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Ubuntu Developer Summit Paris, Day 3

  • 3rd Jul, 2006 at 6:43 PM


RER
Originally uploaded by sfllaw.

21 June 2006

So when my co-workers, Robert and David, suggested that we go to town to eat, I was enthusiastic. "Absolutely," I exclaimed to Robert. Finally, a group of us were going into town to eat a proper French meal. Tonight was also the night that many people were going to be in Paris. There was some fête that people were going on about, but I wanted my meal!

Robert and I took the RER in to the city, where David met us at Châtelet-les-Halles. We emerged within Forum des Halles, a huge multi-level, glass and steel, shopping complex that was built in the middle of the city. A hundred years ago, we would have been standing in the central marketplace of Paris. Les Halles was world-famous for being the center of good French butchery. You used to have pigs wandering around, getting slaughtered, and butchered promptly for the restaurants that peppered the market.

We were going to carry on this tradition.

David led us down the cobblestone walk for a few paces, chatting with us and drawing on his ubiquitous cigarette. We stopped in front of Le Lochébem, pushed past a small crowd, and into a too-hot restaurant that smelled of meat and smoke and fat. David went to speak with the maître-d'. I turned around, found myself gazing into the grim visage of a suckling pig and waved to it morbidly. Then we were led upstairs.

We sat in a booth where I could see into the doorway of the upstairs kitchen. It was too small for the three of us, and the dangling light fixture clocked us each on the head, several times. I could see the shadows of people bustling about and the flickering of flourescent lighting. This must be what Anthony Bourdain had been writing about all this time. I was sitting in a brasserie in France!


Pig's head
Originally uploaded by sfllaw.

Robert ordered an onglet and David got the restaurant's all-you-can-eat special. I ordered off the menu. I started with some head-cheese and a terrine of pork scraps and beef rillettes that were all buttery, tender, and tasty. This is what food is all about: taking bits of unusable leftovers and transmuting them into culinary gold. Then came rolls of sweet French bread with huge oxbones that had been roasted to buttery perfection. I was in heaven.

The rack of lamb that arrived afterwards was pleasantly tasty and tender. It had the marvellous crackling that I'd expect from a place like this, along with the token vegetables that garnished the plate. After I had tucked into this massive meal, I was quite ready to forgo the pudding. Until I heard David order a tarte tatin. It was too large, but far too good.

We waddled out on to the street, where le Fête de la Musique was still going on strong. Outside the front door was a crowd of people listening to some locals sing French power pop. Further down the road, we saw some kids covering old Beatles songs. And in the distance, there was a band playing in an outdoor ampitheatre. The sun was just touching the horizon when Robert announced that he was retiring. So David and I went to le Sous-Bock, which is a Parisan tavern that served international beers.


Smoking in Paris
Originally uploaded by sfllaw.

There was a guitarist singing some English songs, in between the songs queued up on the bar's soundsystem. Huge oaken beams supported a low ceiling and a massive wooden bar dominated the place. There was barely any place to stand, let alone sit, in this narrow hallway of a tavern. We sat down, ordered drinks from a dancing bartender, and sat back to chat. The people around us were clapping and dancing and making out in darkened corners. David noticed me glance at a young couple, "it's very Parisian", he shrugged. I assured him that I completely understood.

I thought I would miss the last train, but I lucked out because during this festival, two things happened. The first was that all noise-ordinances were suspended, so you couldn't get anyone arrested for partying all night. And the second was that public transportation ran all night long. I took advantage of this, got on the subway, and ended up at the aeroport taxi stand. With no taxis and a very forlorn group of people.

One of these people was Ellen Reitmayr, who's from Germany and works with the Open Usability project. We found a family from Washington, D.C. who had just arrived in Paris. We chatted with them while we waited, and they suggested that we should visit their city. Ellen and I were able to flag down a passing police car and got terribly misdirected. By the time we got back from a futile search, Ellen and I managed to spy an errant taxi and get inside.

I didn't even check my e-mail when I got back to the hotel room. I just collapsed.


Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
callmepavlov
3rd Jul, 2006 23:05 (UTC)
Oh, this is making me miss Paris.

It's also making me drool. Mmmm.

sfllaw
4th Jul, 2006 16:31 (UTC)
I can't wait to go back!
toriaa
3rd Jul, 2006 23:05 (UTC)
i really did not need to see that pig's head.
thank you.
mmmm ok so we get this magazine at work,
it's free,
it's called "HUB: Digital Living"... and there was an article about linux
and such...
and it talked about ubuntu!
which made me think of you.
the end!
sfllaw
4th Jul, 2006 16:37 (UTC)
I remember when that magazine first started.

Wow. That was a while ago.

So hey! That's cool. Humanity towards others.
turnberryknkn
3rd Jul, 2006 23:23 (UTC)
Dude, that's awesome.

Thanks for sharing.
sfllaw
4th Jul, 2006 16:37 (UTC)
My stomach thought as much!
girlintheclouds
4th Jul, 2006 03:50 (UTC)
the pig's head is making me sad :(
poor piggie...
sfllaw
4th Jul, 2006 16:39 (UTC)
Yeah.

I don't think you would have liked this restaurant.
wlach
5th Jul, 2006 00:32 (UTC)
FWIW, "Au Grain De Folie" (I think that's the name) has some nice french-style vegan/vegetarian cuisine. I went there with my father a few years back on a trip to Paris, back when I was still a strict vegetarian.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )