Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Last Supper - Bofinger

A big knotted ball has developed in my stomach.  I know, this is a signal, I don’t want to leave Paris and this is my last full day here.

What is it about this beautiful city of Paris that steals people’s hearts.

Is it the beautiful design of the city, the architecture, the ancient café’s and restaurants, the ornate brasseries, the fashion, the Parisians, the food, the flood lit buildings at night, the Eiffel Tower, The Arc de Triomphe, The Seine, the bustle of the metro, the enticing window displays.  Yes it is all of that and more. 

I decided to just wander, take photos, shop, eat macarons and say goodbye, or better still À bientôt, until later, to this beautiful city I love so much.

To cap off the day, a much anticipated dinner at Bofinger.

Everytime I thought about this wonderful Belle Epoque eatery, my mind started singing the James Bond theme to Gold Finger.  However the proper pronounciation of Bofinger is not bo – finger but Bo – fan – jer.

New Year’s Eve, I stupidly tried to get in for lunch. They looked at me, slightly frantic and perplexed.  As if – they were as busy as hell, trying to get ready for a very big and busy night.  They exclaimed, but tonight is New Years Eve.  I walked out with my tail between my legs.

Tonight, I experienced Bofinger, at it’s finest. 

Accompanied by the charming gentleman, Pierre.

After meeting Pierre at one of Jim Hayne’s famous dinners, he took me to Aux Charpentiers and I wanted to repay the favour by taking him somewhere nice.

Tonight being my last night in Paris – it seemed fitting that we go to a ‘local’.

Bofinger is based in the Bastille, a short stroll from my apartment.

We enter through the revolving doors, my coat is whisked away to the cloakroom and Pierre, admiring my new dress, said that I looked beautiful.

As luck would have it, we were seated under the gorgeous, authentic stained glass domed ceiling.  Perfect.

Struggling with my French, I explain, I bought this, today, pointing to my dress.  Not remembering whether dress is ‘jupe’ (top) or ‘robe’ in French, I ask Pierre.  He then proceeds to lift the starched white tablecloth and duck his head under the table.  When he brings his head back up, to see me giggling and our fellow diners with raised eyebrows , he informs, oh yes, this is a ‘robe’.

Although I had my heart set on a menu, being a three course meal, Pierre convinced me to have a typical Alsatian meal of choucroute.  He also advised strongly against an entrée.

When my ‘knuckle’ or ker – nuckle – as Pierre sweetly pronounced it in English, arrived; it looked like it was a meal for a family of four.  Then Pierre’s choucroute dish arrived, set up on a heating plate.  Thank goodness he talked me out of having an entrée.

Now it looked like we had a feast for a small village.

He explains, what we are eating, is a very traditional dish from Alsace.  Mine was a giant piece of thigh, his, a combination of boiled and smoked meats, sausages, pork belly and both served with sauerkraut and mustard.

We had a wonderful night of trying to speak one another’s language and laughed the night away, tucking into some great regional food. 

Don’t ask me how but I did manage to eat the entire ker-nuckle, sample some of Pierre’s dish and squeezed in some chocolate mousse.

We strolled back in the cool night air to my apartment.

À bientôt to Bofinger and my new lovely friend.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Au Pied de Cochon

My good friend, Peter, flew up from Nice especially to visit me in Paris.  He arrived unwell, with a bad cold but still managed to meet me for dinner.

I had been dying to go to Au Pied de Cochon (at the foot of pig) and finally my time had arrived.

Au Pied de Cochon is a very old and famous brasserie, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and every day of the year! 

Apparently, they have never closed their doors since opening in 1946.

It is a wonderful brasserie, however, perhaps it has become a bit of a tourist trap, even although the two gentlemen seated near us were definitely French seniors, sipping on L’apéritif from brandy balloons sitting in a bowl of crushed ice.

The ‘piggy’ thing did not escape me from the moment I reached for the door handle – I giggled - was that a solid brass pig that I just grasped to pull the door open with – absolutely.

Pigs, pigs everywhere, at least I had a translator with me this time, so didn’t end up ordering kidneys or some sort of offal by accident.

Instead, oysters, with bread and butter, was the beginning of a lovely meal.

Our café arrived – not with the usual complimentary chocolate advertising the establishment but with two pink meringue pigs!

Cute indeed.

And another ancient famous place to enjoy a meal, with a tick on my list.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to use the Paris Metro and Look Like a Local

Riding the Paris Metro is fun, safe and easy, as long as you now how.

Each day I watch and sometimes help people, looking bewildered and lost, pouring over maps, arguing or getting frustrated. It is not that bewildering, here is how you do it.

Le Metro
The first train leaves its terminus at 5.30am and the last train arrives at its destination around 1am.

The metro tickets can also be used on the buses, tramways and the funicular (lift) up to Montmartre.

There are 14 colour coded lines.  When you are searching for your platform, you follow the signs by the colour of the line,  the line number and the line destination.

Buying Tickets:
The tickets are obtained at a green coloured machine, in the underground. You can use notes, cash or card, depending on the machine.  This will become obvious, when you look at it, if it has money symbols, this is the one to use. Having change is a good idea.  Some are for re-charging Navigo cards only. You will notice the difference.

Most machines have several languages but not all.

Some machines have touch screen but most have a large silver sausage shaped, scroll device, below the screen.  Glide your fingers on this and you will notice it scroll up and down the screen.  

Either side of this is a yes (green) and no (red), buttons.

I normally buy a 'carnet' which is 10 single tickets (billets). That way you don’t have to mess around buying tickets all the time and wasting valuable time. Travel Cards are available also.

This is How it Works:
You will see on the screen:

Acheter des tickets, coupons
Tournez le rouleau, puis appuyez sur valider
Recharger un passe Navigo

Scroll up to  : Acheter des tickets, coupons
Select: by pressing the green button

Next a series of ticket selections will come up
Scroll to: Carnet 10 tickets Metro, Bus, Tramway 2e class, Plein Tariff
Select: by pressing the green button

The next screen will ask you how many 'carnets' you want.  1 or 2. 1 will buy you 10 and 2 will buy you 20.

Scroll: and select what you require
Select: by pressing the green button

The next screen : Voulez-vous un recu? This is asking if you want a receipt.
Scroll: Non or Oui - yes or no
Select: by pressing the green button

Next it will tell you how much you need to put in the machine and you will see money and card symbols come up.

Put your card or money into the slots provided

Your tickets will then come out at the tray below.  If you have a problem, there is a red button with a speaker, where you can ask for help.

Entering the Metro System
The ticket can be used as many times for 1½ hours, within the system and on busses.  Don’t fall into the mistake, a lot of people do, of using another ticket, when changing trains, within the system.

Once you have your ticket, proceed to the turnstile.

Slip the ticket in the card slot, move towards the turnstile, wait for it to pop out at the top, retrieve it, move through the turnstile and hang on to your ticket.  Sometimes when making several changes you may need to put it in again, or if an inspector wants to view it.

If a red light pops up, the card is past its use by time, or you have put an old card in or something is wrong.  If you know it is a new card, go to the counter.

Find Your Platform
Next, look for and follow the signs for your line colour,  line number and line destination.  

It is always good to remember the colour of the line and it's number and most importantly, the end destination of your line.  The destination of the line, is the direction which will bring you to the correct platform.  This is important to remember, otherwise you might get on the right line but in the wrong direction.

Tip: remember your colour and/or line number and the destination of your train, not just your stop.

Once you reach your platform, there will be a sign indicating how long the next train will be, noting the destination of the train line. (it will normally be minutes, trains run every couple of minutes)

Door Handles:
There are three types of trains.  Therefore, three types of door opening mechanisms. 

When the train comes to a halt you will hear an air release, this is a signal that the driver has released the doors.

The newer trains have automatic opening and closing doors.

The second type has a green button, once the driver has released the doors you press it, and the door will fly open.

The third has a handle, which you pull up, after the driver has released the doors, the doors will open.

When a buzzer goes off the doors are about to close, so jump in quick.

When you disembark,  to connect with another line, or to leave the station; look on the wall, ahead of you, on the platform.

Signs will indicate in which way you must move on the platform in order to reach your next line or exit the station.

To exit:  
follow the white on blue SORTIE signs to exit, different exits that bring you to different streets may not all lead in the same direction off the platform.  Take a minute to read the signs.

OR if changing trains:

Follow your destination: 
colour, line number, destination point of line.

When you are nearing your platform there will be a sign with the stops so you can double check, you are on track.

The images below are an example:
The left arrow: pink line, line 7, in the direction of Ivry*Villejuif.

The right arrow: purple line, line 4 in the direction of Porte de Clignancourt & Porte de Orléans (this is either direction, so the signs are telling you head this way, and eventually you will find either direction.  It also displays, this is the way to orange line, 5 in the direction of Place d'Italie.

The image below:
Displays, what you will see, when you are about to enter the platform.

It shows the direction, in this case, La Courneuve, the line Colour Pink and the Line 7.  

Underneath, the stations it will stop at.  And the circles, where there are interchanges.

This is always a good point to stop and note, if your stop is listed here, otherwise you are on the incorrect direction.

There are also maps above each door in the train, if you want to double check you are heading in the right direction.

A white on blue sign, saying Sortie, is the exit to get out of the station. 

When you reach turnstiles and doors you exit through the door, you don't need your ticket, just push the door open, or as you stand on the pad, the doors will open automatically.

Also note below, the exit numbers. The numbers indicate in which street you will surface, when exiting the metro station.  If it is a big square (roundabout), where you are to surface, this is very useful. 

The exit numbers, as above,  will tell you where you will land when you surface from underground. This can be really helpful if you know what street you want to be on and is worth taking the time to work out where you want to be.  Otherwise you will spend unnecessary time crossing busy streets. 

Maps on Exit:
Street maps near the exits, show where each exit surfaces on the street. Some stations have many exits.

These maps will show you,  in which direction the stairs enter the street.  This is very useful.  When you surface to the street, you will need to know whether to turn right or left.  You will see little arrows on the stairs, on the maps.

Train Etiquette;
Upon entering the train, near the doors, are pull down seats.  Anyone can sit on these, however if the train fills up, you are obliged to stand up and make room near the doorway.  You may find yourself, up and down to allow people with shopping or suitcases, who need to get off, before the doors close, so stand up and make way for them.  

It also goes without saying, if someone is pregnant or elderly, offer them these seats by the door.

Parisians avoid eye contact on trains and Parisians don’t talk loudly on trains, in fact,  anywhere, for that matter.  

Unless, perhaps, you are on the last metro, late at night, when maybe, they have had a few glasses of French wine, it can change.

Metro Map On-Line
Planning your trip is a good idea.  If you have data for your smart phone, there are some great applications you can download. One in particular is Paris Metro Subway by Presselite. It will tell you where the nearest Metro stop is and which route you take.

However, if you are like me and have a French pre-paid sim card, this can be expensive and chew up your credit.

If you have internet access, the official interactive Metro Map is a fantastic tool.  I have found it invaluable. Especially if you know where you want to go, before heading out for the day.

Interactive Metro Map Instructions

Click on the drop box marked Find On Map 
Type in the Metro you will be starting at
Click on the appropriate metro stop
This will highlight on the screen (with a flashing circle)
Click on the station, that is your start point.

Icons will pop up with red and green flags
Click on the green flag, this will pinpoint your start point. 

Again, click on the drop box,  Find On Map 

Type in your destination, 
The stop will be highlighted with a flashing circle
Press on the flashing circle, and click the red flag icon

The bottom left of the page, is a tab called Route, it will shimmer

Click on that 
It will tell you the path you need to take, where to change and what line to take.

When I know where I am going, before I leave the apartment, I often do this, and take a photo on my iphone, of the computer screen, no need for maps.  Just check the photo.

In Conclusion:

Although there are maps all around the metro, I think it is useful to carry a small pocket sized metro map in your pocket.  These can be obtained, for free, from the ticket counter.  Ask for a plan de metro.  Two sizes are available, large and small.

Some metro stops are worth visiting, just to admire the decoration, like Arts & Metiers, with copper lined walls and little portals and the Louvre, feels like a museum, before you enter the museum!

You may encounter buskers, some good and some not so good. They often will tell you their story, of how life has led them to this.  Some sing, some play guitar, accordion, some both, it is up to you if you want to contribute to their cause.

You may also encounter some fabulous 15 piece bands, in the connecting tunnels of the metro, where they pull big crowds and sell their own CD's.

Many homeless people sleep in the metro stations, late at night, they are not a danger to you, they just don't have anywhere to bed down for the night.

Whatever you discover during your metro journeys, whether you get lost, discover old or new, decorated or not, it is a journey to be discovered.

Hope this is useful and happy travelling!

These Boots are Made for Walking & Starting to Say Goodbye

My good friend Peter and I had a nice lunch with a lovely French friend of his, who he tutored English many moons ago, when we were all young and free, in the 80’s.

Afterwards, he had a business meeting and I decided, I might try to find some great over the knee boots, I saw a couple of weeks ago, in the 5th arrondissement but was too lazy to try on.

After a big lunch of lamb and fries – French fries, I thought a long walk in the cold, would do me good.  If only I knew how long my walk would end up, when I first started out.

I started at Bastille in the 11th arrondissement, 

walked to my apartment in the 12th, then headed down to the Seine and over it, to the left bank, along the river, 

all the way to the end of Boulevard Saint-Germain, in the 7th arrondissement.  I couldn’t find the shoe shop and tried to remember what I was doing, the day I was in this area and where I walked.  I back-tracked and headed up Boulevard Saint-Michel, oh yes, this looks familiar – voilà – there it was.  One pair left, in my size – sold to the Aussie who will need a new pair of boots, after all that walking.

I couldn’t resist filming this little sight along the way on Boulevard Saint-Germain, c’est normal.

What I didn’t know at this time, the walking had only just begun.

Then I wandered over to Notre Dame, and thought it was probably time to start saying goodbye to my friends, the Parisian monuments. Now, with only two more sleeps to go, until I leave this beautiful city.  

This is not an old photo, yes, the Christmas tree is still up!

Pure luck, I arrived at 6.20pm and knowing there is normally an organ recital at 6.30pm, I slipped inside for a visit and a quiet,  À bientôt – see you later.

After a short time, of witnessing the mass and listening to the organ, my phone vibrated in my pocket, it was Peter.  He informs me, we are going to have dinner in the 7th

Urgh, I had just walked back from there.  

OK, this will give me an opportunity to walk along the banks of the Seine and say some more goodbyes. 

With the Eiffel Tower popping up from over the buildings every now and then, I started with a stroll, stumbling across a band on my way, down on the river.

By the time I reached the Musée d'Orsay I knew I was going to be late for dinner and my stroll turned into a power walk.  Although, freezing as it was, I was heating up, first, the gloves came off, then the scarf, next, I opened up my coat.

They told me Café Constant on rue Saint Dominique, was at number 138, my strides were getting shorter and faster, almost turning into a trot.  How long can this street possibly be?  Very long.  As I came around a bend – bang – there was the Eiffel Tower, again, all lit up, so huge and so close, I felt I could almost reach out and touch her.  I can’t understand why, when I see her almost every day, that she still surprises me, where she turns up and her beauty.  Wonderful photo opportunity but no time!

Finally, I came to the end of the street, the street numbers ran out at 124 and with .74 cents left on my pre-paid mobile, this was not a good place to be and now, almost an hour late. 

Silly me, should have caught a cab or taken the metro.  By the time I had made this realization, I was on a one way street going the wrong way, in peak hour traffic, with no available cabs and flagging, is just not an option, so I had to power on.

I approached a lovely man and in my bad French, I asked, is this the end of the street, does he know of the cafe?   He could sense my stress and tried to find the restaurant or street number on his satellite navigator. Non, non possible.  No cafe, no number.  Great – now what.  I call with my remaining  .74 cents.  137,  as opposed to 138, is over the road 4 doors down, phew.

Hot and sweaty, my fringe looking like I had arrived in a convertible car, I am seated and apologise. 

No problems. They want to know why the taxi couldn’t find it.  No, it was me, I walked all the way from Notre Dame!  After a lot of eye contact from my fellow dinners – and probably thinking I was mad – for walking so far, they poured me a wine and we all relaxed – and then something occurred to me.  Café Constant, was a place where I wanted to eat,  on my list of ‘want to do’s’.

We all laughed, ate wonderful food by a Michelin Star Chef, who moved to this small cafe to escape the pressure and return to relaxed dining,  as we chatted the night away.

After our wonderful dinner – I checked with Daft Logic, an amazing tool, to see how far I had walked and if eating two, two course meals in one day would alter my waist line. 

I don’t think so,  a 13.5 kilometre marathon. 

What do you think?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Cruise on the Seine

Sunday evenings are now locked in for Jim Hayne’s famous dinners.

This, being my second dinner, I didn’t look like a deer caught in the traffic lights, it was the new incoming, who took over this role.

But I rush ahead of myself.

Pierre had offered to take me on the Bateaux Mouches and, Emile had kindly offered, two free tickets on the Bateaux Parisiens.   So it was agreed, we would use the tickets, go at dusk and finish the night at Jim’s, for dinner.

For some reason, I have always avoided riding the boats on the Seine. 

Standing on bridges, observing tourists, sail underneath, crammed in like sardines, waving to strangers with cameras pressed against their noses, never seemed appealing to me.  Even although those who had had the experience, highly recommended it.

Pierre was fashionably French late by about ¾ hour.  It was OK, this time he was picking me up at the front of my apartment instead of the Notre Dame, I had time to keep warm.

When we arrived the sky was beautifully blue, the moon already visible but freezing, it was.

Pierre gave me my choice where to sit, I decided outside, instead of inside the covered area of the boat.

Onlookers would have found it difficult to spot the tourist and the Parisian, I think Pierre enjoyed showing off his beautiful city as much as I enjoyed viewing it.

Just as we took off – the sky a slightly darker blue, the Eiffel Tower lit up, slipping under each bridge, I felt like a kid in a candy shop – not knowing whether to look right or left. 

Le Grand Palais here, Le Musee d’Orsay there  - oh look what is that, La Conciergerie, everything lit up and looking magnificent.

The boat turned and headed back to the Eiffel Tower, and as if like clock work the Notre Dame started ringing her bells.  I had to remind myself to breath, yes breath.  This is Paris, the city of lights.

Perhaps the beautiful scenery was the reason we didn’t realize until we jumped into the car and cranked up the heating, how cold it was.

That was OK we had a hearty meal to tuck into at Jim Haynes.

But not before Pierre expertly demonstrated typical Parisian skilled touch parking, with only an inch between each car.

As we walked the couple of blocks, from where we had parked from Jim’s, I teased Pierre; he did have four attempts at parking the car.  

He cried but eet ees un verry petit space.  That is was – and finally my joke about men’s egos and cars was realised, as we laughed our way into Jim’s courtyard, meeting more lovely strangers and tucking into a hearty meal.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Le diner at Chez Adèle

Finally the day had arrived, I was to have Emilie and Bouba for dinner at my apartment.

It is hardly a good idea to feed the French, French food and knowing Bouba enjoys a spicy meal, I would cook a Malaysian Lamb Curry with potatoes.

It is a relatively simple dish and I have cooked it before.  I also happen to have the recipe on my iphone, so it was decided, that is what we would have.

When people started cocking their heads from side to side at the mention of kaffir lime leaves, I thought I had better take myself out to an Asian shopping district.

The two main Asian areas in Paris, are in the 13th arrondissement and the 20th.  The 20th is closer for me, so off I went, shopping list and shopping bag in tow.

Not long after I surfaced from Belleville Metro, I found a laneway with loads of graffiti, not one to miss an opportunity, I took a few shots and moved on to find the supermarket I had googled.

Oblivious, because I was busily looking for street numbers, I nearly ran into a policeman, well about 20 of them in fact.

I still don’t know what was going on.  Police, wielding batons decked out in flack jackets surrounded the area where I was about to buy my Asian fare.   Police cars, bumper to bumper cordoning off the street.  

At least it made getting across the street easier than normal.

No police cars or Policemen were going to get in my way. 

My mission; to buy soy sauce, ketchup manis, galangal, coriander seeds, palm sugar, felt all a bit too easy upon entering the Asian grocery store, I strangely felt at home.

Soy sauce, found, galangal also, this was great but ketchup manis just wasn’t raising any eyebrows.  I tried harder, soy mais avec sucre, soy but with sugar, that should do it.  No. 

Not a problem, I will purchase the items I have found and move on, there are plenty of other Asian supermarkets here.

After the sixth Asian grocery store, frustration was starting to set in. When I asked for sugar I was led to the salt.  It was obvious; my French is really bad.  I approached a French shopper – parlez-vous Anglais – Oui un peu.  He speaks a little English, I breath.

Turns out, albeit my French is bad, none of the people I was trying to converse with, speak French!

I call Georgie, maybe she can communicate for me, they don’t want to take the phone, I give up. 

French food it has to be.

Georgie had been nagging me to go to Bon Marche.  OK. My last resort.

They had every type of salt conceivable.

Every type of sugar, even cute little animals you can hang on your coffee cup but no palm sugar.

Every spice, tea, pre-cooked food and water at 29.90 Euros a bottle, but no ketchup manis.

Deflated and defeated, I went back to the apartment, I needed to put plan two into action, whatever that was.

However, after forking out money for a bag full of groceries I was now not going to use, determination set in.

The trusty google revealed, ketchup manis and palm sugar can be bought at the Indonesian Embassy!

Once I am kindly let in through the iron gates by a man polishing the brass, I trade a piece of identity for a visitors pass, to shop, in the Indonesian Embassy.

You know the scene; out of town cowboy walks into a bar, everyone stops talking.

They are curious when I almost knock everyone down in my path, to grab a bottle of ketchup manis and a bag of palm sugar.  

You have visited Indonesia before, they enquire, yes Bali, twice.  Smiles fill everyone’s faces and they want to give me a number, so next time, I can call in advance and they will have my groceries ready.

On the way out, the security guard informs, they also have Indonesian herbal cigarettes too if I wish.  No I am just happy with my bottle of sauce thanks.

Hard part over, I head for my lovely local market Le marche d'Aligre

I waited as the butcher prepared fresh, agneau haché – minced lamb, a kind vegetable store owner walked me down the street, where I could find peanuts already shelled, another laughed as I sniffed the coriander and parsley, to check which was which and another looked in dismay as I selected one, single, long hot red chilli.

Mission almost complete but what about entrée and dessert?

A baguette and some foie gras, perfect.  

The local patisserie I have been spying with no excuse to buy.  Perfect.

Everything beautifully wrapped.  Nothing is thrown into a plastic bag.  Meat is wrapped in waxed paper, advertising their specialities, same goes for the foie gras.  The gateaux, placed in a beautiful box and then tied with ribbon, so I can carry them home without damaging them.   A quick pitstop at Cave des Prague my local wine shop.

Mission complete. 

Well, the shopping part of it anyway.

I cooked in my tiny kitchen, listening to my Paris Playlist, sipped on my bottle of Vieux Nodeau – Cote de Boug, made tealight holders from my empty Vichy water bottles, that I hadn’t got around to taking to the rubbish, set the table, dimmed the lights and waited for my guest to arrive.

Was the dinner a success?  – Oui!

Should have I cooked French for the French?  Maybe but then I would not have visited the Indonesian Embassy!

Shopping, Food & Art in Paris

Late nights in Paris are fun and since meeting people, especially Georgie, the way I do things and the things I do, have changed, since I first arrived in Paris.

However, I do get pangs of guilt for not being out and about, taking photos and seeing museums.

Today I decided to head over to the 7th arrondissement and snap some pics.  In particular I wanted to photograph the beautiful and ornate bridge, Pont Alexandre III.

From the moment I got out of the metro it was raining but I was determined.  As the rain got heavier, I caved.

Photography will have to wait – but now what to do.  What does a girl do when she is out and now, has to randomly think of what to do, no plan?

Are you crazy the sales on are – what to do indeed – there is nothing else but to shop!

The sales are amazing, the prices ridiculous, but I don’t have any room in my already full suitcase.  Maybe just a couple of items then!

A toilet break and a coffee was in order. 

Argh; what a wonderful thing to learn.  I want a coffee with milk, but not a black coffee with cold milk, I want, essentially, what an Aussie would call; a flat white.  A white coffee without the froth – café crème sans mousse.

As I sipped my café crème sans mousse,  I returned Georgie's phone call to let her know my plans were disrupted by rain and I headed out without an umbrella.

Georgies Tip # 2:

If you find yourself out and about in the rain without an umbrella, here is what to do.

Go to a nice looking restaurant, walk in with confidence and explain, you are sorry but the other night you left your black (more common) umbrella in their restaurant.  They will promptly bring out a swag of lost umbrellas that they are dying to offload, grab one of them and exclaim – Oui! That is it – look excited – well you will be – you just scored a new umbrella!

Shop, I did and bargains were had.

Seeing I was near rue Vieille de Temple, (vee – ay – d – temp), I decided to slip in for a hello, show Bouba my purchases and head home. 

One of my purchases was a belt and I stupidly, didn’t try it on for size.  The manager at l’Etoile Manquante suggested I go to a place down the road to have it altered.  By the time I reached it, he was closed, I tried the door and it was open.  

Venturing inside, I asked if he is closed, of course he says, pourquoi, why?  I pull out my belt and explained, I can leave it and he can fix it tomorrow.  No – he turned the lights back on, he adjusted it there and then,  and would not take any money from me.

Feeling elated and once again, touched by the kindness of strangers, I called Georgie.  I wanted to introduce her to my favourite historic bar and café Au Petit fer a Cheval.

She agreed and we were soon seated, eating, drinking and talking.  Later we moved to the bar – where I introduced her to Hussein.   Georgie has been itching to talk politics and in particular Tunisian politics.  Well, it just so happens, Hussein has Tunisian background and the conversation was way too fast for me to understand but the excitement and animation from the two of them was a pleasure to witness.

Over the road is a fabulous place that sells a great combination, wine and books.  La Belle Hortense

They were having a small art exhibition by Serge Renou a wonderful man and artist.  He invited me for a glass of champagne and a look.  There the night zoomed along with him and his friends patiently trying to understand my French – backed up with their English.

Another randomly wonderful night in Paris.

What more do you need?  Shopping, eating, drinking, books, art and good company ... in Paris!