Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


France Trip (Day 5)

Day 5: Wednesday, September 28
Café, Museums, Gates, Shopping, La Cité du Vin
We ate breakfast as usual in the apartment and went down to the little neighborhood restaurant, Le Coin des Copains, just below us for coffee. After starting with espressos, we learned a very important term – “café allongé” – to order something closer to what we call an Americano (i.e. espresso with hot water) or analogous to a “long black” in Australia and New Zealand. Although we boarded the Tram together, we got off at different stops this time around, as we had arranged to do some separate activities this morning and meet back at the apartment at 3pm. Since we only had 1 key to the apartment, doing solo stuff definitely required careful coordination!

Mr. E spent his time walking around and discovering many of the old gates of the city, such as the Porte Dijeaux and the Porte d’Acquitaine, along with some other more modern sights. He tried to find a Bordeaux flag and a classic Lillet poster to purchase but was unsuccessful in the quest. However, his stops at two Celio stores (“the Italian version of the Gap,” according to Mr. E) resulted in the purchase of several new shirts.

I headed off to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs followed by the Musée de Beaux Arts and a climb up the Porte Cailhau. The first museum was particularly fascinating and even amusing, as a special exhibition juxtaposed very modern and abstract household items, furnishings, and decorations with the classic and historic 18th-century building and interiors. The exhibition was a multi-sensory experience, since each room also featured background sounds and scents associated with the typical function or use of the room, such as a bedroom, living room, dining room, etc. 

I walked across the Pont de Pierre and jumped on the Tram at the Stalingrad station just on the other side to return to the city center, where I got off at the rue de Sainte Catherine and walked up towards the Cours de l’Intendance to do some souvenir shopping at a store we’d noticed earlier in the week when we went to Max Bordeaux. Since I didn’t want to arrive back at the apartment before Mr. E (see key explanation above), I decided to walk rather than Tram for the return trip, not realizing how sunny and warm the afternoon had become… Oof! I was quite toasty by the time I got back, as there was no shade along the sidewalk or river promenade, and the morning clouds has completely disappeared by the early afternoon.
After Mr. E and I cooled down a bit and got cleaned up, we took the Tram to La Cité du Vin, a new and impressive cultural attraction that opened this past June. The building itself is a rather massive metal structure with a spiral tower that’s based on the design of a wine decanter. Our City Pass provided a discounted admission price, so we spent some time perusing the permanent exhibits on the second floor, learning more about the process of making wine, the history of wine back to antiquity, and the making of wine in various regions throughout the world. We also walked through the temporary exhibit on the first floor, which featured photos of the site and building as it was constructed, beginning in 2013.

We finished up the official part of our tour with a wine-tasting on the 8th floor, which provides a panoramic view and an impressive mirrored tasting area. Once we descended back to the ground floor, we made a few purchases at the boutique and then headed to the wine bar for some additional tastings and a cheese and charcuterie plate as accompaniment. We sat out on the terrace to enjoy the view and tried to avoid being downwind of the smokers.

[Bleah. I always forget about this very negative aspect of being in France when we’re not here, and it’s definitely a major annoyance to encounter so many smokers all over the place, including the smoking parents who wave their cigarettes near their kids while pushing their strollers. Yuck. Makes me cringe.]

Since the water taxi runs on a very limited schedule, we weren’t able to try out that mode of transportation at all and just took the Tram back to the Chartrons station, near the Ibaia Café along the waterfront, which I had suggested as a spot for some final tapas and wine. We didn’t have much to choose from for the snacks, but we enjoyed a final glass of wine by the River before returning to the apartment to pack and get organized for our departure the next day. Good thing all of the laundry was finally dry!


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