Monday, May 23, 2016

Paris in the rain

Ah, this relentless rain! -- I hear this on the street. Oh, France has had a wet wet spring!

For me, there is a certain beauty to it: the sidewalks glisten (as Snowdrop has learned, Paris is a city of dogs)...

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(Wet dogs right now...)

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... wet sidewalks, reflecting lights in lovely ways.

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I'm seeing this on my way to pick up breads and fruits. From Ste Duchesne Boulangerie...

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... and from this fruit vendor. It surely feels like springtime in Paris!

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But the fact is, pushing a stroller in the rain, where Snowdrop's legs need to be wrapped in a raincoat, where I navigate the narrow, uneven sidewalks while holding an umbrella just so -- that's tough going. We were lucky yesterday -- we had a long pause in the rain in the afternoon and only struggled on the way back, but today's morning forecast is just plain wet.

The younger couple sets out anyway. They only have a few days of a vacation in Paris. They are eager to go!

Me, I decide to stay home with Snowdrop. She needs a rest. She'd had two evenings of fighting a bug (all better now!). We'll wait until after the rains diminish.

So, breakfast!

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And play. (On her aunt and uncle's bed this time.)

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(And on the grown up chairs in the living room.)

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But we all have a date: a Mother's Day lunch. Where to, mom?  Oh, there's no question that I would most like to go with my kids and grandkid to La Varenne -- my very favorite of Parisian cafe-restaurants. And here's a secret that parents traveling with kids to Paris don't know (I've been reading posts by such parents on this topic): Cafe La Varenne has a high chair. An almost unheard of thing! It's hidden, but they'll bring it up if you request it in advance.

We have the most joyous and extraordinary lunch. As always, the waiters are lovely but I hadn't known how charming they would also be toward a young child.

(Snowdrop is eating a basket-ful of bread while we wait for the food. Does it spoil her appetite? Wait and see.)

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A hand game before the food comes...

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My younger daughter, her husband, a plate of radishes, salt, bread and butter...

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My main course -- today's special: sea bass.

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And Snowdrop? She tastes my fish appreciatively. And she loves her plateful of ravioli with mushrooms and possibly spinach.

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And she loves the haricots verts which she snitches from her mother's plate.

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Here, everyone's cooperating for the group photo, except for Snowdrop, who thinks this is a fine opportunity to go after more food.

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And she loves, loves, loves her dad's snails in garlic butter. Eats half his portion.

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And she loves Cafe la Varenne's french fries.

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Here, she is thinking -- I'm sure I can get him to share his tart, too. He does.

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Finally, several hours later, we leave. Can I walk some? Yep. Just hold hands.

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The rains have finally receded, but it seems cool and wet out there. Not really park weather. We go instead to the department store, Le Bon Marche, which has a large toy department. Snowdrop plays with the train...

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... and she has a fair amount of freedom to explore.

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Yes, it is very hard to finally pull her away!

In the evening, we are eating well again -- this is the night when we taste the bottom of the top: David Toutain is a Michelin starred restaurant, though it is has earned only one of the coveted symbols of excellence. When I worked in the kitchens of Madison's fine dining place, I followed the woes and successes of Michelin starred places, but in the last decade, I've been more distant from it all. Not only is this world of great food significantly out of my price range, but as I travel alone, I don't really look for that specific kind of excellence. This, I feel, needs to be shared.

But I decided to dig into my savings for this night. I choose a place that has a low key (rather than refined) atmosphere and perhaps because I booked so far in advance, they give us the semi-private dining room for the night. We signed onto the smaller menu (for its lesser price and because honestly, 7 courses seemed plenty), but there are always more courses than they tell you.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about food of this nature is that the link between presentation and taste is (usually) immaculate. So that your senses are engaged on many levels.There's no point in posting  pictures (a photo here is too limited), but I like giving at least a sense of place. I've been sitting between two daughters in all our meals, facing the two husbands. I'll include this:

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And two photos of two smaller plates. Just two.

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nasturtium and berries

All beautiful, all grand.

And now is the time for me to shut the computer lid tight. Tomorrow is a full day!


  1. Great group photo, with the little hand reaching :^) Love the range of little faces Snowdrop makes!

  2. Rainy days can be so wonderful. Scents are enhanced (ask any dog), color is multiplied by reflections.

    On our BIG family vacation this past winter, we had some rain. One night we walked along the totally-deserted boardwalk through a warm, wet GALE. When we reached the very fine restaurant we'd planned on, it appeared to be closed. But oh, they were so glad to see us! There were many of us, family and cousins and Miami friends. It felt so extra good to come in from the wind to this lovely place of hospitality and food aromas. Many bottles of wine were ordered up that night! Cadence, in her high chair, was completely interested in everyone and in cadging tastes of their food.

    Thank you for this reminder of times past! My heart connects with your Ocean. Your family time in Paris will come back to you often, and bring smiles.

    Favorite photo today: of course, the family table! with the handsome photo-bombing waiter to add a sense of place.

  3. Watching different generations of a family explore a city is wonderful. Especially the expressions the youngest one makes as she takes in everything about her trip. These posts are a delight.


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