Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday's adventures


It was one of those days where life did its own thing, despite what we had planned.  We started out the day with a trip to the world-famous Père Lachaise cemetery, where many luminaries of art, literature, stage, etc are buried.  But when we got there the guards would not let us in because they said there was a funeral and the cemetery was closed for the whole day.  Huh?  He was sending everybody away but the mourners.  We vowed to go back tomorrow and headed instead for the Jewish Museum of Art and History and spent a fascinating couple of hours with the photos, artifacts, and history of the Jewish communities from China to North Africa and every country in Europe from Hundreds of years B.C.E to the years of WWII.  No photos allowed but I did sneak one of this painting by Marc Chagall, which is totally unlike his more commonly known work.  

Late in the afternoon we wen across to the Quartier Latin on the left bank and walked up the hill to the Sorbonne, which was just a bunch of buildings.  Walked babk down Boulevard St.Michel. Where there were a couple of alleys filled with bistros cheek by jowl.  We sat and had a drink. And friendly conversation with an American couple from Charleston,S.C. Who recommended the raspberry beer.
I should have taken his advice.  The alleged Margarita tasted a bit strange. By the way, every bar and café in this city has Happy Hour which lasts till 11:pm. 
We walked back to the Marais for dinner and here are a couple of nice views from the bridge.
That needs no intro.  This next one is the Tour St. Jacque, which is all that remains of the church, destroyed during the French Revolution.  This is one of my favorite Paris icons.
Here it is during the day.
Off to dinner at my cousin Frédéric's.  More later.  Tomorrow we leave for London and fly home Thursday. Waaaaah.








Last day in Paris


More shop windows. Trust me, gray is the new black so to speak.  Seen everywhere, but  I was too busy walking to take pix of every window.
We did go back to the cemetery-- a truly beautiful place with amazing history. 
This is the grave of Oscar Wilde, which is probably the most visited one.i couldn't get close enough, but if you see what look like spots on the side of the monument, they are lipstick kisses put there by fans.  There is also lipstick on the figure's mouth.  Beats me why, but it is famous.  They have put up a plexi wall and a sign asking people not to dirty the tomb because it is expensive to clean and is paid for by the family.

Chopin, Molière, Colette, Piaf, and many others too numerous to mention are buried at Père Lachaise.
But this is the one I wanted to visit.
After that, I could leave.
We headed for the second time to the Musée d'Orsay and there were still hordes waiting to get in,so we left.  As we approached the museum, we saw this beggar woman in the same spot she had been two days earlier.
I  assumed she was there every day and I was correct. An elegant woman saw me take the picture and stopped to tell us that this old woman is part of a gang that brings a truckload of women and children, drops them off every morning and picks them up every night.  They then take all their coins, go to the bank and exchange them for Euro bills. Paris is full of them. No surprise to me--I have been here enough to know not to give them anything. 

After we couldn't get into the Musée ( I think all the lines were to see the special exhibit of male nudes
In art) we walked back to the right bank and through Le Jardin des Tuileries.  What a great place!  Full of public art, it was a joy.

This is not a real tree;bronze, but almost impossible to tell.
Ceramic bridge.
The ubiquitous carousel.  They are all over the city and all beautiful.

Taxi in 15 minutes to take us to the station.  Will post again if I can, if I can get wifi.
---------------
On the Eurostar, still in the Gare du Nord.  No wifi,but I can write and will post tonight when we are back at the house in London.  This morning, I went out for a  walk alone and poked my head into a dep't store that was having sales. Wandered around but did not buy anything.  Then, on my walk back, took some pictures in the glorious store across the street from our apt.  These mugs come in a variety of Pantone colors, with each the number of the color marked on the cup. Big ones and little ones. I was sorely tempted but had no more room in my already too-heavy luggage.  The big mugs were almost 15€ and the demitasse cups were 10€.  Another time. Maybe.
Then a few other things and I was out the door.
A patchwork chair for a couple of thousand euros was a perfect way to end the morning.  Next stop, London.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Les croissants ordinaires vs les croissants au buerre

Ok, so yesterday I said to my cousin France That the croissants were not as good these days as they used to be.  They used to be to die for and now they are just adequate and don't taste any better than what we get in the US.  
(Personally, I prefer une ficelle for breakfast.  A ficelle is a smaller, skinnier baguette that weighs half of what a baguette weighs and it is crisp and delicious. But I digress).
Aha! Here is the reason...My cousin told me that for the most part these days, most bakeries buy their croissants frozen and bake them in the back instead of making them as they used to.  Furthermore, these croissants, which look like those below, in the familiar crescent shape you expect, are made with the dreaded margarine, which is not only cheaper and worse for you with its transfats, than butter, but tastes bad and does not give the croissant its flakiness, lovely dark color, or crisp outside.  If you see a croissant that looks like this, it is not a true croissant au buerre. Do not bother.
An authentic croissant should look like these, which are not crescent shaped at all.
Enlightened and armed with this new knowledge, I did an internet search for the best croissants in Paris. The #1 was not in central Paris but the #2 was at 134 rue de Turenne in the 3rd arrondissement.
Since that street was not far from l'As du Falafel, where we went for brunch we went on our quest de croissant. The walk was several miles but we hope it helped walk off this giant and exceptional falafel.
After at least an hour's walk, we got to the boulangerie and bought four croissant au buerre.
We shared one, which was ambrosia and tasted just as I remembered the French ones tasted like.
Here are the ones we bought, which you can see look as they should: rolled but not crescent-shaped.
And yes, they are to die for.  When I get home I will buy some French butter and go to work in the kitchen.

Paris la nuit

We ended Friday with a visit to the Pompidou.  The weather gods have smiled on us most of the time; it has been almost shirtsleeve weather and very little rain.  But it started to drizzle at about 6:30 pm when we arrived at the museum.  The view of the city from l'escalier méchanique, which is on the outside of the building,was beautiful, but these photos I took as we ascended were filtered by the raindrops, so they look as though they have been photoshopped. Not so.

The museum closed at 9h so there was barely enough time to see everything.  The Roy Lichtenstein retrospective was amazing and we are both surprised by his sculptures and the artwork that was not entirely like the typical cartoon styles you picture when you think of his work.  The permanent collection, which is always changing, was superb and loaded with pieces by both Robert and Sonia Delaunay.   The one below is obviously not one of them.
'Nite.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A day behind


It is Saturday night in the City of Light.  We just got back from spending the day with my French family and I am a very happy camper.  I adore them all and there were relatives there that I have not seen for 13 years. There was lots of lively conversation about politics and other things; the food and wen were great, and there were lots of kisses all around.  The grandchildren are now teenagers and I was amused to see this ubiquitous activity is not confined to my own grandchildren at home. LOL.
Ophir (left)  generously tethered me to his phone so I could have wifi in his grandparents' house.  They pronounce it "wee fee" (of course).

Friday, another full day-- but less hectic than the previous ones.  My turn-- and I wanted to wander through the Marais, my favorite quarter.  We went to the elegant Place des Vosges which was the first planned square in Paris, built by Henry IV I from 1605-1612.  
 We visited Victor Hugo's house, which is there and then wandered the streets of the now-trendy district filled with galleries and shops.
We couldn't tell what this shop sold but the window was great.
This is referring to Chanukah which this year, is so early that it begins on the American Thanksgiving.
Once the home of Paris' vibrant Jewish quarter, it still retains its character on the Rue des Rosiers and rue Vieille du Temple. This was on the wall of a boys' school in the neighborhood...
And while the famous Goldenberg's delicatessen is now a clothing store,e scents of deli food and falafel were hard to resist.

We stopped for mint tea and pastry at one of the salons de thé late in the afternoon, just as they were getting ready to close.
  We will probably go tomorrow for lunch to one of its famous delicatessens, since Paris shops and restos are closed Sundays.




sewing and drinking thé à la menthe

Not at the same time, as I am bound to spill whatever I am drinking on what I am stitching. My cousin France got me started on mint te...