Pay Attention! The French Are Not Rude!

In June of 2007 Mrs. Winer and I retired.

When one achieves a milestone, rewards equal to the accomplishment should be given. So on Sept 9, 2007 Mrs. Winer and I arrived in Paris France. For the next 24 days we enjoyed ourselves more than should be allowed by law. We choose this time of the year mainly because it is the ending of the tourist season but before the nasty winter weather. Instead of getting accommodations in downtown Paris, we chose a small comfortable hotel in Maison-Laffitte (ML). The town is about 20 minutes by the REI A line red train north of Paris.

While at times it was a bit inconvenient since we spent the bulk of our waking hours in Paris, it afforded us what we wanted: a quiet refuge from the hectic Paris life. We also love the interaction that comes from repeated visits to a restaurant. Mrs. Winer and I are food junkies. I am the journaler and have a record of all the food we ate, where we ate it and the wines we drank.

After arriving in ML and getting situated I left Mrs. Winer resting and went to a recon mission. The objective was to find a small restaurant that would reflect the cuisine of this area of France. Found it. L’Olivier on Avenue de Saint Germain. Talk about hitting the jackpot. Olivier the owner was the waiter, the maittredi, the floor sweeper and sommelier. The restaurant was very cozy with tables for about 20 patrons. (At another time I will tell you a couple of wonderful experiences we had in Olivier’s.) Suffice to say that we loved the restaurant. We actually ate our way through his entire menu during our stay in ML.

The following day, September 10 was Mrs. Winer’s «39th» Birthday. I really can’t remember what anniversary it was of that auspicious day. It is best forgotten. She wanted to go to the Eiffel Tower. Since the Old Winer hadn’t figured out the subway system we disembarked from the REI train at the Arc de Triumph and meandered through the center of Paris in the general direction of the Eiffel Tower. My navigation skills are quite suspect but since the tower is the tallest item on the horizon we managed to find it. (I’m somewhat of a world traveler.) I’ve seen the Space Needle in Seattle, the arches in the Los Angeles airport, the church of the Blessed Family in Barcelona, and the Grand Canyon so I’m not that easily impressed.

Standing under the Eiffel Tower was impressive. Standing on the top was VERY impressive. Mrs Winer had her birthday lunch in the small café-restaurant located on the second level overlooking the River Seine with its boat traffic and bridges. We then choose (a very weird choice) to walk down the stairs. Mrs. Winer had heard that some famous people had done this and thought it would be a good idea. By the time we got to the ground it was obvious that they were a bit younger than we were. Having climbed a mountain or two in my day, one has learned that going down is actually more difficult than going up. But we made it. That evening for our dinner we went to the supermarket, bought some wonderful French goat cheese, ham, French (what else) bread, an apple, a bottle of 2005 Chateau du Calvaire St Emilion Grand Cru wine for 6 dollars and a bottle of 2005 Domaine St. Antoine Sablet Cotes du Rhone Village for 5 bucks and chocolate for dessert. Brought our purchases to our hotel room and indulged ourselves.

Happy Birthday Mrs. Winer!

At a later time I will tell you about our wondrous 10 days wondering up from Lyon to Paris through the Boujourlais, Burgundy wine country. We smote with vigor the most pernicious error perpetrated by disgruntled travelers: «the French are rude to Americans especially if you can’t speak French.» The French are not rude! I can disgorge my total accumulation of the French language in about 45 seconds. My Spanish is quite good. My English, as you know, somewhat suspect. We ate in small cafes and fancy restaurants in downtown Paris; in tiny places in the mountain of the wine country where English was grade school at best; we talked to wine growers, to people on the streets, etc and I can say that we did not experience a single incident where we felt badly treated by a French person. Will we go back?…you betcha. Right after our trip to Tuscany and Spain.

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