Monday, February 16, 2009

Paris Doors

One of our favorite restaurants in the 15th arrondissement has become an old standby. Le Suffren (84, av Suffren, is a favorite not only because it is close by in the neighborhood and serves a variety of huge salads but also because it stays open and serves all afternoon when most other places close their doors between lunch and dinner (2:30-7pm).

Open every day of the week and located on the corner of Suffren and La Motte Picquet, Le Suffren sits just at the end of the Champ de Mars so enjoys a view of L' Ecole Militaire. Aaannnnd, the waiters are extremely friendly (unless it's hoppin' busy and you happen to be in their line of fire while trying to deliver hot food-but c'mon, one can only push French waiters so far!). These guys are so used to the daily influx of foreign tourists on the Eiffel Tower/metro path (Six Line, Metro stop: La Motte Picquet) that they will happily chat with you in English without the usual burning glare of disdain.

My favorite salad is the Copacabana strewn with shrimp, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, raspberries and grapefruit but there are several to choose from. And as with most places in Paris, there is a price-fixed menu which usually includes a variety of fish done perfectly. Friends have told us the Steak Tartar at Le Suffren is some of the best they have tasted having tried it wherever they go. Since I prefer my hamburger barbecued medium on the grill, I've not ventured to taste it as of yet. Le Suffren's huge platter of oysters and other fresh seafood is a cornucopia of shellfish delights and their Choucroute as good as any we've tried.

But the real reason for this post is to exclaim over our new pathway of walking to the restaurant. We most often take the busy, main Blvd de Grenelle or the nearby Champ de Mars park to ooh and aah over the Eiffel Tower's lights (which sparkle every evening on the hour and were BLUE when we arrived last December!). But one evening, with some friends, we took their route down Avenue Suffren and marveled over doors I'd either never seen before or walked right past.

How could anyone miss such playful and intricate ironwork?
I also learned something new on our most recent visit. I had not realized that Parisian stores are not allowed to hold sales but twice a year when they all do them at the same time, one in summer and one in winter. We happened to be there during one of Paris' two sales times. I heard friends talking about hitting the big sales and more than one asked if we'd made it to any but only had it explained to me later why this was such a huge deal. The "Soldes" are state-regulated and this winter's sale started on January 7th, ending February 11th. Leading up to the Jan.7th opening starting gates, the metro walls were covered with posters such as these:

And my personal favorite:

Coming up in future posts, a trip to L'Atelier des Chefs (the French cooking school) and December's Christmas window displays.

Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen

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