Friday, June 26, 2009

Paris Drawings

Everywhere we go Bruce brings one of his moleskine sketch books.  He bought a new one just for the trip to Paris.  Sometimes I just sit and watch him draw, something I can't do, he always makes it look so easy.  Here are some of his drawings from our trip, enjoy.

from the Fontain de Medici in the Luxembourg Gardens

from the Fontain de Medici in the Luxembourg Gardens

from the Fontain de Medici in the Luxembourg Gardens

statue in the Rodin musée

statue in the Rodin musée

statue in the Rodin musée

Paris - day 4, 5 and 6

Notre Dame

Sorry it's taken me so long to post this, I have no excuse.

Our time was flying by in Paris a city we both just love.  Today my sister, her husband, my niece (my brothers daughter) and 10 or so university students of my sisters (from Kendall School of Design) were coming into Paris.  It was the reason for going up there.  They had been in Munich, Berlin and Vienna, now spending 3 days in Paris.  They were flying in and then taking a bus into the city, so we decided to head over to their hotel and meet them when they arrived. They were all a bit tired from being up at 4:00 to catch a plane, so we decided to let them un-pack, relax and get settled, so we headed over to the Jacquemart-André Musee for a while.  It was beautiful.  We headed back over to their hotel at 1:30 and went over to get some ice cream at Berthillon's on île saint-louis, it's supposed to be the BEST and well I don't know because I'm not an ice cream nut, but it was really good.  My sister, brother-in-law and niece were with us and we walked over to Notre Dame and around the 5th and 6th.  Then my sister and brother-in-law split off from us and my job was to take my 17 year old niece shopping.  We weren't finding anything good in the 5th or 6th for her, so we hopped on the metro and headed back over to the Lafayette Galleries.  Bruce decided to stay in the 5th and do some drawing at the Luxembourg Gardens.  We were to meet back at the hotel around 7pm.  My niece and I were lucky at the galleries, she got an adorable jacket and a dress and I got a cute dress too (not that I needed it but what the hell).  The afternoon was slipping away so I got her back to the hotel and had to jump back on the metro to head back over to our hotel as we were meeting S&N back at Les Funambules for an aperitif at 7:30 and then my sister and "the gang" were meeting us there for dinner.  I was rush and hungry and tired when I got back to the hotel, but to my surprise Bruce wasn't there yet.  He came in around 7:15, happy and relaxed from a day hanging in the gardens drawing.

me and my sister Anne

My niece Maggie

We then headed over to the restaurant, had drinks with our new friends and dinner with my sis. Super fun night!  

The gang at dinner

my man in his favorite city

On Thursday we let my sister and the gang do their own thing, we went back to the Luxembourg Gardens (which could be one of my favorite places in paris) and road bikes around the 5th and 6th, a really nice relaxing afternoon.  We went to Pierre Hermé an amazing dessert shop with the most incredible macaroons.  We got some for us and some for the S&S who take care of the dogs.  We met up with my sister in the afternoon and then had dinner with my brother-in-laws relatives (his mom is originally from Nice and all her relatives are in France), great fun, great wine and great food.  Another amazing day in Paris.

The Luxembourg Gardens

Friday, day 6, our last day! We met my sister for coffee over in the 4th and said our goodbyes. Our train left at 2:00pm and we had to be back to the hotel at noon to check out. We had the most amazing time in paris and it was wonderful to share it with my sister. She lives too far away and we don't see her enough.

We stayed at a lovely hotel while we were there called The Grand Hotel Francias in the 11th.   I mentioned it before but this is a great hotel and the staff were so friendly and nice and accommodating.  The rooms are all re-done, we stayed on the ground floor in room #2 and it was beautiful, clean, spacious and the bathroom/shower....amazing!  I highly recommend this hotel if you are going to Paris, you won't be disappointed.

Our trip was amazing and we really just roamed around the city, we didn't do any of the touristy things, but we've been to Paris before and saw most of the big sights.  This time it was just riding around on bikes or walking forever and experiencing the city for what it is...beautiful!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Paris - day 3

Tuesday – Day 3

We had enough of the metro yesterday so today we decided to try out the velib, which are the free bikes all over paris. It’s pretty cool. There are stations all over the city, notes on maps and all you do is take a bike from one velib station and return it at another. You do have to subscribe first, but that only takes 5 minutes or so. We did the short-term subscription, we had a ticket with a number on it and all you do it key in the number and choose to take a bike and your set. The rates are 1 euro per day and if you keep the bike for under 30 minutes you don’t pay anything else. If you keep in longer than ½ hour it’s something like 1 euro an hour. But what we would do is ride towards our destination and right before the ½ hour was up, we’d ditch the bike and rent another. I don’t recommend it to everyone though, you really have to be a confident cyclist because it’s pretty crazy on the roads. The first day we saw 3 accidents, not with cyclists, but with scooters/mopeds and cars. There are many streets which are highlighted green on maps and these have bike lanes, which are much better.

We started out renting some bikes and riding around the 7th. We were going to go into the Rodin but we got lost on the bikes (something very easy to do) so it took us longer to get over there than we had planned. So we ditched the bikes and walked around the 7th for a bit. I had lunch plans in the 4th, I was meeting Leesa, Barbara and Dawn! So excited to meet some fellow bloggers. Leesa picked her favorite restaurant in the Marias so I left Bruce at the Rodin and hopped the metro over to meet them. We had a great lunch at a super cute place called “le loir dans la theiere. 2 ½ hours went by so fast but I had a lovely time with the girls. They are all wonderful, friendly, warm and super cool.

just cruising around

one of the velib stations

Bruce and I had planned to meet in front of the Rodin at 4:30, but I didn’t leave lunch until 4:30, so I was a bit late, he didn’t mind. I found him at the bistro on the corner, at the bar, drinking a pastis. He had a great day at the Rodin, he took his sketchbook and spent the entire time sitting in front of amazing sculptures.

Rodin sculpture


We had dinner plans with Sebastian, his parents live near us in the Aveyron. They retired down here many years ago and we met Sebastain over Christmas. He and JP live in the 11th and we met him at his flat for dinner. Lovely lovely night, a great bottle of Burgundy, excellent meal and delicious dessert. We’ll be seeing him next week when he comes down to the Aveyron.

Another long day, but so much fun. Not sure I could live here full-time, I’d be exhausted, but part-time, oh yes!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Paris - day 2

Monday. We woke up around 5am to a downpour outside, went back to sleep until 7:30 and it was still raining.  Oh well, it's just water, not a problem.  We left the hotel and bought an umbrella then decided to take the metro to our first destination, which was the Pompidou to see the Kandinsky exhibit.  We arrived a bit early so sat under an awning at a cafe and had a coffee.  Then we walked over to the museum...the line was HUGE and we don't do lines and huge crowds (i know, what are we doing in Paris in June then), so we decided to just shop around the Marais. It wasn't raining very hard anymore and we had a great time.  Then we went over to Place de Vosges and looked in some of the many galleries.  We cruised around that area a bit more and then took the metro back to the hotel for a little break.  Then we went back out around 5pm and decided to go to one of the biggest shopping stores in France "Les Galeries Lafayette, in the  8th.  OMG is all I can say, 6 levels of shopping and each designer has it's own little shop in the big shop, a bit overwhelming but amazing.  We spent about 1 1/2 hours there and then decided to head out to dinner and come back when we had more time.  

Dinner was over in the 7th at a restaurant we went to 8 years ago when we were here.  It's on Rue Cler a lovely street and it was excellent.  Nothing fancy, but good food, good service and great wine.  We then decided to walk home, which was quite a ways away but what the hell.  We went over to the 6th and then over to îsle de la Cité and then back into the 4th where we stopped for a glass of wine (because it started to rain really hard around 11:00 pm) and then to the 11th to our hotel - Grand Hotel Francais (we did jump on the metro in the 4th to get us home because it was raining so hard.  So we visited the 11th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 8th, 1st, 2nd, 7th, 6th and the isle de la Cité all 1 day.   The metro is amazing, so convenient and so easy.  We road it quite a bit today when it was raining.

We had a lovely day today and didn't do anything touristy, which is so us.  We have been here before and seen most museums and attractions so this week is just finding places that are cool and different.  Here are some shots from the day.

place de vosges

notre dame


Sunday, June 14, 2009

The first 4 hours in Paris

Our train left Rodez at 11:45 this morning.  We dropped the dogs off with S&S at 10:00 am.  We feel so comfortable leaving them with S&S, no worries.  I also had a chance to see Fanny (my hen) who now lives with them.  She's doing great and it makes me so happy.

The train took about 7 hours and it was stress.  No need to drive the car and find parking here in paris.  We listened to music, I did my french homework and Bruce drew.  Nice ride up to Paris.

We arrived at 7 pm and took a taxi to the hotel.  We are staying in the 11th at the grand hotel francais.  It's lovely and clean and modern, a great choice.  We showered and then went out to dinner around 8:00 pm.  We walked around and found a cute bistro called "les funamuble" which means "tightrope walker" in french.   We sat outside as it was a beautiful warm evening. I ordered the poulet with riz de coco and Bruce had the entrecote with fries and of course we had some Gaillac vin de rouge and an amazing dessert that was a mi-cuite chocolate, yummy.  Next to us was a couple about our age and they had their daughter with them.  5 minutes after we sat down we started talking with them and continued to for 2 hours.  They were lovely and when they left both of us said "those are 2 people we'd love to hang out with".   We finished our meal and asked for the check.  The waiter informed us that the couple paid for our dinner!  Seriously, they bought our dinner for us!  How unbelievable is that.  We spoke with the waiter and he said they just live around the corner, come in all the time and he knows them very well, so Bruce left them a note giving them our cell phone and email.  We told them we'd love to get together again before we leave on Friday and we thanked them for the meal...telling them it was very classy to do that!  

So, that's it.  Our first 4 hours in france and we met a lovely french couple who bought us dinner.  Don't tell me that the french are not friendly...they are wonderful people when you open up and speak to them.  

We are both very excited to be here until Friday.  I think we both needed this.  I'll get a chance to meet Leesa and Barbara on Tuesday and my sister comes in on Wednesday with her students from her school and also my brothers niece is with my sister as well.  It will be such a fun time. We'll take loads of pictures and update each day.  Sorry that I don't have any pictures yet...stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

18 vins à gôuter

some of the wine we were to taste

On Monday we went to a wine tasting at Marin & Pella's home. We were set to taste 18 different french wines. We arrived at 7:00 pm and immediately started our tasting. We began with the whites, 7 of them

1. Domaine Octavie, Savignon de Touraine (Loire) 2008
2. Voignier, Domaine de Lascours (languedoc) 2008
3. Château Marie du Fou, Blanc, Fiefs Vendéens-Mareiul (Loire) 2008
4. Mâcon-Solutré Domaine Pascal & mireille Renaud (Burgundy) 2008
5. Pinot Blanc, Cuvée Traditionnelle, Robert Faller et Fils (Alsace) 2007
6. Gewürztraminer, Cuvée Traditionnelle,Robert Faller et Fils (Alsace) 2007
7. Rasteau, La Galopine, Domaine des Escaravailles (Rhône) 2008

Yummy. Liked #2 - hint of green apple, a bit tarte and crisp. #4 was good and #5 was very good, but could have been a bit colder. #6 was very dry, not so sweet and very nice.

All of these we done on an empty stomach. argh! There were 12 of us, from France, England, Belgium, New Zealand and America (us). 4 of the people (including the host) we knew from the English Library in Villefranch, everyone else we didn't know but got to know very quickly. Everyone was lovely.

our new friends

Bruce and Guy talking about the wine

Guy Boursot who owns a wine shop just south of Calais, France brought all the wines to taste and Laurent Cagnat who is a wine dealer who lives near Villefrance coordinated the evening, his wife cooked the meal, which was wonderful.

We all wished we had a bit of something when we started, to soak up a bit of the wine.  But the first tasting was amazing.  Before starting the red Laurent's wife brought out some bread and fois gras (made by her grand mére).  Amazing.

After the white can the red (yes!).... Here is what we tasted.

8.  Brouilly Domaine de Chêne (Beaujolais) 2007
9.  Bourgogne Joseph Faively (Burgundy) 2006
10.Château Massmier la Mignarde, Tradition (Minervois) 2006
11. Château de Lascours, Nobilis, Pic Saint-Loup (Coteaux du Langeudoc) 2007
12. Rasteau, Les Sabilères Domaine des Escaravailles (Rhône) 2007
13. Syrah, Domaine Bassac, Vin de Pays des Côtes de Thongue, 2007 (Organic)
14. Château Baret, Pessac-Léognan (Claret) 2000

yummy is all I can say.  I like whites but really don't drink them much, we love the reds so this was really nice.  The only problem we found (and others too) is that by the time we reached the reds we were a bit "buzzed" and talking more with others and didn't take as many notes as when we were drinking the whites.  But here is what I wrote.  #8 - just an everyday wine, sort of like a vin de table.  #9 - very very nice, #10 - very strong tanin, good taste, good after too, #11 excellent, #12 good, #13 really nice, #14 amazing (of course this was 17.40 euros a bottle).

All the others were an average of 7 euros a bottle, not bad.

Then it was time for dinner.  Here was the menu.

the dinner menu

sitting down for the meal

across is david and leslie

How fast time goes when you are having a great time.  We sat next to Claire and her husband Pierre.  Pierre works for the marie (mayor) of Villefranche and Claire is the english teacher at the private school in Villefranche.  On my right was Nick a great man to know as he's a mason and carpenter.  Lived in the Aveyron for 15 years.  Wonderful people and funny too.  I didn't look at my watch until we were leaving and it was 1:00 am!  oh my.  We got home at 1:30.  

We had a great time, ordered some of the wine we liked and met some wonderful people.  It was an amazing evening.