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Recent Observations Visiting Paris

Recent Observations Visiting Paris

Each trip to Paris brings new insights into traveling.  Both for traveling in general and for traveling specifically to Paris.  This recent January trip was perfect!  How could it not be?  It is Paris, after all.

We were greeted with snow, then with rain on and off for a few days.  The nights were chilly with low clouds, but then the sun shone through at times making the city sparkle.  Generally, the weather does not affect my enjoyment of Paris, but it does determine how to pack and how to plan.

In addition to all of the information on traveling to Paris on this site, such as this packing list, here are a few recent observations.  Also, a little tattle on myself for not following my own suggestions!

Work on Paris Sidewalk
Interesting observation – work on the sidewalk.

Map and Guidebook for Traveling

I forgot a map of Paris!!!  And, a guidebook.  I always bring them.  Not this time.  I completely forgot them while I was trying to get the dog to camp before starting to pack (so she wouldn’t be stressed).  I always pack the night before or the day of the flight (not suggested), but I have always done it that way.  As the trip approaches, I usually make a pile of things to put in my suitcase.  But this time, I just forgot a map and guidebook.  It is on the list I use to pack – but I misplaced my list the day before leaving!  Not a good idea.  Keep your list for packing with your suitcase!

Hotel Choices

In Paris, we stayed in a more reasonably priced hotel so that we could splurge on a few specials.  Like the day trip to the Normandy D-Day Beaches, a show at the Lido, a food tour of the Marais, and of course, a special ride with Champagne in Guillaume’s Citroën DS!!

Taxis and Ride Hailing Services

G7 is a taxi service in Paris.  A little while back, I downloaded the G7 app.  It was terrific.  It is quick and easy to enter the destination.  Meaning no fumbling with using the wrong number in French or mispronouncing street names – all while the taxi driver speaks faster and faster French to you.  Besides, it explained, in English, what kind of car was coming with contact information.  Then, I could see the car on its way with an estimated time of arrival and more.  Just like popular ride sharing apps.

G7 app
G7 App gives the love to Paris travelers.

One of my friends tried Uber and it was a 30 minute wait.  Same when I tried it.  In the past it has worked well, but not so great this time.  Do not know the reasons why, but it is great to have options.  Also, if you link the G7 app to a credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign exchange fee, even better.   (Lyft is not in Paris yet.)

Paris Métro

The Métro is always easy and super-efficient transport.  As you work your way through the underground maze, make sure to look for the signs leading you in the right direction at each intersection.  And, double check yourself each time.  I missed a sign at one cross path, but Jennifer caught it.  Of course, it wouldn’t have been terrible, but catching the right one saved time and kept us on track to our next destination.

Metro Chatelet Station
Fast and efficient transport.

Read more on getting around in Paris here.

Map App

Without my hard copy of a map, I used a map application on my phone a couple of times.  I needed to confirm we were going in the correct direction.  (I felt like I was cheating, but it was pretty useful!)

Credit Cards

Although I advised my bank that I would be in France ahead of time, I still got a fraud call after using my debit card.  Plus, I wasted time and had a lot of aggravation talking to a fraud person who was not really connected to my local bank.  The big banks did not have these problems.  And of course, American Express already knows you are there (somehow??) and knows you are spending money – so no problems with AmEx.

Poncho in Your Satchel

It rained on this visit, but it is Paris, so who really cares?  I had ponchos in my satchel for everyone.  One time it was really raining hard by Parisian standards so I broke out the ponchos.  BUT, make sure the poncho in the little bitty sack from the drugstore is big enough to fit over you!!!  Each of us had on a coat, some with sweaters underneath, and I was carrying my satchel.  None of the ponchos fit over me.  Another was so flimsy, and the wind was so strong, that it was constantly being turned inside out!  Anyway, I was glad to have a little cover, but will be restocking with a little higher quality and checking the sizes before purchasing more.

Hiking Boots – Who Knew?

I was very happy that I brought lightweight, waterproof, hiking boots.  I have never thought of bringing hiking  boots to Paris before.  But, it is lots of walking, sometimes on cobblestones, sometimes in the rain, and sometimes with a little slush on the ground.  They were excellent.  I even wore them when it wasn’t raining.  So, I was very happy to have them.

Paris cobblestones
Look what hiking boots can be good for….

Walk a Mile

Jennifer left her iPhone connected to internet service the entire time.  And, if it is correct, we walked 7-8 miles each day.  I was really surprised by that number!  If it was a long way to dinner, we took a taxi.  Most of this was really just walking in the day from Métro stops and in and around neighborhoods and a few museums.  No wonder Parisians are fit looking!  

Now, THIS is an Observation

Kohei Nawa, Throne
Absolutely off-the-hook-incredible. An eye-popper that is perfectly suited for the Louvre and I.M. Pei’s Pyramid. Kohei Nawa’s, Throne.
Kohei Nawa, Throne; at night
At night it glistens. Lusciousness. Kohei Nawa’s, Throne.

And, one more….

Kohei Nawa, Throne; from the window of the Louvre
Cannot get enough of this. From the windows of the Louvre, no less.

Know When to Rest ‘Em

Everyone else took a rest in the afternoon, but I went to see more and walk around more.  I have a hard time sitting still in Paris.  However, the important part of this is that they NEEDED a rest so that the rest of their day would be enjoyable.  IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND WHEN TO REST.  On this trip, I was fortunate to need only about 15 minutes with my feet up before changing clothes for dinner.  And, for all the places we ate dinner, I wore jeans, collared shirt and a sports jacket.  Also, an outer coat and scarf for traveling to and from dinner.

Louvre Museum Shop Moved

louvre-book-store

The Louvre moved its ticket stations from right under the pyramid into the space where the gift shop used to be.  Now, the museum shop is on the same underground level as before, but two parts, one either side of the wide hall leading to the inverted pyramid.  It still has all of the great books, interesting gifts and walls of post cards.

Angelina on rue de Rivoli

Anghelina on rue de Rivoli

Angelina has an outpost on the rue de Rivoli, next door to Hotel Le Meurice. The line was about 75 people long waiting to get in on a drizzly and cold afternoon.  (Hint:  Go to Café de Flore, instead.  Or try practically any café with seating and you may be surprised by the hot chocolate.)

Stand Up Cafés Disappearing?

Cafés where one stands at the bar and orders coffee and a croissant in the morning seem to be fewer and farther between. Don’t know for sure, but we were having trouble finding them so we could duck in quickly for a shot of espresso.  Will have to research more on this and be more observant.  Maybe it is only the tourist areas that are filled with to-go shops.

Walk and Drink and Eat

Meanwhile on the streets of Paris, more and more Parisians seem to be walking around with cups of coffee in their hands.  Quelle horreur!  That is so un-Parisian to walk on the street and drink coffee.  And, certainly completely unacceptable to eat while walking.  Neither of these used to ever be seen.

Exercise Fanatics – In Style

Exercise in Style
Look – there is one down at the bottom right.
All the others were so fast they ran out of the photo.

Another interesting observation is that more and more joggers are all over the place – another sight that used to never be seen.  They thought I was from the moon when I jogged in the mornings back in the 90s.  Of course, Parisians have on matching running outfits (not just shorts and t-shirts) so they look good while jogging.  The runners are everywhere, especially through the gardens and along the quais of the Seine.

January = Fashion Weeks

No wonder the hotels were not at a deep discount in January.  Paris Fashion Week, both womens’ and mens’ are in January.  Back-to-back.  And, mens fashion week was happening when we were there.  Another time to put on the calendar to check before booking.

Organ Concerts

Saint Severin Grand Organ
Grand Organ at Saint-Séverin.

Organ concerts at historic churches are an absolute must.  They only last an hour and you don’t have to stay for the whole thing. They are a great opportunity to see magnificent architecture, and the sound from the organs can rattle your bones and the rafters.  I saw/heard them at Saint-Sulpice, Saint Séverin and Saint Eustache.  (I wrote more on awe-inspiring churches here.)

All incredible, but Saint Eustache may be a little more fun because the keyboard is on the ground floor.  That means you can see the organist perform while listening to the music.  At the others, the keyboard and the organist are way up by the pipes.  At the end of the performance, they kind of peep out from the organ for their final applause.  Choir organs, which are also beautiful, are played during many church services.  But do not mistake them for the grand organs.  The grand organs are the ones where you see the massive pipes above the main doors to the church.

Jet Lag

For jet lag, I kind of tried the “not eating on the flights” way of thinking.  On the way to Paris, the meal on the plane leaving Atlanta was at about the time I would normally have dinner, so I ate.  I did not eat again until lunch in Paris at Cafe Nouvelle Saint Marie.  On the way back, I ate a baguette sandwich at the airport terminal that I had bought near the hotel.  Then, not again until dinner in Atlanta.  Generally, my jetlag is really bad coming back from Paris.  But this time, it was practically non-existent.  Will try the not eating on flights again in a few months and report back.

A Few More Visual Observations

Postcard wall at Picasso Museum
Wall of postcards at the Picasso Museum; don’t forget the ones you left at home.
Sainte-Chapelle door locks on the interior
Door locks on Sainte-Chapelle – keeping the faithful in?
Samothrace Winged Victory from Afar
And, YES, Audrey, Paris IS ALWAYS a good idea!

 

 

Classic French Bistro – Garlic Chicken and Brabant Potatoes

Classic French Bistro – Garlic Chicken and Brabant Potatoes

French Bistro Garlic Chicken with Baked Brabant Potatoes and Salad

About this Recipe

By: Scott

Here is the bistro-style main course: Garlic Chicken with potatoes and salad on the side.  What more could there be after an appetizer of oeufs mayonnaise?  I suggest beginning with the potatoes.  When you put them in the oven, begin the chicken.  While the potatoes are cooking and the lemons and garlic are cooking, make the salad dressing.  All of the recipes are pretty easy for most home cooks.  Make sure to get lots of crusty French bread to go with the meal.

 

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 1 hour

Meal: Dinner

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 thin-sliced, boneless, skinless chicken breasts *
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 20 cloves garlic, peeled, mashed and roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, sliced very thinly, seeds removed
  • chopped parsley for garnish, if desired
  • black olives for garnish, if desired

* Some groceries have chicken breasts that are sold already thinly sliced.  If your grocery doesn’t sell them like that, buy regular boneless, skinless breasts and slice them in half horizontally to make thin slices.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

In a large skillet, melt butter with vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper, then brown on both sides, 4-5 minutes each side. Place browned chicken on a plate and set aside. 

Brown the chicken.

Step 2

Whisk flour into the hot oil and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Whisk in flour.

Step 3

Stir in wine, chicken broth, lemon slices, and garlic and bring to a boil.

Add the garlic and lemons.

Classic French Bistro-Style Baked Brabant Potatoes

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 2 russet baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chopped parsley for garnish, if desired

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Preheat oven to 425.

Step 2

Spray a large sheet pan with non-stick spray or oil it generously with olive oil.  Spread the potatoes on the sheet pan in a single layer and season generously with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with more olive oil and toss to coat the potatoes on all sides.

Step 3

Bake, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.  Then, turn the oven to broil and brown the potatoes.  After 15 minutes, stir the potatoes and brown on the other side, about 15 minutes more.

Green Salad with Dijon Citrus Dressing

Ingredients

  • 4-5 ounces of  baby arugula, mâche, or other tender greens
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • blue cheese for garnish, if desired

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Place greens in a large bowl.  Combine olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Step 2

Drizzle dressing over greens, toss and serve.  Do not toss the greens more than 5 minutes before ready to serve.

A Few Favorite Cookbooks…

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle

The classic set of books that essentially brought French classical cooking to America! (read more)

Bistro Cooking

by Patricia Wells

The cult idol created this go-to, mouthwatering cookbook for every day and special occasions. (read more)

Simple French Food

by Richard Olney

Meticulous instruction from an obsessive and masterful cook. (read more)

A Parisian Style Egg Salad (Oeufs Mayonnaise)

A Parisian Style Egg Salad (Oeufs Mayonnaise)

Parisian Style Egg Salad (Oeufs Mayonnaise)

About this Recipe

By: Scott

Parisian Style Egg Salad (Oeufs Mayonnaise) is a classic Parisian appetizer.  It became difficult to find for quite some time.  But now, oeufs mayonnaise seems to be enjoying a resurgence.  Why not?  They are luscious and surprisingly filling.  Plus, they look interesting on a plate – trying to capture that in the photo.

This is part of the series on making a Parisian dinner right at home.  Again, trying to make easy recipes, with a portion that can be made ahead.  The Parisian Style Egg Salad (Oeufs Mayonnaise), really fits the ticket of ease of preparation, making part ahead and being classically Parisian.

You can prepare the eggs and the mayonnaise a day ahead and simply plate it when you are ready to begin your meal.  The recipe is for 4 servings of 3 halves each.  However, it only takes a little math to increase this for more people.  And, you will be happy to have extra if there are only two of you for dinner.

 

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 1 hour

Meal: Appetizer

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs, nearly hard-boiled and peeled
  • 1 c. mayonnaise – prepared
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. vinegar (white wine vinegar, but could use red wine, white vinegar – probably not balsamic)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • optional – chopped chives, chopped green part of green onions, cherry tomatoes halved, sprigs of celery leaves, fresh thyme stem with leaves, any of these for garnish

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Boil the eggs (or go buy some already boiled and peeled).  Really, I am a big believer in the 6 minute boiled egg.  They come out beautifully, no dark ring around the yellow, yolky but firm, not dry and mealy.  I use the age-old recipe in many, many cookbooks for a 7 minute boiled egg, but reduce it by a minute.  Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with plenty of cold water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Then, when it comes a boil – a real boil – turn the time on for 6 minutes.  Next, reduce the heat only a little and let them boil for 6 minutes.

Now that is boiling!

Step 2

Remove from heat and pour out the water. Fill the saucepan with the eggs with cold water, a few times, so the cooking stops completely.  Peel and store in the refrigerator if you are making them ahead.

Step 3

Good luck with peeling them.  I have read that if the eggs are old they peel easier.  Or, some say put vinegar in the water.  Others say peel when hot.  Just do your best.  Keep reading and you will find that we are going to hide the blemishes of these little jewels.

Step 4

Make the mayonnaise.  In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients (except garnish) in a bowl and mix until smooth.  It should be thin enough to spoon over the eggs, but not really thin enough to pour.  Set aside.

Step 5

Slice the boiled eggs in half lengthwise.  Place 3 halves, yellow side down, in a peace sign arrangement on a salad plate.  Spoon the mayonnaise over the eggs to cover them completely.  Garnish if desired.  Repeat on 3 other salad plates.

Serve with crusty French bread so none of the mayonnaise is lost.

A Simple French Bistro-Style Apple Tart Recipe

A Simple French Bistro-Style Apple Tart Recipe

Simple French Bistro-Style Apple Tart Recipe

About this Recipe

By: Scott

Who doesn’t want a French bistro-style apple tart?  And what cook doesn’t want a simple recipe for something good?  This tart recipe is simple and made with super basic ingredients.  It will cook into an impressive dessert that will win you fans from all over.  Although I had to make it multiple times to make it photo worthy, each one tasted terrific.  Don’t worry if it isn’t the most beautiful thing you ever made.  Slice it up and serve it up.  If you want even more on your dessert plate, you can add ice cream or whipped cream on the side or on top.  But, it really doesn’t need it.

Servings: 4-6

Prep Time: 1 hour

Calories: 353

Meal: Dessert

Ingredients

  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 3/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • parchment paper

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Peel, core and slice the apples into 1/8” – 1/4” slices.  (I do it by hand and wind up with odd sizes and pieces.  But, it kind of makes the end result have softness and crunch in each bite.  If you really want to have even slices, try using a French mandoline or the much less expensive, benriner mandoline.  Be careful, you can slice your finger off.)

Step 2

Put the apples in a bowl and sprinkle with the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice.  Then, toss with a fork – or your hands – trying to coat each slice with some of the sugar mixture.  Pour the apple mixture into a colander and place the colander back into the bowl.  Set aside for about 30 minutes so that delicious juice will drain from apples.

Step 3

When the apples have finished making their juice, place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and place the puff pastry onto the parchment.  (Do not use a baking sheet that has an air layer sandwiched between metal.  The bottom will not get done enough.)

Step 4

Turn the apple mixture onto the dough, make a decorative pattern with the apples, or not.  Then, fold the dough up around the edges and over some of the apples.  Pinch together the edges of puff pastry where the dough laps over itself.  Next, brush the dough with the egg and sprinkle the remaining 2 Tbsp. of sugar over the dough brushed with egg.

Step 5

In a small saucepan combine the liquid that drained off the apples and the butter.  Place over medium-high heat, bring to a boil and reduce the liquid until it is thick.  The liquid will become thick and caramel colored.  Remove from heat and drizzle the liquid over the apples.  Then, bake in the preheated oven for about an hour, or until the dough is nicely browned and the apples are cooked.  Remove from oven and let sit at least 5-10 minutes before cutting.  Serve hot or room temperature.

More Bistro-Style Recipes

Recipes for a Parisian Bistro-Style Meal

Recipes for a Parisian Bistro-Style Meal

Cooking and enjoying a Parisian bistro-style meal is a great way to get in the spirit of visiting Paris.  With a little planning, it can be an easy weeknight event.  Or, invite some friends and make it a weekend dinner for family and friends.  Either way, it will transport you to Paris – even if just for the evening.

These Parisian recipes are pretty simple with ingredients that can be purchased in nearly any local grocery store.  Do not worry if it doesn’t come out perfect.  My cooking always seems to look lopsided on the plate.  It took me multiple attempts and lots of photos to try to make these dishes look as good as I could.

Three Part Series for Parisian Bistro-Style Meal

There are 3 parts in this series on Parisian recipes.  I always start with dessert.  Then, you will find the appetizer.  Finally, the main course and a couple of sides.

With those 3 courses, it will be a simple, but filling Parisian bistro-style meal.  It should satisfy your yen for French food – right in your own home.

Here is the first in the series.

 

Should you want to know what the French have for a full dinner, the following are the courses and the order.

 

Aperitif (same in English)

Generally a glass of Champagne or a glass of dry white wine, maybe a kir, along with some roasted nuts, assorted olives and a cracker.  Not a cocktail hour, but a settle-in drink while waiting for everyone invited to gather round (or make it to the dinner).

 

Entrée (our appetizer)

This is the first course at the table.  Generally, this will compliment the main course.  So, if you are having fish or seafood for the main course, you may want to have a vegetable tart or onion soup.  If you are having meat for the main course, then choose a fish or seafood appetizer.

 

Plat Principal (main dish)

Obviously, this is the bigger portion of the meal that will include a protein and a side dish or two.  Again, make it work with the appetizer to provide variety during the meal.

 

Salade (salad)

Just like how it sounds, but probably very simple.  Some greens, a light dressing and really that is it.  No need to go crazy with eggs, olives, nuts, dried fruits and all the things we toss together in a salad.

 

Fromage (cheese)

A great thing about Paris is that there are cheese shops all over the place and it is easy to have little tastes of a variety of cheese at the end of a meal.  Like you can imagine, a plate may be presented family style with 3 cheeses.  Maybe some honey, preserved fruits or roasted nuts will be on the side.  Then, you slice off a portion for your plate and pass it around.

 

Dessert (dessert)

Been waiting the whole meal for this?  Well, like over here, some people go all out on extravagant desserts and others are simple and often contain fruit.  The thing about Paris is, pastry stores create beautiful desserts that are wonderful tasting – and you don’t have to make them.  So why not go all out on dessert in Paris?

 

Café (coffee)

At the end, after dessert, coffee will be served.  Often times a small bit of chocolate will be served to accompany the coffee.

By this time, you should be D-O-N-E.  Even without huge portions, this should be a sufficiency.

The recipes here are for an abbreviated version of this full French meal.  Even without all of the courses (let alone all the dishes to wash), this Parisian bistro-style meal will probably satisfy you.

 

 

Useful Terms – Spoken Like a Native

Useful Terms – Spoken Like a Native

Useful terms are something everyone visiting a foreign country needs.  If for nothing else, to find the bathroom.  But, knowing a few other words for food and drinks will at least take care of basic needs.  I just finished a page on useful terms and want to share the story of how it came about.

New Site

If you don’t know it by now, this is a new website/blog/creation.  After finally going live a few weeks ago, pages still need to be finalized – all while writing new blog entries and triple checking what is up and how it looks.  Lots and lots of writing, revising, tweaking appearance of the pages, increasing page load speeds, making sure keywords are used, etc…  So many words are used that I have never heard of describing things I never thought of.

Food and Drink is a “main menu item.”  That means it has several “pages” under it.  (I am probably getting all of this wrong.)  And, while working on the pages under the Food and Drink main menu, it seemed like providing some useful terms would be a good idea.  After all, this site, pariswithscott.com, is to try to help first time visitors or people who want to visit Paris on their own be able to do it.

Basic Useful Terms for Food

So, I made a list of super basic terms.  Not many, real basic food terms.  Just so looking at a menu posted outside of a restaurant may not be completely out of the question.  While doing that, I started to sound out the French words and write in my own pronunciation guide!!  As if I know how to tell someone how to say something in French!!!

Words like temperatures for cooking a steak for “steak frites.”  Medium-rare is “à point” (ah-pwahw), medium is “cuit” (kwee), well done is “bien cuit” (bee-iahn-kwee).  (I don’t think the French really know how to cook something “bien cuit.”)  And on and on for me sounding out the pronunciation.

Wouldn’t It Be Great…

While writing down those pronunciations I emailed Susan, the talented woman who is working with me on the site. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could add in some way for visitors to the site to hear the word pronounced by a native French speaker?”

Well, she did it.  Susan made the page absolutely incredible!!!  Take a look and a listen here:

https://pariswithscott.com/food-and-drink-in-paris/french-pronunciation-guide-with-audio/

The internet is incredible.  Useful terms are great, but hearing them, while seeing the word, is really great.  Okay, that is it.  This entry is a thank you to Susan!

Subscribe If You Want

If you want to sign up for the newsletter, feel free.  I’m trying to write entries and every now and then they will be emailed out to you if you subscribe.  And, always happy to hear suggestions on making it better.  Just went live not too long ago and still getting things worked out.  This is kind of a preview for you.

Thanks for taking a look.

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