I’ve left Africa and made my way to Paris. I’m sitting in an American themed cafe called “LouLou” on St. Germain Blvd. Turns out as into Paris fashion as American women are, the Parisians are as infatuated with American culture. The vanilla milkshake here, well it just about rivals Duckfat’s in Portland, Maine. Across the street is a beautiful, rather large, old church. In an hour or so I’ll walk a block up to the metro and take a train to the Pigalle neighborhood, where I’ve rented an incredibly adorable apartment for the week. Five flights up, it has a full kitchen with an electric stove I am using to heat up soup at night that I pair with a simple green salad and a bountiful cheese plate (this is France after all).
Last night it rained again, so I went to the art house theatre the Cinema Etoile Pagode (check out photos here) and saw Woody Allen’s most recent film Magic in the Moonlight with the always dreamy Colin Firth. It was the perfect early evening and place to see this particular film (which is very good aside from the fact that the two main characters have zero romantic chemistry). Woody Allen loves Paris, but more than that Firth plays a magician from the Orient and the theatre’s decor is Japanese. The film going experience here is an unusual one – concessions are sold by a young woman with a tray of a few goodies outside the door to one of the two screening rooms and inside red blankets are piled up for patron’s warmth. You feel very much like you are in a wealthy Parisian’s living room.
A few years ago I wrote up a couple Sourcebooks for Paris – “Shop” and “Eat“….following are a few updates:
For Shopping – I’m still a fan of Repetto, and if ever there was a quintessential Parisian shoe brand this is it. Monoprix is as convenient as ever, in fact I’m impressed by the quality of their cheeses. The rest I’d chuck. Rather, I’d recommend LaMarthe for an elegant semi-luxury bag that’s French designed and European made – shop located on St. Germain Blvd. I happened to time it right and scored a bag for 50% off!!! Also, all the super lovely independently owned jewelry shops in the Marais and Pigalle neighborhoods. I’m not a department store gal and have zero interest in chains like H&M, but if that’s your thing you’ll find those along Rue de Rivoli and near Place de la Bastille.
For Eats – I didn’t go to any of the places I mentioned in that post this time, so here are a few new ones…. LouLou for good American fare at #90 St. Germain Blvd. in the Latin Quarter (further up the road are the far better known Les Deux Magots and Cafe de Fiore known for attracting intellectuals during the first part of the 20th century), Rose Bakery at #46, rue des Martyrs in Montmartre (while on that street check out all the food shops including #22 Sebastien Guard and get the tarte au citron), and on Rue Montorgueil you will find a number of cafes great for people watching – just read the menu posted outside the seating area before committing.
For COFFEE! The following are places I went: Ten Belles – good if you are wandering the canals st Martin, Fragments (plenty of pastries!), and my favorite Telescope (near the Louvre). These are recommended by friends in Paris: Coutume – over by the Eiffel Tower, Loustic – near the Marais, and Cafeotheque (a different style to the others ) not too far from the Institut du Monde Arabe (a superb museum, and one of Time Magazine‘s 10 things to do in Paris).
OK, Pics from my time in Paris.
Walking along the Seine. This was taken on one of my rare sunny days here. When not walking the city’s beautifully aged streets, I’m riding the metro, which is super easy to navigate and ultra convenient!
The Institut du Monde Arabe is a modern building dedicated to ancient times. I scored gold with the temporary exhibit dedicated to Moroccan culture (specifically Rabat and Casablanca) and went back twice for lunch and green tea. Three cheers for their lamb tagine and my new friend Mustafa who gifted me a good luck charm to carry with me during my travels in Africa. I returned to thank him and he turned it into a keychain. He studied woodworking for years in Morocco and as you can maybe tell from the picture I took – his feet are an integral part of the craft making process.
The Louvre, a must as far as I’m concerned when in Paris. It’s closed Tuesday and all other days lines can be quite long so I recommend going early – as in get there by 9:30 a.m. A friend here told me lines are also short toward day’s end. It’s a huge museum so do what you can and leave the rest for another visit. Each time I go I see something new. This time I spent a couple hours with the Italian and Spanish paintings in the museum’s collection. A portion of that time I watched an older gentleman painting a replica of a portrait by Raffaello Sanzio of Jean d’Aragon. A guard explained the gentleman is an art student. He was incredible – a lot of people stopped and watched him, looked at his hands and palette and painting – and then at the painting he was copying and honestly you couldn’t – at least the untrained eye – see a difference. I got a couple sorry shots of his palette, but didn’t want to bother him so just left the experience as it was. Wish I could have photographed his hands, they were beautiful. Old, large, and worked. A working man’s hands, a painter’s hands.
Telescope at 5 rue Villedo, a 5-10 minute walk from the Louvre. Nicholas the owner has a thing for owls so if you have one bring it and you might make a new friend in Paris. Thanks Will and Kathleen at Tandem for recommending!!
And my neighborhood – Pigalle/Montmartre…
The dining room/living room in the apartment I’m renting and one of the views. I’ll be doing a whole blog post on my love affair with Haven in Paris. Not only have they provided me a beautiful, comfortable home away from home, they have taken such good care of me from the flowers and wine awaiting my arrival to moving small mountains so I could arrive earlier than expected.
Souvenir shop and mini Eiffel Towers near the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur. This time I ventured into the church and sat for a while with memories of Sunday mornings from years ago accompanying Madame Abad to services while a student in Strasbourg. There are beautiful cathedrals all over France and those she took me to as my host parent had service in Latin. I am as enamored now as I was then with the great architecture and historic significance.
Vegetable soup at Rose Bakery followed by a tarte au citron from Sebastien Gaudard. ox