21 September 2008

Cringe, cringe

This was our brekky yesterday morning at a cafe called "Paul". However, Steve & I started badly by seating ourselves, rather than waiting to be seated (we didn't know!) and then proceeded to feel the wrath of the stout French madam who ran the place. There was quite a lot of eyeball rolling by her - and in fact, by several locals yesterday, despite my best efforts with speaking the language. The Norwegians sitting beside us got the same treatment however, so that cheered me up! I am finding Paris to be quite intimidating this time around. The locals seem particularly intolerant of tourists & despite my efforts to speak mangled French, I sense they'd prefer me to just go away. However, to be fair, there have also been some lovely locals who have been very kind & patient with my communication skills. I am promising myself though that I will definitely do more French lessons before my next trip here. French lessons & bank heist actually as I am quite alarmed at how easily those Euros trickle through my fingers - gulp! Yesterday we walked through St Germain de Pres towards St Sulpice cathedral. It was really wonderful to take the little back streets, not really knowing where we were & making all kinds of discoveries along the way. I found this fantastic little shop that sold vintage (also known as "2nd hand"!) Chanel & Hermes handbags. It was fascinating & I would have loved to ask how much for the little oxblood red mini-Birkin with the worn corners but, of course, I wasn't quite sure HOW to ask (good way to save those Eeuros!). We ended up at Paris' oldest department store, Le Bon Marche, and what an experience that was! Firstly, it seemed there were not a lot of tourists about & it was mainly elegant French ladies shopping for super-fancy frocks. The store was mind-boggling in its luxuriousness. The top floor was my favourite with its huge, very elegant haberdashery department that was brimming with beads, buttons, ribbons, fabrics & crocheting requirements, as befits a city that headlines fashion. Also on that floor was the furniture department but no Moran sofas here. It was serious "Architectural Digest" type of furniture & lighting. Amazing pieces that I have never seen other than in magazines. So, the morning was spent absorbing the wealthy, stylish French lifestyle & trying not to do too much gawping. Did I mention the food hall? Oh... I didn't. Well....... I actually don't know how to describe it other than to say it was Quite an Experience. As Steve said, none of you would actually believe it if we just described the gastronomic creations we have seen whilst in Paris. However, I feel reluctant to take a photo in case of a severe Gallic tongue lashing!I need to Get Brave! Speaking of gastronmic delights, our lunch was a tasty, crusty cheese & ham baguette in another little park where we narrowly avoided a nutting by falling horse chestnuts. And I thought dropping coconuts were bad news!

Our afternoon was spent at le Musee d'Orsay, a fabulous art gallery on the left bank, located in an old railway station. It's the most fantastic place and has a glorious collection of Impressionist art. I love it! By this time the pair of us were feeling the heat of being a tourist. It's hard work & thank goodness for the benches where you can sit & people watch in between admiring the art works. There are accents from all over the world & I must say that it comforted me to know that 90% of them also got the eyeball roll on admission!

Dinner last night, after a nap, was downstairs @ the little bistro on the corner. There is no place for large people in Paris. The bistro seating is very very cosy & even a specimen of womanhood like myself, of more .......er, Amazonian build finds it quite a challenge to seat herself, thus deterring her from any thought of dessert. Is it time to confess now? About the cheese? Hmmm... well, I had a SALAD - but it had roasted goat cheese on it. I can't help it! J'aime fromage!! The service is impeccable & the importance of eating & dining in general is obvious. Regarding eating however, I am truly perplexed at the sight of beautiful young women & well-dressed gentlemen tucking into the most decadent gateaux & they are all as thin as rakes! At Laduree on Friday, we were sitting beside two such young ladies who were discussing, in English, a broken love affair whilst they ate the most decadent berry & cream tarts. And they weren't sharing it - they each ate one! I am agog. I just don't dare to. Could it possibly be a cultural thing, do you think?
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1 comment:

frances8 said...

Jen! Kim and I agree, you are the most beautiful writer! We haven't checked your blog until today and we found it rich, fascinating and fun. You must (this is from Kim) go to Ile St. Louis and have Berthillon glacé. Also, the crazy taxidermy shop near Saint Germain de Près, Deyrolle on Rue de Bac. I mean, where else are you going to find a zebra having tea with a camel?

love, Kim and John