Sunday, June 6, 2010

Adventures in France, Day 5

We awoke this morning to thunderstorms and a torrential downpour that made us briefly consider a day indoors. Fortunately, an hour later the clouds broke and we headed out for another adventure.

With a vague idea of exploring the upper Marais (one of the few areas of Paris alive on a Sunday), we headed toward Filles du Calvaire and points west, turning down any street that looked interesting. On a quiet, overcast Sunday morning, the bustling Marais is nearly peaceful. Just a few steps off a main street, we found quiet corners and impeccable, tiny gardens. Here are just a few of the many treasures we found before noon, all set to the tolling of church bells in the distance:

Eventually, we found a quiet cafe for some cafe au lait and people watching:

Oooh, here's a good one. I adore this woman. She's like a young, French, Demi Moore.

In our constant pursuit of ice cream, we learned that this place is considered the best in Paris. So, we trekked down to Ile Saint-Louis to see for ourselves. It was good...but nothing so far has touched the ice cream place in Versailles.

Scott was still laser-focused on that bar near the Louve, so we headed off to find a Metro. As we passed the Hotel de Ville, we saw that the ice skating rink had been replaced by a variety of tennis courts -- clay, grass, and sand. They were also showing the French Open live on a jumbotron. Grandma, this one's for you!

A few Metro stops later, Scott found his bar:

It was packed with people (mostly tourists) having a typical American brunch, but luckily we were able to grab a couple of bar stools for a quick cup of tea. It was fine. And now Scott doesn't have to mention it every 10 minutes...right?

Although the skies were threatening rain, it was still early and we wanted to spend more time in the Marais. On the way back, I behold a glorious sight:

Perhaps some of you are familiar with my imaginary dog, Liliane La Fleur. She is a brown and white Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and will be born in approx. 2 years, at which point I shall adopt her. Seeing her French doppelganger on the streets of Paris made me so happy, I can't even describe it properly.

Scott says I have ovaries for dogs.

Back in the Marais, we hit a serious stroke of luck: a twice-a-year flea market featuring over 300 vendors! We're talking SERIOUSLY good stuff, too. Everything from vintage typewriters and silverware to art, jewelry, and French designer clothes. Here are a few of our favorite "finds," although none of them came home with us.

Perhaps you would like to make a film, circa 1932?

Or perhaps you would like to make many, many phone calls in the 1960's?

No? Okay then. Perhaps you would like to escape for a weekend in the country, circa 1912?

This market was truly amazing. I bought a cute vintage dress from a very kind woman who spoke a little English and had a fabulous eye for fashion. She confided that she finds many of her treasures on "L'eBay."

Overwhelmed, we decided to head back to the apartment before dinner. On the way, we passed this very cool street mural. Some guy had evidently taken hundreds of photos of himself with what appear to be random strangers and strung together on a city wall:

After a nice afternoon rest, we headed to this place for dinner. And OH, what a dinner it was. We found the place through the recommendation of Chowhound, and let me tell you, those Chowhounds never lie.

We started off with an outstanding cheese souffle that was essentially the size of Scott's head:

Next, two of the house specialities: coq au vin and a chicken in a cream sauce with fries...out of which we made our own poutine:

Following a lovely chocolate souffle, we ended the night with a pair of digestifs: Armagnac for Scott and the obligatory Poire William pour moi:

It's 11 PM now. We're tired, slightly tipsy, and still have a week in Paris ahead of us. Honeymoon WIN. Scott, anything to add?

Besides the fact that tipsiness is AWESOME? Seriously, folks, today was a lesson in the extremes of Paris. On the one, you have the world's most insane flea market, where a hundred years of material goods suddenly erupted in the Marais and said, "buy me!" while you're trying to navigate your way to the next boutique and you're wondering if American pop culture has totally trumped indigenous French style. The next, you're sitting in what you sincerely hope is your next basement eating some of the richest and best food in your life, all of which are peasant dishes from southeast France while a family of dimwit Americans flounder through an outstanding meal and give the lie to their supposed sophistication by not even tucking in to the cheese souffle. Serious college-age American douchebags (WITH PARENTS WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER, SHAME ON THEE!).

But that's Paris for you. One minute you're trying to forge your way through a path of people past what is less an outdoor market and more a museum collection waiting to happen, and the next you're enjoying food that was perfected a thousand years ago. It just is. Sometimes I fear for Paris in the wake of chains and globalization, and then it shows me that it's endured far worse. Like Hitler. I just Godwin'd this blog! How's that grab ya?

It's the best of the best. Even during the times when it seems to be taking its cues from second-rate electroclash, Paris still makes you smile.

And yes, baby, now I can shut up about that damn bar.

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