Sunday, August 21, 2016

Paris - Part One and it's mostly about food...

Bruce was in Paris for about a month in his early twenties, he’s enjoying seeing the changes in the City after forty years and since he knows her pretty well, he is my tour guide. Last time we were here, we didn't see anything due to this...

Looking SOOO innocent now... maybe not, plotting the next adventure, read on, never boring this one!

Skip this if you are not into aerobatic cats, or have read enough about a cat in Paris. There is an entire wall of books in this flat in the living room which has a ladder across a rail which I’ve only seen in movies, but here it is. So Lexi, being the curious cat she is, started climbing the ladder, she went up high, stretched one leg, seriously out, three legs on the shelf, then decided it was safer to withdraw, pulled herself back and climbed down the ladder. She’s never been on a ladder before, but to her it’s just another exploration point. Incredible for me watching her! Enough about her...

Second day in Paris and we lunch at a charming bistro called La Belle Equipe, where we asked about grocery stores. There is a Monpoprix down the road, quite far down, but what a store! It’s a large chain in France and while shopping at the smaller mom and pop stores are nicer, sometimes you just have to stock up. Thinking we’d either missed it or got lost I stopped in at a cafe to ask. Here, as everywhere, if you want English spoken you must ask politely first, not assume. I was yelled at by a German bloke for doing just that and justly so. I’m finding many people here speak English, at least in this neighbourhood. I’m still a bit confused as to what it is called, know it’s in the eleventh. It’s called Roquette.

More walking the neighbourhoods and many places are closed until earliest August 23, some August 31st. I would say if you come in September you would have more choice in just about everything, August not so much, many leave the city for vacation. We’ve known that, Vienna and Brussels were the same, but not to the extent it is here. Well there are still enough shops and restaurants open we won’t starve, just less choice.

A small note about recycling, it doesn’t seem to exist here! What? In Freiburg we have the recycle Police! They are that serious about it and have shown positive results, although I can’t name them at the moment, but here in Paris there doesn’t seem to be anything. Strange for me, in Belgium everything but glass and kitchen waste went into separate bags. After Germany where they are so picky this is new to me. I don’t understand why a city as large as Paris would not recycle. Maybe I just haven’t read the memo. Read the net and it does happen, just no obvious way to do it in this flat. Update, found the bins, still not as rigorous as in Freiburg but they are there, yeah! Felt bad, it’s become such a habit, one of my few good ones.

Another large shop since tomorrow is Sunday and Monday is Assumption of Mary Day, or Feast of Assumption, also a holiday. We’ve learned our lessons on holidays but still get caught occasionally. We haven’t even been out of the neighbourhood yet and the City from our perspective is beautiful. People say it is the City of Light and I would agree. I also read that people dress nicely here. Well some do and some do not but I am enjoying the fashion parade that does go by when sitting in a cafe. I think only very young women and tourists wear shorts, most women wear dresses and some are really pretty. Guess I’m touted as a tourist for wearing shorts at my age, but hey, they are comfortable and since I don’t enjoy shopping where to find a nice dress? or two… perhaps one pretty dress wouldn’t do me any harm, flip, flop… 

There are many black people here, I only mention them because of their dress, men wear tunics to their ankles, women wear brightly coloured and patterned dresses, many are very beautiful! The designs are created in a method of batik, which I’ve done a bit of, means using wax and dyes. I don’t know where they are from or any history but am enjoying seeing them or their garments rather. They are from North and West Africa, here is a clothing designer doing a modern twist with the fabric, skip if not interested. Bruce tells me the people are from Ghana, traditional dress there.

Went to the Sunday Market at the Bastille Plaza. The market was a “scream” according to Bruce, the vendors yelled out their wares and a woman sat in the middle playing an instrument that screamed as well, dreadful sound and made on purpose, and for money! I was not paying her I can tell you! Maybe to stop playing, now that would be worth it. The market is quite large with it’s share of junk, decent clothing seemed mostly from Italy, handbags and food, the wasps loved the fish, didn’t go near that one. It was crowded, very crowded, but a fun to see everything. Almost bought a pink Eiffel Tower for friends in Burnaby, you know who you are, but it was worse that ketch, guys truly! (Didn’t see any snow globes either although I’m sure they have them.)

That tower, there, it's a church! Not too ordinary in shape but boring inside, from what I saw.
The Plaza used to hold a fortress/gaol used for years by French kings but has been torn down after the French Revolution. You and certainly Bruce know more about the history, look it up if interested, I’m not a historian, can’t you tell? There is a gold coloured winged man on top of a statue in the middle. The statue is under construction, although the top can be seen. Here's a link with better pictures than I could take.

It’s a lively, touristy neighbourhood fraught with pickpockets, tourists and locals. Many restaurants abound from all nationalities and we did dine on the main square, just to get a feel for it.

I’ve enjoyed fresh pressed lemon drinks, they come with a bottle of water and the sugar container, in our neighbourhood they are about five Euro, here they were seven! We also split a Croque-Monsieur which is a common dish here of bread, ham and cheese, broiled to crispness. I’ve only had one before, Bruce said it was one of the best he’d eaten. It is considered a snack, relatively cheap, a staple for young tourists, as Bruce was. 

We stopped at a bagel shop - yes! a bagel shop, can’t get those in Germany or Spain unless they are packaged and old, so we bought two but while deciding I looked down to find a tiny mouse, or mole/vole on the ledge, wasn’t quick enough with the camera again but it was really cute. Of course then it gets you wondering… Where there is one there are likely many.

The walk there and back was along a very interesting street full of cafes and shops and we found out that there are fresh food markets along the way on a Sunday, aside from the large one at the Bastille. 

It has warmed up here over the last few days, high 20’s now but still not oppressive and the flat we are in is naturally cool, on the ground floor with the garden (which has a really good collection of spiders!).

We walked several, several blocks to a restaurant Bruce had found for onion soup, they leave out the word French here, obviously. But they were out of it! Darn, restaurant was nice though. (Cafe d’Albert) Stopped off at Rue Voltaire, another large square we hadn’t been to and had a drink before heading home (L’ingenu). 

More traditional church, didn't go in, but liked the exterior

There are so many grocery shops here, mostly parts of larger chains but handy to have, and so many bakeries! It’s a good thing I don’t have a sweet tooth but they are lovely to see, so pretty in design. 

Went to another Monoprix, same chain I mentioned before but different site. Downstairs is nice with clothing etc, food is next floor up and what a dump! Holes in the ceiling, patched floors, just yuck, felt like I needed to wash after being there. 

Then we’ve been staying out to enjoy the ambiance of Paris and have a drink at a cafe. Bruce ordered a Margherita, came faux strawberry flavoured bleck, should stick with beer or wine or lemon presses. 

A postal truck went by and Bruce said posted on it was a saying it “Smile there may be a love letter for you on this truck” Good one!

Restaurants here mostly serve, without asking, a cold bottle of tap water, one even put cucumber and mint in theirs. It’s been a long time since I’ve been served water unasked, as just a formality, that practise stopped in Canada - when?

We both had haircuts, pretty good ones too. I am picky, you’ve heard it before and look into a studio to decide if it is the right place. Something I can’t really finger, certainly cleanliness, but it’s more than that. Anyway always a bit scary to go to a new stylist but at least hair grows out. Next up a pedicure, there I have to be even more careful. Here and in Brussels they have what is called pedicure/podiatrist practices and that seems the safest route. 

Found a meat and cheese shop with bakery next door, and a few fresh veggies to help make your sandwich. Lots of those around but this one has a selection of wines, syrups and exotic spices, no website but it’s called E & A, Epicurie & Associes, Charcuterie - Epicure - Fromagerie. Basically an upscale deli.

Sunday and I had vague plans to take a bus somewhere, but we walked more streets in, a new to us, area. Found a cafe called “Beans on Fire” because they roast their coffee on site, good name. It rained and got windy so we hurried home.

Bye for now, we're still here for a few weeks so more news to come.

Cheers, Bx2 and climbing Lexi Cat

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