Sunday, April 23, 2017

Arts et Metiers and late lunch

A fun place to visit in Paris is the Musee des Arts et Metiers (Arts and Trades Museum). The museum is housed in a relatively new building and the Abby of St. Martin des Champs. It is a great collection of old equipment, models, machines, measuring devices, etc.

There is a nice model of the Statue of Liberty that welcomes one to the museum.

It was a beautiful day and the trees were blossoming in the rear of the Abby as Jo, Judy and I passed by.

The museum is well organized by trade or use of the equipment. The section on early/modern computers was interesting. It is hard to imagine that something I actually worked with is now in a museum. The disc in the photos was one of the first ones developed to take the place of tapes and cards. I forget what the capacity was but I'm pretty sure it was in KBs. Maybe Jacques remembers. I sent a photo of the disc to my friend Bob from Honeywell days and he had trouble identifying it (the name of the file gave it away).

There was a mock up of the laboratory used by the chemist, Antoine Lavoisier which had a demonstration of how he combined 2 parts of Hydrogen and 1 part Oxygen and got moisture to form in a glass container. Very interesting.

Among the models, was this one of the head of the Statue of Liberty. The detail was incredible.

In the Abby section of the museum, the displays are related to transportation. There are several antique airplanes/flying machines as well as this combustion engine that has been cut down the middle to show how it works (I guess that's how it works...)

At the entrance to this section there is a Foucault Pendulum. This is similar to the one in the Pantheon near the Sorbonne.

The visit to the museum gave us an appetite. Jo pointed out that there was a little Chinatown nearby on Rue de Maire so we decided on an early dinner. This restaurant was one of several on the small street. Doesn't it look appetizing?

This display case had a crowd 2 and 3 deep ordering takeout food when we arrived. It had quite a  selection.

It was fairly crowded and there weren't available seats, but we managed to fine 3 together at a table, sharing it with a number of other diners. It was pretty chaotic with a lot of yelling in Chinese and French.

We finally got menus and after asking a few questions of our table mates, ("what's that you are eating?" for example), I ordered the 14, the 42 and 45. Plus here I am enjoying a delicious spring roll.

It was a great way to end a very enjoyable day.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Update to Troglododo Stay - Bike ride to Villandry

Another fun thing to do in the Loire Valley is to bike ride through some of the small towns, on back roads, to visit the chateaux. So, with the loan of bikes, helmets and a detailed map from M. Sarrasin, Hill, Mikaela and I set out for a 25 -30 kilometer ride to Villandry and back. M. Sarrasin told us that there was only on real hill along the route but he neglected to mention that there was a long uphill climb right after leaving the hotel.

Once we made it up that hill, we got our bearings and set out for Villandry.

Along the way we past the Abby of Gerfault which may be a BandB now.

The sign says there were only 10 KMs to Villandry.
And we passed several farms. At this sheep farm these guys were wondering what we were doing.

Once we reached Villandry, we were ready for a hot chocolate in a small hotel/bar. By the time we were leaving, the locals were coming in for lunch. After that Hill bought some Pate de Foie Gras and some ham for our lunch later in the day.

Then off to the chateau. Villandry is famous for its gardens. Even though it was early in the season  one can really see that it will be something to behold once spring arrives.
Getting to Villandry we had made a couple of wrong turns (despite my checking the map several/many times) so we tried to stay on the right road for the way back. Riding along the Loire, on a small pathway, Mikaela spotted a sign for bread. Who knew, a bakery out here in the boondocks.

A woman was unloading her little truck so I walked down the path to ask if she had any bread left. She had a bakery on her property and had just returned from delivering to local shops. She had 2 loaves of bread left. So I bought one and our lunch menu was complete.

Along the route we encountered a few more friends. So we stopped to chat for a bit.

We slogged our way back up the one hill that M. Sarrasin mentioned, then coasted down the hill that led to the entrance to the hotel where we had one final photo op on the wall overlooking the valley.

Now to get ready for the PMC.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Weekend in the Country

We recently spent a great weekend at Caroline and Alexis' manor house in the middle of Normandy. Their two boys, Elias and Arris, were there along with Caroline's parents, our friends, Jacques and Claire.
A few years ago, Caroline and Alexis bought a former mayor's home which was in a state of moderate disrepair. It was livable but need many upgrades. They spent a lot of time researching and designing what was needed and have done an excellent job mixing modern conveniences without losing the charm of the original home.

Rear of the Manor
This is a fabulous property. There is an apple orchard in the back yard and a number of very old "out buildings" along the side of the property. Here's Judy standing next to a Sequoia in their side yard. It has to be hundreds of years old.

This being Normandy, there were many cider bottles stored in these barns, along with equipment and tons of cut up pieces of wood.

This little cistern was catching water from the roof. It was probably used for providing water for some livestock in the past.

Something''s caught our attention here. What could it be?

Just one lonely goldfish that has survived the winter.
The interior was a bit run down and needed to be modernized. Also, as they want to enjoy time here with many friends and family, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms was expanded. (At least the number of bathrooms increased). 

The areas that impressed me the most were the bathrooms and the lighting. Alexis is very talented when it comes to interior design. Some of my favorites...

A stand alone sink and mirror.

A tub floating in the middle of the room.

Caroline and Alexis' bath (sorry, Caro, I hope you don't mind that I took this picture.)

Here is the pool room. During the German occupation of France during WWII, this house was used as a German headquarters for the area, The pool room was used to house their horses.

Alexis' bar which turned into a disco at 11pm. There is a terrific sound system that booms the music from their cell phone throughout the first floor,
The kitchen is very open and bright with everything one needs.

The attic has been redone and makes a great place for the kids to hide away and watch movies.

And there has to be a room with a flat screen tv. This room along with the poolroom have a number of light switches that can give totally different ambiances in the two rooms. Nice touch by Alexis

The town is a charming little Norman town,. We went out to one of the two restaurants in town for lunch. It was an easy walk from the house.

We spent a couple of hours in this tiny restaurant hidden in the back room of the local hotel.

Then a walk back toward the house with  a tour around the neighborhood.

Talking to a few new friends.

Through an alley for a short cut through the streets of the town.

 There is still a working phone booth in the town square. Cell service may not always be great, so some people still have to use the phone booth.

This was just a snapshot of the house and a little bit of the life style of a weekend in the country. We were very warmly welcomed and had a terrific time. We look forward to our next visit to see what other enhancements they will make to this delightful "manoir".


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Pancakes in Paris

Earlier this year, our friend, Carol, told us of a book she had bought for her husband, Bob. It was called Pancakes in Paris by Craig Carlson. We bought the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is the tale of one man's struggle to make a dream come true, to open a restaurant in Paris that would serve a real American breakfast and lunch.
Coincidentally, we received an email from Titcomb's book store that Craig would be speaking at a pancake reception in Sandwich.

Click here for ticket information.

When we heard that Craig was going to be speaking in Sandwich we decided to track him down. We caught up with him at the 1st Breakfast in America restaurant on Rue Des Ecoles in the Latin Quarter. We had a very nice conversation and planned to get together when he gets to Sandwich.

BIA serves a real American breakfast with eggs the way you want them and pancakes or waffles with maple syrup. The burgers look great and where else can you get a milk shake in Paris.The wait staff is totally bi-lingual and very friendly.Plus you have a bottomless cup of coffee (not something you see in French restaurants). Craig says the clientele is about 70% French so you might hear a table full of kids singing, 'Joyeux Anniversaires" with their Hot Fudge Sundaes.

Here is the  menu with a toaster in the background. There's one on every table.

Judy is finishing her pancakes while I am working on my eggs over-easy.

So, when in Paris, check out BIA 1 at 17 rue des Ecoles or BIA 2 at 4 rue Mahler in the Marais section of Paris. You won't be disappointed. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Miscelaneous notes from around town

Some photos of things I like to remember when I look back on the blog...

One of the problems with building a museum with the inside on the outside is keeping it clean. The Pompidou Center has all the structure and plumbing on the soutside, so cleaning can be a real chore. Looks like the center is covered for its maintenance.

There is a "new" mall where the old market section, Les Halles, is. It looks a bit like something from outer space. There are at least 3 levels underground and lots of mall security checking  bags as people take the escalator down to the shops.The lighting is not too bright in the mall and it has a bit of a 3rd world look to it. The cinema can show 35 films at a time.

Speaking of security, there doesn't appear to be as much as last year. Here are some soldiers walking around near St. Paul's church in our neighborhood. We see special police forces around from time to time too. 

Here is a street artist near the Pompidou Center drawing on the sidewalk. If you can't read the caption, it says, "Life without art is stupid." I tossed a euro into his dish, he never looked up. At least the homeless guy on our corner says "Merci" when I toss him a few cents.

Here is some very modern, abstract art in a wading pool in front of the Church of St. Martin. Mixing old and new is definitely a thing here in Paris.

We finally had a nice day and everyone was on the streets and bridges. This guy was pretty good and was later joined by a guy with a drum and a guy with a bass fiddle. He had quite a crowd sitting on the bridge between Ile St Louis and Ile de la Cite. 

This is one of my favorite spots. Twice already we have bought a chicken here. The chickens are roasted on the rotisserie in red. The juices from the chickens drops down onto a pile of potatoes. You ask for a chicken from the storage area and have it cut into pieces, then you ask for enough potatoes to feed X number of people. The guy weighs everything, you pay in the rear of the shop, then you get your bag of dinner. Delicious.

Early spring the city starts planting fresh flowers in the gardens so they will be in bloom when the warm weather hits. This is just outside our window.

This is an example of a typical Haussmann building in Paris from an exhibit at the Pavilion D'
Arsenal. The exhibit was pretty detailed, describing such things as the height of buildings, height of ceilings in rooms, number of windows, the look of the facade, width of streets, plus much more. Many individual homes were destroyed as well as some of the worst slums to make Paris what it is today, I'm looking forward to reading more about this time in history.