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These are a few items that didn’t fit in my previous posts.

On Saturday I did some gallery hopping in the Haut Marais (Upper Marais). I’ll do an art post later, but I also wandered into a arty mineral store that caught my eye.

Matieres d'Art in the Haut Marais

Matieres d’Art in the Haut Marais

I rarely buy souvenirs or art, in part because my apartment in Cambridge is already well furnished. But I couldn’t resist this lovely little specimen.

Rock with cubical crystals of fools gold.

Rock studded with cubical crystals of fool’s gold.

Place de la République continues to be occupied by demonstrators against the proposed labor law (loi de travail). They demonstrate — and party — all night, calling themselves Nuit Debout (night standing up).

Nuit Debout protests at Place de la République

Nuit Debout protests at Place de la République

From a callow touristic perspective I find it annoying what a mess has been made of the lovely statue and plaza, fully renovated in 2013, then trashed in 2015 after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. On the other hand, the statute commemorates the French Revolution, which started, full of promise, in 1789, and remains at the foundation of French political life despite its excesses and complex sequelae. The people have always been messy!

Bas relief of a key meeting during the French Revolution, updated to say. "Cops stay out of our lives!"

Bas relief of a key meeting during the French Revolution, updated to say, “Cops, stay out of our lives!”

I saw an English-speaking doctor about my painful heel, using my GeoBlue global health insurance policy for the first time. It was an amazingly seamless process, and cost me nothing. She diagnosed inflammation and prescribed anti-inflammatories and a bit less walking. Obediently, I cut back yesterday to just over 7.5 miles, even though it meant giving up leadership of my FitBit friend group.

The Vélib shared bike system has helped a lot, since biking doesn’t impact my heel. Jared W started me off with it last week and I’ve been taking bikes all over the place this year. There are occasional problems with empty or full stations, but the coverage in Paris is breathtaking.

Vélib stations in central Paris

Vélib stations in central Paris

I found these mysterious items at the back of the silver drawer in my rental apartment but I couldn’t think what they might be for. Jared W guessed immediately, however, and I think he’s right, even though his answer implies a French cultural practice that I know nothing about, and couldn’t easily find on Google. What is your own guess?


Mysterious items. The caption reads, “For a Shared Pleasure.”

It’s conventional wisdom that Paris is an expensive city. This is certainly true relative to French salaries. And of course you can spend up large here if you want. But as a counterexample I offer this receipt from a recent shopping trip.

A small box of cereal, two liters of milk, a liter of sparkling water, and a quite good bottle of Bordeaux Supérieur, all for 10 euros, or about $11. The wine alone would be more than that in Boston, and the total would be at least twice as much. Monop’ is one of the more upscale groceries, so it probably would have been even less at a downmarket grocery.

Last miscellaneous item: In the countryside French gas stations look just like ours but in the city you have to keep your eyes peeled, since they fit in to the urban streetscape.

Paris gas station

Paris gas station: a couple of signs and a couple of self-service pumps

Mot du jour: « essence », gasoline.

Bonus mot du jour: « or des fous », fool’s gold.