The 'Best' and the 'Finest'

Email from Mike Kotch, via the Internet: Monday, 3. May 1999:-

Dear Ric,

photo: restaurant alain ducasseWe are back in the U.S. and it is nice to be home! We thoroughly enjoyed our first trip to France. You already know the weather we had and it did not damper anything! I did have to buy a hat in a town called Rocamouder (sp*) like Indiana Jones, as the insulation on top of my head is going away.

We did the Arc and Notre-Dame on our first day in Paris and the Eiffel Tower on our tenth afternoon. In between, we saw the most beautiful countryside ever.

Alain Ducasse's château-like restaurant in the Rue Raymond Poincaré.

We did stay at some very nice places and the people - communication thing was not a problem. In fact, everyone we met was as nice as one could want! The castles were fine and we really enjoyed the small villages.

Alain Ducasse was a wonderful restaurant with fabulous food with a shocking price! Guy Savoy came to our table to introduce himself and that was nice. Michel Trama, another well-known chef from L' Aubergade restaurant near Agen took us through his kitchen and later we visited his cellar. We told him of our past and future dining experiences in France and he told us that the "Pressure was really on him now!"

We had an unbelievable meal and the attention was tops. I wish we could have stayed in the Les Eyzies (sp*) area longer, but we did not know any better.

I love the foie gras and had it daily; hot and -or- cold.

Man! Those French people can drive! I am an aggressive driver myself, but I am a semi-wimp when I got on the road. Paris was totally out of the question, especially after a visit at the Etoile after I watched the traffic! I could not believe it. I stood there and laughed out loud! I had to turn my head at one time because I saw two older ladies walking across the 'round-about' - going across to the Arc. I thought they were going to die and if I had to see it, it would ruin my vacation.

It was just a wonderful trip and we could not ask for anything more.

Bonsoir, Mike Kotch

Mike Kotch©1999

But Did You Try the Turbot de Bretagne?

Bonjour Mike -

Paris:- Thursday, 6. May 1999:- It is good to hear that your 'finest' and 'best' trip to Paris and France went off okay and you have good memories of it.

Many people try camping on their first trips to France. If this sort of low-budget beginning isn't a success, then not too much is lost. But more often than not, the 'camping' is a success and as the campers move up in age, they may opt for greater comforts. Some even become so enthusiastic that they move to France so they can be in it all the time.

When you first wrote, requesting tips for the 'finest' and the 'best,' I was very dubious about making recommendations about areas in which I have no experience. You only asked about the Paris beginning and end parts, and I think you had pretty well made up your mind in advance.

For readers unfamiliar with Alain Ducasse and his restaurant, I will only say that his is a star rising rapidly and is rated by many as being at the top, with nowhere to go but up. His recently opened 'snackbar' - the name of which escapes me - also jumped immediately to the top of Parisian popularity - which is a short list, with much favorable comment about unusual food combinations.

If you have deep pockets or metal-plated plastic, your goal is Alain Ducasse, 59. Rue Raymond Poincaré, Paris 16. If you were to go to such a place by métro, the Trocadéro stop is not far away. A la carte: 1000 to 1,400 francs. Info. Tel.: 01 47 27 12 27, and Fax.: 33 1 47 27 31 22.

Guy Savoy has been around longer and has no fewer 'stars' than Alain Ducasse, but has a slightly less elevated price level. Of course you can easily make up the difference by getting extra friendly with the Sommelier. If you are in the neighborhood, make a reservation for Guy Savoy, at 18. Rue Troyon, Paris 17. A la carte: 800 to 1000 francs. Info. Tel.: 01 43 80 40 61, and Fax.: 01 46 22 43 09.

The '(sp*)' after a couple of place names indicates phonetic inventions by Mike Kotch, that I was not able to run down in the index of a big atlas. I didn't anticipate they would be '404 - Not Found' until too late; so these are truly the 'versions originales.'

Regards, Ric

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