Friday, March 25, 2016

evening in Paris

Perhaps some day I will think that I have walked all these Parisian blocks too many times to feel a thrill from walking them once more, but I have not reached that point yet. As I set out last night to cross the left bank for a dinner not too far from the Eiffel Tower (which itself is nearly an hour by foot from my hotel), meandering this way and that, pausing at a store now and then (making the walk more than twice as long as it should have been), it struck me how this kind of hike through Paris is always very lovely and too, very calming (as opposed to, say, in New York, or in fact so many other cities of this world, where "calming" does not seem the choice word to use in describing a walk through them).

I had my camera with me, of course, and used it now and then and I'll let my photos guide us along from my starting point at Odeon, to the restaurant Pottoka -- a wonderful, tiny place, where the chef brings to the table the flavors of the Basque region of France.

It's just after five when I cross the Carrefour de l'Odeon (down the block from my hotel). And now here's a storefront that always makes me smile. These days it's a small food and wine store. You always wonder how places like this survive -- but they do. And that's such a good thing.


There is a popular clothing store nearby and I stop in. I am a tiny bit exasperated with how girls' clothing here is nearly always very pretty, as if every day is a cause for celebration. To the two dresses for Snowdrop, I add a pair of pants and a jeans shirt from the boys section. What strikes me in this next photo is how big Snowdrop is getting. Those are not infant clothes anymore!


I pass scenes of friends, neighbors running into each other all the time. A pause for a chat. I suppose what struck me here is how colorful men's pants tend to be.


Crepes remain a popular street food.


Another lovely storefront -- this one is from a chocolate shop.


A stop at another children's clothing store -- one that tends to be bolder in tone.


And I realize right about now that I have yet to have my daily coffee. No wonder I kept falling asleep on the flight over! Not too late! There are SO MANY cafes to choose from! I stop at a tiny place that's appropriately called "Corner Cafe" (Cafe du Coin), where people are stopping not only for a coffee but for an early evening drink with perhaps a plate of cold cuts. I stick to my coffee, standing up, at the bar.


... and I enjoy watching neighborhood men and women pause for a moment before the evening fully unfolds for them.


Outside again, I pass a small park. I'm delighted to see these:


And now the light has faded. It's just past seven. And still, the storefronts are lit and so I remain charmed by them. An old fashioned pharmacy...


... a bread and pastry shop:


And now it is 7:30 and I am at Pottoka:


The menu is small but it's wonderful. As usual, I have a tough time deciding. I go with the specials in the end. The first course is made grand by the quality of the cheese and bacon (the fried brioche is nothing to sneeze at either).


Basque cuisine is interesting in that it's heavy on the meats but also equally focused on the sea. I order what is just out of this world -- scallops with white asparagus and Parmesan, with a large large handful of fresh morel mushrooms throughout.


I choose one of the lighter desserts: it's all about mango!


When you eat alone, you can really indulge in people watching and at Pottoka this is especially good because the tables are rather close. I'll give you just an impressionistic image of this young couple: they take their menu studying very seriously!


Too, their wine drinking!


I can guarantee you that I'll be back at this restaurant soon. An absolute new favorite.

I start the long walk back to my hotel.


First I veer toward the Eiffel Tower, passing a very lively cafe-bar, with your classic very agile, very professional waiter.


I turn now toward the river bank. If you think that Parisians have been avoiding outdoor open gatherings -- think again. (It's nearly ten at night.)


Walking along the river at night is always very beautiful.


Across, on the right bank, you can just see the Obelisk from the Place de la Concorde. And of course the Ferris Wheel.


As I pass the Assemblee Nationale, I see that it, too, is lit to stand in solidarity with Belgium..


I'm on the lively Rue de Buci now, just steps away from my hotel. Very lively. With a deliberateness that is palpable.


And now I am nearly at my starting point, the grand walk through Paris behind me. For today!


1 comment:

  1. Glorious. The lights, the crowds of people out late on a Thursday night (while all the nose-to-the-grindstone American workers are home in bed, ready to get up early and go to work again) It's a lively area indeed. It must feel so rejuvenating to be a part of it.

    That's how I felt in Coconut Grove, out at 2 AM with all the beautiful wealthy young Latin Americans who make their money, my son tells me, in "import-export". Oh yes?

    The storefronts remind me of the shopping neighborhoods of my youth, the individuality, the pride. That would have been in the 1960's, when I was over 10 years old and allowed to walk anywhere alone or with friends, before every city had the same same same chain stores and restaurants.
    Of course there are still interesting areas to explore -- you have to find them, and we do, thanks to the Internet.

    As for the lovely old fellow with the red pants -- well, here red pants have been the wearing of the rainbow flag, so to speak. But everyone can feel free to be out now, at least that's how it feels to me where I live. But I am learning, to my sadness and anxiety, that there is a great angry upsurge of the population that thinks in a way I can't even understand. You know that carnival barker I'm talking about.

    OK, no politics on Ocean. Let's talk about food. I could just taste every morsel on your plate through your words and pictures.

    I wish you a lovely and peaceful Parisian interlude. I can see by your shopping interests that you will be ready to come back home soon.


I welcome comments, but I will not publish submissions that insult or demean, or that are posted anonymously. I am sorry to lose commenting Ocean friends who are not registered, but I want to encourage readers to submit remarks only if they feel they can stand behind their words. I do not seek a free-for-all here. I like camaraderie far more than conflict.