The Little French Restaurant

Wednesday, 24 October, 2018 – nice but cool, cold at night

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Today we are going to The Little French Restaurant (LFR) in Earls Court, a place we have been to several times before.

In the morning Julie goes out to get her hair done. This normally takes 4-5 hours. After she finishes she stops by Covent Garden for a bit.

South Hall of Covent Garden
I don’t see any Apples
A bit of music

Julie returns to the apartment to pick me up to go to The LFR. She has come back with straightened Blonde hair – too blonde for my tastes.

The Blonde Vamp outside the LFR

We have come today because of the Cash special advertised out the front. The LFR is now being run by young Asians who were nowhere near as friendly or flexible as the previous French management. We did see the French Lady who used to run the front of house – perhaps she is now the Chef.

At the other side of the table
Our wine order which is extra of course
Julie’s Onion Soup
My mushroom caps with spicy Tarragon butter – Julie scared a fair bit of this
Julie’s Salmon parcel with cucumber salad
Turkey Escalope with two sauces and fries

Overall the food was quite good but the attitude of the staff means we won’t be going back there again.

Thai restaurant we have been to a few times just up the street a bit


Tuesday, 23 October, 2018 – Low 20s, nice

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Today we are going to Amaya restaurant. It is a Michelin starred Indian restaurant. We have been there several times over the years. Our friend Gary calls it the best restaurant in the whole world.

Confit Duck Leg with grilled figs and mash from last night

But first the girls are out early to go get facials. I dress up in my loudest possible outfit.

Love the colour schemes?
We meet the girls on the street. Julie’s lipstick is too bright in my opinion
C0nstruction everywhere surrounding Amaya
Finally we arrive at Amaya

In the past when we have been to Amaya, we tried to take pictures of the food. They then told us off and asked us to stop because “there are too many famous people who come in here” who don’t want to have their photo taken. Geez, all we were interested in was photos of the food.

Any way, some unknown person in our group with a Kiwi accent managed to sneak a few shots this time.

Tanika’s Grapefruit Negroni with our Rioja red in the background
Truffle Naan
Black pepper chicken Tikka – the best dish in the world according to Gary

Tanika was concerned that it might to be too spicy for her – in fact, she loved it. We did get to see all of the dishes cooking in front of us as we were just next to the grill.

Tandoor Broccoli, Yuk!.
Smoked Chile Tandoor cutlets for Ryan and I
Good looking Chicken Biryani for final course, with cucumber wasabi raita

The Kids wander off to do shopping etc. Julie and I go back to the apartment but once she arrives there goes out prancing all over London, again.
Although a great meal at Amaya, I become a bit hungry so break out the Ham Julie had bought the previous day and cut up a bit for a piece of baguette probably from Emma in the morning.

Early evening snack of Ham in baguette

I believe that Julie would have had the same but with Smoked Salmon.

Over to England

Monday, 22 October, 2018 – Drizzling, who cares, we are leaving

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Yes, it is time to leave our paradise here in Versailles. It has been great.

Last look at the wonderful breakfast spread

At breakfast this morning a Dutch couple have stayed overnight and join us at the table. After some discussion it turns out that the guy works in Rotterdam and with some of the people that Julie met with while she was there. Interesting coincidence. They exchanged business cards.

Emma has booked Patrick’s large van again. However, it was not that van that showed up but a smaller taxi. Ryan is able to cram the 4 large suitcases in the back but he has to ride to Gare du Nord with the fifth suitcase on his lap and Tanika another heavy bag on her lap too. Emma tells me that she has permanently fired Patrick.

The driver is an absolute champion at darting in and out of traffic and crossing lanes. Once again there is construction going on everywhere, including along the Champs de Elysee which makes things even more difficult. But we get there in good time.

Then there is the shemozzle of the immigration exit from France. The queues are not as long as the ones at Versailles Palace but they are pretty horrendous. Eventually after some mishaps by me we get through France only to now have to deal with entering Britain and then security. These aren’t too bad and we end up standing in a queue waiting to board. Finally, we are on our way into the Eurostar. They allow Ryan to enter with the bags from the car in front so we are quite close to them as we sit in the front of the carriage. The assigned seating is strange but we work out an exchange with a French girl and so we are all sitting together.

Ryan and Tanika are hungry, not having done breakfast, and go down to the catering car and come back with food, wine for me and beer for Ryan. Nice.

We are in “middle class” on the Eurostar and eventually they bring us a meal and some more wine. Also nice.

As we arrive in London we get off at Kings Cross / St Pancras. We go over to the Piccadilly line to go to our apartment. Ryan has worked out that by going a few extra train stops we will have the shortest walk to the apartment, pushing all the bags. We get off at Earl’s Court where Julie and I have stayed a few times in the past and see a lot of familiar sites.

Our Airbnb apartment in Chelsea

When we arrive at the apartment we are let in and greeted by Jenna, deputising for the owner. Jenna shows us around and then departs.

Large bedroom in the apartment
The Bathtub and Sinks set-up in our bedroom
Part of the kitchen area and lounge room. I am already set up at the end of the dining table
More of the lounge room

Naturally, Julie goes out prancing to get supplies while the kids go their way to shops etc in London. I read the instructions and recommendations from the owner. He has suggested a few places including two just down the road a block or so – Italian and French. After a glass of wine or so, we go down to check them out. The Italian is just a pizza place but the French looks quite good. We go in, first guests in the restaurant tonight, and the staff are quite nice to us. The menu looks good so we agree to stay.

We order some wine and then food starts coming.

Amuse bouche of olive and caramelised onions
Julie’s starter of Smoked salmon and vegies with a nice touch of Horseradish
Pouring Stock into Julie’s bouillabaisse

I had a large confit duck leg with grilled figs and mash potato. For some reason the photos won’t load. Julie scored the figs, one of her favourites.

I found it ironic that we did not go to a Bouchon while in France but did on our first day in London. I suggested to Julie and Irish coffee but she has bought some Jameson Irish Whiskey today. Thus we go back to the apartment for said Irish Coffee and some more wine.

Another days of ups and downs but the ups prevailed eventually.

Let Them Eat Cake

Sunday, 21 October, 2018 – Nice, low 20s

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Today we are going to visit the Palace of Versailles. Julie has booked us a tour.

But first I go down early to get a photo of another great breakfast spread

The Kids had come home late last night as there were Track works that closed the rail from our neighbourhood. They eventually took a bus home only to have one of the society girls throw up on the bus.

The intention this morning was to take an Uber to the Palace. I was the conservative one this time and suggested an earlier start than was proven to be necessary.

Julie out the front of the Chateau waiting for the Uber
A statue outside the Palace

We did not follow instructions and went into the Palace. When we finally did read them, we had to walk a long ways down to the Booking Office over yukky cobblestones.

Ryan guides us to the booking office and Julie gets the official tickets. We are assigned a guide and then have another 30 minutes to wait which we do by settling into a McDonalds.

Our guide, Danielle, eventually shows up and we take the long walk back over the cobblestones. Our guide has an arrangement with the Palace Staff to get us to the front and into the Palace area which takes around 10 minutes.

Our guys and the rest of the group waiting to go through security.

This time security requires Ryan and the Asian guy to check their backpacks because they have Tripods in them.

Our Tour Leader, Danielle, in the red jacket at the far right skipping around the queues
Our group entering one of the long rooms
Our group in the Courtyard with Julie

The Black girl and her partner were interesting people. We were supposed to catch up with them afterwards but lost track of them along the way.

Our guide, Danielle, who was very knowledgeable, explained to us why the Palace and grounds were built. It was designed by Louis XIV and built in such grandeur to attract the 1,400 nobles to live there. The reason was so that Louis XIV could spy on them all.

In another room Danielle described the French Revolution of 1783 including the murders of Louis the XVI, Marie Antoinette, hence the title of this Post, and most of the nobility that were in the Palace. Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables or the plays . movies about it give a good fictionalised story around this time. This includes the fanatical pursuit of the hero Jean Valjean by Inspector Javert and his eventual suicide by jumping into the Seine because of being saved by his pursued. Sorry, I diverge from the real stories of today.

A scale model layout of the palace and the gardens

I didn’t take many photos inside for the usual reasons, that ain’t food and wine! We do pay extra to go into the gardens and so here is a shot from there.

The large grandeur of the gardens

By this stage my back and my legs are totally frozen from the slow walking and standing. I had made it but at what cost. I slump down on the stairs behind a statue.

The guys are in a queue to buy tickets for a “green puffing billy” train around the gardens. I am sitting down a ways away and can’t get up because there is nothing to hold onto. The guy selling tickets won’t sell them until all four of us are over there. An American woman in the line apparently raises a big stink. Finally Ryan comes over and gives me a hand. I walk through the queue and then trip over one of the poles, falling to the ground, bruising my knee and badly bruising my hand, This turns the trick for the ticket seller who was going to call a Doctor but Julie talked him out of it. He gave us a special car on the train.

We take the train about half way around and stop near a restaurant St Augustine. It turns out that it is a cafeteria, not a restaurant. Ryan and Tanika organise food and drink.

A brioche with fish for Julie and a sweet thing for Tanika
Quiche for Ryan, Ham roll for me

We took a train around the gardens just like we did in Luxembourg. Photos did not come out. We have to walk a long ways to get out of the garden and then out of the Palace area. Ryan guides us to an Uber pick up area and we eventually end up back at the Castle. After our less than sterling lunch, a bit of a snack is necessary.

Brioche with sausage from Julie for my late evening snack
Some sort of cheese or quiche for Julie

Venturing Out with Julie

Saturday, 20 October, 2018 – Nice, low 20s

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But first a couple of shots from Julie’s visit to Paris yesterday.

Impressive, whatever it is
Lois tells me that this is in fact the Opera House

In case you are in the Versailles area and are interested in this hot food service:

I should say something at this stage about the quality of refurbishments done to make this a really good Hotel inside. Tradesmen did the work under the guidance of Emma’s Husband and Son. Really high class.

I should also comment about how quiet it was out here. Compared to the constant noise of Luxembourg, it was a very pleasant relief.

In the morning there was a strong smell of cooking from the main kitchen. The gates were opened and people started coming in obviously for a family and friends lunch.

I was supposed to go out to look at wine / food with Julie at 1:00 PM. But she did not turn up. Instead she spent the afternoon in St. Germaine. These are her many photos from there.

Brewery Van in St. Germaine
Sweet Stuff
Pre-cooked foods
Lots of Duck
Lots and lots of sweets
and more
and they keep coming
Variety of goodies
Variety of ready to go foods
More takeaways
Feed the Man Meat
Interesting Presentation
Hot takeaways
Real Confit Duck including fat
Hot Ham, rabbit and duck

Finally, around 5:00 PM Julie arrives. She says we should go out then. OK, I have misgivings but head out with her.

Our local Bus stop
One stand market set-up in the bus carpark

As we head further along, we are going down hill more and more. I can see that it is going to be very difficult for me to walk back up that hill especially since it appears to be a further long way down hill from here. So I turn back. Julie says just go straight and I can’t miss our place. WRONG! I can miss anything. I go walking right by the entrance and end up past the Church and totally lost. Fortunately, I was able to find my way back to the bus stop where I waited and waited and waited, getting colder all the time.

Finally Julie comes up the hill having spent an enormous amount of time in a hairdresser shop. She has brought food for us.

Julie’s Dinner

Julie brought me an Asian dish of fried rice with marinated beef and some chicken wontons, it was quite appreciated as were the few drops of wine.

We meet Emma’s husband and Son with his partner.

In the Chateau

Friday, 19 October, 2018 – Nice, low 20s

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This chateau is a bed and breakfast place so we go down at 8:00 for the breakfast. There is a Korean couple there ahead of us. They are nice people.

A small shot of the variety of foods on display, immaculate presentation
The breakfast was varied and very good

The kids came in from Paris late last night. They indicate that they want to be on the road early tomorrow to go back to Paris. Julie is ready to go by around 8:15, they all eventually don’t get away until after 10:30.

I had a chicken roll left over from the first night. There was tons of chicken still left.

Emma drove off in her car for the day leaving me alone with the maid who was cleaning the room vacated by the Korean couple. The maid tried to talk with me but she knew no English and I knew very little French. She did clean up after my lunch and chicken deboning. When she finished and departed I was all alone in the Chateau.

The Chateau from the front
Looking the other direction
Looking to the absolute front of the castle from the courtyard

Over time, suburbia had moved into the area overwhelming the castle. Parts of the castle were taken by the neighbours.

The Gable from the Kids room

We had ordered food from a relatively new cook and delivery service which Emma had been closely aligned with. The idea is that your order the food online, they cook it and bring it hot to your place in a short time. Emma had helped me order since my PC was acting up. Delivery was to be 7:00 PM.

Julie arrived back around 6:30. The delivery guy showed up about 5 past 7:00, which was OK. Finally, shortly after the delivery guy had left, Emma returned home

Julie ordered an extra large salad
Hot Leek and Potato Soup with ravioli
The ravioli and chunks of leek and potato in the soup
Julie heated up the rest of the chicken to end up with a chicken salad
Hot veal with a pearl barley risotto

I had ordered way too much food and could only eat about half of the veal. We also ordered a spicy tapenade of air dried tomatoes and a bottle of French wine which we got into once we finished the other French one we had opened earlier.


Thursday, 18 October, 2018 – Drizzling but who cares, we are leaving

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Julie is up early and again goes to the local shop and buys important supplies: Bread rolls, Coffee for her, fresh squeezed Orange Juice, water.

Once again Cold Duck for Breakfast
Julie has a smoked salmon and apple roll, just for a change
The Seats we were in next to the strip Club last night

I had forgotten to comment upon the airplane traffic as we are relatively close to Charles De Gaulle (CDG) airport. On the first few days, it sounded like there were fighter jets going straight over the top of us as well as the normal CDG takeoffs and landing. Then after the celebrations were over there were no more fighter jets and the wind had changed directions so it was not anywhere near as airplane noisy as before.

We walk to the train station with the Kids pushing suitcases. As usual, we have left way too early. It is drizzling but not heavily wet. We are able to board the train early and settle in, our first class carriage is about half full. I move across the aisle to spread out for more room.

The Guys settled in

It is around a 2.5 hour ride to Paris. There are two stops along the way to pick up passengers and at the last stop the carriage fills up so I am thrown out of my seat.

We arrive at Paris Gare de le Est 3 minutes late, what’s the matter with you guys? Then there is a real shemozzle finding our taxi. We had been told by our Hostess to go straight out to the front of the station to meet our van there because he could not park. We did that. Julie saw a van off to the right, that wasn’t it either. Instead a replacement driver has parked off to the left and went looking for us. Finally he finds me and then we have to drag the cases all the way back through the station to the parked van.

The trip out through traffic et al was long but uneventful. The weather is good and we arrive at our destination an old Castle called

An old castle called Mareil-marly

No photos from me today but there are good pictures in the link above.

Thus commences a magical 4 days outside of Versailles. We meet Emma (Emmanuel) and she is an absolute delight. She show us to our rooms, our is on the second floor, the Kids up another flight of stairs. Ryan carries all the suitcases up, taking a while obviously.

Emma tell us there is no restaurant available in the town, the one is closed for the Winter. The Kids get on a train back to Paris. Julie goes prancing and eventually brings back a Chicken and a baguette plus other supplies as it has been a while since we last ate.

Julie’s Chicken Share
Ready for a picnic
Julie and her friend

There two dogs and a black cat. The other dog, when he smelled the chicken, was all over us, scavenging anything that dropped on the ground, trying to eat little bits of my lap etc.

Julie made a chicken salad, I had a chicken roll. It was quite good. Julie took some stuff in and was gone for quite a while. When she came back she said that she was cleaning up because another couple were staying in the third room. By then it was getting quite cool so we went in and drank some more wine / Whiskey (Julie). The world is good.