crêpes on a sunny day
After our weekend wallowing in The Mountain Cheese, we took the TGV from Annecy to Paris, in order to spend a few days of vacation. We checked-in to our hotel near Montparnasse and jumped on the Metro to Montmartre to take in the view of the city from the Sacré-Coeur basilica, and, more importantly, find a good place for dinner.
the other streets were really crowded
We wandered the crowded streets a bit, debated whether or not we wanted to pay the admission fee to climb the steps to the top of the dome of the basilica, considered whether or not my fear of heights would paralize me halfway up the narrow staircase, and then turned around and bought gelato. Eventually, the hoards of tourists and hunger pangs forced us back down the hill, and an inebriated vagabond, who was trailing a little bit too close behind, flushed us out of the series of narrow alleys we were strolling through to a main street lined with cafés. Still indecisive about dinner--we're always indecisive about dinner--we ducked into a bar near Abbessess to regroup over mojitos and caipirinhas.
Our cocktails came with popcorn
Fortified by our tropical libations, we headed back down the alley in search of food. After spending 4 days in the Haute-Savoie eating large, traditional French meals accompanied with much cheese and wine, we opted for something a bit different for dinner.
Le Mono, a Togolese restaurant we found in a restaurant guide given to us by LSB's folks before the trip, was a bit of a hole in the wall, but in a cozy way. Our Mozambican (which is nowhere near Togo, in case you were wondering) waiter was desheveled and more than a bit odd. He spoke English in long, slow, drawn-out phrases that left a lot space for us to make quick, slightly uncomfortable glances at each other while we waited for him to finish. He pointed out the items on the menu that he recommended, and when I asked about a few of the other things listed, he gave me a strange sideways look, as if to say, "nooo...I wouldn't advise you to order that."
It is probably needless to say, but we ordered from the list of waiter-approved items, which started with an appetizer sampler of various fried things from the sea (cod, crab, oysters, etc.) and the house punch--a seriously potent blend of rum, lemon, muddled (more like pulverized)ginger, and cane sugar. LSB ordered a whole fish (Kingfish, I believe) for the second time on the trip (in spite of her previous well-documented difficulties). I don't remember what I ordered, because something entirely different came out. It was some kind of ochre-based stew or savory broth with chunks of fish in it. I also had manioc (a.k.a yucca or cassava), which our waiter described as "a tree that grows under the ground." I guess that's a good enough way to describe a big root.
The combination of the house punch, odd atmosphere, and way too much--but quite good--food left us sleepy and lethargic, so we called it a night.
The following day started with coffee at a corner café. We wandered mostly around the Left Bank, stopping in St. Sulpice, strolling through Luxembourg Gardens, pausing for crêpes, and continuing on to the Pantheon for some after-lunch crypt-peeping. We crossed the river to visit a speciality food/baking store to buy some gifts for folks back home before heading back toward the Latin Quarter for another decidely unFrench dinner. Wait, that's not exactly true--we did have rosé with our sushi.
In the morning, after a short ride on the Air France bus to Orly, I found myself on Air Iberia once again, for my return trip to Boston (via Madrid). LSB got to sleep in before catching her British Airways flight out of Charles de Gaulle and then was upgraded from her luxurious World Traveller Plus seat to First Class.
At least my plane was not musty this time.