Paris Birthday Bash…The End.

PAREiffel

We’d been hoof’n it for several days now, so a ride on the Metro was in order to give our shanks’ ponies a wee rest. We’d read that dogs were allowed on the Metro…but they had to be in a bag. Ruh roh…so we brought with us an old, flexible overnight bag to see if Hound #1 was game. I won’t say he liked it, but there were no real complaints to be heard. He got a snack for being such a good boy…

PARBillieMetro

Metro Madness…Dog In Da Bag.

PARScene

We made a beeline that morning for a  market we’d read about in the 15th Arrondissement called the Rue de Grenelle Marché. Things looked initially bleak as we seemed to be walking forever and as yet no sign of market folks. But not to worry, you could not miss this market even if you were totally blind as this was HUGE!

PARGrennellMkt2

The Rue de Grenelle Marché – 15th Arrondissement

Located underneath a bridge or highway overpass, this market stretched for block after block with every imaginable food option on display, multiple times. When we travel to someplace like Paris it’s a dream to rent an apartment for a month or so to take full advantage of the markets food-wise and save your wallet a bit of pain from being forced to eat out. Though that said, the Paris markets we visited did not strike either of us as ‘cheap’.

PARGrennellMkt

The Rue de Grenelle Marché – 15th Arrondissement

After satiating our market tastebuds @ Rue de Grenelle Marché, we wandered in a direction to have a halfway decent view (bit overcast & misty) of the Eiffel Tower – so Paris & French & oh so expensive. Along the way, we eyed a busy pedestrian street across the boulevard – let’s have a look…

PARRueClerc

Rue Cler – O La La…Rue de Food & Wine

Rue Cler was not on our radar in any way, shape or form – but what a find! A lovely no-cars/motorbikes walkway with all the food & wine & sweet shops that Paris is renowned for and busy as. You have to say one thing for the Parisians, they do love their food and get out to support the small local shops in force. A lesson to be learned by the rest of the world…

PARScenes2

Pooped Pooch, Pooch @ the Palais Royal, Pooch @ the Louvre, Lovely Toulouse Latrec Metro

On Hound #2’s ‘I want to do this’ list was a visit to Montmartre & a climb up to Sacre Couer to hopefully have one of the best views of Paris you can have without paying 15 euros a person for. And it was (as the pic at the top of the Eiffel Tower will attest) – except for all the bloody tourists (including us). It is always sad to see such a historic & iconic area be overrun by tat & bric-á-brac shops, buskers & hustlers.

PARScenes4

Montmartre – Sacre Couer

Once we’d descended from the mount on high, a snack & a beverage seemed in order. And as it does not take to many steps to stumble on to a wine store in Paris, we ambled into Le Rouge et Le Verre. A bit of language confusion ensued but we finally sorted it out that, because of licensing, we needed to order some food to have some wine. No problema. Two glasses of a rich & savoury St. Joseph Rhone red were poured and a plat of charcuterie was delivered. We were now powered up to march on…

PARWineStorePlate

Rouge et Le Verre Wine Store…Excellent Charcuterie Plate & Vino…Hound #1’s Cheated.

Our final day in Paris called for a bit of culture, so Hound #1 was left behind for s snooze and we hopped on the Metro headed for Musee d’Orsay. We like the Musee d’Orsay over the Louvre because it is a bit more manageable – and that’s not to denigrate the lovely Louvre. But when you have just an hour or two, Musee d’Orsay hits the right art spot.

PARMDOrsayInside

Musée d’Orsay

And we were not disappointed – we were some of the first folks in queue so we managed to have some sections of the museum to ourselves. An absolute fave was the mind-blowing Impressionists collection on display – all the boys & girls were there…Cezanne, Renoir, Manet, Gauguin, Cassatt, Rodin, Lautrec and my personal fave – Van Gogh. Had to be a couple of billion dollars of art in this one exhibition. And you can get so close & personal – see the brush strokes. Stunning.

PARMDOrsay1

PARMDOrsay2

And post the museum, one more market to do – Place d’Aligre. This is a mixed market with half being food and the other half a flea market. I went for the food and Hound #2 was attracted to the flea. It is reputed to be one of the cheapest markets in Paris and it appeared so…but it is 100% fruit & veggies so you will not find cheeses or charcuterie or meat or fish here. But the street that the market is hosted on is another of Paris’s block of delectable comestibles. There is small but well stocked indoor market that covers all the bases and a stroll down either side of the street will bring you to several wine & cheese stores, butchers and fishmongers. We stocked up on some saucisson for the train ride home…

PARAligreMkt

Marché Place d’Aligre – 12th Arrondissement

Well that’s Paris and my & Billie’s 60th – it was a great combo!

PARCollageOdd3

Advertisements

Paris Birthday Bash…The Middle…

PAREiffel

Day #2 in Paris happened to be my actual birthday but first, armed with a well researched but short list, we set off to find a decent cuppa Joe. Paris, despite its well deserved reputation for many of the finer things in life, struggles to cook up a decent coffee. Having lived in New Zealand and then Australia for a number of years, our coffee palates are finely tuned machines.

PARCafeLoustic

Coffee and Port – What Could Go Wrong?

Out of 5 possible destination candidates, we fingered a place called Cafe Loustic in the 3rd Arrondissement. With their motto, “We aim to be one of the best espresso bars in the world”, ringing in our ears, we had to give it a go.

Well, not really a serious challenge to the baristas & cafes Down Under – they can sleep easy. And it was a strange vibe too — a bit aggro with a customer’s-not-always-right chip on the shoulder. The barista actually refused to make a requested coffee because they simply are not made that way if made correctly he said. Ouch.

But it was worth the visit as right next door was Portologia – a sweet establishment that was all about Port & related spirits and staffed by very kind & informative folks. One fella spoke no English but the other one did, so a fun Port discussion ensued. We mentioned we had just been in Porto and he queried us as to whether we had visited their sister store there & in fact we had! Small world…

PARRicherSign

Birthday Lunch @ Richer

Next up was the Birthday Lunch – we had narrowed down the choices to a small few & at the top of the rankings was Richer in the 9th Arrondissement. The restaurant’s description banged all the right drums and after a speedy perusal of the outside menu, we went in.

PARRicher1

Birthday Billie Got a Few Table Scraps…

Paris, as many folks will know, is a wee bit on the pricey side for most things including food & beverages. You won’t break a sweat dropping €100+ ($167NZ, $109US, $154AUS) for an very average bistro lunch & vino. But Richer was worth every Euro and more. A place after my own heart and a menu very much in the same vein as my old place in Lyttelton New Zealand – London Street. A tres simple menu of 4 starters, 3 Mains and 4 desserts which clearly follows the maxim of doing a few things exceptionally well rather than a lot of things mediocre.

PARRicherEntrees

From Top Clockwise: Noodles, Pumpkin Soup and Côte du Rhône.

My starter was, loosely translated by our waitress, as ‘noodles’. I wish more noodles came like this – a lighter take on a carbonara that had a hint of sesame with sweet fried shallot accents, a scattering of mushroom bits, sautéed seaweed and a perfectly cooked egg in the middle. I could have stopped here…Hound #2 opted for the pumpkin soup & we loved the way it was served with the actual soup being poured table side over the delectable bits which preserved their crispy texture. Our Côte Rhône Domaine des Espiers was a superb match…

PARRicherMains

From Top, Clockwise: Dessert, Pheasant and Lamb.

For her main, Hound #2 chose a fowl that our waitress could only describe as ‘sort of like duck’ – good enough for us. We believe it was pheasant, but no matter as it was delicious whatever it was. Lamb was my plat du jour and a most interesting dish it was…slow cooked shoulder that was then shredded & reformed into a wee brick, topped with a crispy thin wafer and four tiny scoops of what I think was a beetroot/crème fraîche combo & a scattering of flavourful greens. And accompanied by roasted cabbage & melt in your mouth turnips. Estupendo.

Hound #2 declared her intentions to have dessert and so she did – a hard to describe light-as-air concoction that tasted amazing to me. For my dessert, I finished the Côte du Rhône…If in Paris folks, do yourself a favour and visit Richer or their other establishments – L’Office and 52. These folks know food and hospitality.

PARCollage7

A decent walk was on order post lunch, so off we went in search of another market on our list, Marché Saint-Martin in the 10th Arrondissement. Now we’re talk’n ‘market’ – a decent notch or two up from the Le Marché des Enfants Rouges as most stalls were here to sell food and not just feed your face.

PARSaintMartinMktSign

PARMktSaintMartin

Top Left: Cheese, Fishies, Veggies and More Cheese.

We had in our possession a timely article from the Guardian’s Travel section on the up & coming area of Paris call South Pigalle. They were calling it the new ‘Soho’ of Paris so that scratched the right itch with us & off we toddled…

Our morning schedule always includes a coffee stop & we wandered the 3rd Arrondissement in search of another of our caffeine targets but stumbled across Café Pinson by accident – most pleasant place to kick up your heels and plan your next wander. We were soon struck with hunger pains that a croissant or pan au chocolate were not going to do justice to, so lunch was in the cards…

PAROngletLunch

L’Aller Retour’s Plat du Jour: Onglet (Hanger Steak)! Yay! Going, Going, Gone…

We had several options that were nearby but in our random walk we came across L’Aller Retour which by shear coincidence was the sister joint to the place we were trying to find. One glance at the plat du jour & the decision was made – Hanger Steak (Onlget in French)! And a price we could not quibble with – Hanger Steak, Fries & a side of veggies & glass of vin rouge for €11.40…Score! On to South Pigalle…

PARKBCafe

KB Cafe & Corsican Joint

We once again, using our ‘trusty’ tourist map with nano font, got a wee bit lost but finally managed to track down one of the cafes our Melbourne mate Carolyn put us on to – KB’s  Coffee Shop. It looked sooooooo Melbourne-y and stood a good chance of passing the Melbourne taste test except….it was mid afternoon & they didn’t do decaf…Plan B was to stroll the foodie street Rue des Martyrs, do a spot of supply shopping and score a beverage. 100% success…

PARBuvette

Buvette – A Beverage & Dessert

Next on our South Pigalle list of to do’s was to track down a place called Buvette and other than the fact we were, by far, the oldest folks in the place, it was hop’n (they also have a New York spot). We managed to grab an outside bench to enjoy a glass of red (me) & a slice of lemon meringue pie (Hound #2).

PARCollageOdd6

Paris Birthday continued….

Paris Birthday Bash…The Beginning

PAREiffel

Like anyone’s birthday, the day only comes around once each year & it is actually like any other day for all intents & purposes, but for Hound #1  and Hound #3 to hit the big ‘six oh’ (in dog years for #1) was an event requiring a wee bit more than a cake (or bones) with some candles. So Hound #2 sorted out a surprise visit to one of my fave cities – Paris.

PARHappyNot

On Da Train – 1st Class…All Muzzled Up

And she splurged for 1st Class Train tickets from our humble abode in Spain to gay Paris…though Hound #1 did not think it 1st class to have to wear a muzzle. We raided our local fine food store Solbes for some lunch time goodies – jamón iberico, olives, prunes, selection of cheeses, bread (from our mates at Amona Margarita) and a wee cask of vino tinto…we be ready to roll.

Our arrival in Paris was none too welcoming – bucketing down rain and sadly, we had a 20 minute walk to our hotel (Solar Hotel – good eco establishment)…only to find out they had no record of our reservation. Most fortunately Hound #2 had a copy of our confirmation so the sweet hotel staff scrambled & we spent out first night in Paris in a single room. Better than out in the rain!

PARMktMix

Our Local Street – Rue Daguerre 14th Arr.

We based ourselves in the 14th Arrondissement and much of the pre-trip research turned up pretty much nada of interest except for a highly reputed natural wine store (read below). But we were very pleasantly surprised on our first night’s stroll to find Rue Daguerre only 100 feet from our hotel. Rue Daguerre was chocka with bars & restaurants to suit all our needs, but the long block between Rue Boulard and Avenue de Général Leclerc was a cornucopia of food & wine stores. And to paraphrase the Stealers Wheel tune – cheese store to the left of me, charcuterie & rotisserie chooks to the right of me, a couple of wine stores straight ahead, fishmongers behind me – here I am, stuck in the middle of food heaven!

PARMkts2

Rue Daguerre Continued….

As mentioned above, our research on the 14th turned up this little beauty – La Cave des Papilles. By many considered & respected vino opinions, this shop “has risen to become arguably the most dynamic, well-stocked and brilliantly curated natural wine shop in Paris”. I’d have to say I 100% agree…too many choices my friends, too many choices. But I made a few…and we popped the cork that night on the fresh & fruity Vaste Programme Les Maoû. Perfect nightcap to a long, wet day…

PARCavePapilles

Most Excellent Cave de Vin Round Da Corner…

Most happy to awake to a grey overcast sky that was not hosing down droplets. So off on our first explore of the trip…we Hounds (especially Hound #1 with his 4 paws) like to walk & Paris, like New York, is a damn decent walking city. We wandered & sauntered our way through the 5th & 6th Arrondissements to arrive at the Seine & Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris. We felt the need to have a squizzy as the crowds were thin at this early hour…

PARNotreDame

Obligatory Notre Dame Visit

Then we made a bee line for a market that according to all the online info, but more specifically BuzzFeed’s blurb – “located in the Marais, Le Marché des Enfants Rouges is Paris’ oldest and most charming covered market. It is home to THE BEST Moroccan food in the city…”

Well to say the Food Hounds were unimpressed would be an understatement…it was very small by most market standards, had far more eatery stalls than actual stalls (2 fruit & veggie and 1 fishmonger) to buy food from and was no bargain by any stretch of the price dimensions. Oh well…

PARInfantsMkt

The Marché des Enfants Rouges

By this time, with all the walking, we were becoming a group of starv’n marvins so lunch was next on the agenda. Disappointingly, our Fawlty Towers hotel wifi was inoperable for the first couple of days so we were navigating via a microscopic font sized tourist map, so numerous over shoots & retracing of steps were required. We first tracked down Au Passage, which superficially ticked all the perfect Paris backstreet bistro boxes but sticking a head into the joint revealed a kitchen still unpacking the morning’s deliveries & simmering stock on the stove. No lunch here any time soon. We tried 2 more eateries on our list but they had no appeal – one was a way over-priced, old bistro & the other a nice enough place but they had nothing on their menu we wanted to eat. So we high tailed it to the end of the block & grabbed a table at Chez Gladines

PARGladinesSign

PARGladinesFood

Basic Bistro Lunch…

Chez Gladines was nothing too fancy but offered solid bistro plats & beverages at modest prices – a starving student joint. We started with a shared lardon & lettuce salad which was a meal in itself (Hound #1 had an awesome bacon dinner that night). And we each chose a French classic – pan seared magret duck breast for me, cassoulet for Hound # 2. All washed down with a cheap & cheerful Côte du Rhône. Excellent.

PARCafeColette

Our Local…

We try, when we explore a new city or town or area for a few days, to find a ‘local’ – a place nearby to where we are staying that is friendly, affordable and covers lots of bases well (good coffee, lunch, drinks, dinner, wifi, dog friendly). This trip it turned out to be Cafe Colette – just a few block walk from our hotel offering excellent service & value for money. We shared the mixte assiettes plat of charcuterie, cheeses & bread for a light dinner one night  for a mere €7.50  ($12.5NZ, $8US, $11.5AUS) that we found hard to finish. In a city where pints of beer can run to €11 ($18NZ, $12US, $17AUS) , that’s a sweet bargain.

PARCollageOdd

To be continued….