Friday, September 2, 2011

French Lesson

You may not remember, but Miss Chef and I took a big, fabulous trip this summer.  And you may not remember, but I never finished telling you alllll about it.  There’s still a partial day in Paris and a day in London to tell you about.

As I look through my last day’s worth of Paris pictures, I remember that it finally struck me that I should probably get a few shots to use in class.  So I thought I would go ahead and prepare you a crash course in some random French vocabulary.

le vin (“luh van”)  the wine

Oh, but wait a minute…I’m getting ahead of myself.  I can’t forget our last night in Paris.  It was after our memorable day at Giverny.  So, to put you in the mood for your lesson, I’ll tell you a bit about the new wine bar called O! Château! we went to that night.  It’s kind of aimed at English-speakers, but it’s a unique place where you can taste really excellent wines by the glass, that normally you can only order by the bottle at a restaurant. 

I didn’t take any pictures, sorry.  I was busy.  Drinking.  Wine.  In fact, why don’t you go get yourself a glass to fully enjoy this post?  Go ahead, I’ll wait.  This post is a little long, you may need refreshment.



So.  We opted for a “flight” of three reds and three whites.  You can even choose your pour size; I think we went for the 3 cl size.  (Not sure, it may have been 6 cl; for some reason the details are a bit fuzzy…)  We also ordered some dishes off their small menu, and were blown away at the top-notch quality.  Often the food at wine bars is an afterthought.  Turns out their chef is a woman from California!  I seem to remember a sort of mini-club sandwich and maybe a cheese plate.  And some wine.

Um, so, yeah, the wine was faboo.  I actually did note our impressions on the back of a couple of receipts, but I didn’t get the full names, vineyards, whatever.  The whites were Alsace, Sancerre and Chardonnay; the reds were Corbières, Côte Roti and of course Bordeaux.  I was excited about the Corbières, but it was too harsh for my taste.  The Bordeaux was quite good, and I re-confirmed that I like Sancerre. 

Oh, looking at my notes, I see it wasn’t a cheese plate, it was a charcuterie plate.  Also, “muddle mint w/Tabasco bottle” and “raspberry mojito.”  Hmmm…

Whatever was going on, the fact remains we drank lovely wines, ate delicious food, and even chatted with one of the owners for a good twenty minutes.  Lovely.  Miss Chef had an even better time than I did.  We didn’t get there until close to 10:00 and were among the last customers to leave.

And then, I had a special plan for our walk home.  It involved this:

IMG_1076 Paris night
Oh la la!  Le Musée du Louvre la nuit.  (Wow, the Louvre Museum at night!)

And these…

Eiffel Tower and the Arc du Carrousel

Le Pont Neuf (“New Bridge,” which is the oldest bridge in Paris.)

L’Assemblée Nationale from the Pont des Arts

I had been wanting all week to stroll by the Seine at night with Miss Chef, but we were always too tired or already home by dark.  It made it extra memorable to enjoy it on our last night, so I’m not sorry it took so long.  No matter how the city may adapt to modern times, Paris has not lost its famous charm.
So do you feel ready now for your French lesson?  Here we go!  (Remember, if you want to see any of the pictures larger, just click to biggerize.)

la gare (“lah gar”) train station

The Saint Lazare station was under construction, so this was as much of it as I could capture.  This is where we took the train for Giverny.

les boissons (“lay bwa-so(n)” swallow the “n”) the drinks

The rest of these pictures except for one were taken steps from our building’s entrance.  I told you it was a great, fun neighborhood.

le métro (“luh may-tro”") the subway

I love the Paris metro.  I can’t really explain it—I mean, yes, it’s crazy convenient, there are stops everywhere and it’s quite easy to navigate.  But there’s something about the look of the tiled ceilings, the flow of the crowds, the screeching sounds of the rails, even the mysteriously sweet burnt-wood smell that makes me smile like an idiot whenever I rediscover it.

The orange/yellow shop in the background is the “bakery around the corner” where we got our bread and croissants.

le café (“luh cah-fay”)  place where people drink coffee, read, and watch passers-by

One morning early in our week, as we left on our daily adventures, I saw some newly-arrived Americans sitting here eating breakfast in a totally jet-lagged daze.  It made me grateful that, arriving from London, I didn’t have to go through that adaptation for once!  (Check out the French grafitti in the background—yeah, I can’t read it either.)

les fruits de mer (“lay froo-wee duh mare”) literally, fruits of the sea

I took this snapshot in the window of a restaurant as we walked to the wine bar.  I didn’t catch the name, but I think it was a seafood restaurant.  Or maybe it was a lemonade stand with a seaside theme.

le supermarché (“luh soo-pair-mar-shay”)

Tired of my stopping every ten feet to take pictures of metro stops and cafés, Miss Chef goes to stock up on water.  She developed a real preference for Vittel.  (Check out the little old lady inside the doorway stocking up on toilet paper.) G20 is actually a lower-end grocery store; there was also a Franprix on the other side of our entrance.

de l’eau minérale (“duh low mee-nair-al”) some spring water

des jus de fruits (“day jyus duh froo-wee”) some fruit juices.

Ouais!  Du fromage!  (“Way! Doo fro-maj!”)  Yeah! Some cheese!

Om nom nom nom!  In high school and college, when people asked me why I chose French over, say, Spanish, all I could think to say was “the cheese.”  True story.

du poulet (“doo poo-lay”)  some chicken

Yup, chicken nuggets are everywhere.  Wonder if there are French children who eat only these and la pizza, as in the States?  Miss Chef and I lost each other as I got distracted taking photos in the grocery store.  I was waiting for someone to kick me out for being just a bit too weird, but no such luck.  I’ll spare you the pictures of the various kinds of meats.

des vélos (“day vay-loh”)  some bikes

Paris has a program called Vélib, where for a very reasonable price you can pick up a bike at one of these stands, wheel away to wherever you wish, then deposit the bike into another stand at your destination.  We never used it, as it seemed a bit confusing as to which American credit cards are accepted, and oh yeah, Miss Chef isn’t very comfortable on a bike.  I didn’t think Parisian traffic would be the place to work on that!

la rue (“lah roo”) the street

This is the street we stayed on, named after the “King of the Franks, Emperor of the West.”  This was also my last picture in Paris.  I took it as we were eating lunch at the restaurant at the base of our building.  A bittersweet meal, as it was in fact one of the best we had, and there were, for once, no other Americans within earshot.  Le Bistrot des Compères

After this, we grabbed our bags and took a taxi to the Gare du Nord for our Eurostar train back to London.  Au revoir, Paris, et à bientôt!

Since this post is so long, I’ll save our last day in London for a separate one.  Bon week-end!


  1. Thanks for the French refresher! I could read everything and remembered everything, except "Ouais", that was a new one for me.

  2. I went to get wine and you did indeed wait as promised! That was lovely.

    Then I drank and hours later, I remembered something about France or such and returned to my computer AND you were still here. Thanks for waiting and apologize if I held anyone up.

    What day is this? *Hic*

  3. Every French lesson should be so fun! Lovely pictures, lovely memories to share with us. I can't wait until your next trip!

  4. That was a fun French lesson! And I loved the .alk at night. Dreamy.

  5. Garret, we both laughed at your comment! I hope you made it in to work.

    Miriam, me too!

    Terry, of course it wasn't that dark as the pictures imply. Night shots never capture the whole atmosphere. But yes, it was dreamy.


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