Archives for February 2013

Our new apartment in Paris!

Our tiny, 450 sq. ft. apartment is located on the left bank just across the Seine from Notre Dame. We look right at that beautiful cathedral. We checked out 9 different apartments that we found on the internet, noting in the process that  was the easiest site to navigate. Apartments with more square footage did not equate to better condition or better neighborhood, so we chose a smaller place with the best location and remodel job. It was surprising how few options we had for furnished long term rentals. Wouldn’t you know it the first apartment we looked at was the best one! Of course we didn’t understand how nice it was until we compared. I’ll post a gallery of photos so you can look around.

We have a small bedroom with windows opening to a non traffic street. All the apartment windows are double glazed, which is good because the road in front has heavy traffic. There is a cozy reading nook with lots of cushions, a living room with couch/pull out bed, and a wooden table that can expand to seat 6. The tiny kitchen is open to the living room. It contains dishwasher, washing machine, refrigerator, microwave (which can also be used for grilling or roasting) 2 burner electric cook top, fan with hood and cabinets for glasses, dishes, pots and pans. The bathroom is tiled with marble floors and walls, though one whole wall is mirrored, and there is tub/shower and double sinks. The heat is electric (3 separate wall units.) Water is heated with gas. We have great Internet access and a flat screen TV. Apart from the marble bath, all other  flooring is wood.

The landlord provides an iron and ironing board, vacuum cleaner, mop, swifter, toaster, coffee maker, cooking utensils, bedding-though you buy your own sheets, towels and pillow cases. Our biggest problem was where to store the suitcases-they are stacked  atop a small cabinet in the bedroom. All walls are white. Windows have privacy/sun shades.

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What is Picard?

A Picard store from the outside. Looks like they sell auto parts.

A Picard store from the outside. Looks like they sell auto parts.

I have been walking past this shop for over a week and cannot figure out what it is. There are people inside bending over containers but from the street I cannot see what Is in them. The place is all white walls, floors, even the bins into which people are peering. The lighting is bright white fluorescent. Near the front door is a flyer with a photo of heart shaped cookies being dipped into chocolate so I surmise that this is a specialty dessert shop. In we go and guess what? Everything in Picard is frozen! Every white bin is a freezer loaded with pricy, frozen food. Organic vegetables in wine sauce, shrimp and fish and pastas, mangos, strawberries, milk, butter, whole dinners all conveniently ready to defrost and eat. What a cool (literally) place.


Paris celebrates Pekin

Parisians love Pekin

Parisians love Pekin

Some of you may know that I have family in Pekin, Illinois. I wanted to include the evidence I’ve found so far that shows that Parisians hold Pekin in high regard.

Restaurant along Rue de Grenelle

Restaurant along Rue de Grenelle

About to leave the old Hotel

In his collection of stories called Up in the Old Hotel, Joseph Mitchell told about an old man who, while grieving for the loss of his friends at their funeral wakes, secretly rejoiced in having outlived them. The things you can’t say. What we the living can say is that we are about to leave this hotel, the Adagio Paris Vincennes, our home of the past 3 weeks, and life up in the old hotel is a story worth telling.

The Adgio is a modern apartment hotel mid block on a busy street in Vincennes. From the outside it’s pretty nondescript, but inside it’s a modern place with all the conveniences. A few photos will tell the story:

More about the Parc Floral de Paris

After Brenda’s escape from being locked in the park, we went back the following day and took some photos. Parc Floral is one of 4 botanical gardens in Paris with 75 acres of gardens and park space, complete with lots of big toys for children as well as ampitheater, duck pond, and many other things to do. Can’t wait to see the 40,000 tulip bulbs come up. Here’s a sample of what must in Spring be the most colorful place in town.

View our new album ‘Park Floral de Paris’ by clicking on the photo or the link below.

Park Floral de Paris
One of 4 botanical gardens in Paris. 75 acres of gardens and park space, complete with lots of big toys for children as well as ampitheater, duck pond, and many other things to do. Here’s a sample of what must in Spring be the most colorful place in town.

Cour Carrée et Pyramide du Louvre

You might be thinking that so far in Paris we’ve mostly been goofing off trying to make things work, the phone, the washing machine, the bank account, etc. In many ways you are correct, but occasionally we make it out into town and trip upon what makes the city famous. We were looking at neighborhoods where we might like to live when suddenly we’re at the courtyard near the entry pyramid at the Louvre. The audio doesn’t really convey our sense of wonder as we get the sense of a scene larger than life. We really are here! After I posted this and played the video I noticed that 6 other video links appear on screen. I can’t (and don’t) take credit for any of these. If you know how to turn that feature off in UTube, please drop me a line.

Trapped after hours in Parc Floral De Paris

DSCF1337 Today I got locked inside the Parc Floral de Paris, not far from our hotel. I walked there  late this afternoon and did not notice that the French signs say that in winter the park closes at 5 PM. About 5:30 I started noticing that there were no other people around so decided to head back towards the entry. Fascinated by the unusual children’s play toys, the swans gliding about in the lovely ponds, and the gardens with plants labeled with French signs and descriptions, I had unwittingly walked a long way. It was quite a hike back. Nearing the entry I saw that huge, high, metal barred gates had been slid across.

Brenda notes Park hours after retraining.

Brenda notes Park hours after retraining.

I started examining the fencing surrounding the park and discovered that there were pointy spears atop it. Climbing out was not going to be easy. It was growing dark! After half an hour of walking and searching for the best place to attempt my escape, I spotted a guard on a bicycle. He was not at all pleased that I not only spoke minimal French but that he had to walk me back to the main gate and unlock it. He pointed angrily to the signs at the entry after he let me out. In tiny little print it said : De l’horaire d’hiver à la fin févier  9h30-17h. Now why didn’t I pay attention to that?


Standing Up to the Eiffel Tower

This Wall St Journal link tells of a developer who moves to a different apartment in Paris every few years. His latest effort on the Champs Élysées he purchased for $8 million and put another $2 million into remodeling. Very nice but I don’t think this place will work for us.

Standing Up to the Eiffel Tower –

Brasserie Gallopin à Paris 75002

Hugh, Jeff, Brenda, Carrie in front of Gallopin

Hugh, Jeff, Brenda, Carrie in front of Gallopin

Last night we met long time Bainbridge and Poulsbo residents (now of Port Ludlow) Jeff and Carrie Goller for dinner at Brasserie Gallopin. It was wonderful. We met at the Hotel Scribe where they were staying and walked the 10 blocks or so to the restaurant, including past the Paris Opera, which was ablaze in light.

We all ordered the fixed price 3 course dinner with appetizer, entrée, and dessert. We each had 4 choices for each course, so between us we were able order practically everything and discreetly share. Our waiter helped us to select an excellent bottle of wine, and the service was in every way wonderful, plus they bailed us out with an English version of the menu. Check out the link below to see more about the historic restaurant and menu, as well as the beautiful classic interior of the restaurant.

At our table as the main course was being served

At our table as the main course was being served

Jeff and Carrie let us know they were coming to France on vacation. It was so great to see them and spend some time together in Paris. Back home they operate Goller Grade and Gravel, and Carrie is also a well known local artist.

Pictured are two of the main courses. risotto cremeaux de coguillages de Saint-Jacques aux herbs fine (scallops on a bed of risotto) and cuisse de canard rotie, reduction au cassis, endive braisée (roast duck with braised endive.)

Scallops on a bed of rice

Risotto cremeaux de coguillages de Saint-Jacques aux herbs fine (scallops on a bed of risotto)

We voted Carrie’s, appetizer, ballottine de foie gras de canard au Lillet, chutney fruits secs (duck pate) the best of the 4 appetizers. Jeff hoarded the moelleux au chocolate “Gainduja” Vairhona with glace vanille dessert, Hugh and Carrie had Far


Cuisse de canard rotie, reduction au cassis, endive braisée (roast duck with braised endive.)

Breton aux pomes Royale Gala, caramel epicé which was fabulous and Brenda had Selection de Fromages.

We noted that diners were arriving to eat dinner as late as 11 PM-just as we were finishing our espresso.

Brasserie Gallopin à Paris 75002 – Negociants Paris / Lyon.

Open Air Market in Vincennes

Vincennes MarketOn Tuesdays and Fridays there is a huge, colorful open air market in Vincennes, our temporary home. It is supposed to be the largest market in and around Paris. We can walk a few blocks from our hotel, the Adagio Paris Vincennes to partake of the market goodies.

Brenda buying vegetables

Brenda buying vegetables

There are many blocks of vendors lining both both sides of the streets, selling fresh vegetables, fruit, meats, cheeses, seafood, clothing, including cashmere sweaters, hats, gloves, even kitchen utensils and dishware. Shoppers get wonderful fresh produce.

Helping out with the French

This woman was helping us out with the French


Authentic scallops are distinctively marked

Vendors help each other out by asking each other and even passers by the English terms for items they want to tell us about. We try to tell them any French we know. It’s a bit of a mêlée wherever we go. Today we bought fresh peas and spinach, rabbit sausages, “rumsteck” which I think is the equivalent of round steak, an aged hard cheese that reminds me of pecorino and a fresh ripe and ready to eat mango. I can cook in the small kitchen in our room. So glad that before I came I downloaded “Cook’s All Time Best Recipes.”  Tonight for dinner I made their recipe for “pan seared cheap steaks with mustard cream sauce” fresh peas, fresh spinach and boiled beets. The food tastes so good- just like when I buy at the Farmer’s Market in Poulsbo. We have tried a few red wines too-comparatively inexpensive and very tasty.