Friday, January 29, 2010

Road Trip Recap

Paul Bocuse Scallops

With 6 days off from school, R and I decided to hit the road and drive to Marseille, stopping at any town that was having a market or sounded cool.  After waiting for 45 minutes at Hertz (said without the H in French) for our car, we set off in our snappy Ford Fiesta (Yes, Leslie it was a stick shift) into the Paris rush hour.  The Boulevard de Peripherique is the Paris Beltway, and the A6 heading south, is called the Autoroute du Soleil - or Sun Highway.  I drove carefully, avoiding the crazy moped drivers, out of Paris, and then we hit the highway towards Lyon.  Hunger hit around 8 pm, so we stopped at an Aire (Rest Stop) for gas and supplies - the ham and cheese on Swedish bread hit the spot, although the Bolognese flavored chips were pretty bad.  As always, I hit the candy aisle and found my favorite Ritter Sport chocolate bar to keep me going through the night and next day. More to read . . . 

A Candy Wreath and Flower Tree in Lyon

With four tour books, but no real map save the little ones in Let's Go, we did OK, R called a hotel and we found it AND free parking nearby.  Score one for the North Americans!  Our hotel was on the third story of an old apartment building, a little sketchy, not scary.  The room had one double bed, and an in-suite bath!  Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, only held a shower and sink, no toilet - it was located down the hall.  The room was clean, but weird, not one thing was the same color or pattern of anything else.  After a concerted effort to figure out how to lock the door, we fell into bed and slept until 9.  

 I dreamed of sleeping in a Matisse painting instead

We loosely planned to walk around Lyon, go to the Musee Des Beaux Arts the next morning, and try to make a reservation at a Paul Bocuse restaurant.  We walked around the town square for a while, but the pouring rain deterred us from too much sightseeing or shopping.  The museum had the requisite French painters galore, Monet, Manet, Renoir - but not one Van Gogh (I know he was Dutch, but he painted in France for most of his life).  The exhibition of more modern painters was a nice surprise - Picasso and Matisse were my favorites.

Afterwards, we headed to Le Sud, for our Paul Bocuse Lunch.  His famous restaurant l'Auberge du Pont de Collonges, and very famous truffle soup, was WAY out of our league, so we settled for one of his brasseries in Lyon.  Le Sud focusses on sunny Southern French cuisine, we sat in the front patio area, warmed by heat lamps in the cold weather.  We started with a little aperitif, I am not sure what was in it - Kir and a rose wine, maybe?   Then, I had the Escargots en Persillade a la Provencale - with a tomato coulis, caramelized onions and Serrano ham - the snails were the best I have ever had, they were much larger and less chewy than the usual, and the sauce was too good not to sop up with the nice bread.  A quick pot of wine, for just 11 euros, added nicely to the meal.  For my main course, I had the Scallops with Risotto and probably 2 pounds of butter - the scallops were roasted perfectly -- crunchy caramel on the outside, and creamy on the inside. The risotto melted like butter, surrounded with a seafood bisque-tasting sauce.  For dessert we shared a little slice of chocolate tart, simple, but with a saltier than usual crust, it wasn't too sweet or chocolately after such a big meal.  The Paul Bocuse quote translates to: "When eating with friends, time doesn't count anymore."

Ecargots and Chocolate Tarte

I peeked into the kitchen on my way to the ladies' room, and at 2:30 it was spotless and ready for dinner service.  I asked the waiter for souvenir menu and he nicely complied, but I wonder if he suspected it was me who stole the clean napkin from the next table?  


The waiter looks suspicious?

Sated, we drove up to the top of Lyon to see the view from the church, but the rain and fog, didn't make for any good photos.


Off to Avignon to see the bridge and Pope's palace the next day.


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