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Lunch with a Friend, Opera Garnier, and more walking!

Yes, I have been remiss in posting the last few days, we are having such a wonderful time in Paris and walking so much every day that I just haven't had the energy to sit down and blog. I still don't have it this morning, but I figure I should do it anyways before I forget some details.

Wednesday morning was sunny and clear and we decided to walk over to Voltaire to meet Luc, a fellow Canadian who is living our dream and owns an apartment in Paris! He and his spouse live and work in Ottawa but come to Paris 4-5 times a year (I tried to hate him for this, but it's too hard, he's just too sweet a guy). They rent out their apartment via VRBO the rest of the time:
http://www.vrbo.com/103254

We met Luc in front of the Leon Blum statue in the 11th and he proceeded to give us a tour of his neighbourhood. Although not in one of the more well known "single digit" arrondissements, the 11th is a wonderful area full of shops, grocery stores, bakeries, wine shops, florists, cheese shops, pharmacies, etc.......in short, it is a place where people live, not where they "visit". Luc has everything he needs a few paces from his apartment and yet he is a mere 10 minutes from Place de la Bastille and the Marais, for those who want the security of the more well known parts of Paris.

His apartment is on a little side street. It is a delightfully large studio apartment, with all the amenities including free wifi, TV with many English channels, free phone calls to Canada and the US, a washer/dryer, a very cute and efficient kitchen and a large bathroom and separate WC (water closet or toilet to us North American barbarians!) The bed is separated from the living area by a screen and provides privacy for those who may like to sleep in while their partners start their day earlier.

But the piece de resistance is the outdoor garden which provides your own private oasis in the middle of the city. Full of flowers and magnificent greenery, there is a spacious table and chairs to sit at and while away the hours, listening to the birds chirping and just enjoying being in Paris. Although you are in the middle of the city, it is so peaceful and quiet, you feel like you are in the French countryside. It is such an unexpected delight and worth the price of the apartment by itself (the rent is very reasonable for such a wonderful apartment and Den and I have it on our list for our next trip).

Luc offers us a glass of wine and some lovely fruit and we get to know each other for a hour or so. He is a great host and fills us in on what to see and do in Paris. One of his best suggestions is the Visites Conferences which are held all over the city and given by accredited lecturers. They are listed in Pariscope every week and Luc has attended all of them. They are given in French only and so attract mostly locals who want an insider's view of the many well-known Parisian attractions.

Luc then takes us on a tour of the little streets near his quartier and we have a lovely lunch at a little place on rue Charonne. He shows us tiny little rue de Lappe, filled with bars and restaurants and open until the wee hours of the morning. We make our way back to Place de la Bastille and have a drink on one of the many terraces, enjoying each other's company and the great people watching to be had. We have spent almost 5 hours with Luc and time has just flown by in the way it does when you just "click" with someone. Luc is so generous with his knowledge and stories about Paris and we are very grateful that he has given up precious vacation time to spend an afternoon with internet strangers. Merci, mon ami!

After hugs and bisous, we make our way back to our apartment (without a garden........sigh!) and get ready for our big evening at the Opera Garnier. We take a cab and get there about 20 minutes before our ballet performance begins. Den takes lots of pictures of this magnificant building and we find our private box and settle in for "Oneguine". I had read a little about the story, so I was able to follow along, but Den was completely confused by what was happening on stage. I tried to explain what was happening and the second and third acts were very dramatic and I think he was OK with the whole thing. It was our first ballet and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. The live orchestra also added to the experience and I came away saddened by the tragedy of lost and unrequited love (ok, so I sound sappy, but I really did like it. Den, well, not so much, but what a trooper for staying for the whole performance. I guess he must like me!)

We walked over to Gallopin after the performance, a traditional brasserie across from La Bourse that had gotten great reviews from several posters on OPF. One of the local posters had graciously made reservations for us so we were expected anytime after the ballet.

This is a wonderful restaurant with friendly servers who seem to be comfortable serving tourists as well as locals. It seemed to be mostly Parisians having a late dinner that night. (we got there at about 10:30pm) Den and I both chose from the menu, 35 euros for 3 courses including 1/2 a bottle of wine each. We had a glass of champagne to start our meal and just enjoyed the beautiful decor. Lots of shiny brass, stained glass windows and low jazz playing in the background. I had the fish soup with rouille and parmesan and Den had a gateau au cepes with a delicious parsley sauce. He had beef for his main and I had a great chicken dish with a mushroom cream sauce. Th waiter kindly suggested we get a half bottle of white and a half of red to complement our dinner choices. Dinner was served at a leisurely pace and we had a nice conversation with our server, whose brother had spent a year in Quebec. Den had creme brulee for dessert and I had the famous Gallopin baba au rum, served with a full bottle of St James rum which you are invited to pour a volonte over your dessert. Our meal was very enjoyable, the food, while not overly inventive or original, was great traditional French cuisine. Dinner was 98 euros but would have been 20 euros less without the champagne. We thought it was great value for the beautiful surroundings, friendly service and satisfying and delicious food.

We took a cab home and were in bed by 1am, tired but very happy with a great day of firsts: meeting Luc, touring a new area, getting some culture at the ballet and ending with a traditional French meal which met all our objectives.

I slept in until almost 11am on Thursday, so we got off to a late start after our typical croissant/pain au chocolat breakfast. We weren't sure where we were headed, the weather forecast was for rain, so we didn't want to venture off too far or to any type of park. We started off rue Rivoli and as we were walking, I noticed one of the restaurants that our new friends at the Italian restaurant had recommended last Sunday. Au Vieux Comptoir is on a little side street called rue des Lavandieres in the 1st. It looked very cute and inviting so we made reservations for later that night.

We did a little shopping at C&A on Rivoli and then zigzagged our way to Montorgeuil. Den wanted to go back to Darius for some roasted chichen. I tried to talk him into Les Petit Carreaux but he was adamant that he wanted to go back to the same place we had so enjoyed twice last year. We both had the lamb with 2 side dishes and water and sat in the sunshine, enjoying our modest lunch and the great people watching to be had on Montorgeuil. We did check out the plates of food at Les Petit Carreaux and I intend to come back and enjoy one of those big salads! We walked over to Frenchies to try and make a reservation for later in the week, but it was closed again. It may not happen this trip, but we have so many places we want to try, I know we won't go hungry.

We then kind of walked wherever we saw a cute little street, aiming towards Palais Royale, where Den took lots of pictures. We crossed through the Louvre courtyard and over the Pont du Carrousel into the 6th, looking for somewhere to have a drink and rest our little tootsies. Again, we just walked this way and that way and ended up on rue Buci again. We found a spot at a corner bar and had a drink and enjoyed a rest for almost an hour. We slowly walked back through the 6th towards the Seine and were back home around 6pm. Another day of going through several arrondissements and taking it all in for about 6 hours. This is how we spend our days, very non-structured, just strolling where we feel like and enjoying new little treasure wherever we happen to go. It's not terribly exciting but it works for us.

We relaxed for a little while in the apartment with some beer, wine and olives. We slowly strolled over to Au Vieux Comptoir and got there a little before our 8:30 reservation. The place was packed, both the little outside terrace and the inside of the nicely decorated restaurant. This is a Bistrot a vins and they also sell their wines to go. There is lots of choice by the glass so you can tailor your wine to your individual entrees. There is no menu at night but plenty of choice a la carte.

We were given some delicious little sliced salami with our aperitif of muscadet. Den decided on the roasted figs with ham and balsamic and I had the white asparagus with vinigrette for appetizers. Den's was the clear winner ~ OMG, the sweetness of the figs contrasted perfectly with the saltiness of the ham, all in a warm sea of great balsamic. This is the type of dish we dream about when we think of Paris! Den decided to try andouilette with home mustard and potatoes and I had the St Jacques (scallops) in an orange cream sauce with mashed potatoes on the side. Both dishes were superb, my scallops were melt in your mouth goodness and Den's sausage was full of texture and flavour. One of our servers recommended a deliciously light white wine for me and Den had a glass of red Langeudoc which he really enjoyed. We were served by 3 different people during the evening, it is a busy, bustling little restaurant and the servers are very efficient but friendly. The only female server was such a sweet warm person and you could tell she was the favourite of the many regulars who were there. She asked if she could pick our desserts and of course, we agreed. She brought us a beautiful dish of fromage blanc with a red berry coulis which I did not see on the menu and a plate of 2 gaufrettes served with a little jar of salted caramel sauce and a plate of Chantilly cream. We were in dessert heaven and we savoured every bite. The fromage blanc was as light as air and the waffles were also very light. The caramel sauce disappeared before our eyes and we were so happy we had happened by this morning and decided on the spur of the moment to make our reservations. We never would have tried this place without the warm recommendation we received from a local and we would have missed a wonderful experience. Our 3 course dinner, with 5 glasses of wine, was 108 euros and we found this a fantastic value. We ambled slowly down Rivoli back to our apartment, enjoying the cool night air and were home at around 11:30.

Den made a delicious egg and St marcellin omelet this morning with our croissant and coffee and we are headed back out into the sunshine in a few moments. We have our dinner at Spring tonight and can't wait to experience Daniel Rose's brilliance once again. Bonne journee.................

Comments (2)

Megan :

i am loving your blogs - I am sitting in my desk in Guildford but thanks to your wonderful writings I am in Paris in my head - it makes the day go a lot quicker

Megan

x

Lisa:

Be still my heart.

It sounds like you are having a fabulous time! My time in Paris flew by last year; on my next trip, I hope to stay for 2 weeks so I can wander around & take in the sights like you are doing!

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