Having read several reviews for Les Chouettes – which I thought to be the adjective, meaning fantastic or terrific , but when I saw the logo realised they meant the noun, meaning owl. Either way, it is a relatively new hip and cool addition to the Marais dining scene. I made reservations for a Saturday lunch and we ventured out for a family lunch.
Not quite a traditional Easter Sunday lunch, but it was for us in that coming here has become something of a tradition.
My family is fairly loyal to restaurants that are consistent in their quality of food and service. Four years later, and one of our favourite restaurants still remains La Societé in St. Germain-des-Prés. It is by the brothers Costes and has the exactly same menu, and clientèle as L’Avenue on avenue Montaigne. For drinks we are equally faithful to Bar Costes in Hotel Costes on rue St. Honoré.
You’d probably walk past La Societé in winter- when the only indicator that there may be a restaurant hidden away in the random building is the valet parking sign. It’s discreetly tucked away in what I think is a law office building. During the week, the crowd is the fairly staid and serious type, and over the weekend it’s the hip and fashionable. But is is always laid back and unpretentious.
I have been sitting on this write up for a while now, just trying to workout how I felt about Lisboa before I put it down. My first impression was that the financial crisis has hit Portugal harder than it has some of the smaller European countries – and this is after a visit to Greece. It seemed a bit rundown, or perhaps I came with high expectations. However when I mentioned this to a friend of mine, she also had the same opinion – when she compared it to her native Italy, and her husband’s native Spain. Patriotic sentiment aside, I have since learnt that Portugal is often referred to as the ‘poor cousin’ of the western European countries.
I finally got to see the recently opened Frank Gehry-designed glass monument that is the Fondation Louis Vuitton. It truly is a marvel to behold. There is an entire story behind how the lobbying for its construction went as high as the highest echelons of the National Assembly.
We finally went today. I took the initiative of ordering the tickets online, hoping to avoid any long queues, but we still queued for about thirty minutes – by which time my children were no longer keen on the idea of museum first, then lunch after. So we joined the queue for Le Frank – the Fondation’s restaurant which has been named after the architect.
A photo essay of a day spent out in Montmartre.
We decided that exploring other slightly off-the-tourist-trail paths was required during our stay. So we succumbed to the sales pitch of the Segway guide and booked a tour for early Saturday morning. He arrived at out hotel before 11am – gave us our ten-minute tutorial, ran through the safety guidelines, and we were good to go. My son, who is eight and had has his fill with ‘walking’ Prague was overjoyed.
Having recently written about Frank Gehry’s newest architectural marvel in Paris, I was eager to see the building he has designed for the city of Prague, and as it so happened, the restaurant we had chosen for lunch is located in a building designed by him. I have decided that the next exhibit I see will have to be at the Pompidou Centre where there’s a current exhibition on Frank Gehry. I may as well take it all in while there’s still all this attention on him.
Exploring Prague’s Old Town was a morning filled with the sights and sounds of a truly vibrant city. Armed with our list of places to visit, we headed out early to avoid other tourists. We walked along the famous Charles Bridge, so named because it was commissioned by King Charles IV in 1357. It is a cobble-stoned pedestrian bridge that spans the Vltava River and is a very important part of Prague’s history. A sighting of the Astronomical Clock at the Old Town Square saw us competing with the hordes of people also out to do the same thing: view the hourly chiming of the clock with its moving figures, a marvel really, given that the mechanism dates back 600 years.
Described as one of the ‘most impressive example of Prague Baroque ‘, the St. Nicholas Church in Lesser Town Prague, is described in superlatives in almost every reference one reads. It is a beautiful church.
Fuelled on a huge breakfast, we decided to walk through the city and make our way towards Prague Castle, loftily situated up a winding road, and overlooking the city.
First off though, we spent an inordinate amount of time inside St. Nicholas Church – with some of the most impressive interiors of any church I have ever seen. From the frescoes to the statues, we took our time taking it all in. Who knew that spending time in a church would hold everyone’s attention that much. The church is still used for masses, and the solemnity within probably explains why we didn’t rush the visit.