Saturday, May 11
Our plan for today was to check out one of the famous Parisian flea markets, Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, in the 18th Arrondissement. I really wanted to go. Everything I’d read said there could be some very cool finds. I was so tired from our miles of walking on Friday, though, I just didn’t think I could face another day of crowds and walking. I was worried that Jim would be disappointed but it turns out he was tired, too, but didn’t want me to be disappointed if we didn’t go. Thank goodness we actually talked about it first!
We decided to do a little last-minute souvenir shopping and sightseeing instead. We started with another elegant Parisian breakfast at Brasserie Les Deux Palais.
We sat in the sun room on the northeast side which gave a nice view of the Palais de Justice de Paris.
After breakfast, we wandered around for a while taking photos. Even if there weren’t wonderful places to eat and shop, the architecture is worth the trip.
We stopped in BHV again to get a photo card reader for Jim and buy a few French editions of some of our favorite books, The Stand by Stephen King (retitled Le Fléau, “The Scourge” in French), and Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaman (De Bons Présages).
Eventually we found another Harley-Davidson shop only to find that it was closed, too! Shops closing for lunch sounds great if you are an employee – not such much for frustrated customers.
Next on our list was Goumanyat & Son Royaume, a spice shop owned by Jean Thiercelin whose family has been importing saffron since 1809. David Lebovitz, an American pastry chef and cookbook author living in Paris, had visited them and written about their saffron caramels and they sounded interesting. The doors were locked when we found the shop but according to David, there was a bell to ring for entry. We didn’t see lunch hours listed on the door but no one answered when we rang so we figured they must be close at mid-day, too. We decided to take the hint and stop for a little lunch of our own. We got a sidewalk table at nearby Le Blanc Cassis and enjoyed the sunshine while we ate.
After a leisurely meal, we tried Goumanyat again which happily was back open. The shop is three floors: cookbooks, spices and a wine cellar in the basement. There are shelves and racks of spices, salts, peppers and saffron. We selected a few treasures that would survive the trip home – my saffron caramels, lavender sugar and some herbes de provence.
We walked back to the apartment and packed up in preparation for our Sunday train to London on the Eurostar. We rested a while and then went out for a bit of dinner at “our” restaurant, La Citrouille. The same server was working and remembered us. I tried out some French and greeted him with “Bonjour! Comment ça va?” (which I then worried was too familiar). He shook our hands and answered “Ça va.” He seated us and then brought us two drinks and said “This is a French cocktail”. It was a pale pink, sweet and cold and very good. (If anyone has any idea what this might have been, I’d love to know!) I had an onion tart with a tiny salad, five cheese ravioli and apple tart with (real) French vanilla ice cream. Jim ordered an asparagus dish (but I’m pretty sure they brought him foie gras in a puff pastry instead) and steak frites with béarnaise sauce. For dessert he asked for “pomme russe avec vodka” which I initially thought was another wrong order since it tasted like lemon sorbet but he said he could taste the vodka. Thinking about it now, I wonder if it was an apple sorbet flavored with a little lemon zest and vodka. (That actually sounds pretty good. I may have to work on a recipe.) We shared a half-sized bottle of wine – a perfect amount that I wish we could get in the States. We finished with a couple of espressos.
I have a sneaking suspicion that this place and the whole experience (the complimentary “French cocktail”, servers out front like carnies trying to bring customers in) was pretty touristy but I don’t care a fig. It was completely cool to be regulars at a Paris restaurant – even if it was just for a week!
We went home and rested for a bit then walked around for a few hours taking photos.
We walked through the Louvre complex at dusk where there were still plenty of people out and about.
Jim took this shot of the evening light on the Louvre.
The guy on the right will look as if he’s pinching the top of the pyramid in his photo. We saw many people doing this Louvre version of holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
There was a busker playing the cello in the Pavillon Sully. Bundled up in coat, scarf and hat, he reminded me of the poster of Aristide Bruant by Toulouse-Lautrec. The sound floating out into the courtyard was like something out of a movie. You can listen here. (I was walking and filming so the video is pretty wobbly and it was really windy.)
We walked to Notre Dame and found fire dancers performing.
You can see a short video here.
We stopped at a great spot on the Pont Neuf to get some shots of the Paris skyline at night.
Eventually we had to go back to the apartment. Though we were sorry to be leaving Paris, we were looking forward to spending the next week or so in London!