Day 24–A Routine Day, Nothing too Exciting

I decided to eschew having a pain au chocolat today. Probably better physically if not spiritually.

On the Métro over to Graham’s, another accordionist got on my train car but at least this one had the good sense to play “Under Paris Skies,” the only tune that should ever emanate from an accordion, as I mentioned the other day. On the way home, however, a diminutive woman, dressed in a hodge-podge of colour, barged onto the train belting Edith Piaf chansons. While I appreciate that this may be a matter of necessity, I still can’t get over the combination of bravado and self-confidence it takes to do this, especially considering that it’s illegal, although you don’t see the police doing much about it. (Sandy would deal with the accordion, for sure; impose a by-law or something.)

What you do see, though, are Métro officials stopping people to check their Navigo (Metropass) cards or tickets and I think fine people who’ve jumped the stiles or otherwise avoided paying. We’ve been stopped a couple of times. They have electronic scanners that verify the validity of your pass.

At Graham’s, we are working on perspective, an easy enough concept to understand but an incredibly hard one to apply, at least on canvas. I am drawing and painting a building we sketched the other day on Canal St. Martin. “We” would be a bit of an exaggeration, but we’ll see how it goes; it’s what I wanted to learn on sabbatical, French is an added bonus.

Had 93 emails this morning and, unlike one ridiculous day last week, none of these were wine-related. My out-of-office message doesn’t seem to be daunting anyone but I am hoping this will subside shortly.

Sandy has phone calls today; she is not, strictly speaking, on sabbatical. So I headed off to deal with some wine issues. (It’s sunny but cold here today so I didn’t feel like traipsing around too much.)

En route, I passed by this Metre measuring stick. In the late 1700s, when the French began to systematize after the Revolution, they scrapped the inconsistent measurement of the length of the king’s foot (no more “royal” anything, of course) or some such and decided on the metre as the standard length. Then then cast a number of these bronzes and embedded them in concrete around the city so that trades and merchants could easily determine the length of something. The one in the photo (at 36 rue de Vaugirard) is the last one still in place. Interesting, no?

Before dinner, I had a glass of wine at Les Caves du Polidor, 39, rue Monsieur le Prince, a wine bar of sorts near here. I say “of sorts” because, strictly speaking, a Bar à Vin only serves wine (or beer, whatever) whereas at Les Caves, you can buy wine as well, like a wine store with constant tastings.

We then had dinner at Au Bon Saint Pourçain 10, rue Servandoni (the architect of Saint-Sulpice), a quirky, unpretentious (to say the least) bistro, no credit cards let alone a website, in the area, frequented by the locals (and mentioned favourably by Alexander Lobrano in “Hungry for Paris, The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 102 Best Restaurants” which we bought here for fun). This was not haute cuisine but good, hearty, down-home fare.

Meanwhile, Lobrano’s list ranges from high-end places like Taillevent to the tiny neighbourhood spots we’ve been frequenting like this one. (Against the tide, he’s not a fan of Le Comptoir du Relais.) The proprietor, François (who had been a waiter for years at the place before he took over), was perfectly charming. By chance, we had seen him as walked by the place a day earlier.

This is what Lobrano recommended from tonight’s menu:

Don’t miss: Poireaux viniagrette (marinated leeks); compote de lapereau (rabbit in tarragon-flavoured aspic), boeuf aux olives (braised beef with green olives); brandade de morue (shredded salt cod mixed into mashed potatoes with garlic); entrecôte; sauce marchand de vin (steak with red wine sauce); tarte Tatin.