Paris Arrival June 7 & 8
Last year, I spent 7 great days in Bretagne. I enjoyed North Atlantic seafood, galettes (savory buckwheat crepes), exceptional ciders and Kouign Amann, the rich, buttery pastry of the region.
In a rented a Fiat, I commenced a driving tour that included stays in St-Malo and Roscoff. The final stop on the itinerary was Pont-Aven. Here Paul Gauguin inspired a new school of painting based on symbolism and bright, pure colors.
Returning to Paris, I realized how much I enjoyed visiting Bretagne. It is a region of France I had little experience with. I decided that the next year I would visit France again and chose and concentrate on a region as I had done in Bretagne.
After much deliberation, I settled on a June visit to Lyon and Dijon. Notwithstanding the excellent and diverse restaurants in Paris, it is Lyon, the third largest city in France, that is known as the gastronomic capital of France. Dijon is the capital city of the Côte-d’Or region famous for Premier Cru Burgundy wines.
This article is written in multiple parts. The first, covers arrival in Paris. Subsequent articles cover Lyon, Dijon (including the Burgundy wine region) and the outbound stay in Paris. It will become obvious that these articles are food-centric. After all, gastronomy and wine influenced this itinerary.
Leaving Orlando on June 6 I was aware of new terrorism warnings and rising waters on the river Seine that threatened art works in the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. Undaunted, I boarded United 54 and arrived at Charles de Gaulle / Roissy just before 11:00 AM. After working through the iconic (and often confusing) Terminal 1, I was soon in a taxi headed to the Hotel Montalembert located on the left bank just off Boulevard Saint Germain.
Refreshed, I inquired with the concierge about a nearby Brassiere that might serve my favorite North Atlantic fish — Dover Sole. He recommended Brassiere Vagenende as a reliable destination and an early reservation was made. Here, I was welcomed and seated at a nice table just inside an open window with a great view to the sidewalk. While watching the street, I ordered and settled into nice, crisp bottle of Sancerre while my meal was prepared. I found myself delighted to be in Paris on an early summer evening.
The next morning after a French breakfast at the hotel, I set out to do a little Rive Gauche sightseeing. Not long before leaving on this trip I had read Julia Child’s memoir “My Life in France”. First up then, was a pilgrimage to Julia’s and Paul’s apartment at 81 Rue de l’Université, or as Julia playfully called it — Roo de Loo.
My second sightseeing stop was Musée d’Orsay. The flood waters on the Seine were receding but some of the galleries were still closed. Along with many others, I enjoyed van Gogh’s work and spent plenty of time in front of “Starry Night Over the Rhone” (not to be confused with his other similar work, “The Starry Night”).
Following the concierge’s recommendation I had a reservation Le Bistrot de Paris, a well regarded restaurant near Musée d’Orsay. Restaurants in Paris don’t really get busy until after 9 PM. I had an 8 o’clock reservation and found the restaurant empty on a Wednesday night. I had noticed too that my plane on the way over was not very full. While I was extended a warm welcome everywhere I went, I couldn’t help but think the that the troubles in Europe were having an impact on tourism and recreation in France.
My meal at Le Bistrot de Paris was a beautifully cooked skate wing with pureed potatoes. It paired well with a bottle of Meursault, an exceptional chardonnay from Bourgogne. After dinner, I headed back to the hotel and turned in early. The next morning I was off to catch the TGV from Gare de Lyon.
For other parts of this article, see: