I'm in Paris. I’m here essentially for a party. Since I was traveling lightly—just a carry-on—I decided to use public transit to and from both airports, JFK and Charles de Gaulle in Paris.
I arrived in the City of Lights at 9:30 am Saturday, after a three-hour delay at JFK. Not a great beginning. I found the RER, the suburban train into Paris from the airport, but as usual, there were long lines, both for the ticket machines and the windows manned by humans.
I didn’t have change and the machine wouldn’t accept my credit card, so I finally found another machine that made change and purchased my ticket. Fortunately the train went express to Gare du Nord. There, I switched to the Metro, always a challenge in the big stations like Gare du Nord or Chatelet Les Halles.
On the New York side, with the exception of one escalator out of order, it was smooth sailing. In Paris, there are lots of stairs. Fine if you have light bags, as I did, but not easy with large or heavy luggage.
I made it to my destination, a studio I rented in the Marais district, then went for lunch. It was a perfect late summer day, bright and in the mid-70s, with a fresh breeze and low humidity. I decided to have a snack and a few glasses of wine at Legrand Filles & Fils, one of my favorite wine bars in Paris. They offer a small, but usually excellent selection of both wines by the glass and petit plats.
I started with the Maison Leroy Bourgogne White 2000, for €12 ($17). Still a pale golden color, with a hint of green, it was clean and focused, with lime and mineral flavors—like spring water over stones—kind of minerally, full of intensity and long (90 points, non-blind).
I ordered the sardines, and the woman presented three selections, oil, black pepper and spices. I chose the spice option and a moment later they arrived—six sardines on my plate under the tin. However, presentation aside, this being Legrand, they were excellent, plump and glistening with oil and packing a little heat. With some bread and a green salad, it was the right amount of nourishment after my travels.
I finished the Leroy and ordered a Menetou-Salon Red 2008 from Henri Pellé (€7.50, about $10). It smelled and tasted grapey, showing red cherry, red currant and mineral notes, with a light chalky grip on the finish (87 points, non-blind).
Sated and feeling the effects of lack of sleep from my flight, I had a nap before leaving for the party. It was a party to celebrate a civil union, attended by friends of the couple from all over the world.
They rented a fabulous yacht and we cruised up, then back down the Seine, passing famous landmarks while sipping on Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne poured from magnums. This was no disco boat, the wide, flat vessels with all the bright lights that seat hundreds. It was a serious, well-appointed yacht, with an open upper deck and enclosed lower deck, bar and lounge seating.
Luca Currado and his wife, Elena, from Vietti in Piedmont were on board and we also enjoyed the Vietti Roero Arneis 2007. The red wine was Château de Beaucastel’s Côtes du Rhône 2006.
There was a terrific band too. I was amazed when I heard them playing "Red Baron" from Billy Cobham's 1973 album Spectrum and later “Chameleon” from Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters LP.
As we partied into the wee hours of the morning, I thought of the song from the '70s band Ten CC: "One night in Paris is like a year in any other place."
Christian Holthausen — PARIS, FRANCE — September 1, 2009 12:40pm ET
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