Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday 3/11/12: Joinville Market and lunch at Chartier

All four nights in Paris, I wasn’t able to sleep more than about 5 hours per night, even though the room and bed were very comfortable.  I don’t think it was due to jet lag, because I was going to sleep in the evening without a problem, and I didn’t feel especially tired during the day.  Maybe too much coffee.  Whatever, it wasn’t really a problem.  I was just awake.  Nancy was somewhat annoyed because I kept waking her up, and we didn’t have another room I could go to while she slept.
Anyways, I woke up very early and walked over to the Joinville market around the corner from the hotel on Saturdays, at Joinville Street.  Still had leftovers from yesterday’s shopping so didn’t buy anything.

Later, after Nancy woke up we had breakfast at the hotel, which is included with the room.  It was excellent.  We didn’t make any real plans for the morning due to our opera tickets that afternoon.  We went to McDonald’s to use the internet.

Dressed and took Metro to Opera, then walked over to Chartier for lunch.  There was a long line, but apparently since there were only two of us, we were directed past the line and seated immediately.  We were seated with four other people at a table.  On one side of us, two people were dining solo, and on the other side, a couple dined together.  One of the solo diners left shortly after we arrived and we didn’t talk much with him beyond pleasantries.  The other, as best I could understand, is a member of the Corps of Engineers in the French Army and in the next few weeks was going to deploy to a base in New Caledonia in French Polynesia, and would be away from his family for 3 years.  He didn’t seem very happy about it, but said it came with the territory.  The couple to my left was very friendly.  The woman said she has some colleagues in Glendale, CA although we didn’t get into what they or she does.  I noted that a restaurant similar to Chartier in the U.S. would be very expensive, whereas Mcdonalds is cheap, but in France eating at either place almost costs the same, and Chartier is frequented by people from all walks of life.  She said the French actually have a lot of respect for McDonalds because they have introduced some new concepts to France that many people appreciate.  As far as I could understand, these are things like a place to use the internet for free, and food that doesn’t cost extra if you eat in the restaurant, but I didn’t really get all of what she was trying to say.
At Chartier, the menu was completely in French and I understood about half of it and translated for Nancy to the best of my ability.  The woman to my left offered to translate, and we started up a simple conversation.  I had read about this place in a guidebook (Rick Steves perhaps) and also in this yelp review and knew it was near the Opera.  It is known as a classic French restaurant and has been there since the late 1800s, and was definitely a fun place to eat, although we found the food to be just ok.  The atmosphere reminded me of the (now defunct) Berghoff restaurant in Chicago, basically an inexpensive restaurant serving comfort food in an environment that felt very fancy, with tuxedoed waiters, etc.  I ordered an aperitif, Escargots, and lamb chops. Escargots were delicious.  Lamb was pretty good but wasn’t served hot off the grill.   The fries were just so-so.  The aperitif tasted to us like Manischewitz wine.  Nancy ordered shrimp with avocado and a good but relatively unmemorable veal dish.  Total bill was about 33 euros, service compris.  Waiter was friendly and accommodating to our language handicap.

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