Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cette semaine...

Monday, 2 June

I woke up early but didn't leave the apt until about 11 because I had some homework to finish - reading for class, and finishing our Butte aux Cailles project. I went for a run around the neighborhood, bringing my Paris practique (a little book with maps of Paris by arrondisement) - so vital for when I get lost, as I inevitably do... but sometimes, that is the best part because you stumble upon amazing things. This time is was the Musée des Arts et Metiers - Museum of the arts and careers, which holds, according to a banner outside the first ever calculator, or something like that. On my first run, it was this arch, just hanging out down the street from where I live:

After my run, a quick shower, then out to a bakery to buy a pain au chocolat, and then I spent about three hours exploring this little district not far from where I live that is entirely filled with clothing shops. Many of them only made "grandes ventes" - they are wholesalers. I think most of these shops have pieces that are coming directly from whichever designer, and now I understand why several stores have marked in the window "pret à porter" - ready to wear... because not everything in all of the stores IS ready to wear! You have to look out for "vente au detail" - they will sell to individuals... and it's better to note first that the clothes/bag/shoes etc. are actually made already! As I said, I spent a few hours looking around in shops, but I didn't buy anything. I intend to try to get back and get something soon, though! There is so much color and pattern to take in, it is hard to make a choice!

I did, however, discover some new things about Paris and my neighborhood, which I really enjoyed. I accidentally found this little covered alley:

it is pretty much India town - there are a ton of Indian groceries (selling produce I've never seen before - wow!) and a bunch of Indian restaurants. After passing through the market, I found myself directly across from this little store:

AMAZING. That may be my favorite store ever. What could be better than anything for Jesus, especially since, as we all of course know, cosmetiques were his specialty.

In class last thursday, Lionel, my professor, was talking about how historically, Paris is divided into "rive gauche," the south side of the Seine, and "rive droite," the north side; however, today, to really discuss the pertinent differences in the city, it is better to discuss the East versus the West, with the West generally being more affluent and thus trendy, I suppose (Jen, as you mentioned, the "pretentious 16eme" or something like that). I live in the 11eme, which is on the east, but just barely - I am right near a big Place (essentially, a round about for cars centered around a monument - more on that another day) and I live in a pretty well to do area. However, in the area where I found my Jesus cosmetiques, except for the fact that everyone spoke French, I could have been in Waverly in Baltimore (for those of you not familiar with Baltimore, that is an area a few blocks to the east of the Hopkins campus, which has a relatively low socio-economic background and is, probably not coincidentally, essentially entirely African American). This area was just the same, with probably every other shop being a "coiffure" (hair stylist) specializing in black hair. Quite a change of pace from most of Paris that I have seen! I know definitely understand what Lionel was saying.

In the evening, I had class, and then after class I went to chez Killian for leftovers from the night before. Since it was semi clear out, we had talked about going up the Eiffel tower to see the city at sunset, but we discovered that until June 13, if you want to go up after 6:30 pm you have to take the elevator, which is more expensive... Also, we were a little late leaving his apt so we will have to go up another day. We did, however, catch some pretty great shots of the tower with the sunset behind:

Afterwards, we decided to grab a dessert at a little restaurant. We got a pannacotta with some kind of red berry sauce - good, but not great:

Sorry for the poor lighting, the restaurant was not very light and thus not very condusive to good picture taking!

So that was monday.

Tuesday, 3 June

I had work, and I don't recall anything especially remarkable about the day. In the evening, we ate with my host family, as usual, and for which Catherine had made a salad (I am learning to really love avocado!) and a flan aux champignons - a mushroom flan (there's no real translation... It's very eggy, like a custard kind of, but thicker and not sweet.) It was very good, although I must say I prefer ratatouille and stuffed tomatoes! For dessert, she made an apple tart - delicious. She was talking about her garden, and mentioned how her rhubarb was not doing very well this year. I said it was a pity, as rhubarb is my favorite, and so she declared she would make a rhubarb tart for dessert next week, so I am pretty excited. The week following it is Catherine's birthday on tuesday, so I told her that I return the favor and make her dinner and a cake. The difficult thing about France is there is no leavening here other than yeast, of course (that is to say, no baking powder or soda). C'est dommage, because I use baking powder alllll the time. No wonder they eat crepes, which are flat, and souffle, which rises with egg whites! So anyway, I have opted to make chili and corn bread (for which my very kind mother has offered to ship me spices and jiffy mix - silly Frenchmen, not having such basic supplies!) and a cheesecake for dessert - no leavening required! I will use neufchatel cheese, a french cheese very similar to American cream cheese, but with less fat. Also no graham crackers, but they do have cookies, so no problems there.

Wednesday, 4 June

Again, I had to work; however, one of the artists Eric represents (Martin Kasper - one of my favorites, look up his work online if you like. I also really like Max Streicher and Sylvie Fajfrowska - Sylvie especially... Maybe soon I will try to upload images of some of the works I am lucky enough to see every day) was in to see Eric. Martin has an exhibition coming up at the gallery in September, so I think he was there to discuss logistics etc with Eric. As he was busy with Martin, he didn't have a lot for me to do, so he let me leave at 4:30, which was fabulous, as I made my way back to some shops I didn't get into on Monday and actually bought quite a few things this time - a new bag, some shirts, a dress, and a scarf. Now as soon as I get my haircut tomorrow evening, and a new pair of pointy shoes, I'll be totally European! Until, of course, I open my mouth and my American accent comes out. I'll just have to figure out how to speak French with a British accent...... haha

Thursday, 5 June

Each morning, on my way to work (which is about 10:45 AM to get to work at 11, you seriously can't beat that!!) je vais a une boulangerie/patisserie pour prendre mon petit-déjeuner - I go to a bakery and pastry shop to get my breakfast. This morning, a package arrived - my mom sent me a guide to the best patisseries in Paris! So of course I had to check one of them out. There is one that is only about a 5-10 minute walk from chez moi, and partly on the way to the metro, AND this is one of the few recommended as a bakery, so I stopped in and got a chauson a la pomme - an apple pastry that was recommended as a specialty - and a baguette a la ancienne - a traditional baguette. The chauson was incredibly flaky, and melt in your mouth - I'll just have to go back earlier to get it when it is still warm! The baguette was maybe the crustiest I have had so far in Paris, and very tasty. The only unfortunate thing is that I prefer a baguette aux céréales - a whole grain baguette (obviously that makes it totally healthy, espcially when dipped in nutella, duh) - and they do not make a baguette aux céréales. Quelle tristesse!
I'll have to discover other wonderful patisseries soon as well :) thanks, mom!

Work - Eric was incredibly busy, running a million errands today, so a lot of the time it was just me in the gallery. I don't know how he does it - he has so many things to keep track of for all of his artists, all the time - it's pretty incredible how to me how he can stay organized! I left around 4 to get to my class. I am enjoying class more and more. Next week, we make our first venture out into Paris together, to see Les Passages, the original Grands Magasins - the first big stores, that lead to today's department stores. I am really enjoying getting a greater appreciation for this city and its history and I am very excited to see how it all comes together when we actually visit the sites.

Voila, I am all caught up for this week! I'll be sure to take pictures of the new haircut I get tomorrow, wearing something new and fully looking the part.

A bientot!


I need orange said...

Great shot of la Tour a l'heure bleu!

It's great to have enough time in a place to discover things off the beaten path...........

I need orange said...

I am sure you can get chili powder in an Indian grocery!


Cumin, too.

Kate Hansen said...

Val!! I just read up on all your posts. AMAZING pictures. It sounds lovely. I can't wait to hear about your baking experience. You are going to come back making Ratatouille and all this stuff. did you see that movie, ps? you should watch it if you haven't!
I sent you an email a while ago but it seems lame after reading all you wrote! love you!

Celine Marie said...

i second your last comment on my's so hard cause all i want to do is give all the kids a package of new pencils and a roasted chicken, but that isn't exactly possible :(

anyways, friday was my last day with the!

nice pics, as always...will be uploading mine very soon