Thursday we forced ourselves back to reality. OK, not our real reality -- after all, we were still in Paris, still pretending to be people of leisure, still sleeping past 10am and then lingering over the newspaper and baguette for a couple of hours before heading out to explore the little streets again. We found a radio station featuring jazz, standards, and blues, and that has become the backdrop/soundtrack for our visit.
Also, the weather has been spectacular. With the small exception of a couple hours of rain on Thursday evening and afternoon, sticking an umbrella in my purse seems to have done the trick -- it's been warm, breezy, and sunny, with big puffy clouds. As a result, we've only set foot once in the Metro, and have spent the rest of the time on foot and on bikes, hopefully burning off the insane number of calories we have been consuming.
Day 5 started off as usual, with a sleep-in, crusty bread, and tea in the apartment. Then we decided to visit the Marais and the Musee Picasso by bike. When we got to the museum, though, we found it was closed for a month of renovations, so we sat in its little park drinking a bottle of water and then decided to see the Musee Carnavalet, which houses a collection on the history of Paris. We were both taken in particular with the exhibit of items from the revolutionary period and the last days of the royal family.
After the musuem we strolled along the rue des Rosiers, the old Jewish section of town, mostly so I could check an item off my must-eat list -- the best felafel in the world. I've never eaten it in Israel, but compared to anything you get in the States, this is as good as it gets. A generous helping of felafel balls are stuffed into a pita, alternating with various eggplant, cucumber, cabbage, and tomato salads, then finished off with tahini sauce and, if you request it, hot sauce. We took these over to the Place des Vosges, where we ate them on a park bench. After that, we decamped for a cafe across the street and I had a glass of rose while Mr. Gateau had a beer.
Then back to walking -- we explored the Bastille area by foot and then walked around the Ile St. Louis until we found the world-famous ice cream parlor, Bertillon. Naturally, we needed to sample the wares. I was disappointed they were not offering salted caramel that day, but was very content with my nougat au miel, which had a strong honey flavor and lots of crunchy chewy bits of nougat. Mr. Gateau's bitter chocolate was incredibly rich and flavorful. Unlike the gelato places, they don't splash the ice cream around, so one scoop really is one scoop, which is probably just as well.
We then continued strolling, and set off in search of a couple of wine bars we'd read about, but one wasn't open until later, and one was closed for vacation, so after a bit of a rest on a park bench while we consulted our guide books (I have not mentioned that we brought a library's worth of books, and also found tons at the apartment), we decided to bike back to our place and regroup. My bike was in lousy shape, and didn't want to stay in gear, so the trip home was a little hair-raising. Since bikes share lanes with buses, I kept worrying that I wouldn't be able to accelerate out of the way, but we all survived just fine. Just as we got back, it started to rain, so that was a good call.
We decided to try Willi's Wine Bar for dinner, a highly regarded wine bar in our neighborhood that is British-run. It's a tiny place, and at first we were only able to be seated at the bar, which suited us fine. But then a table became available just as we were ordering, so we had a really perfect evening sampling the generous 34 euro menu. To start, I had marinated white anchovies with dilled cream, a little polenta cake, and tomato coulis. Mr. Gateau had grilled baby artichokes with foie gras, all of which we shared, along with a basket of Pain Poilane and a couple glasses of a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. For our next course, he had a spectacular crispy-skinned guinea hen with wild mushrooms, while I had lamb tagine with apricots and vegetables. We also had a carafe of St. Joseph. For dessert we ordered the plate of 4 cheeses and swooned over each one, plus a slice of probably the best chocolate terrine either of us has ever had, in a vanilla sauce. And of course a glass of port each. There were probably more people speaking English (American and British versions) around us than French, but it's a truly wonderful little place, and it's good to remember if you're ever feeling a little homesick in Paris.
Then to bed with the jazz radio station playing in the background.