We have now been in Paris for 4 days and this is the first time we have had a chance to write. I planned this trip to be rather leisurely but it hasn’t turned out that way! To begin with, we were scheduled to fly into Dallas and stay there overnight, catching our overseas flight the next day. All I can say is “Thank goodness!” After our plane was delayed into the Albuquerque airport for 3 hours, it was canceled! We finally departed almost 5 hours late on another flight. We would have totally missed our flight to Paris!
After a good, but expensive dinner at the Dallas airport Grand Hyatt, we had a good night’s sleep and the next day after checking in and going through security, since we were flying Business class, we were able to wait in the Ambassador Lounge. We were able to fly Business because our good friend Just Travel from Slow Travel had contacted me in the middle of the night when we were in Venice last year. “American is having a sale on Business class tickets”, she said, and since I happen to be up with jetlag, I jumped online and got a fabulous price roundtrip from Dallas to Paris and back. Thanks again, Christy.
We had a great flight and landed in Paris on time. Our driver was waiting at the airport and the representative from Paris for Rent was waiting at the apartment. All of life should be so easy! After unpacking, we rested a short while and then went right outside to meet two of my friends who were on faculty with me at Prep. They both just happened to be in Paris at the same time! We went to a local café and had wine, cheese, a meat platter and lots of conversation. It was great to see both Michael and Patience since I only have contact with them through Facebook.
Alan and I then came back to the apartment and slept the sleep of the dead!
The next morning we met Christy (yes, the same sainted woman who found our ticket sale) and her husband Paul. We see them frequently when we are all in Venice and now, we were all in Paris together. They had, at one time, stayed in an apartment in our neighborhood, so walked us around and showed us some of the important sights, like the supermarket. After about an hour we were left on our own and decided we would find the bakery where we were to meet our Paris by Mouth food tour. We got very lost looking for a street that should have been simple to find and finally succeeded. We met our tour leader Diane and went next door to the bakery to have a coffee and a bathroom break. Soon the rest of our tour arrived. There were seven of us, a couple from San Francisco, a couple from Australia, a young woman from New Zealand and us. Diane is an expat living in Paris doing freelance food writing. It was a great group that really jelled. First we went to the bakery, a very famous tiny place called Poilane. The smells were wonderful! Diane told us about French bread making. She is extremely knowledgeable and could answer any question we had. The first picture is a bread chandelier made for Salvador Dali by M. Poilane. The second is a selection of breads in the shop.
We then went to Patrick Roger’s chocolate shop. He is an award winning chocolatier. The picture is his finest work which is in the window of his shop. It is a huge ape but doesn’t photograph well behind the window.
Needless to say, we sampled his chocolates. OMG is the only description that is appropriate!
Diane then took us to the covered market in St. Germain de Pres. It is one of the few covered markets left in Paris. We went to a cheese stand and learned about French cheeses and then wandered around the market while our group’s cheese order was filled.
We visited a meat market where an award winning butcher plies his trade. Award winning vendors seemed to be a theme of this tour and probably of Paris and France!
There Diane bought both sausage and foie gras wrapped in pate, both made right on the premises. Of course, what can follow that but a visit to the wine shop. At the wine shop, we gathered around an outside table, and sampled two bottles of great French wine, the cheeses, the meats and the breads. We talked and talked, mostly about foods in France. We talked so much that we were late in leaving and got to the pastry shop after it had closed. Alas, we were forced to go to another sweet shop and sample the salted caramel. The proprietor there claims to have invented the salted caramel.
Here is a picture of our cheese selection. YUM!!
Needless to say, we did not need any dinner Friday night. Saturday we took the “fast” (316 km/h) train to Strasbourg to visit overnight with my cousins Pierre and Simone. Pierre’s grandmother and my great-grandfather were sister and brother. After World War II, the family in France was thought to have been all murdered by the Nazis. In the early 1990s Pierre, who is an avid genealogist, located my mother in New Orleans. It was wonderful to hear that not all the family had been lost. We visited Pierre and Simone for a week in 1998 and this is the first time we had seen them since then. They are 85 so we really wanted to see them, even for just overnight. As usual, they were wonderful hosts, taking us to a superb seafood restaurant outside of Strasbourg, where I had what were probably the best snails I have ever eaten. It was sad leaving them this afternoon, knowing we might not get another chance to see them.
We are now back in the apartment and Alan is watching soccer! What a surprise! He has tickets to two of the Euro 2016 tournament games, and that, after all, is why we came to Paris in the first place. As this adventure unfolds, we will post more. Until then, au revoir!