Mark and Lou's Excellent Adventure travel blog

Bouillon Chartier

Farewell to the Seine - Ile de la Cite

Last day in Paris - Montmartre

We had one last gastronomique destination before home and that was Chartier in Montmatre. Our favourite New York celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, who shares with us a love of food, travel and the off the beaten track, had featured this restaurant in one of his TV series.

The Bouillon Chartier was originally created as a benevolent soup kitchen, to feed the poor and the prostitutes of Montmartre, in a different era. Today, it is a restaurant, guaranteed to serve great French food at a reasonable price, with a Belle Époque decor and theatrical waiters.

We were shown to our table - shown to a different table, a basket of baguette was delivered, then retracted. Then we were shown back to our original table, all, I suspect, a part of the waiters' theatre. We ordered an aperitif - Kir au vin blanc, then three courses - each delicious and simple. We shared a table with a Frenchman from Mont St Michel and a young Korean lone traveller. We offered to share our Cotes du Rhone - the Frenchman took us up on our offer, the Korean politely declined. Moments later the waiter delivered the Frenchman's pichet du vin - saw that we had shared our wine and cracked up. The Frenchman offered to share his pichet for one but conceded it would not be as good, or indeed enough to go round. Our waiter teased our French companion who was conversing fluently in English - "are you French or English?" He jibed jokingly.

The courses kept coming - the waiter addressed me as 'darling' in a French. He declared he was also Australien and a 'Sydney boy' but did not have time to share his story as Chartier was now full of hungry people and the waiters were busy, never, however, missing a beat and looking immaculate in black waistcoat and tie, with long starched white aprons. Mock haughtiness thinly veiled their inner desire for naughtiness.

I had terrine and duck confit, while Mark enjoyed endive salad with a Roquefort dressing followed by roast chicken and French fries. All four of us chose the Rhum baba for dessert and I have to say, it's a dessert that packs a punch - part slap in the face, part dessert, part digestif - it certainly gave us bang for our buck. Cake roll soaked in rum with chantilly cream to cut through all the rum is one way to end a meal, that's for sure.

Feeling somewhere between tipsy and Boris Yeltsin, we hit the Metro, doing a rapid about face as we realised we were on a train heading in the opposite direction. We strolled around the Marais once more before heading home to pack and tidy up as we leave for home first thing in the morning.

Mark and Lou's excellent adventure draws to a close - or is it merely the beginning of another fine adventure in the near future?

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