It’s a big change when I go from sharing space in Paris to living alone, and even more so when I’ve been part of a four-cousin family for two weeks. Also, there’s a lot of bustling around the first day or two settling in to a new apartment. So I spent most of Saturday around the apartment and its charming neighborhood.
Saint-Eustache, the magnificent 17th-century church at the bottom of rue Montorgueil, has been obscured by construction for most of my visits, but it has emerged triumphant:
My apartment this year is in the first block of rue Montorgueil, just above the church, while in other years I’ve always been at least several blocks higher. I confess to having had a mild prejudice against the lower part of the street, since it seemed a bit more touristy, but I now see that this block is almost as charming as the rest of the street (and that tourists are everywhere).
Up at the top of the street is the Oasis d’Aboukir, which appeared in 2013 and has continued to bloom and grow ever since. The last few years I’ve opined that was looking a bit shaggy, but now I think it’s broken through to an altogether new category: a vertical botanical garden!
A few steps away I noticed this piece of street art, on a restaurant’s metal door. This artist is very active in the area, and I’ve admired his work before.
La Cantine des Mama’s Street Art
On Friday night, as previously noted, I made my “standard meal” with a delicious (and expensive) piece of lieu jaune from the cute little poissonnerie on rue du Nil. I thought about doing exactly the same again on Saturday night, but I didn’t feel that 15 euros was a sustainable price for a single ingredient of a home cooked dinner. In prior years the poissonnerie on rue Montorgueil proper, Sogusa, has been looking increasingly sad and decrepit, but this year, unexpectedly, it had a good selection and seemed to have gotten a new lease on life. I took a chance and bought this shiny dorade (sea bream) from a genial new salesman.
I would have had no clue how to clean and de-bone it but that service is included, so I walked away with two very fresh filets for 10 euros, one-third the price per meal. I happily made my standard meal the next two nights, this time remembering to start with garlic and onions.
One of my errands on Saturday was to get a few Apple-related items I had unaccountably failed to bring along. Conveniently, everything I wanted was just five minutes away, at the the FNAC store under the Grande Canopée. A lightning-to-phone plug adapter to let me use my old earphones with my new iPhone was 10 euros, about what I expected. But I did a double take at the cost of a long charger cable:
I didn’t need it that much!
While I’m talking about stuff I’d like to mention three special purpose items that I bring when I travel. All three have seen valuable use this year, as they do almost every year.
WD-40 quieted a squeaky door in my first apartment and eased a sticky window latch in my second. The multi-tip screwdriver, the size of a pen when assembled, enabled me to change the bulb in the toilet of the first place. And doorstops (I actually bring two) were needed in both places to prevent interior doors from slamming when the breeze caught them.
Sunday was still intermittently rainy but I did take a nice walk over to the Canal Saint-Martin. There was a mini-festival along the banks with a drumming corps.
This is one of the 19th century buildings along the canal, usually relating to opening and closing locks or draw bridges. I’ve walked by this one many times over the years but this time I noticed a bonus from Space Invader.
On Monday I decided I needed some aerobic exercise and after researching the dozens of public swimming pools in Paris I went over to Piscine Georges Hermant above the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont to swim some laps. It’s a nice, clean pool with a retractable roof. I didn’t think too much about the logistics of retracting such a big roof until I left the pool and noticed this impressive scene.
I decided to walk down through the park and was rewarded with this view of flowers and distant picnickers:
I had a late lunch at a restaurant across the street from the park (My old favorite, Rosa Bonheur, is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.) Coquilles Saint-Jacques has become a quasi-generic term for all types of scallops, but I was pleased to see that Le Napoleon III served up the real thing:
I’m happy to report that the meal was just as good as it looked.