Saturday, December 09, 2017

Paris in December, continued

I open one of the three large windows of my beautiful room to a blue sky and a slowly receding moon.


It's going to be a fine day in Paris!

How should I begin? With the usual cafe breakfast? Or a hotel breakfast? Both are fine, but maybe I should venture out further?

Off I go, chasing what I hope is more than just the moon...


Lovely as that moon is!


There is a tea room that is appended to a bakery and in the recent decades both have earned a lot of local hand clapping. I'd always wanted to stop in for lunch, but I was never there at the right time. Now's the time to branch out and try it. For breakfast. Or call it brunch!

The name of the place is "Bread and Roses," which sort of makes you think of England, but in fact, when you enter, there isn't much that reminds you of England except perhaps for the roses.

(The corner building...)


(The table, the rose, and a time release selfie...)


And the food? Well, you can just have your croissant and call it a day, but I'm thinking that one doesn't have to wed oneself to the idea that every morning in Paris deserves a croissant. Indeed, fairly good croissants can now be found in spots all across the U.S.  But great brioche? Now that's special!  And let me go on record as saying that the brioche here (served with a slab of butter and a bowl of home made organic strawberry jam ) is out of this world! It's late, it's brunch and so eggs are a nice addition. And they're good eggs, with a lovely salad, but really, the star of the show is the brioche. (You can be sure I'll be experimenting with brioche at home.)


Had I been ravenously hungry, I surely would have added a pastry to my meal. Like form their window display of all cakes raspberry. Another time!


I am on Rue Madame -- just a skip away from the Luxembourg Gardens. Time to give it my smile again.


Oh that sunshine! It makes kids of us all!


Wonderful sunshine, against a pale blue winter sky...


On the streets of the city again, I once again come across a Christmas tree market.


No, you don't have to carry that tree home! Have a stroller? Use it!


The sun brings the French men and women out to the sidewalk cafes. It's just barely above freezing, but sunshine makes all the difference. (I'm sure you'll have noted the woman with a cigarette. The French still do permit outside smoking, but I have to say the number of smokers has gone down considerably. Which is such a good thing.)


Passing a local green grocer, I am tempted. Around the bend he has berries. They are yummy looking berries. But I'm decked out in my warmest coat, hood, mittens, parcels. And so I just look.


I walk down to the river. I don't have a firm destination in mind. I stroll along this ribbon of blue against a sky of blue all the way down to the Musee d'Orsay (on the opposite bank, you'll see the Tuileries Gardens).


That's the museum with the Impressionists and the special exhibition on Degas and his dancers. And I see that there is no line! Well, must be fate. I approach the revolving doors and then boom! A guard blocks my entrance (and that of the people lining up behind me). An announcement is made: someone left a suspicious package inside. Everyone must stay away until this is resolved.

Yes, it must be fate. No museum for me today. I walk on.

Past stores that remind me of little ones...


And now I am close to the Place des Invalides and I see scores of buses and hundreds of people getting out and walking across the bridge to... what? Where have these crowds come from? I've never seen Paris like this! As I start to cross the river, I ask someone -- what's happening here?

Oh, it's France, paying homage to Johnny Hallyday.

Well, I've been here enough times to know that he was this country's beloved pop artist. A colorful guy (see the link above). I hadn't known he died. Oh, I read online news when I travel, but right now, we're all rather fixated with the political spectacle going on within our own borders.

I never quite make it across to the other side of the river. One pause, to acknowledge the beauty of the Tower and then I turn back.


This will have been yet another trip to Paris where I never quite make it to the Right Bank.

(Here's a Hallyday fan, taking a break to eat lunch...)


Yet another bakery. They're really starting to tempt me.


I am now in the 7th Arondissement -- where my family and I had gathered for Snowdrop's first visit to Paris. I still think of it as her neighborhood.

And what's this? Music. Hundreds of people taking to the street... Is it part of the Hallyday tribute? No. These concerned citizens are marching on behalf of people with rare illnesses. It is at once moving and sad and hopeful and inspiring, all at the same time.


But how did it get to be so late? The sun sinks, the colors are deeper now.


And by the time I reach my hotel, it is completely dark. I had paused to pick up a raspberry financier (sort of like an individual pound cake). I have it now with a cup of tea.


And after I text with this family member and talk to that guy back at the farmhouse, it's time to head out to dinner.

I don't mess with Saturdays here: I book in advance. I had reserved a spot at the Breizh Cafe before I knew I'd be landing a spot there on my first night in Paris. Now that I have eaten here just the day before yesterday, you'd think I would want to cancel and go elsewhere.

Not so. I tell myself I don't have to eat buckwheat crepes. I can splurge on their Brittany oysters and munch on their pate, or smoked fishes, or fill myself with their wonderful North Sea langoustines (scampi).

But, the buckwheat crepe is just too tempting. I eat a half dozen oysters and then I devour this buckwheat guy, filled with mushrooms, cheese, smoked duck and an egg.


I'm seated at the counter and so I have a full view of the open kitchen. I know this guy is the chef. You're thinking  -- Japanese?

Indeed. Breizh Cafe has a big foot in Japan. Amazing how sharing cultures and foods can so often enrich us all.


This will have been my last day in Europe. Tomorrow I leave all of it behind -- all this (Poland, France...) that I wrote about with, I hope, the true amount of curiosity, admiration and love.

I'll be returning home. My next post should be from the other side of the ocean.