Paris Journal 2014 – Barbara Joy Cooley                        Home:

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The evening arrived after a day of settling in, arranging, stocking up, napping, and watching the Tour de France finish up its time in Britain.  I’d made a dinner reservation via at one of our longtime favorites, L’Épopée, on the avenue Émile Zola.


The excitement of venturing out into familiar but changed territory occupied our imaginations.  What would we see that was new and different?


First we passed the strangely derelict couple of buildings that once upon a time had been occupied by an Asian (Chinese?) carryout and extended family.  The family had a little daughter who ran wild, playing around the immediate neighborhood.  She’s probably graduated from college by now!


We’ve often wondered what happened with that family, and why these buildings fell into such disrepair at the time when everything around them was gentrifying, sprucing up, modernizing.  And why, we wondered, would such almost prime real estate be left to decay?


So we were pleased to see the construction fencing around the front of the pair of derelicts.  New cement sidewalk has been poured.  We hope the work proceeds, but we’re a bit troubled by the fact that the information in the blanks on one of the large, posted construction notices has been erased.  Did the new owners/redevelopers already give up? 


Across the street and a bit farther away from home was a shiny new shop selling games.  Real games, like checkers and chess sets – not electronic, computer games.  Gone is the dusty old “antiques” shop that really was more brocante than antiquaire.  Now the windows are clean and little blue lights sparkle around the brilliant blue awning and sign.


[Google Translation of Games in Blue web page, for your amusement:  The Games in Blue is a company specialized in the distribution of board games and merchandising, targeted to individuals or retailers. 's exclusive distributor of several French publishers, German and some Spanish in Portugal. The Games in Blue is also the official representative of major European publishers of board games. 's Games in Blue wants to develop simulation game on the Iberian Peninsula. On the site you will find various types of games and related to these products all the information: - Board Games - Card Games - Games for the whole family - Kids games - Games figurinas - miniatures - Wooden Games - Games room - Figurinas decorating Heroic Fantasy - Wargames - War Games The catalog of Games in Blue are always in constant growth. And if you do not find your happiness with our website, do not hesitate to contact us! Animations also organized in Portugal and soon in Brazil and Spain. Therefore, shops, clubs, bars, universities, tourist clubs may CONTACT U.S. for more information or to purchase these animations in games.  I did better with the Portuguese, and I don’t know Portuguese at all!]


The new shop sells toy soldiers, too, which made me think of our friend John Wolf, who collects them.  I think he’s only interested in antique toy soldiers, and these are new, reproductions, I believe.  But I still think of him when I see something like this.


It’s strange, the associations we make.  For example, every time we come into Paris from the airport we pass the Stade de France.  The sight of it makes me think of my cousin Geoffrey, the sportswriter, who came to Paris in 2003 to cover sporting events at that arena.


There are sights like that all over Paris that make me think of particular people.


Obviously, I’m easily distracted.  We need to allow extra time for walking to dinner at the beginning of the summer, because we have to take in all the new sights.


The game shop was the main distraction last night, but I also noticed that the women’s shoes and handbags boutique right on the corner near us has a much greater inventory this year.  I’ll have to make time during the day to drop by.  A new handbag is in order this summer.


The sky started to spit rain at us when we moved on from the game shop.  We ignored the rain.  Well, I guess I did not completely ignore the weather because I only took my smartphone, and no camera, due to the potential for rain.


So, these photos are taken with the old first-generation Samsung Galaxy phone, which is now starting to limp.  (Exception: photo of derelict buildings taken with the Nikon digital camera.)


L’Épopée is the same as always, except that the artwork has changed.  Now on display are some magnificent, large color photographs of Parisian scenes that we know well.  The restaurant was warm and inviting, clean and sparkling.


One lone server was running the dining room.  She did a marvelous job, all by herself.  She’d take an order, send it down to the kitchen, and then announce “fiche!” into the intercom.  A while later, the order delineated on the fiche would come up on dumbwaiter. 


The complimentary hors d’oeuvre, tiny chunks of a salmon terrine in a light sauce, was delicious and refreshing.  The langoustine ravioli was delicious, too, with the curry sauce little changed over the years.  Maybe it is a tiny bit spicier now than before?  Anyway, we liked it.


Did someone ask what is a langoustine?  A small lobster?  A large shrimp?  A big crayfish?  A prawn?


According to a paper on lobsters, written by Mike C. Bell, Frank Redant and Ian Tuck, the langoustine is “the most important commercial crustacean in Europe.”


It is a slim lobster that does not grow to be more than a foot long.  It lives predominantly in the north Atlantic and somewhat in the Mediterranean.  We just don’t have the exact equivalent in Florida, so we eat langoustines while we can, in the summer.


I was all set to order cod as my main course, but then I saw that Pluma de Pata Negra is now on the menu at L’Épopée.  I first had that wonderful, tender cut of pork at the Bouillon Racine.  I ordered it, and Tom ordered a steak.


But while the sauces and accompaniments were really fine, the cuts of meat, in both cases, were sub-par.  Oh well.


Tom ordered profiteroles for dessert.  The thrilling part was watching the server pour the rich, dark chocolate sauce over the flaky pastry and ice cream.  Yumm.


A light, misty rain fell as we walked home, where we listened to TSF Jazz FM, read, and drifted off to sleep.  La seule radio cent pourcent jazz . . . c’est la nuit!  Ah yes.


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Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Toy soldiers in the window of Games in Blue, on the rue du Theatre.  The shop also sells interesting checkers boards for three players.



Two derelict buildings on the rue du Theatre that we’ve been wondering about for years.


Looking over Tom’s shoulder at the interior of L’Épopée. The stairs at left go down to the kitchen.


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