After spending the morning writing about being a flâneur I set out this afternoon to flâner.
My first stop was Gambetta in the 20e, which a friend had suggested. The neighborhood was completely non-touristy. Not terribly prosperous but pleasant enough. After exploring a bit and having lunch (at a rather good fast-food crêperie, Roule Gallette) I found myself walking down rue des Pyrénées. I found it fairly miscellaneous but it had the nice feature of letting me buy a couple of items I hadn’t found in the local supermarket (clothespins and natural almond butter). At the bottom of the hill was rue d’Avron, at the Maraîchers Métro station. This was a distinctly lower-income, multi-racial shopping street, reminding of my own Central Square, Cambridge.
Next I visited the Musée Dupuytren in the 5e. (2016 Update: Closed, the collections being moved to the Jussieu campus of the Sorbonne.) This is a museum of pathological anatomy that is decidedly not for everyone. I was moved by pity and terror (and morbid fascination) on seeing skeletons, skulls and preserved tissues showing hideous tumors, mind-boggling birth defects and ghastly injuries. Mingled with horror was a feeling of gratitude that none of these dreadful things has (yet) happened to me. I also felt confirmed in my empirical conclusion that our fates are meted out by blind forces, not by a compassionate Being.
Before heading home I had a noisette at a café in Place Dauphine. This is an odd out-of-the way square (triangle actually) on l’île de la Cité near the Pont Neuf. It was initially built in the 17th century as a second royal square after what is now known as Place des Vosges. The original buildings were replaced by private owners, and the square itself was recently redeveloped for underground parking. It’s mostly tourist-oriented but remarkably quiet for such a central location.
Another set of photos is up on Picasa: Paris-12
Mot du Jour: “un café noisette” or “une noisette” (order at a café). Literally, “a little nut” but actually a machiatto, an espresso (which they call expresso) with just a little steamed milk. This often isn’t on the menu (which of course they call la carte), but it’s always available, and generally costs the same as an expresso. I learned this when I asked a bilingual waitress for a “café au lait.” She explained that this French-ish phrase is ambiguous, because it could mean a noisette or it could mean a larger cup with lots of milk, resembling our latte, which they call a crema. Got that?