Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thursday night in Paris: dinner and a cruise on the Seine

Previously I blogged about looking for a nice restaurant to have dinner in Paris. My husband had gotten confused as to the location of a restaurant he wanted to try. So on this Thursday night after having visited the Louvre and the Musée de l’Armée we set out for the peaceful looking park nestled just east of the Pont Neuf.

We found the restaurant he had sought previously. Once we looked at the menu we realized it was not an Italian restaurant as my husband had thought. It was also not open. There were no signs stating the hours. We wandered inside and saw no one.

Outside sat about ten people finishing their dinner, but I soon realized that they were the workers having their dinner before starting their shift. Finally someone approached us and we asked when they would be open for customers. It was to be another half an hour or so. That translated to a good hour before we had any food, so we left.

We ventured over the bridge to the right bank and looked for other restaurants we had noticed during our walks. After scanning various menus of the ones that were open we chose Á la Tête d’Or.

We did not realize it at the time, but the restaurant is classified as being Aveyronnaise. Later when we were in the Midi-Pyrenees region we saw the beautiful Aveyronne river and enjoyed the bounty of that rich agricultural region. Our dinner was simply an introduction to its fine cuisine.

Our appetizer was a plate of heirloom tomatoes served with mozzarella cheese and balsamic vinegar. We both had steak, pommes frites, and red wine. I forget whether or not we had any dessert.

During our dinner two women sat down at the table next to us. We could not help but hear their conversation and we soon started chatting with them. They were on holiday from New Zealand and would soon leave Paris to tour the castles along the Loire river valley.

They told us that when their friends back home heard they were going to France in September, it was assumed they would attend the Rugby World Cup. That led to a discussion about rugby as a sport that is respected around the world, but given short shrift in the United States.

I knew the rugby team at my university because the bar I worked at gave them special discounts for pitchers of beer. Therefore, they were regulars. I also mentioned that one of my favorite doctors in my community is a rugby player, and he was going to visit France at the end of September to attend several matches. However, I understand full well that rugby is not a sport that many Americans were familiar with, nor would have any interest in following the standings.

We also talked a little about global politics and the image of the United States in New Zealand. These women voiced the opinion that the stature of the U.S. has been better over the years and that they have hope that the 2008 election will bring a new administration more to their liking.

We finished our after-dinner espresso and left hoping to board the 9 pm cruise ship at Pont Neuf. We boarded with a few minutes to spare, but by that point in time all the outdoor seats were occupied. Therefore we sat in the largely empty bottom galley.

Here are a few pictures taken from that cruise as well as some other pictures we took of Paris at night.

It seemed like there was a community of barges on the river at night. Some were dinner cruises where the passengers dressed in fancy outfits while others seemed more party boats where drinking was emphasized. Convivial waves were exchanged as we passed by each other.

Here is the classical styled architecture that I adore so much.

The Eiffel Tower was glittering with lights at the time this picture was taken.

Here is the Hotel de Ville at night.

Here is a small video with our digital camera that my husband took as he walked up to the top deck to get an unobstructed view. I have not tried uploading video before, so I hope it works.

Oh and the white oval shaped figure at the bottom of the Eiffel tower was a rugby ball in honor of the Rugby World Cup that had its opening game the next day with France vs. Argentina.

I am nearing the end of my travelogue in Paris, but I still have to give a report about our visit to the chateau and horse museum of Chantilly. Then comes the second part of our journey into the heart of the Midi-Pyrenees in the Tarn et Garonne department.

Bon soir!


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