Tag Archives: Basilique du Sacré-Cœur Paris

Twas A Rainy Weekend In Paris

Bonjour, mes amis!

I don’t usually post at this time of the day (afternoon in Paris) but I leave early tomorrow morning for Seville (yea!) and I don’t think I will have the presence of mind to launch this before I go.  Besides, it’s good for the soul to mix things up a little bit every now and then, oui?

Friday was crisp and sunny here, so I headed out to enjoy a walk and some retail therapy.

First stop was a drop-dead gorgeous chocolate/caramel/pastry shop, Jacques Genin, that I have been dreaming about since David Lebovitz described it here.  If you read his post you will totally understand why I was skipping down the street in the Marais, happy to finally be entering this realm of deliciousness.  What I really want to do is go there with a friend, get a coffee and a pastry,  sit down at a table, and enjoy the surroundings and the sweets.  This time, however, I wasn’t hungry and I didn’t have a friend, so my mission was a bag of the famous caramels to give to my hostess in Seville.  And a bag for moi, because caramels do it for me in a way that chocolates never will.  These were divine.  I got half plain and half with pistachios.  So good.  I hope I can resist tearing into my hostess’s bag once mine is empty.

Wanted: Someone to sit here with me and be shameless.

As I had made the trip and was standing at the counter with no line, I thought it would be foolish not to take home a few pastries, too.  So they boxed up three caramel eclairs for me.  They were amazing, even several hours later.  I definitely think this place is worthy of a follow-up post.  Can I get an “Amen, Sistah”?

With my sweets in my tote (which I have learned to carry with me at all times, for those pre-meditated and unexpected  purchases) I continued skipping down the sidewalks, congratulating myself for bringing an umbrella and no sunglasses, thus ensuring a  bright and sunny day.  This colorful window caught my eye.

colorful window

Next stop was my favorite kitchen shop, E. Dehillerin. It’s  always a treat to wander about this cozy, dusty, culinary heaven.  I had to have this copper beauty and a traditional French rolling-pin.

Yeah, my tote was getting heavy by this point.

All that shopping and walking and toting had made me thirsty, so I stopped at Place Colette for a Coke and a view.

Saturday was not so bright.  In fact, the whole weekend has been wet and grey.  This was particularly unfortunate for the Fete de Vendange (“festival of the grape harvest”) going on in Montmartre.  Mark and I braved the rain and checked it out for you. Booths wrapped around Sacre Coeur, offering tastes of wine, champagne, sausages, sandwiches, pastries, foie gras, and every other French delicacy you can think of.  It was really fun, and would have been much more so if one hand had not been occupied with an umbrella.  Also, let me just say that a rainy day in Montmartre is NOT the time you want to find out that your new boots are dangerously slippery on wet surfaces.

After enjoying some wine samples, we decided to take shelter in a cafe for lunch.  This cafe was perfect, offering a dry awning and warm heaters, which allowed us to enjoy the sound of the rain and the cool air while staying warm and dry.

something I adore about living here- heated sidewalk tables

Wow.  This post is getting long.  Is anyone still there?

Today is another rainy day, which I have taken advantage of to make Eggplant Parmesan and Chicken Noodle Soup to leave with my family while I am in Spain.

And you, my Paris Posse, I leave with this long post and gros bisous.  I am not taking my computer to Spain, so it may be awhile before I appear again.  But ya’ll come back now, ya hear?


Filed under cooking, Marais, Montmartre, pastries, Uncategorized


Many neighborhoods in Paris used to be their own distinct village before being swallowed up by the voracious city.  None clings to its former identity more than Montmartre (the “Butte”).  If you were set down in Montmartre and didn’t know better, you could easily think you were far from Paris.  This is primarily because Montmartre is much more hilly than the rest of the city, and also because Baron Haussmann did not wipe this area clean back when he was widening streets and creating the six-story buildings we see in so many other parts.  The result is narrow, winding streets that climb steep hills and turn corners to reveal hidden vistas and tiny shops tucked into alcoves.  It’s quite enchanting if you are able to find the parts that aren’t packed with tourists and artists begging to paint your portrait or worse, draw your caricature ( I have never understood why anyone would pay to have her worst features blown up with a Sharpie).  Too often when I have gone to Montmartre I have stayed close to Sacre Coeur, the church on the hill with the amazing view, and the Place du Tertre, which used to be the village square and is now where artists set up shop and tourists browse art. It gets to be a bit much, particularly in the height of the tourist season.  I spent a very nice afternoon there last spring, however, and captured it here.

Last week I went on a food tour in Montmartre and we never even saw Sacre Coeur (or the Eiffel Tower), as we were deeply wound into the inner streets of the neighborhood.  Our guide was a young American woman who used to write for Gourmet and then for Saveur magazine, who sent her to live in Paris, where she is connecting with local foodies and their myriad enterprises, like food tours.  Not a bad gig, right?  She said she chose to live in Montmartre because the apartment with the best kitchen was in that neighborhood, which makes perfect sense to me.  She has clearly made it her home, however, and had friendly relationships with the shop owners who graciously welcomed our group of 6 into their small spaces.  We learned about (and sampled) baguettes, croissants, olive oil, sausage, pate, pastries, cheese, butter, and wine.  Yeah, it was a pretty OK day, I guess.  If you’re into that kind of thing.

This metro station pops you up right into the heart of Montmartre.  The first time I used it I made the mistake of climbing the stairs to the surface.  All 3000 of them.  This time I knew to go straight to the elevator.  I’m smart that way.

I loved this shop window, which used an old institutional sink as a planter.  The little sign explains that the window is not finished yet, lest it offend your aesthetic sensibilities.  I think it looks fabulous just as it is!

We sampled the baguette that won the most recent annual prize for best baguette in the city.  The winner, in addition to receiving an abundance of free advertising from all the press, also has the honor of providing bread to the President of France for the year.  Yes, it was delicious.

This little butcher shop was wonderful.  The owner heartily recommended a particular little pot of pate (as in goose liver).  It was very tasty on our prize-winning baguette.

I apologize for the glare on this picture, but I wanted to show you the awards that this butcher has won (and there were a lot more on that bar in the window) and how they are proudly displayed in his window.

Are these the cutest cheeses you have ever seen?

I thought this patisserie was so elegant, so gorgeous, so Parisian.  The owner was some kind of celebrity chef and he was all of those things, too.  And he did NOT want pictures taken in his shop.  I would love to have been able to show you the hanging lights, which you can barely make out in this picture.  They were each comprised of two glass lids, one a deep dome, and one a shallow one, encasing a very cool bulb.  Awesome.  The pastries were good, too.

I did manage to get this picture of the cool floor and the gorgeous color on the shelves and cases.  If anyone questions me about this photo I am going to say it was taken by accident.   And doesn’t my friend have cool sandals?

And on that note, I am going to conclude this post.

Go to Montmartre the next time you are in Paris, my friends, and don’t forget to check out the floors.

Oh, and if you want to try a food tour like this one, it’s Paris By Mouth.

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Filed under Montmartre, Uncategorized

The Devil Made Me Do It

I had such good intentions.  Study French.  Go to the grocery store.  Go to the gym.   Then I looked out the window and saw how unbelievably blue the sky was, and how still the trees.  And that’s when Satan began talking to me.  “Montmartre”, he whispered  seductively in my ear, “Montmartre”.  That’s how I ended up on a bus pointed toward Sacre-Coeur instead of in my Body Sculpt class.  Yep- it was all his fault.

For the uninitiated, Montmartre is the oft-pictured Paris neighborhood with the narrow streets that climb steep hills. It is crowned by the  magnificent Sacre-Coeur,a  domed church built in 1873 as a symbol of the return of France’s self-confidence after the Commune and the Franco-Prussian War.  As you can see, the white domes look incredible against a bright blue sky.

Needless to say, the views of Paris are fabulous from up there.

One is advised to wear comfortable walking shoes when exploring Montmartre.

No hill for a climber, as we like to say in Texas.

All that climbing worked up a powerful thirst!  I found a sunny terrace and warmed my hands with the coffee and my face with the sun.

Yes, I live here, but I'm clearly not above looking like a tourist!

Montmartre offers much more than just a big white church.  This stunning metro stop, Abbesses, sports one of only two original Art nouveau canopies left.

There used to be 14 windmills atop this hill, but this is one of only two remaining.

Wandering down a little street, I came across this Fish Salon.  Anyone for a fish pedi?

It wasn't open but i took this through the window. The fish were awake and hungry.

It must have been Satan who led me straight to a cafe with a table for one, a surprisingly good cheeseburger, crispy fries, and satisfying glass of Cote de Rhone.  Ahhhhhhh.  Time to walk some more.

Part of Montmartre are quite seedy.  I guess that’s why Satan likes it so much.

The Sexodrome

Endless shopping opportunities await.

Not to end our tour on a tawdry note, here is the “I Love You Wall” , which contains 311 written declarations of love in 250 different languages.  The wall is in a quiet little park by the metro Abbesses.

So that was my glorious Monday, from the seedy to the sacred.  A little mix keeps things interesting, don’t you think?

Now get behind me, Satan!


Filed under Paris outings, Sacre-Coeur