The food in Europe is great. Not really large portions, but of high quality compared to our normal fare. Compared to each others, it varies. Believe it or not, I weighed less when I came home than what I did when I left. The funny part of this is that I am this little round guy who likes his food. We ate really well in Europe, but lost weight! The only thing I can think of is the amount of walking we did.
While it might not seem like much, we walked around the Louvre for two days. At the end of the second day, we walked from the Louvre, through the Tuileries, along the Champs-Elysees, to the Arc De Triomphe, then back down the other side of the Champs-Elysees, Then we walked around Versailles for a whole day. Then around Saint-Michel, through to Notre Dame, then up to Musee D’Orsay alongside the Seine, down on the river’s edge. We walked around there all day, then walked back to Saint-Michel. In Paris alone, we must have walked a couple of hundred kilometers in a few days. Then walking around Rome, walked everywhere. Map in one hand and checking the signs as we went, the only way to go. In one day, we walked from the Piazza di Popolo, to the Vittorio, to the Colosseum, to the Circus Maximus, to the Pantheon, to the Piazza Navona, to the Ache Augustus, to the Piazza di Popolo again. We ate in a nearby restaurant, then wandered around that part of Rome for the next two hours before returning to our motel.
My wife and I discussed, months before going, if we should join a tour. The consensus was that no, if we did, we would have to follow a schedule and we are going on a holiday. We have enough of schedules, where our days are organized by others, dictated by laws and rules, a holiday should take us from that. We pleased ourselves, we did what we wanted and by the time we had to leave for home, we were certainly dead tired, but feeling we had not done enough. Next time we will do and see more, then.
We stayed in a smallish motel just off the Boulevard du Montparnasse, the Villa des Artiste, on the Rue De La Grande Chaumiere, just by the intersection of Boulevard Raspail. This was fortuitous, the local metro station was very close, across the road basically. There were a number of brassieres nearby for breakfast. We went to a little place on the Boulevard Raspail, Le Petit Broc, almost every day. I know, we should have tried something different every day, but it was handy and reasonable prices and excellent food.
My wife could not get past the omelette and I tried something different every day. The omelette was great, light and fluffy and lots of it. Since becoming a fruit for breakfast person, and never having been a cooked breakfast person at all, this was a novelty. The young man who served us every day was charming and helpful. Not speaking much French, it was a source of amusement for us that I tried to speak it when ordering, and having him repeat it. Then to say “Merci” with the correct intonation, and “bonjour” at the right times and correctly, several times, hopefully made everything relaxed.
Funnily enough, everywhere we went, except the Musee D’Orsay we had no trouble communicating. Most people we dealt with spoke English very well. To be fair to the staff at the Musee D’Orsay, there was only two people we spoke to there that we could not get over what we were talking about. Rome was different, most people there spoke English, in restaurants, shops and so on, but not in the bank. I had to go to a bank and the first one I tried, no one spoke English. In the second, one person did, but not sufficiently well enough to make a conversation with. Gave up after that, left the issue until we got home.
In Paris, we went to the Fontaine Saint-Michel. Heard about it for years so had to go there and I suspect that there are so many restaurants within easy walking distance that you could eat at a different establishment for every mean for a month and not eat in the same place twice. We went to Le Jardin du Roy first, and there was this picture on the wall of Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone. One of the promo shots for the movie. Guys, look it was a great movie, one DVD I pull out every now and again, but that was over 30 years ago now. Yet we saw Godfather T-shirts, black with the puppeteer strings to the letters, in French, in Italian. We saw it in France and again in Rome. Unbelievable. I could forgive them for that though, the food was excellent and the service not as good maybe, but still good enough. I am regretting now that I didn’t take notes of what we did eat, but I am just not that kind of fussy. I will try to think of it next time we go away, but probably won’t do it.
Le Grand Bistro in Rue de la Huchette has imitation Swiss Chalet all over it. Apparently it is part of a chain of such restaurants. The food was good, but not great. The restaurant claims a traditional type fare, but we ordered something non-traditional, that much I do remember. The meal was OK, but not memorable for positive reasons, the dreadful decor. In one corner is this moose head hanging over the patrons. I kept expecting it to dribble all over them I think, and was disappointed when it didn’t. Bare, raw grained wood, silvered with age in some parts, treated in others. Swiss mountains rough blended unsuccessfully with Paris chic was my impression.
La Luge is a little place in Rue Saint-Severin that was really neat and tidy. The service was good to excellent, the staff friendly and helpful. The food was very good, and enough of it. Portions, like everywhere else we went, are not large, but really the right sizes – satisfying in quality and quantity, without making us feel we over ate. Not being big alcohol drinkers, a single glass of wine at meal times for my wife, and none for me, the bills we faced were not going to be high. For me, wine and food do not always mix, but I do not drink alcohol anyway, so my opinion does not matter at all.
In all these places, it was not necessarily cheap but it did not seem expensive. Apart from some souvenirs and clothes, we did not seem to spend a lot of money. Even though the $Au is lower than the Euro, and the fees for currency conversions are high, we did not spend too much at all. Food was our really big cash consumer, Metro fares are cheap, other fees and charges were low. Food was about it – and I really liked the overall quality of it in both Paris and Rome. But Rome later.