Can't read? Try the geographical interface to this site
|Monday, Oct. 16||Arrived in Paris at 11:30 AM on a delayed flight from DFW. It is raining. Took a taxi from CDG to our hotel, Hotel Rochambeau, 4 Rue de Boëtie. Found out that I could remember the French word for "four."
Met Larry and took the subway to the Louvre. Grabbed a ham and cheese sandwich from a street vendor and wandered around in the rain until we found the entrance to the museum. Meandered about the museum pretending to appreciate the art. Grabbed a café au lait in the museum cafe. Returned to the hotelshoes, socks and cuffs soaked.
Ate at a fairly fancy place near the hotel known as the Bistro du Sommelier. A champagne apertif followed by six courses and tastes of six different wines. One of the trip's lighter meals. (The term "Bistro," Larry tells me, is derived from a Russian word for "quick," and was France's response to visiting Russians' persistent cries for fast food. We spent something like 2 or 2-1/2 hours on the meal in this particular bistro.)
|Tuesday, Oct 17||Good weather. Breakfast at Fauchoncoffee, croissants, the whole bit. Fauchon is the gourmet food shop in Paris.
Made our way to the Arc de Triomphe, and climbed to the top. It's a good thing we did this on the first day of the trip. What with the weight we took on during the trip, we probably couldn't do it now.
Thought about going to the Eiffel Tower but decided instead to head for the Pompidou Center. When we got there, we found that it was closed. Too bad, we should have gone to the Eiffel Tower since we didn't see the sun in Paris again.
Dinner at La Tour d'Argent, a haut cuisine restaurant near Notre Dame on the banks of the Seine. Both "Argent" and the "haut" refer to the prices. We were treated like we owned the place (and charged accordingly). I've lost track of the number of courses. I do remember that carbohydrates were not served. (They aren't served anywhere in France.) With the meal, we drank an old Burgundy of some sortwasted on me. We drank an old port with the 17 kinds of cheese, and an old Armagnac with the 75%-butter dessert.
|Wednesday, Oct 18||Awoke with an old hangover (not too bad though). It was raining again, so we returned to the Pompidou Center where I honed my skills at pretending to appreciate art.
Lunch at a place called the Café André near the Champs Elysée. I had fish with saurkraut. Strange but good.
Dinner and a show at the Moulin Rouge, on a fruitless quest for the Paris of Toulouse Lautrec. Unfortunately, the current owners of the once intimate boite have expanded it to the size of Texas Stadium and changed the entertainment to an adaption of Las Vegas style titty shows. I say "adaptation" because the Moulin Rouge has reversed the standard Las Vegas practice of inflated boobs and small prices.
|Thursday, Oct 19||We take a taxi to Gare de Lyon and take the TGV (Trés Grande Vitesse or Very Big Speed) train toyou guessed itLyon. I take a couple pictures [1, 2] out the car window while Larry hurtles at breakneck speed on a random drive of the streets of Lyon looking for the highway north to Burgundy.
We eventually become unlost and make our way to the small town of Igé, which has a chateau functioning as a hotel and not much else. Larry's eagerness to get to Burgundy did not leave us time for lunch in Lyon, and we discovered that the good people of Igé (both of them) did not understand this "à toutes heures" thing. Lunch was an energy bar.
We walked around Igé in the rain taking pictures instead of eating lunch until it was time for dinner. The chateau offered a six-course surprise dinner with six surprisingly large and fat-laden dishes (including the 23 varieties of cheese), which we washed down with another bottle of old Burgundy. I am getting philosophical about the food and drink situation. I figure that the plaque being deposited on my arteries by all the saturated fat will prevent the alcohol from seeping through and killing my brain cells.
|Friday, Oct 20||Overcast, no rain to speak of. We wake late (somewhere between Texas time and France time), and drive to the nearby town of Cluny, where we take a few hasty pictures. It seems that there was once a thriving abby at Cluny, but the monks all left because there didn't seem to be a good wine store in town. We left for the same reason and headed north to the Côte d'Or.
We wandered up the river, branching off every once in a while to look for hard-to-find wineries, which, as it turns out were too hard for us to find. We found ourselves in Beaune, the southern capital of the Côte d'Or. For lunch, we picked up take-out from a local charcuterie ("charcuterie is the French word for "cholesterol shoppe") and then visited a tourist-class winery that sold, in the California style, tastes of wines you would not want to put on your table. Larry carries this book (about the size of a deck of cards) that has all the world's knowledge of wine. It directed him to a store in Beaune that looked, for all the world, like a tourist trap. Larry relieved the store of their only 12 bottles of good wine.
Picking out wine takes a long time, so we set out for Tours (actually Luynes, but since "Luynes" is unpronouncable, it's easier to say "Tours") in the Loire Valley. We got lost twice and got to Luynes (pronounced "Tours") at about 10:00 PMhungry (not having learned our lesson from Lyon). The staff at our hotel, another chateau called the Domaine de Beavois, said the kitchen was closed, but were able to rustle upyou guessed ita cholesterol laden collection of 35 different cheeses. Larry settled for an energy bar. I stuck with the cheese just to provide an extra layer of protection for my brain.
|Saturday, Oct 21||Overcast, with some rain. After breakfast at the chateau, we headed East along the Loire looking for wine and chateaux. We stopped in Vouvray for lunch at an upscale restaurant that actually offered vegetable soup. Continuing West, we came to the Chateau town of Amboise and toured the chateau.
On the way back we managed to find one of the hard-to-find little wineries (Huét, if you must know) in Larry's little wine book. He took on another couple of bottles. Like the ones he got in Burgundy, these will be ready for drinking at my wake, assuming I am granted a normal lifespan.
We choked through another six-course dinner at the Chateau, washed down with an old Chinon, that actually tasted pretty good to me.
|Sunday, Oct 22||Partly Sunny. Visited two chateau today: Chenonceux and Chambord. The former is a bridge over the River Cher and actually served as the dwelling place for a number of French kings and queens. We ate lunch at the commoners' cafeteria on the grounds.
Chambord, built later, seems to be nothing more than an incredibly opulent hunting lodge.
We got back to Beauvois in time for another incredibly opulent meal and an even older Chinonso old that we felt compelled to give the sommelier a glass, in exchange for which we got a free wine-tasting lesson.
|Monday, Oct 23||Drove to Tours and arrived at the station just in time to miss our TGV train to Paris (after another random ramble through the streets looking for the car rental place, which, as we found at 12:05, closed from 12:00 to 2:00). We grabbed a cholesterol sandwich in the station and caught the next train to Paris. I took a nap while Larry went shopping.
We ate our last meal in a restaurant in the Hotel Bristol. We actually made it through the meal without any cheese, but I made the mistake of ordering an old Cognac (after our split of old Bordeaux). The French have an interesting way of pricing spirits. If a bottle doesn't sell one year, they raise the price the next year, and keep raising it in successive years until the bottle is sold. (This system survives as the result of a genetic anomaly.) So, this Cognac raised the price of the meal in the Hotel Bristol to a level approximating the air fare to the hotel's namesake in England.
|Tuesday, Oct 24||Returned without incident to San Antoniopoorer, dumber, and fatter. But, Larry and I are still talking, so I figure it was a pretty good trip.|