Paris – best place to be if you’re a la pouche’…

Hello again, this time from Paris

It is our fourth day and looks like a beautiful day in Paris this morning.  It has been wet for months the natives tell us and no sign of spring let alone summer as yet. They are all very over it to say the least.  A cabbie said that on the day we  arrived it was the coldest spring day since 1887 at 5 degrees when they first started to record the temps.  But hey it is Paris and still a great city. 

We are staying in an apartment in Marais – the gay district of Paris on St Martins Canal.  This is the view from the apartment.  Our apartment is in the right spot, but very dated and old with a stinky loo.  But we are not here for the apartment. 

It is a very colourful community here.  Every nationality and not too many of the older folk that speak english but we get by.  Eventually we figure it all out and no big stress.    On the first morning we had what has become our standard breakfast of long expresso for me and croissants.  I  had trouble asking for jam, but a nice couple of boys told the dood what I wanted.  Ended up with fresh orange juice as well, but hey – sometimes you get more than you expect.  

Found some great food on our first day and it has set the tone or the rest of the week.  Here is a photo of our finds.

A little man had a really interesting shop with different types of couscous in big open timber bins, rice of every kind also in the open to take as much as you want.  The dried fruit – ooollla la…  Dates still on the stems – never knew how they grew until now.  The freshest raisins that were yellow in colour and so juicy.  Makes our hard old brown ones at home look and taste disgusting.  Then olives – yum.  

Onto the fruit shop and we brought some cherry tomatoes on the stem, some bananas – have been hanging out for a banana.  I said to Allby, how funny if they were from Innisfail but from Madagaska I think.  Then we found a butcher and brought the best fresh ham I think I have ever tasted and Allby and Ella some 45 – Sausage.  The meat was unreal.  Not all sliced like at home – but big chunks.  The lebs had their stuff all halal and fresh – not a fly in sight.  Probably all frozen.  Then a restaurant had all their meat in the front window on skewers.  Looked really fresh, some had liver on them too – yick,  then there was lambs balls we think also on sticks.  Never seen them before, but the only thing close to them was bulls balls on the farm.  We didn’t think we needed any of them.

Then onto the pastry and bread shop.  Ella munched the top off the bread stick before we got back.  Just as well we didn’t have too far to walk.  

So a real experience this living with the people. 

It was also Mothers Day here last Sunday, so got another bunch of beautiful lillies for Mothers Day.  The flowers here are magnificent. Although Chrysanthemums seem to be expensive – I guess they get sick of tulips, iris and roses that we never really see in abundance at home. 

Finally found a coat and a bit mummsy and reminds me of the one Columbo used to wear – just need the boiled eggs in the pockets – but it keeps me warm.  Thanks also to Deirdre’s pashmina I threw in.  It is cream and makes me look like an anaemic snowman but I  am warm under the layers that are a pain if you need to pee or eat something.   

But I guess if croissant crumbs in your scarf in Paris is the worst that can happen today – not a bad day.

Here I am outside a Cheese Shop of course.  They have the best cheese.  We have had several cheese and cracker lunches with Rose’ that you buy in the supermarket for 5 euro 
(and that is top price – they start from 2 euro)

We had to laugh the other day, walked down a street and saw two women peering into a pastry shop and of course they were two Aussies from Victoria eyeing off the delicacies and trying hard not to go in.

This is our favourite patisserie – the best bread and pastries – spent most days walking past this one. 
Stopping of course as well. 
Sometimes coffee shops let you bring pastries to have with coffee. Nice idea…

One afternoon Allby and I went for a walk around Marais when the sun came out at about 5.00pm (It is still light at 9.30-10.00 here) and stopped at our favourite coffee shop that does great coffee but even better red wine.  We had a couple of glasses of red and watched the people racing home from work like rats.  There was a man next to me with a pug/jack russell – Rita.  She had the shits at every other dog, very much like a russell.  Every kind of dog walked past but there are hundreds of russells so I am in heaven.  Maybe this is where they come when they go to heaven.  They are everywhere and laughing as they strutt their stuff. We have stopped and chatted to quite a few but some of the owners are a bit French and up themselves. 

I just realised this blog jumps all over the place with the days we did things, sorry about that.  Maybe I won’t worry about days – just events. 

Not very excited to get Tiffany bracelet in Paris

Early in the week we went to the Opera area where all the designer shops are and made the grand purchase of THE bracelet from Tiffany & Co on Rue De La Paix – for one girl who will be 14.  She loves it and was so excited – just has to wait until 22 July now to wear it.

There was still (bullshit rain) falling (as Dad would call it) so we went to a nice restaurant (The Royal Vendome because the Vendome monument is in the square) for a big lunch to warm up.  Alby had snails and almost did the Julia Roberts thing and fling them to the other side of the restaurant but managed to keep himself nice.  The food was yum but a glass full of raspberries was the best.  I love fresh raspberries and never get them as nice as here at home.

We then wandered the streets and that is in itself interesting enough.  Lots of nationalities and weird street people around.  One Dood outside the Louvre (which is closed on Tuesday -uughh – so A & E still have not seen Mona) was a sleep with a bag over his head and his water and belongings under an umbrella.  The traffic vent had warm air coming up under him, but rain on top – go figure. Then there is the odd one with a cat.  Not much chop being a street cat in Paris I would reckon.

Just across from the Louvre is a huge old building on Rue De Pyramides  (one of thousands) but it had an antique centre under it so we prowled around there oggling at some very expensive antique jewellery, canes, furniture etc.  Allby loves old canes but no one was home in the shop – perhaps just as well.

Then there was a gallery with massive larger than life resin ladies with paint etched on top of them.  It was truly amazing and a good idea for my future art escapades…

First on Ella’s nag list was to see the Eiffel Tower so on Sunday afternoon off we set off and walked for miles.  There was a massive Gay Rights demonstration on and there were police everywhere.  Alot of streets barricaded off with riot police complete with shields and machine guns.  We eventually made it to the Eiffel Tower and Ella and Alby went to the top.  I took the time to read my book as I knew it would take a while and I have been to the top years ago so let them have some time out together. 

Me from above – never know who is snapping you hey??
Anyone for some extra cheek chops???

If anyone needs a photo of the Eiffel Tower from any angle just ask Ella – she took hundreds.  After that I was frozen so we went off to have more red wine at a Cafe just behind the Eiffel Tower – was nice and the little waiter came along with a blanket for me.  Cute hey. 

Yesterday we saw outside tables set up with blankets rolled up on them – gotta give it to the french to think of everything. 

The day before we spent the day in the City walking and then riding on the Open Air Bus – think that is where I got my cold/flu bug from – got too cold.  But was nice as we were happy to be in Paris and see the sights but not having to rush between them all.  We did that last time.  This trip has been about ‘Living with the People’ as Kev Romano would say.  ‘You have to live with the People’.
From the bus we passed all the major monuments and Ella is still in love with the Eiffel Tower and we have taken another 500 photos (just in case we missed one single angle).  I still get a warm fuzzy feeling from seeing the Arc de Triomphe – that is my favourite as it so big and imposing.  Plus the tree lined street just lets you imagine the pomp and ceremony it would have commanded in years gone by.

Even Honey Bears came to Europe…

On the Open air bus – had enough of looking at old buildings, so decided to be silly.

The Madeline Church was our landmark on our last visit to Paris, so went inside this time as it was being renovated three years ago.  Beautiful church with no windows built by Napoleon.  A lot of the buildings are being cleaned (at tax payers expense said one taxi driver) and it is nice.  Paris not the cleanest city- smells of pee but is Paris and so much more of it is better than the smells. 

Since this was our stomping ground last time we found a lovely little avenue of high end shops in a courtyard that was covered in snow last time with a huge Christmas tree where we are standing.  Was nice to see some spring flowers instead. The shops were very designer with Chanel, Dior etc.  Very nice to look at but not quite game to go inside – might say Bonjour the wrong way or something – very stuck up looking staff.  

Yesterday we had a very easy day for our last day in Paris.  Had planned to go and find the Jewish synagogue but the cold and rain were too much for us.  Where is one of those black Africans with the cheap umbrellas when it is pouring rain – still hassling tourists at the Louvre I would suggest.   So had a nap and then ventured out for drinks and dinner later in the afternoon. 

Our first stop was our favourite no. 2 café (real name L’Atmosphere) where we have spent every afternoon this week.  The canal is in the background where the La Pouche’ meet. Have met some lovely folks there – one of the first days a muso who spends time between Marais and Seattle he gave us a nice list of restaurants to try. 

Then a nice couple from Wales visiting their uninspired uni student daughter Alex studying literature.  Mum a teacher and dad a lumberjack – they are working their butts off for their daughter to study and she is just having a lovely time it seems (I guess it is what happens).  They had just spent the day in the op shops here which are almost designer stores – went to a shop that sells clothes by the kilo.  Then another English couple who were nice and in Paris for a naughty two days.  She was in IT and couldn’t fix my blog. Bugga….
So yesterday we said goodbye to our many La Pouches’ friends.  Allby’s favourite was at the Cafe – a Jack Russell/white Scotty Terrier.  She is very cute but we did not find out her name.  Rita, the Jack Russell/Pug was not there, too wet she said.  But Lilly the other JR was on the canal as usual with her dad.  Plus two huskies who just love to run of course.  We have loved the dogs in Paris as most of them have been Jack Russells or some kind of cross with them.  See I have always said they are the very best dogs in the world…

This is Billy – a very old Silky Terrier with her mum at another great restaurant earlier in the week. We had a fantastic dinner – very french with mashed celeriac and chicken breast for Ella and I and it was so moist – melted in your mouth and Allby had a huge tenderloin – all with yummy light sauce.

Billy sat at the bar the whole time and was nice.  His mum a bit pissy but that happens it seems.

Then off to the first fantastic Italian restaurant we found the day we arrived (as if we won’t have enough Italian in Italy) and a glass of Pinot Noir (the normal Merlot knocked me on my butt the night before – three little glasses – not even buckets like we drink out of at home and I had the wobbly boot on.  Either I am loosing the knack or this is strong shit.  Alby been loving the beer and Ella wishing she could have wine or something other than lemonade.

Just after we sat down a huge clap of thunder rocked the building and it poured rain, similar to home with massive drops so we stayed snug and took great photos through the big windows of everyone rushing past.  grabbing a baguette and munching, meeting friends or just rushing past.

Cute gay French men unlocking and riding their scooters away. 

Watched a couple of street folks asking for money and one was making a fair quid. Then a fight broke out with some Africans and Lebs (about 10 of them) and we stayed put and watched.  A very colourful corner we were on but safe enough really. We have spent all week in and around this end of Marais, so felt like we knew it well enough.  Were always home by dark or shortly after and did not feel anything but safe.  Alot of young couples and young kids in prams, so must be OK.  Saw quite a few African nannies during the day with little kids playing in the parks etc. Shops were great but tricky for us to buy as we are supposed to be heading for sunshine.  

All in all, our six days in Paris have been nothing short of fantastic. Not rushed – just livin’ with the people and enjoying the leisurely pace.

31 May 2013 – With one last coffee and croissant we said goodbye to Paris and spent the day on the train to Munich to see Steffie (our very first student who is now studying law in Munich).

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