Monday, July 11, 2011

Paris 2011-6

8 Juillet (Vendredi) - Robb had aother appointment at the banque on Boulevard des Italiens today.  His regular conseiller (counselor) has taken off a couple months (we think she is getting married), so he did business with a really nice guy from the South of France, who spoke excellent English, and seemed to prefer it.

We encountered a slight drizzle on our walk to the bus stop.  Fortunately, we had both taken our parapluies (umbrellas).

As we passed the Monoprix on rue du Temple, we decided to get off at the next stop and walk back to it because Robb wanted to get another bottle of a cologne he really likes.  On the way back to the Monoprix, we stopped at a luggage place where I had bought a suitcase several years ago,  Just to have a look.  A French friend had told me it's very well known, and I can understand why.  The prices for their very good luggage are excellent.  Then we stopped quickly at Tati where I bought a European extension (the little black things are American to European adapters).  We finally made it to the Monoprix and Robb got his cologne, UdV (Ulric de Varens).  It's named in colors, I like the Blue.  When we went out to get the bus (the stop was just outside the Monoprix door), I took a picture of Église Sainte Elizabeth, just across the street. There was a guy in a wheelchair waiting for the bus and I managed to get a shot of the wheelchair extension from the bus.

At about 20h00, we walked down and caught the 96 bus to Saint Paul.  We had planned to take the métro from the Saint Paul station to the Étoile station, because both have escalators to the side walk.  But there is a taxi stand there also, so...  The taxi let us out in front of Pizza Trionfo, a place at which we had dinner several times a week last October.  It's basically a pizza place as one can tell from the name, but we almost always had the pâtes (pasta).  I liked all the pasta dishes, but I loved the pâtes bolognaise.  The only time I had a pizza there, I thought I was ordering tartiflette.  And it was a tartiflette pizza which was very good, but when you're expecting one thing and you get another, it's not the same.

Nino recognized us as soon as we walked through the door.  He thanked us for the carte postale we had sent from Fort Lauderdale and we chatted for a few minutes.  There was a sizable crowd in the restaurant.  I think we were the only non-French in the place.  An interesting point: even though it's an Italian restaurant and the proprietor's name is Nino, he's not Italian; he's Egyptian.  For desert, I had a créme caramel and Robb had the Parfait Café.  As usual, Nino gave us a digestif on the house.
9 Juillet (Samedi) - Laundry (jeans) and La Tour de France.

10 Juillet (Dimanche) - Aujourd'hui (today) we went to le Musée des Arts et Métiers (Museum of Arts and Crafts) which involved taking the same bus twice.  We had a choice; we could take the 20 to the end of the line and come back, or we could do what we did.  First, we rode to the next stop after the bank, and then we walked down to rue du Quatre-September, where we got the bus going in the opposite direction.  We got off at the Réaumur-Arts et Metier stop, which is just across the street from the musée.

The first thing you notice is L'Église Saint-Martin des Champs, which you can enter from the musée, but isn't part of it.  Regretfully, we did not go in for a look.  The second thing you see is the Statue of Liberty.  That now makes three of which I'm certain in Paris, but there could be more.

The musée has exhibits on three floors.  The first floor exhibit was a temporary show about the Paris métro system.  We didn't see that either.  But there was more than enough to see on the other two floors, including one of the first, if not the first, airplanes.  I'm not sure I'd want to take a flight in that.  The ceiling above the hanging plane is almost as spectacular as the plane.

The musée is large and filled with fascinating stuff.  We were there for about three hours and we didn't even see everything.  As well as the stuff in the musée, there were interesting things to see outside as well.

Afterward, we caught the bus back to the apartment, and decided to walk down to Comptoir Turenne for a drink and (for me) a rest.  I had a coupe de champagne, Robb had a Kir Royal, and we shared a dish of pommes frites (French fries).  While sitting there, I saw one of the famous Space Invader mosaics on the building next to the church on rue de Turenne.

Walking back to the apartment on rue Saint-Claude, I noticed a couple other graffiti-like things; the spaceman, the social comment and the very cool barber's sign.

You can see ALL the Paris pictures at Paris 2011
À la prochaine, mes amis.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Paris 2011-5

4 Juillet (Lundi) - I took an alprazolam (generic Xanax) last night, and for the first night since we've been here, slept straight through.  I'm somewhat susrprised I don't feel that much better, but I suspect my medicine has more to do with how I feel than my lack of sleep.  I have doubled my dosage to what it was before this doctor, to see if that's the problem, but it will take at least a week to see a result.

I haven't mentioned food in a couple days.  We have been eating 'at home', because I realized that at €100 or more per night, it would cost us almost $20,000 to eat out every night for three months.  We simply cannot afford that.  For whatever the reason, prices in this area are rather high.  We will eat out occasionally, but it probably won't be often.  That's one of the advantages of renting an apartment.

Robb was hot to buy another shirt.  He went back to the store where he had previously bought three shirts.  The shirt they sold him was a medium and he wears a small, so I accompanied him back to make the exchange.  Surprisingly, the clerk gave him no hassle at all and the exchange was made.

We decided to go back to Comptoir Turenne to get something to eat.  We had the same waiter and, apparently, I was right about the other day, because he greeted us warmly and provided excellent service.  We decided on the Chevre Chaud Salade.  It was huge!  Robb, of course, finished his, but I could only eat about three-quarters of mine.  As I am wont to do, I had a good look around and noticed that the ceiling had been painted as a map of the Marais.

On the way back to the apartment, I noticed an old door.  It's somewhat atypical of doors here.  Most are in better condition.

Our friend, Steve, came down with some kind of stomache problem, so we re-scheduled for Wednesday evening.

5 Juillet (Mardi) - The Musée d'Orsay has lent some of it's impressionist paintings to Hôtel de Ville which is showing them for free until the end of Juillet (July).  We hopped aboard the 96 bus and rode to the Hôtel de Ville stop, right across the street from city hall.  We walked to the main entrance, but had to go to the back entrance.  As we thought, there was a line waiting to be ushered into the show, luckily, it wasn't very long.  An interesting thing happened while we were waiting; there was a small group of kids with their teachers in front of us.  The guards looked over, saw them and then motioned them to go inside, ahead of the people waiting in line in front of them.

We finally were let in and it was well worth the wait.  There were actually two exhibits in the same place; the Impressionistes and La Construction du Nouvelle Paris (the costruction of New Paris).

The Nouvelle Paris exhibit was up a couple flights of stairs, but I was determined to see it.  It was worth the climb.  There were a lot of pictures of now famous buildings when they were new, or as they were being built, including some really great pictures of the new opera building, which we know today as Opéra Garnier, the old opéra.  There was a cast of the Théâtre de la Porte St. Martin, which I thought was the Théâtre de la Renaissance.  It's a great exhibit and if you're going to be here before the end of July, I really recommend it.'

Then, we went downstairs to view the Impressioniste paintings.  Again, easily worth the wait to get in, which because it has been here a couple weeks and will last until the end of July wasn't that long.  There were several artists in the show with whom I was unfamiliar, but I enjoyed seeing their works.  Of course, if you've been to the Orsay, you know they never show the complete collection at one time, there's just too many.

After our visit to l'Hôtel de Ville, we walked up to BHV Homme in the hope of getting some more bargain T-shirts.  I bought a couple and Robb bought one.

We left and walked to the 75 bus stop on rue des Archives.  We took the 75 to Place de la République, but got off at the wrong stop, so our walk back to the apartment was several blocks longer than necessary.  Fortunately, the weather in Paris right now is beautiful (low to mid 20'sC, 70's F).  Since we had to walk right past it, we stopped at Franprix and Robb bought some stuff, including another bottle of wine.

We heard from our friend Peter and, I think, we have a date for drinks tomorrow afternoon.

6 Juillet (Mercredi) - Last year, I complained because every place at which we stayed was undergoing some kind of construction.  Since we got to Paris this year, it had been nicely quite.  It now appears the peace is to be broken.  Just across the courtyard, workers are renovating what I think is an office.  Will someone please explain to me, why are the workers only noisy in the morning when I'm trying to sleep?

Peter stopped by around 14h30.  We drank some nice wine and, as usual, had a great conversation.  We started outside in our little jardin terrasse (garden terrace) but it started to sprinkle, so we moved inside.  During the course of the conversation, Peter asked if we had been to the church down the street (Église Saint-Denys-du-Saint-Sacrement).  We told him we had, but then, he mentioned the "Pietà" by Delacroix, which we had totally missed.  He did say it was in a dark corner, and the church was quite dark when we were there.  Now that we know it's there, we'll definitely make a point of going back to see it.

Around 18h30, we walked down to the Turenne/Saint-Claude bus stop.  Caught the bus and rode to the Hôtel de Ville stop.  We walked to rue des Archives and then, up to Les Marrionners, passing an empty Chez Tsou.  All the other places around Chez Tsou were busy, as usual.  We have eaten at Chez Tsou and liked it very much, so I don't understand why it's always nearly empty.

We ordered a picher du vin rouge and settled down to wait for Steve, who arrived straight from work.  We drank some wine and chatted for several hours, and made a tentative date to meet in Madrid, since he and "cheri" will there for a few days while we are there.  Then, Steve left while Robb and I decided to have dinner there.  We both had what Les Marrionners calls the "Croquita".  It's basically a croque monsieur, but the croquita is an open-faced sandwich with mozzarella, ham, tomatoes and Herbes de Provence.  It's very good and very filling.  It comes with a small salad.

We finished our dinner and walked down to rue François Miron to get the bus back to the apartment.

7 Juillet (Juedi) - Laundry and La Tour de France.  Robb made his daily trip to Franprix and a side trip to the pharmacie for acetone, because I had used Super Glue on my house booties and got a lot of it on my fingers.   I tried to watch la Tour at 13h00, but it wasn't on.  I thought maybe they had taken a day off.  I was starting to watch a tape of yesterday's action around 15h00 and figured I would try France2 once more, and there it was.  I don't know if you can watch this French website in the US, but thought I would include it just in case.  Laundry takes forever.  Washing is quick enough, but in order to have dry clothes, you need to run them through the drier at least three times. 
You can see all the Paris pictures at Paris 2011

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Paris 2011-4

1 Juillet (Vendredi) - I don't get it.  I have absolutely no trouble falling asleep, but I only sleep for two or three hours and then, I toss and turn until about seven in the morning, at which time I fall asleep for another three or four hours. 

Today, we went out, caught the 20 bus to Gare de Lyon, where we got the 57 bus to Place d'Italie and Italie2.  Robb bought a nice sweater/shirt at Jules.  We headed for the pharmacie, stopping at Armand Thierry for a quick look but bought nothing.  The pharmacie was only about half as big as it used to be.  The actual pharmacie part was like a little room in the back of the store.  There was one pharmacist working and a long line waiting.  I guess if we want something from a pharmacie, we'll have to go to a local place.  I was kind of hoping the pharmacist could suggest a good, over-the-counter sleeping aid.  

We stopped into Printemps, but again, bought nothing.  Then we went to Tati (sort of a down-trodden K-Mart) hoping to buy hangers, but found none.  Robb bought a cannister set to use at the apartment, it's so nice, we may take it with us.

Then, we left Italie2, caught a very crowded 57 bus back to Gare de Lyon, where we got the not-so-crowded 20 bus home.

We dropped the stuff off at the apartment and walked up to Franprix to see what we could find for dinner tonight.  We bought a frozen dinner; lasagna bolognaise.  It wasn't bad.  Our best buy was a box of Magnum White ice cream bars. 
2 Juillet (Samedi) - I slept somewhat better and even got up by 10h00.  Now, if only my breathing would improve.  

In what is becoming a daily routine, we went to the Franprix today and bought more wine, some turkey (for sandwiches) and napkins.  We found a re-usable sac (bag) so we don't have to keep using plastic bags.

We dropped our purchases at the apartment and walked down to rue de Turenne.  I wanted to find the closest 96 bus stop.  We turned right on rue de Turenne.  Lots more men's shops and everyone was selling beautiful clothes at special prices because of the soldes, which ends about the time we leave for Madrid.  We walked up to rue Froissart, which was only one of the six streets intersecting that corner.  Still didn't see the bus stop, but there was a branch of BNP Paribas, so Robb stopped and got some money.Then we started back.  We were about a block from rue Saint-Claude when I saw a 96 bus go past.  It stopped at rue Saint-Claude.  We walked down, had a look and, sure enough, there was a bus stop right there.  That's very good news, but I don't know how I missed seeing it when I looked before.

While we were admiring our good luck, we noticed that a wedding party was emerging from the church on the corner, Église Saint-Denys-du-Saint-Sacrement  The bride was beautiful and the groom was handsome.  I thought about taking a picture but it somehow didn't feel like the right thing to do.  We were surprised when the bride (still in her beautiful gown) and groom (still in his expensive-looking tuxedo) didn't get into the traditional car to make their getaway, but after most of the rest of the wedding party had left, walked away.  Most unusual!

We were sitting on a bench across the street and decided to go to Comptoir Turenne for a café.  At first we sat at a table on the terrasse, but the sun was too bright and hot, so we moved to a table inside.  While we sat there, we saw another wedding party arrive and go inside.  Comptoir Turenne (formerly Le Diplomate) is the very first place in France that practically asked us to leave.  Not in so many words, but the waiter brought our chèque and waited for payment well before we actually thought about leaving.  Of course, it could be our fault for moving after we ordered our café.  Maybe he wasn't sure we were going to stick around and pay.  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. 

We did eventually leave.  On the way back to the apartment, I stopped to take a picture of the church bell tower.  The tower is at the back end of the church and that puts it very close to our apartment.  I have heard them in the morning (in fact, just a few minutes ago), but they're not too loud at all.  Back at the apartment, I tweeted our friend Steve to set up a meeting for Lundi soir (Monday evening). 

3 Juillet (Dimanche) - La premier Dimanche (the first Sunday) of every month is FREE MUSEUM DAY in Paris, so we got ourselves ready, walked down and got the 96 bus across the street from the Comptoir Turenne.  We rode to the Hôtel de Ville bus stop, where we got the 69 bus to the Louvre-Rivoli stop.  We should have waited until the Palais Royal stop, but it wasn't a total waste. As we passed Rives, Robb saw saw a wallet he wanted to buy.  While he was doing that, I took a picture of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois just across the street. Then we walked down to the Carrousel du Louvre entrance to the musée, passing an interesting exhibit in front of Le Conseil d'Etat.  I really didn't think it would be that crowded, but everyone in the city must have known about free museum day.  We checked out a couple stores in the Carrousel and headed for the Place du Carrousel bus stop.

We caught the 69 bus to the Champ de Mars, the final stop in that direction.  We had hoped to stay on the bus, but the driver insisted that we leave, walk across the street to the real bus stop, and wait till he finished his cigarette.  While waiting, I took a strange picture of la Tour Eiffel (you have to look really closely, but I swear it's there).  We did that and rode all the way to the other end of the ligne 69, where we, again, left the bus, walked across the street, waited for the driver to smoke and got back on.  It gave me the opportunity to photograph the fontaine in front of the 20e Mairie (City Hall).

Around 23h00 (11:00PM) we went to a place on Boulevard Beaumarchais named Grazie.  When I looked it up on Google Street View, it showed a place named Le Balto.  It's supposed to be a pizza place, and some reviews had good things to say about the pizza.  But the drinks were way over-priced.  
You can see all the Paris pictures at Paris 2011 
À la prochaine, mes amis.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Paris 2011-3

27 Juin (Lundi) - I took a pill last night and slept a little better, but still not great. 

Robb wanted to go to the banque today. We got ourselves dressed and walked down Boulevard Beaumarchais  towards Place de la République  in the hope of finding a taxi. As we walked, we tried to flag one down but, except late at night when they're begging for riders, it's almost impossible to do that, and today was no different. In case you don't remember, I really HATE French taxi drivers, and that opinion was stoutly renewed today. We found the taxi stand and there were three taxis there, but no drivers and they never did appear in the entire twenty to thirty minutes we stood there trying to get a passing driver to stop. None did.

We walked down to Place de la République (if you can see the little blue 'TAXI' sign, that's where I was standing when I got one guy to stop) to see if we could get one there. We found the taxi stand and I could see several taxis parked about half-block away. But, again, no drivers. Finally, after standing there waving at passing taxis for ten or fifteen minutes, one actually stopped and picked us up.

I suppose I should mention that it was extremely warm in Paris today. The World Weather site online showed the temp to be in the high 90's. I've never been here when it was that hot. In fact, I didn't really believe it ever got that hot in Paris after being here in July one year when I had to buy a leather jacket because it was so cold!

We got to the banque only to find, once again, it was a wasted trip. The Carte Bleu that was supposed to be waiting for Robb, was not there. You know that list of things I HATE about Paris? Add banques. Supposedly, he has an appointment to pick it up on Wednesday, but I will be greatly surprised if it's actually there.

Just to be certain it wasn't a totally wasted trip, we walked down to the métro station a Place de l'Opéra to get our Navigo passes. Robb needed a new one, and I just had to rechargement mine. We each got a carnet de billets (ten tickets) to use until Vendredi (Friday) when our passes will be good. I have to say, it was much easier this time than last time. The clerk had everything ready and we simply told him what we wanted and handed him the euros. Afterward, we stopped at the 'Paul' café. I got un pain au choclat and une bouteille de l'eau (a chocolat filled brioche and a bottle of water). Robb got an apricot tarte and a can of Minute Maid Jus de l'Orange.

Then we walked over to rue de Quatre Septembre where we got the 20 bus back to the apartment.

Back at the apartment, we were happy to find that the interesting temperature thing was still true - it was at least fifteen to twenty degrees cooler in the apartment. We each had a dish of Menthe Glace (mint ice cream), then rested until dinner time.

A few minutes after 21h00, we went out ostensibly to go to an Italian restaurant I had seen down the street. But we walked a block down Boulevard Beaumarchais, when I spotted a little place on the other side of the boulevard, down a little side street (rue Amelot). I loved the name of the place:  La Vache Acrobate (the Acrobatic Cow). I suggested we try it. What a great find it turned out to be. In spite of the heat (surprise Paris is HOT!) we had to sit inside, but at least, we were next to the open window. We both had the Noix Saint Jacques (scallops). They were served with the best risotto I have EVER eaten. We ordered une bouteille du Val de Loire (an excellent white wine). We skipped dessert and finished with un café.  

After dinner, we walked a bit down the street and discovered a few more restaurants. They were all closed and I hope it was only because it's Lundi (Monday) and it's their usual day to be closed.

28 Juin (Mardi) - Did I mention that we got here the day after the start of les soldes d'été (summer sales) Période des soldes d'été : du mercredi 22 juin 2011 au mardi 26 juillet 2011 inclus (they last from 22 June to 26 July). Les soldes d'été, for those who aren't familiar, are the summer sales. In France, store 'sales' are regulated by the state. Supposedly, the stores can only have 'sales' at certain times of the year. Of course, that does not include 'specials' or 'going out of business sales'.

The other day when we were walking down rue de Turenne and were checking out all the men's stores, we also noticed that the prices were really low. Normally, clothing in Paris is quite expensive. Robb had seen several shirts he wanted, so off we went on a shopping spree. We passed several stores before he finally saw something he had to buy. He bought three shirts. Then he took them back to the apartment while I waited just outside Hôtel de Grand Veneur, where there was a photo exhibit of some sort. I took a picture of the main entrance with the "flags", and a picture of a couple of pieces of sculpture in the courtyard. I think one is King Louis 'the Sun King, but I'm not certain.'

We walked a little further, than caught the 96 bus to BHV. While we were in the store, it rained a little bit. We both bought some nice T-shirts because we hadn't brought enough (I only had one with me). After, we walked down by Hôtel de Ville, thinking we might have time to check out the free Impressionist exhibit, but it was too late. Apparently, most of the art is on loan from the Musée d'Orsay. The exhibit is on until the end of July, so we will have the chance to check it out. Since we couldn't do the HdV exhibit, we walked over to Place de Saint-Gervais and down rue François Miron to the bus stop and caught the 96 bus back to rue Saint-Claude. It was good to get back to our nice, cool apartment for a while.

A little after 21h00, we went looking for a place to eat. This time we tried rue de Turenne and found a little place on rue de Parc Royal named Café des Musées (probably because the Picasso Musée is just down the street). We were seated next to two American girls who were living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Next to them were two (I think, because they were speaking English to the girls) French guys. At any rate, everyone was very friendly and we had a very good time. The waiters were also very friendly, cheerful and helpful. We both had Canard Roti (roasted duck) with a medley of vegetables. It was excellent. Dessert was a créme tarte with cranberries. We drank a bottle of beaujolais. During the time we were there, it rained lightly, but the temperature cooled down significantly.

29 Juin (Mercredi) - The Paris heat wave is over and I'm back to wearing my leather jacket.  Today, also, is Robb's appointment at the banque. I'm curious to see how that goes. Around 13h00, we walked up and got the 20 Bus. We arrived at the BNP Paribas about a half-hour early, so we just hung around outside, then went in. We only had to wait a few minutes util Robb's conseiller. She was very pleasant (as usual) and she actually had Robb's card ready and waiting. After getting the formalities out of the way, we chatted for several minutes; mostly about politics and the "war on terror". She's very knowledgeable about world happenings, and we found that we pretty much agreed on everything.

We left, stopping for a café at Bistro Romain.  Just across the street was a Pizza Hut, so I had to take a picture. 

Then we walked over to rue de Quatre Septembre, where we just missed the 29 bus, but only waited a few minutes for the 20. There is a beautiful church between the Bourse (which used to be the Paris stock exchange) and Square du Temple.  I tried to take a picture of it, but my phone was turned off and by the time it re-booted, we were already too far past.  But since I had it ready, I took a shot of the Temple métro station and the statue named 'Republique' in the middle of Place de la République.

Dinner at Le Repaire de Cartouche. There is an entrance on Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire which is really Blvd Beaumarchais, but changes names about a block from the restaurant like so may streets in Paris. We actually entered from rue Amelot, after stopping at two other "restaurants" that have menus but don't serve food. That now makes three of those we've found in this area. I don't mind if a place wants to be only a bar, but at least they shouldn't advertise themselves as a café/brasserie.  Le Repaire de Cartouche is a split-level place, and I suspect the locals eat downstairs, while the tourists are shuffled off to the hinterland. We both had the Pavé de St. Pierre (a white fish) served over delicious wax beans (like haricots vert, except yellow). Dessert, which was ordered by Robb, was supposed to be white chocolate cake with strawberries, but there was little, if any, white chocolate in it. It was good but... The waiters, in contrast to reviews I read after getting back to the apartment, were pleasant and friendly. When reading about the restaurant, they presented the hours thusly; "Closed Sun., Mon., and Aug." I found that to be quite funny. If you know anything about Paris, you know that most Parisians leave the city in August.

30 Juin (Jeudi) - Another terrible night.  I was reading the entries from our last trip to Europe because I was looking for the name of a store (which I found) and I saw that it was a week or more before I could get into going places and doing things.  I'm hoping that's the case this time, but I don't remember it being this bad. 

Dinner tonight at a really nice place on rue Amelot, which although it's just across the street, is in the 11e (11th arrondissement) La CuiZine.  It's apparently run by a husband and wife team.  We both had gambas (huge shellfish served whole) which came with a side of risoto.  Very messy, but very good, and our waitress Delphine brought us finger bowls.  We drank a nice Macon Village white wine.  Dessert for me was a raspberry Tiramisu.  Neither of us can remember what Robb had, but it was good and looked beautiful.  This is a great restaurant and we hope to return before we leave for Madrid in a couple of weeks. Oh, and La CuiZine is one of the restaurants we saw the other day that was closed because (I think) it was their regular day to be closed. 

You can see all the Paris pictures at Paris 2011 
À la prochaine, mes amis.