Snapshots from our journey - Paris, as usual is soooooo beautiful but... I’ve always avoided July and I’m reminded why. The heat is debilitating. With its core of 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th century buildings, how could one possibly air-condition Paris? We are on rue de Verneuil, (where lived Serge Gainsbourg, his house graffitied by fans) in a miniscule ground floor apartment, minus the graffiti.
Eclairs are the new macarons. More satisfying then macarons, less etherial than macarons, more varied than macarons, they are everywhere, sporting different colours, different flavoured crème patissière, fruit and glazes. Watch it happen here.
Left: Salt crystals (proud, pure, natural, organic, macrobiotic) and from our own River Murray. Salt is certainly the new collectable. There were ridiculous raspberry-flavoured salts, ranging from pretty pink in colour to strident puce, mushroom-flavoured salts (a grubby beige), smoky salts (for when you're too lazy to fire up the barbie). The Oz salt was delicate and in good taste, of course.
Right: Alluring displays of spices and dried herbs, arranged to make you want to cook.
Both from the Fine Food department of Galleries Lafayette. (Don't pronounce the S.)
I adore supermarkets. Monoprix is a great attraction and it’s FREE entertainment. The yoghurt section is my particular favourite with many brands still coming in tiny glass or earthenware pots, all of which, when empty, I have to then cram into my suitcase to bring home.
These are two “must-eat” places every time - the casual Comptoir du Relais (place de l’Odéon) and the very special Le Grand Véfour (le Palais Royal, my spiritual home - the apartment above, once the home of Colette).
Le Comptoir – No tablecloth and a table the size of a darts board, they bustled, we hustled. I indulged in my personal weakness, the funny bits. Started with a grilled terrine of boudin noir, followed by crumbed, boned pigs’ trotters. Promised myself I’ll do these at home on return.
Le Grand Véfour – Perfection. Sat down (this time in the seat reserved in the past for Colette) to a beautiful plate by Bernadaud, Limoges, in the centre of which was a folded napkin. The quality of the napery made me tremble. No-one flicked open the napkin to invade my space by flapping it on my lap.
And, as we were enjoying the relaxing atmosphere, we realised there was no music! Absolute bliss.
Half way through the meal, the immaculate maître d’ approached our table, raised one hand in a questioning gesture and asked simply, “Tout... ça va?” No-one asked me how my day had been. We were not asked at every bite whether we were enjoying our meal.
Why is this appalling Americanised (sorry, dear American friends) behavior seen as good service?
Left: Le Grand Véfour - Elegance and comfort - and note a choice of salted or unsalted butter. What more could you ask for?
Right: Le Comptoir du Relais - a bit squashy but...
Le Tour de France finished in Paris on the Sunday. The city was packed with people and tour busses. Roads were roped off, access everywhere was difficult. We hid out in the gorgeous museum of decorative arts (le Musée des Arts Décoratifs), at the end wing of the Louvre - quiet, unhurried and safe - my second spiritual home - plates, cups and saucers, soupières everywhere.
I could fill this blog with images but let this one suffice - a cup in milk glass with ormolu mounts - late Napoleonic Empire. If I had this for my SFTGFOP Darjeeling, (Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe), I swear I could give up alcohol.
Also did some damage at Laure Bassal (shoes, 3 rue de Grenelle, 75006) and at Issey Miyake (with a "onesie" that could make me look like a "teletubby" in black unless I lose the holiday kilos).
"Spap-shots - the cruise", coming up.
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