Showing posts from March, 2011

Paris II: a-marketing we shall go

5 September

Happy Sunday morning!  We woke up early to get an early start on walking down to my beloved marché dela Bastille.  It's a good hike from our hotel, just off of Place de la Nation.  When we started on our way, I was struck by how autumnal the city felt.  In 2008, I was in Paris only for the summer - seeing the leaves on the trees any color but green felt bizarre in a city that is, in my mind, eternally in summer.

On the way to la Bastille, we got distracted by rue d'Aligre, which boasts its own market with a bounty of produce.  We ogled enormous, bright orange wedges of potiron, a cousin of the pumpkin, and piles of thousands of golden-yellow fresh dates.  There's a covered market just off of rue d'Aligre, too, boasting prepared foods and vibrant flowers.

But we had a ways to go yet, and didn't want to pick up any extra weight to carry with us, so after thoroughly poking around the place, we didn't get anything at the marché d'Aligre.  We were ho…

Paris I: Coucou, old friend !

4 September

After a month traveling around France, I finally reached my final destination: Paris.  It was such a change to be in a familiar city, albeit in relatively unknown surroundings.  Our hotel was close to the Place de la Nation in the 12th.  The only time I made it out to Nation in 2008 was for my cooking class at Printemps.

It was a new part of town, but not so far from familiar territory.  After dropping off our stuff at the hotel, I was ready to visit some of my favorite old haunts.  We set out on foot to visit my favorite monument, la Bastille:

When I saw the golden winged statue finally peek out from above the rooftops, it was such a friendly welcome back to the city I called home for two months.  The column marks the spot where the Bastille was stormed in 1789, setting off the French revolution.  It was one of my favorite spots to visit in 2008 due to its proximity to an enormous open-air market that I frequented nearly every Thursday and Sunday for its an outstanding se…

Tours III

3 September

After a morning of châteaux and inventions, by the time we got back to Tours we were ready for lunch.  Having decided a few days earlier that Tours was the closest we'd be getting to Bretagne (unfortunately, that's one région that's quite difficult - and expensive - to reach by train), I decided we'd better take advantage of our proximity and visit a crêperie.  Crêpes are available all over France, especially with nutella and alongside waffles in touristy locations as "fast food" type stands, but a real crêperie is a sit-down restaurant that serves dozens and dozens of varieties of sweet and savory crêpes.

As we traveled further and further North along the Atlantic coast, we saw more and more crêperies.  By the time we got to Tours, there were quite a few.  We opted for La Grange des Celtes, which was almost empty when we got there at the end of the lunch rush.

When I had my first crêpe in France in 2008, I was told that the traditional beverage w…

Chenonceau & Le Clos Lucé

3 September

When picking where I wanted to visit in France, there were a number of factors to consider.  The first, of course, was where I could find fantastic regional cuisine.  Some picks were easy: how could I go to France to taste regional cuisines without visiting Provence or Alsace?  Others, unfortunately, had to be eliminated due to the difficulty in getting there by train.  I had hoped I might visit Périgord for foie gras and truffles, and Bretagne for crêpes, but complicated, expensive train connections ruled them out as possibilities for this trip.  Of course, after visiting so many cities and regions in just over a month, it was also something of a relief to cut out day-long train trips in favor of an extra day in a region I was already visiting, such as Touraine.

After all, some decisions about where to visit were based on sights to be seen, too, and what would the point be of coming to the Loire valley without seeing a few of its stunning châteaux?  When we decided to spe…