Paris Journal 2005

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

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The restoration of the Petit-Palais will be done by 1006.  I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product.


The Petit Palais, above, and below, a statue on the outside of the Grand Palais.



There is a new restaurant in our neighborhood.  It is called simply Lucas.  While it is quite “a la mode,” it also serves delicious, savory food at good prices.  Tom said he thought this might be one of a handful of restaurants owned by a chef named Lucas who used to work for someone like Alain Ducasse.  The other Lucas restos would be in other big cities, like New York.  That fits, because the card for Lucas has “Paris” under the Lucas name, as if there are Lucas restos elsewhere in the world. 


Here is a web page that describes Lucas.  Please forgive their awkward English.  The food is definitely French, but quite nouvelle, not traditional.  It is going to become the kind of place where reservations will be essential, but we were there for the “debut,” according to our server, a bubbly woman of about 40 years old.  My entrée was a “tarte fine de lisette,” with a fine flaky bottom crust, topped by slices of plump marinated sardines (the fresh kind, not the salty ones), and wonderful finely chopped/sliced vegetables in a perfect vinaigrette with thin swirls of green and black olive tapenade mixed with the best olive oil.  Yumm.  (A “lisette,” by the way, is a little known French word that you will only find in certain dictionnaires.  It means either a long vest, or a small knife that doesn’t cut much, such as the kind you would give to a child.  My tarte was probably named for the long vest, because it had a long rectangular shape.)


For my main course, I had a “grenadin de veau,” which turned out to be two tender chunks of roasted veal stuffed with a little garlic, served on top of long macaronis in a cheese sauce (!) with swirls of a nice brown sauce and a smattering of wild mushrooms.  Tom had excellent “noisettes d’agneau,” which are thick medallions of lamb, covered with herbs, accompanied by vegetables including peas.


Tom had the fondant du chocolat for dessert.  It came with a scoop of tasty ginger sorbet.  The chocolate was warm and rich, as it should be.


Don’t miss Lucas, 1 Place Etienne Pernet, 15th arrondissement, Telephone 01-48-28-06-06.  Modern French cuisine is wonderful.


The night before, we went back to Le Bourbon and had another very good dinner.  We ate outdoors on the terasse because we like the view of the Place du Palais Bourbon and the Palais itself (the National Assembly’s meeting place).  Unfortunately, in front of us sat a group of three young people, two good-looking guys and a gal, who were probably in their mid-20s, that age when they think they are invincible and will live forever.  They consumed three pitchers of wine and didn’t eat one bite of food.  They also smoked at least 22 cigarettes – Marlboros, of course.  One of these days, this behavior will catch up with them and they will not look so good or feel so invincible anymore.  It is so sad.


At least a third of the French people smoke, according to the French newspapers.  Now that the Parisians are coming back from vacation, we are having to put up with more of their smoke and their poorly tended lit cigarettes.  Watch out for Parisian pedestrians carrying lit cigarettes at their sides!  And we are having to put up with more of their dog shit on the sidewalk.  My observation is that about one in four French people have very unsavory habits and a disregard for how their slovenly behavior affects others.  The other three out of four are extremely courteous and meticulous.  I love those three out of four.  I try to love the remaining one, but that is difficult.


You can’t say there isn’t still too much dog shit on French sidewalks.  You can’t say that French smokers don’t toss their cigarette butts hither and yon.  You can’t say that no French man spits on a sidewalk in public.  You can’t say that a French smoker will never burn you with his/her cigarette because they are so careless.


All I can add to this is that it is a VERY good thing that Paris has its sidewalks cleaned regularly, almost daily.


There is a group of politicians who are going to try, by the end of this year, to pass legislation that will ban smoking in all public places.  I wish them the very best of luck and I am grateful to them for their efforts. 


I also wish the police in each arrondissement the best of luck with catching and fining the people who do not clean up after their dogs.  The fines are very high, especially for recidivists.  (The fine for the first offense is 183 euros, or about $220.)  Judging from the amount of dog shit on the sidewalks, this could be a great source of income for the government.  And the government here needs desperately to find more sources of revenue.


Back to smoking.  The City of Paris has implemented a project to promote hotels and restaurants who have decided to become “no smoking” establishments.  Here is the web page that lists the places who have signed up so far.  If you click on “ajouter à votre panier” at the bottom of that web page, you can arrange to have its link e-mailed to you every time the page is updated with more no-smoking establishments!  This is a great idea!  I’m not so sure that the French national government is doing a good job, and its leaders do seem to know that they must change, but I think that the City of Paris is doing a very fine job, given the challenges it faces every day.  Hats off to Bertrand Delanoe and his team!  If you agree with me, click on Bertrand’s name above to go to a web site where you can vote for him to be “World Mayor.”


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