Friday, April 02, 2010

Stolen friends, being tourists and dinner.

Today I went riding with my two Paris cycling friends. Both I have stolen from other friends.

Sketch  for the Day - done over a glass of port.

Leigh, an Aussie residing in the 11e I’ve cycled with on my past two visits. I stole him from one of my home buddies, Rowdy. We call Rowdy, Rowdy because he’s very shy and quiet. Really he's Chris in his normal life. Anyway, Leigh and his partner Sophie have made Paris more comfortable for us through their friendship.

The other friend is Michel Briat and I met him on my last visit. Michel I stole from my very good friend back home, Michael Goldie who is recovering from a fractured hip. Michel has been to Oz for the World Masters Cycling championships previously.

Michel decided to take me to this place for old folk like me to meet women I'm told. Leigh agreed that it is/was a well known pick-up joint. Glad it was closed. By the way, the reason I have my arms folded and standing so close to Michel was that I was sooooooo bloody cold. It didn't reach double figures and on the way home Leigh and I were caught in the hail, brrrrrrrr.
Michel speaks very little English and me, well I’m hopeless with French but I enjoy his company. We sort of get by but it would be so much more rewarding to understand each other more. I’m sure we have a great deal in common.

On meeting I was greeted with the usual French cheek kissing which made me feel accepted as a true friend. Leigh was our interpreter on our morning ride which was most kind of him. During the ride Leigh started to get his English and French mixed a little and next thing I knew he was speaking French to me and English to Michel.

We met at the Cipale Velodrome, home of the Tour de France finish on many occasions during the Eddy Merckx era. Michel rides one of his bikes and had personal contact with the great man when purchasing his bike. I feel like I ride with cycling royalty.

Our ride took us in locations unknown to me so I just clung to Michel’s wheel for safety. Towards the end of our ride the heavens opensed and with the wind and rain came the hail, home just in time.

As Leigh and I arrived at the apartment door, there was Sue arriving back after shopping.
After a shower and lunch it was time to hit the Metro once again. I think Sue and I both have southern hemisphere GPS systems as we walked the opposite direction to the Metro station we needed. Just another adventure to experience.
The Metro is a wonderful system, that is if you don’t need to navigate the main station Chatelet. It’s underground nightmare. I’m sure its fine for the locals but a poor old tourist like myself!!!!

I'm sure the Metro is not as confusing as I make out but publlc transport, even at home causes me to hyper-ventilate. (oh what a sooky, sooky, la la he is! It isn't confusing at all - except Chatellet where it would be quicker to walk the whole distance! Sue)

We decided that Il de la Cite and Ile Saint-Louis would be today’s destination. We return to on each visit to Paris to Il de la Cite. It’s the home of Notre Dame. An unexplored feature is the Parvis, where the original foundations of the early Parissi tribe made Il de la Cite their home.

No tourists, the back of Notre Dame is soooo peaceful. Please don't tell the rest of the world.

The tourists, and there are heaps, litter the forecourt of the great cathedral. If you sneak around the back, you can absorb the architecture in the peace and quietude of the park that the tourists are not aware of. Listen to me!!! I’m not a tourist???? Yeah right.
Bitterly cold, we both needed a chocolat  chaud to warm us up. Behind Notre Dame is a memorial to the thousands of Jews that were incarcerated by the Nazis. It’s a very sobering memorial and I for one, wonder how any race could do this to another group of humans.
We crossed a small “pont” that took us to Ile Saint-Louis. This small island of the Seine echoed with the sound of harsh, loud American accents. I have several American friends and spent a summer racing in California, but I have a need to move on sometimes when I hear the accent of the uninitiated American tourist. We have them (Aussie tourists) also. It just seemed that we didn’t hear any local voices. We only seemed to hear LOUD voices with American accents around Notre Dame and Ile Saint-Louis especially.

The doorways and windows of Ile Saint-Louis

It was time for a red wine before moving on - the choice was a glass of Bordeaux in a lovely little café on the corner with a pretty yellow Citroen Deux Chevaux parked outside.

Shopping on the way home.
We found a great little wine shop in the street with excellent service. Staying in one place more that a few days allows you to become part of the life flow. People come to recognise you and are very helpful. Unfortunately Nicolas, our wine shop had only one Australian wine on the shelf and a very poor choice, “ “Yellow Tail”. No wonder the French have very little appreciation of our great wines. Where are the Coonawarra’s, the Yarra Valley’s, and the Barossa, McLaren Vales, not to mention the WA and Tassie wines. How can you consider an OZ Yellow Tail when you can buy an acceptable Bordeaux at less than AUS$10. Nicolas is a wine shop chain that can be seen in almost every area in Paris. A bit like a minute Dan Murphy.
Dinner tonight.
How easy. Cold day, we got rained on, hailed on and sunshined on, many times for each and in no particular order.

I needed soup! Not just any soup mind you, but French onion soup with gratineed cheesy toasty bread on top. Warm…yum…

Couldn’t buy readymade stock, had to rely on cubes, but cooked the onions down until they were dark and luscious, added a little red wine, stock and cooked it down. Added the cheesy toasts and grilled it all. It worked.
Sue's home made French Onion Soup - great winter comfort food.

Cooked the last duck breast with garlic and herbs and sliced it onto salad of lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, avocado and roasted waxy potatoes. Added a warm vinagrette made again with blood orange juice and it’s done.

The wines of the Loire Valley - Pouilly, Vouvray, Saumur. Visit Uncle Dan's (Murphy's)and try one or two but don't expect to get them as cheaply as here.

Time for coffee….thanks Leon.
OK Sue but don't rush me, I'm trying to get another Blog out.

Today's Arty-Farty Photo
Tomorrow is my 60th birthday, that is if you go by this blog, however, I'm a day behind. Today is my birthday but that was yesterday if you are reading this today. But in Australia, my birthday was yesterday's, yesterday. Huh, I'm really confused, are you??? (Sue says its only coz I'm 60).

Now about tomorrow's blog, which is about today's adventures.
A day at Hotel National des Invalides or saying hello to Nappy B.


  1. Happy birthday (again), whenever that is in France or Australia!
    I felt like I was taking the bike ride with you and your friends, shopping at Nicolas and eating Sue's meals. Lovely!

  2. Pleased to have you join us. I guess manny people will take advantage of easter and have their own mini-holiday.
    We saw many suitcases on the Metro yesterday.


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