Odyssey 2023 - You know you're in Paris when you taste the first baguette!

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June 2nd 2023
Published: June 3rd 2023
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The classic French baguetteThe classic French baguetteThe classic French baguette

Brasserie L'Hirondelle, Malakoff
Today was our first full day in Paris/Malakoff, and it would turn out to be magnifique! Both of us managed to sleep pretty well last night, considering we were in a strange, new place. We were awake by 6:00 AM, and our tentative plan was to visit the local produce market on the town square, Place du 11 Novembre, that opens for business three days each week. After Dee made eggs, sausage and toast for breakfast (and I downed several cups of Nespresso-brewed coffee!), we were ready to leave the cottage around 11:00 AM.

As we were passing thru the corridor of Madame Dominique's house, which we must do to exit the property, we encountered her at the front door. When she discovered that we were heading to the market, she graciously offered to give us a lift in her car! Apparently she was going to go there also, where she would do her shopping after dropping us off. We were to return to the cottage on foot, since she had another appointment after she finished at the market.

It was but a short ride to this covered market, where perhaps two-dozen vendors display and sell the most tantalizing
Malakoff marketMalakoff marketMalakoff market

Place du 11 Novembre, Malakoff
array of vegetables, fruits, meats, seafood, cheeses and bread we have ever seen in one place! We spent twenty minutes strolling around the enormous space that houses this marketplace, trying to get a sense of the various products and vendors before Dee made a few purchases.

She bought some fresh bread, lettuce, a box of gorgeous-looking strawberries, tomatoes, a few lemons, onion, a large potato for baking and some mushrooms; one vendor even threw in a large cucumber at no charge. By the time we were finished, the 23 euros worth of produce barely fit into our tucker bag! The quality of the produce we buy and consume whenever we visit Paris, and other regions of France, is so far superior to that which is available back in Florida (in terms of freshness, flavor and appearance) that there is simply no comparison. The same can be said of the incomparable baguettes!

While we were shopping, we bumped into Madame Dominique at the stalls of three different vendors, and we mentioned to her that we were planning on having lunch later at the brasserie on the square where she had told us her 18-year-old granddaughter worked part-time, L'Hirondelle. At
Fresh lettuceFresh lettuceFresh lettuce

Malakoff market, Place du 11 Novembre
noon, as we arrived at the brasserie's terrace for lunch, we encountered her yet again, this time with her granddaughter, whom she introduced to us (and who would later translate some of the menu items into English for us!).

After we had deciphered the menu, I decided on the beef with pureed potatoes dish, while Dee tried a cold platter of white asparagus served with ham and a hard-boiled egg. Each of us drank a glass of red wine from the Bordeaux region of France, and by the time our meals were finished, we had devoured the entire basket of delicious baguette slices that was served to us.

As soon as we tasted our first mouthful of this fabulous bread, we knew we were really back in Paris! When our platters were served, I had another one of those rare "WOW" dining moments on this trip. The beef, which Dee described after tasting it as a pot roast that had been long and slowly cooked, was absolutely delicious, as were the gravy and pureed potatoes that accompanied it.

Meanwhile, two French women (who were on their lunch break from a nearby office) sat down at the table
Mouth-watering strawberriesMouth-watering strawberriesMouth-watering strawberries

Malakoff market, Place du 11 Novembre
next to ours. As has often been the case on this trip, we struck-up a conversation with the older woman because she spoke excellent English. It turned out that she had lived and worked in Napoli for five years, so we discussed our recent stay in Sorrento, as well as our long-standing love affair with Paris.

She and her companion were very friendly, and we got a kick out of watching them both order "beef tartare", i.e., raw ground beef, which is quite a popular dish served throughout France. The younger woman even offered us a taste of her dessert, a warm apple tart served with whipped cream on top.

After these ladies departed, and while Dee and I were sharing an "Ile Flottant" (floating island of meringue and custard) for dessert, a woman in her 60's took their table, and then ordered a flute of champagne (or Prosecco) after she sat down with a cute little dog on a leash. She turned out to be a fascinating lady, as we shared travel stories. Born in Algeria, where her father served in the military, she was raised in Germany, but subsequently lived for many years in Montreal, Canada.
Gorgeous peppersGorgeous peppersGorgeous peppers

Malakoff market, Place du 11 Novembre

She and her husband, who had passed away a few months ago, would often visit Orlando and Daytona Beach during the cold Canadian winter months, so she was familiar with Florida (including Miami). We had quite a lengthy conversation, on a broad range of topics, but mostly about traveling. She raved about the French island of Corsica, and encouraged us to go there if we have the opportunity to do so in the future.

When we had finished lunch, and paid the bill at the inside bar, we made the 15-minute walk back to our cottage. What a truly marvelous day we had indeed--great food, fascinating company and conversation, plus a memorable experience at a local produce market. Today was a perfect example of why we have become so enamored with Paris and French culture over the years!

Dee's Comments:

Our last home-away-from-home on this odyssey, before we return to Flomich Street, is the truly charming garden cottage in a garden where we are staying in Malakoff. We wake-up to the sounds of singing birds, pretty blue skies, and the smell of roses and jasmine in the air. We're so grateful for the peacefulness of this
Lots of slimy fishLots of slimy fishLots of slimy fish

Malakoff market, Place du 11 Novembre

Our charming hostess was kind enough to drive us to the local produce market this morning, where I was in heaven! What an experience; so many vendors selling everything from vegetables, fish and beef to bread and cheese. After filling our tucker bag to the top, we had to stop!

Then off to a very nice brasserie next to the market, where we had a great lunch, and met new people with whom we exchanged travel stories; it's so nice to learn what other people think about life. Here in Paris working people receive 5 weeks of vacation, plus 11 paid national holidays. Two of the women with whom we spoke said they loved their office jobs, at an aircraft parts manufacturing company, but must commute by trains for up to 2 hours each day.

People in France devote much time gathering together, spending weekends with their families. They enjoy life: the expressions "profiter de la vie" or "vive la vie" capture the sentiment that "life is wonderful". Yes it is! After walking back to our little cottage, we had Happy Hour in the rose garden outside our front door; BTW it doesn't get dark here
One big load of fennelOne big load of fennelOne big load of fennel

Malakoff market, Place du 11 Novembre
until well after 9 o'clock at night.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings our way. :-)

P.S. My biggest regret is that I never learned to speak French. :-(

Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


Shrimp festivalShrimp festival
Shrimp festival

Malakoff market, Place du 11 Novembre
Fruit vendorFruit vendor
Fruit vendor

Malakoff market, Place du 11 Novembre
Salami and sausageSalami and sausage
Salami and sausage

Malakoff market, Place du 11 Novembre
Ripe tomatoesRipe tomatoes
Ripe tomatoes

Malakoff market, Place du 11 Novembre
Baguettes galoreBaguettes galore
Baguettes galore

Malakoff market, Place du 11 Novembre
Beef and pureed potatoesBeef and pureed potatoes
Beef and pureed potatoes

Lunch at Brasserie L'Hirondelle
Lunch at Brasserie L'HirondelleLunch at Brasserie L'Hirondelle
Lunch at Brasserie L'Hirondelle

Place du 11 Novembre, Malakoff
Ile flottanteIle flottante
Ile flottante

Brasserie L'Hirondelle
Flower vendorFlower vendor
Flower vendor

Just outside Malakoff market
Unknown flowering plantUnknown flowering plant
Unknown flowering plant

Place du 11 Novembre, Malakoff

3rd June 2023

I wish all of our produce looked like what you found. What an eventful lunch with interesting conversations and the baguette, yum. The dessert looked fabulous. You sound so at home in your cottage. Cheers!

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