Paris: Day 9

May 17, 2018 • 9:15 am

I leave tomorrow morning, and it will be sad. But now I need to go home, do some jobs, and eat healthier food. I also miss my ducks and haven’t heard about them in several days.

Yesterday began with a long walk from the Bastille down the Rue Rivoli and then across the Seine with vague plans to look at the Rue Monge Market in the Fifth. Along the way you get a lovely rear view of Notre Dame, formally known as “Notre-Dame de Paris”:

Along this route you pass one of my favorite buildings in Paris, the Hôtel de Sens, which looks positively medieval. That’s because it is medieval, built between 1475 and 1519 on the spot of earlier buildings, all of which housed the archbishops of Sens. Today it’s an art library, and you can go inside the courtyard, but I love the outside view.

Roaming around the center of Paris, sometimes you get a glimpse of the old masonry underneath the stucco.

. . .or an old Metro sign.

The inside of the L’église Saint-Paul Saint-Louis, a cathedral built between 1627 and 1641.

Perhaps the most famous—but far from the best—restaurant in France, La Tour d’Argent (“the Tower of Silver”). I have to say, though, that I’ve never eaten here; my take comes from several people I know who have dined here. It used to have three stars from Michelin; now it has one. It’s premier dish is pressed duck, and it has a venerable and stratospherically priced wine list.

The restaurant is really famous for its view from the top-floor dining room:

Here’s what it looks like from the dining room at sunset, with a splendid view of the Seine and Notre Dame (photo from Wine Searcher):

The walk continued past an artist painting the area from atop an outside staircase.

I still have seen living cats in Paris only in the cat cafe (more at a later time), but the French love their cats, and you see this everywhere: in a bookstore (“I am a CAT”). . .

. . . or on a local poster:

A few scenes from the Rue Monge market, a small local market that runs several days a week in the Place Monge. Blackberries:

Heirloom tomatoes:



My obligatory artichoke photo:

And the equally obligatory photo of mackerel with their beautiful stripes:

Some of the many sausages of France:

Walking back to the Place St Michel for a preprandial drink, I wanted to check out the Maison de La Lozère, which was our local restaurant when I lived in Paris in 1989-1990. It was close to our digs on the Rue Jacob, dished out copious portions of the food of the Lozère (a wild region of southern France), and was inexpensive. I was SO happy to see it was still going, though I noted that the four-course menu had now become three with the elimination of the good cheese tray. (This is happening everywhere in France, I think: cheese is no longer obligatory with a good dinner and I suppose is considered unhealthy.)

I was also glad to see that the ratings are still pretty good.

But for lunch we returned to a place we’d been before, and still rate the best in terms of quality per Euro of any of the paces we’ve dined. Its name is below, and the 31-Euro prix fixe lunch menu is unparalleled in Paris now that L’Ami Jean has gone down the tubes.

This place, run by a married couple, really cares about its food: the quality is top notch and the portions are large. It features the rich cuisine of Lyon, along with staples like sausage with pistachios and pigs feet.

The sign shows a Lyonnaise woman embracing a duck, which made me miss my own ducks:

The prix-fixe menu. Which courses would you choose (you get three)?

My appetizer, which I wanted to be light because I knew I was having cassoulet: “Salade frisée aux lardons chauds.” It turned out to be a huge salad topped with a poached egg, enough sauteed ham to make a dinner, and a ton of delicious croutons made from local bread:

The other appetizer: terrine de l’Auberge, still one of the best terrines I’ve had in France. It is made in house, and is just SO tasty!

Pour moi le cassoulet, served out of a steaming copper skillet. There are five huge pieces of meat in there, including a sausage, confit de canard, pork, what I think is a beef rib, and something else I couldn’t identify. Call me a “touristy eater” if you will—and someone did—but there are few dishes that can match a well prepared cassoulet. I did well, but of course couldn’t finish it.

Oy! How can I eat all this?

My friend ordered sábodet a la vigneronne, which were three huge pigs’ feet served with a vinegar sauce and a large dish of gratin dauphenois: layers of potatoes cooked with butter, cream and milk.

How did we have room for dessert, you ask? Practice! (And eating slowly.) Here are the two that were split: a fantastic Tarte Tatin with crème fraîche (SO good!) and chocolate mousse.

All of this was washed down with a pot (46 cl) of the house Beaujolais, the wine of Lyon. It was a fantastic meal.

I cannot recommend this place highly enough when you’re in Paris. And, if that matters to you, the clientele is almost exclusively French, probably because this place is on a desolate back street near Republique.

Which reminds me, it’s almost lunchtime, and we’re revisiting my old favorite bistro, Chez Denise.


72 thoughts on “Paris: Day 9

  1. What can you say – I can’t get started.

    La musique – ou est la musique? Beaucoup de silence, …. mais le conversation, cest la musique d’un autre sort, n’est pas…

    ^^^^ four years of high school French gave me that.

  2. The berries caught my eye because they are in Driscoll’s boxes. The California based company apparently grows berries in 21 countries and markets them in 48.

    1. I sincerely doubt any tony French restaurant in the States would serve pigs’ feet. But I could be mistaken.

      1. I’ve only had pigs feet in Mexican restaurants here in the States, and I’ve only found it in pozole.

        1. My friend Louis Greenwald probably sells more pigs feet from his Bell’s Market than any other butcher shop in the Pittsburgh area. He supplies all of those that a much more well-known place in the “Strip” District sells. His wife is in Hadassah.

  3. “The sign shows a Lyonnaise woman embracing a duck”

    I think it is Guignol. The principal – and iconic – character of Lyon’s puppet theater. He is better known than his friends Gnafron and Madelon.
    I say that because Guignol is male.

    “Faire le guignol” means “to act like a clown”.

  4. Curious mixture of name and speciality – neither the Cevennes nor the Pyrenees are close to Lyon!

    1. First thing I thought of, but then I’m geographically obsessive. 😉

      It isn’t near the Paris area called Pyrenees, is it? (Which I take to be around Pyrenees Metro station, which is on top of a hill, as it happens) (Checks Googlemaps) (Nope, a mile away).


    2. “Auberge Pyrenees-Cevennes” is how it is written on the sign.

      Auberge = small country hotel or tavern

      I expect this location was a small French-style hotel & they chose a rather twee name evoking the highlands near the Mediterranean – a memorable name is important in a crowded market. Later they converted to a restaurant & kept a locally well accepted name & saved a lot of dosh not changing monogrammed items such as cutlery & general signage.

  5. Jerry, I would love to know how much weight you’ve gained by the end of the trip (unless you’re one of those people with a metabolism that lets you eat anything without gaining weight. In which case I hate you). If I took this trip and ate like you have — and I definitely would — I would easily gain seven or eight pounds, and possibly more.

    1. Judging by the fit of my pants,I haven’t gained a pound (I don’t have a scale). I look the same in the mirror and, if anything, all the walking has caused me to lose weight. Remember, here I eat only one meal a day.

      1. To eat only one meal a day in Paris must take some discipline. On the other hand, some of those meals have multiple entrees and both cheese and dessert. Still, I applaud you sir!

      2. Ah, yes, I forgot about your one meal rule. You are a man of great discipline. Still, I would likely gain a few pounds if I did everything exactly as you have done. I just don’t have that kind of metabolism.

        Anyway, I’ve never been more jealous looking at pictures from someone’s vacation. The food porn is killing me!

  6. I believe that sign (or one very much like it) made an appearance in Mssr. Truffaut’s last great film, The Last Metro.

  7. I can’t understand how anyone who’s ever sat in that window seat in La Tour d’Argent at sunset has ever willingly left. All the maitre’d’s bouncers and all the maitre’d’s men couldn’t pry my derriere outta that chair ever again.

  8. That was the hardest menu to pick from of all you’ve shown us this trip. I couldn’t pick as they all sounded so delicious. (Actually, I’m not into pig’s feet but I remember they were one of my father’s favorites.) That looked like a really good cassoulet and excellently photographed. Now I am thinking about lunch and I still have hours to go.

  9. WOW for 31.80 this is a steal! And so many delicious choices, I would have picked the terrine de l’auberge, foie de veau, poire belle Hélène

    In a posh restaurant you’d get only a third of that for a lot more €uros and most likely not as good.

    I think veal liver will end up on my meal plan for next week.

  10. As I recall, some years ago there was a convent right off of the Boul’ Mich where the nuns took care of a large collection of cats.

  11. … now that L’Ami Jean has gone down the tubes.

    L’enfer hath no fury like a gastronome spurned. 🙂

  12. “The prix-fixe menu. Which courses would you choose (you get three)?”

    How would a tourist with no proficiency in French go trying to order meals there and the other places you’ve been to?

        1. I believe you can take a picture of the entire menu using your phone and view its translation. Might not work with menus that use a script font though.

          I tried Google Translate with the menu image on this page by simply pointing my phone’s camera at it. As expected, that didn’t work that well but, surprisingly, it did pick up a few words and translate them. I expect it would do much better in person. An English-speaking waiter should still be the first choice.

      1. My French is just OK. I can almost always tell what the main ingredient is; but some of the preparation notation escapes me without my Larousse — which is always handy.

          1. Yeah, my thoughts too. I can’t even understand menus in English.

            It’s not a matter of knowing enough French, Food is a different language entirely.


    1. Someone nearly always speaks English in these places and is glad to help. I use them to practice my French, but I have seen English speakers in there getting help with the menu.

      1. A waiter (or anyone) glad to help an English speaker in Paris? Especially an American? Not my experience. At all. My lousy French only made it worse.

        TBC; I am a deep Francophile (I better be – half my genes come from the de Coucy family, made (in)famous by Barbara Tuchman). Paris is a lovely city with the best food in the world and a rich and beautiful culture. I had wonderful times once I figured out I had to hide being an American and basically never interact with anyone. If I dressed right, stayed mute and never smiled, I almost passed and had good, enriching visits back when I could afford to go.

        But waiters glad to help? I should be so lucky.

    2. You actually don’t need much French.

      You translate the menu with Google translate or for more fun and surprises, you guess. I once saw an American woman pick something containing “champignons” off the menu at a Relais Routier more or less at random. This was in the 1980’s before the Internet. When it arrived, the said “champignons” were covered in what looked like a rich gravy type sauce and they were not readily identifiable as mushrooms. From the look on her face, I’d say she thought she had accidentally ordered snails.

      They say that the waiting staff in Paris are notoriously reluctant to speak English, but I’ve never had a problem. I struggle along with my limited French until they switch to English, which they always do. I think, once you’ve made the effort to use the language of the city you are in, the waiters are more disposed to accommodate your deficiencies.

      Never call a waiter “garçon”.

      1. “I think, once you’ve made the effort to use the language of the city you are in, the waiters are more disposed to accommodate your deficiencies.”

        This fits my experience very well.

        Except in Belgium, where the instant a Belgian herd my attempts at French, they would immediately switch to (perfect) English. 🙂

  13. Jerry, I love your “food-porn” (as somebody called it in an earlier thread).
    However, I’d like to take issue with one passage: “But now I need to go home, do some jobs, and eat healthier food.” It gives the impression you think you predominantly ate unhealthy food in Paris. I disagree, I think most of the food you ate there was quite healthy.

  14. Apropos of French cathedrals: “Say what you will about organized religion, those bastards knew how to erect an edifice.”
    –Ron Swanson, “Parks and Recreation.”

    1. You have to admire the ‘suck it & see’ design/build ethic that morphed over centuries into stuff that stood up. Many, many cathedrals fell down [whole or in part] or bulged in later life, or tilted & had to be rebuilt. What remains standing today from the earliest era of church building is often a well disguised bodge of edifice reinforced with other edifices added on later for structural reasons.

      1. Also, though, masonry (that is, blocks held together by gravity) scales perfectly. They are compression structures – no tension.

        That means that if a masonry structure is stable and you simply double the size of everything, the resulting structure will also stand up – at least until you reach the crushing strength of the stones, which is unlikely ever to be reached in practice. (This is not the case with tension structures such as iron or steel).

        So, in consequence, rules of thumb found from experience worked, if not infallibly, then well enough for most purposes.

        Probably most collapses were due, not to any structural failure or instability, but failure of the foundations.

        (This point stolen from the marvellous ‘Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down’ by J E Gordon)


        1. ‘if a masonry structure *or a model* is stable…’

          Forget to make that point.


        2. Actually the vaulted roofs of Gothic cathedrals [& the domes too] produce substantial lateral forces which put many elements in tension. Also these buildings have a side area more extensive than that of a clipper ship at full sail so a decent wind has to be accounted for!

          The solution was the inclusion of iron bars & chain to counteract lateral forces & of course the stone buttress – the latter morphing over centuries into a splendid series of flying buttresses

          If you look at Wells the master mason added ‘scissor arches’ decades after construction following an earthquake which produces sideways motions. All Europe has earthquakes on the scale of centuries or more often.

          1. “Actually the vaulted roofs of Gothic cathedrals [& the domes too] produce substantial lateral forces which put many elements in tension.”

            This is why they had to depart from ‘pure’ masonry and introduce tension members in iron or even wood. Or flying buttresses which acted as ‘props’. Or both.

            But I looked up Gordon – “masonry is a rather exceptional case and there are some special reasons why it is … practicable to scale up from small churches to large cathedrals, relying simply on experience and traditional proportions. For other kinds of structures this approach will not work and is quite unsafe”. (p. 26).

            So ‘suck it and see’ works with masonry, reasonably well.

            This is not the case with e.g. beams.


            1. I would have thought the exceptional reasons only that the compression strength of stone far exceeds the forces that are ever likely to be put on it. If you can scale up a small church to a large cathedral by (say) doubling the linear dimensions, without the cathedral falling down, it means the church is massively over engineered.

  15. The bookstore sign “Je Suis Un Chat” is a reference to one of the classic novels of modern Japanese literature: “I Am a Cat” by Natsume Soseki (best known for his novel “Kokoro”), a satirical tale narrated by the titular feline.
    More information here:

    1. + a large number!

      I am a huge cheese-head (and I’m not even from Wisconsin!) The stronger the better.

      I even like Gamalost and Pultost.

      I like aged goat cheeses that burn your lips when you eat them.

      My current peak cheese experience: Le Pico.

  16. Hmm, OK, I interpreted Terrine de l’auberge as Terrine de l’aubergine, and would’ve ordered that, expecting that. I see they’re not the same. What was yours made from?

    1. “Terrine de l’auberge” means “Terrine of the house” I think.

      Auberge = small country hotel or tavern

    2. Ah, you fell victim to one of those ‘faux amis’, words that sound similar in English and French but mean different things.

      My favourite is ‘inhabité’ ( = UNinhabited ) but there are thousands of them.

      Oh, auberge = inn or establishment. So, it’s the house terrine, I think. (What ‘terrine’ is I don’t have a clue, I don’t speak Food and dictionaries are never any darn use with food, they just translate it as ‘terrine’ 😉


        1. Yes I know. If you look at the time stamps, yours popped up on the page while I was still composing mine, so I didn’t see it till I hit ‘Post Comment’ and ‘reload page’.

          I see we agree on the interpretation.



      1. This thread is drawing attention to something I’ve never noticed. What *is* the etymological connection, if any, between “auberge” and “aubergine”

        Both look like some of my favourite French words – ones with contracted articles or ones that look like they do but don’t.

        For example, “Lacordaire” (street in Montreal) looks like “la cordaire”. As far as I can tell, that has no meaning, but it looks like it should.

        So “au berge” and “au bergine” – ? 😉

        I got thinking about this when I saw that people used to (including the famous guy by that name) sometimes write “Descartes” as “Des Cartes”.

        1. There’s no etymological connection.

          AUBERGINE: The first cultivars of the edible fruit [botanically it’s a berry] were pale or white & the name of “eggplant” arose that way. “Aubergine” is a corruption of the Persian & or Arabic words for “eggplant” – they also had noted the likeness in appearance to a pale egg. source

          AUBERGE: Less exciting route through a series of languages where the word means “to host” or “to house” an army. source

  17. I’d have salade frisée aux lardons chauds, saumon grillé Béarnaise and creme brulee. I’d want to share my food and sample my companion’s choices too!

  18. “My appetizer, which I wanted to be light because I knew I was having cassoulet”

    “The other appetizer”

    HAHAHA, I love these posts on your meals, you really put across your love of food


  19. My wife and are sitting in the departure lounge at CDG terminal 1 as I write this comment. We enjoyed 10-days in Paris and a week down south in Provence visiting old friends. During our gadabout we visited a few old haunts and explored a few new. France and the French are wonderful hosts and I wonder why many fellow Yank seem to hold a poor view of France and its people. Even though many French folk enjoy eating various internal body parts along with tartar everthing, they do have many dishes that Americans are more used to. Ah, and the baked goods and bread are the best. We, too, will return!

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