Sunday, August 23, 2015

a day or two in Paris

For me, Paris poses no pressure. I rarely have an agenda. The last several visits have been spontaneous and very unstructured. Apart from Snowdrop shopping, I just wanted to walk and on the last day, eat at Pouic Pouic. Everything else evolved in the course of a day. If my imagination inspired me to do nothing special -- no exhibition to catch, no museum to get to -- then I walked, either to the Eiffel Tower and back or, on the right bank, to Bastille and back. Two days, right there!

But, as in everything in life, I've come to spin away from the extreme (in this case extreme open endedness). Take food: picking a place to eat as I go along means that I waste precious hours on something I can do at home. I already give up time to Ocean posting. I don't need to relinquish even more for restaurant searches. [Some would say -- be spontaneous! Walk in and discover something new! I think that that kind of spontaneity in Paris is overrated. This city offers no guarantee of quality cooking. Researching your options means that you'll at least eat from a kitchen where the cook is trying for the fresh and honest.]

And so early in the day, I set a plan for myself: a morning of grandchild shopping with my friend, followed by time in the park and then more shopping, just by myself -- of the kind where I cover a lot of ground, but do not necessarily buy much. Lunch on Rue du Bac. Dinner? I'm going back to yesterday's neighborhood bistro (or, as they refer to themselves -- a place that follows a bistronomique trend) -- L'Antre d'Eux.

If I'm going to be organized in my approach to this day, let me be equally organized in my posting about it. And if some of the themes that emerge remind you of St. Petersburg, well now, with good reason!

Breakfast first though. The healthy component (muesli and yogurt) is well hidden behind the bread product, which for me, rules my French morning meal!



Oh, but there's still plenty of indecision! Initially my friend and I share the burden of selecting something perfect.


Yes, but does the sweater match the dress??


And as I continue to pop into stores throughout the day, I ask myself again and again -- which one? Which one??




All of the above? None of the above??

No, not stressful at all. Just happy images of a happy little girl.


I'm surprised how many young families have returned to Paris from their (presumed) vacations. Since it's a fine and warm weekend day, they're out and about, enjoying the last bits of summer sunshine.

It's dad time in Paris too!

(a squirmy little one)

(why limit it to just one...)

(pick up the pace, little guy!)

(hot chocolate for an afternoon snack)

And here's a grandma that would stand out were she in St Petersburg or Madison. Here, she's like wallpaper.


Finally, let's not neglect the mothers...


Park time:

No trip here is complete without a walk in the park and in the summer, this is something truly special. It's like looking at the farmette yard in the summer and winter. Each may hold a distinct beauty, but man oh man, it's hard to say that they are of equal worth! So too here, the summer adds a layer of sparkle that is palpable!

No words needed. Just gentle images from the Jardin Luxembourg.






Rue du Bac:

When my girls were younger, we used to stay in the neighborhood of this street and it has remained a special place for me. It's grown a tad more posh, but the cafes remain very local -- with solid lunch selections. So I start with meandering through the department store Bon Marche) at the helm of the street and then I migrate to the food halls across the street, where I admire the red fruit pastries and buy one macaron (which in price translates to five macarons from St. Petersburg)...


My preferred cafe on this street is further down...

(such blue skies!)

It's closed for vacation, but Flore, the second fiddle, is open and bustling!


I have a fine salad and the people watching is grand. As is the waiter watching. Few of us can move with such grace and purpose.


Love blossoms at the table next to mine.


I settle for writing my very loving postcards!


... While the postcard that is life continues to unfold before me.


My neighborhood and L'Antre d'Eux:

It's evening by the time I am back in the neighborhood I'll call home. The stores close at 7, with few exceptions. I've walked enough to feel ready for a quieter set of hours.


I've booked a table for myself at L'Antre d'Eux and it's a good thing that I do this, because the place is buzzing with a crowd that's here for an early evening snack of cheeses and charcouterie plates. With wine.

It's interesting to me that the French all speak a third language that I would call restaurant talk -- it's very quiet, very subdued -- words that float up and down like bubbles in a champagne glass. But at outside cafes, the norms change. Here's where joviality reigns. As Jeremy, the chef and co-owner of the place (along with his wonderful fiancee, Anne Sophie) brings out extra tables (it's such a gorgeous evening!), I see why this is called a local hangout. We tourists come for the food. Others come for the food plus something else.


I order their specialty -- the foie gras which, served with toasted spice bread, is heavenly.


Then razor clams with chanterelles, all in a spicy broth...


No room for dessert today. Besides, I have a macaron waiting for me...

I walk back to my street that leads up to the Odeon Theater.. The hotel is just ahead, to the left. The moon, half covered with a layer of misty cloud, shines ever so faintly over us tonight...