Friday, October 28, 2011

Champagne and Hipsters

Mr. Vardaman Ratliff the Third does Paris. 

What do you do with a person who is on their eighth trip to Paris? Well.... 

We kicked off the weekend with a lunch at a great little restaurant tucked into the 6th on Rue du Dragon.

I recommend trying one of their signature cocottes (egg whites and cream in a skillet with your choice of meat/cheese/veggie add-ins).  They also have good old fried and scrambled eggs if you don't feel like getting adventurous.  Add to the quick bites in Paris list.

We spent Saturday exploring the city of Reims, the beautiful cathedral and of course a champagne house.  (Reims, in the heart of Champagne country, is only a 45 minute TGV ride from Paris).  We did a tour and tasting at the Martel champagne house.  It's smaller than most of the other big name Champagne companies but more informative than others I've seen.

All champagne (not talking sparkling wine, just champagne from the Champagne region in France) is made with chardonnay or pinot noir grapes.  Sometimes blended, sometimes a single grape varietal.  It was interesting to learn that pinot noir grapes only produce red wine because of the use of the skins; thus, they can use just the inside of the grape to produce the white champagne.  Another fun fact:  Brut, Sec, and Demi-Sec means Dry, Sweet, and Really Sweet.  Most all French champagne is Brut.  Final takeaway:  grapes from several different years are blended to make champagne; thus, you don't see a year on champagne bottles (unless it is a vintage, then it is grapes from a certain year).  They do this to keep the taste consistent.  So if one year produces a bad crop, it doesn't mean the champagne is lower quality (lower price) that year.  Smart move to keep the price steady.

I would say the Reims cathedral was the favorite cultural sight of the weekend (if we aren't counting the hipster scene {see below} of course).

Finally, we spent Sunday roaming around the cool, because they aren't cool, parts of Paris.

First stop, Le Baron Rouge, a great little wine bar in the Bastille that is jam packed with people enjoying Normandy oysters and sipping good wine.  The only downside to the high marais is that it reminds me how totally unhip I am.  Let's just say you aren't going to spot too many Barbour jackets or J.crew cardies.  It's more of the purposeful desheveled, jean shorts from a garage sale vibe filled with people who probably spent last night at an indie rock concert in the 10th (definitely not discussing the difference between and brut and a demi-sec).

And since the digression is already in full swing....

So now you know what a hipster is. I guess fresh air, oysters and good wine can make any scene seem appealing.

And just to make sure we soaked in all the cool because it's not cool that Paris has to offer, we decided to head to the king of all things ironically cool, Canal Saint Martin.

Doesn't that canal bank scene just make you want to buy some oversized, non-prescription set of frames and a used pair of Converse?  

Truly, it was a great weekend and we loved getting to show our Parisian veteran the parts of Paris that are less traveled.  And as much as I love to make fun of the hipsters, I am totally not over these overlooked arrondisments.  You'll probably be hearing a lot more about these ultra chic in the non-chicest of way neighborhoods. 

Have a fabulous Halloween weekend!  (We carved our pumpkin last night. Can't wait to share the Mr.'s skilled work of art). 


*Sketch courtesy of carolita johnson

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