Paris Journal 2012 – Barbara Joy Cooley                  Home:

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We zipped around, from vendor to vendor, in the Marché Saint Germain for one last round of shopping for this season at that fine food market.  After, I waited outside the Gerard Mulot bakery, with our shopping bags, while Tom went inside the busy, crowded place to buy one last baguette for the season.


On the way back to the apartment, we passed by Le P’tit Fernand, where I’d reserved a table for 7:30PM.  It was about 6:45, and the two proprietors of the place were relaxing at a table on the sidewalk out front.  One of them seemed to recognize us, and he smiled.


When we returned at 7:30, there was no question.  The proprietors, and the server all recognized us and greeted us warmly.  We were given a choice table at the back of the long, narrow dining room.  That’s where we like to be.


I originally learned about Le P’tit Fernand from my friend Bob W. on Sanibel.  He’s a retired chairman of Prudential Insurance, and he knows how to live well.  Which is NOT to say that this restaurant is expensive; it is not.  Le P’tit Fernand has reasonable prices, and provides excellent value.


The dinner was better than ever.  We selected classic main courses:  magret de canard (slices of duck breast) for me, and lamb chops for Tom. The duck and lamb were cooked just the way we like them:  a point.  Both dishes came with way too many puréed potatoes – we could only eat about one-third of the potatoes.


Service was perfect.  No obnoxiously loud Americans were seated near us; one quiet American couple was nearby.  For dessert, Tom ordered a dark chocolate cake for us to share.  It was absolutely heavenly.   


And so it was a calm and wonderful evening.  In thinking about the loud American woman from the night before, at La Cuisine de Philippe, I remembered the evening we dined at the beautiful Vagenende brasserie on the boulevard Saint Germain.


Of course, being such a pretty place in such a distinguished location, the Vagenende attracts plenty of Americans and other tourists.  We were initially seated at a table near the entrance, which was not such a good place.  Then I noticed that near us was a very loud, very obnoxious American family from Florida (I’m embarrassed to say). 


That night, Tom asked for us to be moved because he didn’t like being near the door.  I just wanted to get away from those loud (probably drunk) Floridians, who were from some urban area on the east coast.  Distancing ourselves from them was how we were able to enjoy the most beautiful part of that resto, the back dining rooms.


Being assertive enough to ask is a good thing.  Tom’s assertiveness saved that evening for us.


I often compare Parisians with New Yorkers, because they are so frenzied, so hurried, and so occupied.  But a major difference between Parisians and New Yorkers is the quieter, more reserved manner that the Parisians maintain, even while stressed.


Almost as a rule, Parisians are well-mannered.  Rituals of good manners are followed, and are pervasive in this city.  Parisians keep their cool more than New Yorkers do, it seems.  They don’t ruffle or steam much.  They don’t spew and sputter.


But they’re all big city people, and they rush about, New Yorkers and Parisians alike.


I wish there would be more Parisian visitors on Sanibel.  We do have plenty of New Yorkers.  I love it when the New Yorkers come to stay on Sanibel Island for more than a week, because there is time then for the stress and the hyperactivity to start to slip away from them.  By the second week, they start to calm down, and they learn how to be laid back and unhurried in the supermarket or on the road.  By the second week, they start to notice the change themselves, and they remark about it.


I want more Parisians to enjoy this benefit, this serenity that comes with Sanibel.  Please, Parisians, come on down to Sanibel this Winter.  It’s easy:  take Air France flight 690 from Charles de Gaulle airport to Miami International.  Rent a car.  Drive across the Everglades – a unique environment of a type not found anyplace else on Earth.  Veer to the north.  Cross the spectacular Sanibel Causeway, and you’re there.  Parisians in paradise.


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Saturday, September 29, 2012


Lovely shop on the rue Mabillon, across from the Marché Saint Germain.  The bas relief at the top depicts Roman soldiers, chariots, and the like.  Perhaps this was once an Italian deli.


Magret de canard in a black cherry sauce, with delicious cooked peaches and buttery puréed potatoes, at Le P’tit Fernand.


Simply grilled lamb chops with fennel seeds, and puréed potatoes.


Incredibly rich and good dark chocolate cake, with warm, dark chocolate oozing out of the middle layer.


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