July 14, 2018

Europe 2018 day 15: Bastille Day

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I'm finally in Paris on Bastille Day!  I am very much looking forward to the festivities today, especially the fireworks tonight.

We got ready to explore more touristy sites this morning, and just as we were coming out of our apartment not long before 10am, I saw a whole crowd of people standing in the middle of Avenue de la Grande-Armée.  They seemed to be waiting for something.

A few seconds later I had my answer.  The noise of jets flying overhead reached my ears and I just managed to catch the Patrouille de France fly past us with their tri-colored smoke. I immediately took my camera out of my bag and started filming.

When the fly-by was done, a third of the crowd dutifully piled into the Eric Kayser at the corner to get their breakfast, including the two of us...

Having fueled up with caffeine and all, we went to hit the two main destinations for today - both on Île de la Cité.  First up was Sainte-Chapelle, my favorite church in the entire world.  We first had a look around the lower chapel, where the ceiling was painted with fleur de lys.

But the real treasure is upstairs in the royal chapel. Those 15 large panes of stained-glass windows are simply amazing - with each pane telling different biblical stories.

One can read about the windows or even look at pictures, but the real impact cannot be truly felt until one is standing in the chapel itself. It is, for the lack of a better description, simply AWESOME. Which is why it's perfect for a picture with our Insta360 ONE. Scrolling around and zooming in and out gives different perspectives, and as Hello Kitty said after taking this picture, being table to get this shot of the chapel alone is worth the price we paid for the camera.

Our next destination was just a stone's throw away.  As impressive as the latter's architecture is, I've always preferred Sainte-Chapelle to Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.   We go in for a look, and one thing that's new since my last visit is a reliquery for Saint Paul Chen, a martyr in China canonized in 2000.  I was pretty surprised to see this, and can't help wondering how much of the decision to have this on display here was to cater to the large amount of Chinese visitors coming through here.

As we walk down rue du Cloître-Notre-Dame, the lyrics of the Cocteau Twins' Road, River, and Rail popped into my head... especially the line "...naked and caught on the Île de la Cité..."

We cross onto Île Saint-Louis and eventually come to Berthillon.  Believe it or not, this was actually my first time visiting this Parisien institution - as it was closed for summer holidays during my first visit to Paris back in 1994, and somehow I've never found time for it since.

courtesy of Hello Kitty
I chose two flavors - agenaise (Armagnac and prune) and framboise à la rose.  Delicious and refreshing on a hot summer day.  I was a little disappointed, though, at the size of the scoops here...

We cross the Pont de la Tournelle and I see La Tour d'Argent in front of me.  It's been more than 15 years since my last visit, and I do miss its classic dishes.  But this time I have other itches to scratch...

We stop at Le Rousseau for lunch as it is just down the street from Le Bon Marché.  I order steak frites and asked for bleu.  The kitchen delivers.

After getting our shopping done, we return to the apartment and freshen up for dinner. We booked ourselves an early dinner at Au Passage.  After our dinner last week, I couldn't get a certain magnum out of my head... so I was determined to go and drink it tonight.  And I didn't care that we'd have to travel to the other side of town and back.

Œuf chou fleur amande œuf de truite - this was a great dish to kick off dinner.  I love cauliflower, and the cauliflower cream was particularly delicious.  Worked very well with eggs and the trout roe, as well as shaved fresh almonds.

Ventrèche de thon grillé sauce cassis raifort oseille - what's not to like about tuna belly?  Served with sorrel, horseradish, and a blackcurrant sauce.

Very tender and tasty.  And guilt-free, too, since I know that this can't possibly be blue fin.  Not for EUR 19.

Tête de turbot grillé aïoli - I didn't think much when I saw this on the menu.  I ordered it because I didn't want to get another piece of turbot that I found bland.  But when this whole head showed up in front of me, my eyes nearby popped out.

This... this was a thing of beauty.  I normally don't go ga-ga over fish heads, but this was something else.  While Hello Kitty took the bulk of the cheek - and she normally stays clear of fish heads - I attacked the collar.  Plenty of collagen everywhere, and so, soooo tasty.  Of course, it was even better with a little aïoli...  I gotta say that this was the best 10 Euros I spent on the entire trip.

Cochon rhubarbe préservée tomate datterino aneth - we ordered this again because we liked it last week, but I didn't get to have any as I chose to focus on the fish head.

So... the whole reason we came back here was for a magnum of wine.  This place has a surprising collection of wines from Jean-François Ganevat, and I had a very specific cuvée in mind...

2015 Ganevat J'en Veux Encore, en magnum - pretty light on the palate, with smoky and leather notes on the nose.  Sadly served far too warm.

We knew we wouldn't be able to finish the magnum, and were originally planning to take the rest of it back to the apartment.  But Hello Kitty suggested that we leave the rest of the wine for the staff, but ask to buy another magnum to take home.  The staff was more than happy to sell us more bottles, but sadly I were told that we had drunk the last magnum of this cuvée... so we ended up buying something else instead.

We rushed back to the apartment to drop off the wines and to pick up my tripod, and hopped into a taxi to try to get to Champs de Mars for the fireworks.  Of course the whole of Paris was trying to do the same, and the taxi driver suggested that we try to get to Palais de Tokyo on foot instead.

Not surprisingly the police had closed off the area around Palais de Tokyo, and we were stuck in a huge crowd of people with buildings and trees blocking our view.  I never got to use my tripod or even bothered to take my camera out of the bag.  I ended up getting a partial view of the fireworks, with an occasional glimpse at someone else's smartphone screen.  Hello Kitty fared even worse.  Naturally, she wasn't very happy with my poor planning and how things turned out.

There were of course no taxis to take us back, so we ended up following the crowd and walked back to the Arc de Triomphe.   This being Bastille Day, I finally got the opportunity to see the Tricolore hung from the bottom of the Arc.

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