Friday, September 30, 2011

Moving Day and a New Neighborhood

Today we moved from our September apartment to the October apartment, about a mile away in the Canal St-Martin neighborhood.  Because it would have required two subway lines to move by Métro, and that would have meant hauling luggage up and down several flights of stairs, we walked to the new apartment with our luggage.

Like the September apartment, this one is small, but I think it's more attractive.  The kitchen is much larger and better furnished than the September kitchen.  There's actually a small table and two chairs.  The September apartment had a fold-up table and chairs.

As in most Paris apartments, the toilet in is a separate tiny cabine.

There's a window box with geraniums at the living room window.

The bedroom is almost completely filled by the bed.  There are two small nightstands and the closet is in the living room.

The living room is comfortable.

After unpacking, we set off to explore the neighborhood.  There's an interesting looking cabaret a few blocks away.

We had lunch at a raclette restaurant.  Raclette is a Swiss dish somewhat similar to fondue.  You melt cheese  over the burner built into the table (see the upper left-hand portion of the picture) and then scrape the melted cheese over the meats and potato.  It's typically served with cornichons (tiny tart pickles).

On rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud we saw this sign painted on the sidewalk.

The purpose of the sign is to remind dog owners to take their dogs to the gutter to relieve themselves.  The signs are disappearing because in 2002 a law was passed requiring dog owners to clean up after their pets under threat of a 35 euro fine.  In my experience, this law is not being effectively enforced.  I got this information from the blog "Invisible Paris."

Today's cheese:  Petit Reblochon

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Don't Get It

Today was one of those days when we ran into several things that didn't totally make sense.  But before I get to that, let's get lunch out of the way.  We went to an old restaurant in the Les Halles area, Le Cochon à l'oreille.  It's decor hasn't changed much in the last hundred years.  It has beautiful tile murals on the walls.

The decor was more impressive than the food.  They serve traditional bistro food, and my braised beef was good, but I'm not a fan of canned vegetables.

We planned to do a walking tour of the Opéra area, and when we got out of the Métro there was a huge traffic jam.  We started walking down the street and came upon a large crowd on both sides of the sidewalk.  There was a bus that appeared to belong to a French sports team stopped across from a hotel and there were lots of people taking photos.  On the other side of the street the crowd seemed to be made up of people wearing chefs' hats.  We couldn't figure out if this event was about celebrity athletes arriving at the hotel or celebrity chefs.  On the chef side of the street, which was in front of a chocolate shop and patisserie, were tables where they were giving out samples of pastries.  We finally decided that we were seeing two events.  One was a sports team arriving at the hotel and being photographed by the media and fans, and the other event was part of a patisserie festival.  We're going to try to see if we can find other events associated with the patisserie festival.  I apologize for the quality of the photo.  It was crowded and I wasn't actually sure what I was taking a picture of.

After we waded through the crowd, we returned to our walking tour itinerary.  On rue de Capucines I saw this architectural detail over a door.

Place Vendôme is a large plaza where the Hotel Ritz and many expensive jewelry and clothing stores are located.  When we got there we stumbled upon an auto show.  Here's the Town and Country.

Right next to the auto show was a band playing.  They were in military uniforms and mounted on horses.  Once again, we weren't sure if the auto show and the band were related or were separate random events.

No cheese today because we move to another apartment tomorrow and don't want to be hauling groceries with us.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Parc de Bagatelle

Paris has been having a warm spell, with temperatures in the high seventies and low eighties.  So today's outing was to another park.  Parc de Bagatelle shares a boundary with the larger Bois du Boulogne.  We decided to take the bus rather than the Métro, and the bus ride was certainly more interesting.  However, it took us an hour to get from Gare du Nord to the Parc while the Métro would have been much faster.  Parc de Bagatelle was a chateau built in the time of Marie Antoinette.  The chateau is still there, but not open to visitors.  However, the gardens are beautiful, and we saw most, but not all of them.

The park is on the far edge of the city and it was quite a hike to the Métro stop when we were done.  We got back to the city at about 5:00, which was too late for lunch and too early for dinner.  So we stopped at an Italian place where I had grilled marinated vegetables and Bill had a Caesar salad.  My meal was more photogenic, so that's the one I'll show you.

After stops for baguette, cheese, and pastries, we returned to our apartment.

Today's cheeses:  Laguiole and Bleu d'Auvergne

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Parc de Bercy

Parc de Bercy was created in 1995 in an neighborhood of wine warehouses, and is absolutely beautiful.  We hadn't been here before, so it was all new to us.

We had a great lunch.  Salad with smoked salmon and goat cheese for me and roast chicken and fries for Bills.  The fries were delicious and suffered several incursions from me.

After lunch we went to Montparnasse to get baguette number 10 in the 2011 contest.  I saw this interesting looking public bathhouse.

Today's Cheese:  Munster Géromé
Today's Bread:  Number 10 in the 2011 contest

Monday, September 26, 2011

An Errand Day

We used today for a few errands.  I had some flavored syrups for my daughter-in-law and thought I'd be clever and ship them to her via UPS.   However, that didn't work because UPS doesn't ship liquids.  This meant that we had to schlep these cans of syrups with us for the rest of the day.

We stopped for a salad lunch on Rue Montorgeuil.

We saw a tempting chocolate shop.

We went to the department store Bon Marché where I resolved a minor knitting crisis by buying a couple balls of sock yarn.  While I was there I noticed an interesting architectural detail in the stairway.

And while we were on our way to buy today's baguette, I noticed an interesting archway which I think was on Rue de Grenelle.

I've been having a problem with a blister on my left foot, and needed to buy some more Band-Aids.  Band-Aids are Band-Aids, right?  Apparently not.  The Band-Aids we got at the pharmacy are about 4 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide.  They have a gauze strip down the center and tape on both sides of the gauze strip.  You cut the Band-Aid to fit.  It's actually a pretty good way to do it, because you can customize the size to a certain extent.

Today's Cheeses:  Munster and Brebis

Sunday, September 25, 2011

And More Miscellanea

The last time we saw Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, the agronomist popularizer of the potato, was at Pere Lachaise Cemetery - his grave.  He also has a street named after him and a Métro stop on that street.  On the platform of the Métro stop is a statue of Parmentier giving potatoes to a poor man.  Also on the platform are signs detailing the history of the potato.

A grisette is a working class woman, often a flirtatious working class woman who might receive financial support from a wealthy male.  Yesterday on the canal, near Rue du Faubourg du Temple,  I saw this statue of a grisette.  She's carrying a basket of flowers.

Also near the canal is the pizza restaurant where we had lunch.  We'll be staying on the same block as this restaurant in October and it will be difficult to stay away from these delicious pizzas.

The Métro stop Arts et Metiers is near the museum of arts and crafts for which it's named.  In 1994 the Métro stop was redecorated in a steampunk style, reminiscent of Jules Verne.

Yesterday's cheese:  Morbier

Friday, September 23, 2011


Top Ten Baguette Project

So far we've had baguettes from 6 of the top 10 winners.  We still need to get baguettes from numbers 2, 4, 6, and 10, but that shouldn't be a problem.

Does this street name mean what I think it means?

The former street name is Rue de la Femme Sans Teste.  I've sent out a request to my official translator to verify what that means.

Heloise and Abelard lived here (in 1349).

We saw this sign on a building on Île de la Cité yesterday.

Dinner at Creperie Beaubourg

Today is Janet and John's last evening in Paris, so we had dinner at a crepe restaurant we've enjoyed in the past.  My crepe had goat cheese and cooked apples, Janet's had veggies and an egg, John's had Roquefort cheese and veggies, and Bill's had chicken and veggies.

We had dessert crepes too.  Mine had chestnut cream, Janet's had chocolate mint ice cream with whipped cream, John's had bananas, raisins, and coconut in a chocolate sauce, and Bill's had a dense chocolate cake with chocolate sauce.  Yum!

Today's Cheeses:  Brie de Melun, Roquefort, and Fougerus (Delicious!)


The train ride to Chartres takes about an hour and I managed to get some knitting done on the train.

The cathedral in Chartres is famous for it's stained glass windows, particularly the blue colors.

They have an important relic - a piece of fabric that I've seen variously described as the Blessed Mother's tunic, camisole, and veil.  At any rate, it was something she wore.   I believe that this relic generated so many pilgrims it was necessary to build the cathedral to accommodate them.

We had a pizza lunch at a very pleasant square in the town.  They were huge thin-crust pizzas.  Janet's had potatoes and John's had various meats and an egg.

When we returned home we stopped at the cafe on the corner for dessert:  tarte tatin for Janet and John, and chocolate cake with creme Anglais for Bill and me.

Yesterday's cheese:  Morbier

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Île St-Louis, St-Sulpice, and a Mystery

Île St-Louis is the island Notre Dame is not on.  That's Île de la Cité.   Today's self-guided walking tour focused on this tiny island famous for ice cream. real estate, and being the long-time home of Marie Curie.

In France to ensure that the purchaser knows what kind of poultry she is purchasing, the butcher shops often leave on the head, the feet, or some feathers, or some combination of these three.

On a sidestreet we saw this drainpipe shaped like a fish.

The church of St-Louis had this pretty little angel holy water font.

After Île St-Louis we headed over to St-Sulpice on the Left Bank.  This church is the setting for a key scene in Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code.  Here's the famous transept with the rose line leading to it.

For lunch we went to a noodle restaurant where they were making fresh noodles in the back.  My photo of the noodle maker isn't very good because of glare from the glass wall he stood behind, but here's a photo of our lunches.

Now for the mystery.  The Pont des Arts is famous as a bridge on which lovers lock a padlock inscribed with their names and throw the key into the river.  This happens on Pont de l'Archevèché too, but on that bridge they also tie plastic bags, pieces of fabric, etc.  Here's a photo.

I have no idea what this means.  So, I'm holding a contest.  The first person who posts a comment explaining the correct significance of the plastic bags (including documentation so I know you didn't make up the answer) will win one of the Miraculous Medals I purchased last week at the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal.

Here's a photo of today's market purchases:

Today's cheese:  Specialité Bourgogne