Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Normandy and Paris, France
Our final morning in Normandy was spent in a most relaxed kind of fashion. Poor Jean had enjoyed the tandoori chicken so much at the barbecue that he had set up that he had overeaten, awoke feeling unwell and needed a visit to the doctor. This kept Jacques busy and left us to spend the morning as we wished. As for me, well, I awoke with a splendid black eye (just as the doctor had predicted) but, thankfully, felt none the worse for my toss of the previous evening. I did not even have a headache so avoided the need for painkillers after all.
After a continental breakfast, Llew and I decided to explore the lovely homestead on foot upon which our friends live. But while Llew got ready, I got back on a bicycle and pedalled around the property just to remove any fears of biking. I asked Marius who was also on his bicycle or “velo” as it is called here, if he wanted to join us on a promenade around the fields and he jumped at the idea.
Like the Pied Piper, Llew and I were then followed not only by Marius but by little 2-year old Julia (who came with her couverture or security blanket and Dodo, her rag doll) and Misti, the resident kitten! So it was a strange group that walked through the knee-high grass and, seriously, were it not for the fact that I did not have a meringue (as Coco Chanel described the elaborate Victorian hats that were fashionable in her time) on my head or a frill-fringed parasol in my hand, you could easily have mistaken us for the folks in Monet’s paintings featuring the red poppies in the fields of Argenteuil. It was just perfect, just delightful, this mid-morning ramble in the meadows with the children and the kitten for company. We walked on for at least an hour in the most appealing temperature. When the shrubs became too thorny, Julia begged to be carried and Llew lifted her tenderly in his arms and took her over the worst of the nettles. Marius was a most caring and attentive older brother as he comforted her for she suddenly expressed a need to get back to the house and to her older cousin Florine who was babysitting her.
By the time we returned from our walk, having encircled a good part of the property, Jacques had returned from the doctor. We sat reading for a bit while Florine prepared a very simple lunch for us--mackerels in mustard sauce, a fresh lettuce salad, cheese and baguettes and with this meal consumed, it was time for us to take our leave of our guests. Florence had returned home too to bid us goodbye, Jean had been pronounced okay by the doctor and Jacques drove us to the railway station at Lison with a great weight lifted off his mind.
Our train turned out to be a half hour late which left us time to sit on the platform and people watch. Jacques was good company as we waited, but then soon enough, along came the train and off to Paris we went arriving at 5. 45 pm at Gare Saint Lazare.
We had promised the Andersons that we would cook them an entire Indian dinner as they are great big fans of Indian cuisine. Llew and I stopped at the apartment to stash our bags and discovered that Jack had purchased all the ingredients we needed. I decided to make a Chicken in Green Coconut Milk Curry and those ingredients which were not at home were easily obtained on a quick shopping spree at Monoprix.
Julia and Llew were wonderful sous-chefs as I got cracking on our meal, cooking, in addition to the chicken, a pilau and my mother’s Cucumber Coconut Salad. Julia also assisted us in finding the bits of equipment we needed and the variety of condiments that are called for in Indian cuisine. By the time Jack walked in, about an hour later, dinner was almost ready. We sipped a glass of Bordeaux each and nibbled on a few nuts. But then dinner was plated and served by me and Llew and I sat back and enjoyed the steady steam of compliments that came our way. It had been a team effort that had paid off very well indeed. Everyone enjoyed the chicken curry and for dessert, we ate one of the very healthy fruit salads which are Jack’s specialty.
An Evening at the Lido:
By 9.00 pm, Llew and I changed and were ready to leave for our evening out at the Lido, one of Paris’ most famous night clubs. I had booked tickets online for the 9. 30 pm revue or show and we were very pleased to discover that the Lido was only a ten minute walk from our apartment. Night had fallen over Paris and the night owls were out in great numbers taking the air on the Champs Elysses, chomping away at dinner or sipping after-dinner coffee on the pavement cafes and posing for pictures by the massive billboards that line the boulevarde.
It wasn’t long before we were at the Lido and being led to our seats by a smartly attired waiter who also brought us the drinks menu. We were seated in an exclusive little banquette from where we had a very good view of the stage. It was only a few minutes later that the show began with all the pomp, splendor and pageantry that have come to characterize such entertainment. Indeed the costumes and sets were simply sumptuous and the quality of the singing and dancing rather good. We were taken around the world in an hour and a half, as the dancers made frequent costume changes transporting us to Thailand and India and to the cabaret nightclubs of Berlin as seen in the film and stage version of Cabaret. It was all very classy and very elegant indeed and as folks sipped their Dom Perignon champagne from crystal flutes and nibbled at their cheese platters, the lights dipped and dimmed and we lost ourselves in the spectacle which was magnificent.
But then it was all over and since the night was still young and the light clear and beckoning, we decided to take a walk in the moonlight to the Arc de Triomphe which was only five minutes away. There we enjoyed the superbly illuminated monument that looks so different by day and so magical by night. Of course, we took more pictures, then strolled along the Champs Elysses and soon made our way home.
It was well past midnight when we got back to our apartment and slept soundly as we anticipated our very last full day in Paris.