Had lunch at le Train Bleu, a restaurant inside the main railway station of the Gare de Lyon. Built for the 1901 Paris exposition it is furnished in a grand style with crystal chandeliers, ceiling frescos and ornate gilded arches. Into this voluminous Bistro, casually dressed travellers are escorted to their tables while waiters dressed in dinner suits scurry to and from the kitchen with silver food platters held high on outstretched arm.
It all adds up to an ambiance of opulence and grandeur, a canvas of former regal times. I read le Train Bleu does not rank in the top gastronomical establishments, but for me the food was excellent and good enough to provide an overall memorable experience.
Main Course: Duck done three ways. (fig2)
Dessert: Rhum Baba, served by the waiter pouring rum fig3, and leaving the full bottle as an accompaniment.
Dress: Smart Casual.
Perhaps an even more grandiose experience was the Bolshoi Ballet performance of Flamme de Paris, at the Palais Garnier, an imposing neo gothic theatre with a majestic marble staircase dominating its opulent entrance hall fig4.
We made our entrance up the grand staircase, and bypassing the Moet Champagne settled on a pre-performance ice cream with which to mingle with the crowd in the Grand Foyer fig5, a long ornately decorated chamber with pendant chandeliers, painted ceiling friezes and flanked by rows of gilded columns. If this was the norm for the French court it is no wonder the French revolution took place. With the bells ringing we hurried to our seats in the huge 2,200 seat theatre, below a massive central chandelier and Chagall painted ceiling. All around the decor was red velvet and gold fig6.
This production of the Flamme de Paris was choreographed to showcase the technical excellence and panache of the Bolshoi’s’ principle performers. It did not disappoint, and ended in a 15min standing ovation.
The prima ballerina performed most of the time on point, with precision and flare, while the principal male demonstrated his virtuoso with the enormous height of his leaps and exaggerated body positions, which reminded me more of the skills performed by gymnasts.
All in all a memorable occasion.
i) Went to a performance of Gregorian chants at Notre Dame. The church was packed, and the wooden pews very hard and uncomfortable. It must have been good as the singers got a good ovation, but it was not for us, as we could not distinguish one chant from the other.
ii) Went and had ice cream at Berthillion fig7. at 31 Rue St Louis en l’ile 75004 Paris. Many Parisians consider this is the best ice cream in the world. I don’t know if this is true, but it is excellent.
iii) Went to the Louvre twice more. It will still take some more time to satisfy our demand. Had lunch at the Café du Grand Louvre. Food: average-good. Ambiance: nil, and noisy.
Also had cake and coffee at the Richelieu. Food :good.
iv) Went to the Gallerie Lafayette: not as impressive as 3 years ago, as the lower floor is now filled with sales counters that detract from the overall opulence and ambiance.
v) Went to Montmartre, near Sacre Coeur, walked around the Place Tertre, took some good photos of artists and their subjects. Had lunch at Chez Plumeau 4 place du Calvaire just off the place Tertre in a quiet street. Food: good, ambiance V.Good Fig8.
i) Pere et fille, rue de Buci. Cafe style. Food av-good. Ambiance: OK.
ii) Rotisserie d’ en Face ( the grill room of the Jacques Cagna restaurant). 2 Rue Christine 75006. Hearty traditional french cuisine. Food: good-vgood. Ambiance neutral. Service good.
iii) Brasserie du Louvre, Place du Palais Royal: French traditional. Food: average; Ambiance: Chic Cafe.