Grabbing a Bistro on the Postcard Side of Paris

Gendarmes hold back people at a street corner in the 7th Arrondissemen as the Obamas arrive for dinner at La Fontaine de Mars on June 6, 2009. [Photo source: Associated Press /NPR]
Gendarmes hold back people at a street corner in the 7th Arrondissemen as the Obamas arrive for dinner at La Fontaine de Mars on June 6, 2009. [Photo source: Associated Press /NPR]

According to Obama Foodorama (no kidding, there is a blog devoted to “the Obama Foodscape”):

Last night, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama had dinner with daughter Malia and two other guests at La Fontaine de Mars in Paris. The moderately priced bistro specializes in rustic dishes from France’s southwest region of Bordeaux Perigord and the Basque. Foie gras, duck and cassoulet are on the menu. Restaurant staff told the media that the President chose roast lamb for dinner, while everyone else in the party had beef fillets.

Waiter Gabriel de Carvalho, who waited on the presidential party, told the UK’s Independent, as well as AFP, and everyone else in town:

“They [The Obamas] were very pleased. They said that they had had a ‘wonderful meal’. The President was very friendly. He had gigot d’agneau and an île flottante. No wine, just water. The others had fillet of beef and crème brûlée.”

The Deep Throat waiter also went on Itele news channel and repeated his menu story, adding that just to be safe, the Secret Service had a taster in the kitchen to test the Obama food before it was served.

“They have someone who tastes the dishes,” said de Carvalho. “It wasn’t very pleasant for the cooks at first, but the person was very nice and was relaxed, so it all went well.”

Managers at the restaurant confirmed the report for the AFP news service.

The smallish restaurant has country-style decor, complete with red and white checkered tablecloths and dark wood furniture. Established in 1908, the restaurant prides itself on a “family atmosphere,” according to AFP. Roads were blocked into the tiny neighborhood leading to 129 rue Saint Dominique, but of course mobs of people turned out to try to catch a glimpse of the President and First Lady. And of course, French and American security officers patrolled the streets outside, and snipers were hidden on the rooftops.

The President and First Lady declined dinner with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, which is still being discussed in the European press.

La Fontaine de Mars menu (PDF)

According to Libération (translated by Daniel B., Suits):

Despite the official obligations connected with the movement of theAmerican President in Normandy, the Obama family took advantage of hisstay in France to engage in some escapades on the post-card side ofParis, at the cost of a program minutely kept under highest surveillance.

From the Eiffel Tower to Notre-Dame de Paris, passing through theGeorges Pompidou center and the Louvre Museum, the Obamas followed asa family the classic tour of Paris.

Friday evening, arriving ahead of her husband, Michelle Obama andtheir two daughters, Malia and Sasha, 10 and 8, went to the EiffelTower, where they were welcomed by Bertrand Delanoë, PS mayor of Parisand by several hundred enthusiastic people, including a number ofAmericans.

Saturday evening, after a day at Colleville-sur-mer dedicated to thecelebration of the 65^th anniversary of the Landing, Barack andMichelle Obama joined their daughters for a visit to Notre-Dame deParis, closed to the public for the occasion. The Obamas climbed tothe high towers of the gothic cathedral, where they were photographed,and they waved at a crowd of several hundred persons, kept at adistance by the security operation.

The Obama couple then dined with Malia in a Parisian bistro typical ofthe 7^th arrondissement, “The Fountain of Mars”, in company with anAmerican woman writer and a fifth person, Gabriel de Carvalho, one ofthe waitresses, told the AFP. “They were very satisfied. They saidthey had had a ‘wonderful meal’,” she said. “The President wasextremely nice to the personnel. He ate leg of lamb and a floatingisland. No wine, just water. The other guests took beef steak andcrème brûlée.”

According to her, the Secret Service had place in the kitchen a personcharged with tasting all the plates of the president before they wereserved to him.

Sunday morning, the imposing procession went along the quays of theSeine, closed to traffic for the occasion, to reach at 9:00 o’clockthe Georges-Pompidou Center, in the center of Paris, which holds afamous museum of modern art. Before it opening to the public, theObama family spent more than two hours waving from the fifth-floorterrass at the occasional by-passer and at the tourists.

According to a speaker for the museum, it was “a very relaxed visit,very family-like. The president wore a shirt, without a tie.Michelle’s mother was also there.” They had especially visited theexpositions of Kandinsky and Calder, accompanied by the organizers ofeach exposition.

Afterward, President Obama left rapidly for Orly, where Air Force Onewas waiting, and which took off a little before 12:30 for Washington.

Michelle Obama and their two daughters stayed in Paris, where theywere received for Sunday lunch by Nicolas and Carla Sarkozy at the Elysée.

The First Lady of the United States devoted the afternoon to shoppingin a store of children’s clothing in the 7^th arrondissement, beforegoing to the Louvre Museum about 6:45 pm for a private visit. She wassupposed to dine in a restaurant of the 7^th arrondissement.The First Lady and her two daughters will leave for Washington Mondayat the end of the morning.

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