Saturday, December 14, 2013


The intensity releases some of its steam. I'm finishing up here. I'm going home soon.

Even as I have yet to establish a routine. Having a routine would mean I've adapted: transported to a new life elsewhere and settled in. Some of us love routine and stick rigorously with it back home. You know the drill: breakfast. Always. The same. Only the room changes. Dinner. On the little table. Meat rarely, salad always.

But here, every day still remains up for grabs. Breakfast -- early, late and can you really call a four bite croissant breakfast? And lunch? Big? Little? If so, then what? Should I make plans? Help me out here!

I have no big agenda for my last two days in Paris. Small things, but if none of them happened, I'd be okay with it. Perhaps a diffuse agenda is a mistake? 

If you want, tag along with me for the day.We'll see how it takes shape.


I take my laptop with me to breakfast. In the average cafe, that is just ridiculously off-putting, but at Les Editeurs, it's different. It's a bookish place and people often come and read there over a coffee and a pain (preferred choice here is bread and jam). Like this type.

DSC06841 - Version 2

(Insert comment here: did you know that Paris is a city of a hundred bookstores? You cannot sell books in France at more than a 5% discount -- not even Amazon on line, not even e-books  -- which, nota bene, are six times less popular here than in the US.)

So I order my pain au chocolat (rebel that I am) and my grand creme and I work on a post for Ocean.

DSC06843 - Version 2

I have to say, posting from Europe in the winter is a challenge. You should never write during daylight hours. There are too few of them. So you could say that I'm starting off the day without paying heed to my own advice.


It's nearly lunch time and now I'm getting a tad anxious about time. I drop the lap top at home (up those stairs then down again) and go out. A little Christmas shopping would be delightful, no? Oh, and lunch! At La Varenne -- the cafe-restaurant on Rue du Bac. I don't think there is anyone out there who has come to Paris with me whom I haven't dragged to La Varenne for lunch. I love the place! It has simple comfort foods and a joyous vibe, attributable primarily to an exceptionally strong serving staff.

It's a sunny day in Paris again and my walk there is positively buoyant!

DSC06847 - Version 2

...offering, too, plenty of things to admire. Pastry shops windows, for example. Only in Paris will you see such imaginative cakes! Pieces of art!

DSC06849 - Version 2

But here's a not so profound observation about Paris: whereas I have stood still or even retreated somewhat in my budgeting for the city, the city has zipped forward. It's at least twice as expensive to eat at La Varenne now than way back when I first started coming here some twenty years ago. So that when I order the dish of the day -- a simple chicken with potatoes -- I have to be prepared to pay 19 Euros for it. True, with tax and tip included, but still, at those prices I may as well say good bye to dinner tonight.

Still, let's enjoy the meal! There I am -- under the SPA poster!

DSC06851 - Version 2

DSC06852 - Version 2

If you ever come to this place, ask them before the meal to hold a lemon tart for you. They run out. And they are superb. Truly exceptional.

DSC06853 - Version 2

Finished off by a cafe. With a sunny smile.

DSC06855 - Version 2

So, I walk away well fed, but with a severely depleted budget for the day.  I cancel my dinner reservations.


I'm on Rue du Bac. I may as well go up to the newly renovated beautiful food halls of the Bon Marche. I mean, that place is a feast for the eye, truly it is.

(On the way there, I pass a Nespresso store, whose featured spokesperson is -- my landlord! No, George Clooney. Really, you couldn't tell from afar.)

DSC06856 - Version 2

At the food halls, various reps are pushing their foods. I tasted a fantastic honey cake, chestnuts, a superb olive oil...

DSC06858 - Version 2

DSC06859 - Version 2

DSC06860 - Version 2

Ed would have really made the rounds. I showed restraint. I passed, for instance, on the Belgian beer samples.


Across from the food halls stands the imposing, the elegant, the far too expensive Bon Marche department store. Still, holidays, a birthday coming up. I go in to look around. It is so warm inside that I slowly open up my jacket, take off the scarf, eventually take off my coat. How do the French do it? Their scarves are impeccably in place. Not a bead of sweat, not a hair disturbed.


Even though I am slated to skip my restaurant meal, I do want at least a salad in the evening. And it better be good! -- I grumble to myself.

I go to Le Cafe du Metro -- another place with a good vibe and quite good food.

 DSC06864 - Version 2

I order their warm goat cheese salad with nuts and sun-dried tomatoes...

DSC06866 - Version 2

... and I give myself a nice stretch of time here. Next to me, two women are having one of those moody conversations that you can only have when you're young and you think every detail of life matters.

DSC06867 - Version 2

Time to leave. I look outside. What? It's slightly raining! When did that happen?!

DSC06869 - Version 2

No matter. It's a short stroll back to the apartment. And I do make one stop along the way. To pick up the Macaron Pistache d'Iran for dessert.

DSC06874 - Version 2

You know, in the retelling, the day seems quite without fault. There's a lesson to be remembered, isn't there? Recall a day in an abstract way and it seems full of holes and missteps. Put it down on paper and the flow of it begins to make sense. A story evolves, even if there may not have been one to begin with.

Tomorrow's post will be late. A travel day for me. Returning to the winter chill of Wisconsin.