Plans for today were pretty nebulous. Carla was going to join me at my place to hit my neighborhood market. We were going to meet the parents at their place for lunch around 13h00. And then at 20h00 we had reservations at Les Trois Marmites. Otherwise, our schedule was open.
Carla did indeed join me at the market, while my parents went off to the jardin des plantes again so that my dad could admire more trees and birds. The trip to the market was pretty uneventful for us, with the exception of finding a lovely chocolate shop near Place des Vosges on the way back from the market. I think the chocolaitier was called Joséphine Vannier. Anyway, we met the parents back at the apartment and had a pretty substantial lunch of breads and cheeses and salad.
Well, what to do now? We hadn’t walked through the Nation area of Paris, so we headed over to place de la Nation and walked all the way east to the Porte de Vincennes. From there, we swung back down side-streets and made our way back to the Nation métro station and decided that it was high time we re-visited the Latin Quarter. We took a walk through the crowded, zigzagging medieval streets of the Latin Quarter, then walked along boulevard Saint-Germain until we passed the original Paris-Sorbonne medical school. We took a moment to contemplate the building. For my parents, both trained as doctors in South America during the 60s and 70s, the “style” of medicine they learned was the French School, so this was sort of the birthplace of their clinical pedagogy.
As we passed the statue of Danton at the Odéon, I pointed out the longest-running café in Paris, Procope, which kept serving food right through the French Revolution up until today. As it turns out, they were going to be open on Christmas Day, so we made a reservation there for lunch. Yay!
We ducked into a Célio store to look for gifts for dad, quietly conspiring with mom to keep him busy while Carla and I did the shopping. With purchases in hand, we kept walking until we got to the church of Saint Germain-des-Pres. There was a small but unexceptional winter market out front, so we ignored it entirely and went into the church for a quick walk-around. With our touristic impulse for the day satisfied, we headed back to the apartment to get ready for dinner.
Dinner at Les Trois Marmites was fantastic as always, but I somehow managed to forget most of what we ate. I know that Carla discovered the wonders of Martini Rosso as an aperitif (which is a kind of vermouth). For appetizers, I remember that my mom had a sort of soft fish dumpling made out of pike, and that my sister had the same savoury clafouti I had had the week before. I had boudin blanc, which is a white-meat sausage usually made out of veal or chicken or pork. Also, I’m pretty sure my dad had a crab salad at some point. Main dishes? I can’t remember. Desserts? I know they were delicious, but I couldn’t tell you what they were.
After dinner, we headed back to the family’s neighborhood and saw the parents to bed, and then my sister and I decided to walk over to Place des Vosges to have a post-meal coffee. The coffee went well enough, but we managed to totally space out on the bill. We didn’t dine-and-dash or anything. Rather, the waitress brought out the drinks while I was in the washroom, and my sister hadn’t been in France long enough to realize that, in cafés, the check usually comes right away with the drinks. I got back from the bathroom to find the drinks there and gave no thought to the bill, which was tucked under the saucer holding the milk for my sister’s tea. As you might imagine, the waitress also didn’t think that we weren’t aware of the bill sitting on the table. It was almost closing time for the café, so the result of this collective absent-mindedness was the following conversation between me and the server around 1h30:
“I gotta cash out for the night, so can we settle up?”
“Any time now…”
“I’m just waiting for the cash…”
I eventually realized that the bill was already on the table and I paid quickly, leaving a bit red-faced.