It has finally turned sunny! Thursday and Friday were still on the cool side, but the weekend has been short sleeve weather both days.
After David left on Thursday I felt a desire for Japanese food and I went up to Nanashi – Le Bento Parisien – in the Haut Marais. It was my first chirashi — a vinegary rice bowl filled with scattered chunks of sushi-grade salmon. Really delicious! I see criticisms of the service on Yelp but my waiter was terrific.
After laundry and errands I took yet another walk on Friday. Here are a few snapshots:
Tour Saint-Jacques in the Marais
Fisherman on the quai of l’Ile Saint-Louis
Friday evening I had my second social-media date of the trip, again with an Algerian. He suggested that we meet at La Défense, at the west end of métro line 1. I readily agreed, even though it’s half an hour away, because it’s an interesting area — he called it the “Manhattan of Paris” — and I had never been out there in the evening. We had a nice conversation over smoothies. One interesting thing he explained is that May 7, the jour férié that celebrates the liberation of Paris at the end of World War II, has a different meaning for Algerians. As he tells it, all the colonies who helped with the war were promised freedom at its end. But when people in his city celebrated on May 7, 1945, French soldiers shot them down. The day is also celebrated in Algeria, but as the beginning of their long and bitter war of independence.
After my friend left for dinner with his wife (!?!) I had a good and cheap meal at the La Défense branch of Le Paradis du Fruits, a chain of organic (bio) restaurants. For less than 20 euros I got two small mains (salmon and shrimp/avocado) and a side, plus a glass of good house wine.
But wait, didn’t I order rice rather than fries? My extremely pleasant and efficient waitress noticed my look of consternation and fixed it in a flash. As usual, she complimented me on my French, even though my new Algerian friend found fault and switched us to English. After dinner I was charmed by the evening scene on the plaza in front of the enormous Grande Arche de la Défense.
At l’heure bleue the red and white lights of cars on the Champs-Elysée led the eye to the Arc de Triomphe at the horizon.
On Saturday, after catching up on blogging I set out for a walk through the lovely afternoon. My footsteps took me to the Promenade plantée that I have enjoyed on many visits, ending up at the jardin de Reuilly. I do worry about all the street people who apparently make the Promenade plantée their home, but you see them all over Paris so I suppose this is nothing special. As I returned via the rather grotty neighborhood around Gare de Lyon, I was surprised to run across this charming little street of colorful row houses.
Rue Crémieux in the 12ème, near Gare de Lyon.
There was an annual event on Saturday night when museums across Europe stay open overnight. It seems that this is an occasion for a street festival, akin to the remarkable Fête de la musique in June. I was for some reason very tired, though, so got a good night’s sleep instead. On vacation you force yourself to do and see everything, then recover when you get home. When you live somewhere, however, you have to keep your life in balance, and accept your limits.
On Sunday I met up with Lisa and Zhizhong for a trip to the local market, followed by a feast at Lisa’s.
Lisa and Aya at the Sunday market.
Zhizhong with his second-favorite egg lady.
Sunday evening I had another apéro (before-dinner drink) with Sami, the young Algerian guy I met during my first week here. I got a little shock when he approached me at our rendezvous, since he was even more handsome than I remembered! He led me to a open-air café in the heart of the peaceful Village Saint-Paul, which was so much nicer than sitting on the noisy street. He works in customer support so he speaks English all day, but fortunately he prefers to speak French with me. We had a lovely, warm conversation, in which we both expressed a desire to pursue friendship rather than a sexual relationship. The waiter “forgot” to return the change, and was désolé when I called him on it. Sami observed that the waiter was comme ci, comme ça. At best! We exchanged messages afterwards declaring that we were each enchantée to know one another.
My sense of humor is sometimes a bit off-center, as illustrated by my photo set of very inexpensive Paris hotels: Paris – Tout Confort. I’ve been working on this since my first visit, but I feel that it’s now approaching some sort of twisted apotheosis.
Mot du jour: l’heure bleue. The romantic hour or so after sunset, bathed in pale blue light from a clear sky. This is one of a relatively small number of phrases that are used both in English and French with the same meaning.