Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 8 - Montmartre

I didn't write a pre-post for today because I knew that I would set it aside as a free day.  It has been exactly a week since I arrived (incredibly hard to believe!) and I wanted to reserve today to review what I have done - what I have left to do - and what I would really like to accomplish today.

Windmill at Moulin de la Galette
I decided that I would give myself a walking break today and stay close to home.  I didn't even wear the pedometer --- but I probably walked close to 10,000 steps anyway.  As I mentioned yesterday, I made a lunch reservation at the Moulin de la Galette for 12:30 and decided to truly pamper myself today.  I wore nice pants with "real" shoes - not my walking sandals, and I only took my purse rather than my large backpack.  I had originally thought I would visit the Musee Montmartre prior to lunch, but I got a bit turned around so instead, I meandered the streets of Montmartre taking a few pictures here and there.  Since it was before noon, the streets were relatively quiet with few tourists walking about (not so after lunch).  

I arrived at the restaurant right on time and after taking numerous pictures of the windmill (I have probably taken 50 pictures of this 'moulin' so far) I walked in and waited to be seated.  They allowed me to sit on the terrace - at a corner table that was quite delightful.  I just sat back and drank in the beauty.  While I didn't understand every word of the menu, I could discern enough to know that I wanted to order a salad with goat cheese and violet mustard sauce (!) and then a fillet of fish with green vegetables.  I had no idea what kind of fish it was - but as luck would have it, they were sold out and replaced it with Sole Mueniere - at the same price!  It wasn't until I had already decided on my selections that I realized the English translation was on the back page!

The first course was simply exquisite.  The tender leaves of butter lettuce was the perfect accompaniment to the creamy texture of ewe's cheese and the tangy touch of salad dressing.  The slices of cheese were placed on toasted slices of baguette.  I tried to take a note from David Lebovitz's book - which states that the French use a knife and fork with everything - and so I tried to cut the cheese crouton - which I managed to do but with quite a loud clang against the plate.  I'm not sure that our eating by hand isn't more refined.


I learned quickly that a Fillet in France is not exactly the same in as it is in America.  I am accustomed to the term meaning "boneless" but after one very small bite I quickly learned that was not the case.  Fortunately it was only a small bite and it did not take me much time at all to learn how to gently cut away the delicate fish from its skeleton.  I thoroughly enjoyed this light course, especially the freshly cooked vegetables - and it meant that I had a bit of room for dessert.

It is rare that I ever eat at such a fancy place - nor order a three course meal - but today I figured when in Paris, do as the Parisians - so I splurged and ordered the Millfeuille framboise with cassis sorbet. It was truly beautiful - and once again, presented a rather tricky situation regarding the proper way to eat it.  I managed to use the knife and fork and enjoy every single light, refreshing bite.


As wonderful as the food was - and as delightful as it was to sit in the corner and imagine what life would have been like in 1875 and dancing in this (now small) terrace - I must confess that the absolute best part of this meal was the woman who sat next to me.  She did not allow me to take her picture (her make up wasn't just right...so she said) but I would say she was probably in her late 60s or early 70s - but dressed to the nines.  When she walked in she had her dog on a leash - a typical french poodle - and they sat her at the reserved table for three next to me:  one chair was for her - one for her purse - and the other (I kid you not...) was for her dog.  Nicki sat there ever so polite and she would occasionally feed him nibbles of her steak tartare.  I was brave enough at the end of my meal to ask if I could take a picture "Bien sure" she said - and immediately had Nicki pose.  From that moment on we started a conversation - en francais - that I was able to continue.  It was absolutely delightful - and as eccentric as she seemed when she entered the restaurant - I learned she was as beautiful when I left.  It is absolutely true - you cannot judge a book by its cover.  And now I have learned that I can indeed carry on a conversation with someone and not worry about their ulterior motives!

Emile Zola
The rest of the day was spent going to the Musee Montmartre - where Renoir once lived - and then the Cimetiere where I found the final resting places of Degas and Zola.

All in all - it was the absolutely perfect Sunday.

I will spend the rest of the evening deciding what to do tomorrow.  I think I might try to rectify the disastrous photography session of last Monday and return to all those lovely sights early in the day so as to avoid the tourists - and retake some shots using my dust free camera.  Tuesday is a winery tour and Wednesday I have just signed up for a tour of Giverny - so my time is quickly running out.


9 comments:

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

The meals in Paris are the best. I keep telling my husband that this alone is reason to go to Paris.

Better is Possible said...

Sounds like you've had a delicious day.

Staci said...

I loved looking at the food you ate. How beautiful it is presented!!! The dog cracks me up! And the lady does sound lovely! A wonderful day indeed!

Alyce said...

Ooh, another fantastic sounding day! The food descriptions make me want to go even more.

JoAnn said...

Hard to believe it's been a week already! I've been enjoying your post and photos so much - you are certainly making the most of every moment.

lifeonthecutoff said...

Delightful! Keep the posts coming, Molly!

Karen said...

Hi Molly - thank you so much for sharing your trip with is for Paris In July. I wanted to let you know that you have been chosen as a prize winner for the final week - congratulations!
Please email me your address at karen_barrett@aapt.net.au and I will get your prize out to you soon.

Tami said...

Eating alone, having conversations with strangers IN FRENCH, treating yourself to a fancy meal . . . You are truly blooming in your temporary surroundings. Hope your second week is as wonderful as the first.

Louise said...

What a wonderful day this must have been. That lunch looks great. Lovely to strike up a conversation with the lady next door, I love her dog, and enjoy imagining what she looked like. I thought Zola was in the Pantheon- another great building if you're in need of more suggestions....

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