Apart from my outing to Chantilly on Thursday the last few days have been interesting even though not particularly eventful.
After Jason left on Wednesday morning I had a quiet day of blogging and strolling, then in the evening saw a witty show called Racine par la racine (something like “Racine by the root”). It claimed to present all eleven of Racine’s tragedies in a unique way, which indeed it did! Most of the language blew by me but fortunately the performance was very physical, sometimes outright pantomime. I followed the basic structure and got enough of the gist to enjoy the evening. Like the Théâtre de Nesle that I had been at a few years earlier, the Théâtre de l’Essaïon was in the cellar (presumably wine cellar) of a grand old building, in this case near the Pompidou Center.
I got there a bit early because I had been unable to print my ticket, but there was no hassle about just showing it on my mobile phone. It was open seating so I got a seat right up front in the very intimate room.
After the show I had dinner at a tiny Italian restaurant around the corner, Salento. I really enjoyed the meal, and I would be most happy to go there again.
After getting back from Chantilly on Thursday I felt like treating myself to the cuisine of Michelin starred chef Joël Robuchon. He has two restaurants in Paris, each more expensive than the other, and Taka had treated me to a fabulous meal last year at his Tokyo restaurant. Yankee that I am, however, I opted for a 6 euro frozen dinner, which was nevertheless rather delicious.
After dinner I realized that this was the evening of Les Jeudis Arty, a newly-launched first Thursday art walk in the Marais, from 6-10 pm. It was already 9 but I set out to get at least a little taste of art. I was looking around the gallery below when an English-speaking tour group arrived and the guide asked the gallery owner to explain the exhibition. As I fled I offered to do it for him; he said ok with a smile, but I chickened out. (Notice that hardly anyone was paying attention except the guide, at right. Tourists!)
Friday, after putting up the Chantilly post, I set out to explore a new quartier, in the 11e, starting at Parmentier. I used the RATP app, which noted that a bus there was leaving from across the street from my door in two minutes! After considerable wandering I ended up having lunch at a cute neighborhood place, Le Square Gardette. I was seated next to three older women, having an animated conversation in French. I tried not to intrude, but eventually the ice got broken somehow and we were suddenly friends. Since it was D-Day — which the oldest of them remembered! — they gave me a glass of wine in recognition of America’s help with the liberation of France. Our conversation flowed in French except I didn’t understand when they said that the quarter was branchée, even after one of them explained that it meant “een.”
I had been needing a haircut, but wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. I had seen prices as high as 32 euros in the 16e, or as low as 8 euros in the 9e, but neither seemed quite right. I finally got my cut, for 24 euros, at a classy place on rue de la Roquette.
Back on rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine I ran across two passages that I hadn’t previously noticed. At the end of Main d’or (“golden hand”) I was attracted by Meneksé, a Kurdish restaurant that I’d like to try. Update: I ate dinner there on Saturday night; nice atmosphere and the food seemed authentic, but I’m afraid I just don’t like Kurdish cuisine that much — cheese all over everything!
Opposite was the Passage du Chantier, which had several used furniture shops.
That evening I headed over to the wonderful apartment of my old friend Bob Seeman, near Place des Vosges. At my suggestion, the invitation also included Bob Tobin, another Harvard-affiliated friend who happens to be in Paris. I thought we were just meeting for a drink before going out to dinner, but Bob Seeman and his friend Dennis cooked us a delicious and healthy meal.
After dinner Bob Tobin and I had a drink at Les Souffleurs, and another across the street at Quetzel Bar. Both were amusing: Les Souffleurs draws a young, hip, somewhat mixed crowd. Quetzel has a somewhat older, all-male crowd, presided over by a huge and cheerful drag queen.
Both Wednesday evening and Friday evening, as I was striding towards appointments, I ran into Jacques and his partner on the sidewalks of the Marais, which has never happened before in the four years I have known him.
Mot du jour: branchée. Trendy.