Sunday, August 27
Le Jardin des Plantes
Flowers from the Coptic florist by the Monoprix on rue Linois.
Artificial flower store facing the Square Louis XVI near the boulevard
Haussmann in the 8th arrondissement. Looks like it has been there for a long
This rose window is in the ceiling, not the transcept wall, in the Saint
Philippe de Roule church, located on the rue Faubourg St. Honoré in the 8th
A window featuring Sainte Clotilde in the Saint Philippe de Roule church.
During much of
this past week, it has been rainy.
Just like the day that we happened to stop for a drink on a boat on
We walked all
the way from our apartment in the 15th to the
Saint-Germain-des-Prés area, stopping first to gauge the length of the line
at the Musée du Quai Branly (still about an hour’s wait). By the time we were in the 6th
arrondissement, we were footsore, thirsty, and a bit hungry. It was only just barely happy hour time,
not dinner time. We had not eaten
that Ron B. told us about a Belgian seafood brasserie right there on the
boulevard Saint Germain. Reasoning
that most brasseries have continuous service throughout the day, I decided
that we should find it and give it a try.
It is right
there, big as life, in front of the Mabillon métro stop on the boulevard
Saint Germain. As I was standing in
front of it, examining the menu, a few raindrops started to fall. I went in, and Tom followed. There was no server in sight. The place was quite large, but I think only
a couple tables were occupied. We
stood for a while, waiting to be recognized and seated. When nothing happened, we seated ourselves
in the sizeable no-smoking section.
downpour started. The servers had not
extended the awnings, so all the outside tables were wet. We were so happy to be inside, it didn’t
matter that time went by and still no server had appeared.
flat-screened TV, a silent but modern video was showing how the mussels
served in this Belgian
brasserie, called Léon, were caught, washed in sea water, packed into
burlap bags which are sewn shut by hand, shipped in big, sleek semi-trucks
into Paris each night, and prepared to order, as fresh as can be, right
downstairs in Léon. Although quite
self-promotional, the brasserie’s video was interesting and captivating.
It poured and
poured rain outside. We were smugly
sitting, warm and dry, in this bright, sparkling clean, big brasserie. Finally, a couple servers appeared. They had been treating themselves to a
coffee and ice cream (which turned out to be very ordinary), and I ordered
white wine and a fried mussel appetizer, which the carte indicated was
perfectly acceptable to order with one’s “appératif.”
were soft, fresh, and perfectly fried – not greasy at all. This preparation was called “la petite
friture de moules.” It came with a
sort-of tartar sauce made with wonderful crème fraiche (like sour cream, but
We’ll go back
for a main meal sometime soon. The
main-course mussels are made many different ways (not fried!), and you can
order them to be made with exactly the ingredients you want. They are served in the “cocotte” (a heavy,
brightly colored, enameled, covered saucepot) in which they are cooked.
We ordered in
French, of course, and were perfectly understood. But I saw a family of three, a rather prosperous
looking trio, come in and after saying “bonjour” very nicely, they spoke to
the server in precise, but accented, English after that. They were almost perfectly understood. I think they were from
So please don’t
let fear of speaking French keep you away from this city with its many
delights and wonders.
Tom and I had a nice, long walk during which we bought three French
newspapers, tomatoes, and wine. I
learned that the young man who is helping to tend the wine shop during the
vacation month of August speaks beautiful English, practically with a British
accent. And here I’ve been speaking my
wounded French to him all these weeks!