10 reasons, seine, paris

Alain Passard’s gardens

10 reasons, seine, paris
You only have to hear him utter the word jardin to get a sense of Alain Passard’s almost physical attachment to his vegetable-based cuisine. Arpège, his triple-starred restaurant, uses only produce from his own gardens. “The garden is the smallest parcel of the world and then it is the totality of the world,” said Michel Foucault. So if the chef is not in his kitchen, that’s where you should look.

1.

Bands of brothers

They all agreed to come and pose for the picture, getting up at dawn to share a meal of country pâté and elderflower lemonade. There could have been 1, 20 or 100 of them. Alain Passard sees his friends, neighbors and former kitchen staff as family, and tends to them with care. Around the table, eyes sparkle and jokes fly. There’s Jean-Marie Boedec, the artist butcher, said to know the grandparents of every one of his prime ribs of beef; Vincent, the famous fishmonger from La Sablaise, with stories of pearly flesh and sea breezes; and the two Guillaumes, the former sous-chef and the sommelier at Arpège, who opened the restaurant Garance, where this merry band has gathered this morning. And then there’s Bertrand Suchet, with his flowery language, a long-time companion who traveled from his inn in Franche-Comté. Afterward, he’ll head off to his new shop on Rue de Varenne, which sells his divinely fragrant skin and beauty care line named Source de Provence.

Les viandes du Champ-de-Mars

122, rue Saint-Dominique. Tél. +33 (0)1 47 05 53 52.

La Sablaise

28, rue Clerc. Tél. +33 (0)1 45 51 61 78.

Garance

34, rue Saint-Dominique. Tél. +33 (0)1 45 55 27 56.

ET aussi : Chez Gervais

2, rue de l’Église, Chenecey-Buillon. Tél. +33 (0)3 81 84 56 49.

www.chezgervais.fr

2.

Luncheon on the grass

It was a labor of love, this plot of land. It needed tilling, sowing and tending. Before it could offer up the vegetable magic that’s become the chef’s specialty, he had to unearth its soul, its nobility, its earthy destiny. There are chives, cabbage, beetroot, turnips, hay (for the audacious hay-baked chicken) and more. Passard’s freshly picked fruit and veggies from the gardens at Le Bois Giroult are sent straight to his Arpège kitchens, but they’re not in any way a jealously guarded treasure. Passard shares them, in fabulous basketloads. And even invites the inquisitive to escape the urban grind and enjoy lunch or dinner at his manor house, guarded by a small former chapel.

Déjeuners et dîners privés dans les jardins de Bois Giroult

sur réservation.

Paniers hebdomadaires

(dont un tout nouveau panier, spécialement conçu pour les purées de bébés) à commander via l’Arpège sur

www.alain-passard.com

et à retirer directement au restaurant.

3.

On the banks of the Seine

Alain Passard dreams of a flower garden for bouquets that he could place like miniature meadows on his tables on Rue de Varenne. Meanwhile, wild flowers dot the banks of the Seine. They echo the principles of the chef, who refuses to use anything that’s not ripe when nature intended. To “relearn what seasonality really means,” you have to learn to see, touch and feel; you have to hone your senses. And go for walks. The waters of the Seine sparkle. In the distance, the Marly hydraulic machine recalls man’s ingenuity when wrestling with nature. The reveries of the solitary walker.

château de Monte-Cristo

Après s’être promené le long des bords de Seine, on peut aussi faire un détour jusqu’à la demeure d’Alexandre Dumas à Port-Marly. Tél. +33 (0)1 39 16 49 49.

www.chateau-monte-cristo.com

4.

Impressions

There are no special reasons, other perhaps than that of time, for Alain Passard to make this little jaunt to the edge of Paris. He comes here to get an eyeful of the colors and shapes of the plants, a lungful of fresh morning air, a jolt from the humid hothouses. Everything is sensory, ephemeral: the shifting hues of the skies through the glass panes, the garden with its neatly laid out beds and paths, the surprises awaiting in the buildings around it, the flowers round as saucers with their painted centers, and petals quivering like thin strips of ravioli dough. This is one of the places where Passard gets his ideas, the urge to play with colors when he’s back in the kitchen, to try out new varieties in the vegetable garden, work on tartness, find a tomato with zingand where he sends his gardeners out “hunting,” as he puts it.

Serres d’Auteuil

3, avenue de la Porte-d’Auteuil. Tél. +33 (0)1 40 72 16 16.

5.

A magical bestiary

Take a lobster, with its defiant warrior’s armor, deceptively fragile in its hollows, bumps and serrated edges. On the plate, it usually comes curved like a fishhook. Alain Passard turned it into a proud, upright soldier, its flesh displayed like a flower. This lobster en aiguillettes is a signature dish, a piece of Passard magic. The technique, a thousand times imitated (in vain), is precise and inspired him to have it replicated in bronze. Passard loves to watch these pieces take shape amid pans of liquid wax and the furnace. The eye exults but the hand, the artist’s hand, does the workin the pas de deux performed with vegetables in the kitchen, or here, in the mysterious shadows of the sculptor’s studio.

La Fonderie d’art de la Plaine

6, rue Proudhon, Saint-Denis. Tél. +33 (0)1 49 17 23 47.

www.la-fonderie-art.com

6.

The glade of silences

The Benedictine monastery of Solesmes is a place of passage: to catch your breath; for the nearby Grand Hotel; for recharging your batteries. It’s a reflection of a moment in Alain Passard’s life when everything came to a standstill. After living life in a mad rush, and earning those three stars that tie your hands with velvet cords, the chef felt he had to take stock, to start over: he decided to “switch jobs,” and stop working with “animal tissue,” his word for meat. It came like a bolt from the blue in the small world of meat-roasting kitchens, but it was a life-saving personal awakening: the vegetable as an absolute totem, a form of necessary fasting. Once he’d digested this radical mission statement, poultry did return, a few years later, but in small doses.

Abbaye de Solesmes

1, place Dom-Guéranger, Solesmes.

www.abbayedesolesmes.fr

Grand Hôtel de Solesmes

16, place Dom-Guéranger, Solesmes. Tél. +33 (0)2 43 95 45 10.

www.grandhotelsolesmes.com

7.

Thickets and thinkers

There’s a natural link between Arpège and its neighbor opposite, a link that stretches from one artist’s hand to another’s: the Musée Rodin and its huge garden. Alain Passard has known the place since his strolls there in the 1970s, when he worked for Alain Senderens’ L’Archestrate (a restaurant he bought, to found Arpège). It was the director of the Musée Rodin who encouraged Passard to cast his culinary creations in bronze. Today, you can dine at the museum with a small number of guests and the meal is prepared by Arpège. The dishes cross the streetwhile guests wander among the art works.

Musée Rodin

77, rue de Varenne. Tél. +33 (0)1 44 18 61 10.

www.musee-rodin.fr

8.

The daily pick

This is the original garden, the one with all the memoriesjust watch the chef as he walks through it. Aristocratic asparagus, bourgeois leeks, frothy steamed carrots, honey with a hint of chestnut to jazz up a soufflé: the Arpège classics are here, in the Gros Chesnay vegetable garden. With these two gardensthe one in the Eure and this one in the SarthePassard achieves perfect pitch. To this end, the gardeners in each plot carry out trials and tests, planting spinach, tomatoes and turnips at the same time. The fruit of their labors is tasted in three states: raw, juiced and cooked. Each vegetable is graded and will be grown where it seems best suited, in its “comfort zone.”

9.

The distant hubbub

When the green becomes overwhelming and the rural silence too intense, you can always check out the pretty pink hues at Verneuil-sur-Avre for an urban pulse, just a few miles from the Bois Giroult vegetable garden. It’s a gentle pulse that calms you down, drawing you to the Château du Clos. With a checkerboard motif and spruce turret, this impeccably manicured manor house is within walking distance of the town center and is ideal for a romantic escapade: elegant meals, a spa and pool in the basement, a pristine lawn, floral hangings and tapestries, the charm of a comfortable hostelry from another era, where the wooden floors are so beautifully waxed you almost walk around on tiptoe.

Le Clos

98, rue de la Ferté, Verneuil-sur-Avre. Tél. +33 (0)2 32 32 21 81.

www.leclos-normandie.com

10.

Vineyards on the menu

Working the land teaches humility, as winegrowers know when hail pelts down or a drought sets in. Maybe that’s why Alain Passard feels so close to the winegrowers featured on his menu, like the Nicolas family and their 17 hectares of Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir wines, a kaleidoscope of 80 different plots. They switched to winegrowing after careers in different fields and now pamper these vineyards, eschewing pesticides, harvesting by hand, evoking “respect for life” and humanity, blending their wines with meticulous care, happy that the birds have returned near their cellars, carved from the local limestone.

Domaine de Bellivière

Lhomme. Tél. +33 (0)2 43 44 59 97.

www.belliviere.com

Recette

Red sorrel tapas

Choose a good loaf of bread, with a fragrant crumb and lightly floured crust. Cut into thick slices and toast them in the oven (or over a fire). Use a knife to soften a jar of rillettes that have been baked in a wood-fired oven. Spread the rillettes on the toast and top with thinly sliced raw red sorrel. For the second version, wilt the thinly sliced sorrel in a well-buttered sauté pan, then place atop the rillettes. Use red sorrel (not green) for both dishes, as its acidity and fruity flavour are perfectly balanced with the fat of the rillettes.

Drink in moderation. Alcohol abuse is harmful to your health

Carnet d’adresses

Les viandes du Champ-de-Mars

122, rue Saint-Dominique. Tél. +33 (0)1 47 05 53 52.

La Sablaise

28, rue Clerc. Tél. +33 (0)1 45 51 61 78.

Garance

34, rue Saint-Dominique. Tél. +33 (0)1 45 55 27 56.

ET aussi : Chez Gervais

2, rue de l’Église, Chenecey-Buillon. Tél. +33 (0)3 81 84 56 49.

www.chezgervais.fr

Déjeuners et dîners privés dans les jardins de Bois Giroult

sur réservation.

Paniers hebdomadaires

(dont un tout nouveau panier, spécialement conçu pour les purées de bébés) à commander via l’Arpège sur

www.alain-passard.com

et à retirer directement au restaurant.

château de Monte-Cristo

Après s’être promené le long des bords de Seine, on peut aussi faire un détour jusqu’à la demeure d’Alexandre Dumas à Port-Marly. Tél. +33 (0)1 39 16 49 49.

www.chateau-monte-cristo.com

Serres d’Auteuil

3, avenue de la Porte-d’Auteuil. Tél. +33 (0)1 40 72 16 16.

La Fonderie d’art de la Plaine

6, rue Proudhon, Saint-Denis. Tél. +33 (0)1 49 17 23 47.

www.la-fonderie-art.com

Abbaye de Solesmes

1, place Dom-Guéranger, Solesmes.

www.abbayedesolesmes.fr

Grand Hôtel de Solesmes

16, place Dom-Guéranger, Solesmes. Tél. +33 (0)2 43 95 45 10.

www.grandhotelsolesmes.com

Musée Rodin

77, rue de Varenne. Tél. +33 (0)1 44 18 61 10.

www.musee-rodin.fr

Le Clos

98, rue de la Ferté, Verneuil-sur-Avre. Tél. +33 (0)2 32 32 21 81.

www.leclos-normandie.com

Domaine de Bellivière

Lhomme. Tél. +33 (0)2 43 44 59 97.

www.belliviere.com

Adresses

À Paris

L’Arpège, 84, rue de Varenne. Tél. +33 (0)1 47 05 09 06.

www.alain-passard.com

Source de Provence, 27, rue de Varenne.

www.sourcedeprovence.com

Dans l’Eure

Vitraux d’art Lux Maxima, par Anne Ellul et Helder da Silva. 67, rue d’Amour, Breteuil-sur-Iton. Tél. +33 (0)2 32 62 79 42. Sur rendez-vous.

www.luxmaxima.net

Dans la Sarthe

Rillettes Charcuterie Laurent Berthier, 12, rue de la Libération, Chantenay-Villedieu. Tél. +33 (0)2 43 95 74 45.

Gîte-restaurant Chez Miton, 15, place de l’Église, Chahaignes. Tél. +33 (0)2 43 44 62 62.

www.chezmiton.com
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Going There

www.airfrance.com

FLIGHTS FREQUENCY

AIR FRANCE has flights to 167 destinations throughout the world from Paris-CDG and 6 daily flights to Amsterdam.

KLM has 6 daily flights to Paris-CDG from Amsterdam.

ARRIVAL AIRPORT

— Aéroport Paris-CDG.
À 23 km au nord-est.
Tél. +33 (0)1 70 36 39 50.

— Aéroport Paris-Orly.
À 14 km au sud.
+33 (0) 892 56 39 50.

AIR FRANCE KLM OFFICES

Aux aéroports.

AIR FRANCE KLM AGENCY

Agence Invalides.
2, rue Esnault-Pelterie, esplanade des Invalides, 7e arr.

— Agence Maillot.
2, place de la Porte-Maillot, palais des Congrès, niveau 0, 17e arr.

Agence Opéra.
49, avenue de l’Opéra, 2e arr.

Agence Luxembourg.
À 14 km au sud.
+33 4, place Edmond-Rostand, 6e arr.

BOOKINGS

— Depuis la France :
Tél. 3654.

— Depuis l’étranger :
Tél. +33 (0)892 70 26 54.

CAR RENTAL

Hertz, à l’aéroport de Paris-CDG.
Tél. +33 (0)825 889 755.

Hertz, à l’aéroport de Paris-Orly
Tél. +33 (0)825 889 265.
www.aifrance.fr/cars

FURTHER LISTENING

Every Saturday, at 8:50am, Alain Passard presents Le Palais Musical on France Musique, in which he translates a piece of music into a recipe.

FURTHER READING

Alain Passard, Collages & Recettes Éditions Alternatives.

© Parko Polo / Central Illustration Agency. Map for illustration purposes only