Adventures in Paris

Tips, stories, and questions about travel-related topics, including restaurants
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Andrew Kotowski
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Adventures in Paris

#1 Post by Andrew Kotowski » April 16th, 2017, 12:50 am

I've been thinking about starting a separate thread on my life and experiences in Paris for a while, as most of the threads here are either focused on high-end dining (Michelin Starred) or narrow in scope (best cassoulet, charcuterie, etc.). I'm grateful for the dumptruck-load of recommendations I've picked up at WB from beer bars in Sweden to what to do in the Loire, so if you find enjoyment in the thread, happy I could be of service. Posts will be somewhat random, based on whatever's going on, or if I think it would be useful (i.e. I'll probably post a quick blurb on how to use the metro, because it's incredibly easy and goes everywhere).

A little background, first. I moved here on Nov 2, 2016 with my wife and four kids. I was fortunate enough to find a role that was a good fit with a company that was willing to sponsor the move, so we sold the house and cars, donated most of what we owned and took off for Paris. If this is something you're considering, feel free to PM or post and I'll answer anything I can. Know that the process is a pain and can take months. After getting US passports for the kids, we had to apply for a long-stay visa (visa de long sejour) through the French Embassy (in person, for anyone 12+) and travel back and forth to SF to pick up the passports, afterwards. The volume of paperwork is insane for six people, all of which must be translated to French and good luck if your marriage license is signed by a pastor and gets translated incorrectly :D Process took two months.

Next step was getting an apartment (you need an agent), turning on the electricity/cable/etc. and then buying literally everything in the place, including a stove and fridge... and light fixtures. When they say "unfurnished" here, they mean unfurnished. Side note - lease terms are one year for a furnished place (and "furnished" is a loosely-used term) or three years for unfurnished. I opted for the latter, as I didn't want to deal with the idea of having to move again after a year.

Once you have an apartment, you apply for a residency permit (carte de sejour) with the local prefecture. This is another long, drawn-out process that requires appointments at the police station, where you pay for the permit with stamps purchased at a bar / tobacco shop. No, really. It's an anti-corruption thing which I've yet to figure out that involves buying stamps (same process for traffic tickets) and affixing them to your permit application. 268 euros = a lot of stamps, so they were pasted all over the place. Add another two months for this, with absolutely zero sense of urgency on the French side... which can be worrisome if you're flying in and out of the Schengen area on a regular basis. My wife and I got our Residency Permits 7 months after originally starting the visa process, and are now pushing the kids' applications through. Pretty decent summary of the process here -> https://www.thoughtco.com/french-long-s ... ss-1369705

Other side note - The European Union != Schengen Area, of which France is a part of. The Schengen Area is pretty analogous to the US in the sense that you can go from member country to member country without dealing with immigration / passport control. England and Ireland are not part of Schengen, so you get the "why are you coming to Dublin" and a passport stamp.

Enough of the boring stuff, will post on cream next, as that's been our latest adventure.
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#2 Post by Anthony Hall » April 16th, 2017, 3:29 am

Interested to hear if you have found a source of cream that can be whipped. It seems virtually impossible to find which cuts a lot of classic english / australian desserts from the repertoire.
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#3 Post by Carlos Delpin » April 16th, 2017, 3:56 am

I'll read it!

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#4 Post by Andrew Kotowski » April 16th, 2017, 5:13 am

Anthony Hall wrote:Interested to hear if you have found a source of cream that can be whipped. It seems virtually impossible to find which cuts a lot of classic english / australian desserts from the repertoire.
The Kitchen Aid mixer didn't make the trip with us, as I didn't want to take a chance with the electrical (other casualties included my Capresso grinder and my Xbox One adapter), so I have yet to "whip" cream.

That said, Marks and Spencer sells a "pourable double cream" that would work if push comes to shove, and there are locations everywhere. Bordier (makes the butter everybody likes) produces a "la crème fleurette" that I've picked up at Andruet cheese shops. Same consistency as the English double cream without the green streak that you get in some of the crème fraiche I've had here, even though it's labeled "espirit de crème 'de Normandie.' " I'd opt to go this route, as it's probably not loaded with preservatives like the M&S stuff.

I'm currently working through a batch of creme crue from http://earl-de-la-martellerie.e-monsite.com/ , which has the consistency of Miracle Whip, but a bright, grassy flavor. Strawberry season is kicking off and they taste great in this stuff. Interesting thing is that the only place we've found brown sugar is... Marks and Spencer. I dropped some in my coffee this AM just to try it and it was actually pretty good, but again has that grassy tinge to it.

As with quite a few things, Paris by Mouth with the win for a breakdown of cream in France -> http://parisbymouth.com/primer-on-norma ... -la-creme/
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#5 Post by Alan Rath » April 16th, 2017, 10:54 am

This is fun to read vicariously, keep posting!

Not to get political, but when I read stuff like this (how hard it is to move to and work in Europe), the immigration debate here gets put in perspective.
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#6 Post by lsmorris » April 17th, 2017, 9:02 am

Our daughter may do college in Paris starting the fall of 2018, for 3 years. The wife and I are VERY seriously contemplating renting out our place here in the US and renting in Paris. We've been there 5 times in the last 12 months, and are going in September and December 2017. Friends ask us why we don't just move there, and I must say the idea is getting a lot of CPU time in my head. I will be following your posts very closely, and I have already learned something. I knew bureaucracy, but I didn't realize b u r e a u c r a c y!
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#7 Post by Andrew Kotowski » April 17th, 2017, 10:23 am

lsmorris wrote:Our daughter may do college in Paris starting the fall of 2018, for 3 years. The wife and I are VERY seriously contemplating renting out our place here in the US and renting in Paris. We've been there 5 times in the last 12 months, and are going in September and December 2017. Friends ask us why we don't just move there, and I must say the idea is getting a lot of CPU time in my head. I will be following your posts very closely, and I have already learned something. I knew bureaucracy, but I didn't realize b u r e a u c r a c y!
LOL! It'll blow you're mind. On the bright side? People here are generally great. I was worried that nobody in our family spoke French... but it hasn't been a blocker and most people are great if you lead with "bonjour" and go from there. When I've hit a blocker and the arm-waving and pointing isn't working, there has always been somebody else standing behind me that is willing to jump in and help. That said, I'm learning French as fast as I can.

First thing I'd recommend is learning how to use the Metro. I've never been a public transit fan, but the Metro here is incredibly convenient and I've never had a John Rocker experience here :D In fact, it's probably the only place in Paris you'll actually hear an accordion.

I'd do a couple of things first:
* Download the RATP app for your phone -> http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/c_21130/application-ratp/ While the app combines 18,000 different ways to get from A to Z and uses your GPS, I use it almost exclusively for the metro map function, which works while underground (cell generally does not), and allows you to track progress, figure out where to change lines, etc. It's free.
* Watch a quick video on how the machines work. May not be an issue for you, but I was terrified I'd be in a line 10 deep and then look like an idiot when I got to the ticket machine, only to be beaten to death with baguettes when I couldn't figure out how to use it fast enough. There are better videos out there, but has the most recent software view. In a nutshell, select English, use the roller to buy tickets, get the T+ regular fare (there's a reduced option if you have kids) and buy a book of 10. I always use the machine that takes credit cards; make sure you're using a machine with a card reader if this is the route you want to go. You can also go to the window, but my experience has been mixed with the counter people.
* Figure out where you want to go and work backwards. Lets say you're a cassoulet fan and have seen the posts on L'Asiette (181 Rue du Chateau). Use maps.google.com to find the nearest metro map and compare to a Paris metro map (http://www.aparisguide.com/maps/metro.gif) to ensure you've got the optimal line. I'm coming from Mirabeau (on the 10 line in the 16th - over to the left of the map), so it looks like I want to take 10 (yellow) to 13 (light blue), connecting at Duroc.
* The Metro lines are like US bus lines in the sense that you look for the line number and the end destination. On my first trip to L'Asiette, I dropped an appointment in my Calendar with the reservation details and then noted something similar to:
10 (yellow) Gare d'Austerlitz to Duroc
13 (light blue) Chatillon Montrouge to Gaite (stop closest to the restaurant)
When walking around the station, just follow the signs for the number/color line you want, until you find the sign for the end stop you want. Again, if you're neurotic like me, you'll check the stop map on the wall as you're walking down the stairs to the platform and check to ensure the stop you want is listed (it will only show stops from where you are to the end point, so if you're going the wrong way, you won't see the stop you want). Worst case scenario - you get on the Metro and are headed the wrong direction (you're my wife). With a few exceptions (Ranelagh and Jasmin come to mind), you can easily walk back up the stairs and down to the other side without using a new ticket. Only other note I'd offer is to keep an eye out if you're on 10 or 7 and end up on single-direction segments.
It takes a couple of times to get the hang of it, but then you're off to the races. In general, it's 1,80 to get from A to B on the Metro, 7-15 euros for an uber and 12-20 for a taxi. If you need to get somewhere between 8-9:30 AM or 5-7:30 PM, take the Metro, regardless. It was a little intimidating at first, but I'm telling you we've had 5-6 families visit in six months and they're all Metro pros by the end of the trip.

Couple of pro tips:
* There are three types of doors on the cars - ones that open automatically, doors that require you to push a green button and doors that require you to flip a latch up. You'll see immediately what kind of door it is; don't make the mistake of waiting for the door to open if you can see a latch on it.
* There is always a sign with the line name and how much time is left for the next two trains. If the two trains are close together (i.e. 3 and 4 minutes apart), you might consider waiting for the second one. The first train is usually running behind in this case and it's going to be PACKED with people. The second one will be right behind it and generally nowhere near as full.
* On many trains, when you step inside the door, there will be fours sets of two seats that are spring-loaded and fold up/down. It's fine to use them when the train is full, but if it gets to standing room only mode, it's poor form to keep sitting in them.

In general, you're never going to use the RER unless you're going to Versailles. If that's the case, just use the ticket window, lead with "bonjour" and then say "des-olay" a couple of times with "I'm going to Versailles." You'll be fine and it'll cost less than $5 vs. a crazy taxi fare. There is no circumstance where I would consider RER to the airport, even when I'm guaranteed a direct train. A couple of the people that visited wanted to save $30 by taking RER instead of paying the 54 euro cab fee from CDG. Here's the deal - assuming you get a direct train that brings you in through the crap areas of Paris (actually saw a dumpster fire my last time through), you still have to connect to the metro and/or hit a taxi once you get to Gar du Norde or Chatelet. Just isn't worth the pain with luggage, especially if you have 2 people.
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#8 Post by M.Kaplan » April 17th, 2017, 10:40 am

Andrew,
Do you take buses? I find that the Paris bus system is excellent and often gets me closer, faster to where I want to go for shorter/medium distances with the benefit of traveling above ground.

Do you have a monthly Navigo pass?
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#9 Post by Andrew Kotowski » April 17th, 2017, 11:45 am

M.Kaplan wrote:Andrew,
Do you take buses? I find that the Paris bus system is excellent and often gets me closer, faster to where I want to go for shorter/medium distances with the benefit of traveling above ground.

Do you have a monthly Navigo pass?
re:Navigo - I don't have one. My office is 2 miles from the apartment, so I walk every morning/night, unless I have an early review. The break even point on a Navigo is pretty high (~5 days a week, round trip), so the value isn't there for me.

re: Busses - You, my wife and Rick Steves :D The argument for taking the bus is pretty easy - you get to see where you're going (i.e. a cheap tour) AND your cell internet service works. My wife LOVES the bus and has made it her mission in life to figure out how to take the bus wherever she wants to go. Here are my challenges with the bus:
* As a 6' able-bodied male, I always get stuck standing in the bus, so I don't get the "scenic tour" value that many people do, and even then, it's hunched over to look out the window.
* We have one GREAT line - 72 - that runs most of the length of the right bank, from Pont Saint Cloud to Hotel de Ville. If I have to go more than 3 blocks off of that line, figuring out the connections is a bit more difficult than the Metro and I'm just lazy.
* There are no bus tickets at bus stops. I usually have a stash of the T+ tickets in my wallet, which work on Metro/Bus/RER, but I've never dealt with trying to buy a ticket on the bus, with the grumpy guy behind a big Plexiglas shield and my French being limited to "I'd like to buy a cote de boeuf and trois bottles of Chateauneuf de Pape."

Again, this is where the RATP app comes into play. It will give you a combination of walking, busses and metro to get to wherever you are (GPS based) to wherever you want to go. Plus, the bus stops generally have an indicator that tells you how long you have to wait until the next bus, which is helpful.
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#10 Post by Peter Papay » April 18th, 2017, 4:25 am

There is no circumstance where I would consider RER to the airport, even when I'm guaranteed a direct train.

Love to read your post Andrew. On our last trip we had nothing but a great experience taking the RER from the airport to downtown and back some days later. I would do it again in a heart beat. Its quick and reliable. You can also easily connect to your specific terminal at the airport by using free transfer. Definitively worth the 10 Euro. We were packing light and had just carry on. I would not recommend it if you are traveling with several pieces of luggage and your entire entourage.

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#11 Post by lsmorris » April 18th, 2017, 8:35 am

Andrew, GREAT stuff. Your pro tips are first rate! I am downloading the RATP app as I type. :-)

* After so many trips we're pretty good on the Metro. We've been staying in St. Germain des Pres very near SGdP, Mabillon and Odeon so on the 4 and 10, and a nice walk to the 7 at Pont Neuf. Actually to L'Assiette we just took the 4 from Odeon to Mouton-Duvernet.

* We have taken the RER B from CDG each time without problems. Some of the stops and people are a little dodgy looking but that's nothing new compared to NYC. We get off at St. Michel Notre Dame and walk to the hotel, about 5 minutes. Schlepping the luggage up the last set of stairs at Blvd St. Michel is really the only "bad" part. We usually cab it back to CDG though. The RER C to Versailles is an excellent service.

* The metro tickets don't expire, so I buy a carnet (10 tix) or two and keep the unused ones in our Paris box (adapters, euros, etc) when we get home.

* I haven't yet been on a bus in Paris (or NY for that matter ;-))

* I think I get what you're saying about having 5-6 families visit in 6 months. People are already hitting me up!

I would love to be able to pull this off. I love the city, and I don't want to coulda woulda shoulda it when we're too old to make it happen.
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#12 Post by lsmorris » April 18th, 2017, 8:51 am

As to speaking the language, props to my high school French teachers that I remember as much as I do after 40 years! I was told (in the kindest possible way the French can about their language) that my vocab and grammar is good, but my accent could use some work. I have started listening to French pop music stations online - they talk really fast, especially the ads, so it's really language boot camp. I am understanding only a little bit, but scribbling words and phrases down for Google Translate later. One phrase that had me flummoxed for a while was at the end of a lot of ads they say "point effert". It took this dunce a couple of weeks to figure out they were saying ".fr", the French equivalent to ".com". It'll get better.
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#13 Post by Andrew Kotowski » April 18th, 2017, 10:54 am

Peter Papay wrote:
There is no circumstance where I would consider RER to the airport, even when I'm guaranteed a direct train.

Love to read your post Andrew. On our last trip we had nothing but a great experience taking the RER from the airport to downtown and back some days later. I would do it again in a heart beat. Its quick and reliable. You can also easily connect to your specific terminal at the airport by using free transfer. Definitively worth the 10 Euro. We were packing light and had just carry on. I would not recommend it if you are traveling with several pieces of luggage and your entire entourage.
Re: RER - I've done it a couple of times (I get stuck in Airport hotel meetings, as it's convenient for our team to fly in/out of) and I just don't like the hassle. The strangest thing for me about Paris is that the downtown is pretty clean; there are some rougher neighborhoods (Canal St Martin strikes me as one), but I've never felt really uncomfortable walking around the center of the city. The surrounding areas, especially in the north/north east (where RER C goes through) are a different story... and while I only had one experience with guys fighting on the train, I'm content to spend the extra $30 to get to the airport, especially if I'm dragging luggage. Even got a dumpster fire sighting on one of the trips :D Glad it worked for you, though, and it's pretty easy to use!

@lsmorris - people came out of the woodwork when we moved. They don't seem to grasp that I have 6 people living in a downtown apartment, which is huge at ~1400 sq feet, all things being equal. That said, it really helped with the transition; hard to leave the friendliest town in the US (according to Forbes) behind.
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#14 Post by Andrew Kotowski » April 20th, 2017, 10:02 am

Downside - no wheels in Paris. The move from the US to France hasn't been the hardest thing on the family, the move from suburbia to a major metropolitan area - apartment life, no car, noisy streets, no backyard, no grills and no IPAs is. I walk 2 miles to work (each way) and man, it's been a long week with quarterly business reviews.

Upside - I'm walking home at 8:30, but this was my view. Everybody under the sun goes to the Eiffel Tower, but they have a tendency to skip the Pont Grenelle bridge, which you can see in the foreground of this picture... and has a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty.
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Nice walk from the statue along an island running from the bridge up to Bir Hakim, which is one of the most photographed locations in Paris, given the Tower and the Seine.
Updated - 4/30 with a pic from the island trail between the statue and the tower.
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#15 Post by Andrew Kotowski » April 23rd, 2017, 2:50 am

One of the most intriguing things for me here, at least when it comes to food, is how seriously Parisians take their chicken. At any given butcher, you can usually find three to five different brands/types of chicken, ranging from generic chicken to chicken from different regions. I've tried quite a few, with the chickens from Bresse (phone autocorrects to Bressler lol) generally being the fattiest/most flavorful. I whole Bresse chicken will run $35-$45, landing around 3 lbs. That puts it on par with a double-cut rib-eye (cote de boeuf) :o A picked up a Christmas goose from Bresse that was in the low $200s, just to try it. Wouldn't do it again, but I don't know how long we'll be here and I couldn't pass it up. The butcher gave me a bunch of the fat he trimmed out, so I'm still sitting on a few batches of rendered goose fat.

Begs the question, of course - how do you know you've got a $45 chicken? Many of the butchers leave the head and feet on (awesome for stock) so there's no question. In the event you're wondering, Bresse chickens have dark greyish-blue legs/feet.

Other note of merit - quite a few butchers (including at farmers markets) will have a rotisserie machine in front of their store. Big difference here is that they have a trough at the bottom for cubed potatoes... which spend hours soaking up the chicken fat and browning. #foodcoma.
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#16 Post by Mark Y » April 23rd, 2017, 9:21 am

Subscribing to read more!
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#17 Post by Matt Fleming » April 24th, 2017, 2:54 pm

I am just starting my fourth week of a month on the Ile St Louis and will share a few points, if Andrew doesn't mind my butting in.

--While I can understand not wanting a Navigo in some circumstances, for me it is a must. If for no other reason than it is one less thing to think about. Forget which ticket you haven't used, blah blah, just swipe the card and go. And I guarantee that the average tourist will more than make up for its use. I am at the Sully-Morland stop all the time. Swipe, go, no further worries. Money saver, too.

--I get the point about the bus, sometimes it is more convenient than the train. I have found his especially true on the Left Bank; but the flip side: by taking the train, climbing the Metro steps OR walking I have definitely lost weight while eating like a king. My rule has been: walk if you can, take a train and walk if you must.

--All of the finest specialists in the city (Kayser and Gaumer for bread, Laurent Dubois and Barthelemy for cheese, Jacques Genin for chocolates, Juesselin, etc etc) are they that good? Well, yes they are. But the markets -- the open air markets such as Blvd Richard Lenoir -- sell products that are roughly 90% of the quality at 50-75% of the price. Plus you can do all of your shopping in one place, act like a local, have a blast, knock back a dozen oysters as you shop. Plus, in some instances (ie poultry, seafood) the quality appears to me to be higher at the open air markets. Of course the utility of these places depends on having a kitchen. But two friends who visited had a great time at the markets.

--I speak passable French, but echoing a comment from above: learn as many words as you can, but just as importantly make sure your pronunciation is accurate. An example: at the market you will want to know your fractions (a kilo of many things is far too much) and if you ask for UNE tiers instead of UN tiers you will only cause confusion. All of this ties back into the point about going to the markets. Know a few key words, bring coins and small bills and a shopping bag, prepare for fun.

--Maybe it is because of my location, but the RER trains are useful now and again. But I also take them out to destination in the Ile de France.

--Even jet-lagged I thought the RER train ride into the city was fine from CDG. A lot depends on your travelling party and your final destination. Two adults, hotel / apartment near a Metro, fine. A family might find the RER a challenge.

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#18 Post by Andrew Kotowski » April 25th, 2017, 12:26 am

>> if Andrew doesn't mind my butting in.

Feel free to post; I have no monopolies on Paris and will most likely learn something in the process :D
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#19 Post by scamhi » April 25th, 2017, 5:01 am

this is such a great read Andrew, thanks for posting
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#20 Post by todd waldmann » April 25th, 2017, 6:28 am

Matt Fleming wrote:
--Even jet-lagged I thought the RER train ride into the city was fine from CDG. A lot depends on your travelling party and your final destination. Two adults, hotel / apartment near a Metro, fine. A family might find the RER a challenge.
We are a family who has found the RER ride from CDG fine. We pack very light, though, which makes all the difference.
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#21 Post by theocorrel » April 25th, 2017, 11:43 am

I've done at least 15 roundtrips on the RER from Charles de Gaulle to downtown in the last 10 years - never even a hint of a problem. It's a great service, and no Peripherique traffic jams!

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#22 Post by c fu » April 25th, 2017, 2:09 pm

Andrew Kotowski wrote:One of the most intriguing things for me here, at least when it comes to food, is how seriously Parisians take their chicken. At any given butcher, you can usually find three to five different brands/types of chicken, ranging from generic chicken to chicken from different regions. I've tried quite a few, with the chickens from Bresse (phone autocorrects to Bressler lol) generally being the fattiest/most flavorful. I whole Bresse chicken will run $35-$45, landing around 3 lbs. That puts it on par with a double-cut rib-eye (cote de boeuf) :o A picked up a Christmas goose from Bresse that was in the low $200s, just to try it. Wouldn't do it again, but I don't know how long we'll be here and I couldn't pass it up. The butcher gave me a bunch of the fat he trimmed out, so I'm still sitting on a few batches of rendered goose fat.

Begs the question, of course - how do you know you've got a $45 chicken? Many of the butchers leave the head and feet on (awesome for stock) so there's no question. In the event you're wondering, Bresse chickens have dark greyish-blue legs/feet.

Other note of merit - quite a few butchers (including at farmers markets) will have a rotisserie machine in front of their store. Big difference here is that they have a trough at the bottom for cubed potatoes... which spend hours soaking up the chicken fat and browning. #foodcoma.
Those damn chickens roasting in the front looks so good and smell so good but are always so dry =(
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#23 Post by Ramon C » April 25th, 2017, 3:09 pm

c fu wrote:
Andrew Kotowski wrote:One of the most intriguing things for me here, at least when it comes to food, is how seriously Parisians take their chicken. At any given butcher, you can usually find three to five different brands/types of chicken, ranging from generic chicken to chicken from different regions. I've tried quite a few, with the chickens from Bresse (phone autocorrects to Bressler lol) generally being the fattiest/most flavorful. I whole Bresse chicken will run $35-$45, landing around 3 lbs. That puts it on par with a double-cut rib-eye (cote de boeuf) :o A picked up a Christmas goose from Bresse that was in the low $200s, just to try it. Wouldn't do it again, but I don't know how long we'll be here and I couldn't pass it up. The butcher gave me a bunch of the fat he trimmed out, so I'm still sitting on a few batches of rendered goose fat.

Begs the question, of course - how do you know you've got a $45 chicken? Many of the butchers leave the head and feet on (awesome for stock) so there's no question. In the event you're wondering, Bresse chickens have dark greyish-blue legs/feet.

Other note of merit - quite a few butchers (including at farmers markets) will have a rotisserie machine in front of their store. Big difference here is that they have a trough at the bottom for cubed potatoes... which spend hours soaking up the chicken fat and browning. #foodcoma.
Those damn chickens roasting in the front looks so good and smell so good but are always so dry =(
I'd estimate having <5% of bought dry chicken roasting in front of butchers in Paris, ever.
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#24 Post by Matt Thomas » April 25th, 2017, 9:11 pm

My wife and I went to Paris over New Years. Hadn't been there since 2007 when I studied abroad. It was great going back and experiencing the city with a little bit more money. The one thing I had forgotten, was how many times the French people, specifically vendors of any kind greet you, thank you, and say goodbye.

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#25 Post by lsmorris » April 26th, 2017, 1:12 pm

Matt Fleming wrote:But the markets -- the open air markets such as Blvd Richard Lenoir -- sell products that are roughly 90% of the quality at 50-75% of the price. Plus you can do all of your shopping in one place, act like a local, have a blast, knock back a dozen oysters as you shop. Plus, in some instances (ie poultry, seafood) the quality appears to me to be higher at the open air markets. Of course the utility of these places depends on having a kitchen. But two friends who visited had a great time at the markets.

--I speak passable French, but echoing a comment from above: learn as many words as you can, but just as importantly make sure your pronunciation is accurate. An example: at the market you will want to know your fractions (a kilo of many things is far too much) and if you ask for UNE tiers instead of UN tiers you will only cause confusion. All of this ties back into the point about going to the markets. Know a few key words, bring coins and small bills and a shopping bag, prepare for fun.
That market effing blew us away! It's where we bought an Epoisses that I brought home, and we did the oysters as well. So much food, and amazing quality and variety of prepared foods too. One thing you mention that is so true it made me laugh, was knowing your weights and fractions. One stand was selling dried fruits, nuts, spices etc. I wanted some candied orange peels, and the vendor jokingly asked me if I wanted a kilo. I hadn't pre-translated kg to lbs in my head, but managed to recover gracefully and got deux cent grammes. I think it was like 3 euros, and they were delicious.
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#26 Post by Andrew Kotowski » April 30th, 2017, 3:19 am

Sounds like "Markets" is the topic de jour, so my two cents :D

I've discovered two kinds of "markets" here - traditional farmers' markets (Bastille, Saxe) that show up a couple of days a week and large, covered markets (Marche de Passy) that are collections of independent stands under a roof. For this post, I'm leaving out "street markets" that are really extensions of a store out in the street (Rue de Levis, etc). Thoughts below on each.

Farmers' Markets - there are few things I like more in Paris than an open-air Farmers' Market. Now that the sun is out, I'll be hitting more, so will hopefully post pics when I do. These markets are generally open two-three days a week and the two I've hit up repeatedly are right off of Metro lines. On Saturdays (and Thursdays, but I'm working), we like to hit up Saxe-Breteuil, which is a short walk south of the Eiffel Tower. Sundays, we'll go to Bastille Market (along Blvd Richard Lenoir), which is also open on Thursdays. We usually take people to the Saxe-Breteuil market, as we can go hang out at the Eiffel Tower (pro tip - if you want to go under it, walk through the gardens and go around the back... it's a prettier walk, 1/4 of the people in line and you don't have to wait with half of West Africa trying to sell you Eiffel Tower key rings, hats, etc.) and then head over to the market for a quick, early lunch.

Great thing to remember about these markets is that you're not just getting fresh food / flowers / cheese, etc. - quite a few of the vendors cook food there. Kids in tow, we picked from stand after stand and ate as we went, with the girls choosing jamon, culeto and cheese, the boys scarfing down a stash of random fried stuff and the wife and I eating a rotisserie pork knuckle.

Why I like these markets so much:

* Many of the stands are highly-specialized. We counted 19 different types of olives in an olive stand and you can see the pics of the tomatoes below. The fish stands, especially, go on for days and often have a mix of fish from Normandy and the south trucked in.
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* You'll find stuff you don't find in the normal stores, depending on the season. See the fish example below - everybody sells 100 type of fish; you generally only see things like rays, shark, crazy shellfish at the farmers' market.
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* You catch one-offs like my dinner last night. While I am an aspiring alcoholic and take joy in wine, IPAs, bourbon and anything else in a cocktail glass... I'm really a foodie at heart and there are few things as exciting to me as stumbling across a quarter suckling pig for 10 euros and figuring out what I should do with it. One thing was certain, however - I was chasing it with a bottle of pinot noir :D
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There are a couple of downsides to these markets. If you don't get there before 11:00 AM, you've missed 20-25% of the inventory, and the later it gets, the more it feels like a living Tetris exhibit than it does a walkable market. The other challenge is that you're going to need basic French for some of the stands. I usually smile and point a lot, but words I'd know - "tranche" means 'cut/sliced' (think charcuterie, bread), "moitie" means 'half', "c'est tout" means 'that's all' and "aussi" means 'also.'

Links here:
http://parisadele.com/portfolio/bastille-markets/
https://www.parisperfect.com/blog/2014/ ... il-market/

The other markets I like (and hit this AM) are covered markets. These are very similar to the Spanish neighborhood boquerias, although nowhere near as massive as La Boqueria off La Rambla. You're not going to find anywhere near the selection as a good farmers' market, but they're usually open seven days a week and are guaranteed to have high-quality stuff day-in and day-out. The one near my place has an Androuet, which means I'm going on a cheese adventure every time. In all seriousness, given the number of people reading this that AirBnB Paris... it would be one of my first questions to the owner, once you lock a reservation. Link to the Passy one -> https://theweekendinparis.com/when-mark ... ert-passy/
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#27 Post by Andrew Kotowski » April 30th, 2017, 3:38 am

Quick follow-on, given the note in the link above (Passy) regarding Aux Mervueilleux de Fred.

AMdF (I'm lazy) might be the only time I've been walking through a neighborhood, stopped dead in my tracks and Pepe le Pew'd myself TWO blocks to a store. The smell was nothing short of mind-blowing, largely due to the location in the 8th having an oven vent that opened on the street. I don't know how much I spent that first visit, but I'm pretty sure I need to make an immediate credit card payment. Their claim to fame is their whip cream/bake meringue desserts, which they make in the window while you watch. It's the go-to dessert if you're eating at our place; macaroons and cannels are for the tourists :D
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While their desserts are why most people go there, we go early on the weekends to grab their brioche (sugar, chocolate). See pics below.
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And finally, just for a shot of randomness... a pic of the Poulet de Bresse mentioned a few posts back.
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#28 Post by Rick Allen » April 30th, 2017, 1:38 pm

Andrew, Thanks for all the updates and observations. I'm so jealous!

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#29 Post by Andrew Kotowski » May 1st, 2017, 12:41 am

Rick Allen wrote:Andrew, Thanks for all the updates and observations. I'm so jealous!
Come visit, BRING BEER. You've already seen your bottles with the Tower in the background, taken hanging out of my apartment window :D

Last note, given I'm conscious of the fact I've made 10 posts in the last 48 hours (blame the long May Day weekend). One of my scores at the Saxe market was two rabbits for 12.50 euros. I've always wanted to try cooking rabbit, so I went all out with a "braised rabbit in mustard sauce" recipe, using Maille from the boutique and some crème fraiche from Androuet. Pics/recipe posted at my more or less defunct AK Grill site (apartment living killed the grills) -> Apologies for the off-WB link, but didn't want to do it twice.
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#30 Post by Matt Fleming » May 1st, 2017, 3:54 am

Andrew Kotowski wrote:
Rick Allen wrote:Andrew, Thanks for all the updates and observations. I'm so jealous!
Come visit, BRING BEER. You've already seen your bottles with the Tower in the background, taken hanging out of my apartment window :D

Last note, given I'm conscious of the fact I've made 10 posts in the last 48 hours (blame the long May Day weekend). One of my scores at the Saxe market was two rabbits for 12.50 euros. I've always wanted to try cooking rabbit, so I went all out with a "braised rabbit in mustard sauce" recipe, using Maille from the boutique and some crème fraiche from Androuet. Pics/recipe posted at my more or less defunct AK Grill site (apartment living killed the grills) -> Apologies for the off-WB link, but didn't want to do it twice.
Andrew -- nicely done on the rabbit. Fresh game for cooking is one of the huge benefits of hitting the markets. Lots of feathered game, rabbit, etc, dirt cheap.

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#31 Post by geoffpm » May 1st, 2017, 6:54 am

Andrew,

Next time you are at the Bastille market, walk up the street to Marche D'aligre. I have always found this market to have more choice and cheaper prices. Also access to African and middle eastern foods
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#32 Post by Russell Faulkner » May 1st, 2017, 7:48 am

Most rabbit will be farmed. Quite different to wild.

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#33 Post by Craig G » May 1st, 2017, 7:53 am

Andrew Kotowski wrote:
Rick Allen wrote:Andrew, Thanks for all the updates and observations. I'm so jealous!
Come visit, BRING BEER. You've already seen your bottles with the Tower in the background, taken hanging out of my apartment window :D

Last note, given I'm conscious of the fact I've made 10 posts in the last 48 hours (blame the long May Day weekend). One of my scores at the Saxe market was two rabbits for 12.50 euros. I've always wanted to try cooking rabbit, so I went all out with a "braised rabbit in mustard sauce" recipe, using Maille from the boutique and some crème fraiche from Androuet. Pics/recipe posted at my more or less defunct AK Grill site (apartment living killed the grills) -> Apologies for the off-WB link, but didn't want to do it twice.
Here are some cooking options for your rabbits:

[youtube]JXuqJ4c1dxE[/youtube]
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#34 Post by Nolan E » May 1st, 2017, 7:38 pm

Andrew Kotowski wrote:macaroons
In France?
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#35 Post by Peter Kleban » May 1st, 2017, 7:55 pm

Nolan E wrote:
Andrew Kotowski wrote:macaroons
In France?
Pretty sure he means macarons ;-)

Andrew, so great that you are enjoying Paris. Nothing like it for quality, interesting food. France at its best. And the pictures are great, bring back so many memories (I lived in France for 3 years, and have been back many times since).

When you say Bastille market, I guess you mean the one along Blvd Lenoir. If not, check that one out, it's very large and IIRC well-stocked.
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#36 Post by Andrew Kotowski » May 1st, 2017, 10:56 pm

Correct. Have only seen it referred to as Marche Bastille, but is on Lenoir.

Yes re: macaron. No coconut goodies that I've seen.

Back to the grind today, although my old team is in town tomorrow, so I'll get a free dinner out of them :)
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#37 Post by Ramon C » May 2nd, 2017, 7:10 am

geoffpm wrote: Next time you are at the Bastille market, walk up the street to Marche D'aligre. I have always found this market to have more choice and cheaper prices. Also access to African and middle eastern foods
Easily one of the best and liveliest market adventure in Paris is Marche d'Aligre.

A nice lunch of fresh seafood and champagne at this retail store's restaurant, Sea Bar Paris Peche (https://www.paris-peche.com/seabar/pres ... is-11.html), and some fresh wines and pate with locals at the city's most fun wine bar, Le Baron Rouge (http://www.davidlebovitz.com/le-baron-rouge/), is a must for us every time we're in town.
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#38 Post by Jay Miller » May 3rd, 2017, 7:14 am

Speaking of Bastille markets there's a fun Antiques Fair every November nearby the Bastille metro stop. There's a high end market in a big tent and more casual stuff in an open air market.

I just said every November but after looking it up they also have one starting tomorrow:

https://joel-garcia-organisation.fr/cat ... ntiquites/

There's a fee to go in but if you sign up for their email list you can get free tickets, or at least you could in previous years.

Enjoying your write ups very much. Thank you for taking the time to do them!
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#39 Post by Andrew Kotowski » May 5th, 2017, 9:46 am

It's been a hell of a week. We all have them, and I'm guessing my approach is similar to yours if you're reading this - I picked up a USDA Prime-style dry-aged steak and stopped by my neighborhood Nicolas for a $30 bottle of Bordeaux (I'm a baller on a budget). I walked up to the register with the bottle and then I saw it - a bottle of Chartreuse on the back shelf, with "Cuvee des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Sommeliers" written on it. I immediately thought of this thread -> http://www.wineberserkers.com/forum/vie ... 8&t=139654 (and have appreciated Stuart's cheese recs), so I jumped on it.

Thoughts: the color was a bright yellow-green, almost reminding me of dull-colored anti-freeze. (great start, I know). Syrupy, sweet but with anise/pepper/vegetable overtones and at 45%, a bit of a burn afterwards. I'd love to try this in a gin-based cocktail or maybe paired with a blue/roquefurt cheese. I don't know that I'm in love with it enough to pay $500/bottle, like some of the articles in the thread above, but was fun to try something new?
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#40 Post by Andrew Kotowski » May 11th, 2017, 5:17 am

The Louvre
Last Saturday was cold and rainy here, but with 4 kids (including the twin 4 year olds), we had to get out of the house. My wife suggested going to the Louvre - it would get us out of the house, it's pretty wide open and we don't have to worry about the kids making too much noise. How crowded would the Louvre be on a rainy three-day weekend, the day before the election?

First sign things are going to go sideways - my 13 year old daughter decides to go get lunch at Chipotle, rather than going to the Louvre. Actual question and answer "You're SERIOUSLY telling me that if I ask you to choose between the Mona Lisa and Chipotle, you're opting for the 'Burrito Bowl?'" "Duh. It's Chipotle. Alex, I'll take 'Soft Corn Tacos' for $600." I'm doing my best to avoid being a "Dadtator," so I let her go... as anything is better than listening to "uhhh another painting. Can we go?"

Pro tip - on rainy days, the entire city of Paris attempts to ride the 72 bus line from Beaugrenelle to the Louvre. The only worse than getting jammed in with 50 people on a single bus or subway car? Getting jammed in with 50 WET people on a single bus or subway car, while dragging 3 kids.

We're now standing in the street in front of the Pyramid at 11:30 AM. Of course, it's the day before the election and none of us thought Macron would be giving his acceptance speech here (the big political stuff is usually at Trocadero, with the Eiffel Tower in the background). There are fences, scaffolding and giant TV screens set up... and people EVERYWHERE. Apparently everybody else had the same idea. And now, one of my 4 year old kids has to pee, which leads me to my next tip.

Pro tip - don't stand in line with the Mongolian Horde of people in front of the pyramid. Go down to the Carousel (or get off the Metro at Louvre/Rivoli and walk directly there) and get in line there. The line is much shorter and the skylight is pretty cool. Note: you're not waiting in line for tickets here; you're going through security. See pics below.

My wife got in line and we went off in search of a bathroom (they're upstairs, next to McDonalds). Paris's restroom model is generally pay-to-play, so I'd like to say I was shocked that it was a euro per kid to use the restroom. I'd gladly pay that two euros again IF I DIDN'T HAVE TO WALK BY McDONALDS TO GET THERE. We jumped back in the security line and, after saying "NO FRENCH FRIES" for the thirty-second time, got into the Louvre mall area. Note: if you plan on going more than once in a year, consider the "Friends of the Louvre" package. 120 euros gets you in for a year and you can bypass the lines. If you're AirBnB'ing for a week or two or are staying in the area, go check the Louvre out for an hour or two a day in the AM or at night, rather than do the Museum Death March for 6 hours ("oh look, it's another Renoir. what time is dinner?").

We made it up the steps to see Winged Victory, down a few side halls and then spilled into the Mona Lisa room. It's everything you've imagined and less... 100 people all angling up to the ropes, concert style, to take selfies with a small painting in the background. We back-tracked a bit because I wanted to see Venus de Milo and it was relatively close to the Mona Lisa. Again, actual conversation, but with a 4 year old this time:
Me: "Son, look! It's Venus de Milo. She's supposed to be Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty."
Court: "Peeew peeew peeew."
Me: "Did you know that somebody found this buried in an ancient city (thank you God for making Wikipedia)"
Court: "Peeew peeew peeew"
Me: "What are you doing?"
Court: "I'm shooting webs at it. I'm Spider-Man."

#facepalm

Down the escalator, into the security lin. Could not have picked a worse time to go, but it was infinitely shorter than the main entrance.
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Turns to the left, and you're there.
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#41 Post by Andrew Kotowski » May 11th, 2017, 5:24 am

And in the event you thought I was taking some creative license with Spider-Man, here's a pic from this AM in front of Notre Dame, which was a short walk from the Prefecture (we were 40 minutes early, just in case). We FINALLY got the kids' Residency cards, after starting the process 8 months ago. Cards are good for 5 years for them (3 for adults), with the 13 year old being cut a little short with an expiration at age 18.
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#42 Post by M.Kaplan » May 11th, 2017, 7:23 am

Next time, go to La Civette du Carrousel in the Carrousel du Louvre and buy your tix there. Cash only. They sell tickets for the Louvre, Versailles, the Orsay, L'Orangerie (or the combo Orsay/Orangerie ticket) and metro/bus tickets. The museum tix are good for at least a year.

Then go to the short line at security for ticket holders.

http://carrouseldulouvre.com/store/lacivetteducarrousel#
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#43 Post by Alan Rath » May 11th, 2017, 12:01 pm

Great narrative, loving your posts! My Mona Lisa story is that the first time I went to the Louvre, sometime mid 90s, the painting was in a different place, by itself in the middle of a long narrow hallway. For whatever reason, I was the only person within sight. I stood there probably 5 minutes and took it in, without anyone around.
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#44 Post by todd waldmann » May 11th, 2017, 3:57 pm

Louvre Pro-tip: Go on one of the evenings it's open (Friday?). We were there two summers ago and I had to share the viewing area in front of the Mona Lisa with FIVE other people (and 3 of those people were my wife and kids).
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#45 Post by M.Kaplan » May 11th, 2017, 5:17 pm

Weds and Fri nights are late opening nights (10pm).
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#46 Post by Andrew Kotowski » May 14th, 2017, 1:37 pm

Visitors. Good god do we got a lot of visitors.

Always much happier when they come bearing wine and scotch, however. Was great to catch up with the Royal Canadian Mounty and his friends tonight, with the evening culminating in me paying off an NCAA tourney bet by singing "O Canada" after dinner.
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In all sincerity, one of the reasons I started posting here was that it was just easier to send people to WB for notes than constantly rewriting the same 10 restaurant recs, etc.

Tonight's dinner was at Amarante - a hole in the wall bistro near Mike Grammer's hotel at Bastille and one of the few Paris By Mouth places open on a Sunday night. Very enjoyable, "home-cooking" food if you find yourself looking for something on a Sunday in that area.
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Andrew Kotowski
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Adventures in Paris

#47 Post by Andrew Kotowski » May 22nd, 2017, 8:14 am

Just realized that I didn't note that the "Royal Canadian Mounty" is none other than Mike Grammer, who has been bumming his way across France for a few weeks, as you may have noticed from the tasting notes. I've known Mike for quite a while, and the bet I lost was via the NCAA basketball board here.

I'm zipping along through the Dutch countryside at the moment, taking a Thalys train from Paris Nord to Amsterdam Centraal. Comfort 1 (their version of first class) ran me 351 euros and comes with a light lunch and snack, free wifi and a lot of leg room. Very comfortable ride and you really only need to be there 30 minutes early, as security is minimal.

Some thoughts, as I haven't posted for a while. Like quite a few other cities, there's an expectation that you bring a bag with you when going to a store, or you'll need to pay .15 euros a piece for one there. One thing I've noticed, however, is that once you start patronizing specialty shops, they treat their custom bags as a loyalty reward. I've got bags from several places (wine, butcher, cheese shop, etc.) and I have hemorrhaged enough cash at the butcher that they "upgraded me" to an insulated canvas bag with a zipper. #toomuchmeat Other practices are fairly common - wine shops always have a stash in back (i.e. they'll put the entry-level bottles up front, keep the highly allocated stuff hidden) and if you ask for something specific, they'll usually share. Ex: was at a wine shop (AU 36) in Hauterviller, ordered some tastings for the table (~60 euros), then asked if they had anything exciting to take home. She mentioned Agrapart and walked me through a couple of the bottlings, then looked surprised when I asked about the Mineral. Score, at 57 euros.

We did a day trip to Champagne last week, which was a first for me. I won't bore you with notes, as I've never been a heavy champagne drinker, which means my baseline has been set at offlines via Krug, Salon and Selosse (when somebody else brings it). Takeaways I have - if you don't mind the tariff, it is REALLY convenient to hire a tour guide / car for a day trip out of Paris. We had another couple with us and ended up spending 195 euros a head, inclusive of a 30e tasting fee at Taittinger, a 25e fixed price lunch and 2 bottles of mid-tier grower champagne at lunch. I'm sure somebody does it cheaper and more efficiently, but I'd definitely look into trying this route, especially if you have 4-6 people. We hit Reims (2 hr drive from Paris with traffic), Epernay and Hauterviller (nice church with Dom Perignon's grave in it). We let the guide set the itinerary, but she would have booked whatever we asked for.

Off to dinner at Café de Klepel, which is far and away my favorite place in AMS - thanks Blake!!! Only two of us tonight, so won't be able to punish the wine cellar like we did last time :/
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Andrew Kotowski
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Adventures in Paris

#48 Post by Andrew Kotowski » July 8th, 2017, 8:50 am

Has been a while since I've updated, but work has been busy for all the wrong reasons. On the bright side, I'm still standing...

Re: RER - I've taken quite a few more RER trips, including out to Disneyland Paris. I stand by my disdain for taking it from the airport, but the rest of the trips have been fine. I continue to go to the ticket counter when I need to go multi-zone, as I can usually French/English/point my way through things and the cashier has saved me money a couple of times with discounted fares. For Disneyland, it's a straight shot out there on RER A, which dumps you right outside the park; just watch the split at the end. Only other note here is to keep in mind that you're going to be smoked going home... and then jumping on a Metro line to connect to wherever your hotel is. If you take the Metro to Chatelet or another stop, remember that you need to purchase a separate RER ticket... or you're not going to be able to get out at the end.

We have been drowning in a sea of visitors. It's so good to see friends, but the love of all that's holy, it may be your vacation, but I have to work :D Was blessed to have a couple of buddies that are somms over (one a master somm, another an advanced that won an internship with Becky Wasserman via a Ruinart challenge) so I finally enjoyed just sitting back and letting somebody else drive the wine list. Highlights included:
o 2007 L’humuer du temps Chablis – wouldn’t have guess this was a 10 year old wine to save my life
o 1988 Lenoir Chinon Clos Des Roches – master somm said this was firing better that his last several Clos Rougeards, and a steal at 100 euros
o 2009 Domaine du Collier La Charpentrie
o 2007 Gonon Saint Jospeh Les Oliviers
o 2010 Agrapart Mineral - this makes me want to drink a lot more champagne

It's really funny to see the small things I miss from the US - fresh roasted coffee beans and IPAs, both of which are the immediate response to "what can we bring over for you?" Fortunately, I've got enough Stumptown to get me through to a US visit at the end of the month. I'll trade off cheese trays and charcuterie for coffee and IPA any day of the week :D

Number one question I get is "what restaurants should we hit?" To be honest, WB is great to read for what's hot now, but I usually go up and down Paris-by-mouth's bistro list. We've hit Juveniles, Philou, L'Assiette and Amarante, all of which have been good. Les Fines Gueules is another one they should add to the list, which is where we had the above wines (minus the Agrapart). Now that we're officially out of "vacation" mode, we're enjoying some of the cheaper local spots, including a Lebanese place downstairs from the apartment that knows us as the "MORRRRGON!!!" family. A couple of boys from the neighborhood met my 13 year old at the mall... and stand outside our apartment yelling "MORRRRRGONNNN!!!" in hopes she'll come to the window. The restaurant owner thinks it's funny and stood outside with some friends (and random restaurant people) and started yelling for her to come out. This is why I drink.

Speaking of drinking, I'm currently enjoying a producer named Stephan Ogier. Again, I knew zero about French wine before the trip and I've found that I could pretty much die happy if all I had to drink for the rest of my life was Rhone wine. Crozes Hermitage, Gigondas and Vacqueyras are my bargain shelf wines, Cote Rotie or Cornas are my Saturday night specials and I'll hit Hermitage and CdP on special occasions. OMG @ Chave Hermitage, which has been a consistent mind-blowing experience.

My happy place here? Sitting outside of a small wine-bar or bistro and drinking a great bottle of wine with a charcuterie plate or great appetizer. Don't get me wrong, I still want to hit L'Astrance, which is next door to Morgan's school... but I'm a baller on a budget and that just doesn't work on a Saturday night. I continue to travel in Europe for work, spending quite a bit of time in Amsterdam (Café de Klepel, Gebr Hartering) and Milan. Headed to Portugal for some much need R&R after two weeks in Vegas/Bay Area... and then the grind starts again. 12 countries in 2 months is a bruiser :/
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Rick Allen
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Adventures in Paris

#49 Post by Rick Allen » July 8th, 2017, 3:18 pm

Thanks for the update! BTW, if you end up in Seattle at the end of the month you should be able to find our beer, unless it's already sold out. We're taking a delivery van's worth up on the 21st.

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Andrew Kotowski
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Adventures in Paris

#50 Post by Andrew Kotowski » July 9th, 2017, 2:39 am

Rick Allen wrote:Thanks for the update! BTW, if you end up in Seattle at the end of the month you should be able to find our beer, unless it's already sold out. We're taking a delivery van's worth up on the 21st.
Will be Vegas for a week and then the Bay Area. Uncertain when the next PNW trip is :/

"French bread is simply a delivery vehicle for French butter." Cool video, in the event you're interested. And yes, I eat a lot of Bordier :D
[youtube]0GFtx5P7Mu8[/youtube]
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