Paris in February. Doesn’t sound very romantic, does it? Well, it’s not. Paris is grey, drizzly, cold and bleak in February. No romantic walks along the Seine with a baguette, fromage and vin rouge for a picnic among the green and blooming Linden trees. Wind and rain will be your only companions as the rust colored Seine rushes past you, with the banks threatening to overflow. No, it’s not romantic, but it is glorious!
Paris is empty of tourists, yet the city is completely open and available for business. No long lines at the Louvre. No waiting to order at your favorite boulangerie, boucherie or fromagerie. The local cordial Parisians finally come out to enjoy THEIR city. And they are more relaxed, ready to smile and enjoy themselves. And I have encountered many Parisians and merchants willing to help me as I stumble through my barely recognizable French. A very friendly, warm and accommodating attitude, replaces the cold and grey February weather.
Romantique, NON! Glorieux, OUI!
As most of the English speaking tourists are not in Paris in February, it is a glorious time to practice your French, and try to live the life as a Parisian would. And what better way to experience the Parisian lifestyle than a slow and leisurely le dejeuner at a cozy café? In Le Marais in the 3rd arrondissement where I stay when I’m in Paris, Café des Musees is the perfect spot. Small and quaint, Café des Musees is the unhurried version of the Parisian meal that I am always dreaming of.
What could be better to fend off February’s bone-chilling cold weather than their famous beouf bourguignon? Café des Musees has been serving this old school French dish since 1942, and are very well known for it. The waiter drops the dish off at your table in its own la cocotte. The history of la cocotte cooking pot goes back centuries, and started it's use in ancient open hearth, or fireplace cooking. Carrots, onions and mushrooms and a hearty sauce made from the broth of the simmering beef chuck roast and Bourguignon vin rouge, accompany your slow cooked portion.
Can it get any better than this? Oui, mais bien sur! A large portion of buttery and creamy puree de pommes de terre is placed beside your la cocotte for you to spoon your beef, vegetables and sauce alongside. The combinations of flavors are incroyable, and the meat simply melts in your mouth with the flavors of age-old French cooking.
Are you willing now to try a trip to Paris is February? You won’t be disappointed as the cold and rainy weather is replaced by a warm and friendly Paris, ready to share its wonderful culinary treasures with you.
Au revoir, bonne journee et a bientot!
Guest Blog by Keith Morrison