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!