Thursday, 13 March 2008

Paris - part two

On Saturday morning we decided to climb the Eifell Tower. And when I say climb, I mean climb. Even though we got there before the ticket office opened, the queue was easily a couple of hundred people long. Mr H and I decided to walk up to the first stage and buy tickets to the top from there. And, since there was hardly any queue for the stairs, we were soon on our way. Oh, my goodness! Who thought that was a good idea? Certainly not me! Even worse when I realised I had misheard the ticket seller and the booth for the elevators to the top was on the second stage! Yep, that’s right. I climbed halfway up the Eifell Tower (500 ft!) and survived.

I’m not bad with heights, but the lift-ride to the top was plain scary. I’ve done it at least twice before, so I don’t know why I got spooked this time. Once at the top, I was fine – and the views were breathtaking!

Another place worth a visit was the Musee d’Orangerie, which had a stunning display of some of Claude Monet’s water lilly paintings on the top floor and a collection of works by artists such as Renoir, Rousseau, Modligiani and Matisee on the bottom floor. Mr H and I have widely differing tastes when it comes to art – cue a heated discussion at this point…

Looking at art always seems to make me hungry, so we stopped at an open air café in the Jardin Touleries, just next to the Louvre, and had lunch of ham baguettes and beer. Heaven. And then on with the sightseeing…

Dinner on Saturday night was at Le Procope in St Germain, which is the oldest café in Paris. It was founded in 1686 and was the hip hangout for the intelligentsia in days gone by. Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Balzar, Benjamin Franklin and even a young Monsieur Bonaparte are reported to have eaten here. The interior was wonderful, decorated in red and gold, with antiques and slightly out of place furniture. And the smells… I had a starter of leeks marinated in vinaigrette with lardons of bacon. It sounds weird, but I can tell you, it was divine. Since I regularly cook Coq au Vin, which I love, I decided I had to try the real thing – which was the house speciality. It arrived in its own little copper pot and had a lovely earthy, intense flavour that was out of this world. I tried to finish it all, but I was too stuffed to even have pudding!

The one thing on the menu that did not appeal was Rognon de Veau à la Moutarde Violette Garniture – half a calf’s head, just as they served up in 1686. You may think I’m just being unadventurous as the female half of the ever-so chic French couple next to us ordered it. It looked like a small, rather bulbous-looking brain in dark, brown sauce. She took a few bites and swiftly swapped it for her companion’s fish and left him to work his way through it. Obviously an acquired taste, even for the Parisian palette.


Anonymous said...

"Mr H"? You cheeky thing!

Ally Blake said...

Wow Fiona, you could be describing my trip to Paris!!!

We had lunch at Le Procope and my poor hubby ordered cannelloni expecting the Italian kind of pasta and ended up with rolled salmon which he hates! But he ate the whole thing like a brave soldier. Beautiful isn't it? I used it as inspiration for the restaurant in my May Modern Heat book.

Happy birthday too!!

Donna Alward said...'s been almost a month! We need new news! :-)