Tuesday, August 22, 2017

finishing off summer in Paris

I wanted to be a woman of few words today, but the pictures seem incomplete without the explanation. Still, let me try to keep it simple.

Let's start with the weather: this will have been the last sunny and very warm day of the summer season for me -- Paris, Warsaw, Madison -- they're all cooling off, going forward. But today, ah, today is one gorgeous sunny, summery day here!

Breakfast at Les Editeurs.


On the approach, I spy a dad with two daughters. Is the mom at home? Elsewhere?


Elsewhere. She appears moments later with another daughter. That one is Snowdrop's age. A gaggle of girls!

My own meal, by the open window...


(Taking pictures on the steps of Les Editeurs was more fun when Snowdrop was the subject...)


I thought hard where I should walk today. And though I did lay out a route and a destination for myself (Right Bank, Marais district), at the last minute I kicked it out the door. On this summer-in-Paris trip, there will be no Right Bank at all. It's quieter here, where I am. To get elsewhere, I must pass through tumult. I don't want tumult. And I like the long stroll by the river on the Left Bank, heading west, where the sidewalk is wide, the views are beautiful, and the people are few.

 (Rare to see such construction in the heart of the city, but the Right Bank continues to revamp and rebuild some blocks that have faded over the decades.)


Did I mention how brilliant the day is?


I turn in toward the Place des Invalides. Flowers have been added this year. It all looks rather grand! (More pics from the Place on the return!)


As I turn in toward the Rue Cler market, I pop into a store to pay for an anniversary card. Inside, madame is showing off pics of her new granddaughter.


She sees me, but she still has a few more to bring up and she continues doing it, apologizing half-heartedly to me -- excuse me, but you know, it's a grandchild! More pictures, comments, discussion about the virtues of a girl over a boy, or was it a boy over a girl?

Finally, some five minutes later she is ready to accept my few Euros for the card. Ha! Now it's my turn! I take out my iPhone and quickly bring up a photo of Snowdrop. And this woman isn't just polite about it. She tweaks it so that she can study it closely. I wish I had brought up one, where Snowdrop's hair was combed to the French standard!

I continue my walk. To the market. I used to love this market, but honestly, these days I think of it as rather an ordinary place to buy food if you happen to be in the area. There are good green grocers on Rue Cler, but there are good green grocers elsewhere in the neighborhood too. Same with cheese shops and wine stores. I surely wouldn't make this my destination if I wanted to see a quintessential French market (if there is such a thing, as markets differ greatly across France).

Still, I admire the fruits: lots of berries of course (I pick up some to munch on), but, too, nectarines, peaches, plums and grapes. With plenty of bees enjoying the sticky juices.



I pause at an off market small cafe for a pick me up shot of espresso. I listen to the chat about the weather among the regulars. She is a regular.


Three clients read the paper, one studies his smart phone.


Onwards. I pass a store where I had purchased a small toy for Snowdrop last year. Closed of course. And then I pass a bunch of Snowdrops! They can't be much older than her!


I'm fascinated how much more is expected of these kids.  Snowdrop and her classmates go for "walks" in a school wagon. These kids are going for a longer walk, crossing many busy streets, with few adults and no stragglers.

Shortly after, some French (but not Parisian) family asks me how to get to the Eiffel Tower. I find that amusing. Every road in the city seems to lead to it, especially when it is this close!


(It was temporarily out of sight for them. They must have emerged from a metro, confused.)

Me, I love the Eiffel Tower. From a good vantage point. Like Snowdrop, I look for it, I admire it. It's symbolically relevant, sort of like a sunrise or sunset -- a thing of great beauty, but you wouldn't want to get near it.

And so, before I get too close, I turn around and head back. Past countless bakeries. I think the 7th Arrondissement has more bakeries than any other in Paris. And many of them are best of the best.

(Like this one: unusual, minimalist, beautiful.)


Returning, means I have to cross the lovely Places des Invalides again. Here are the promised pics -- a selfie on a timer...


The Tower, looking back...


This next photo is of middle aged Frenchmen in search of tradition and national identity. They choose to play boules. Now that's a nationalism I can wrap my brain around.


And now it's nearing 2:30, the French witching hour for lunch, but I'm not worried! Given that Cafe Varenne is closed and Cafe Trama promised to finally open today but then pushed it up to evening which is useless for me now, at lunchtime -- given all that,  I am going to turn my back on everything and go where I really want to go -- to Cafe Breizh, which, btw, is now listed on their website here.

There are so many crepes to savor! So many! I choose the classic one with tomato, cheese, egg and ham. And I sit back to take in the action.

For instance, this table, with the newly arrived, lively, chatty, happy Americans, baby in tow.


Here comes my lunch, late as it is in the afternoon (a French person wouldn't be caught dead eating now).


And no, I'm not going home without dessert. Homemade caramel and beurre salee ice cream along with buckwheat ice cream.


Is that it then for the day? I collapse after four hours of walking up and down and all around the Left Bank? Not really. I have an errand to run -- a search for a certain cup (long story and not too interesting). I criss-cross the Boulevard St Germain several times and it strikes me that I never actually photograph the Boulevard St Germain and so this time, I take out the camera and click.


In the evening, I go out to dinner.

Here's the thing about Parisian dinners: picking a place can be very stressful and so I long ago decided that I would make my choices in advance of arriving here and tweak them if need be. For tonight, I booked a table at Filomena. It's the restaurant that hopped in when my long beloved Pouic Pouic finally hopped out.

People love it. It's a Sardinian place, which practically guarantees that everyone eating there will be French. I mean, if you're on holiday in Paris, you may break down and eat pizza or even pasta, but you're NOT going to set aside a whole meal on the cuisine of Sardinia.

So good food, good mix of Italian (waitstaff) and French (diners) -- what's there to cry about? Oh, plenty: the proprietors chose to play tapes of Fiorella Mannoia music all night long. Like this one:

Well now, run my whole life by me and make me sob! We, my girls and I, have this thing about Fiorella. We've loved her music since I first played it for them when they were real bambini themselves.

It doesn't help that I get a text about how Snowdrop was sad today and the teacher suspected missing...

Still, the food at Filomena is fine. I would go back. If I lived in Paris. I've said this before -- food is good here. You may not like a particular dish or a waiter or a setting or a night, but that's just luck or lack thereof.

No photos of dishes for you. Just of a nostalgia filled Aperol Spritz.


... and a bunch of lovely photos of people in love. Which make me very happy.




Good night, sweet dreams, see you in Warsaw tomorrow.