Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Institute of the Arab World - Oops! No! The Mosque and Yet Another Church

Our plan for today was to see the Arab World Museum. However, we didn't leave the house until nearly noon. After a brief look at the Paris mosque, we realized that if we were going to eat lunch we had to do so soon because it can be difficult to find a meal between 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. This has caused problems in the past.

We were near Rue Mouffetard, a market street, and found a restaurant there where I got veal in a cream sauce and the co-diner had fish. Dessert, as shown in the photo, was tarte tatin (a caramelized apple tart) and cherry tart. After some exploration (and cheese shopping) on Rue Mouffetard, we realized that it was really to late to do a museum, so the Institute of the Arab World will have to wait until later in our trip.

Instead we went to St. Etienne-du-Mont, which has a mixture of architectural styles and the oldest organ in Paris. Someone was playing it while we were there. It also contains the tomb of St. Genivieve and some of her relics.

Finished Object: Braided Cable Socks

Pattern: Braided Cable Socks by Lynne Wardrop
Yarn: Artyarns Ultramerino 4 in Sky Green
Needles: Size 2

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 28: Left Bank Walk

Today, our 28th day in Paris, we took the tour of the Left Bank recommended in Rick Steve's travel guide. We passed by the hotel where Oscar Wilde died ("Either this wallpaper goes or I do."). We also passed the famous cafes Les Deux Magots and Cafe Flore.

St. Germain-des-Pres is the oldest church in Paris, and is still painted in the medieval manner. The church of St. Sulpice plays an important role in Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, and they make a point of refuting the notion that the church stands on the site of a pagan temple and that the "S" and "P" in the transept windows stand for "Priory of Sion." The church has a very nice Delacrox painting of Jacob Wrestling the Angel.

Lunch was duck breast and grilled vegetables for me and Salade Nicoise for the co-diner.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day 26: Parc de la Villette and Parc Monceau

Both Parc de la Villette and Parc Monceau are very urban parks. However, that is all they have in common. Parc de la Villette was completed in 1991 and the park designer had input from deconstructionist philospher Jacques Derrida. It contains 10 themed gardens, sculpture by Claes Oldenburg, and several music and film venues. Parc Monceau, on the other hand, is located in a very well-to-do section of Paris and strives to be a very old-fashioned park with faux classic ruins.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Day 25: Crisscrossing Paris

We spent the day crisscrossing Paris, mostly on foot. The Orangerie is where several of Monet's water lily paintings are displayed in two galleries designed precisely for the paintings. They are absolutely beautiful. In addition to the Monets there is a first rate collection from the estate of dealer and collector Paul Guillaume. Picasso, Renoir, Modigliani, Cezanne, and others are represented.

We walked to Place Vendome, an exclusive shopping area where the Ritz Hotel is surrounded by expensive jewelry shops. From there we walked to the Garden of the Royal Palace - not too impressive, actually. Then it was on to Rue Montorgueil, the only remnant remaining of the traditional Les Halles market area. It has been moved out to the suburbs.

We stopped for an afternoon snack at a tea salon and then proceeded to Gallery Lafayette. David Lynch has decorated their windows this month and they are very Lynch-ean. We bought some prepared food at Gallery Lafayette for dinner and then hopped on the Metro for the ride home.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Canal St. Martin and Dinner at Yolande's

We were fortunate enough to be invited to dinner at the apartment of our French teacher's mother, Yolande. She lives near Canal St. Martin and we saw a boat go through the turning bridge. Dinner was lovely, an appetizer of spicy red bell peppers, a main course of lamb and haricots verts, a cheese course served with an endive salad, and a plate of pastries.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Le Chat Noire - Past and Present

One of my faithful readers has requested a photo of Le Chat Noir. Le Chat Noir was a cabaret established in 1881 in Montmartre. It was originally located on Boulevard Rochechouart. Today there is a "History of Paris" sign marking the site. That sign is almost covered up by the bags at the souvenir shop next door. The club later moved to Rue Victor Masse. There is a plaque at that address today. It closed in 1897. Today there is a cafe called Le Chat Noir on Boulevard de Clichy, not too far from the two cabaret locations. There is also a boutique hotel called Le Chat Noir. The poster for the cabaret, by Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen, is ubiquitous in souvenir shops in Montmartre and elsewhere in Paris.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day 22: Jardin des Plantes and Arenes de Lutece

The Jardin des Plantes is a large botanical garden on the left bank. French gardens differ from American gardens in that the paths are invariably sand rather than asphalt or paving stones or grass. This results in dusty shoes, which is a little irritating. Also, French gardens seem to be more formally structured than American or English gardens. This garden has a labyrinth which couldn't fool anybody since the path is a simple spiral. Nevertheless, it's quite charming.

The Arenes de Lutece are the remains of a Gallo-Roman ampitheater. It's surrounded by a very pretty park. We saw men playing boules in what used to be the arena area.

Dinner was at a Laotian restaurant where I had toasted rice salad and the co-diner had a shrimp dish. Now I have to figure out how to make toasted rice salad. We'll see if Google can steer me in the right direction.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 21: I Buy a Copper Saucepan

Today we went to the famous cookware shop, Dehilleron, and I bought a copper saucepan, something I've wanted for a long time but haven't bought because of the expense. It's very heavy and beautiful. It cost 93 Euros, including tax, about $136, so it is expensive.

Lunch was at an Alsatian restaurant. The co-diner and Rhon had salads, one with smoked salmon and the other with ham and cheese. I had an Alsatian tart. Delicious!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day 20: Marais and Market Shopping

Since Bastille Market is open only on Thursday and Sundays, and only for a short time on Sunday, we went there first to get our rotisserie chicken fix. Unfortunately, the chicken lady had only a half chicken left with our favorite spicing, but we grabbed it and went on to buy beans, mirabelle plums, tangerines, cheeses, and bread.

Then it was on to the Marais. We saw Victor Hugo's house (his dishes are hanging on the wall in one of the photos). We stopped at St. Paul - St. Louis Church and saw the clamshell holy water font donated by Victor Hugo. We peeked in at Hotel de Sully ( a 17th century example of conspicuous consumption). And then it was on to dessert and tea at a Salon de The called the Dormouse in the Teapot. I had the lemon meringue tart with an unusually high meringue. The co-diner had a cake with nuts and fruit that was very good. The waiter told us what it was, but neither of us really understood what he said. From there it was home to put away the groceries and taste the cheeses.

Book: "World's End" by T. Coraghessan Boyle

Okay, let's admit that history repeats itself. Does that also mean that history determines one's fate? The answer in World's End seems to be a qualified "Yes." The book goes back and forth between 17th century Peekskill, New York, where a few tenant farmers are beginning to question the authority of the landowning patroon, to an early 1950's Communist Party sponsored concert, and to a 1970's event featuring a river boat dedicated to cleaning up the environment (similar to the Clearwater).

My rating: **** (out of 5)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 19: Architecture and Auteuil

After going to the airport with Janet and John, I spent the afternoon with my friend Rhon. An interior designer, he's very knowledgeable about and interested in architecture. We did a walking tour of the Auteuil neighborhood near Bois de Boulogne. It's an up-scale, quiet neighborhood, very different from many of the busy Paris neighborhoods that we've been visiting so far.

We saw buildings designed by architects Hector Guimard and Mallet Stevens. The architectural details were beautiful. Unfortunately the Le Corbusier house that Rhon particularly wanted to see was closed for restoration. I guess we'll just have to return to Paris in the spring!

But I know what you're really interested in is what we ate. We ate at Le Mouton Blanc. Both of us had duck breast with spinach and peaches. For dessert I had the isle flottante (floating island) in the foreground of the photo and Rhon had chocolate fondant with creme cafe arabica. Delicious!

Day 18: Day of the Dead

On Janet and John's last day in Paris we decided to visit a couple of the cemeteries. We went to Montmartre Cemetery where Degas, Victor Hugo, and Francois Truffaut are buried. We were going to see the Catacombs, but when we got there it was closed due to vandalism It will reopen "when order is restored." We had lunch at a rotisserie restaurant near the Catacombs. I had lamb and everyone else enjoyed the rotisserie chicken.

Pere Lachaise is a huge cemetery. The hills and the cobblestoned roads make it very tiring to explore. We saw the burial spots for Abelard and Heloise, Edith Piaf, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Oscar Wilde, and, of course, Jim Morrison. We capped the evening with a quick stroll through Luxembourg Gardens before they closed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Giverny and Pompidou Center

We took the train to Giverny today and it was a fantastic outing! Monet's house is very interesting and the gardens are absolutely beautiful. When we returned to Paris we stopped at a crepe place near Pompidou Center for dinner.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Less Granite - More Food

One of my faithful readers has requested (via Facebook) less granite and more food. This morning we walked down market street Rue Le Pic with Janet and John. When we came to Metro Station Blanche we turned around and - voila! - there was the Moulin Rouge. We went to Trocadero so they could take Eiffel Tower photos and then to Notre Dame so they could climb up the tower to photograph gargoyles. I'm still fighting off a cold, so knitted in the plaza while they did their sightseeing. Lunch was chicken gyros and afternoon snack a delicious chocolate crepe. The co-diner had chocolate coconut crepe.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More American Tourists!

Today my sister Janet and her husband John arrived in Paris for a few days. It was lots of fun taking them around to the sites. We visited Sacre Coeur and had omelets and salads at a small restaurant at the top of the stairs near our apartment. Then we went to the Arc de Triomphe and walked down the Champs Elysees. I bailed out at the Louvre, suffering from sleep deprivation and the beginning of a cold. I think they're planning to see Notre Dame and perhaps the Eiffel Tower.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Paris Passages

Paris has several passages, covered shopping areas that are precursors of today's malls. They were built in the 18th and 19th centuries and some of them are quite well preserved. They have antique shops, a shop selling handmade canes, stamp and coin shops, art galleries, and, of course, candy and pastry shops.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rue Dieulafoy and Cite Floral

Several weeks ago my friend Rohn loaned me
a book of photographs of Paris. The book had pictures from two neighborhoods that I found very attractive. Today we visited them.