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.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Several Cultural Activities

Jacquemart Andre Museum 

We met Jacques and Claire at the Jacquemart Andre museum on Blvd Haussmann for an exhibit of artwork ranging from the Italian Renaissance to Modern Art. The exhibition rooms were quite small and crowded, especially when a tour guide gave a lecture in front of one of the Italian masterpieces. The last few rooms had works by Modigliani, Picasso and Rothko. There were also some interesting sculptures. One of a large spider which was the artist's interpretation of his father's infidelity, his mother's hard work and protection of the family and his own artistic struggle (or something like that...)

The Jacquemart Andre museum is really more of a well maintained 19th century residence. One enters via a covered passageway to courtyard of crushed stone leading to the entrance of the residence. It was constructed in the Italian style and is beautifully furnished. Plus, they have a great restaurant for lunch.

Here is a mosaic from an Italian mansion that was mounted on the wall. Take a look at the foot of the guy on the right. It overflowed the wall a bit so they  had to chisel out part of the molding on the wall to make it fit. 

We finished off the day at Bofinger near the Bastille for Choucroute, in its various forms, with Champagne. Nice touch. HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACQUES!

Foundation Louis Vuitton

Another recent addition to the cultural landscape of Paris is the Foundation Louis Vuitton. This is a new exhibition center located in the Bois de Boulogne in the outskirts of Paris. This is a fascinating piece of architecture that may one day take its place along other modern structures, such as the Eiffel Tower, (even though it is more than 100 years old), the Pyramid du Louvre and the Pompidou Center as one of the icons of the city. Jacques picked us up at Palais des Congres and we drove a short distance to the FLV. 
As there were no exhibits to view, we were only charged 9 euro and enter to marvel at the interior. There is an auditorium where many of the seats all come up from under the floor. The colored curtains in the auditorium and on the walls are considered to be artwork in the building.
Done by Elsworth Kelly.

Here is a hall of mirrors that are angled in such a way so that images can me seen on multiple mirrors.

The architect, American Frank Gehry, was influenced by his childhood in designing the building. His memories of fish dinners may explain the 17 giant white carp hanging in the small cafeteria. His interest in sailing also contributed to the 12 sail-like structures on the outside of the building. Also, due to some building restrictions, there is only one floor which actually begins below ground. 


After the visit, we ate lunch in the Jardin D'Acclimatisation, a zoo-like park dedicated to how birds and animals adjust to changing environments, A peacock, roaming the area, peered into the restaurant to see what we were eating.

Hotel Troglododo, Azay le Rideau


               We love having company while we are in France and enjoy showing them a little bit outside of Paris.  Both groups of family and friends expressed interest in wine tasting and castles.  Couldn't be better for Tony and me.  We love The Loire Valley so that was easy but choosing a hotel near Azay Le Rideau [a favorite of ours]was my job.  So I started with  I saw several lovely possibilities and then  I came across the name...Hotel Troglododo.  Well troglodytes? plus dodo. Sort of translates to cave dwelling and sleep. Sounds intriguing so after looking at the website I took a   chance and booked it twice for 2 different groups.

First a little aside about the train ride. At the Austerlitz train station, and other stations, there is a free piano for people to play and sing. Adds a nice touch. 

We had reservations but when we got to our cabin, which had 8 seats, there was a guy sleeping on 4 of them. As no one else came into the cabin, we let him sleep. Even the conductors didn't bother him. When it was time to show his ticket, he woke up, said, "Bon Jour", showed his pass and went back to sleep. Only when someone else came into the cabin at one of the stops did we have to wake him up. He was very pleasant, had been working night and day and was heading  home to the south of France.

We took the  train from Paris to Tours and rented a car and set off with My Dear Cousin Bonnie and her Up for Anything daughter Amy.  A good group for exploring the unknown and uncharted land of many caves. Although it was cold and no flowers were yet budding we visited the Gardens of Villandry.  Then on to Chateau Langais in a charming little town. We were given a fascinating history of the castle through the use of dressed figures, low lighting and voices that came from somewhere mysterious.  It was better than you might think...really.

                 The whole time my stomach is churning wondering what have I gotten us into sleeping in a cave.  This could be a disaster. Check in was between 4 and 6 pm.  As we drove by the dirt road with a junk yard full of rusted cars I thought this can not be the right road. After several wrong turns we drove by the junk yard and up up a dirt road to sign reading  TROGLODODO.     All remained in the car while I scouted out the hotel which can not be seen from the road.  There is an elevator that takes you down to the hotel level which is dug out of the side of the hill.  Our rooms were wide open with keys in the doors but no sign of a proprietor.  I called and called and eventually a delightful french man came out to greet me. M. Sarrasin, le proprietaire. 


 The Patio

Doorway to our room

Bathroom and the other bathroom in the other room

Sitting area and fireplace...this was the kitchen for the original owners.

Judy, Tony and Bonnie resting in the "Casbah" in one of the rooms

Even the toilet (WC) was in a little cave.

 Tony, Hill and Mikaela having cocktails on the patio and looking at the day's photos.


Which included a 30km or so bike road from Azay le Rideau to Vilandray and back. (Thanks to M. Sarrasin for the detailed map of back roads.) 

 Here's Judy complimenting the morning staff member on her home made yogurt and vanilla pudding.

View of the breakfast area with Judy and M. Sarrasin. Does it remind you of a disco? It was.
Hotel Troglodod was more than we could have imagined. It really was a delightful and totally unique surprise that we thoroughly enjoyed. Can't wait for our next excuse to go to the Loire Valley. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Flowers of Chenonceau Revisited

     I was lucky enough to make a second visit to the extraordinary Chateau de Chenonceau last week.  Again I focused on the ever changing flower arrangements.  My understanding is that they are changed  twice a week.  How different could they be?  Well you be the judge.  I may not have found all the same locations but you will see many similar spots.

Enjoy Encore,

Entrance Hall

The Guard's Room

Small Round Room on the First Floor

Diane de Poitier's Bedroom

Louis XIV's Drawing Room

Francois I's Drawing Room

One of the Kitchen Tables

                                                  Bottom of Staircase to Kitchen

Close up of Gorgeous Kitchen Vessel

A Kitchen Sideboard

Colors of the French Flag

A "Budding"Artist!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Flowers of Chenonceau

The Flowers of Chenonceau

  Today is my turn to blog.  Why?   Because I will never forget the impression Chenonceau made on me some 40 odd years ago.  It was winter and there were roaring fires in many of the grand fireplaces and gregorian chants were somehow being piped in.  It was truly like stepping into a fairytale. Since then I have been lucky enough to have visited this chateau several more times.  Each time I come away with such vivid pictures in my mind...not of furnishings or grand corridors or stately rooms but rather the magnificent flower arrangements throughout castle.  They are artistic masterpieces that pull you into each space.  Let me give you some examples.

You are greeted by this massive arrangement in the entrance hall.

Perfectly captures the tapestry colors in Guard's Room.

White, pristine, spiritual.

This must have been 6 feet tall!
As you can see many soldiers were treated in these halls.
From a distance these look like petit fours but they are floating flowers.
Don't sit in the chair!

                      This last series of pictures shows flowers in the various rooms in the kitchen.         Enjoy.

And finally, Chateau du Tresor.
Au revoir, Judy