We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.
Thursday, May 9
We had originally planned to take the train out to Versailles but decided to just take it easy instead. I’m sorry we didn’t see it but I just don’t think we’d have enjoyed it. There was still so much to do and we didn’t want to go at a forced-march pace. (Anyone remember If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium?) My mantra all along was “we’re going to miss things” so I didn’t feel too bad. We had to leave something for the next trip after all.
I’d been planning on doing a little shopping for souvenirs and gifts so we decided to see who we could take care of on our lists.
We started by going to Ladurée, the famous macaron bakery. They were just a few streets away and we’d walked past before but never gone in. They were open when we arrived but I was too intimidated to do more than go inside briefly. It was just all so…Parisian. Elegant and pretty and, of course, all labeled in French. (This was all self-imposed intimidation. Parisians had been completely polite to us when we followed the accepted social customs of greeting the shopkeeper upon entering, attempting to speak French, etc.) I walked quickly though the store, completely lost my nerve to order any of the little works of art and scuttled out the door!
After that was La Grande Epicerie, a very posh gourmet food hall that is part of Le Bon Marché department store. Chocolates and olive oils and truffles. Oh. My. I could have spent several more hours and several hundred Euros but managed to hold back by reminding myself that I’d have to haul all those wonderful things from Paris to London to Edinburgh and home to Portland. As it was, I got a few gifts for family and friends and myself: mustards flavored with herbes de Provence and mushrooms, some chestnut cream for a girlfriend, a chocolate bar and some yummy olives.
On the way home, we stopped at a newsstand for a European edition of the Wall Street Journal for Dad and a French film magazine with Viggo Mortensen on the cover for another girlfriend (She doesn’t speak French but seemed happy to look at the photos of her favorite actor.)
We also happened across La Maison Ivre, a housewares boutique. Google Translate says the name means “home drunk” but I assume that’s just the literal translation and it means something else to the locals. There were shelves and tables covered in dishes and table linens and aprons (tabliers). I found a green apron decorated with bright red tomatoes that was made in France:
I don’t know what kind of fabric it’s made out of but I need more of these. Before I took this photo, I’d made both bread and jam. I washed it and it looks brand new! (I just hope I haven’t washed out whatever magical substance resists raspberry juice stains.)
We stopped for lunch at Chalet Gregoire and then walked back to the apartment to stash our purchases and rest our feet.
In the afternoon, we headed to Le Village Saint-Paul to see what antique shops might be open.
We passed the Pont D’Arcole, a pretty green bridge that crosses the Seine on the north side of the île de la Cité.
Near the Village Saint-Paul, is the Church of St-Paul-St-Louis with a beautiful red door and colorful clock. Construction on the church was started in 1627 and completed in only 15 years.
I try to be respectful about taking photos of active churches so I just took a quick shot with my phone. I love the ornate dome with the light shining down.
There were only a few shops open at Le Village Saint-Paul. La Folle du Logis (The Mad House) sells vintage china and glassware. The mismatched patterns could make some interesting place settings but I didn’t think breakables would be the best choice for souvenirs.
We stopped in a couple more of the tiny shops but found nothing we couldn’t live without. Many shops seemed to be infrequently open. I’m sure there is a system but it was not obvious to us. I suspect on a sunny Saturday afternoon, this would be a busy and entertaining place to spend a few hours.
Jim wanted to check out one of the Harley-Davidson shops in town, so we walked up the Boulevard Beaumarchais. And found that they were closed, too! There was another motorcycle accessory shop next door and we went in to ask if they knew why they weren’t open. The guy working there didn’t speak much English but tried to help. As far as I could understand, the store had been closed for VE Day (Wednesday) and Ascension Day (Thursday) and would open up again on Friday.
Unlike our Vancouver trip, I did check the calendar for European holidays before we left. I knew VE Day would be May 8th but didn’t find anything online about civic ceremonies (which I wouldn’t have minded seeing) which might impact our plans. And not being Catholic, Ascension Day wasn’t on my radar. Jim said he wasn’t too bothered since there were three Harley shops in Paris and we weren’t leaving until Sunday. He said we’d try again later.
On our way home, we walked past the local paramedic school:
Our last stop on our walk home was the bohemian ex-pat landmark, Shakespeare & Company on the Left Bank.
It was a fun day but I’m not sure we were less tired than we would have been had we gone to Versailles!