Sunday, November 21, 2010


Back to the garden... Everything that's not brown or red is yellow right now - shades of spring. Every time I think the balloon flowers are not worth it (they spread and I'm too weak-willed to pull them out, their beautiful flowers always face backwards, they're too tall for the place they're growing), I see them in the fall and fall in love again.

I should really plant some of these next to the physostegia, blooming at the same time.

The maple tree is not one of those knock-your-socks-off maples, but it shows shades from pale cream to apricot to red. Here it is being yellow.

The fothergilla had a brief episode of some kind of blight, but I basically ignored it and it happily went away. Now I don't know which I like more, its yellow color or its leaf shape - oval? ovoid?

Next is this pairing. The aucuba, which has been here since I moved in, just goes placidly on, glowing in the part shade along the fence line. At Merrifield a few weeks ago I happened upon a hypericum, which I've been thinking about since the garden tour last spring. This one is a golden variety, 'Brigadoon,' meant to echo the yellow leaf of the aucuba. If I like it - and if it likes the site - I'll get a few more and let them spread.
Posted by Picasa

In pointed contrast to all of this is the white oak, which has dropped a ton of acorns this fall and is redder than I ever remember.
Posted by Picasa

Au revoir, Paris

It's been almost three weeks, so I guess it's time to say goodbye to Paris - until next time. Here's a picture of my souvenirs, all bought at the Monoprix.
Posted by Picasa

The tuna, lentils and mustard were recommended in something I read somewhere. The Speculoos ditto. It's a Belgian "delicacy," a bit too sweet for me but might be good over ice cream. The soap was an inexpensive one we bought for the apartment and liked, and the toothpaste is an unknown but being flavored with ginger sounded good. The cheese knife is for all the French cheese I will be eating from now on.

Now that it's over, I can only wonder why I hadn't traveled to Paris more recently than 1967. There are so many places on the list, but I think most of them will accommodate a brief layover in Paris...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What we ate

pickled mackerel
galette with cheese and a soft-boiled egg
duck confit
salade aux noix
apple compote with whipped cream

lamb shanks with zucchini and tomato
Posted by Picasa

crepes Grand Marnier at Cafe le Nemours near the Louvre

hot chocolate from Angelina's

cheese, not just on the food walk, but with our wine before dinner every evening
Posted by Picasa

deux coupes de champagne at Cafe Deux Magots

bone marrow at Poules au Pot

Croque Madame at a cafe in Montmartre

restorative cups of tea
Posted by Picasa

beautiful composed salads, this one from Cafe Deux Magots
Posted by Picasa

pistachio macarons
Posted by Picasa

muesli, demi-creme (half-skim) and croissants for breakfast

Paris Walks: Montmartre

We've often taken the London Walks and enjoyed them, so we met on Sunday morning for a Paris Walk, the Montmartre Walk. Led by an Englishwoman who's lived in Paris for thirty years (who I just discovered is the co-owner of the enterprise), this was a nice combination of history, anecdote, and art.

We met at the Abbesse Metro stop

and soon Oriel was pointing out some street art, like this mask, one of several posted around the quartier.

This statue pays homage to a story by Marcel Ayme (and didn't Sendak illustrate one of his novels many years ago?). It's about a man who is given the ability to walk through walls. It works well for a while, but eventually fate intervenes and he gets stuck.

Oriel evoked a different era, 100 years ago or more, when this area was still rural, and the young Jean Renoir (son of Auguste Renoir and later a noted film director) could wander among the fields. All that's left of that now is the last remaining vineyard in Montmartre, one of just a few in Paris.
Posted by Picasa

She pointed out studios or apartments once inhabited by the Renoir family, the poor Toulouse-Lautrec, van Gogh, and others.

Apart from artists, the area is known for its windmills, the Moulin Rouge being the most famous (or notorious). Here's a view of one that's now a restaurant.

Since Montmartre is built on a hill, the views are wonderful (and the steps are steep). Here's a view over the rooftops.

And here is Sacre Coeur, dominating the hilltop. We didn't have the strength to go in but admired it from afar.
Posted by Picasa

After this, a nice lunch in a cafe not too far from the Metro.


We decided to visit Fontainebleau instead of Versailles, reasoning that it would be less crowded, and I'm glad we did. Getting there was a good reminder that it's all about the journey, not the arriving: the Gare de Lyon was packed with people, we got differing opinions on whether our Metro tickets extended as far as Fontainebleau, and when we did find the right guichet and bought our train tickets, we had to wait until the train finally pulled into the station 45 minutes late (strike issues? not clear).

But it was all a part of the experience, giving me lots of opportunities to get tangled up in French and to spy on French fashion and manners.

The chateau was built in the 1200s and expanded over the centuries, with King Francois I leaving his mark on it everywhere. His symbol was the salamander, and just in case you weren't sure whose castle it was, he decorated almost every room with it.

Posted by Picasa

Everyone who was anyone seems to have lived here, been born or died here, or said farewell here. Our old friend Henri IV is looking particularly dashing here:

Marie Antoinette lived here for a time, in this elegant white and gold apartment.

When Napoleon was banished to Elba, he said his farewells on the front steps of Fontainebleau.
Posted by Picasa

We both liked the library and wished we could have walked along the hall and looked at the 14,000 books.

Despite all this royalty, the place seemed just a bit neglected. Most rooms were elaborately decorated,

but some of them seemed to have been forgotten.
Posted by Picasa

The grounds were, of course, formal and extensive. Perfectly clipped rows of trees.

Topiary that made the place look like Alice in Wonderland.

And plenty of statuary.
Posted by Picasa

The slightly melancholy mood was heightened by the gardener pulling out the annuals from the long, straight beds.
Posted by Picasa

I asked him what he would be planting next and got a fast-paced explanation, of which the words "bulbes" and "tulipes" were among the few I could understand.

If we ever return, I'd love to walk in the Forest of Fontainebleau...someday.