Monday, March 5, 2012

Barnyard Animals and Running the Paris Marathon

The week-end started like the first Friday of every month – with a tasting and pick-up of Spring’s new wine of the month.  There was an herbal, funky Bordeaux Blanc, Chateau Doisy-Daene that’s ready to go now with some spice or shellfish, and then there was a 2009 Chateau Simon from Lalande-de-Pomerol, where I was last week-end.  The red is 100% Merlot and will do well by 4-5 year of aging.  We got a bonus taste of a Sauternes from the same Chateau Doisy-Daene producer that was really memorable, and a perfect companion to the foie gras tortes they were serving.

I then made reservations around the corner at a place I thought sounded too good to be true, called Coude a Coude.  They had a 15 euro menu that included an appetizer and main.  We were the only one’s there when we arrived, and just one table was there when we left.  The reviews said it was a local’s spot, so perhaps the locals were all on holiday.   

The tomato mozzarella salad wasn’t much to write home about, but more edible than it looked.  The chicken was actually surprisingly moist, but unfortunately the same could be said for the fries that could have used a little more crispness, though the au jus made everything ok.  We thought dessert was included, but it wasn’t, and I wouldn’t have gotten the apple tart otherwise.  The chocolate banana dessert was a bit of a no brainer, but tasty nonetheless.  Don’t run there unless you only have a couple euro in your pocket for a meal.

Afterwards we were cheered by some proper cocktails at Le Fumoir, across from the Louvre.  They even have a whole page dedicated to martinis with a 3 step process of ordering gin or vodka, levels of dryness, and then requested accoutrement of olives, lemon, lime, etc…It was pretty close, but I think I messed up the order, so am willing to go back and try again.


Friday also marked a return to the Velib bike system.  It’s been a tad too cold to ride, but since the major cold snap seems to be gone, I was back in the saddle and happy as could be.

Saturday I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed, which was appropriate given that I was heading to the Agricultural Fair.  I met my friend Stephanie S, who was raised on a working farm and her family still owns one.  She got to listen to my dumb questions all day long like why is that cow sooooo big???


This Fair was the biggest event I’ve ever been to with 7 enormous pavilions filled with dogs, horse, cow, sheep, chickens, pigs, food, wine, and flowers.  



While I know where all of my delicious food comes, it's still a bit disconcerting to see the live pigs in the pen in front of the pork products for sale.  I'm just glad I wasn't toting one of the thousands of small children around, petting Wilbur, and then eating Wilbur's dad after.

All 7 pavilions and the walks in between were full of wall to wall people.  It's nice to know that not only do the French love their food, they also love knowing the origin.

We were ready for some sustenance after braving the crowds and the multi pavilion journey and luckily at that moment, we arrived in Switzerland.  I'm not exactly sure how they fit it with the whole Agricultural Fair and why they got their own world, but the world included large fondue pots of stinky, melted Gruyere and Vacherin cheese, and we couldn't resist.

There was more food and drinks, but we were near exhaustion by the end, so got a gelatto and called it a day.  I had a nice, long nap after I got home in preparation for the next meal.

I met college friend Jen and her husband at Albion, a new spacious spot in the 10th with a whole lot of English going down.  Sadly, that's now a minus for me, but the room was large by Paris standards and included a wine shop in front and restaurant in the back.  Jen and Peter's 2 friends from NY also joined us.

I started with a scallop citrus salad, that was a bit too light on the acid to give it enough definition, but Jen was very pleased with her warm, beet soup.

Everyone was happy with their pork and fish dishes, and I capped my meal with a smoky apple crumble.

We went for a drink afterwards at a random spot on cocktail friendly Saint Saveur.  The bartender knew her stuff and I had a wonderful dirty martini before I hopped back on my bike to go home.

Sunday I woke up feeling the accumulation of the week-end's activities on me, and I started the debate on whether I really need to exercise today.  I do enjoy a run on Sunday's when they close the quai along the Seine, so I pushed myself out the door, hoping some air would motivate me.  Outside were thousands of people in the street.  There was a solid, stream of runners going at a good clip into the closed Bastille circle, and even more spectators cheering on the sidewalks.  It was the Paris half marathon, and 25,000 people were running in the race.  I couldn't even get across the street because there was so many people, so if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  Next thing I know I threw myself into the fray, and joined the Paris marathon.

I was swept up with all the people and found myself running at a new, increased pace.  The energy was inspiring.  People everywhere were screaming Allez, Allez, go, go!  One woman yelled at me, Bravo Madame!  Bravo is right if she saw all that I ate and drank this week-end, or rather this past year.  I didn't know where the race went, if it was going to loop or end in a minute, but then I saw a mile, or rather km marker, and thought there were still several more miles to go.  I decided I'd just run my usual amount and turn around when I hit the halfway mark.  The halfway mark came and I realized I was only a few more miles from the end, and wouldn't it be fun to not only say I ran, but that I finished the Paris half marathon?! By this point, the crowds had picked up everywhere and there were bands and organized cheers, kids high fiving me - thank goodness I had a proper sweat going at this point.  Next thing I know I'm in the finishing funnel and there are now gates up on both sides of the street with tons of people, and there's no turning back.  I cross the finish line and there's confetti and they're heading out medals, jackets and food. 

So I finish, and I'm kind of excited and proud of myself, even though I didn't run the whole thing, and then I realize I have to run back, but I can't get out of the gated funnel area.  The finsh line area went on about another mile before I could even get out and figure out where I was and how to get back home.  It took some doing and a lot of running, but I did run all the way back home, and now I can say I ran and finished the Paris half-marathon.  Perhaps I'll do the whole things next year!


  1. Have just stumbled across your blog from HiP Paris. Am enjoying your writing immensely. My wife and I were in France last summer including Paris, and will be back again this summer as we loved it so much. I spent much of my growing up years, until 9th grade, in places like Evereux, and my wife fell in love with France while doing a student exchange in Pau.

    We started a blog that we add to when we travel called On the Go with Arnie and Jo. It's part of a larger site called Romantic Vacations Guide. I only wish that I was as good a writer as you.

    Anyway, just wanted to say that I can't wait to read more of your adventures in Paris.

    Arnie Jacobsen

  2. Thanks for the kind words Arnie. Glad you're also enjoying some great travel experiences. I'll look forward to reading them on your blog as well.

  3. How fun! I've always wanted to try a race abroad. Paris sounds like an amazing place to do just that!