The days dwindle down to a precious few: three days, three activities, three meals. Yesterday’s activity was a long visit to the huge Bastille Market, which goes Thursdays and Sundays, and a walk along the Canal Saint-Martin, a lovely place that many tourists miss (a lot of it is underground and invisible, though). Here’s part of the Wikipedia entry on the canal:
The Canal Saint-Martin is a 4.6 km (2.86 mi) long canal in Paris, connecting the Canal de l’Ourcq to the river Seine. Over nearly half its length (2069 m), between the Rue du Faubourg du Temple and the Place de la Bastille, was covered in the mid-19th century to create wide boulevards and public spaces on the surface. The canal is drained and cleaned every 10–15 years, and it is always a source of fascination for Parisians to discover curiosities and even some treasures among the hundreds of tonnes of discarded objects.
First, though, a walk through the market, which was crowded with Parisians buying their food. If you have the time, this is the way to shop. It’s also a way to work up an appetite, and an exercise in self-restraint lest you buy something to nosh and spoil your lunch!
Some food at the market:
“Veal of the sea” (watch for teeth):
I consider mackerel one of the most beautiful of fish. It’s no wonder that another name for a striped tabby cat is a “mackerel tabby”:
I don’t know if white asparagus, as delicious as it is, counts as a vegetable, but if if it is, it’s my favorite:
Wild asparagus; I’ve never had it:
Lots of Middle Eastern merchants with wonderful olives and breads, as well as pastries, falafel, and hummus.
To the beautiful Canal Saint-Martin with its ducks and locks.
“Love the birds, but do not feed them.” We did not: I feed only Honey, Frank, and any ducklings in Chicago:
Three resplendent drakes, all in a row:
And a beleaguered hen mallard, with her ducklings huddled together. This really made me miss my ducks back in Chicago:
A tile store along the Canal:
And to an old favorite that I haven’t visited in thirty years. The Astier is supposed to have gone through a bad period, but then revived. It was one of my favorites, not expensive but excellent, and famous for its cheese tray, with about twenty cheeses that was plonked on the table before dessert so you could have as much and as many as you wanted.
It has slipped just a notch, but for a four-course, 45-Euro meal it was still a bargain. The cheese course, so crucial to a meal here, was as good as ever.
If you can make out the menu, see what you’d order. The items with the crossed knife and fork by them are on the prix-fixe menu.
Entrée: Poached egg yolk served with toast and “ham-cured chicken”:
Duck breast with oven-baked bok choy and two kinds of beets:
Pork, tender and juicy, with vegetables and a veal sauce:
The cheese tray! The cheese tray! Eat them in order with the milder goat cheeses at bottom working your way to the strong cheeses (Époisses, Munster, and Fourme d’Ambert) at the top:
Which to try? I tried most of them. The strong creamy cheeses at the top were particularly good:
Dessert after cheese: a crème brûlée with two madeleines:
And a millefeuille with fresh pineapple, coconut sorbet, and Szechuan peppercorns. Normally I would find this too chi-chi, but it was the perfect refreshing dessert after all that heavy cheese.
On the way back for a nap, there was a big anti-Macron demonstration. It seems that at least these young people and workers don’t like him: