Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Art Museums and Creperies

Pages from Jan's Travel Journal: Thursday, February 26, 2009

We were a bit lazy this morning, and just sat around for a while drinking coffee. I'm very glad we purchased that coffeemaker several days ago. It has been wonderfully convenient as well as a money-saver!  A cup of coffee at a cafe runs about 2.50 to 3.50 - and that's in Euros! The Illy espresso we bought is delicious. It's actually an Italian espresso. It's very fragrant and flavorful; strong but smooth. 

Darcy arrived at the hotel around lunchtime. We walked over to Stratto, where we had eaten once before, and since I still wasn't quite ready for lunch, I ordered an apple tart. Craig and Darcy had sandwiches. There was some commotion in the street outside the cafe. It was a parade of protesters - the teacher's strike, I believe- and some of the streets were blocked for a while.

Soon, Darcy had to leave for school. Craig and I walked over to the art museum, Musée des Beaux-Arts. We really enjoyed our time there, though I wish more of the information had been in English. Or that my French was better! The museum has a nice collection, which includes paintings by Picasso, Gaugin, Van Dyck, and sculptures by Rodin and Bandinelli. They also have the largest collection of pastels in France, outside of the Louvre.

We later browsed in some of the shops in town. I enjoy looking at the clothing, though not much of it is suitable for a 57-year-old grandma! It was inevitable that we found a pastry shop, where we purchased some treats to take back to the hotel. There, we brewed another pot of fragrant coffee and enjoyed our little snack.

I'd like to try ALL the pastries!

Darcy joined us at the hotel after she returned from work. We walked to a little bar where we met her friend, Arno, for a drink. He is a very nice young man who speaks flawless English. Craig and I enjoyed trying a Monaco for the first time. It's a refreshing drink made from mixing carbonated lemonade with grenadine and beer. Arno joined us for dinner later at the Cafe Bretonne. It is a creperie, and we were looking forward to trying the galettes (savory crepes) that Darcy had spoken of. She said that these are the best she has tried outside of Brittany. We enjoyed our evening very much. The creperie was a charming place; long and narrow, high ceilings with old beams, the walls decorated with collections of teacups and old coffee grinders. The heavy wooden farmhouse tables were spread with cloths in warm colors. Fresh water arrived at the table in a hefty earthenware jug with cups to match. I'd like to have a set like that, myself!  We shared a bottle of fermented, sweet cider from Brittany, which is traditionally served in pottery cups or mugs. It was delightful. Our gallettes were fabulous. It was difficult to choose, but I had one made with mushrooms, herbs, and creme fraiche. Darcy ate one which featured potato, ham, cheese, and caramelized onion. It was outstanding! All of the gallettes are served with a huge pat of butter melting on the top. For dessert, we all simply had to order - what else - a crepe! Mine was a delicious combination of banana and caramel, Darcy chose chocolate and orange, Craig ate a caramel crepe, Arno a Nutella crepe, and Mathieu enjoyed a crepe flambe of apple and pear. It was such a fun meal. We had all been trading tongue twisters and words that are difficult to pronounce in both languages, and we were often laughing until tears came to our eyes! 

Here are just a few of 
the many coffee grinders decorating the creperie.

After dinner there was just enough time for us to drive over to Auchan, which is a large chain store somewhat like a Super-Target. We bought a crock-pot for Darcy and we also got her some speakers for her computer. She and Mathieu watch a lot of movies on the computer, so this will make it a much better experience. Darcy was thrilled with her gifts. She said it felt like Christmas! Tomorrow we would like to buy a toaster for her. And some groceries. Yep, even in France we have that need to feed.

Recipe: Don't be intimidated by this recipe for French cream puffs. It's really very simple. Your friends and family will be awed by your expertise!

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