Wednesday, December 10, 2014


It is a day without a plan. The only items that had forethought to it were dinner and breakfast. The rest evolved, responding in turn to changes in the weather and changes in my level of energy.

Breakfast -- on the late side. Ocean kept me up until 2. It was with great difficulty that I stretched my arm out of bed and picked up the laptop at 8 and I stuck to reading stuff on it until well after 9.

The clouds outside came back and though there's talk of later clearings, it's only talk. Still, I leave behind the umbrella.  I may live to regret this recklessness, but then, Paris invites a degree of recklessness: eat butter, walk alone at midnight, drink wine with lunch, ride a bike without helmet (not me, but everyone else), leave umbrella behind.

For breakfast, I step outside and note that there is what might be called a drizzle by some. On the other hand, people are funny: here, it is not unusual to see someone take her dog out for a walk in a bag.

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I scoff at the umbrellas and walk over to the Rue Madame without one. To this cafe bar:

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With a very serious, this morning, client base.

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Well, except for me...

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They serve Poilane bread here  (arguably Paris's best) and that's reason enough to order it for the morning meal: a tartine (which is a slice of baguette with heavenly butter slathered on top), some jam, and a coffee with milk. I worry that I'll regret passing on the croissant and so I order that as well.

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Yes, piggish. What can I say. I left behind a little of each. Maybe they have cheepers out back who will appreciate it.

I then cut through the Luxembourg Gardens again.

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And I buy the commuter rail ticket for Friday's ride to the airport at the Luxembourg Gardens RER stop. It's close enough in time for me to be thinking about it. And for me to fret:  I must fill these last days in Paris, I must! Alright, I'm motivated to walk to the Right Bank Marais neighborhood. I want to span the corners of Paris and not remain glued to the neighborhood that I inevitably call home.

I leave behind the area of the Sorbonne University... (These are surely Sorbonne types. I'm almost certain one of them is an American. Want to guess which one and why?)

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Over the river. First thing I see is a guy toting his Christmas tree home without the bother of a car.

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And this gentleman -- I think he is quintessentially a Marais neighborhood guy. It's always dangerous to stereotype, but in Paris, may I remind you, we live dangerously.

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Step aside now! This woman's in a hurry!

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And this gentleman is protectively moving his girlfriend out of harm's way:

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And this one? Well, she smokes and she wears black. That pretty much makes her a French woman through and through.

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Close to the Place des Vosges, there is the Credit Municipal de Paris -- a bank that offers small, low-interest loans against inexpensive valuables (it celebrated its 375 birthday a couple of years ago by forgiving the debt of its poorest customers, making headlines around the world for this gesture). I see that they have a small exhibition in its gallery rooms. You could say it's the French counterpart to yesterday's Garry Winogrand exhibit. Here, they're displaying the photos of Jean-Philippe Charbonnier and the title of the exposition is "An Eye on Paris." So of course, there's no one in the gallery. The French are all ogling Texas and LA and NY (the French faves in America!) over at the Jeu de Paume. Paris, through the lens of a French photographer? Yawn.

For me, it's gold! Not even silver -- pure gold. (In case you think that this is just the usual excessive enthusiasm I seem to reserve for this city, I want to remind you that I visited three photographic exhibits in Paris last March and remembered/liked none of them especially much.) 

To celebrate my successful day thus far, I again shop for my little granddaughter (the one that hasn't been born yet), prompting Ed to later mutter something about babies and grandmothers and the ridiculousness behind it all, but I can tell that he is not altogether being serious.

It's now nearly 2 in the afternoon and I just want to ride the metro back to my apartment and put my feet up. Too many hours of walking.

And I do ride the metro back.

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But my plan to pick up some quiche or sandwich at the bakery and take it home gets knocked down when I pass the Danton Cafe by the Odeon Metro stop. So many happy looking people inside! Wouldn't it be nice just to sit among among them and order, say, a croque-madame? (That's the French term for a grilled cheese and ham sandwich, with a fried egg on top. At the Danton Cafe, it's actually called a Croque Mademoiselle, which is the first time I've come across that sweet diminutive.)

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I finish with a coffee.

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This really is one of Paris's surefire hits for cafe food, for nimble waiters and for terrific people watching.

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And by now the sun is trying to assert itself in wisps here and there, but I'm not fooled. There is rain in that sky (I tell myself) and I do not have an umbrella so wouldn't it be just fine to retreat to my little apartment on the 6th floor and rest? 

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I walk home and finish the afternoon by working on my photos.

As for the evening? Read on only if you are interested in food. I know how terribly boring it is to post descriptions of what went into your gut. We do it far too often and readers rarely like it. Indeed, I consider myself to be in the upper percentiles of those interested in food and even I tend to skim blogs that detail every ingredient of a beautiful dinner.

But I'm going to make an exception here because some of you may go to Paris and you will wonder -- where oh where should I eat? And for the Left bankers among you, I'll say -- Pouic Pouic is my favorite and Le Procope is reliable and then there is this and then there is that... And I'll wave my hand and say -- listen, just go and have fun and don't fret too much if the beef happens to be too tough for your liking that night.

But after tonight, I may also say -- make a reservation at Terroir Parisiene. (It's very casual. Don't dress up.)

I have considered going to this (5th arrondissement) restaurant for a long time now, but I thought it to be a touch smug in the description: it attempts to use, when it can, Parisian ingredients. Like, cheese from this area. Mushrooms, spinach, pears too. Mustard made here. Honey. Cherries that grow just outside the city. The list is long. 

And I thought -- why is this important? Isn't it just the French bragging about how they can respect local in ways that no one else can?

But I read yet again quite recently how this restaurant is no joke. It's just damn good. So I reserved and I went and I have to say that a couple of the dishes there were over the top good. Over the top! 

I actually bought a bottle of something there.

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I had the affable waiter drag it down from a storage shelf. It's a syrup made from the poppies that grow in the area. They used it to flavor an aperitif (kir), but I thought it may have a million uses and I never saw or tasted anything like it. (Step aside, granddaughter  -- I need to fit in a bottle of poppy syrup!)

And now we're accelerating the speed of time (or so it always seems to toward the end of a trip). I have one more day left on this side of the ocean. To use it well, I must go to sleep before midnight! I must! 

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