For those who have been dipping into my blog now and then or have randomly stumbled across it within the last three years, the first year of my blog (2010) documents tales and adventures from my gap year in Paris, au-pairing for a crazy family with a horrendous dirty dog called 'Speedy'. For those die-hard fans who began my journey with me, car-booting all my belongings and signing up with an au-pair agency, thank you for your support...and you'll be pleased to know (or at least find this fact mildly funny) that about a year ago, Speedy went missing (I obviously didn't try hard enough during my stay there).
Anyway, this is not a blog post about animal cruelty/ enjoying the misfortune of flea-ridden pets. This is actually quite a special series of blog posts coming up as I am on my way back to where it all started, in the form of a long weekend in Paris with my boyfriend of three and a half years.
Walking round St Pancras is quite surreal, noticing the metal chairs outside Le Pain Quotidien where I sat with my brother and my dad with an obscene amount of luggage awaiting my Eurostar to independence. Oliver and I arrive in Paris at 5pm on Thursday and after dropping off our baggage at the 'Eurostars Panorama Hotel' (9, Rue des Messageries 75010, www.eurostarshotels.co.uk), the place my Granny treated me to when she came to visit me one time. We then walked straight into the centre of Paris to the Louvre Rivoli, where the glass pyramid of Musee du Louvre was beautifully lit up with a red lightening bolt feature running down the centre. A romantic stroll along The Seine, and a gawp at the horrific mess that is Pont des Arts - opaque with mountains of padlocks, once a romantic gesture and now a terribly sad site. You can see certain parts of of the bridge which have been boarded up after huge chunks of the metal bars have fallen away into the water under the weight of the padlocks. We walk on via the opera house, which I once read in a book being described as 'a hippopotamus taking a bath'. I don't see it, but the building is absolutely beautiful in both daylight and dusk. One day I'd actually like to go inside it.
After a bit of reminiscing and showing Ollie the free and beautiful riverside and streets of Paris (I love how you can just 'walk in' on a monument... in the centre of a roundabout or outside a metro station) we head over to Chartier, a traditional French experience serving traditional French cuisine (Chartier, 7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009, www.bouillon-chartier.com/en/). I'd been there before, but it wasn't such a great experience and after checking out the menu before leaving for Paris we decided it'd be foolish to miss out on due to it's extraordinarily good prices - 1-4€ for an entree and Plats du jour at 9-11€. On busy nights you should expect to queue down the alley way outside (booking not available), although it's 'Wagamama' style in seating arrangements ensures that smaller groups of one or two people have a better chance of skipping the line. Chartier's approach is 'bums on seats' so be prepared to be stacked to the rafters and on the laps of other people you're sharing your table with. Don't let this put you off - the atmosphere is just incroyable and our waiter was surprisingly friendly and helped decipher the menu. I strongly recommend the celeriac remoulade in particular, but the tomato salad and foie gras are also very tasty and make a delicious starter (to share), and my steak saignant (rare).
Le Petit Incident.
There are two types of veal on le menu de Chartier: Cote de Veau (shoulder) and Tete de Veau (head). Through our discussion with the waiter about the difference between the two, there may have been a slight error in the ordering process, when Ollie said 'cote' and the waiter wrote down 'tete'. And whilst Ollie thought that 'head' most likely meant 'cheek', neither of us were prepared for the huge plate of offal that subsequently arrived. The part that has stuck most in my mind was the large piece of tongue which curled round the back of the bowl - with a large furry white side, looking like tripe. Fortunately, the waiter found the funny side of Ollie's face of horror, and returned it back to the kitchen to replace it with a more tastier looking dish of veal shoulder. Meanwhile I tucked into a juicy, bloody steak and haricot-verts (green beans).
Chartier is very much a hidden secret, and if you're after an efficient, delicious and traditional experience for 50€ for two (three courses, 2 carafes of house red), then add this one to your list.
the crazy happenings in my life