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Paris au Ralenti (Paris in Slow Motion) - Fall 2012

Doru

100+ Posts
Au Revoir, à Bientôt!

How to sum up the last three weeks?

It was wonderful.

Between one moment and the next, the space, the time, the rays of light, the shapes of shade, the streets, the people, the métro, the buses, the brasseries, the cafés, the museums, the gardens, the little parks called here squares, the long shaded boulevards, the medieval narrow streets, the omnipresent river, absorb you.

The city first touches you, then holds you, then takes you over.

One day, you realise that you have to go home, and that you will be back. And this is the single consolation when you leave it all behind: au revoir, not adieu. Au revoir, à bientôt!

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Last evening in Place des Vosges
 

Doru

100+ Posts
Restaurant Review: La Régalade Saint-Honoré
123, rue Saint-Honoré , Phone: 01 42 21 92 40
Closing day: Saturday and Sunday
Reviewed by: Doru from Canada
When: 2012

A repeated experience and just as satisfying; La Régalade under its chef Bruno Doucet never disappoints! Highly recommended!

At the beginning of October 2012 we had a wonderful lunch at La Régalade Saint-Honoré. We were four and we had a very leisurely meal. One of the first things to be mentioned about this excellent restaurant: attention, light-handed service, no rush. One of us asked for a menu in English; no problem. We asked for explanations on the menu and they were patiently given.

An "on the house" generous portion of terrine de campagne maison with support of cornichons and wonderful bread kept us company until the appetisers arrived. I forewarned my friends that the portions will be very generous, but the terrine proved just too tempting…

The restaurant took special care to accommodate my wife's requirement for a lactose-free meal, both at the main course, which was adjusted accordingly, and with the dessert.

Main courses: the ladies chose the sea bream and the monkfish, respectively. The men showed less imagination and ordered the same appetisers (a sensational risotto à l'encre de seiche et calamar) and main courses (very excellent, melting in the mouth poitrine de cochon fermier croustillante). We separated at desserts, when two of us had the cheese plate, one a specially prepared fruit salad, and I had the soufflé au Grand Marnier, a sinful closing act.

The "formule" (appetiser, main, dessert) is presently priced at EUR35, which represents exceptional value.

A bottle of Cairanne blanc was very reasonably priced and served well this wonderful lunch.

We warmly recommend La Régalade to all our friends who visit Paris and we will continue to be faithful customers ourselves.
 

Doru

100+ Posts
Restaurant Review: Le Coude Fou
12 Rue du Bourg Tibourg , Phone: 01 42 77 15
Reviewed by: Doru from Canada, review #3965
When: 2012

The food was good but the service...

Since we were near Hôtel de Ville, I figured it was a good occasion to try for lunch a new place, which was warmly recommended by a good friend, who is at least once or twice each year in Paris. The place is at 12 rue du Bourg-Tibourg, “the street of the Tea House Mariage Frères”, an absolutely must stop for us anyway.

The name of the bistrot sounds quite original: “Le Coude Fou”. It translates to “Crazy Elbow”! Generally, I try to talk up people who live or work in places with unusual names and to find out how these names came to be. Not here. We were met and lead to our table by a very tense waitress, who later would not understand why we were trying to fix ourselves the legs of our fitful, rickety table when she wanted to do it herself, but just “as soon as she was able to”… The question on my mind: why was the table… unstable to begin with? Why it was not fixed when we drew her attention that the water has spilled all over the table?

Then, there is the matter of the beer. We were accompanied by a friend, who ordered a Leffe draft, from the bistrot’s beverages list. He was told that the restaurant ran out of Leffe. No Leffe? Leffe is a beer as omnipresent in Parisian brasseries, bars and bistrots as the proverbial baguettes are in boulangeries, and it is only 1:30 p.m. On a Friday afternoon, they run out of one of the only two beers they have listed? With the evening crowds yet to descend on the popular area of Roi-du-Sicile? How will they do for dinner?

Anyway, we order. The food offers a level of redemption to the unsatisfactory service: Josette has actually an excellent skewer of monkfish and chorizo, an interesting combination, and fries as the side dish; A. and I order the same full formula at €16.50: slices of apple and smoked duck in a green salad; beef tenderloin with bordelaise sauce; and pane cotta. In order: good, so-and-so, excellent. I had a glass of wine; A. had “the other beer”. No coffees; we save the coffees for later. The total bill is €63. Not bad, but we have to wait for the bill while our waitress and a co-worker have their own lunch in the next room…

To the credit of the food, I will be neutral in the assessment of this restaurant, where attention to clients and service do not seem to be a priority...
 

Doru

100+ Posts
Restaurant Review: Le Temps des Cerises
31 rue de la Cerisaie , Phone: 01 42 72 08 63
Reviewed by: Doru from Canada, review #3964
When: 2012

Le Temps de la Cerisaie is a wonderful small restaurant with an equally wonderful value menu and that unique neighbourly atmosphere that makes one feel at home.

During a three weeks stay in Paris, we had four lunches and one dinner at Le Temps des Cerises. Why?

The first answer is obvious: convenience, because Le Temps des Cerises is located only two apartment buildings away from the one in which we rented our apartment.

The second reason is also obvious, and logical to boot: one does not eat five times in three weeks at a place that disappointed with the first visit.

Le Temps des Cerises is what I would call a neighbourhood restaurant. Its clientele draws heavily from the lower Marais residential area where it is located and from staff at three schools at the two ends of the neighbouring rue du Petit Musc.

The restaurant is small, with approximately 10-12 tables for two and for four people. At lunch, by 12:30, it is packed on weekdays, less so on weekends. Dinner is also very busy, including the weekends. A reservation is recommended.

The menu of the restaurant is the same for lunch and for dinner, and so are prices, although it seems that only for lunch a formula (menu fixe) is available. The price for the lunch formula was €12-13 (appetiser and main, or main and dessert) and €18-19 (three courses). The most costly one item on the menu is €22. The menu is also displayed on a chalkboard outside.

When we went to Le Temps des Cerises for the first time, it was late (1:30 p.m.) and the restaurant was packed, table to table, elbow to elbow. It is a small place and we were ready to wait, but a couple got up just as we settled by the bar and two minuscule tables were cleaned (we were three) and set. We see at work a most amazing waitress: for as long as we were there she never stopped taking and memorising orders, serving water, wine or other drinks, explaining the menu, serving the food, cleaning tables. A graceful, quiet tornado of activity.

The menu is quite varied, but on that first date we were too late for the risotto, so we settled on the “formule” (menu à prix fixe): appetiser and main, or main and dessert, at €12.50. Prices for the à la carte mains vary from €10-€22. The formule mains on that day were veal roast with a prune sauce and fillet of dorade with steamed vegetables. Excellent, or we were very hungry. Or both. All these, plus 1/2 litre of Vaqueyras (€22) and coffee, set us back only a well worth €63 for three. We decided that we will be back. But if I want risotto, I will have to remember to be here earlier.

The following three visits I was sure to have the risotto aux coquilles Saint-Jacques lardées. I confess: I have a weakness for risotto. Wherever I see it on a menu, I cannot resist. I think that the risotto is one of the two things most difficult to prepare, the other one being the soufflé. Both the risotto and the soufflé share the need to know when to stop. A few moments too early and the rice is still raw, the soufflé does not rise. A few moments too late and the risotto is paste, the soufflé collapses. To know when to stop, this is the question!

On all three occasions the risotto aux coquilles Saint-Jacques lardées offered at Le Temps des Cerises was excellent, slightly creamy, the rice still defined, the scallops -wrapped in their crackly bacon envelope- crisp on the outside. Wonderful. For my wife a lactose-free choice was easily negotiated and it was prepared just for her. The second visit it was escalope de saumon aux haricots verts vapeur, which she liked a lot. A glass of Viognier, a clafoutis aux poires, two coffees. (€43.60 for two).

Another day we have there an excellent dinner: espadon (swordfish), a vegetarian plate, brochettes d’agneau, panna cotta, mille-feuille, a bottle of chilled Viognier.

Another lunch (we were four) is dominated by three orders of risotto Saint-Jacques lardées, la pièce de résistance on the menu of the restaurant.

Based on these experiences I would take the time to have a meal at Le Temps des Cerises regardless of the Paris location where I stay, however I believe it is a must for those staying in the Marais; on or near the two islands; Bastille, Faubourg Saint-Antoine; etc.

I highly recommend this "trouvaille" (discovery).
 

Doru

100+ Posts
Vacation Rental Review: AirBnB, Charming Flat St Paul/Marais
Recommended
Review by Doru from Canada
1bed/1bath apartment in 4th arrondissement, Paris
When: September 12 - October 3, 2012, 3 weeks

Location
The apartment is located at 28 rue du Petit Musc, Paris, 75004, in the Lower Marais. Excellent location, at the centre of a region bordered by rue de Rivoli/rue Saint-Antoine/Place des Vosges; Bastille; Ile- Saint-Louis; Saint-Paul. Excellent metro and bus access. Two taxi stations within a couple of hundred meters.

The apartment is on the third floor (fourth floor North American) with elevator. The elevator is a retrofit and it is quite small but it works well and allows at least two people at a time.

Nearby Amenities
This is the heart of a residential area. Along rue Saint-Antoine, on its south side, one can find everything that is necessary: three boulangerie/patisseries; two cheese shops; two charcutiers; about five or six traiteurs; four wine shops; chocolate de-lux store; dry cleaning; pharmacies; four or five brasseries; Monoprix, G20, Franprix.

On rue du Petit Musc, at the corner with rue de la Cerisaie, there is a wonderful boulangerie/pattisserie, two houses away, and the wonderful neighbourhood restaurant "Le Temps des Cerises".

On the north side of Saint-Antoine there are cafes, restaurants, services, including an SNCF agency).

Just above: rue des Rosiers.

The House/Apartment
The apartment is large (62 sq. m2; 667 sq. ft.) It is comprised of three large, high ceiling rooms, with lots of light from both the east side (dining room) and the west side (bedroom and living room); a small kitchen (no oven); separate toilet; small washroom. A large, flat screen TV is available, with many cable channels. The telephone (land line) permits free calls anywhere to North America, including to cell phones, and anywhere in Paris to any kind of phone. The shower is small and would not accommodate very heavy or very large people. Hot water is never a problem. The fridge is large and has a freezer section. Everything worked to perfection and we never lacked for solutions to our needs. If we had a question, the owner was one telephone call away. Free WiFi available.

The building is the typical Paris five stories, probably built at the beginning of the 20th century, maybe earlier. On our floor there were two apartments. There are young couples and families in the building. One feels at home.

Garden
There is an interior court, with cobblestones. No garden. All exceedingly clean, well lit, safe.

Furnishings/Cleanliness/Living Areas
Lots of storage was made available to us. In the bedroom there is an excellent king-size bed. In the living room there is a queen-size sofa-bed of superior quality, a Barcelona lounge set and the large, flat-screen TV mentioned above. Very generous quantities of bedding linens, covers (duvets), and pillows.

The dining room had a round table and two chairs. There are a few more, antique, chairs but they seemed fragile and we used four stools, which resolved all sitting requirements.

A special mention for the abundant number of extension cords and plugs. But if you come from outside Europe, do not forget plug adapters. I have four of them and they were all in use, including a travel stepped-down converted from 110v to 220/240v.

Bedrooms/Bathrooms
Both beds were of excellent quality (we used both) and I wouldn't mind having them in my home. I mentioned above that the bathroom offers all one needs but the shower would not be adequate for people of very large build. We are not slim (I weigh 80 kg.) but it was enough for us.

The toilet is separate from the washroom, specifically the toilet is near the entrance to the apartment while the bathroom is accessed from the bedroom. There is a long corridor full of light between the toilet and the rest of the apartment.

The apartment is very clean, well organised, and it was cleaned once weekly at the cost of €50 per week.

Kitchen
The kitchen was sufficient for us; we don't cook or bake when we travel. But we made pasta dishes a few times. There is a very efficient ceramic heating plate with two heating elements. We never used more than one. But there is no oven, so the cooking of full meals will be limited to the heating plate. Dishes and tableware were sufficient, of good quality and there was the "piece de resistance", a Nepresso machine which worked like a charm and it was my daily joy to always have an excellent espresso a few feet away. The owner left us generous quantities of Nespresso capsules, but I need lots of espresso and I didn't think it fair to use his supplies other than an initial courtesy capsules and so we bought 40 capsules at the Nespresso HQ on Champs-Elysees for only €14.

Problems or Bonuses
Everything was good and allowed us one of the best vacations we ever had. The owner was always available, made suggestions, helped us with the luggage both on arrival and at departure, for which we were very, very grateful. He helped me on arrival with setting up the WiFi, explaining the use of the TV and of the telephone, the water heating system. Over the three weeks we developed what, I hope, is friendship. We were in touch by email, and when needed, by telephone.

We adopted many of his recommendations, and generally, I don't see how this entire three weeks experience could have been any better.

Agency and Representatives (and price)
Airbnb works well if one is willing to pay the rental in advance. We were; we took insurance. From the moment one expresses interest in a property, Airbnb becomes the middle-party and one gets directly in touch with the owner only after all terms and conditions are agreed. Money paid is held in escrow by Airbnb and it is turned over to the owner only 24 hours after arrival. This ensures that, if there are problems, the money is being withheld until they are resolved. For this Airbnb charges a fee, which is almost the equivalent of a one day rental. Airbnb also places a hold on a credit card for a security deposit, to protect the owner and to ensure that the owner is satisfied with the manner on which the property was left at departure. This fee was released 48 hours after our departure.

I found dealing with Airbnb very smooth and reliable.

Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes, yes, yes; no hesitation. And I would go back tomorrow!

Things to do in this area
We lived in this apartment "like the Parisians do". The cafe-restaurant "Le Temps des Cerises" became our home restaurant and so the corner bakery.

There is no end of things to do: Opera Bastille, Place des Vosges, rue des Rosiers, rue de Turenne, the Quai des Celestins, Henri IV, Ile Saint-Louis, Ile de la Cite, Square Jean XXIII, the Seine, the Marche Richard-Lenoir, Canal Saint-Martin, Beaubourg and Hotel de Ville and the BHV superstore, the little stores on rue Francois Miron, the Village Saint-Paul, etc., etc., etc.
 

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