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Friday, December 31, 2010

France 2010 - Day 6, Part 3 - Fontainebleau Forest, Piment d'Or (Asian Prince aka Wo-hen Nankan restaurant)

"It was no wonder that people were so horrible when they started life as children." - Kingsley Amis

***

France 2010
Day 6 - 8th October - Fontainebleau Forest, Piment d'Or (Asian Prince aka Wo-hen Nankan restaurant)
(Part 3)

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Random building

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Porte Dorée ("Golden Gate")

I then had a look at the gardens. While they were nice, they were no Versailles - though that doesn't matter as much since:

1) It was early Spring (early April) when I went so it was still quite desolate
2) I don't have any photos thanks to an incident that shall not be named

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Gardens: Le Tibre ("The Tiber"?!)


Panorama of Le Tibre and Le Grand Parterre - gardens of Fontainebleau

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Exit of Château. I still had to view the gardens, though.

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Le Tibre

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Side of Gardens: Les Cascades ("Waterfalls" - there were fountains on the other side)
I think this is what I marked as Outside Grille du Bois d'Hyver

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Le Grand Canal

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Château from gardens

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I was trying to find a way to get out of the gardens and into the forest of Fontainebleau, but the gardens were very well-fenced-off (for example, the gate at Les Cascades was locked. Considering that entrance to the gardens was free, this was not because they wanted to charge for entry.

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Water obstacle

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High wall

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La Grande Prairie

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Cascades

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Le Grand Canal

Finally, I entered the boundary of the Forêt Domaniale de Fontainebleau ("Royal Forest of Fontainebleau")

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"Forêt Domaniale de Fontainebleau
Feux Interdits" ("Fires forbidden")

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Path skimming edge of forest

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Château and gardens from border. The best view of the Château is from the path on the outskirts of the forest.

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Swans

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Cone trees


Panorama of Château and gardens of Fontainebleau

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Tour group catching up with me

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Plaque on the cultural and natural value of the forest

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Forest path

I would've loved to have done more than skim the boundary of the forest, but people were waiting for me and nagging me, so I had to return to the town. Instead, I will content myself with looking at nice photos of the forest:



Exiting the forest, I made my way back to the town.

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"Centre Sportif d'Equitation Militaire. Domaine Militaire. Interdiction de Pénétrer"
("Sports Centre for Military Equitation. Military Area. No Penetration Allowed")

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My notes say Grille de l'Allée de Maintenon ("Gate of the Alley of Maintenon")

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According to a map, this is Avenue de Maintenon

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Etang des Carpes

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People enjoying a warm autumn day

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Trees, Avenue and Château

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Random Fontainebleau building

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Green fountain

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Random church

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"Sauf livraisons... Arrêt 5 minutes autorisé à partir de 12 heures. Après midi, c'est permis!"
("Except for deliveries... 5 minute stops are allowed after 12pm. After noon, it's allowed!")
Flexible parking. Presumably this works by an honour system - at least for stops of less than half an hour or so.

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French heroics at train station. Actually this is even more inane than the previous plaques I'd spotted, as this merely commemorates the arrest of the Mayor of Avon on that platform by the Gestapo.

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"Frauder, ça nous coûte et ça nous empêche de réaliser les investissements dont les lignes D et R ont besoin
FRAUDER, CA VOUS COUTE !...
Votre titre de transport est le contrat d'assurance entre vous et la SNCF. Pensez à valider votre titre de transport"
("Defrauding costs us and prevents us from making the investments which lines D and R need
DEFRAUDING COSTS YOU!...
Your ticket is a contract of assurance between you and the SNCF. Think about validating your ticket.")

For dinner we went to [Indo-]Chinatown.

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This restaurant seems more Chinese than Vietnamese.

As I was walking, I noticed something very distinctive at the side - it was a poster of Asian Prince! The plan had been to visit this restaurant, Piment d'Or ("Golden Chili") but the secret part of the plan had been to see if I would notice it if it were not pointed out to me. My dedication to Wo-hen was enough that I did - the place I had been yearning to visit for a whole year was now right in front of me.

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Piment d'Or

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Poster of Asian Prince aka Wo-hen Nankan aka Tuan Anh
The first of the 2 phrases translates as "petite histoire" (small/casual tale) and the waitress said the second was hard to translate.

Addendum: A Vietnamese friend translated the phrases for me as "it's a small matter" and "it's just a simple thing"

While sitting at Piment d'Or, I saw my first 3 Asian Guy-White Girl couples. Perhaps it was because it was Indo-Chinatown.

Besides being a haunt of Asian Prince, the food was also very good.

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Pork Spring Rolls. Someone had already eaten one.

During the course of the evening, I talked to the waitress to find out more about Asian Prince's relationship to this place. She said that her uncle - the owner of the restaurant - was "le meilleur ami de Tuan Anh" ("Tuan Anh's best friend"). The last time he had visited the restaurant had been last year (2009), and as previous intelligence had reported, there was no fixed time when he came to Paris.

I even showed the waitress my Wo-hen Fan Card (which I had specially brought for this trip), though I didn't tell her about the name itself:



My Wo-hen Fan Card (Template)

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Something with prawns

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This was a pancake (like a bang chang kueh) with mung beans inside. I didn't like the mung beans.

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Porc Caramel. This was very sweet. Too sweet. Even for me.

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Bun Cha - Hanoi Style Grilled Pork, in a sweet sauce, with noodles

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Soupe Impériale de Hué (Bún bò Huế), "bœuf, jambonneau, pied de porc"

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Bill. I love how it's in a mixture of Vietnamese and French.

When I paid the bill, I met the owner of the restaurant - the waitress's uncle. I asked him for more information about Asian Prince, and he said Asian Prince would come to sing for an association which would invite him, but he didn't know when he would come. The uncle's French wasn't very good, and he seemed to be a first-generation immigrant (he asked me if I knew Teochew or Cantonese). I also showed him my Wo-hen card.

After dinner we passed by other restaurants on the way back to the métro.

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"Le Sarawan" restaurant with Rijsttafel (!). Their website says that they do "Spécialités malaisiennes, indonésiennes, chinoises et vietnamiennes". That's like half of Asia already.

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Fortune God restaurant

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At 9:40pm there was still a queue for this popular Pho 14.

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Cheap food

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Ironically this 2 star hotel looked worse than the 1 star below

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One McDonalds I saw had CBO on the menu: "Chicken, Bacon, Oignons". Err.

In my quest for new McFlurry flavours (and dessert), I got a Pecan & Nuts McFlurry from a McDonalds. After I bought it, I then saw 3 Asian Guy-White Girl couples crossing the street. At the same time!


The bread I'd had so far in France had been disappointing.

La France n'est pas que Paris ; Paris n'est pas la France. Il ne faut pas dire : 'Paris, je t'aime'. En fait, c'est l'Europe de l'Ouest qu'on doit aimer.

I didn't see any flyers for escort services, even in Pigalle. The French are quite discreet.

Apparently only East Asian women are so obsessed with branded goods that they will ask people to buy branded goods from Paris for them.
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