Paris with Annie
Continuing from 1997 AGM in Avignon
Tuesday, October 7, 1997
- 1571: The Naval Battle of Lupino.
- 1894: Oliver Wendell Holmes, writer, died.
For those of you who have joined us for our second leg of our autumn France journey: welcome.
This afternoon we went out to the airport at a ludicrously early hour ... I mean our plane was not even scheduled to leave until four hours later ... well, I wanted to check out the airport to see what it was like as I am a bit of an airport junkie. It was a disappointment: it was like looking into a deserted hanger. I then resigned myself to doing a deep read of the Herald Tribune.
However, quite promptly at 4PM our Inter France Fokker 70 took off for Orly. Only an hour later we were walking across the tarmac toward the luggage carousel. As this was a flight that largely catered to business people, who had done day business in Avignon, there were precious few checked bags to be unloaded. In fact, our suitcases made it there at about the time we did. A rare occurrence!
About half an hour later we were at our hotel: Plaza Athenee. It is conveniently located on Avenue Montaigne; halfway between Des Champs Elysees and the Tour Eiffel. The only drawback to this place, according to Annie, is the "catwalk". The hotel is a favorite hangout for Paris couturiers; in fact, when Pierre Balmain died his table at the Relais Plaza restaurant was "retired". Anyway, the "catwalk" is the distance between the elevator and the lobby. This distance is through a narrow corridor of tables; tables populated by the very smartly dressed. As Annie and I are doing things far different from these people we don't add to the "catwalk".
After getting my Compaq Presario set up so that I could talk with the world, Annie and I walked down to Place de l'Alma and dined at Chez Francais. As we dined, the Eiffel tower, which is constructed on huge rollers, like the Space Shuttle, slowly passed in front of the moon. Or, is it the other way around?
Wednesday, October 8, 1997
- 1354: Cola di Rienzi, reformer, murdered.
- 1871: The outbreak of the great fire of Chicago (ended 11 Oct.).
This was our first full day in Paris. The weather was really shitty so we borrowed a couple of hotel umbrellas for a walk up Des Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. At that point we made an abrupt about face and the two of us marched briskly toward the east; for Annie and I it was a trip down to the Louvre for a bit of a browse. After an hour of poking about in the bowels under the glass pyramid we eased our way back to the Champs via Rue du St. Honore. Dear Reader, like this was a brisk three hour walk in the rain. Now we needed restoratives, so we had lunch at Leon of Brussels. Really pampering ourselves, right?
Hey, the evening was much nicer than the day. My friend, Elisabeth, has an apartment in Paris on the left bank. By the way, she is also the owner of the hotel that I stay at in Avallon while flying my balloon. Anyway, as she knew we were all going to be in Paris at the same time she invited Annie and me over for Champagne. Her apartment overlooks Notre Dame. Anyway, after the Crystal the three of us went to a Michelin two star restaurant in her neighborhood: La Timonerie. It is owned by her friend Phillipe de Givenchy. The tomato soup has to be taken to be believed. As is the turbot.
Thursday, October 9, 1997
- Leif Erickson Day (Norway)
- 1859: Alfred Dryfus born.
- 1914: First Battle of Ypres started.
I was in heaven for 24 hours. Ask me about Le Dome for sea food. And, ask me about Chez Yong for Chinese food. Ask Annie about Le Halles for sex shops.
Friday, October 10, 1997
- 1900: Helen Hayes, actress, born.
- 1911: The outbreak of the Chinese Revolution.
Another rainy day in Paris. We turned it into a food day.
Carpaccio (sp) and Lambrusco for lunch at Café di Roma.
Thirty six (yes, 36) oysters at Le Grand Corona for dinner.
Saturday, October 11, 1997
- 1216: King John's baggage lost in The Wash.
- 1779: Count Casimir Pulaski, soldier, died of wounds.
Annie and I decided to stay close to home for lunch. Since our home is the Plaza Athenee our choice of hotel restaurants ran from "world class" to "world class". We chose the Michelin starred Regence-Plaza. This was a favorite of 1918 West Point graduate Captain George Patton. He stayed in this hotel while learning to fence at the French Military Academy in Saumur. Incidentally, he and a fellow resident and good friend of his, then 28 year old Charles de Gaulle, discussed combat over meals in this restaurant.
Annie and I, after overdosing heavily on oysters yesterday, sprung for red meat today: lamb for me, beef for her. But, we shared a beautiful bottle of 1988 Bonnes Mares from the Domaine of Louis Jadot. Bonnes Mares is such a feminine wine ... lighter on the tongue than most truly great Burgundies but it has a great "nose". A 1902 Cognac finished things.
Since the weather was still nasty we took one of the Bateaux-Mouches boats up and down the Seine in the late afternoon. It is touristy as hell but it really is a lot of fun. The boats depart from riht near the Place de l'Alma. They go west to a little past Ile St. Louis ... they then turn around and, passing the Tour Eiffel, go as far east as the little Statue de la Liberte ... then back to the dock.
After boating, Annie and I walked and walked and walked until we found an Indian restaurant. I mean, after weeks of French meals (with the odd Chinese bit tossed in), we craved something different. Not that we were ready to grope for a Big Mac or anything like that ... it's just that we needed to stimulate different taste buds ... and Tandoori seemed just right for that. After an hour or so of aimless wandering we turned up Rue Lord Byron and quickly dove into Simla-Hill, a Tandoori-Curry specialty house. It was just what we wanted. I had "Chicken for Strong Stomachs" ... Annie opted for "Spicy Chicken".
Since we were only a couple of blocks away from the Hotel California we drifted over there for post prandial libations. The last time Annie and I were here was about 20 years ago. The place has changed and the little restaurant where my youngest (Christy) first tasted escargot is gone. Sigh.
Sunday, October 12, 1997
- 1924: Anatole France, writer, died
- 1950: The College of Europe, Bruges, opened.
God, will this weather ever change. It is another blustery and rainy day in Paris. I'm so glad that we have NOT spent the last week in the Loire Valley attempting to balloon. I am afraid that our balloon would have never got off the ground.
Today we took a long walk down the River Seine. Both sides of the river are lined with a marvelous assortment of boats. Most appear to be related to tourism or commerce but there are a number of them that serve as river homes. If possible, next summer I would like to rent one. I wonder if that is possible. It must be!
Our starting point was the Place de l'Alma. Walking past the lengthy dock space for the Bateaux-Mouches we passed the Grand Palace, the Obelisk of Luxor (in the Place de la Concorde), the Tuileries Gardens and the Louvre. At the Place du Chatelet we crossed the bridge to the Ile de la Cite. This is the home of Notre Dame. As Annie and I have not been inside it for about 15 years we joined the queue for the wait. Hey, it was bloody crowded in there. Of course, being a Sunday, what could we have expected. The architects and builders took two centuries to put this place together ... almost as long as what has been happening with St. John the Divine in Manhattan.
Today's lunch was very informal. We bought a couple of baguettes from a street vendor, added a couple cans of Munich beer, and settled down on the bank of the Seine for a munch and a watch. Just as we were finishing our alfresco Sunday dining it started to pour. We dashed for cover under the bridge Pont-Neuf (New Bridge). Sharing cover were a score or so walkers, bikers and roller bladers. The rain was short lived.
On an impulse, yet so close to home, we jumped on board a departing Bateaux-Mouches for a retrace of last night's voyage. This was a mistake! Aboard the boat were a couple dozen of Britain's finest reform school parolees. Fortunately, I had Annie's CD with me and I drowned out all external audio with P J Harvey.
Yes, we are in a rut. Tonight we had dinner, again, at Simla-Hill; the Tandoori house that we left just last night. It is really quite good. You can find it at 9 rue Lord Byron. Reservations don't seem necessary but you can ring them at 43 59 06 40.
Monday, October 13, 1997
- 1815: Joachim Murat, King of the Two Sicilies, executed.
- 1923: The Fell and Rock Climbing Club handed over to the National Trust 3,000 acres in the Lake District.
- [As you can see, October 13 was a slow day in history.]
Annie wanted to take some more black and white photos of the Eiffel Tower's various structures and assemblages (and its shadow and its reflections), so we walked along the Seine and crossed over to the Left Bank via the Passerelle Debilly. It is amazing how many people visit this spot. Actually, it is not all that amazing when I think about it as the thing is so cool. Every time I see it up close I love it. We lingered here for a bit before walking to the Champs Elysees for lunch.
Though this is our last night in Paris we probably will do something ho-hum.
A few hours later:
Tonight we walked back to the rue de Berri. That, if you remember, is the street upon which The Hotel California has its home. But, we weren't heading for the hotel as we had discovered yesterday that the restaurant that we thought had disappeared over the last decade is still very much alive. This is Le Val d'Isere a Paris. It is owned by a keen skier and he has decorated it with ski paraphernalia and photographs of famous skiers. The location is 2, rue de Berri (phone: 01 43 59 12 66).
While I'm still on the street I want to footnote it that the Hotel California bar has a very nice collection of corkscrews. The owner has displayed about 50 or 60 pieces above the bar. It is the best collection that I have ever seen in a drinking establishment.
Tomorrow we shall start the third leg of our French journey: Ballooning in Burgundy.
Next: Ballooning in Burgundy
Some interesting links: