Paris: Day 5. Marmottan, Montmartrobus, and more

April 8, 2009 17:16 – 17:16

We lingered this morning because Karen had some email business she needed to attend to. We finally left at about 1, and headed for the Marmottan—a huge collection of mostly-impressionistic art. Unlike the D’Orsay, there was no line. Also unlike the D’Orsay, they do not allow photography.

The Marmottan is housed in an old mansion. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the Phillips in DC. It’s very unassuming from the outside, and you might not realize that it houses billions of dollars worth of art. They have the largest Monet collection in the world. Impression Sunrise alone might be worth upwards of $100 million. It’s the grayish/tan building hiding between the trees below.

There’s a park with a playground across the street from the Marmottan. The last time we were there—about 16 or 17 years ago—Katie was four, and enjoyed playing in the park. The carousel is operated by hand—a man pushes it around in circles.

After the museum, we shared a ham & cheese sandwich on a baguette at a bakery/café. Next, we subwayed back to our neighborhood and caught the Montmartrobus. It goes around the area to the north of our apartment. Unfortunately, it reached the end of the line before we expected it to. So we had to take the Metro back to our area.

Behind the Place Stalingrad sign above, the hidden sign says Metropolitan. It’s easy to forget that that’s what Metro is short for.

There’s lots of culture and fun for the entire family in this neighborhood!

Lap dances, too!

And Moulin Rouge!

And a guy on a motor bike with what looks like a baguette in his basket. Must be one of those breadbaskets that so many things are either bigger or smaller than.

After the bus ride, I needed to go to the Monoprix to buy a battery for one of my devices. After that, on the 1.2K walk home, we passed the area where the famous director Jean Renoir was from. Jean was the second son of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Yes… that Renoir. Renoir lived within walking distance of our apartment. How cool is that?

We got back to our apartment at about six, and headed to dinner at about 6:30 for a 7 pm reservation. We were running late, so we took a cab… about 20€ to go 6K.

I was very optimistic about dinner, but my optimism was not warranted. The highly-touted L’Ourcine turned out to be way too nouveau cuisine-ish for my tastes. They had an over-priced (IMO) 3 course menu (32€), to which you could add 4€ for some of the appetizers or 12 to 15€ for some of the main courses. There was no a la carte. So, it was all or nothing.

After we ordered, they brought us this whipped white artichoke thing, a sort of lagniappe. Karen liked it. I didn’t’.

For wine, we ordered a Beaujolais demi—way overpriced at 21€. IMO, it wasn’t as good as the more plentiful 12€ “pots” of wine we’d had elsewhere.

For starters, Karen ordered the pea soup—which was quite good. I had these crab-filled raviolis, which should have been good. But, they were seasoned with citronelle, which made them taste like those anti-mosquito candles.

For main course, Karen ordered the pork, which was nice and tender and delicious. I ordered the duck, which would have been pretty good, but it was heavily laced with coriander, which I like only in sparse amounts in hotdogs, but not at all in anything else.

For dessert, I copied Karen, but tonight was not my night. We received these egg-shaped mounds of chocolate (not too bad in themselves) that were sitting in some kind of yellow liqueur. I don’t like liqueur of any kind, and particularly not in chocolate. Karen will forgive a lot if it’s accompanied with chocolate. I’m not enough of a chocolate fan for that though.

To add to the experience, the check didn’t come until 15 minutes after we’d asked for it, and we pretty much had to stand up and get ready to leave to pay it.

In any case, it was my first and last time at L’Ourcine. We left 93€ poorer, and that was ordering the bare minimum. If you’re looking for a perfect dining experience in Paris, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for pretentious overpriced nouveau cuisine, however, this might be just the ticket.

Except for the slow service at the end, I’m sure that Karen’s review of the restaurant will be quite different from mine — almost as if we’d eaten at different places. That’s often the case, though. Either I don’t know how to order, or I’m very hard to please. Or both. In any case, tonight, I guessed wrong at every turn. I’m still hoping to find a good bouillabaisse or veal Provençal before we leave France. Wish me luck.

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