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On Thursday I explored Avenue Parmentier in the 11ème, where I encountered and photographed a charming/creepy doll shop.  That afternoon I had a look around the Saint-Paul area of the Marais — which Jacques had extolled the previous evening.  It is indeed calm and lovely.  One of my favorite spots is the garden of the Hôtel de Sens.

Garden of the Hôtel de Sens

Garden of the Hôtel de Sens

Thursday was another fun albeit late evening, this time with Dan and Ric, whom I had met last year in Paris through our mutual friend Michael. After a drink at the Open Café we had dinner at Le Gai Moulin, then went back to my place and sampled my latest bottle of Burgundy (sadly not up to spec this evening).

Dan and Ric at Le Gai Moulin

Dan and Ric at Le Gai Moulin

Ric has to get back to London in a few days but Dan will be in Paris through next week so we may have another chance to meet up.

On Friday I explored the area of the 11ème east of Bastille that had intrigued me last year. It’s a culturally mixed area with tons of trendy shops, cafes and restaurants: rue de la Roquette, rue de Lappe, rue de Charonne were especially interesting, but I also enjoyed the smaller streets that connect them. This morning (Saturday) I ventured out to Centquatre (104), a government-funded cultural center in the 19ème, for events in a weekend festival entitled “Paris en toutes lettres.” The more memorable were a terrific, intimate performance of Vaclav Havel’s Vernissage, and a bus trip around the quarter during which a sonorous young man read melancholy passages from the works of Léon-Paul Fargue. In both cases I was frequently at sea with the rapid colloquial French, but I got the gist of what was going on and enjoyed the texture even when the text was beyond me.

I haven’t had four late evening in a row since — let me see — last May in Paris. So I declared Friday and Saturday evenings of rest. Both nights I cooked my signature rue Montorgueil meal: filets of fish from down the street (3 for 5 euros just before closing) sautéed with chopped onions and olive oil, steamed baby green beans, green salad with avocado and tomatoes, a few pieces of a warm baguette, a moderate glass of wine, and half of a delicious little tart.

I acquired a little button at the 104 today, from an artist who was making them on the spot. It reads, “Demande la Lune, Prends la Thune.” Roughly translated: “Ask for the Moon, Take What You Can Get.”