Mon dieu! Time is flying by – despite my perpetual feelings of guilt for not doing enough. But I continue to delight in this most wonderful city.
Tuesday was my first ever visit to Montmartre. I followed this guide which starts at the “back” of Montmartre and I must say, it made for a peaceful and charming ascent, largely free of tourists. With its twisting cobblestone streets, steep staircases and sites like the legendary Au Lapin Agile leading up to the soaring basilica of Sacre-Coeur, it’s a bit hard to believe it’s real. Until, of course, you reach the top and find a busy sidestreet filled with tourist tat for sale and pushy “artists” trying to strong-arm you into drawing your portrait. Despite this, though, it’s still lovely and the church is beautiful (though, €2 to light a tiny tealight candle? Way to gouge the pilgrims, Catholic church…).
Retraced my steps in search of couple of restos I’d read about – but had no luck since my map ended just north of Montmartre. I did manage to find Gontran Cherrier, the boulangerie I’d read about in Bon Appetit. I had a tasty ham sandwich on curry bread – very yummy! Though I’m not sure I’d make a special trip to this ‘hood just for the boulangerie. Sadly, M. Cherrier was not in residence to accept my proposal of marriage.
Home for a nap and a glass of wine, then dinner at La Bourse et La Vie, another well-reviewed place for steak frites. A tiny, funky place, with a rather boisterous though certainly kind proprietor. It was pretty good – I think the steak was not as good as the one I’d had at Le Severo, but the pepper sauce was tasty and the frites were very good. Why on earth I chose an appetizer of hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise, I’ll never know. I mean, they were fine – but it was a bit much to start. And the owner mock-warned me that I’d not be permitted dessert since I didn’t finish the entire plate of eggs… I was a bit alarmed when, after asking for a glass of good red, a bottle appeared and was opened before I had a chance to sputter any protest. “Great,” I thought to myself, “not only am I going to be drunk off my ass, that bottle probably cost €100.” But I decided that, at this point, the die had been cast, so why worry?
There’d only been a couple of other diners when I arrived and I was the last to leave, save for the owner and couple of his mates. When I asked for the check, he waved me into the back, where they were chatting and smoking. I was peppered with questions by this amiable bunch and had an entertaining conversation. The meal was good – not great – but the jolly host makes this place worth a visit. And that bottle was quite reasonably priced. My entire bill was around €60 (I think – I did make a quite a dent in that bottle, after all…)
On Wednesday, I forced myself out of bed at the crack of dawn (i.e. 830AM) so I could get my ass to Les Arts Decoratifs when they opened at 11AM in hopes of avoiding the lines I’d encountered on my visit the other day. My plan worked and I got in with little problem. My main reason to visit was to see the exhibition of “publicité” – advertising posters and other ephemera. But the big draw (and the reason for the crowds) was a special show of jewelry by Van Cleef & Arpels. O mon dieu! It was breathtaking and fascinating. No photos allowed (which is frankly just as well) so you’ll have to take my word for it.
As for the “publicité”? Well, there was a special showing of super-cool CD and album covers and club flyers from the ’80s and ’90s. Super chouette!
Wandered off in search of lunch and found my way to Bistrot Victoires, which was recommended in Time Out. Very French, very friendly and oh-so-tasty. I was tempted by the steak frites but that seemed like gilding the lily after last night’s dinner. So I ordered a tart with potato, lardons and Emmentaler. I was expecting something quiche-like – but got something so much better… Et voilà.
Service was efficient and friendly. And I did my best to refrain from staring at the one waiter wearing a plain white and vaguely transparent t-shirt that gave more than a hint of his many tattoos…
A long amble back home, then a bit of a lie down before dinner at Josephine Chez Dumonet. Read this post for my full impression – but the short version? OMG, I loved it.