I'm babysitting, just got the two girls to bed even though they were supposed to be in bed two hours ago, but they have been sweet. Maybe because I let them stay up ridiculously late and watch telly but still, anything's better than being whacked in the face with a coat. Anyway, now I have some time I'm going to write about the weekend that my mum and her friend Sharon came to stay with me. I'm going to write about the places we went to eat in an Informative Helpful Manner, more helpful than posting pictures of The Little Mermaid and wondering if dragons are real anyway.
Actually, the day before my mum and Sharon came which was the day I travelled back from England (another excellent trip on the Eurostar; I don't know why anybody flies), I went an met an American au pair I met through this blog, weirdly enough. We went to this place where you get free food with your drinks which was quite cool. Now I know where to take my friends for dinner if they are running low on cash when they come and visit me, I'm having six more people to come and stay in March, although I can't see Rachel, Jen and Rosie going for anywhere 'cheap'...
But back to my first ever visitors- Mum and her friend Sharon. (She is a good family friend, it's not like my mum just brought a random chum along because she couldn't bear to spend a weekend alone with me... honestly.) On Friday I spent the whole day cleaning my room so that they wouldn't wish they had booked into a hotel. It was so strange when I went to get them from Gare du Nord. I arrived just as they walked onto the concourse and it was WEIRD seeing my mum through the crowds, in Paris, in France, where I live.
(As I led them down to the metro and sorted out tickets and took them onto Line 1, my mum asked me how the hell I had done it when I first arrived. It's hard to remember now because I'ved one it so many times since, but when I first arrived it was absolute fucking hell on earth trying to get out of that station with all my Massive Bags.)
They had already eaten on the Eurostar so we went for drinks and I suggested Bastille but I had no clue where to go once we got there. I had Host Pressure, something which I've been dreading ever since each of my eight visitors has confirmed they are coming to stay with in Paris. My mum and Sharon wanted to go in the first place they saw because they were tired and had big bags with them. I did suggest that it might be really expensive because places near tourist spots or major metro stations normally are... but they insisted they didn't care. Let's just say I'm glad they were paying. It was fourteen euros for a glass of wine and fifteen euros for a kir royal, which is champagne mixed with blackcurrant liqueur. This is an important lesson I want to share with you: When in Paris, DON'T eat or drink near the tourist spots or even close to the metro.
The other important lesson I learnt over the weekend is: Some Guide Books are Great. I have a really old one that I got from a charity shop and which still lists prices in francs, but I've barely glanced at it since I got here in September. Sharon had a Time Out Guide Book with her that she kindly left for me and it's really good. On Saturday we used it to find somewhere for brunch (and here comes the helpful bit):
109 Rue Oberkampf (get the metro to Parmentier)
It was really lovely inside and it wasn't too expensive, although to be honest when it's not me paying I tend not to notice the prices. I had a really, really nice tartiflette which is potatoes cooked in a creamy, cheesy sauce with bacon bits in. The staff were really nice and in the guide book it says that it is owned by Nouveau Casino, which is a club next door that is supposed to be really good. (I'm going to see Mr Scruff there in a couple of weeks.) There were two American tourists next to us who barely touched their food, even though it looked delicious, and the waiter wrapped it in tinfoil for them to take away which I think is nice. In the guide book it says it's open until 2am and has live music, so I bet it's good in the evening.
After lunch we... erm... went to Angelina's for hot chocolate and cake. I've written about Angelina's before because I fucking love it, but I'm feeling thorough so I'll give it a little write up:
226 Rue de Rivoli (get the Line 1 to Tulleries)
We had to queue to get in, but you always have to queue at the weekends. (I've been on a Monday afternoon once and we were nearly the only people in there.) Inside it is gorgeous, really grand and classic, but the best bit is the hot chocolate. It's what I imagine the hot chocolate in the film Chocolat to taste like; it's really thick and rich and there's a mysterious dark spiciness to it that keeps it from being too sickly. It's called le Africain and it's a bit pricey at 6.90 euros, but it's worth it. You get fresh cream with it in case you find it too chocolatey and my tip is keep eating the cream and asking for more. The cakes are pricey too, about seven or eight euros each, but they are so nice and really you are paying for the location. I can't remember the names of the cakes but I like the giant macaroon that has fresh rasperries, strawberry jelly, violet cream and gold leaf on top. I also like the apple tart that has salted caramel on the pastry. They are famous for their Mont Blanc but I've never fancied this. A Mont Blanc is a ball of meringue covered with lots of chantilly cream with chestnut cream inside... actually, why have I have never fancied this?? I will return, soon.
For dinner we wanted to go to Chez Omar's which is a famous cous cous restaurant (where they apparently offer seconds), but the queue was so big that we couldn't be bothered waiting. We found a nice place two doors down and went there instead:
Brasserie Le Sancerre
53 Rue de Bretagne, Chez Omar's is number 43 (Get the metro to Arts et Métiers)
The food was good but it wasn't spectacular; there was fish of the day which was nice if not a little overcooked and for pudding I had 'half-cooked chocolate cake' which was really, really... mmmm I wish I was eating it now. But the main thing is that it is run by lovely gay people who play disco tunes and were very patient with me trying to speak ridiculously bad French. I'm pretty sure the menu was in English and French as well. I was rather tipsy when we left so I can't remember how much everything cost but I think it was about 100 euros for three of us, which isn't bad because we had wine, three mains, one pudding and two coffees.
On Sunday we went for brunch again but this time there was no chance of us heading somewhere afterwards for hot chocolate and cake; it was one of the biggest bloody brunches I have ever eaten:
Comptoir des Archives
41 Rue des Archives (it's in the heart of the Marais, near the French National Archives)
The brunch is fifteen euros and this is what you get:
-a basket of bread and cakes with jam and chocolate spread. (The pots of spread are teeny tiny but trust me, you probably won't need to touch the bread and cake, although I couldn't bare to see it go to waste and consequently was so full that I had difficulty walking.)
- a glass of orange juice
- a tea or coffee
- scrambled egg with either bacon or smoked salmon
- fried slices of potato (I don't know why either, but they were delicious)
- a little, thick pancake
- green salad with dressing
- either a cup of fruit salad or fromage blanc, which is like lumpy natural yoghurt... go for the fruit
Most of the food comes on one big plate which looks a bit weird, but the egg and the fruit salad are contained in bowls so there's no Inappropriate Taste Contamination.
On Sunday afternoon we went and met the family I work for in a café near where we live. It was weird seeing my two worlds collide: my fake, strange Work Life and my Real Life. The mum of the family was really nice and chatted with my mum and Sharon, but the kids mostly sulked and didn't talk, which didn't leave me much hope for the week ahead. (Actually though, this week has been fine considering how much I was dreading spending eleven hours a day with les enfants.)
The French mum recommended a restaurant to us where she said she sends clients and she even called to make sure they were open on a Sunday and made a reservation for us. It was lucky she made us a reservation because when we got there it was packed with people waiting at the bar hoping to get a table:
2 Rue Roger Verlomme (metro: Chemin Vert or Bastille. Click above to go on the website)
Chez Janou serves food from the South of the France. It was really, really delicious but very simple; I had lamb and mashed potato but it was cooked incredibly and starter I had pumpkin and chestnut soup which was also amaaazing. I remember thinking it was quite pricey but by the end of the meal I was a little bit drunk so I have no idea how much it cost, but my mum and Sharon said they didn't think it was that expensive. A nice way to roud the weekend off, although we all got a bit teary talking about dead people for some reason and then I got teary realising my mum was going home the next day.
On Monday morning, mum and Sharon had to leave when I left at half eight so they said they were going for breakfast somewhere. I had to walk away from them and I didn't let myself turn around because I knew I'd get upset. It was all very Bianca and Carol from Eastenders.
What a lot of food we ate. I'd like to point out that we did do lots of cultural things as well, but for some reason I have no idea what. All I remember is the food...