A Tale of Two Cities (Paris and London) 2017

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#1 Dec 20th, 2017, 19:13
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A week ago we returned from a trip to Paris and London, both in festive mood for the upcoming holidays. Unusually for me, I neglected to keep a diary, as we were so busy socialising... so I had better write something before I forget everything. As usual, this is not a regular trip report, rather some snippets of things which I found interesting. I had not visited London in several years and I found it changed - for the better - in as much as it is even more multicultural than ever, which for me is a good thing. I also went on a brief foray to my 'native place', Bournemouth, which was exciting.

Initially we had a list as long as your arm of exhibitions we were going to enjoy. But we did not manage them, due to long lines at the museums and because of the whirl of social commitments. The two exhibitions we did go to were (1) the Monet Private Collection at Marmottan in Paris; and (2) Duchamp and Dali at the Royal Academy in London. More about these later. Unfortunately I have no photos from either exhibition, so you will have to take my word for it ! The first was crowded and the second prohibited photography. In their ways both were very rewarding.

The exhibitions I missed were Gauguin at the Grand Palais, the MoMa art exhibition at the Louis Vuitton Institute, in Paris; and Modigliani (Tate Modern) and Basquiat (Barbican) in London, as well as Soutine (at the Courtauld). I wished I had more time or more patience in waiting in line.

Restaurants we visited aplenty, including some totally new taste experiences....

Long city walks and getting lost were very much on the agenda. In this we achieved our wildest dreams.

Photographs will be coming this way shortly.

Here is a taster, shot from the Eurostar train :
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Last edited by theyyamdancer; Dec 20th, 2017 at 23:15..
#2 Dec 20th, 2017, 22:03
It's all Greek to me, but Benglish will do
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Playing at Tourists



Luck was certainly on our side with fine weather and very little rain, so it was ideal for photography. Paris does not celebrate Christmas with the same fervour as London does, but if you know where to look there are festive touches. What is trending right now in the French capital ? Macaroons are still very much an 'item' everywhere, and the usual jokes about Macron apply. The cake shops are full of enticing wares, and I can always succumb to a Pain au Chocolat (Chocolate flaky pastry) or a Tarte au Citron (Lemon tart). Meanwhile Mr theyyamdancer still favours chocolate cakes... But because we usually try to avoid (wherever possible) butter-laden foods, our favourite places to eat are ethnic, preferably Asian cuisine. Fusion food continues to be a hot trend in Paris, and we discovered an excellent Irish run restaurant with a Japanese chef !


During our first days we played tourists (is that such a dirty word, after all ?) when a friend came on a visit from England. She had last visited us twenty years before (though we have met in the interim in Crete) and thus there was a lot of "Do you remember….?" and "Is X still there ?" A ride on a bâteau-mouche was de rigueur, and I learnt a lot of history of Paris whilst admiring the river banks of the Seine. For example, the fact that the clocks at the Musée d'Orsay do not match. On the left hand side, the setting for 4 o'clock is written as four lines; whilst on the ride hand side, the setting for 4 o'clock is written according to the Roman numerals with a vertical line plus a "V". I had never noticed this before ! It is said that the << IIII >> is more pleasing to the eye than the << IV >>… so now I am going around looking at clock faces everywhere and checking… Another tidbit was about the Concorde Bridge over the Seine which has some paving stones from the Bastille prison. It was quite chilly on the top of the boat but a brisk walk afterwards around the Square Henri IV soon had the blood flowing in our limbs. Then we crossed over the Pont Neuf (which everyone knows is the oldest bridge in Paris in spite of its name New Bridge) and admired some artist's work painting the view.


********


On a sunny afternoon, we went to check out the Frank Gehry designed Louis Vuitton Institute in the Bois de Boulogne. The building is like a boat sailing in the woods. I love it. To access this place, you need to take the metro up to Les Sablons and then walk (it is sign-posted) or else there is a shuttle bus.

Frank Gehry's "boat"
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#3 Dec 20th, 2017, 22:13
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#3
Great read. I think I need new spectacles, as I thought you wrote that you had discovered an interesting Irish nun restaurant...

Ed.

P.S. The non rowing guy in your quote should be rocking the boat...
#4 Dec 20th, 2017, 22:36
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#4
That's hilarious, Ed.



Will post more pics when the irritating IndiaMike chai break finishes.

Here's a close-up of a choccie cake (Mr TD's fave) to accompany your chai :
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And here is another shot of the Louis Vuitton Institute, seen from the lake nearby in the Bois de Boulogne. Surprisingly the trees were still (in November) painted in autumn foliage.
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#5 Dec 20th, 2017, 22:45
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Sacré-Coeur

The sunniest day of the week was reserved for a day in Montmartre. It is always a joy to saunter upwards and then admire the views back down to the city. This time we had no difficulty in finding the "Je t'aime" (I Love You) wall, near Abbesses metro station. We had to ask some helpful passers-by to locate the house of Dalida, which is quite well hidden. The "Passe Muraille" statue (a tribute to the French writer Marcel Aymé) is always on our route to the Sacré Coeur basilica. After a quick tour of the cathedral, we paused in the sunshine for a drink at a café which was frequented by the artists (con-artists) who pester you for portraits in the Place du Tertre. Mr TD was told earlier "You have such a fine profile, let me sketch you"; to which he replied : "Sorry, we have a young lady with us who needs to sit down immediately, as her feet are very sore". They found this a hilarious excuse. But those of you IndiaMikers who know about Plantar Fascitis will not be laughing. Our friend managed extremely well, and rarely complained.

View over Paris
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Photographing the photographers
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After the refreshment we decided on a whim (or rather I decided on a whim) to go and look for the Montmartre Cemetery, which is home to such luminaries as François Truffaut and Jeanne Moreau. There was a scrum of football fans in the neighbouring Place Clichy, but we stuck to our plan, and were rewarded. This cemetery has few visitors (unlike the more famous Père Lachaise) but it is well worth a visit.

We had difficulty in understanding the map, but were gently pointed in the right direction by the caretakers.

If you should care to visit the Montmartre cemetery, the nearest metro is Place Clichy. It is a short walk from the Butte de Montmartre. Apparently there are also two other smaller and even less visited cemeteries in the vicinity called St. Vincent and St. Pierre.
#6 Dec 20th, 2017, 23:39
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#6

Great read, TD. 

The wife and I went to Paris this time last year and visited a lot of the same places. Your writeup brought back some great memories!!

Sorry for the Chai Breaks. Is that still happening a lot for you?

#7 Dec 21st, 2017, 00:06
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#7
Quote:
After the refreshment we decided on a whim (or rather I decided on a whim)
Sounds like a whim/whim situation to me!
~
Life gets aadhar every day.
.
#8 Dec 21st, 2017, 00:19
It's all Greek to me, but Benglish will do
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#8
Whim-whim could describe a lot of this recent trip !

Fortunately for us we Eurostarred off to London and narrowly missed getting entangled in the funeral procession for Johnny Hallyday. (Who ?) This much-loved French rocker was given a stately send-off and bikers in black leather accompanied his 'cortège' on the Champs Elysées, before his body was flown to the Caribbean (St Barts) for his official funeral. Sane people spent hours watching it on television...

I will spare you by not posting any youtube of his singing.
#9 Dec 21st, 2017, 02:48
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#9

Do post more when you get a chance. Wonderful writeup. 

#10 Dec 21st, 2017, 12:20
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#10
Lovely ! Rainy and gloomy London was sunny, and Paris was whiny, and rainy
#11 Dec 21st, 2017, 12:33
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#11
Awesome read Kinda took me down the memory lanes
#12 Dec 21st, 2017, 14:01
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#12
Thanks everyone for the appreciation.

There is a lot more to come, so stay tuned !

"Paris was whiny" says Nycank, surely you meant to say "Paris was winey" or even "Paris was shiny" ? Yeah, it has the whiny reputation forever, but it is not necessarily so.
#13 Dec 21st, 2017, 14:06
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#13
Quote:
Originally Posted by theyyamdancer View Post y tuned !

"Paris was whiny" says Nycank, surely you meant to say "Paris was winey" or even "Paris was shiny" ?
Just what I said ! They whine before Macron, they whine after Macron, anything to whine about except food and wine
#14 Dec 21st, 2017, 14:09
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#14
That might serve as a perfect liaison to my next chapter, on food. Start salivating...
#15 Dec 21st, 2017, 15:59
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#15
New Taste Sensations



The recently launched "Food" on rue St Paul was full of new taste sensations. This used to be a boulangerie (bakery) once upon a time. The owner is a young Irishman who knows Paris intimately; his chef is a talented Japanese guy (who has studied with Pierre Hermé, the famous confectioner). Together they have created a place to be adventurous in food as well as in wine. Fresh and seasonal produce are employed in innovative recipes. Imagine that we went there twice in two weeks and our favourite dish was a soup of sweet potato, with café crème (milky coffee) as a garnish, and containing haricots blancs (white beans) as well as dates. You have to try it to understand the brilliant combination. It sounds very weird, I grant you, but it is delicious. Let the photos do the talking.

Sweet Potato Soup with Coffee
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A delicious dessert
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An old favourite is "Nanashi" in the Marais, as readers of my previous Parisian travelogues will already know. It is still horrendously crowded on the weekend, but worth the sharpening of elbows and the ruses at queue-jumping (bring a pram).

Chirashi of salmon and other delicacies
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Other old favorites "Menelik" for Ethiopian food and "Lao Siam" for Vietnamese/Thai/Laotian food are still really good and excellent value. However, when we reached London (patience, we are still roaming the lanes of the Marais for now), we discovered "Addis" in the Caledonian Road to be our favourite new eatery of the entire trip.





"Food", rue Saint Paul, Paris 4e

"Pierre Hermé", rue Bonaparte, Paris 6e

"Nanashi", 57, rue Charlot, Paris 3e

"Menelik", 4, rue Sauffroy, Paris 17e

"Lao Siam", 49, rue de Belleville, Paris 19e







New Coffee Samplings



A friend of ours has a hobby of finding new and wonderful places to drink coffee. Thus one day we discovered a tiny shop on the Square du Temple called " Fondation " which has wonderful java; as well as a rambling warehouse full of antiques near to Nation where you can bring your own pieces of woodwork to be chiseled, and where you can sip coffee in a room full of bric-à-brac. ** (Addresses will follow the descriptions.) Another trip to the 14th arrondissement found us drinking our morning "petit noir" at " l'Hexagone " *** surrounded by students on their laptops .





Portuguese Parlour in Paris



After the coffee just sampled, we decided on a quick bite to eat, and happened to chance upon a Portuguese grocery/ diner in the heart of the 14th arrondissement, a stone's throw from Montparnasse, but extremely well hidden. It is a charming place, full of regulars, who sit at their own tables daily. The menu is heavy on cod, but also has spicy grilled chicken and chips (delicious). The portions are so huge, a doggy bag is needed. Go early or be prepared to wait. Bom Dia ! ****



And, the cherry on the icing, they also make "Salame de chocolate", a dessert which is famous in Greece as "Mosaiko". It is a chocolate log filled with biscuit chunks soaked in booze. My other half, Mr TD, swooned.

Poulet frites a la portugaise
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Mosaiko / aka Salame de Chocolate
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Well, so much food so early in the day.



Let us next turn our thoughts to culture………. [to be continued]……….





* "Fondation", 16 rue du Petit Thouars, Paris 3e

** "L'Etablisienne", 88 boulevard de Picpus, Paris 12e

** "Hexagone", 121 rue du Château, Paris 14e

**** "Délices du Pays", 26 rue Edouard Jacques, Paris 14e





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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