Thursday started off rainy and cold yet again. After blogging I bundled up and set out. I didn’t feel like another museum so I compromised on visiting the right bank galleries north of métro Franklin Roosevelt. (I had noticed before that the French pronunciation of the station was completely unintelligible to the American ear, so I was happy to help an English-speaking group that seemed uncertain whether or not this was their stop.)
I was impressed by the huge number of galleries in the area, ranging from old masters worth many millions to places specializing in one obscure artist. There was very little of the schlock that you see in the Latin Quarter or along the Champs-Élysées. My favorite shows both shared a faux-naîf quality, often with people in rooms:
There will be an evening art-walk in the area on June 4, while Jason will be visiting.
For lunch I figured on finding a place where office workers go, since they are usually good, fast and not too expensive. I was blown away, however, by the stylish healthy place I stumbled across near Miromesnil, Cojean, a chain with six locations across Paris. The food was tasty and the cheerful young servers absolutely scrumptious.
By the time I finished lunch the sun had come out so I strolled up to Parc Monceau and read my Kindle for a while. The park was filled with happy people but my best shot was bucolic.
I went home to ditch my umbrella and heavy jacket, then set out again to experience Les Heures Heureuse, the one time each year when Paris restaurants offer a tapas-hopping experience similar to the one I had enjoyed in Bilbao ten years ago. (Though in Basque tapas are called pintxos.) For a few early-evening hours on three nights participating restaurants offer you a little dish for just 2 euros, accompanied if you wish by a little glass of wine or beer for the same price. I chose a neighborhood I had never visited, rue Didot in the 14e, and was delighted with the experience. The food varied from minimal to super-gourmet to massively filling. The places were cute and friendly, and I got into warm conversations with the owner and/or other patrons at each place. Here are a few photos.
I ended the evening listening to a couple of good bands at L’imprévu. They were out of tapas but the bartender gave me a demi beer for 2 euros. The owner said chut to me with a wink when I was about to explain to another group of Les Heures Heureuse people that they could get a drink for cheap even though the tapas were sold out.
To avoid giving too cheerful an impression of Paris I close with a photo from Châtelet, the largest train station in Europe. It’s a mess at the best of times, but while it’s being renovated — for the next few years — it’s positively dystopian.
Mot du jour: Happy Hour. You see this phrase everywhere in Paris; it has entered the language, like le weekend. The name for the tapas-hopping event is a reverse joke, since nobody here would ever refer to Happy Hours as Les Heures Heureuse.