An Hour from Paris, Chris, Jamie, Jardin de Luxembourg, le Musée des Tramways à Vapeur et des chemins de fer Secondaires français, Little Italy, Marais, Matt, meals, Montorgueil, Morton, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Paris, Place des Vosges, poularde, Rosa Bonheur, rue Montorgueil, Seine, Steam Trains, Tramways
Chris and Matt have been great friends for many years with Jamie, an American who now lives and works in Denmark. Jamie and his Danish partner Morton arrived late Thursday night from Denmark. We all met up for breakfast on Friday, at a café on rue Montorgueil.
We then strolled down to the Seine and over into the Latin Quarter. As we arrived at the Jardin du Luxembourg Matt suggested a picnic. I ducked into a crisp-looking wine store and asked the friendly proprietor whether it is permitted to have a picnic with wine in the park. He said yes, then directed us to a nearby cheese store and boulangerie and suggested two refreshing rosés. When we asked for plastic cups he offered to loan us real wine glasses! Our compliments to the Cave du Senat.
Our picnic was lovely, although there was a glitch. We had invited Antoine to join us but just before he arrived he suffered a wardrobe malfunction and had to hightail it home, then off to his tutoring gig. As we finished exploring the park Antoine suggested that we meet him before dinner at Rosa Bonheur in le parc des Buttes-Chaumont. I had been planning to take Matt and Chris there on Sunday afternoon, which is the gayest time, but the weather seemed perfect so we set out by bus — despite my ignorance of the need to flag it down — and métro. We got there in time to see the last few sunbathers, and to get a photo in the late afternoon light.
By the time we circled back to Rosa Bonheur the crowd was growing — perhaps 1/3 gay even on a Friday — and we arrived just as the crowd-control barriers went up. We bought our third bottle of rosé to toast the moment, then … umm … perhaps one or two more, while we waited for Antoine (who arrived a few minutes later) to get to the front of the very slow entrance line. We had saved a few glasses of wine to help him catch up, but just as he was finishing it started to rain, and everyone headed for the interior of the little guinguette.
While the rain was annoying I was glad that Matt and Chris got to see the indoor scene, which can be quite fun. Fortunately the rain stopped fairly quickly, and we were treated to a lovely sunset.
Antoine had made reservations at Le Baratin, a restaurant in the 20ème that is frequented by the chefs of other top restaurants.
It’s quite an appealing place, but it caters more to French patrons than to tourists. Our experienced and persuasive waiter commented, for example, that I was “as bad as the Chinese” when I took a snapshot of my meal.
As we left I noticed a mature woman having a smoke outside the front door. After she confirmed that she was the chef, she agreed to let me take her photo.
On Saturday Matt, Chris, Jamie and Morton went off to Versailles, which I have visited several times. I did laundry, ironing, grocery shopping, and, just for you, gentle reader, wrote a week’s worth of blog posts.
Sunday morning we all caught up again for breakfast, in the Haut Marais, then wandered down to the Place des Vosges, and finally back to the 2ème, where Matt, Chris and I said our farewells to Jamie and Morton, then set off to le Musée des Tramways à Vapeur et des chemins de fer Secondaires français (the Museum of Steam Tramways and Secondary Railroads of France), about an hour from Paris by train. This proved to be a charming little museum, with the additional benefit — only two days a month — of a ride on a steam-powered secondary train!
Not only were there no other foreign tourists there, but the friendly volunteer staffers told us that they get almost no foreigners ever. I trust that our train-loving friends will fix this on their future visits to Paris!
We had neglected to eat lunch, and nothing was open in the vicinity of the museum, so we were starving by the time we got home. A restaurant on rue Montorgueil that I have turned my nose up at many times because of its English name — Little Italy — satisfied our hunger rather well.
Travel Note: I realized half-way through the trip that I had made a 6 euro travel error. I had purchased one-way tickets to Valmondois for all of us, forgetting that my monthly Navigo pass includes the entire Ile-de-France system on weekends and holidays. We only bought two tickets back to Paris after I confirmed this with the clerk at the train station. The monthly Navigo pass for zones 1 and 2 now costs 70 euros. It’s fun to just slap your wallet on the métro gate like the cool kids but it doesn’t really save money unless you use the weekend deal a few times a month. Note also that the weekly Navigo does not include the Ile-de-France deal.
After several busy days we were happy to make it an early evening.
Mot du Jour: poularde. According to Antoine, a “young fat chicken.”