed. It was a nice little stop on our walk down the Champs-Élysées.
Ladurée 75 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, France
Yep, so there I was....sipping a café noir, munching on a frou-frou dessert, in a underwater themed bar on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Who'd have thunk? My day dreams ended quite quickly when the Missus nudged me and said, "ok, enough of this....let's go spend some money." A phrase that sends shudders across my wallet.....
Thanks for reading!
For other thoughts on Laduree, please check out Kirbie's posts, here and here.
Paris had been "on the list" for quite a while. The Missus had been wanting to see Paris and one of Her bucket list items was seeing the Eiffel Tower at night. I'd been kind of putting things off. You see, during my younger days, I knew folks who visited Paris and had a terrible time.....somewhat clichéd, but the stories were similar. This dampened my motivation to visit Paris and kind of stuck with me. However, in recent years, folks whom I knew enjoyed their visits....I think things have changed. Plus, this just seemed like a bucket list year for the Missus....perhaps She's thinking I'll be "kicking it" soon?
We flew from Seattle, with a mere one hour layover at Keflavik Airport. It turned out to be more than enough time to exit our plane (in the freezing rain on the tarmac), get through immigration (Iceland is part of the Schengen Area) amazingly efficient and quick, and then to our gate (sort of a cattle call type situation) in less than 30 minutes. Our flight from Keflavik was to Orly Airport, not Charles de Gaulle. We exited our plane and found the Le Bus Direct stop; paid our Euros and headed off. We were to exit at Rue Jean Rey, near the Tour Eiffel...the Missus was thrilled. When got off the bus at the stop and it looked like an ordinary city stop. The Missus was a bit disappointed, "there's really nothing here...." Until we turned the corner and there it was......
I gotta say; I was ready to be disappointed, but even on an overcast day; the Eiffel Tower is pretty darn impressive.
Having just smaller carry-on, Tom Bihn bags, made the walk to our hotel; the Hotel la Bourdonnais a snap. Located near the Ecole Militaire, this turned out to be a great location for the Missus, who just wanted to stare at that tower.
Our room was small; but comfortable, we could enjoy the street scene below and at night you could even see the Eiffel Tower peeking through the trees. We rested a bit.....took a short nap which we badly needed, then walked around. I, scoping out potential stops like Fromager Marie-Anne Cantin (amazing cheese) and Les Gourmandises d'Eiffel (baguettes). Unfortunately, we had an amazing time and sadly never partook of their products. Next time.....
After spending so much time in airports and on planes we really weren't in the mood for anything heavy, so with my trusty list and my Google Map (God bless pocket wifi...or weefee as they say here) we ended up on charming Rue Saint Dominique. The Missus loved all the little shops in this area. Near Le Fountaine de Mars......
Is Les Cocottes de Christian Constant. I'd read about the place taking no reservations and photos of the dishes looked like just what we'd want after a long flight. The place was quite empty when we arrived.
It was just before 6pm......the sun had already set; but the place was devoid of customers. I asked the nice young man who seated us if we were eating early by French standards. He smiled and said, in what we'd find is a typical French understated manner, "oh, just a bit". The young woman who waited upon us was a total joy....cheerful, ever so pleasant.......English so perfect it made us nervous that we were in the wrong place. She had a great sense of humor and I even tried out my very, very poor French. Though even I knew when to stop; unlike the Korean family who came in a few minutes later. The middle aged gentleman insisted on trying to speak French, even though no one could ever understand him. I gotta give him credit though....
We started with the very rustic and very delicious Country Style Pate.
We both loved this; a nice balance of earthy flavors with nice texture.....there's quite a bit of filler, but it's not wasted. I love dishes like this; it shows that one could really make an great version of a humble pate, one that doesn't use expensive ingredients, but rather sticks to its peasant roots.
The Missus enjoyed the Foie Gras.
After the pate; this was rather nondescript....something like I've had many times. Weird, I know, but it really didn't stand out. Still, it is foie gras, but it really didn't have enough of that earthy, slightly offal flavor that I enjoy. Strange because I'm not a big fan of liver; but I do like a touch of it, minus the metallic flavors in my foie gras. The Missus enjoyed this.
A cocotte is a traditional small cast iron pot. And our favorite item of the night, while nothing braised or stewed came in one. We really enjoyed the Poached Egg with Bacon and Rocket Salad.
There was of course, the very nice poached egg, of which the Missus approved. We also really loved the lardons; the bacon had a slight crunch then a nice silky finish, it was coated in a sweet and slightly salted dressing. The crisp, crunchy, peppery arugula was perfect with the runny egg and bacon. We both loved that the salad was simply dressed, letting the flavors of all the parts speak for themselves.
We also quickly noticed that nothing was particularly salty and the flavors were nicely balanced, something we'd find at almost all the places we ate at.
Of course we had to order the Potatoes Stuffed with Pig's Feet.
Strangely, we thought this dish was all about the potatoes, which was nicely caramelized and had also absorbed the better part of the pork flavor. Actually, we both didn't enjoy the texture of the pork too much; finding it mushy with a greasy feel. And yes; these are basically fancy potato skins, right? As with the other dishes; we loved the greens.
So here's where it gets kind of odd....we noticed that about 80 percent of the customers in the place were Korean. So I basically asked our Server, "why all the Korean customers?" She just cracked up and in a slight whisper told me; "it's the next wave......three years ago; it was so many Japanese....now...it's the Koreans!" I figured the place must be on some Korean food show or something. So while doing my search; I came to find out that Anthony Bourdain ate here on one of his shows....now how the heck did I miss that?
Regardless; we loved the service, the food was just what we needed after a long trip over, and the prices were not too bad. I know, not the traditional bistro meal....we'd kind of avoid that in Paris and save it for Burgundy. Not haute cuisine, but just what we wanted.
Les Cocottes de Christian Constant 135 rue Saint-Dominique Paris, 75007
After dinner we strolled around Rue Cler, then Champ de Mars.....the Missus was soaking it all in; we were indeed in Paris.
That's the Monument des Droits de l'Homme, a human rights monument finished in 1989, but it looks much older. It is said to have been designed to resemble an Egyptian Temple, but with many Masonic features.
And then of course; there was this, which needs no introduction.
Cross another one off the Missus's bucket list.......
Which quickly answered the question with a question of why we came here......"Why not Paris?"
There was a small grocery right next to our hotel. While walking through the place, I noticed a rather odd looking beer and decided to buy a can.
Man, this was pretty bad....."Rum Flavoured Beer", what was I thinking? Man, this was really sweet and artificial tasting! Luckily, this was probably the one bad move I made during our time in Paris.
We both crashed early. Tomorrow was going to be a shopping day for the Missus and I needed to rest up my credit card for the beating it would take!
We finished up our time in Paris visiting.....well, those must see locales.
And capped things off with what might be one of the best meals we've ever had.
We then headed off to our current location. A place where you can experience the power and wonder of nature. Now a very popular destination during the summer. It is still impressive during the slow season.
In a single word......breathtaking.
And the cold and rain hasn't dampened our spirits as we've gotten to see some amazing things.
The food here is distinctive. With items like minke whale.....
Trout smoked over sheep dung.
Mashed fish......they make fabulous rye bread here too.
They also claim to make one of the best hot dogs in the world too.
The sun is setting on our final day here.
Tomorrow we head to an interim destination then home. It's been an unforgettable trip.
We haven't had a bad meal yet. I hope this last one will not end the streak
It's been a really busy couple of months. Work has been crazy and we needed a break. So with Cathy and Ed from Yuma always willing to help keep the blog going, the Missus and I are taking a nice break.
To where you may ask? Well, I think you can figure things out in 4 photos. So here goes.
This is where we started.
Then we ended up here.
And we are enjoying our last evening in this region.
As expected, the meals have been great. What's even more surprising is that we haven't had a bad meal yet. Rubbing this little guy's head is supposed to be good luck. Maybe it worked.
Because the eats sure have been good.
And we've been having a blast as well. Beautiful countryside.....
And cute little villages.
So hopefully things will work out and I'll get another post in sometime. You know, to give you something to chew on.
After a relatively relaxing day in Bordeaux, the Missus decided that we should take at least one day trip. I thought a nice 40 minute train ride into the village of St Emilion, which, in addition to claiming to being the oldest wine producing area in Bordeaux (dating back to Roman times), the village is a World Heritage Site.
Getting off the train, you immediately know what the cash crop here is......
You are engulfed by grape vines......
The walk to the village from the train station was about 15 minutes.
We had decided to arrive fairly early and the streets were sedate, it was quite charming. There were basically no one on the sometimes narrow street as we wound our way up the hill. I guess it wasn't quite "wine o'clock" yet.
There are two distinctive landmarks in the village. The first is the Chateau du Roi, which is located on the hill west of the center of St Emilion.
According to what I read, this used to be the King's Castle and dates back to the 13th century. You can buy tickets to climb to the top, but since it was early the place wasn't open yet.
From here, you can view the rooftops of most of the village and get a nice glimpse of the other major landmark of St Emilion; the Eglise Monolithe, Saint Emilion Monolithic Church.
We were even more impressed after taking a tour....more on that in a bit.
We headed back down into the lower part of the village, then back up the narrow streets until we arrived at Place des Creaneux. This is where the TI office is located. They had just opened. We asked for maps and some other recommendations. As with our other experience at the TI in Sarlat, the young lady here was amazing; such a joy to deal with. She asked us if we'd "like to see a very interesting part of St Emilion that is not open to the public?" And we said, "of course".....so she booked us for "Underground St Emilion"...the first tour, which started at 1030.
This meant that we had about forty minutes of so to kill, so we wondered around a bit. Around the corner from the TI is the Eglise Collégiale, the Collegiate Church. The Romanesque styling means this church has been around for quite a while.
The cloisters, built in the Gothic style is what this church is known for.
It was quite amazing to have a place like this all to ourselves.
It was getting close to the time of our scheduled tour. So we needed to get to that plaza below us. The way down was rather steep and we passed through a gateway; the Porte de la Cadene. There was a very rustic (and old) wooden structure next to the gate, I was told that the name of the gate is derived from "catena", which meant chain. Apparently, there was once a chain which controlled access to the main square of the town at this gate.
There a quite a few questions about the existence of this gate and structure; since it was within the village, why was there a "chain/gate" here? Who was being defended and/or protected? Who doesn't love a little mystery?
We were told to wait for our tour in front of the "three windows".
The tour itself was quite good. We got to learn a bit about the history of St Emilion, which is named after a monk, named, well Emilion, of the Breton Priory, who fled to this area to escape persecution from the Benedictine Order. He settled in a cave, dug out of the hillside that is now St Emilion. During the 45 minute tour, we visited what was (supposedly) his bed, carved out of bedrock, visited catacombs, and we saw paintings within the Trinity Chapel, done in the 13th century. The most impressive thing to us was seeing the amazing "church" carved out of the stone. There were huge devices which looked like they were used to stabilize the ceiling. It was quite amazing....as this all started as a cave carved out by a single monk. What was more surprising....is that we exited by a door near those three very windows where we first gathered. Who knew what lay behind them!
Even though our tour was in French, the young lady also spoke English so we really got a lot out of our time. Highly recommended!
It was still fairly early, so we decided to head back to Bordeaux. And while the train was rather late....there was an interesting conversation I had with a nice gentleman who told me that the "French are very detailed oriented, like the Japanese"....after which I told him, "however, if the trains ran as late in Japan....you know, heads would have rolled....", which got a nice laugh.
Getting back to Bordeaux, we caught the tram and got off near Cours de l’Intendance.
It was for me to "payer le prix promis".....to go ahead and "pay the promised price" to the Missus. I had told Her that She could get whatever scarf She wanted from Hermes whenever we visited France (this, BTW has changed and gotten a bit more pricy). and so, the Missus got the scarf of Her choice....after all, love is priceless, no?
We had decided to finish up the eggs and cheese we had purchased the day before for lunch. But, we had seen some interesting beer in St Emilion....I know, we went to one of the great wine producing areas of France and bought some beer......which isn't even from the area. But the Missus still had another bottle of Her Chateau de Grand Moulin, so why not try these?
The Biere de Ferme Truffle was kind of weird....it had an strange off taste, little foam, kind of weak......fragrance of truffle, but the flavor is very difficult to describe.
The Ambree, on the other hand was very good...nutty and on the sweet (very Belgian) in flavor, I found it to be quite pleasant to drink.
We had a nice short nap, then it was off to dinner. The destination was close by. I'd read about a shop called Saveurs D' Aquitaine, which specialized in small dishes of local ingredients....the highlight being truffle. Since it was just a few blocks from where we were staying, we stopped by before leaving for the Dordogne and made dinner reservations for our last night in Bordeaux. So this was to be our last meal in Bordeaux. On the way to the restaurant, we ran into a woman who was lost, and insisted on me trying to help her....really! It was like some scene from a reality show.....me....trying to help some poor French woman...who kept speaking to me in French. Finally, she got the clue, and started cracking up at the strangeness of the situation.
When we arrived at the restaurant, it was strangely closed. Soon after, a young lady arrived and opened the doors. So here's what happened; the young lady who took our reservations, didn't know that the chef was booked for another event on the day we requested. The folks at the restaurant tried to get in touch with us....but hey, we didn't have pocket wifi this time around and where we were staying didn't give out customer info...appropriately so.
They could have easily closed us out.....but instead, we had a small private dinner for two....albeit, simplified and prepped ahead of time, by a very, very, nice young lady....I could not get a grasp of her name....so she said to call her "Vic"!
And so, while there were quite a bit of truffles present for dinner.....it didn't quite raise our sails....this was a very special meal....
The restaurant could have easily locked us out....it would have been totally acceptable. But instead, they went ahead and prepped us our own little special dinner. Which if not amazing, was still quite special. '"Vic" made the meal, as we got to talk about how life is in Bordeaux, and life in general......she was the highlight......and I'm hoping she is doing well in Bogota, which is where I understood she was headed after graduation.
In a way, this might have been our best meal in Bordeaux. Perhaps one day we'll return and actually have proper meal here.
Saveurs D' Aquitaine 16 Place des Quinconces Bordeaux, France
As we took our final walk around the city....this joyfully unpretentious locale....I wondered, as I stared at the mesmerizing "head" by Jaume Plensa.....
We'd had a great time in Dordogne, but were pretty tired and were happy to be back in Bordeaux. It all seemed familiar to us....we knew the drill, how to catch tram from the Gare Saint Jean. In fact, shades of Saint Jean de Luz, seeing us use the tram ticket machine...folks would ask us....in French how to us the quite easy ticket machine. It was so strange. If there was one person who really didn't look like they belonged, it would be me. Anyway, we ended up helping a couple of folks get their tickets..... We were staying at the same apartments, so getting settled in was a snap. As was getting back to our favorite little place in Bordeaux, Bar a Vin.
We got a simple cheese plate and a glass of wine each.
I had a glass of the 2008 Saint-Julien Chateau Langoa-Barton, Grand Cru......
It was lovely, rich, berry flavors, with not too much tannin.....
Bar a Vin 3 Cours du 30 Juillet Bordeaux, France
The Missus then decided that it was time for a walk, so this time we headed up along the Garonne River, passing some interesting sites on the way.....
The Chartrons neighborhood was once filled with the homes of rich merchants, but eventually fell into disrepair. A large renovation project has turned the Quay des Chatrons into a hip and gentrified neighborhood.....
And further north is Bassin a Flot, once lined with warehouses, dry docks, and other industrial businesses, the place turned into a wonderful urban renovation project....now lined with bars, restaurants, and hip shops.
It was time to decide what to do for dinner. The decision was quite easy. Our favorite meal in Bordeaux was having some cheese and baguette, with a bottle (or two of wine), and just relaxing.
We turned around and headed back to Marche des Grands Hommes and the Carrefour Market.
We picked up some wine and other items and headed out.
On the street on the other side of Marche des Grands Hommes, that lead to Allee de Tourny was a cheese shop that I wanted to check out named Fromagerie Beillevaire.
The guy working here was quite nice and the selection was nice.
It was hard picking just 2-3 cheeses....but in the end we basically just chose three.
Fromagerie Beillevaire 8 Rue Michel Montaigne Bordeaux, France
Looking back, I noticed we'd done quite a bit of walking on this day. No wonder we were pretty tired when we got back to the apartment. This time around, they put us in a huge 2 bedroom unit on the third floor, which was very comfortable.
The kitchen was well equipped.
And because we travel light, the washer/dryer was welcomed. As was the tub where the Missus could soak and relax......
I was really struck by the view out the round windows.......
Dinner was a simple, but satisfying affair.
With the Missus' favorite bottle of 4,9€ (about $5.40/US) bottle of white.
The folks that ran the apartment also left us a nice bottle of white as well.
A very nice gesture.
The Missus had a bath, I had my glass of wine and started a post while looking out onto the street below.
After all of the activities of the previous couple of days; it was nice to just sit back and relax.
There was one reason why we came to Les Eyzies. It was to visit Font de Gaume, the only site in France with "polychrome" (colored) prehistoric cave paintings still open to the public. The catch was, there's no advance tickets sales, you need to show up and wait in line and purchase tickets for one of the "tours". The ticket office opens at 0930, we got there at 7am and there were already people in line for one of the 52 tickets available on this day! Carbon Dioxide is starting to damage the 15,000 year old paintings of 230 animals, so access is limited. We could have gone to Lascaux and visited the Lascaux II, which is a replica of the original, now closed to the public because of carbon dioxide damage....but seeing the real thing was on the Missus' bucket list, so here we were. One of the reasons we stayed where we did was that it was a short 2 kilometer walk up the street.
Folks were sitting around chatting, checking their smartphones, staring off into space, or like me, checking out this very social little guy, who seemed totally unafraid of humans.
Like clockwork, the place opened at 0930. We were about number 14-15 in line. The only English tour of the day was at 10am and we easily got tickets to it! Since it would be starting fairly soon we just hung around for 15 minutes and off we went up the trail.
Of course photos aren't allowed, but let me just say, this well worth 5 times the 7.5 Euro ticket price....that's right, it seems they really care for this place and aren't gouging you. Much like the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, this place left us amazed and truly touched. The artwork is quite amazing, one of the particular paintings, which looked somewhat abstract and 3-d had our guide tell us, "see, even then, they had a Picasso!" And then there was the famous "Reindeer Kissing" painting. This is truly a worthwhile place to visit. I'm not sure how much longer it will be open to the public, but it is truly a treasure.
We left on a high, we decided to walk back into town and grab some lunch. But first, the walk......Les Eyzies is in essence a one street village, near the north end of that walk is the Hotel Cro-Magnon.
This hotel was built in 1868, basically on the site where the first Cro-Magnon skeleton was unearthed. The owner of the hotel was Monsieur Magnon and it was on his land the remains were found. Thus the name, Cro-Magnon....which in simple terms means, "Mr Magnon's Hole".....you gotta love that! Just think, all those guys you called Cro-Magnon.....you were calling them "Mr Magnon's hole......" Which might have been appropriate!
Turning back, it was time to decide on lunch. We were kind of tired...sleeping on what felt like plastic sheeting didn't translate into a good night's sleep and the Missus really enjoyed the salad She had the night before, so Pizzeria La Milanaise just seemed like the easy choice.
So the Missus got Her salad. Meanwhile, I decided to go just go for it and got the Pizza de Campagnade (14,3 €/about $16US), mainly because it was topped with...yes, this is the Dordogne...Foie Gras. My curiosity had gotten the better of me it seems...or maybe not as this was pretty good.
It was a nice thin crust, the edges charred, but not bitter. It was merely topped with foie gras after the pizza baking process, which answered my questions of how foie gras would survive on a pizza. Under that cheese was a nice amount of "magret fume" smoked duck breast which was quite good; the "sauce" was persillade, basically a parsley-herb-garlic-oil-vinegar mixture that really resembled pesto in this case. It was quite rich....as in after the salad, we had one-third of the pizza and the foie gras and took the rest to go. So here's the thing, sixteen bucks here in the Dordogne gets you smoked duck pizza topped with foie gras........
Pizzeria La Milanaise 41 Avenue de la Préhistoire Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil, France
We walked back to our unit, stopping again at the win shop at the end of the street....this time we noticed a photo of the owner; the guy running the register, who looked a bit less dapper than this photo......his "Bond....James Bond" picture.
Getting back to the apartment, it was a bit too early for a nap, so we got into the car and decided to take a drive around the countryside. We came across a village named Campagne.
The Chateau and park was closed, but it was a charming little stop. Wikipedia says the population of this town is 345.
Which of course makes one wonder what life here is like......
Later that evening, while we finished the remnants of the pizza along with a nice bottle of wine, I noticed some movement on the hillside. There were some deer grazing. In some sense it looked so peaceful......in harmony with the surroundings. Perhaps this was what the beautiful Dordogne does to you.....
This town is where the first Cro-Magnon was found in 1868. There's an interesting story about how these early humans came to be called "Cro-Magnon". I'll go over that at a later time.
We took a walk through the town....it is basically one street, before deciding what to do. We got in the car and drove to the Pôle International de la Préhistoire, which is basically a welcome/introduction center, which has exhibits, interactive activities, and other resources for the area. There are maps and we noticed that the staff here really engage the visitors.
The building is quite sleek and modern; you cross a bridge over the Beune River and enter the building.
We really enjoyed the exhibits.
By the time we finished up here, it was time to check in. Or so we thought. We arrived at the place we were staying and found the offices closed! There was no one around. After searching around a bit, a staff member arrived at the office to pick something up. Apparently the offices are closed on Sunday. And no one had informed us. Luckily, the nice young lady went to a lock box and got us our key. We were supposed to have been sent an email with instructions.....we never received one. When I spoke to the front desk person about this the next day, the response I got was a shrug and "well, perhaps we forgot". Perhaps we forgot? I got the feeling that this might be a normal occurrence.
Anyway, it was time for an early dinner. On our early walk through town we noticed one place that seemed unusually busy.
Strangely, it was a "pizza" shop. Perhaps it was the location, but still, we were intrigued. So we decided to have dinner here.
Being rather early, the place was empty except for one other table, but by the time we left the place had filled up. There were some interesting, not-quite-my-neighborhood-pizza-joint items on the menu.
We started with the Charcuterie Plate (9,8€), which was quite generic, and really not worth the price.
The Missus did really well ordering the Salade Perigourdine (14,9€). The salad was huge and topped with Magret seche (duck breast), Gesiers (duck gizzards which we enjoyed on a previous salad), and yes, Foie Gras.
This was a decent salad; not haute cuisine, but very refreshing, delicious, and well worth the price (about 16.75 US). The foie gras was decent and this is almost large enough for two.
I went with the Duck Confit, which had obviously been reheated.
This was way too much food for us; so we save the duck and had it the next day. It was fine, but nothing special. We did enjoy the potatoes.
Service was fine, the prices were right, and the Missus loved Her salad.
Pizzeria La Milanaise 41 Avenue de la Préhistoire Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil, France
We had a nice walk back to the apartments and dropped by a wine shop along the way.
So our residence was kind of strange, there were so many rules for cleaning, and all of that. And yet, there were no paper towels, no soap, no dishwashing liquid, and half a roll of toilet paper. The worse thing was the bed which had a plastic liner and was hard as rock. I guess this place is fine for long term stays, you'd have to go shopping and get everything yourself whether you stay was for a couple of days or couple of weeks.
But on the bright side.....the bottle of wine was not half bad......