Paris Diaries


A Dr. Pepper heaven.
March 21, 2009, 12:00 am
Filed under: Food, Paris | Tags: , ,

Because it was another beautiful, warm day (at least in the sun), because we had had enough of the cold winter, and because we just had another talk about budgeting last night, this morning, we set out for a picnic on the vast esplanade in front of the Invalides.

Nez's homemade salsa anchored our delicious (and cheap) picnic meal.

Nez's homemade salsa anchored our delicious (and cheap) picnic meal.

With Nez’s long coat serving as a makeshift picnic blanket (Riot’s coat was keeping Nez warm), we plopped down on our own piece of ground and surveyed our domain, which stretched from the imposing Hôtel and its ensemble of bronze canons in the background to the distant Pont Alexandre III with it glittering golden statues spanning the river Seine.  Yes, there were hundreds of other sun worshipers out and about, reading a good book, taking in the UV rays, participating in one game or another, or disembarking from double-decker tour buses.  But, there were just two people – us – who came with homemade salsa (Nez’s, which tasted great even though we couldn’t find any cilantro at Champion last night), prosciutto and paté in plastic packages, a freshly baked baguette, caramel popcorns, a pistachio éclair, and – drum rolls, please – in glorious Technicolor, two cans of Dr. Pepper!

Now, this was heaven!  C’était le paradis!

Dr. Pepper:  Invented in America, canned in the UK, consumed in France.

Dr. Pepper: Invented in America, canned in the UK, consumed in France.

 

We stretched ourselves under a lazy sky and thought just that.  Then, we exclaimed that we were the luckiest people in the world and meant every word of it.  We had not have a drop of Dr. Pepper since the end of April, 2008.

“Hey, you can even play soccer with those guys over there,” Nez motioned her head in the direction of a group of young men clad in the usual array of replica jerseys of the current stars of the football world.  How nice of her, Riot thought in his head, but before he said anything Nez continued.  “They all run funny.”  She laughed.

Paris as one's own reading room.

Paris as one's own reading room.

Nez works and walks so hard she wore a hole into her socks.  (Actually, these are Riot's.  He usually goes without.)

Nez works and walks so hard she wore a hole into one of her socks. (Actually, these are Riot's. He usually goes without. It's called love.)

 

[As always, be sure to check out the rest of our Parisdise afterward for much, much more!]

Advertisements


New use for an old thing.
March 20, 2009, 5:15 pm
Filed under: Paris, Wedding | Tags: , , ,

No one but us, we thought, would even be interested in the posting of our bans, or Publication du Mariage, at the local mairie.  (At most, the only other person might be the clerk whose job it is to make sure this kind of thing gets done right.)  But in any event, that is quite OK with us; we are ecstatic!

Today, we received in the mail an unexpected letter, which we knew had something to do with our upcoming civil ceremony because of the way Riot’s name was written.  (Recall that the mairie refused to switch the order of Riot’s name so he’s now officially known by his middle name instead.)  Is it something official?  What’s the problem now?  We nervously ripped it open only to find a friendly solicitation from some wedding photographer.

Vous avez décidé vous marier, permettez-moi de vous féliciter,” she wrote.

Thank you, we thought.  Someone else besides the nuptial couples and the dedicated city hall clerks actually cares about these bans.

 

[As always, be sure to check out the rest of our Parisdise afterward for much, much more!]



I don’t care if it’s a false spring, I’ll take it.
March 15, 2009, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Food, Paris | Tags: , , , ,

A recess monitor, herself a transplant in this city, told Nez on Friday that “Sunday is supposed to be really nice.”  Yesterday, Saturday, the sky was its gloomy self like it had been for the last two weeks and Nez was starting to write off the weather lady as a quack.  And then this morning, as we opened our eyes bright rays of sunlight shone forcefully through the overhead skylight.  “Hey, wake up,” said Nez.  “It’s beautiful outside.”  Riot rushed down to the lower level and pulled open the curtains to reveal an amazing spring day.  “See, I told you so,” said the woman standing next to him.

Amorino gelato:  Banane & coco for Nez; marron glacé & coco for Riot.

Amorino gelato: Banane & coco for Nez; marron glacé & coco for Riot.

After a delicious homemade breakfast – Nez’s pancakes have few rivals here – we went walking, taking with us our sunglasses.  We made a pit stop at the Amorino on rue de Buci for the first gelato scoops of the season.  The words sounded foreign off our tongues but the tastes were utterly familiar.  We turned left and headed for the river where the sight of people sunning by the water inspired Nez to proclaim:  “I don’t care if it’s a false spring.  I’ll take it.”

Before Riot could respond, Nez suddenly stopped in her tracks and let out a scream.  “Ah!  Look!”
“What’s wrong?” asked a surprised Riot.
“A bird pooped on me!”
“No, it didn’t.”  Riot did not see any clump of bird poop on Nez’s head.
“Yes, it did.”  Nez pointed to the spot on her head.  Yes, it did.  But only very slightly.  Riot took Nez’s napkin and wiped what little of it away.  Damn birds returning from a winter spent in warmer reaches, forgetting all of their cosmopolitan manners.

We pushed on, crossing Pont Neuf into the first arrondissement, then through the ninth to the Opéra Garnier where the same rag-tag marching band in various orange articles of clothing that we had seen playing at the exact same spot last summer was again at it, entertaining tourists and locals alike.  We stayed for a little while and then marched forth toward our destination:  the Sacré-Coeur in the 18th.  Along the way, we passed by rue Joubert, just behind the fancy department stores, where we had had lunch a few times when we first came here together in 2006 and squeezed in between sidewalk tables and waiting diners were a couple of worn prostitutes awaiting the midday johns.  Today, we saw just one or two working on Sunday with no apparent takers.

The walk across the Right Bank to the very edge of town was more like a longish hike that took us through parts of Paris that tourists often do not see.  On the boulevard de Clichy with its many sex shops and theaters, we wondered how it would have turned out had we ended up here instead.  We imagined telling visiting family and friends:  “Yes, for the best bread in our neighborhood, just head for the little storefront next to the big red “Sex” sign.”  While we are sure that we would find a way to like any place that we end up living in, we are very pleased to be living where we do now.

At the Sacré-Coeur, we parked ourselves on the sloping greens in front of the basilica and soaked in the remaining warmth if not sun.  The contingent of so-called “string men” who tried to accost tourists, tie friendship bracelets on them, and extort money were out in force at the foot of the stairs.  (Here’s an internet article.)  Near us, a group of Canadian college kids, with quite a few wearing kitschy Université Paris sweatshirts, were discussing how some of them eluded the scam and others did not.  “I had to pay,” snapped one whose sense of manly pride was obviously hurt, “he wouldn’t let me go.”

It got cold quickly after the sun started to dip beyond the horizon.  We strolled downhill and then the more gentle grade of the 9th to the 2nd and finally back to the 1st where we stopped by Café du Musée (10, rue du Louvre) for some delicious hot crêpes to consume across the Pont des Arts on the way home.  To continue the spilling theme of the day, Nez managed to get much of the melted sugar from hers onto her clothes.  Oh well, it happens.

Crêpes by the river:  Beurre & sucre for Nez; noix de coco for Riot

Crêpes by the river: Beurre & sucre for Nez; noix de coco for Riot

On the wooden bridge, people were congregating once more in circles with assortments of food and beverages.  A few more times like this and we would be convinced that the harsh winter was indeed history.  Near home, Nez pointed down the crooked rue du Four, which becomes rue de Sèvres, and said:  “Look at that beautiful sunset!”  In the distance, layers of red-orange, pink, and yellow skies stacked high above the Bon Marché department store like a celestial millefeuille.

 

[As always, be sure to check out the rest of our Parisdise afterward for much, much more!]



Paris is always changing and sometimes in ways that we dread.
March 13, 2009, 12:00 am
Filed under: Paris | Tags: , ,

Nez was walking out of the Invalides métro station, on her way to get her lunchtime Starbucks fix in between sessions, when she reached for her phone and started a texting bout with Riot, who was just then tapping away at the keyboard at his newly found writing spot, the Bibliothèque Mazarine.

Nez:  “oh no, il y a bea[u]coup de touristes now.”
Riot:  “merde!  ou est notre ville tranquille?”
Nez:  “nous devons sortir now”
Riot:  “jamais.  ils devent [doivent] sortie [sortir].”
Nez:  “oui.  tous [tout] le temps tu es vrai [as raison].”
Riot:  “non, de temps en temps seulement.  toi aussi.”

It is true that the French use “now” instead of the longer “maintenant” but our own command of their language surely needs some work.  In all, the message is clear:  Paris is always changing and sometimes in ways that we dread.

 

[As always, be sure to check out the rest of our Parisdise afterward for much, much more!]