Monday, March 7, 2011

Paris day 3 - Versailles...let them eat CAKE!!

Where to begin with this day?  Who needs to run when you can walk everywhere?  Sadly we didn't get to run the Semi-Marathon de Paris.  Oh well, there's always next year!!  We got up early today and wanted to hit a few markets before getting on a train to Versailles.  Another effortless Metro trek to the Place de Bastille.
Cafe and crepes by the sidewalk , watching 30,000 runners huff their way past the famous monuments of Paris.  We were then shocked to see every runner chucking their own personal 25cL plastic water bottle to the side of the street!!!  The french have officially lost their "green" cred with us!

While walking along the route we thought it was hilarious because we found at the 10mi/16km marker, the french runners need a defribillator station!  All that smoking and cheese is killing them!  We didn't actually see anyone smoking and running but it wouldn't have surprised us!

After breakfast and some much needed sunbathing, we walked over to the Marche Bastille.  This is one of the famous open-air french markets where most of the residents purchase their fresh meats, fruits, veggies, and spices, etc.  It's defintely not Vons!  You'll hear shouts of "Allez! Allez!" from the Lebanese hawkers trying to encourage your purchase.  We bought a small sack of clementines, a modest wedge of Comte cheese, and a fresh baguette.  We opted to skip the lobsters and took in huge whiffs of the beautiful olives.  We also couldn't resist checking out all of the spice vendors' stands.   
The lobsters's antennae were moving!!


Spice vendors

Kim, this one is for you!
After a trip to the open-market, we decided to head to a covered market I had read about called the "Marche Beauvau".  It's a 200-year-old covered market that according to my book, "Markets of Paris", has changed little.  It was gorgeous. It felt like the San Francisco Ferry building but much older.  The book described a fabulous beer seller called "Delirium Tremens".  Evan marvelled at the bottles of Belgian Abbey ale.  Unfortunately we couldn't buy any because we were headed to Versailles in a bit. 

<guest blogger Evan has the keyboard... and a third glass of Sancerre rouge, so begging your advance forgiveness...>

Overconfidence with the Paris rail system found us on the "wrong" train to Versailles (to Chantiers vs. the intended Rive Gauche).  But funny thing, turns out arriving at the train station farther from the Chateau forces a long walk through charming Versailles town.  And, of course, past yet another Boulanger/Patisierre so we're compelled to enjoy another batch of croissant, eclairs, and long-espressos.  Following this, we turn the corner to behold the most extreme example of architectural opulence & income inequity in human history - the Palace of Versailles. 

It's truly a marvel as we imagine the great life enjoyed by the earlier Louis (XIV) playing billiards, lounging around the gardens (larger than all Carlsbad), and entertaining the rulers of Europe in the Chateu's many parlors & apartments.  Then it's heartening (& a bit scary) to think of the later Louis (XVI) waking up to the Parisian rabble storming the gilded gates (somehow the guards got an advanced tip). 

Say what you want about selfish monarchs, we took in amazing French neo-classical art (incl. 30-ft paintings) that would have been impossible in today's modern world.  The tour itself was a bit too crowded and stuffy (free on the 1st Sunday!), but still very worthwhile and a great way for a moment to really imagine the glory of 17th-century French kings & frustration/power of the people in 1789.

King Louis XVI

Hall of Mirrors

Les Jardins des Versailles

Following this historical episode, we got our checked bag at the entrance & then devoured the baguette & Comte we had bought at the Marche that morning.  We ended up going back to the (much less crowded) 'wrong' train station & made our way back to Paris centre.  After a couple deserved hours resting our feet, we actually went for our dinner at the civilized Euro-hour of 10:30 pm.  I'm not exactly sure what this means, but Claudine's reminding me to note we dined next to the Hermes fashion show crew and that our brasserie was designed by Sonia Rykiel.

Here was my appetizer (Marinated scallops in clementine atop a bed of herbed sorghum (think semolina)) and Claudine had this amazing potato & asparagus soup served in a beautiful red Le Creuset pot.  Our friend Kim said we need to post more pictures of what we're eating.  Here you go Kim!

Bon soir!!

1 comment:

Kim Kelly said...

Now you're talking! Love the food photos, and the bread is stunning! That shot of the spices is pretty darn exciting as well, you really didn't buy any?

So glad you guys are having a good time. I'll bet the time is flying quickly, enjoy!