Friday, May 31, 2013

This is Paris

This morning all I wanted to do was bring my computer into bed with me and spend the morning working on the draft of my book.  But my Le Petit Cler addiction is very serious and I cannot start my day in Paris without a café crème.

Had I been in Victoria, I would have rolled out of bed into my Lululemon's that live piled on the floor.  Underwear optional.  I would have found a hoody that I hadn't worn to the barn in the last few days - good luck! - and rammed my bed head under a pink ball cap.  On my feet Uggs or flip-flops depending on the weather.  And then I would have jumped into my car and driven the block and a half to my neighbourhood Starbucks.

But this is Paris!

An hour after I woke up dreaming of my café crème, I was finally ready to leave the apartment.  Hair done, make-up applied, tasteful jewelry, uniform of skinny jeans, ballerinas and scarf all carefully put together to look like I hadn't bothered.  Where do French women find the time?  Anyone over the age of 25 needs more than fifteen minutes to look so effortlessly sexy and chic. 

I went to the Chagall exhibit this afternoon.  It was elbow-to-elbow and a reminder of why I don't enjoy museums but his paintings were beautiful and romantic.  My favourite was Le Champ de Mars. 

Love locks
Tomorrow I am taking myself to the antique book market in the 15th.

It's Friday night and you have 15 euros...

Dinner at MG Maison de Gyros, 8 rue Xavier Privas.  A "gyros deluxe" is 5 euros and once you  have it in hand, it's short walk to Notre Dame to eat dinner overlooking one of the best views in Paris.  Another 5 euros buys you  an assortment of chocolates, caramels and a kouignette from the incomparable Maison Georges Larnicol.  And finally a 5 euros verre du vin rose at one of the bustling brasseries on Boulevard St. Germain.  What more do you need for a perfect Friday night in Paris?!

Église Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Can someone please explain...

Ordering Coke Light with breakfast?  I think it makes more sense to order a glass of wine or a beer. 

Parisian dogs of the day...

Chihuahuas were on parade tonight in rue Cler.  A man walked past carrying a Birkin with two panting blonde heads sticking out.  Oh to be so wealthy that I could stick small, dribbling purebred dogs in a Birkin! Shortly after a woman walked past with a Chihuahua dressed in striped sailor suit.  The dog was unhappy and wiggling frantically to remove his pantaloons. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013


I am writing this post during a thunderstorm while wrapped in an Ikea fleece blanket.  It's laundry day and my pajama pants aren't dry yet. 

Do I look like someone desperately in need of dark chocolate?  This morning my Le Petit Cler café crème arrived with an extra foil wrapped dark chocolate. When I thanked the waitress, also known as my new Parisian best friend, she brought me several more chocolates with my bill.  

I haven't confessed my new dirty habit- eavesdropping! It's a consequence of being here alone.  I like to listen in on French conversations to help improve my language skills.  And then there are the English conversations.

Thank you for letting me come here. 

Well. It's been ok.  You were kind of right to want to come here.  Now look here.  This Smart Phone thing says it's only 1 mile to the Eiffel Tower.  

I went to Les Halles today via Galerie Vivienne.  I wanted to market on rue Montorgueil, specifically to purchase a chocolate eclair at Stohrer but turned away after half a Japanese tourist bus was crammed into the tiny store taking photographs with their Ipads.  Instead I bought a cheese plate for 6 euros and a demi-baguette for.48 centimes.  The perfect Parisian dinner with a glass of wine, some cornichons and cut up fruit! 

Antiques' store in Palais-Royal

Tomorrow I am off to the Chagall exhibit at Musée du Luxembourg. 

Another boot having "its moment" in Paris...

Tall, black rubber riding boots like the ones I used to wear riding ponies.  Typically paired with skinny jeans and that gorgeous, red-lipped Parisian pout.

If you are going to risk a French menu, go for breakfast...

I always think it's best to try and order using the restaurant's French menu.  It will save you your server's contempt.  Breakfast is the perfect one to start with: croissant v. croissant, omelette v. omelette, café v. coffee, jus d'orange v. orange juice, and etc.  At breakfast you are unlikely to end up with a plate of minced raw beef or Trigger's long lost cousin in hamburger form. 

Frenchman of the day...

I was taking photographs in the gardens of Palais-Royal today when a running grandfather type stopped and offered to take my photograph under the alley of trees.  He explained in French what a beautiful photograph it would make.  Blushing furiously, I politely declined, thanked him and wished him a "Bonne Jog!"

Alley of trees in Palais-Royal

And on the subject of French runners...

French runners aren't like North American runners.  They smoke cigarettes and wear strange clothing and accessories.  I have come to think of their outfits as "running costumes".  Yesterday I watched a man take the final few puffs of his cigarette, neatly toss the butt into the street, set his stop watch and head off for his nightly jog around Champ de Mars.  I have seen chic scarves double-wrapped around runners' necks and watched runners struggle in heavy pants more suited to a walk in the country than a 5km run.  And last week a man ran past me with a baguette stuffed down the back of his black, Lycra tights. 

Spring trying very hard in Jardins des Tuileries

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bonjour Koo-Koo

One of my goals for my time in Paris is to explore a different part of Paris each day.  I need to see and experience the city to write about it properly.  And being alone in Paris, it's important to resist the urge to stay in my comfort zones doing nothing but drinking coffees in my favourite arrondissements.  I need to make myself a bit uncomfortable.

It didn't rain today which meant I could finally visit le Jardin du Luxembourg en route to my planned destination of the market street rue Mouffetard in the 5th.  I poked around the stalls and shops for a couple of hours (apricots, cucumber, pears and baguette) and spent some time visiting Église Saint-Médard.  It's a lovely church, tiny compared to others in Paris, and I had the great fortune of being its only visitor at 11 this morning.  

Fontaine de l'Observatoire - one of my favourites in Paris
Home to write for the afternoon and then a leg stretching walk around the Champ de Mars.  Parisians love to complain about the weather but as soon as there is even a hint of sun, they are sprawled out on every available space enjoying its warmth.  Champ de Mars was buzzing with activity tonight; the ponies and donkeys were giving rides, the push-cart track was set-up with children anxiously awaiting their turns, the merry-go-round was in full spin, and dogs of all shapes and sizes ran through yesterday's puddles.

Children's cafe hidden in the Champ de Mars. They sell
barbe à papa (father's beard) aka cotton candy!
French greeting of the day...

"Bonjour Koo-Koo!"  Said with much affection and followed with much cheek kissing over morning coffee.

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

In 2011, Chris and I stayed in an apartment near rue Mouffetard.  Today I walked the same route looking for signs of our previous Paris.  I was not disappointed.  We used to stop daily at our neighbourhood fleuriste to cuddle her black Lab.  When I walked past this morning, the Lab was lying in its exact same spot looking the same except for a new distinguished white muzzle.

Indecent food item of the day...

In Paris you should always eat where French people are eating.  On rue Mouffetard, I noticed a crêpe shop with a long line.  At the front I was greeted my a Monsieur wearing white Ipod ear buds and working two sizzling crêpe pans.  The inside of the shop was no larger than my apartment's WC.  I ordered a beure sucre for 1.50 euros and it came to me steaming hot and dripping with butter.  Butter was dripping all over the tips of my Converse and I was licking my fingers as fast as I was eating the delicious crêpe.  If i had been really hungry, I could have ordered the shop's plat for 5.50 euros: crêpe salé (ham, cheese, egg) + crêpe sucre (jam, Nutella, sugar) + Coke, coffee or beer. 

This is a "merveilleux" from Aux Merveilleux de Fred. When I saw it in the window for a mere 2.90 euros, I had to buy it. It was handled with white gloves and came in its own carrying box. Taste test to come...
Indecent tourist of the day...

Earlier today I stopped in the Tuileries to write and the man sitting next to me was having a F-bomb screaming match on his Blackberry while his wife sat nearby picking at the dirt on her Coach bag.  It was like a scene from the film Wall Street was being re-enacted in the Tuileries.  "You are not going to f*#* with my organization! I am the boss!"  Very dramatic and very inappropriate.   

View from my "writing spot" in the Tuileries