Thursday, June 26, 2008

Découvert des 5e et 6e arrondissements

Friday, 20 June 2008

Last Friday was a day filled with new experiences.
For breakfast, I stopped in one of my corner bakery and got a new pastry, an ouranet, which is a pastry with two halves of apricots on each end of an oval, and cream between the folds of pastry dough. I still prefer their fondant au chocolat.
For lunch, I visited la rue des rosiers, which might be my favorite street in Paris. It is cobblestoned, and located in the heart of the Marais. It is lined with small boutiques, Kosher bakeries, and falafel vendors. It is also where Le Loir dans le Théière is. There is a row of flower boxes that runs between the sidewalk and street - which is usually more filled with people and cars - that I assume gives the street its name. Or is there because of its name. Or something. After having seen the falafel shops, always with a line down the street, I decided to visit one. I am glad I did! It was delicious. And pretty much all vegetables so it must have been really healthy, right? That is what I will tell myself, anyway.
Eric was very busy with appointments on Friday, so nearing the end of the day he told me I would be able to leave work at 5, and then he said to me "Tu as travaillé toute la semaine, tu peux prendre ton samedi" (you've worked all week, you can take Saturday off). Well, ok, if you insist! I have heard other people say their bosses are very difficult, but Eric is great.

SO, when I got off, I started walking south until I got to the Seine, and then I crossed at the eastern-most edge of Ile-Saint-Louis. I had wanted to visit the Jardin des Plantes for quite some time. The name seems a little silly - well of course there are plants in a garden! But it is so named because after Marie Antoinette moved into the petit trianon, she had no use for Louis XV's horticultural collection or menagerie, so they were moved here to this Jardin in Paris. So today, there is still a menagerie (which I didn't visit because I'm pretty sure you have to pay) as well as the National Natural History Museum (again with this whole paying thing) and then there are the gardens. The gardens are unique in that all of the plants are labeled with Latin and common names. Mom, I thought of you - you would love it here with all the names of everything you didn't recognize!

I don't think I really came at the best time of year, it didn't seem to me that a lot of the flowers were in bloom; but then, I don't have anything else to compare it to so I don't know. There were rows and rows and rows of plants. I am not sure how they are organized, I'm sure there were signs but I don't recall what they said. It looked like to a certain extent they were arranged by color.

Here is one we need to export back to PHS - a perfect purple-white!



This one was one of my favorites. I had never seen it before. The label says it is a Bird of Paradise from Argentina and Uruguay. I guess I didn't know there were trees that were birds of paradise?



And the close up...



I discovered the macro setting on my camera for that one.

Please note the "vines" crawling up the sign post :



I went to the right to see the "labyrinth."
It doesn't much match it's name - it's just a spiral path that looks like this:



that leads up to this:



But here's where it get's a little tricky - there are lots of little pathways through the topiary, between the different loops of the path :



Still, not much of a maze - you certainly wouldn't get lost here. Not that I particularly wanted to get lost.

After my visit to the garden, I walked for a very very very long time, until I got to Arabia :



And went in this lovely little door:



Ok, that was a lie, I walked down the block and came to the Mosquée, the largest Mosque in Paris. The architecture is all classically Islamic and very beautiful. Inside, they have a café :



Which is open to the public. They also have a little bar filled with pastries to choose from, each being 2E, a good deal on pastries. I chose these two :



On the right was essentially a large cookie, maybe an almond cookie? It was delicious, as was the pastry on the right, kind of like baklava but without the nuts (this is vital.) I chose these two because they were so different, and because they looked most like they didn't have nuts, which the vast majority of pastries did. I did not ask their names, unfortunately. The baklava-like pastry was especially good. And it was such a peaceful, beautiful place to relax for a few minutes!

After my quiet snack, I continued on my way. The Jardin and Mosquée are in the 5e, just south of the Seine and just to the east of the middle of the city. I continued walking towards the 6e, which is just to the west of the 5e. I came across this huge monument, aptly named the "Pantheon" :



And then, a few blocks away, the Sorbonne :




The presence of the Sorbonne is the reason that this area is called the Quartier Latin - the Latin Quarter : historically, at this center of academia in Paris, everyone would speak Latin. Today it is known as a chic, perhaps still intellectual area.



Just before getting to my metro, I came to this fountain. This is in the same area as the Théatre de ala Huchette, where we saw La Cantatrice Chauve. It looks like just a big, austere, noble fountain, right? Well, yes, until you see this :




Note also the guy in scuba gear at the top! He had a bottle of liquid detergent that he was spraying in as well, so the bottom level became pretty filled with suds. I don't know why they were in the fountain, but they attracted a lot of onlookers, and I am sure I was not the only one to take pictures.

As for the rest of my evening, I came home and made dinner, and then a little later I went to my friend Raphaëlle's apartment. Raphaëlle was the intern for the BU center, and is a native Parisienne. I say was only because now her internship is over. She is about 19 and very friendly, and speaks English well, which is useful for the people on this trip who are not very strong in French (which is more than you might guess). Friday night there were about 6 of us over at her apartment. I planned to take the metro home again that evening, but it stops running around 2 on weekends and we were up talking till about 4. The metro starts again at 5:30, so I opted to just take a nap and then return home when the metros began running again. I was up about 5:40, and got into bed chez moi around 6:30... So that made for a long day!

A bientôt,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rhume!

Tuesday - Thursday, 17-19 June

These were not the best days of my trip... The cold that I had begun to catch over the weekend became a real cold, complete with serious congestion and fatigue. So that was fun. Eric could see I was a little slow Tuesday and let me go an hour early, which was nice of him. That evening was dinner with my host family again, as usual for Tuesdays. Catherine was clearly excited for dinner - they got out a bottle of wine (the only other time they had done this was my birthday) and she told us we were having a "grand repas" - a big/significant meal. I asked her if there was a reason, and she said that it was because had gotten a magazine with a bunch of new recipes, and she tried a few new ones that evening. So we had salad, as usual, and then our main course was an omelette that was wrapped in some kind of flat bread and baked with peppers and two kinds of spinach and almonds and probably more ingredients, but I don't remember what. Very tasty. After the main course, we had a cheese course! Very French, the first time I have experienced it. We had bread and three kinds of chevres (goat cheeses) - one plain, one with fig, and one with mango. They were all good but the mango was my favorite. Goat cheese goes well with sweet flavors (hence the fruit) and I know Catherine explained why but it was in French and I was still in something of a slow stupor from my cold so I do not remember the reason. After the cheeses came dessert. Another new recipe - a flan aux abricots et aux framboises (essentially, a very custardy "cake" with apricots and raspberries) which was sweetened with honey and flavored also with thyme. It was a little unusual but very tasty all the same.

Wednesday evening I made a salad with Killian, which we ate with baguette (of course). He and I hadn't done dinner in over a week, which was a really long time for us! Dinner was delicious as always, and then we went to the champ de Mars and watched the sunset with a few friends from the program. Afterwards, a few people went to see a Gnarls Barkley concert for 17E. I heard it was amazing - small venue, and they arrived early enough that they were right up in front, very close to the music. It sounds like it would have been a lot of fun, but I'm sure getting more sleep, as I did, was best for me.

Thursday I visited the Marché de la Bastille at lunchtime, as it is open Thursdays and Sundays. That really is my favorite place in Paris. Everything is so good - and so cheap! I went back to my favorite vendor, who immediately gave me a piece of a peach to taste. I got strawberries, cherries, and nectarines, and after I paid the man put 4 apricots in my bag as well. This was a different man, but who worked with the same people. They are wonderful, I definitely intend to keep buying from them the rest of the time I am here. I also got some kind of wrap with onions, tomato, and meat from a lebanese/falafel vendor, which was good but not great. In the evening I had my class, and then afterwards I met up with my classmate Sara that I had visited the quartier with on Saturday to work on our presentation for Monday. She went to Belgium over the weekend with a few people from the trip so we needed to get it done that night. Luckily we were able to finish really quickly, and then for dinner I made crepes - because I had so much fruit and I didn't want it to go bad! Delicious, of course. I think I am really beginning to master the crepe.

In other news, I am continuing to visit new bakeries across the city as recommended by Jamie and others. I have heard of some people always getting a certain pastry and then comparing; if there is one thing I have gotten just about everywhere, it is the baguette aux céréales - whole grain baguette. I don't know if I can say one is absolutely the best, but Le levain du Marais is certainly up there!

Luckily by Thursday I was feeling mostly healthy again. Tuesday especially was bad, and then Wednesday wasn't great, but all in all not that bad of a cold - so there is that to be thankful for!

Sorry my weekday entries don't really have pictures... But when I get around to the next entry, I promise, there are going to be a ton.

A bientôt

Friday, June 20, 2008

Le weekend passé

Saturday, 14 June

As usual for Saturdays, as the gallery was open, I had to work. However, when I arrived, Eric told me I could leave around 2 or 3, which is pretty wonderful as I only start working at 11. It's kind of amazing to me, even if I am going to leave at 2 and I start at 11, when 1:00 rolls around, it's lunch time! I visited a little park I had discovered earlier in the week, along with a baguette, and studied for an hour before leaving around 2:30.

A little later, I met up with a classmate for a project for our class. The class I am taking looks at trends in French Literature between 1750-1950, and how Paris and said literature kind of developed together throughout this epoque. Our passage came from Breton's Nadja, which takes place all within a block of rue La Fayette in the 10e arrondissement. I took pictures for the project, but I don't think I will put any up of the actual sites where the short passage takes place, because the point of the text is not really at all the location where he is, but the person he sees across the carrefour. The description of the location is intentionally vague ("I came to a place, of which I forget or never knew the name," for example) and there isn't really anything specifically important about the location. It remains the same today, it is a typical Parisian street with little to differentiate it from another. (Except that this one houses the Paris communist party headquarters, but that is a minor detail). Speaking of details, here is one I appreciated on a building in Rue La Fayette :



Saturday evening, there was a party on the metro : at 9:00, a ton of people all packed into a metro train leaving from a certain station. The cars were packed and hot, but there were stereos playing music, and at every stop, there were chinese fire drills and races. Or at least, this is what I heard from friends who went - I must have eaten something that didn't agree with me because I stayed home feeling sick to my stomach :( I could also feel a cold coming on, so I had what felt like a pretty lame night in, watching Ratatouille in French with English subtitles. I'm not sure if I mentioned that Catherine and Jacques have a large DVD collection - most of which is westerns. Or alien movies. And then there are a few children's movies. But Catherine does seem to have a few discs in there as well, including some French films that sound ridiculous and wonderful that I think I would have preferred to watch, but Kendall wanted to see ratatouille and I was in no mood to get up off the floor where I was lying, so Ratatouille it was. I must say though, I do have a greater appreciation for the movie now that I know my way around Paris!!

Sunday, 15 June

Catherine told us about a little grocery store nearby that has an international shelf, for which the cuisine changes each week. The prior week had been American week, and so Catherine decided to buy the following products :



I must say, as pancakes and muffins (along with cookies, of course) are absolutely my forte, it made me laugh to see these products in France! Kendall, my roommate, decided to buy the same, to see whether it was really edible... Here were the pancakes :



Not much of pancakes - they are about as thick as 3 crepes! They sort of had a pancake texture... but really they would need to be thicker for that. The muffins were more like real muffins, but they were definitely like cheap mix muffins - nothing like what I usually make. Catherine told us at dinner this week there is a little epicerie near by that sells a lot of British and American products, so I told her I would go there and look for baking powder, and that if I can find it, I will make her real pancakes and muffins. Too bad there's no oats, either, for my muffins, or maple syrup for the pancakes!

But really, I'll leave the pancake to America and the croissant to France. And they do make a good croissant...

In the morning I visited my wonderful marché de la bastille, as I showed you all about in my previous post. After bringing my purchases home, I decided to make my first attempt to tackle the Louvre. I say first because I knew even before going in that I would need multiple visits. I wanted to hold off on visiting the Louvre for a while because, as Jen told me, it makes every other museum feel small... But at the half way point for this trip, I realized how mad I would be at myself if I never did get to see everything there that I want to, so I decided to start.

I went straight up to Italian painting, not because it was necessarily what I most wanted to see (although really, it pretty much was) but actually just because I needed a bathroom. Ah well. The Louvre is a pretty incredible place. It was like walking through an art history class. They have a room of Delacroix and David large scale paintings where I am pretty sure I had studied every single painting in the room, except maybe one or two - that is pretty unbelievable. I for one am always most interested in art that I know something about, so seeing a lot of familiar works was wonderful.

It's funny how people are at museums. There are the ones with their videocameras, mindlessly filming all around them; there are those who wait in the line to get within 10 feet of the mona lisa (why bother? she's not that big and we all already know what she looks like anyway) while completely ignoring the incredible collection of Titians and Venezianos kept in the same room; and then there are my favorites, the people who go up to every work and take a picture of it, without actually looking at it. WHY, I want to ask them. You can find an image online for anything anyone has ever actually heard of (which, at the Louvre, is rather a vast portion of their collection) which will be better than the image that you just took. AND, what's more, the reason you go to the museum is to SEE the works, instead of just sitting and looking up all those dozens and hundreds (lets assume they don't go as far as thousands!) of pictures online.

Oh well.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the Louvre was the building itself - it was certainly fitting for a royal residence :



I don't remember the name of this galerie (Napoleon, maybe?) but I believe it is where they keep the crown jewels... I was more interested, however, by the decoration of the room itself. Note the garlands actually hanging from the ceiling.



I don't remember if this room had a name, either.

After spending maybe 4 hours or so at the Louvre, I made my way over to Ile Saint Louis to visit Berthillon, as so many members of my extended family insisted that I must :) I ordered a relatively boring double cone - they had flavors that were a little bizarre that I don't remember any more, unfortunately, but they were all fruit flavors to I suspected they were sorbets rather than ice cream, which was what I wanted. So I just got a scoop of coffee and a scoop of vanilla. I will say for Berthillon that it was probably the most intensely flavored ice cream I have ever had. However, the scoops were small enough I didn't feel like I really got more than just that little taste of flavor, so I don't think I can agree that it is absolutely the best I have ever had. I would need a pint, perhaps, but that is something like 18 E so it won't be happening. Ultimately, it was good, but so is what I find at the grocery... Unfortunately it didn't knock me over like Angelina's hot chocolate or Pierre Hermé's macarons.

From Ile St. Louis it was just a short path across a bridge to Ile de la Cité to attend evening mass at Notre Dame. I must say, the choir singing was a pretty spectacular acoustic experience. They also had a lot of incense burning, so the church smelled wonderful. The sounds and the smells, combined of course with the awe-inspiring sights, made for a pretty incredible service.

For dinner I decided after the previous evening's bad experience, and the bad royales the night before that, enough was enough and I was going to eat AMERICAN food, just this once. My mom had sent me 3 boxes of Jiffy corn muffin mix for Catherine's American birthday dinner, and I used one this evening to make corn pancakes, which I discovered last semester at school and which I love. Let's just say, I am not alllll sad about the fact that I will be leaving again in 3 1/2 short weeks (but that is certainly not to say I am happy about it!!!)

Monday, 16 June

I told myself over the weekend that if it was nice out on Monday morning, I was getting up and out early to get over to Notre Dame to climb the towers. They open at 10 AM, and I am sure if you get there early the lines are shorter than later in the day, when I tried to visit the week before. Sure enough, it was only partly cloudy (that is about as good as it gets here) and so I made my way over back to Notre Dame for the second time in 24 hours. Even for getting there certainly no later than 10:15, there was a good-sized line! I probably got in after about 20 minutes, though.

When you first head up the stairs, they have you stop in a little gift shop before you get to go all the way up... I saw this book, and thought to myself that had I visited 10 years ago I might have wanted it...



Anyway, after this brief rest, you continue your way up 400 of these :


Which only get narrower the higher you get. I am glad they were not wet!

And then you get to see this :



I mean really, I paid 5 E to see that?

Oh but I guess you also get to see this :



And this...



And then you go even higher again, and see this :



And this:



The tall building on the right is Tour Montparnasse, the only sky scraper in Paris. The dome on the left is, as I learned today, the Pantheon.

The view from the top was pretty incredible.

After I came back down, I intended to go and buy myself a birthday present at a cooking supply store, and as I made my way across town I came across this :



It was a little park, that was partially covered. This little fountain was just on the other side of the building seen in the previous picture:



And then I found this little place :



I am not sure what any of these places are, although I am sure it says in my Paris Practique and I am sure I was checking my map at the time and could have told you then.

Ultimately, I did find my cooking stores, but the first was dark and awkward (I hate when shop owners stand in their doorway and stare at you) and the second one didn't open until 1:30 (lame) so I headed towards the 4th to have lunch in a little restaurant Isabelle and Jamie had recommended. It is called Le Loir dans le Théière (the dormouse in the teakettle). I had a tarte salée, a pie crust with savory filling - red onion and tomato. It was absolutely delicious, and came with a salad of mixed greens and bread. For dessert, they have a buffet which had a ton of tempting options, but you know I had to get the tarte à la rhubarbe, which was wonderful (but would of course have been better warmed up and with ice cream!!) It was all delicious, if a little pricey (these and a café made 18E) but I figure as I am not traveling that just makes my food budget bigger. Anyway, this is certainly one little restaurant that gets my mark of approval.

After my lunch, I walked home to rest and study for a little while before my class started - at this point I was nearing the middle of my cold. I didn't really feel bad, I was just coughing some - but it really sounded like a horrible, hacking cough. That evening, my class was our midterm - hard to believe, but Monday was the half-way point for my Paris séjour! The exam was really very easy - I knew we would have access to a dictionary to help with translation and make sure we could say what we meant to... I didn't know going into the test that it would be open book... and the questions were often like "What is the most common imagery used to describe ___ in so-and-so's X (pg Y, book title)?" At our orientation, they explained to us how rigorous French schooling usually is, and how hard it is to get a "good" grade as we would define it in the states, so maybe Lionel felt he had to tame it down for those silly Americans with no back bones... I have no idea. But I am not complaining. And perhaps I will start taking notes in my books... After all, I am here to see Paris, not to study!!

Ok well as much as I would love to continue telling you about the rest of my week, it will have to wait a while as this is a slow process! So hopefully,

à bientôt!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Marché de la Bastille

After my perhaps dry and certainly unillustrated description of the last week, here is an entry to make up for that! I again visited the Marché de la Bastille on Sunday. I believe it is open every Sunday and Thursday, so perhaps I will also try to visit on Thursday this week because I just love it. So here is a very illustrated, small example of what you can find at the market:

Of course, there are dozens of vendors with produce. Most either specialize in vegetables:



Or fruits:



You can tell strawberries are going out of season, and cherries are at their peak! Suddenly, strawberries are much harder to find than a few weeks ago, and more expensive. Cherries at the market were again at amazing prices. At the supermarkets, finding cherries for under 6E/kilo is a steal, but at the market they are about 2,5 E/kilo! I got a half kilo of cherries, a half kilo of strawberries, and 4 large, delicious peaches from the vendor seen above, from this great man:



It was hard to take a good picture because 1. I was trying to be surreptitious and 2. he was always moving! But note the cherries over his ear. I call him wonderful because after I bought my cherries and peaches, he put more cherries and another peach in the bag. No such luck with the strawberries only because they were already packaged in boxes with plastic wrap.

The market also has produce that I must presume is not so locally grown...



A lot of places list produce coming from different locations - often different European countries - as being different prices. Something that has surprised me, that is seems different to me from the States, is the fact that the French produce is often the most expensive! I would expect, what with a shorter travel and no foreign tariffs (although maybe that is the different and there are no foreign tariffs here) the French produce would be cheaper. But then again maybe it is also that French consumers are more likely to support their fellow countrymen, even at a higher price.

There are also many flower vendors:



And more specific foods - here is a vendor devoted entirely to different kinds of honey:



And there are many vendors who sell nothing but cheeses :



There are also plenty of poissoniers, with all of the fruits de la mer:


And bouchers:



And vendors of volaille (poultry... Note that the two halves of that word mean fly (vol) and wing (aille)... perhaps a more fitting name than ours, which I can only assume comes from the French "poulet," chicken... But then, the French also eat a much greater variety of volaille than we Americans do, what with their pigeons and ducklings and all...):

I am sorry that this picture is unclear as well, but here is another great sight - all of these chickens roasting, rotisserie-style :



That was certainly a beautiful sight.
There are also a few stands with more specialty foods.
Here is one with mushrooms, ginger root, dried apricots and figs.....



And at the other end of the stand, more kinds of olives than I know how to differentiate:


Here's something I'm pretty sure you will only find in France - an entire stand devoted to...



There were also quite a number of vendors selling already prepared food. There was one in particular, that I did not get a picture of, making falafels that smelled almost irresistible - I only say almost because I didn't want to ruin my appetite for the rest of my culinary plans for the day. Here is another such vendor, selling food ready to be eaten:



And of course, what market would be complete without an obligatory creperie or two?


Beyond all of the delicious delectable dishes, there were also a lot of vendors with clothing and shoes and this lovely item:



Now I know I have shown you this column a few times already, but I just loved the lighting on Sunday - it really captured the gold both of the sculpture at the top but also the inscriptions along the column, so I just love this photograph:



I don't really understand why my rantings about bad royales would make someone hungry, but I hope this little look into the fair has sparked your appetite for good fresh food! I for one am lucky because it is Tuesday, and I can hear Catherine in the kitchen just down the hall, making dinner... I would have asked if I could help, but I definitely have a cold, with a runny nose all day long, and I would feel bad putting my dirty hands into food I was preparing for others...

A bientot!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Négligente...

I have been rather negligent in updating on the daily happenings in my life for the last week... I think this is mostly because the last week was more about settling into a schedule rather than going out and doing exciting things for which I would take a lot of pictures. starting work at 11 AM sounds late enough that I could get out and do exciting things before work, but this doesn't happen very often... for one, I like sleeping, and for two... I always seem to find something to occupy me at the apartment. Anyway, here is a brief summary of what happened during the week, which will probably be more for my own posterity than the edification of anyone else so if you are bored, I am sorry.

Tuesday, June 10
In the morning, I went for a run. I went down to the Place de la République, and then took Blvd Saint Martin and followed 'it' (the street changes names a lot of times, so I guess I don't know exactly what street/s I was on...) until the HUGE store Printemps, in the 8e arrondissement, and then I turned the corner and essentially took a straight path home. It was a nice run through a pretty commercial district.
At work I called an artist in Toronto to discuss his commission for the Hong Kong airport for the Olympic games - the equestrian competitors will be arriving through Hong Kong, and they have commissioned Max Streicher to make 5 enormous (10 m long!) inflatable horses to hang in one of the terminals. The horses will be lit to match the colors of the Olympic rings. It's amazing how global this little Parisian gallery is!
It was the warmest it has been, about 80 degrees, and completely sunny - the opposite of the week before! I ate lunch in the Place des Vosges, a beautiful little park in Le Marais, the oldest neighborhood in Paris and, interestingly, the Jewish district. I work just to the North of the Marais. I got a baguette as part of my lunch from Le Levain au Marais - that one is certainly worth the recommendation Jamie Cahill gives it.
In the evening, we went to see La Cantatrice Chauve by Ionesco. The class studying French culture and theater just finished reading the play, so I am sure it made more sense to them than it did to me! I was able to understand a lot, but there were a few actors in particular who spoke very quickly. However, it is an absurdist play, so you don't really need to understand all the words to understand the point - which actually is essentially how meaningless a lot of modern conversation is. I read a little of the play, which seemed funny to me on the page... but on the stage, it was more just, erm, bizarre.

Wednesday, June 11
During my lunch, I visited the Musée Picasso. I believe that the story for the museum is something like after Picasso's death, to pay off taxes or something his family donated 1/4 of their collection to the city, which became this museum... But I am not sure about that. After my class last fall, I was familiar with his work up to about 1917, and there were a few early pieces I was very interested to see - especially Still Life with Chair Caning, which is a landmark piece in modern art as, according to Picasso, the first collage (although Braque would certainly beg to differ). Whoever was the first, I didn't know they had this piece, and it was very cool to get to see it in person finally. However, as his career lasted until the 1960s, and I knew very little about the last 40+ years, I am afraid to say I was not entirely interested....... While I apreciate his genius, he is certainly not my favorite artist; however, the museum is within about 5 minutes of where I work and, since I am an art history student, it was free, so it was certainly worth the visit.
Since we had seen the play Tuesday night, my family dinner got moved to Wednesday, instead. Dinner was not so exciting as previous weeks - not a specifically French dish as before, but simply what was essentially a stir fry of bacon, pearl onions, peas, and some other kind of vegetable (maybe potato?) However, as I had said the week before how much I like rhubarb, Catherine made a rhubarb tart for dessert, which was delicious. It was different from how I would make it - tarte, by definition, has a crust on the bottom and not on the top. You could also really taste the tart-ness (no pun intended, I really just mean the acidity) of the rhubarb, as I would have been inclined to put considerably more sugar! However, it was still delicious. I love me some rhubarb.

Thursday, June 12
I lunched with a friend from the BU program, Lian. She works near to where I do, in some kind of fashion industry. I don't know exactly what it is, but she told me about how they just got the new collection in and had spent a lot of time moving boxes. It was nice to have company for lunch, for a change! Not that I don't enjoy being a flaneuse (essentially, a wanderer) and discovering the city during my lunch break.
That evening, my class met to visit Les Passages. (It was immediately prior to this visit that I had my bad experience with Boulangerie Julien, as explained a few posts ago). In the first half of the 19th century, as Paris became the new center of the world for conversation and commerce, and the new idea of "pret a porter" - ready to wear - became important, someone had the brilliant idea to put stores inside, protected from the elements. So over 100 passages were built - these are essentially long hallways cutting through city blocks to directly connect streets. The halls are covered in glass - a very new innovation for the time. The street level is filled with shops, restaurants, and cafés, whereas the second floor is apartments. Today there exist only about 30 of the original hundred, as they did not fit very well into the urban plans of Haussman, who was prefet de la ville (essentially, the mayor, although this post didn't exist until Jacques Chirac) in the 1860s. He completely reorganized the city making hundreds of new, large roads to make circulation easier and to try to avoid the possibility for the construction of barricades, which played a huge role in each of Paris' big revolutions (1789, 1830, and 1848). But back to the passages... They were built to be beautiful, often with mosaic floors and neoclassical architecture. Unfortunately, I did not take pictures, as I was taking notes instead! I do intend to return to the most beautiful of them, galerie Vivienne, to visit a good Salon du Thé that Isabelle recommended, so I will be sure to take pictures then. Essentially, they are like the Passage filled with Indian restaurants and markets I showed you a few weeks ago (I have since found out that is called "passage Brady," I believe) except that they are much prettier, and not filled with as many Indians.

Friday, June 13
Maybe it was because it was Friday the 13th that I had such terrible luck with Maison Brocco and their royales, which I spoke about a few days ago! Whatever the reason, that was, unfortunately, the most momentous event of the day. I didn't make any notes to myself regarding any other activities so I can't give you any other, more positive anecdotes on the day. Tant pis.

For the weekend, I did actually visit some more exciting places and take pictures. However, I have a midterm in just over an hour, and a commute of 1/2 an hour to get to the BU center to take it, so those more exciting (and pretty) posts will have to wait a little while.

Alors, à bientôt!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Joyeux Fête des Papas!!

Happy Father's Day, dad!!!!

In case you suddenly decide you need to come visit me (of course you do!!) there will be some old friends here waiting for you.....

On the little ledge just outside my window:



At Radu's bar (in la Butte aux Cailles):



And this ad was in the metro:



So see? You better come the 5th of July to see the band!


Love you, dad. I tried to mail home some Pierre Hermé macarons to celebrate, but they don't ship to the states! hélas. Oh well, you would probably be just as happy with Jello, anyway.

A bientôt,