Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Finding real French food on a stopover

We're all pretty exhausted after catching a 5.25am Eurostar from London. We got into Paris at 9 and after stowing our luggage in 2 left luggage lockers took a 4 hour hop-on hop-off tour of the city which was mostly hop-on except for a stop at Notre Dame for lunch at what appears to be a quintessential Paris Brasserie for a lunch of onion soup, croque Monsieurs and hot chocolate (it was freezing).

Paris is just as beautiful as I expected it to be, although much much busier than I had anticipated. The Eiffel Tower was an unexpected highlight. You think you know what to expect, but up close I was blown away by the intricacy and fragility of it, it really is stunning.

As we drove down the Quai des Gds Augustin we passed a series of small stalls selling books, it was all I could do to restrain myself from yelling " Stop the bus!!!" However given three of my Mrs Beeton's already have a bag of their own, it's no more books for me!

In Paris I particularly loved the brasserie and tabac we passed on nearly every corner, wicker chairs lining the pavement for the smokers and people- watchers. It was suddenly clear what so many restaurants and cafes are trying to emulate, but never will be able to because, well, it's Paris and they're not!

After the bus tour we took a taxi across town to the Gare de Bercy, the driver dodging scooters and Velopeds, the traffic absolutely chaotic, and settled in for a 3 hour wait for the train to Rome. Taking a stroll to pass the time, imagine our pleasure to discover a particularly French food truck parked outside: Mimi la Brioche sold a range of baked goods, mostly priced by the kg.

There were huge loaves of brioche (of course), madeleines, le pain epice, thick white slabs of nougat, chocolate coated waffle-like cookies and beautiful cannelles, crisp dark and waxy on the outside, soft and yellow on the inside.

We bought a whole lot of goodies for the trip and settled back down hoping that the huge group of excitable American teenagers wasn't going to be on our carriage.

Location:Gare du Bercy, Paris

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