20211217 Paris

Woke early today and was gone before eight.  Had a bit of trouble locating the Metro entrance at Bréguet–Sabin, and once I did find it there was no ticket machine.  So I walked to the next Metro stop at Place de la Bastille and ducked underground to get the five heading South.

Leaving the Metro at Place d’Italie, I walked toward the area of Butte-aux-Cailles.  This area has a reputation for street art.  First though I hit a little bakery and picked up a brioche with marrons (chestnut cream).  Think of it like a cream filled pastry injected with something like marzipan but with a texture similar to apple-butter.

Then I meandered and shot and meandered and shot for better than an hour and a half.  I also spent some time sitting in Square de la Montgolfière, recording bird and city sounds.  A bit later than hoped, I then made my way to the Catacombs.  But first I nabbed a ham and cheese sandwich at that same bakery, Lorette Gourmet Bakery, again.

Ate half the sandwich on my way to the catacombs.  They require advanced ticketing, so I bought a ticket on-line after sneaking away to use a public toilet.  Met three travelers from North Beacon Hill standing in line.

Once in the building we descended more than 100 steps down a spiral staircase.  Seriously, one of the weirdest things you’ll ever do.  You do the same up at the end.  Just a long spiral without landings or passages, just steps.

Took about two hours to get through the whole thing.  I was not in a hurry.  I stopped at one point to record some dripping sounds where water is seeping through the limestone above the catacombs.  You can see tiny stalactites forming on the ceilings.

Exiting the catacombs I made my way to a train station to grab the B back North to find Chez Georges.  When I arrived I asked for a table if that were possible as it was quite close to closing (14:00).  They seated me at first in a small lone table, but rethinking things he then asked if I’d prefer something I didn’t catch and then he brought me into the larger dining area and squeezed me in between two couples at a long line of tables.  He didn’t want me to eat alone.

Chez Georges serves pretty classic French fare with an extensive wine list.  I was tempted to get a carafe from Pomerol for $140 but opted instead for a chardonnay as that would pair better with the escargot and the sole meunière.

I chatted up the couples on each side.  Each had something to say that might help my dining experience.  Each also appeared to have spent many previous engagements at Chez Georges.  Experts, yes, but also familiar.

The food was amazing, of course.  The escargot was surprisingly well balanced and the waiter said it was best with the bread.  She was absolutely correct.  She also recommended the chardonnay.  Sole meunière is essentially flour dredged sole poached in butter (they say pan fried but…).

After dinner I was offered the dessert menu.  I was already talking about the dessert that both couples had already ordered and received:  baba au rhum.  Basically a yeast sweet bread of some sort soaked in rum and eaten with crème fraîche.  The couple to my left (young and successful, apparently, or just posh) had ordered two but only she would eat the baba, so she insisted I try the other as it was her favorite dessert.  So no dessert menu ever arrived.  The couple on my left agreed it was their favorite dessert as well.  I have to admit it was pretty amazing.  I’m sure I tasted cinnamon but was repeatedly assured none was added (probably a flavor coming from the rum instead).

Finish that meal with a bit of eau de vie de poire.  About as good as it gets.  The woman to my left, a radio journalist who was now committed to a tipsy broadcast, and I talked for a bit before I departed.

From there it was off to la musée des Arts et Métiers.  This is a museum for industry and technology I suppose.  They have a great collection of machines and inventions.  There are also a handful of automatons and the like (all the way down to music boxes).

Back here to chez Fred to type all this.  Maybe I’ll find a bar shortly but it’s Friday so it will be different.

Fred arrived before I left and also wanted a drink.  We walked around a corner to a place that had grown during his tenure in this area from a small bar taking over the two adjacent storefronts to be pretty sizable today (Pause Café).  We had some Ricard and pommes frites, then returned and to crash.


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