Category Archives: Marais

Happy New Year, Paris!

Mark and I took the mid-afternoon train on Thursday from London to Paris, arriving just as the City of Light was getting dark. Mark has some business here (hooray!), so we thanked London for her hospitality, kissed her goodbye, and returned to this place that holds so many wonderful memories.

Can I just tell you how happy I am to be back in my favorite city??? I don’t think I have stopped smiling in the two days we have been here. Paris in January is divine-the big winter light is everywhere and the crowds have disappeared. Restaurants that usually require reservations days in advance are happy to offer us a table on short notice. PLUS it’s SALE TIME again! I have virtually no room in my suitcase but I am not opposed to jettisoning all of the clothes I have been wearing non-stop for four months to make space for bargains. Or even for “not quite bargains”. For the first time in several years I don’t know when my next trip to Paris will be, so I might need to take some Paris home with me. And compared with London, everything is a bargain. I think you can see where this is going.

I covered some serious ground yesterday.

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breakfast!

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It’s King Cake time again!

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I stopped by Merci, hoping for bargains.

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Of course I had to go say “bonjour” to the Place des Vosges. It looked a tad woebegone without its leafy green canopies, but still managed to be elegant.

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My favorite fancy hot chocolate spot was sparkly and beautiful.

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With some quick steps I managed to just catch the pink of the sun on the tops of Notre Dame.

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That evening I met Mark and some co-workers at the Mini Palais, one of our favorite places for drinks or dinner. I took the metro, and when I popped up I was pleasantly surprised to find the Champs Elysees still wearing her Christmas best.

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The Christmas vendors were still hawking their wares.

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The Mini Palais sits in a corner of the Grand Palais, and has one of the best terraces in town.

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The food looked almost too pretty to eat.

pumpkin soup with chestnuts

pumpkin soup with chestnuts

the BEST scallops

the BEST scallops

Not a bad day at all.

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Filed under Champs Elysees, Christmas, Grand Palais, Marais, Notre Dame, Paris, Paris dining, Paris in winter, Place de Vosges, Uncategorized

More From The Weekend

Don’t worry- I promise not to go on any more about our boss seats at the French Open Women’s Finals on Saturday or that you might have seen us on TV sitting right behind Serena. Not another word.

If you come to Paris this summer you shouldn’t miss the Berges de Seine, which I have featured here several times. We love to walk down to this re-vitalized and pedestrianized bank of the river between Pont d’Alma and the Musée d’Orsay. Lucky for us it’s not too far to walk carrying a picnic or just a bottle of wine, as we did on Saturday evening. The sun is not setting here until close to 10:00, which allows plenty of time to enjoy the surroundings, the wine, and the sunset.

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Hey- didn’t I see you on TV earlier today?

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The Petit Palais was aglow when we passed it on our way home.

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Sunday afternoon Mark had to go to the office and I wandered around the Marais a bit. While many parts of Paris are closed on Sundays, the Marais is reliably hopping.

I was reminded that we are well into tourist season here in Paris. The streets were thronged with happy travelers, and the lines for falafel and gelato were staggering.

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The Place de Vosges was as crowded as I have ever seen it.

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I wandered off a main street and found this quiet spot.

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This lovely place, the Hôtel-de-Sens, was built from 1475-1519.

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A few other random things caught my eye.

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pomengranate juice, anyone?

pomegranate juice, anyone?

And finally, this group had attracted a nice crowd on a shady corner.

Do wop, do wop.

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Filed under Marais, Paris, Paris sunsets, petit palais, Place de Vosges, Seine

More Paris Love

On the second full day of my mom and niece’s visit we headed over to Notre Dame and the Marais.

Our first stop was the Hotel de Ville, which is offering an amazing exhibit of Paris photos taken over the past eighty years. I had seen it with Mark but knew my mother would love it, too. She did.

Magnum-affiche

hotel de ville

hotel de ville

From there it is a quick walk across the river to Notre Dame. One would think that after so many visits I would no longer feel compelled to take pictures, but I just can’t help myself.

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After lunch we walked to the Marais and I introduced my niece to Amorino gelato.

she said "grazie"

she said “grazie”

Our favorite place to eat gelato is the Place de Vosges.

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Finally, we walked to the newly-reopened Picasso Museum, which had been closed for a hundred years or so. Well, almost. It was closed for six years, which (even in France) is an inordinately long time for the renovation of a small museum. The home of the museum is the gorgeous 17th century Hôtel Salé, named after the original owner who was responsible for collecting the salt tax. Not being a huge Picasso fan, myself, the house was my favorite part. I confess to engaging in a little fantasy of being “Madame Salé”, telling the servants where to serve me my afternoon sherry.

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, mes amis!

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Filed under art, Hotel de Ville, Marais, Notre Dame, Paris, Paris museum, Place de Vosges

Dark Days In Paris

The City of Light has been very dark. Waves of shock, grief, anger, and fright have swept the city for two and a half days. I expect an uneasiness will linger in the city for the next few days, as we wait and wonder if terror will reappear.

Most days I do not bemoan my (serious) lack of fluency in French. I get used to understanding only bits and pieces of what is said around me, and to me, and it’s not so bad. However, there have been times on trains or metros when announcements were made and I could tell from the reactions of those around me that I needed to know what was just said, and that it wouldn’t be good. The language barrier has a made these last few days even more frightening and confusing. Safely in my apartment, though, I have been so grateful for English television news and social media to explain the chaos going on around me.

While I am not qualified to comment on the underlying conflict, I can describe what I have seen these past few days. Around noon on Wednesday, Claire and I were having lunch at a popular falafel restaurant in the Marais when we began seeing disturbing images on the TV up on the wall. The TV was muted but the text floating by on the screen told me that there had been a shooting in the 11th arrondissement and that President Hollande was talking about it. I couldn’t figure out who “Charlie Hebdo” was, nor did I understand anything about who the attackers were or why they had done it. I was so shocked that guns had been involved, because bullets do not typically fly in Paris. Other diners in the restaurant didn’t appear to be overly alarmed, though, which (if true) was probably because they were tourists or they were not paying attention to the TV.

At the very time of the attack, three friends of my other daughter were landing at Charles de Gaulle from Houston. By the time they got to our apartment some of their parents were already sending concerned messages about the incident. When Claire and I walked into the apartment, all the girls were gathered around the TV and filled me in on the details. At that time, the three terrorists were at large, so I had to figure out what level of alarm was reasonable as far as letting the girls go out into the city to walk off their jet lag. Ultimately we decided that they would not go to the Arc de Triomphe, as they had planned, but I did let them walk to the small shops having sales in a near-by neighborhood. I walked around that same neighborhood and all seemed normal to me, but I don’t know that my sense of “normal” is really accurate. That night the girls went out to dinner and also walked to the ferris wheel, which was spinning as though nothing had happened.

Thursday at noon a moment of silence was observed all over Paris. The girls were at the Musee d’Orsay, where an announcement requesting it was made. The bells of Notre Dame rang for several minutes during that time, and public transport paused.

That afternoon, when the sun briefly peeped out, I tried to walk in the Parc Monceau and found it closed. Although no explanation was given on the sign, I assumed it was related to the attack. I later heard that public gardens had been closed, but I am not sure if it was because the assailants were still at large or if it was in observance of the loss. Because the museums were open, though, I think it was the former.

We watched the powerful gathering at the Place de la Republique on television that night, and were moved by the show of unity and support for the victims and for freedom of expression, and for France. The gatherings continued Thursday and Thursday night. On Friday morning the girls and I went to the Place de la Republique to see what we might find. Although the morning was wet and grey, the remains of the nights before indicated how moving they must have been. Countless candles, signs, notes, flowers, and photos of the victims were draped around the central monument, as well as on the area surrounding it.

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notice the tape on the mouth of the woman figure on the left

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On the square were also the remains of large circles of candles, flowers, and many pens and pencils.

From there we walked to the Marais, which is the old Jewish quarter and home to many Jewish businesses. At that point the girls and I parted ways. They stayed for lunch in the Marais, and I walked to the Hotel de Ville, where I planned to visit a photography exhibit. When I got there, I found the exhibit was closed until Monday, and I am sure it was related to the attack. I then wandered aimlessly for a few hours, never noticing anything that alarmed me in any way. When I got home, however, the girls were already there, watching the news.My daughter told me that two hostage situations were taking place, one of which was in a Jewish grocery store. She then described their experience in the Marais. After they ate lunch they tried to go into a favorite shop, but noticed that a couple of policemen were in there. They waited for the police to leave, and when they tried to enter the shop the woman locked the door and said “I’m sorry we are closed”. Bewildered, the girls looked around and noticed police going in all of the shops and telling the workers that because the grocery store was Jewish, they were recommending that businesses in the street, which were primarily Jewish, close. Of course, the girls didn’t know what the police were saying, but they asked someone who hurriedly explained it to them. After a quick call to her dad, seeking advice, my daughter and her friends took the metro home immediately. The metro they took home was the same one that went to the grocery store under siege, and they said it felt heavy with anxiety.

Once the two hostage situations ended, we all breathed a sigh of relief, but also a sigh of sadness for the additional loss of innocent lives and for those whose lives had just been changed forever. I am sure I am not the only one walking around today who is still a little nervous about what might happen next, and where it might happen. This has all been surreal and not at all consistent with my experience of living in Paris, where I feel so safe from gun violence.

Thank you all for your expressions of concern for me and for my family during this scary time. Let us all hope that the remainder of 2015 is more peaceful everywhere. We can all share this beautiful world, despite our different beliefs about a creator.

Marais before lunch on Friday, shortly before this street was shut down by police.

Marais before lunch on Friday, shortly before this street was shut down by police.

Hotel de Ville

Hotel de Ville

P.S.- I thought this article in the New York Times did a good job of describing the situation in France.

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Filed under Arc de Triomphe, Charlie Hebdo, Hotel de Ville, Marais, Paris, Uncategorized

New Year’s Eve In Paris

How can this be the last day of 2014? It seems like we just got here.

Today was cold but not windy or wet, which is just about perfect winter weather for me. Our older daughter, Claire, arrived from Sweden (man that girl gets around) yesterday and this afternoon I dragged Mark and her out to enjoy the lights and bustle of the city.

Our first stop was Merci, one of my very favorite stores located in the northern Marais. Transforming an old wallpaper factory, Merci changes its themes and appearance many times a year, and is always edgy and cool. It sells clothing for men and women, and also household items and just generally fabulous stuff. I love it. Mark and Claire loved it, too.

The store is kind of hidden from the street- you have to walk down this pretty little hallway.

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The courtyard is always decorated with fun stuff, which usually includes a little car.

Precious sisters posing by the cute car!

Precious sisters posing by the cute car!

I love this viewing spot from the upstairs. Isn’t it cool the way the candles appear to be suspended in mid-air?

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Trying to beat the sunset, we hurried over to Notre Dame. I wanted to see the Christmas tree and was afraid that tonight might be its final appearance. The church was so pretty in the evening light.

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We were in need of a little warm-up, so we crossed the river and went to a brasserie for coffee and beer and maybe a banana-chocolate crepe. When we came back out, the sun was almost gone.

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If we can stay awake long enough, we plan to walk over to the Champs-Elysées at 11:30 for a celebratory light show. I”ll let you know how that works out….I am not known for being a night-owl.

Bonne Année to all from Paris!

See you next year!

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Filed under Champs Elysees, Marais, Notre Dame, Paris, Paris sunsets, Seine

Paris With The Ladies

It’s hard to believe that I have been running around Paris with my mom and my aunt for almost two weeks and haven’t posted a single word or photo. Clearly, I can be Blogger or Tour Guide but not simultaneously.

The September weather has been perfect for sight seeing- hardly a drop of rain the whole month. I know The Ladies have walked more than they thought they could, each day encouraged by the “10,000 steps” signal of my Fit Bit. We have taken a cab only once, and the rest of the time have been on foot or on metro (which usually involves a lot of stairs).  No one has stepped out in front of a bicycle or a bus or even stumbled over the frequent obstacles on sidewalks and footpaths. My goal was to fly them home in a vertical position, and with one more day to go, we are almost there. Hip hip (no broken ones) !!

On their first full day we ventured to the Marais, where we ate falafel and enjoyed the photography exhibit of Occupied Paris at the Musee Carnavelet.

The Musee Carnavelet

The Musee Carnavelet

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Another day we visited the Camondo museum, which I have posted about many times. I wish they had a Frequent Flyer program there, because I would definitely have earned some drink tickets. Even though I can quote the audio guide by heart, I never tire of being in that beautiful house with the sad history.

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on the way there- looking toward Parc Monceau

gate at the park

gate at the park

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I will be heading back to Texas on Wednesday, assuming that Air France has ended its longest pilots’ strike ever. That’s why we call it Air Chance!

Stay tuned for more Paris With The Ladies. But be patient. I am working at a slow pace here.

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Filed under art, Marais, Musee Carnavalet, Musee de Nissim de Camondo, Parc Monceau, Paris, Paris museum, Uncategorized

A Few Hours in the Marais

Bonjour mes amis.  I have been home from Paris almost a week, and already it seems like a distant dream.  The harder parts of Real Life have descended like an ugly, dark cloud since I have returned, and I am so glad to have photos and memories of a lovely week in Paris with my precious daughter and devoted husband.

One afternoon we decided to spend time in one of our favorite neighborhoods in Paris- the Marais.  The rain was on and off, and the temperature dropped while we were out, but neither detracted from the charm of that delightfully historic district.

The Marais is one of the few remaining examples of what medieval Paris looked like before Napoleon and Haussmann razed and modernized most other parts of the city.  The narrow, winding streets beg to be explored and offer abundant  rewards to the curious.

The Jewish district of Paris is contained within the Marais.  When I walk around the neighborhood I am completely charmed by the synagogues, Jewish bakeries, delis, and Eastern European Jewish restaurants.

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The only place we ever eat in the Marais is L’As du Falafel, a very popular spot where people line up at the take-out window and eat the delicious but messy pita sandwiches with veggies, falafel, and special sauce.  Because of the rain, Martha and I opted to eat inside the smallish restaurant, and we were there late enough in the afternoon that we got seats right away.

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the tables remind you of where you are- as if you could forget

the tables remind you of where you are- as if you could forget

yum

yum

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Even though we were so full of falafel, we couldn’t resist our favorite gelato from Amarino.  If you order a cone, they wedge the slices of gelato into the cone so that the result is a flower.  We can’t be trusted with cones, so we stuck with cups.

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It was a lovely rainy afternoon in Paris.  I am so happy to have spent it with my fille, and to be able to share it here with you.

Life isn’t always sweetness and light and Paris.  But sometimes it is.  And that’s what makes the other times bearable, n’est-ce pas?

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Filed under Marais, Paris, Paris outings