"Bacon is the candy of meat."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Crossing the museum threshhold

Mr. Gateau is a cultured guy, but he has his limits, and until yesterday, that limit was one museum per day. However, they say travel is broadening, and by the end of the day he was suggesting that we fit in an extra museum.

We started the day, after our usual breakfast, with a bike ride to the Musee Rodin, which was a major hangout of mine when I was doing my semester abroad and studying Rodin and Claudel. If anything, the museum and its gardens are even more beautiful, with late-season roses still in bloom. It seems to be field trip season in Paris, with throngs of students ranging from middle school to high school to art college descending in groups on major landmarks and museums. It's always amusing to see how kids behave like all other kids, regardless of nationality.

After a leisurely visit to the museum, we took a nice stroll around the St. Germain area, peeking in shop windows and settling into a cafe across from St. Sulpice. We had a simple cafe lunch -- a couple of beers and a sandwich jambon-fromage for Mr. Gateau, and a croque monsieur on pain Poilaine for me. After lunch we continued our stroll, dodging art students and their giant pads in front of St. Sulpice drawing the sculpture, and made our way around into St. Michel, where I resisted buying endless blank notebooks. That was where we decided to tackle another museum, this time the Musee Cluny, or the national museum of the Middle Ages. I have always been entranced with medieval art, but it wasn't a huge fascination of Mr. Gateau's, until this visit. The Cluny probably has one of the best medieval art collections in the world, and we were both taken with the carvings, the tapestries, and the rich paintings.

We left the museum thinking we'd take a short Metro ride back to our neighborhood and have tea, but that plan was foiled when all the local Metro stations were closed, and barricades set up, to contain the crowds gathering to see the Pope, who is in town for two days. So we walked, with part of our route down along the edge of the Seine, which was lovely. We had our tea and shared a pain au chocolat and the last of the day's baguette, with jam, and had a bit of a nap.

For dinner, we'd made a reservation at a small restaurant in the 1st Arrondisement, on the Place du Marche St. Honore, called the Point Bar. It had good reviews, touting the simple menu and very fresh ingredients. It was a lovely place, on a square ringed with small, lively restaurants, and we enjoyed sitting outside and eavesdropping on a couple of American businesspeople who were clearly having some kind of doomed affair. Mr. Gateau had a foie gras terrine with pain Poilaine, and I had a plate of nice sauccisson sec with little cornichons, to start, along with a bottle of bordeaux. For the main course he had the plat du jour, roasted loup de mer with very nice baked zucchini shells with a red pepper sauce, and I had delicious, rare duck breast in a sweet, slightly tangy, honey sauce, served with olive oil potatoes. For dessert we shared a plate of ripe Camembert, finished our wine, and had a coffee.

It was still a bit early to turn in, so we took a stroll around the square, then walked back over to Willi's Wine Bar to sit at the bar and have a glass of port. After lingering over that, it was finally time to call it a day, but not before talking to the boys at home, and having a good chuckle over their funny expressions.

Just a bit of a day left, before we head for home!

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