31 May 2022

Paris after dark - 17

Walt and I had a memorable meal in this restaurant called Le Vaudeville back in January 2000. It's on the rue Vivienne near the Bourse (stock exchange), not far from the Opéra Garnier. We had been to a concert at the Olympia theatre that evening. We arrived at the restaurant at about 11 p.m. It was packed with people, a noisy crowd enjoying good food and wine, as well as a lot of cigarettes. We were seated at the restaurant's non-smoking table, which was right in the middle of the place, surrounded by people smoking. We laughed about that. I'm not sure what we ate, but I remember that it was very good. Le Vaudeville specializes in seafood.

After dinner, we walked back to our rental apartment on the rue de l'Université near the rue Cler — a two-mile stroll. The weather was mild and misty. It was very atmospheric. We were jet-lagged, so midnight felt more like late afternoon since our bodies were still on California time (9 hours earlier than Paris). We had flown to Paris for the weekend and didn't even try to get over the lag. Here's a link to the brasserie Le Vaudeville's web site, with lots of photos.

30 May 2022

Paris after dark - 16

This isn't actually an after-dark photo. It's just a gloomy day photo. I took it on a gray day in late January 2000. Walt and I had flown to Paris to go to a concert at the Olympia "music hall" and spend a weekend, again, walking around in the city. We had originally planned to go to a concert in Las Vegas, but it was too expensive. Flying to Paris, renting an apartment for three or four nights, and buying concert tickets turned out to cost about half what Las Vegas would have cost us. And it was, of course, more fun. Here's the Eiffel tower seen from the place de la Concorde.

It's 9ºC outside this morning. That's about 48ºF. Brrr. Our central heat came on yesterday morning, with the thermostat set to 18.5ºC. The high outside today will be about 70ºF — or lower. There's a northeast wind blowing. No sign of summer here. The vegetable garden will just have to wait. Anyway, the ground is too dry. We are hoping that the contractor whose bid on re-tiling our terrasse (the front deck) we accepted nearly two years ago might show up this week. But probably not. The last time we saw him, he promised the deck would be done by summer. He didn't say what year.

29 May 2022

Paris after dark - 15

This is a photo I took in April 2006, when Walt and I went and spent a week in Paris for what I hope won't turn out to be the last time. We basically spent the week walking the streets and eating in restaurants. A friend from California was in Paris for part of that time, and we enjoyed meeting up with her for lunches and dinners. There were huge demonstrations going on in the city — students were upset about new programs being introduced by the Minister of Education. It was all so Parisian...

I was standing on the Pont Neuf when I took this photo. I was looking upstream toward la place du Châtelet and its two big theatres. I can also see the Hôtel de Ville (city hall) and the Église Saint-Gervais on the right bank (on the left in this photo). On the right are the buildings that make up the old palais du roi and the Conciergerie on the île de la Cité.

28 May 2022

Paris after dark - 14

La Seine un soir de novembre...

Speaking of November, that's what the weather feels like here in Saint-Aignan right now. I put a wool blanket back on the bed yesterday, but I still had to get up in the middle of the night and put a second blanket over the first one. I was too cold to be able to sleep well. We're thinking we might have had what summer we're going to have this year in May. Maybe I'm just being pessimistic.

It's so dry that I'm having a really hard time preparing the garden plot for planting. The soil is just like concrete. Some showery weather is predicted for next week. Maybe that will help. Walt is ready to plant tomatoes and zucchini. I have dozens of collard green seedlings, but nowhere to plant them but in pots. I guess that's what I'll do.

27 May 2022

Paris after dark - 13

The show I went to see in November 2015 was a Sunday afternoon matinee. I think the curtain went up at 5:30 and came back down at about 7:15. I took quite a few daytime photos on my hour-long walk from the Quartier Latin, through les Halles, up the rue Montorgueil (where I lived for three years 40 years ago), and then along the grands boulevards to the Théâtre des Variétés.

It was on my walk back to the Quartier Latin after the show that I took nighttime pictures like this one. I had a light dinner in this pizzeria on the boulevard Saint-Germain before climbing up six or seven flights of stairs to my hotel room — there was no elevator. When I made my reservation, I had no idea they were going to put me in a room on such a high floor.

26 May 2022

Paris after dark - 12

On one of my last trips to the U.S., in 2015, I decided to go to the theater in Paris along the way. The trips pretty much required me to spend a night in Paris or at the airport before taking a morning flight to the States. While I was preparing for the 2015 trip, I happened to see a TV interview with the French singer Sylvie Vartan. She was promoting a play she was starring in. I'd never seen her perform as a singer or actor, so I thought it was a good opportunity to do so.

I booked a hotel room in the city, bought a theater ticket on line, and on the evening before my departure I spent about an hour walking across the center of Paris to the theater taking photos, including some of the nighttime images I've been posting for a couple of weeks now. When I got to the theater I was seated in the very first row. Before the performance began, without standing up, I held my camera up over my head and took this photo of the audience behind me. When the play was over, I walked back to my hotel in the Latin Quarter, taking more photos.

Sylvie Vartan was born in Bulgaria in 1944. She has recorded 50 albums and 1,500 songs in all, in 8 or 10 languages. She has sold 40 million records over the course of her career. Her father was born in France and her mother was born in Hungary. She acted in her first movie when she was seven years old. Bulgaria was occupied by the Soviet Union after World War II, and her family decided to move to Paris in the early 1950s. Sylvie didn't speak French but learned it in school in Paris. She married the French superstar Johnny Hallyday in 1965. They were divorced in 1980, and Vartan moved to California in 1984. She has continued her career internationally and of course in France. The younger woman with her in the photo above wrote the play I saw and also acted in it. Her name is Isabelle Mergault and the play's title is Ne me regardez pas comme ça ! Here's a YouTube video of Vartan singing a Jacques Brel song.

25 May 2022

Paris after dark - 11

This is another restaurant on my list for my next trip to Paris: la brasserie Les Deux Palais. It's on the île de la Cité just steps from the Palais de Justice, la Sainte-Chapelle, and Notre-Dame cathedral. I think it would be a better place for lunch than for dinner. If I could go there today, I'd order the souris d'agneau braisée au thym, pommes sautées (braised lamb shank).

24 May 2022

Paris after dark - 10

This might not look like a fancy restaurant to you. Even so, Julia Child once said it was her favorite restaurant in Paris. Georges' place has 652 reviews on TripAdvisor, and 532 of them say it is excellent or very good. The food is not fancy, but authentically Parisian. I lived only a five-minute walk away for three years, 40 years ago, but somehow I never had a meal there. I always wanted to, but I think I imagined it was too expensive for me back then. It's on my list for my next trip to Paris.

If you want to see some photos of the food served by Georges, look at this TripAdvisor page. Here's what a Bon Appétit magazine article said about Chez Georges 10 years ago:

“There aren't many places like Chez Georges left in Paris. It's one of the best-preserved bistros in the city. It was beloved by Julia Child when she lived here, and still looks the same, from the framed mirrors to the brass rails and uniformed servers. But the menu has been preserved best of all — an encyclopedia of classics that are almost impossible to find elsewhere in Paris. Once you're here, just let it rip, since you'll probably never taste lentil salad this good again; ditto the salade de museau de bœuf (beef muzzle salad — give it a chance), and veal sweetbreads in a light cream sauce with girolle mushrooms. The duck breast is epic, too, with a side of potatoes crisped in its flavorful fat. And you'll want to finish with another brilliant rendition of tarte Tatin. You might end up feeling like you understand Julia Child deeply, personally, spiritually. That's the after-dinner Cognac talking — just have the maitre d' call you a taxi and sleep it off.”

23 May 2022

Paris after dark - 9

This is the bridge called le pont Neuf in Paris. It spans the Seine at the western end of the île de la Cité and is really two bridges, or at least two sections, one over each branch of the Seine river at that point. This is the section that links the island to the right bank of the river.

Despite its name ("the new bridge") le pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris now. It was built in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Here it is painted by an artist named Canella as it looked in about 1832, thanks to French Wikipédia.

22 May 2022

Paris after dark - 8

This is a composite image — two separate photos "stitched" together in Photoshop.
I'm posting it at a very large size, so you can enlarge it to get a closer view.
Just click on it a couple of times, or "unpinch" it on your tablet.

I'm looking downriver, so the Right Bank is on the right. Those are the buildings of the Louvre complex over there.
Opposite them, on the Left Bank, are the dome of the Institut (where the Académie Française meets to work
on its dictionary of the French language) and the Eiffel Tower. The boats on the river are called
bateaux-mouches — they take passengers up and down the river Seine
day and night to see the lights and sights of the city.

21 May 2022

Paris after dark - 7

I was on the pont Neuf, near the old Samaritaine department store, when I took the two photos below.
The Eiffel Tower is just over two miles west of that bridge.

I don't remember whether I knew that the special multi-colored lights on the Eiffel Tower were about to come on.
The timestamps on the photos show that I took the first one four minutes before taking the second one.

20 May 2022

Paris after dark - 6

I like the look of the water in this photo, and the bateau-mouche passing under the pont Saint-Michel.
I took it from the same spot as photo no. 3 in this series.

This morning I woke up to lightning, thunder, and...believe it or not... rain. The shower lasted all of 5 minutes. Maybe we'll get some more raindrops from the front that's moving through. We desperately need rain. But no hail, please. Afternoon temperatures have been in the upper 80s F for a few days now. Thay say this month will go down as the hottest May in the history of record-keeping. Oh, it just started raining again — heavily.

19 May 2022

Paris after dark - 5

This hotel across the river from Notre-Dame gets very mixed reviews. I've never stayed there. The rooms, described by many as tiny with barely acceptable bathrooms, have views of the cathdral. I took this photo on Nov. 1, 2015, when I was in Paris on my way to North Carolina. The weather was beautiful that evening.

18 May 2022

Paris after dark - 4

I'm enjoying posting just one photo a day right now. I don't have any complicated HTML coding to do this way. In this image, you see the dome of the Institut (where the Académie Française meets), the Eiffel Tower, the pont des Arts, and, on the right, the buildings of the Louvre complex.

I took these photos in 2006 with a Canon S70 digital camera. They are mostly hand-held, but for some of them I was able to place the camera on a bridge railing to steady it. The camera didn't have optical image stabilization, if I remember correctly.

17 May 2022

Paris after dark - 3

Standing with my back to Notre-Dame and looking toward the place Saint-Michel
and the place Saint-André-des-Arts in the Latin Quarter.

04 avril 2006

16 May 2022

Paris after dark - 2

Just a few minutes' walk across the île de la Cité from the pont au Change,
you get this nighttime view of la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.

15 May 2022

Paris after dark - 1

The last time I spent a whole week in Paris was in April of 2006. It's so near, but so far away.

This is the pont au Change, one of the 37 bridges on the Seine in Paris. It spans the north branch
of the river between the place du Châtelet on the right bank and the île de la Cité.

14 May 2022

A walk around Bouzy (3)

Bouzy is a funny name for a town in the Champagne wine country if you are an anglophone.
Some of the finest Champagne wines are made there. It's definitely a working town, but not without its charms.

I'll be moving on to other parts of France starting tomorrow. I've enjoyed re-living
through photographs all the times I've visited Champagne over the years.

13 May 2022

A walk around Bouzy (2)

Just a few more photos I took in Bouzy, a wine village in Champagne in 2011...




In Saint-Aignan right now, we're having summertime weather, with high temperatures in the upper 70s F. And it's so dry! The ground is still like concrete, and I'm not making a lot of progress on preparation of the vegetable garden plot for planting. The new tiller is not powerful enough to break up the hard soil. Old news: The contractor who's supposed to be re-tiling our deck and patching up some cracks in the walls of the garden shed... well, we're still waiting for him to show up. Everything is on hold until his work is done. It's frustrating.

12 May 2022

A walk around Bouzy (1)

Our first view of Bouzy (left) and our first view of the gîte we had rented (right)

On the right above is the winery owned and operated by Georges Vesselle. I'm going to quote myself — this is what I wrote about Bouzy in 2011:
“It's surprising how agricultural, rural, and working class a town like Bouzy, where some of the most prestigious champagnes are made, can feel. Moët & Chandon, Heidsieck, Mumm, and other big houses have facilities there — they are all warehouses and pressoirs for extracting the juice of grapes grown on the surrounding land. I saw Georges Vesselle, who owns the champagne house closest to Madame G's and sells bottles for high prices in Japan and all over the world, driving down the street on a forklift one morning.”

At Bouzy, the town ends very abruptly. The land around it is just too valuable to build on, because the grapes that are grown on it are worth a fortune. Living there is like living on an island.
On the right is the house next door to the gîte.

11 May 2022

Bouzy signs

All these photos except the last one were taken on a walk around the champagne village of Bouzy on the côte des Noirs.
The last one was taken in the village of Cramant on the côte des Blancs to the south.

A récoltant-manipulant is a grape-grower who harvests his own grapes and then makes and bottles
the wine from them himself, instead of selling them to one of the major "houses" (brands)
or sending them to a cooperative that turns them into champagne wine.



10 May 2022

Bouzy en Champagne : le gîte

The gîte we rented was a fairly big house with an enclosed courtyard. Above is the living room. One thing it didn't have was an internet connection. When I told them woman who greeted us that on the the Gîtes de France web site, a connection
was listed as available. "I don't know why they put that in the description," she said. "It's never had internet.
So now you'll feel like you really are on vacation. You won't have to work while you're here."
She obviously didn't understand much about using today's technologies.

The kitchen was big too. There was no separate dining room. There were three bedrooms, one downstairs with a half-bath
and two upstairs, where the full bathroom was. The upstairs toilet was of the type that has a grinder built in,
like a garbage disposal. It made so much noise that it could be be heard all through the house
when the toilet was flushed. Putting in a toilet with a grinder is a way to avoid
having to do major plumbing work to update an old house.

This was certainly not the nicest gîte we had ever rented, but it was okay. It was right in town, and the outdoor space
was nice. We didn't have to worry about the dog running away. It was warm enough, even in October,
for us to sit outside in the afternoon — and even have evening meals outside.

09 May 2022

Quelques étiquettes

Here's some reading material in French. Champagne labels...

Blanc de blancs, ou bien blanc de noirs ?

Peut-être un champagne fait avec les jus assemblés de différents cépages...

C'est vous qui voyez !

08 May 2022

Bouzy bis

Here are a few more pictures of the Guillemettes' wine cellar (cave à vin) in the village of Bouzy, pop. 900 or so. Bouzy is the name of the village, which on the montagne de Reims in the area known as la côte des Noirs. Note that raisin noir ("black" grapes) is what we call red or red-wine grapes in English. One of the wines produced in Bouzy is called bouzy rouge, which is a still wine (un vin tranquille) made from the juice of Pinot Noir grapes. The greatest volume of wine made in Bouzy, however, is sparkling champagne.

Still (tranquille, non-sparkling) wines were made in Champagne for a dozen centuries before
sparkling champagne was "invented" or discovered in the 17th century. And by the way,
the name Bouzy [boo-'zee] has nothing to do with our English word "booze."

The steep steps that lead down into the Guillemette family's cellar. What, no handrail?

A book I've reading recently — The New France by Andrew Jefford — points out that most grape growers
in Champagne "don't make wine and never will; eighty per cent of champagne
is made not by growers but by cooperatives and large merchant houses."