Monday, 28 May 2012

Seb & Grandma waltzing on the Trocadero

I forgot about this little video.

On our first full day, while we were at the Trocadero waiting for dusk to see the Eiffel Tower light up and sparkle, we came across about a dozen couples waltzing to music.  Den persuaded Seb to take his grandma for a spin.  This is about as sweet as an 8 year old boy can get........

Monday, 21 May 2012

Last days in Paris ~ Paris, je t'aime!

Another good night's sleep leads us one day closer to Sunday, the day we fly home. But we don't think about that, we think that we have 2 full days of Paris left and we will soak up every minute of it.

Den and Seb had their pastries for breakfast, but I only have a yogurt because I will be having a feast for lunch.  I am meeting some internet friends at Chez l'Ami Jean for one of Stephane's Jego mind-boggling orgies of food. Den and Seb will be having a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower, which was an item on Seb's to do list in Paris.

I take the 69 bus to the 7th arrondissement and walk around a little, shopping for our baby grandson, Charlie. I meet up with Nancy and David, Stephan, Dawn and her two friends. We have the table right in front of the kitchen so we can see Chef Jego in action.  He is a very talented, passionate chef who also has a fiery personality and sometimes is a little loud in letting his waiters know the food is ready.  It's all part of the fun and the experience. The restaurant is full, as it usually is, and the atmosphere is casual, boisterous and just plain fun.

I catch up with Nancy and David, as well as Stephan and enjoy getting to know Dawn, who I've only met online, but feel like I've known forever. We all opt to order at the chef's pleasure, which is a 6 course meal which Jego will prepare for us according to what is freshest that day.  While we order, we are served thin slices of Iberico ham, bread, butter and a cream cheese mixture that really can't be described except as addictive.  David chooses a very nice white wine for us and the feast begins with a soup of petit pois and parmesan. The warm creamy broth is poured over the dry crunchy ingredients in each bowl and everyone at the table eats up every last drop.  Next is calamari served with rice blackened with squid ink and garnished with some edible flowers.  The third course is seared rare tuna with spring vegetables.  The tuna is melt in your mouth tender and there is not a morsel left on my plate.  Our last meat course is pork medallions topped with seared foie gras, served alongside the creamiest mashed potatoes I have every had.  The proportion of butter to potato is probably about 50/50.  For dessert, we are served a very fresh fruit cup with fresh fruit jus ~ it is very cooling and refreshing after the heavy meat course.  Lastly, Jego's famous rice pudding, served with caramelized nuts and salted caramel sauce puts everyone into the last throes of food orgasms.  We have sat and ate, chatted, moaned and enjoyed for over 2 and a half hours.  Lunch is 55 euros + 10 euros each for wine (2 bottles between 7 people).  Den was very understanding to let me share this feast with my friends and I know we will be back to Chez l'Ami Jean next time we are in Paris and I have promised him the huge seared foie gras as his reward.

We all say our goodbyes and I walk over to the Aquarium near the Trocadero where I am meeting Seb and Den.  They have had a great picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower and a fun afternoon at the Aquarium.  We take the 69 bus back to rue Rivoli so Den can do a little bit of shopping (he has a thing about buying underwear in Paris!).  He also finds beautiful Oakley sunglasses at the Lissac store after looking for some new ones since we got to Paris.  We hop back on the bus, get off at our stop near the apartment and buy provisions for a nice Parisian dinner in ~ foie gras, cheeses, baguette, aligot, ratatouille, and dessert, of course.

We laze around the apartment for the rest of the night, have a early night and are up about 7:30 for our last full day in Paris.

I go get our breakfast pastries and we do most of our packing in the morning.  We leave the apartment around 11:30 and take the 69 bus back to rue Rivoli.  We walk to rue Montorgueil and have lunch at one of our favourite places in Paris, Les Petit Carreaux.  Den has the chicken caesar salad served with huge shards of parmesan cheese and a perfectly poached egg on top.  Seb has a cheeseburger and fried and I have a beautiful salad topped by a large slice of bread and melted chèvre cheese.  A half litre of rose and the sun shining down on us as we eat make for a perfect lunch.  We then amble slowly to the Tuilleries so that Seb can push a little boat on the pond again.  I persuade him to join me on a carrousel ride and then we walk out of the park and along Faubourg Saint Honore towards our cooking class at Atelier Guy Martin on rue Miromesnil.  I booked this class before we left and Seb was looking forward to learning how to cook a French meal.  There are 10 participants, 4 kids and 6 adults.  We are preparing Remy's (from the Disney movie Ratatouille) favourite foods ~ carrot soup, ratatouille (of course) and crepes with strawberries and fresh Chantilly cream.  Seb is very careful and determined as he slices his zucchinis and eggplants, puts them in his little mould, squeezes some oranges for the soup, pours the broth into the pot and makes a little crepe as well as frantically whipping the cream.  We are rewarded with our beautiful crepes and get to take the other courses home.  Since we are leaving tomorrow, the chef lets us have some soup so we can taste what we made and we are also given copies of the recipes we have made.  We really enjoyed this course, which cost 30 euros per person.  I don't think it's marketed to tourists since everyone else in the class were local Parisians and the chef only spoke French.  They also do adult classes.  I'd recommend it to anyone who thinks they can keep up with the French.

After a very fun afternoon, we walk over to the Petit Palais.  Tonight is the Nuit des Musees, where all the museums in Paris have free admission and fun events planned.  We are a little early, so we walk over to Pont Alexandre III so Den can take his pictures and Seb can see the Eiffel Tower.  It is raining, but we have our raincoats and umbrellas, so we are fine.  We have to wait in line to get into the museum and finally get in after about half an hour's wait.  Seb is a little underwhelmed with the museum, but Den and I love both the beautiful building and the surprising art work to be found here, including a beautiful Monet which we were both happy to come across.

Seb is tired and he's cold and wet from waiting in the rain, so our plans of staying until 10pm to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle one last time are changed to dinner in the Marais at Seb's new favourite place, Pizza Momo.  Everyone is fine with this and we take the metro to St Paul and score a great table on the terrace of the restaurant.  They turn on their outdoor heaters for us and we enjoy one last meal in Paris, sitting outside, people watching and eating the same delicious pizzas we had earlier in the week.  We go back to Georges Larnicol across rue Rivoli for some kouign amann for tomorrow's breakfast since Seb has been talking about these since earlier in the week.  We get some extra ones and some macarons to take back to Danielle and Paul.  It's close to 10 and Seb is very tired, so we take a cab home (I would have had to buy 3 more metro tickets, so it's almost a draw money wise).

We are up early on Sunday morning ~ our shuttle is picking us at 9:30 and Vanessa is coming over to pick up our keys.  We eat our buttery kouign a mann and clean up the apartment while Seb watches the last of his French Disney shows.  As we do the last of our packing, Den can't find his new sunglasses that he bought yesterday.  We look everywhere, but they are nowhere to be found.  We think they may have fallen out of the bad he carries around with him during the day when he took a camera or umbrella out.  He's pretty bummed out, but what can you do ~ I told him I'd e-mail the cooking school and the Petit Palais on the off chance that someone found them and turned them in.

The ride to the airport is very quick and Seb is sad as we leave Paris behind.  Everything goes very smoothly at the airport, I get my detax papers in for my bracelet, we are underweight on our luggage (damn it, not enough shopping, lol) and security is the shortest we have ever seen.  We have a little snack and do some duty free shopping (hello, Veuve Cliquot rose to celebrate our 30th anniversary on August 7!) and are soon sitting in our seats on the Air FranceA380 once again.  Has it really been 12 days since we were sitting in almost the same seats???  How can a trip that has been almost 10 months in the planning (and 4 years in our minds) go by in the blink of an eye? My only consolation is that we have had one of our best trips ever ~ we were able to instil a love and appreciation of Paris in Sebastian that will stay with him a very long time.  He really took to the city that we love so much, and enjoyed even the mundane things like the metro and bus rides, going to the bakery every day for our pain au chocolate or our baguette lunches, having a picnic in a park and watching the world go by.  He was perfectly at ease on the busiest Parisian streets and charmed everyone he met with his beautiful smile, his sweet politeness and his shy French.

Our flight is very smooth and we are served quite a nice meal (for airline food, lol) that includes champagne, wine and Poire William for a digestif!  If this is what the economy passengers get on Air France, what are the First Class ones getting!  I would love to fly Air France every time we travel ~ we find the service wonderful and friendly (the attendants were so nice to Seb, getting him hot chocolate and giving him extra little goodies on both flights).  We had an incredible range of entertainment options, including video games and kids movies for Seb, a full array of recent movies and TV shows for us and the option to watch our plane take off and land in real time.  I watched 2 French movies on the way back (I really have to stop doing this ~ it gives me horrible PPD before I even land).  Les Intouchables was one of the best movies I have ever seen and I will try to download it so I can watch it over and over. I didn't get to see the end, so I'll be looking for it very soon.

We land half an hour early and are almost the first in line at customs.  I have to pay a little bit of tax on my bracelet and before we know it, we are in the car going back to Cornwall.  Danielle is very happy to have her little boy back and hugs him very tightly.  Paul and Danielle have cold margaritas waiting for us and we have a delicious BBQ dinner in their backyard while Den and I fight over who gets to hold Charlie.

We're back home before 7pm, unpack and fight to stay up until 9pm.  Now I'm sitting on my back deck in the sunshine, blogging away and tearing up that Paris is once again behind me.  I know I have my memories and I will cherish these ones with Sebastian forever, but my heart just belongs to Paris.  I'm happy we are going back to Greece in September (well, as long as the country is still standing when we get there!), but part of me wishes we were going to Paris.  I'm trying to talk Den into a little January trip, but he's not biting.  Maybe I will just go by myself.

On Seb's Paris list ~ picnic in front of ET

Paris Aquarium

ice cream is always good, especially with this background!

just a boy and his shark

watch out Paris!

soup au petit pois et parmesan

calamari and squid ink risotto

seared rare tuna with spring veggies

pork medallions with seared foie gras 

fresh fruit and rice pudding in background

our feast at the apartment

City Hall in the 11th

corner of Parmentier and de la Roquette ~ our 'hood

waiting for "our" bus

walking down rue Montorgeuil

what will we have?


my delicious salad topped with chèvre

Den's ceasar salad


.....empty plates, lol

Gallerie Vivienne

back at Palais Royale

boat man at Tuilleries

Seb with another big stick!

spring flowers

getting ready to cook

our ratatouilles

I want these!!

trying to flip a crepe

poppa showing how it's done

whisking that chantilly cream

Seb's crepe

we got to eat our soup 

our favourite bridge in the rain

waiting for entrance on Nuit des Musees

grand Petit Palais


telling a story about the Monet

last breakfast in Paris

loving that kouign a mann
Paris, je t'aime..................