Tag Archives: depôt-vente

La Saint-Valentin

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As my 9-year-old nephew in Sydney pointed out to me yesterday when I mentioned Saint Valentine’s Day to him, the “Saint” has disappeared from Valentine’s Day in English. Francophiles may wonder why it’s “la” Saint-Valentin and not “le”. Well, like all feast days, it’s short for “la fête du Saint-Valentin”.  Hence the feminine for what looks like a masculine.

Back to the day itself. Relationnel, who is a real romantic, arrived with a bunch of roses at lunchtime. He had taken the afternoon off so we decided to go to a couple of depôt-vente and find some things to furnish and decorate Closerie Falaiseau, our new house in Blois. The temperatures have risen since our previous excursion last Saturday so my hands and feet weren’t completely frozen this time. There is a website called www.troc.com that now has 190 second-hand shops in France so we chose one about three-quarters of an hour from the centre of Paris in the western suburb of Orgeval.

We found quite a few goodies, including a coffee grinder, a long-handled bed-warming pan, a set of pewter jugs, a coffee pot, some scales and a Moustier fruit bowl in troc.com and a new expresso/cappuccino machine and a steam iron in another place called Cash Converter, also a chain, which has a lot of musical instruments, hi-fi equipment, small appliances and other household goods. We learnt that you can see the items for sale at troc.com on-line and even reserve them. We’re going to see if we can get some dining-room chairs that way.

We got back to Paris just in time for dinner at La Bastide Odéon, which specialises in cuisine from the south of France. As we were walking along towards our destination, I suddenly saw a restaurant which looked as if it had towels rolled up on the tables outside.  How very odd! I was trying to imagine what sort of Valentine’s celebration was in the offing there when Relationnel said they were blankets for people to sit outside. The blankets even have the name of the restaurant on them – Le Comptoir!

Our restaurant didn’t have a terrace with rolled-up blankets so we sat upstairs.  Relationnel thought he had discovered a new venue but in fact we had eaten there once before with friends from Canberra and enjoyed it. The tables are fairly spread out but there was a lot of noise in the room next door which we weren’t too thrilled with. At one stage, two of the people came out and Relationnel immediately recognised Robert Badinter, famous in French history for having successfully abolished the death penalty on 9th October 1981. After that, we didn’t mind the noise!

They had an excellent set menu for Valentine’s Day at 49 euros per person, starting with champagne and a little sweet pepper (piquillo) stuffed with goat’s milk cheese (very tasty). It was followed by a choice of two entrées – creamy scrambled eggs with black truffle or carpaccio of sea scallops with spicy avocado, sauce vierge (which just means olive oil) and horns of plenty (excellent) – and a choice of two main courses – grilled fillet of bass with candied lemon, creamy risotto and sea shell bouillon (which we didn’t take) or roast rack of lamb (extraordinarily tender), mutton stew gravy (sounds better in French – jus de navarin), eggplant caviar and candied tomatoes (they didn’t look very candied to me).

For dessert, you could have a soft-centred chocolate cake (moelleux au chocolat) with chestnuts and condensed milk ice-cream (all very tasty) or candied pineapple with lavendar honey, fiadone (a Corsican soft cheese dessert) and brown sugar biscuit ice-cream (speculoos) (Relationnel’s choice).

A bottle of wine per couple was also included in the menu. We could choose from two wines – a pouilly fumé sauvignon from the Loire Valley or a côtes du Rhône. We took the red, which we regretted afterwards – not because we didn’t like it, but because it was 15° !!!

As we walked past Le Comptoir on the way back to the car, we noticed that all the outside tables were taken and everyone had their blankets around their knees.

La Bastide Odéon, 7 rue Corneille, 75006 Paris, tel 01 43 26 03 65, contact@bastideodeon.com, www.bastideodeon.com, M° Odéon lines 10 and 4, RER Luxembourg, open every day. 

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No Oysters on Sunday

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I think our cold snap this year has even reached the news in Australia. February is always the coldest month in Paris and we usually have a couple of snow falls during the winter but the temperatures rarely go below freezing. But we’ve just had two weeks in Paris with minus 2 or 3 degrees throughout the day and much colder temperatures at night.  We’d actually been having a very mild winter so the cold snap took everyone by surprise.

Brainy Pianist alias Michelin Man

Brainy Pianist, who desperately wanted to see some snow, was searching for somewhere to go and I suggested Strasbourg so he and Thoughtful went there last weekend by train. It didn’t snow in Strasbourg – at minus 12°, it was too cold – but they saw a lot of snow on the way. Brainy Pianist, looking very much like the Michelin man, was dressed in long johns, two pairs of jeans, 2 T-shirts, 2 jumpers, 2 pairs of socks, a neck warmer and a scarf, two beanies, one with ear flaps, and rabbit-fur lined gloves he’d had the good sense to pick up in Rome after he read my post! He hadn’t thought to take a second pair of gloves, but Thoughtful did! Plus they were both wearing anoraks of course.

Thoughtful alias The Terrorist

It’s snowed in Paris since, to Brainy Pianist’s delight because he missed the first snow fall when he was in Strasbourg, but there wasn’t a lot so it didn’t stay on the ground for long. The Palais Royal Gardens looked very pretty though and the water in the fountains next to the Glass Pyramids at the Louvre was all frozen over. But the cold has persisted.

In winter, I usually just wear wool mix trousers, socks, long-sleeved shirt and wool mix jacket when I go out, with ankle boots, parka with a hood, long scarf to keep the hood in place and rabbit-fur lined gloves. When it’s minus something, I add a pair of tights. My hands get very cold though. I have a pair of thin silk gloves somewhere that have obviously disappeared at the moment, just when I need them!

Me, not Black Cat

Black Cat turned up for afternoon tea yesterday in a summer dress with a cardigan over it, thick tights, long boots, coat, hat, scarf and gloves.  Looking very chic as usual. She’s even got special iPhone gloves so you don’t have to get freezing hands when you answer your phone. I need some too. She immediately took off the cardigan because our apartment is overheated, usually 23°C with the radiators off because of the hot water pipes from the central heating. The water has to be hot so that the apartments on the lower floors are sufficiently heated (we’re on the fourth floor). At her place, though, they have electric heaters, which are expensive to run, so she always has to keep a jumper on. Plus her Australian flat mate is always opening the windows and turning off the radiators and forgetting to turn them back on, particularly in the morning.

Directoire chest of drawers

Yesterday was the coldest I’ve been in a long time. We went off to a dépôt-vente in Nogent sur Marne looking for more furniture for the house in Blois. It was minus 2° both inside and out! I don’t know how the people can work there. We bought a directoire chest of drawers with a marble top. Despite the gloves, my hands were completely frozen by the time we got back into the car which, being a Volvo, doesn’t heat up very quickly. You’d think the Swedish could do better than that! Our Renault Scenic is almost immediately warm.

I went to the market this morning to buy fish and eggs. We bought everything else from the supermarket yesterday because last week’s fruit and vegetables were damaged because of the freezing temperatures and the ground’s so hard now you can’t dig anything up. The fish don’t seem to mind the cold. I felt sorry for the fish mongers though. They have to clean and gut the fish. No oyster man. Last week we ate inferior “fines de claires” instead of “spéciales” so this time, we decided not to have oysters on Sunday. Sigh.

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