France and Italy, Part III, Tuscany to Paris

Tuscany to Paris

25 October 2006                    Villa Giadello, Modena

Returned to a favorite discovery, the farm/inn-restaurant of Villa Giadello, east of Modena. The elderly owner is still here and hard at work. Our apartment was smaller and rather more modern than the one we had on our previous visit (we were in the new building), but the only disadvantage was the very narrow beds. (Randy told me, much later, that he didn’t sleep at all, for fear of falling off the bed, which was both narrow and quite high. He still refers to it as a “Nun’s bed.”)

Just a brief rundown on last night’s dinner (the reason we came, after all).

Sat down to a big stack of white plates. First offered a locally made wine—their own wine in fact, first a frizzante white Trebbianno followed by a frizzante red Lambrusco. The white is better—the red more resembling something teens would drink at a party. The food began to arrive.

1st: a platter of cold cuts, and a platter of pickled onions and pickled artichoke hearts. A bowl of puffy deep fried dough pockets (irresistible!)

2nd: A bowl of tortellini in brodo: chicken stuffed tortellini in a rich chicken broth

3rd: a cheese stuff pasta (larger tortellini) with butter and cheese

4th: roast pork in a dark balsamic gravy with roast potatoes and green salad

5th: desserts: a bowl of fruits in a liqueur; a custard and a chocolate pudding, and a plate of meringues and cookies.

6th: Coffee and a mysterious after dinner sweet liqueur.

Just finished a nice breakfast of good coffee, meat, toast, apple butter, pear juice and plum cake.

26 October 2006                    Como, Italy

After dinner, our second night in Como. I’m fighting the onset of a cold…a little congested, not too bad, I’m hoping it will pass. Como is a really cute (almost too cute), really rich little city on the south edge of Lake Como, not far at all from Milano. It’s very pristine: clean, ordered, manicured…it seems almost un-Italian. Full of banks and fancy shops, and a beautiful lake front with promenade and park and marina. Our hotel, the Metropole and Suisse, is cute, if a little stuffy, but comfortable, on the Piazza Cavour with a view of the lake. We arrived yesterday, midday, and had lunch in the rather formal, and rather empty, hotel restaurant. It’s after the season here, so it’s not very crowded, which is nice, and the weather is great, but it gives this big resort hotel a bit of a forlorn feeling. The food was good, a little pricey, the service too formal.

After lunch, we discovered a funicular, which takes you up a steep hillside from the waterfront to the top of the mountain. It’s only a seven minute ride, so it’s not that far up. Great views though. It was sunset, I took some pictures; we had some really bad wine at the café up there—“all natural wine as made by the Romans before the bisth of chist.” It was fun though.

We found a neat little tiny restaurant for dinner. It’s called Nostra’damus, which must be some kind of pun in Italian. They had a very small menu, which they seem to change daily. After pressing our faces to the glass, we reserved a table for 90 minutes later, but it’s good we did, because every table in the little place was full by 8:15. All Italians except us, I believe. No translation on the menu, although the waitress did translate a few mysterious items for us. Started with a plate of artisinal salumis, and a polenta (of wheat or ?, it was dark brown) with a soft cheese melted on it. Unusual and really delicious. Had a risotto…your basic saffron, very rich though, and followed that with pork loin stuffed with sausage—really great but also just too much by then. Great place though. It’s on this cute little (tarted up, but historic) medieval street, just behind the shopping area.

This morning I went to the Duomo, a fabulous renaissance cathedral in pristine condition. Inside there are some amazing altars…a carved wooden one, a great renaissance altar, and a mad baroque concoction. Tapestries, and a beautiful vaulted ceiling painted with stars. The facade is a marvelous marble display decorated with statues of saints. (I took Randy and Nonna to see it late in the day…the facade was prettier in the fading light, but the interior was too gloomy by late afternoon.)

We left at noon to take the public ferry boat up the lake. The lake is dotted with cute little hillside villages and extravagant waterfront villas. We took an almost two hour ride to Bellagio, the halfway point, sitting on the open deck of the ferry. It was a lovely ride…cold in shadow, but very warm in the sun. We had sandwiches and cappuccini in Belagio, which was mostly closed up for the season. There’s one really extravagant hotel there, with what sounds like an amazing gourmet restaurant; but really there is not much there. Definitely just a resort spot. It made me glad we were staying in Como, where it’s pretty but also some real life going on. We came back on the hydrofoil, which took less than an hour.

Randy and I walked along the waterfront to a little early 20th century villa rotunda that turned out to be a monument and museum to Allesandro Volta, the scientist and inventor of the battery, and Como native. It was at the end of a very pretty little park, which also contained a fascist era (but rather nice looking) monument to the WWI dead; and a memorial to the resistance fighters of WWII. Italy often seems to forget what side it was on in WWII; one forgives them though because they are so good natured. I wonder that the people didn’t want to go to war anymore then than we wanted war with Iraq.

We had dinner tonight at Resturante Rino, oddly enough, a Tuscan restaurant. (It and the restaurant the night before, had been suggested to us by the owners of this cute little place we stumbled into that only served lunch; unfortunately we didn’t get to try it—they serve a different lunch every day; It’s next door to Nostra’damus.) The Tuscan place was really good as well, also quite small and full of Italians (mostly; there was a group of posh, well-heeled, elderly Brits). I had some crostini, fresh pasta with truffled duck sauce (I think they own the pasta shop next door as well) and grilled lamb chops with spinach. And some vin santo and cantuccini. The truffles were very nice, very aromatic (one of the crostini was a truffled something…all I could taste was truffle.

In the morning we are off to Strasbourg, the long drive through the Alps. Should be fun, and quite scenic. It’s the longest drive of the trip.

28 October 2006                    Strasbourg, France

The Hotel Rohan is as nice as ever. Great staff, friendly and helpful. Haven’t done all that much while in Strasbourg. A little shopping. Some walking around. Visiting the beautiful red sandstone cathedral (such an unusual color)—though they are doing a lot of work on the tower and the north exterior. Took the silly boat ride around the city. Visited some gay bars—well two—with Randy. One a place of middle-aged queens who all knew each other, with comfy sofas (JJ’s) and the other a packed and happening teen hangout with really cute boys (and girls) and cheap drinks. It was very hot and we were conspicuously old.

Randy was happy to be in France (he likes the ethnic diversity and open homosexuality, which is lacking in Italy). Nonna’s becoming a little impatient with everything, (It annoys me particularly because I think it is an unpleasant trait I have inherited myself.) I think she’s ready to go home. I could use a week in Paris, alone. It all makes me want to run away to Europe—oh, I did that already!

29 October 2006                        Strasbourg, France

Great dinner tonight, our best in Strasbourg, at the famous (justly so) Chez Yvonne. Fantastic foie gras and great choucroute (with liver quenelles, worsts, lard, duck confit, ham) and also excellent house wines…a very good Gewurztraminer (sweet) with the foie gras and a nice Riesling to follow. Lots of other great sounding things on the menu too, if you don’t want to be so traditionally Alsatian. The (small) staff was very nice and friendly and the place was packed with people streaming in all during our dinner (we arrived at 8). It’s the best place we ate in Strasbourg. Better than Strissel (booked  by our hotel the first night); better than our return to Table d’ Alsace (the fish place), although I did enjoy my oysters. Strasbourg does seem to have a service problem though, all the restaurants seem understaffed and overworked. Not sure if it’s a chronic problem or if perhaps they have cut back to winter staff and are overtaxed by the unseasonable warm weather. Every place needs more staff though.

We decided to stay a third day in Strasbourg. For simplicity’s sake, and skip Reims in favor of two country inns on the route to CDG.

Having finished the fascinating but excessively self-conscious Cloud Atlas, I am now reading the aggressively self-conscious Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

30 October 2006                    Marre, France

Leaving Strasbourg, we drove straight through to Verdun, where we had a tiny lunch in grand hotel/restaurant, Le Bistro hostellerie du Guy Hardi, where I’d really like to have a full meal sometime. They had cloches! Verdun seemed kind of cool, its buildings still showing WWI bullet holes in the stone, and a nice Cathedral with a beautiful Gothic cloister.

Staying the night at a funny little logis in Marre, the Village Galois. Cute, simple rooms, a nice dinner, and a (closed for the season) miniature golf course—all buried under autumn leaves. Dinner was good, a salad of warm rabbit in vinegar, and a piece of suckling pig, though I ate half of Nonna’s steak, which was better. Nice breakfast of meats and a fresh baguette and pain de chocolat. The inn was really quirky though…in addition to the abandoned miniature golf course, the dining room was this circular stone building, and the inn, which appeared to have only two floors, had two staircases—each led to a similar—but not the same—corridor of rooms; which both appeared to be on the first (2nd American) floor. They seemed to occupy the same space at the same time! There was also a very odd old man, who may have been the proprietor, who was building an extension to the building…he kept coming by to talk to us: outside, at dinner, at breakfast, but each time he found we spoke English he just smiled and went on his way.

31 October 2006 (Halloween)                    Chateau-Thierry, France

Leaving the logis, we drove nearly to Belgium through beautiful, bright green, and completely deserted countryside, to the American Great War cemetery, which Nonna wanted to see. The whole area we drove through was devastated in WWI; they say whole villages were destroyed and never rebuilt. We drove then to Reims, and parked by the Cathedral, and because I had an overwhelming desire for steak tartare, we walked to the Brasserie Flo. The tartare was good, but big. Nonna ordered a Choucroute (it came with a ¼ duck confit and a whole tongue (!) which she didn’t eat, of course.) Then we drove out of town just as it began to rain, and onto our misadventures with the inns.

The idea was to stay in a final country inn, then in the morning to the airport. We actually found the place I was looking for, a place we stopped for lunch a year or so ago—the Auberge Le Relais, a few kilometers east of Chateau Thierry on the N3. Excited to find it (not remembering its name) and pulled up in front to find it Ferme Mardi et Mercredi! Merde! Drove on few more kilometers and saw a sign to the hotel restaurant Le Moulin…followed the sign to this really cute farmhouse type inn…with a locked gate and a note that they would be closed from 30 October to 3 November! D’oh! After that we were in the small city of Chateau-Thierry, where we could not find two hotels suggested by Ermentrude; stumbled upon the one logis in town (I parked the car to look it up in the book and noticed it was across the street!), but it was kind of forlorn and shabby. Followed signs to something that sounded promising but was a motel by the payage, turned around and saw this big Best Western Hotel La France. It’s comfortable, but not quite charming, though the Madame at the desk is quite nice. It has a restaurant (which turned out to be pretentiously elegant and rather dull). The room has a pleasant view, but the street out front is like a highway, so it’s not so charming. Ah well, it will be fine. It’s a pity the cute inns were closed. Had I known, I might just have stayed in Reims, though this will, I suppose, make getting to the airport easier.

Last night in France, funny it is Halloween. We fly on All Saints Day, a holiday in France and across Europe. Sort of just a nothing night, a rest-stop before CDG. We didn’t go back to Paris; possibly I should have stayed the night in Riems, where we stopped for lunch.  We saw some kids trick-or-treating on the way—in the daylight, so as not to be run down on the roads at night, I suppose. In Reims a cinema was showing 12 horror films for one admission price! Seems this American holiday has caught on in France. I suppose they are whooping it up in West Hollywood. It’s been ages since I did anything on Halloween.

Winding up the trip now; It will be good not to have to carry suitcases anymore, though I know I will miss Europe after a week back in LA.

A Paris Travelogue by Michael Logan

A week of meals (mostly) and lazy sightseeing in the City of Lights with my friend Randy.

Paintbrushes

18 June

My traditional first meal in Paris: Brasserie Balzar, with the now-traditional steak tartare and frites. I remember it very unclearly, as I was tired and jet-lagged and not even a good meal in Paris could really wake me up. Randy had lamp chops. After lunch and a long walk, we went back to the Hotel Sevigné to nap, and only rose at about 9 to head off to the Open Café for several large beers and people-watching.

19 June

In the morning, we lazed, then wandered: my favourite thing to do on a nice day in Paris. Lunch at Willi’s Wine Bar is always a treat, and we were both hungry enough at about 1.30 to set off towards the restaurant. It took awhile to get there on foot, and I was worried we were too late, but they were happy to seat us. We did end up the last lunchers by about 20 minutes, so my fears weren’t misplaced. I ordered a “giraffe” (500 ml carafe) of Touraine sauvignon blanc, which sounded refreshing, and was—very cool and nicely acidic. I had a lunch of cold meats. I started with super-tasty beef carpaccio, and followed that with vitello tonnatta, which was cooked veal, of course, but was arranged on the plate exactly like the carpaccio. I hadn’t had it in ages, and really enjoyed the sauce of puréed tuna. Randy ordered something with crab for a starter, and followed with the vitello tonatta as well. He thought it very odd, indeed, but tasty. For dessert, I felt compelled, as I often do, to order le specialité du collège de Cambridge (crème brulée—it’s an in joke at Willi’s,

where a patron once claimed that crème brulée was invented in a dining hall at Cambridge). Randy had the always-delicious chocolate terrine. I wanted to pick up the year’s Pudlo guide (my favourite French restaurant book, available in a Paris and a France edition), so we headed off towards the Louvre and visited the mall, rather than the musée. Then Randy napped and I made our dinner reservations for the week. After that, we wandered the Marais. We shopped at the excellent gay bookstore les Mots à la Bouche, and snacked on cold cuts & cheese with a nice Chinon at our favourite Marais wine bar, the AOC Café.

20 June

Our activity for the day was the Musée d’Orsay. I was expecting a crowd, but it was calm. There was a huge retrospective of some mediocre Dutch painter named Jongkind, and smaller ones of a Polish symbolist hack and a very odd glassblower. Most disappointing. The permanent collection is always good for a few hours, though, and I got to show Randy my favourite bad painting, a huge 1890s canvas entitled “The School of Plato.” I’ve always called it by the more appropriate title “Jesus and the Nelly Apostles.” It’s a hoot! After that, we walked back to the Marais via the Café Les Deux Palais, where Randy had a salade Perigourdine with paté and duck breast, and I had a croque madame on Poilâne bread. Les Deux Palais looks very unpromising, situated in prime tourist country and sporting a big sign offering “American Coffee.” But it’s the unofficial canteen of the Ministry of Justice, and they’re demanding customers. The place is really quite good. After lunch, we both had a long rest.

Few good Paris restaurants, aside from the big brasseries, are open on Sundays. Who knew Le Table d’Aligre was one of them? Apparently not many people, because it was very quiet. This was our first real dinner of the trip, and I was looking forward to it. Randy was jonesing for foie gras, so he ordered a ballotine of foie gras surrounded by a mixture of smoked duck breast and onion confit. It had all the usual accompaniments, but Randy was reluctant to use the cracked pepper and fleur de sel, because he liked it so much plain. I encouraged him to try them. Meanwhile, I was enjoying an asparagus dish and a half-bottle of lovely Cheverny. For seconds, I had a rascasse (the main fish in boulliabaise, and quite rare outside the Mediterranean) and Randy had confit of pork cheeks, which he’d never encountered before. He made an entire meal of cold meats (much as I had done the previous day at Willi’s), but he liked it fine. We shared a carafe of a rich, red St-Joseph from the upper Rhône Valley. For dessert, Randy chose a clafoutis au cerises and I a rhubarb tarte. Then we set off into the night and walked home.

21 June

Rouen

My friend and business partner, Clay Doyle, suggested that Randy and I make a day trip to Rouen, where neither of us had ever been. It was raining on and off when we arrived (one hour and five minutes by train from the Gare St-Lazare). We left the train station and made purposefully for the Cathedral, since I was convinced from long experience that the tourist office would be across the street from the cathedral. I was right, of course, and wanted to get directions for lunch. I forgot to ask, though, and went back about an hour later as our lunch window was nearing its end. In the meantime, we wandered, and visited the St-Maclou church. Clay also gave us a lunch –the restaurant Le Vieux Carrée was great! Our lunch there was our big meal of the day. We both started with an asparagus gratin, very eggy, with fennel seeds on top. The fennel was a nice touch. After that, I had a pissaladière tarte with caramelized onions, anchovies and olives. This being Normandy and not Provence, there was a custard base to the tarte as well, which I wasn’t expecting. It was very tasty anyway. Randy had a skate wing, which he liked a lot. By mid-meal, we were the only people in the place (we’d arrived for lunch just a bit before 2, and they were quite busy), so I was a bit relieved when an odd gay couple (probably drawn there by a recent article by Clay in Out and About, I imagined) stopped for coffee. They were followed by some young straight French kids in love.

For dessert we both had a very good rhubarb tarte, and I bought a couple jars of jam to take home. After lunch, we returned to the very impressive cathedral to look inside (it was closed til 2 pm), then made our way back to the train station. With a few minutes to kill before the train, we sat down at a café and had Kir Normandes, which (no surprise) involve cider. Quite odd.

We got back to Paris to find the metro unusually busy, and every third passenger seemed to be carrying a musical instrument. We both wanted to rest, but a bad band was making a racket by the Metro entrance. I discovered in my guidebook that it was the solstice tradition of the Fête de la Musique, when anybody could set up and play late into the night. We got enthusiastic, and went down to the Metro entrance to hear what was by now a much better band. Apparently the etiquette of the evening involved no one group monopolizing a good spot. I got the bright idea to go to the Trocadero, because I thought it would be a happening, young music scene. The trains were by now truly mobbed, and there were lots of policemen in the Metro keeping order. We never got to Trocadero, because I found a discarded program for the evening’s more organized events, and thought an alternative-rock bill at place Denfert-Rochereau sounded good. So we made our way there, and stood around in a big, fun crowd (I fell in love three times), but the music was uninspired. When the last act turned out to be bad, mass-market American punk à la Green Day (but worse), we split. We set off towards home. I suggested we come up from the subway at St-Michel, and walk home from there, hoping to hit on a fun scene on the way. There was an odd little band at Place St-Michel doing a sort of klezmer-ska-Camper Van Beethoven thing that was ragged but fun. When they quit, we wandered toward home, and ran into a huge throng of gays on rue des Archives. The DJ playing standard gay dance music didn’t seem at all in the spirit of the evening, so (with much pushing and shoving) we moved on. At our doorstep, and disappointed by the Fête de la Musique, we heard something fun coming from the Metro entrance. There was a band standing around, waiting for a loud horn group to finish up. They looked like teens from the neighborhood, mostly Jewish kids, with an incredibly cute, baby-faced lead guitarist who couldn’t have been more than sixteen. Then they started to play–the Pink Panther theme, also in a klezmer-ska-Camper Van Beethoven vein, but much better than the kids at St-Michel, and with a big dose of Django Reinhart added. They were brilliant. They drew a fun, cute, mixed crowd, and encouraged audience participation. Gentle moshing ensued. We were very, very happy. I tried several times to photograph the angelically beautiful guitarist with my cellphone, but it was too dark, and the photos all came out crappy.

22 June

In the day, we went to Montmartre and to the Catacombs. Heights to depths. It was a concept.

Montmartre was as dull as I remembered. The basilica of Sacre-Coeur is astonishingly ugly, and historically associated with the right wing of French politics. The neighbourhood is full of t-shirt shops and pushy street vendors. The views are spectacular, though, and the funicular is fun.

After our trip to the top of the hill, we headed back to place Denfert-Rochereau, and the Catacombs. The caverns full of human bones arranged in layers like a fancy paté are very impressive, and the tour is very popular with boisterous American kids. It’s a jarring combination.

Both Randy and I were especially looking forward to our dinner at le Villaret. I’ve been there many times, and i has never disappointed—and once again, it didn’t. We were the first to arrive (always embarrassing), but a French couple followed almost immediately, which was nice. I ordered us two glasses of Banyuls for aperitifs. I still think it’s an odd aperitif (I drink it with dessert, since it’s the only wine I know that goes beautifully with chocolate), but what do I know? For wine, I ordered a positively cheap white Burgundy from Pernand Vergellesse (Clay and I drank some when we were there, and liked it a lot). It was brilliant–exactly what a white Burgundy should be, with buttery and tannic flavours above the fruit.

For the amuse-bouche, they served a little cold asparagus cream soup, ideal for the warm weather. For the first course, I had a delicious terrine of pigeon with a confit of onions and balsamic vinegar, and a rocket salad. Randy had a salad of langoustine tails. Since I couldn’t taste his (I have a potentially-fatal shellfish allergy), I forget the details. So does he. During the first course, the surrounding tables filled up. To my left was a very odd couple indeed–a Frenchman of about 50 with an American girl of about 24 (Randy says “no way, she was 35.”) He manages the Gipsy Kings (!) and she works for the record company. He was obviously trying to seduce her (in a businesslike way, just to keep his hand in, cuz he’s French) while she kept talking about her recent wedding. To my right was a party of four Americans from Boston, who were grateful that I could translate the entire menu for them. I couldn’t talk any of them into ordering lamb’s tongue, but they enjoyed themselves hugely, nonetheless.

For the main course, I ordered the dos de lieu jaune, which I remembered as being a tasty fish. It was very richly flavoured, and sat on a lovely leek purée. Randy had a dish that was mostly mushrooms, asparagus and artichokes, with a bit of mackerel. It was perfect warm-weather food. For dessert, Randy had a sort of milk-chocolate soup with a cookie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I had a sablé cookie on top of a layer of very good raspberries and whipped cream, with a spoonful of rhubarb sorbet. We walked home in a fine mood through intermittent light rain.

23 June

In the day, we went to the Louvre to see “The Raft of the Medusa,” and a few other highlights. Then we shopped—it was the season for les Soldes—the big summer sales.

Dinner was at Le C’Amelot (on the rue Amelot, on the border between the 3rd and 11th arrondissements. This is the new place we tried in Paris on this trip, based on very favorable reviews both in the New York Times (by Jacqueline Friedrich, who wrote the wonderful Wine and Food Guide to the Loire Valley) and in le Pudlo de Paris 2004. What tipped me in its favor was the fact that they serve a set meal, with choices only for dessert. I knew Randy agreed with me that lack of choice is a luxury, so I reserved a table.

We’d walked by the restaurant the night before, coming home from Le Villaret. It was super-cute, and looked tiny and rustic. They had the wine list posted in the window, and I noticed absinthe listed among the aperitifs. Of course, I had to have it, so when we arrived the next evening I ordered two. They came in proper, tall, parfait-shaped absinthe glasses, with proper, flat, antique, slotted absinthe spoons, sugar cubes, and a miniature pitcher of water. I instructed Randy in the ceremony, and we drank what tasted like slightly watered-down Ouzo. Sadly, a little crock of delicious, garlicky sausissons secs in olive oil arrived as an amuse-bouche, and clashed violently with the absinthe. They were, of course, swept off the table when our soup course arrived, so we missed out on enjoying them.

Our wine choices included my usual suspects of Loire Valley and Burgundy whites, so I asked for a recommendation and got a white St-Joseph, which was a bit pricey but really, really good. It was especially nice in contrast to the Pernand Vergellesse of the previous evening, because it was equally fruity while much less tannic, so the flavours were vastly different.

Our first course was a cold tomato soup with a curry cream quenelle. That could go either way but it was brilliant. The soup itself was just tomato-y enough, the quenelle was just curry-y enough, and the tiny croutons were just crunchy enough. Very refreshing on a warm and humid (and incredibly windy!) day. We got two bowls, each containing a quenelle, scattered croutons and a dusting of finely chopped chives. Then a big footed bowl of soup arrived—that sort of French bowl with the lions on the side–so we got a generous course of soup, both in quantity and in time.

That was followed by a couple slices of roasted monkfish on a bed of fennel remoulade with a simple sauce of some meaty jus and some mild acid (I forgot to look at the menu again as we left). It was a perfect smallish portion of beautifully melded flavours.

The main course was a Pintade de Bresse with roasted potatoes and girolle mushrooms. The entire pre-dessert menu was ideal for showing off the virtues of a really appropriate white wine, so I’m glad I asked for advice. By this time the very specific absinthe buzz had kicked in, and we were plastered–but in a good way.

For dessert, I had a mi-cuit chocolate soufflé cake thing, and Randy had peach slices with milk/mint sorbet. Mine was excellent but his was better. Our walk home revealed just how buzzed we both were.

24 Juin

A day of shopping–Randy went hog-wild at my favourite men’s clothing store in Paris, Melchior. The clothes there are beautiful, but designed for a longer, leaner silhouette than mine—so I shop there vicariously. I a bit wild at Celio (Spain’s answer to The Gap) Then, lunch in Belleville at le Baratin. Clay, Randy and I had been in Paris last May for an open artists studio weekend in Belleville, and we’d been smitten with this little bar. The place has been written up as the pick of the 20th in the new Pudlo guide! I started with one of the specials: a whole small rouget, simply prepared. It was very nice. I followed that with poitrine de porc with mashed potatoes, then charentais melon in a light vanilla syrup. Everything was simple and delicious. Randy started with especially good sautéed chicken livers on a salad, then lamb shoulder with curry and rice, and finally a clafoutis au cerise again. For wine I chose a cinsault vin gris from “the Valley of Paradise”–slightly, pleasantly sour and a tiny bit pettillante. After lunch we popped into a show of photos of the restored Giotto frescoes in Asissi ,with lots of useful explanation. The Italians seem to have done a great job. And, apart from a nice little concert at the Sainte-Chappelle, that was Paris. A good time was had by all.

The next day, we set out for London.