The dilemma was whether to read the Lonely Planet Paris City Guide or the Frommers Guide to France. I had them both beside my couch for most of the three months leading up to the trip, along with the 24 Great Walks in Paris. The latter I dipped in and out of when the mood struck me; but I failed to find inspiration within the pages of the other two more traditional guide books. Instead I chose to read Julia Child’s “My Life in France” (written with Alex Prud’Homme), Jane Websters “At My French Table” and Vivian Swift’s ” Le Road Trip: A Traveler’s Journal of Love and France“. I also watched movies such as “Midnight in Paris“, “Paris, Je t’aime“, “Amour“, “Paris“, and of course had a second helping of “Julie and Julia“. The “Da Vinci Code“, “Moulin Rouge” and even “Ratatouille” all coloured my expectations of Paris..
That was the Paris I wanted to experience. The city of food, art and love. And of course Normandy needed to be added to the itinerary as the food experience was simply not complete without it. But Normandy deserves it’s own piece of writing, so more about that later.
After reading Julia Child, the one thing I really wanted to taste was Sole meunière (Wikipedia – classic French dish consisting of sole, whole or fillet, that is dredged in flour, pan fried in butter and served with the resulting brown butter sauce and lemon). She first tastes it upon her arrival in Rouen and goes into raptures about the experience.Sadly I never did get to experience it for myself; but was lucky enough to find two quintessentially French dishes on the menu at a little cafe in front of the Louvre.
The French Onion Soup was light but full of flavour and quite salty. When asked if we would get any bread with it, we were told there would be bread in the soup, which surprised us. It turned out that the soup was finished with croutons with Gruyère cheese melting on top. It was a meal on its own.
The Savoury Crepes were paper thin and the combination of ham and cheese worked well. But I found the crepes quite eggy in flavour and was glad I had chosen to go with the soup.
Both Julia Child and Jane Webster describe their experiences in purchasing their ingredients from the local Fromagerie (Cheese shop), Boulangerie (Bakery) and Boucherie (Butchery). During our 2 weeks in Paris we stayed in 3 different apartments in Gambetta, Hoche and Peliport; well out of the touristy areas, enabling us to shop and live like the locals. These pictures are all from Rouen in Normandy as we were too busy being locals in Paris…..
There is nothing that says France like seeing the locals streaming out of the local Boulangerie with a Baguette tucked under their arm at the day’s end.Typically a Baguette would cost less than one Euro, sometimes as little as 40 cents. We got into the habit of buying one every evening ourselves as that meant we always had a backup breakfast when we didn’t feel like our favourite Croissants or the more fancy poached eggs with cold meats or smoked salmon.
Paris definitely is a city for food lovers and there is so much more to write about what I experienced during my trip. I hope you enjoy reading about it and would love to hear your thoughts and comments about the subject.