Tag Archives: Montmartre

Some Ugly At Last

Just in time, Paris provided the perfect antidote to my overriding blog theme of “ain’t life grand in Paris”, a theme which was bordering on insufferable. You know you have thought it at least a time or two.

Last week, on the first full day of my friend Martha’s visit, we set off for Montmartre, which always sparkles extra brightly when the sun is shining through azure sky. We took the bus a few stops and then began walking, enjoying the quiet streets and congratulating ourselves on avoiding the crush of tourists and tacky souvenir shops that fill the main street leading to Sacre Coeur. I was mapping our way on my phone, carrying it until I saw a sign for “Place du Tertre”, at which point I stuck the phone in my purse and soon began following Martha up some steps. Approximately two minutes later I reached back into my purse to retrieve my phone so I could photograph an artist with his easel who had begun climbing the steps in front of us. I fumbled for my phone in my small bag all the way up the stairs, only to discover at the top that my phone had disappeared. Apparently someone had seen me carrying it and began following me, closely and quietly, until I put it in my purse and he/she was able to snatch it. Martha was in front of me during our walk and climb, so she would not have noticed anyone tailing me. I suppose I had felt so safe that I did not zip my purse back up, knowing I would be pulling the phone back out momentarily. I cannot describe how confused and disbelieving I was when I realized my phone was missing. It was the oddest feeling, and not a good one. The lesson, my friends, is never to let down your guard when on the streets of Paris, even when you do not feel the least vulnerable.

I was able to shake it off and not allow my day to be spoiled, but I am still pretty bitter about it. But hey- I needed some Paris Ugly, and she provided it. At least now my content is more fair and balanced. But man I miss my phone.

On a more positive note, we thoroughly enjoyed a Bonnard exhibit at the Musee d’Orsay.

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doesn't the woman on the right look as though she is in the painting?

doesn’t the woman on the right look as though she is in the painting?

We also paid a visit to Merci, which finally had its newest installation complete. It appears to be a laundry theme, like the one frequently installed at my house.

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The sun is still shining here, and the trees and flowers are in full splendor. We are spending a lot of time outside and have enjoyed more than one glass of bubbly “au terrasse”. Life is good, but it’s even better with a phone.

Stay vigilant, mes amis, and keep all your zippers zipped.

And if you play Words With Friends or Scramble with me, now you know why I haven’t taken a turn in ten days.

The world can be ugly, but you, little nugget, are precious.

The world can be ugly, but you, little nugget, are precious.

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Filed under Montmartre, Paris, shopping, springtime in Paris, Uncategorized

Shopping And A Late Lunch

The sun smiled down on my daughter Martha and me on her last day in Paris. We decided to walk to a store I had read about called Sept-Cinq on the edges of Montmartre. This day, like many days here, was more about a journey than a destination, but it’s nice to have a spot on the map to shoot for, if only for a sense of purpose. Not that there is anything wrong with aimlessness, mind you.

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Eglise de la Sainte-Trinité

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All too soon we stumbled upon the cozy little Sept Cinq, a shop dedicated to items made by Paris craftsmen. And as the sign says, there is also a small section in the back for a little refreshment after one has shopped up a need for a snack.

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The Paris-made treats range from T-shirts to shoes, candles, cards, jewelry, and purses. I spent quite a while lingering over each charming collection. And take a look at the floor.

I'm a sucker for these old tile floors.

I’m a sucker for these old tile floors.

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even stuff for the dudes!

 

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but sometimes I pretend to be

but sometimes I pretend to be

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The petite tea area in the back was so inviting. Perfect for a private conversation with a best girl friend and a nice cup of something hot.

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totally dig that wallpaper

 

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Such a nice little find! But we were not ready to return home, so we kept walking uphill.

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It was almost 3:00 when we decided we were kind of hungry. I was inclined to pop in to a bar for a glass of red, but Martha wanted something more substantial. Like lunch. Granted, it’s a bit late for lunch, even in Paris, but when we entered a cute restaurant a man asked if we wanted to eat lunch and we said yes. He told us to sit down in the back, where we waited patiently for a menu. Eventually another man came over and when we asked for a menu he said it might be too late for lunch- he would check. He returned with menus and told us it was fine. SO Martha chose risotto and I chose an open-faced sandwich from another part of the menu labeled “quatre heure”. He told Martha they were out of both risottos on the menu. He told me I couldn’t order the sandwich because it was not for lunch- it was for after lunch time. Hmmmm. We seemed to be somewhere in- between lunch and happy hour and should we just get the hell out of here. We decided to give it one more try. Martha asked for the warm goat cheese salad and, miraculously, she could have it. I had given up and stuck with a glass of red. I tell you this whole story because it is so typical of what one finds in France, and can drive you crazy if you let it. We were happy we stayed, however,  because the salad was delicious, and he even encouraged us to share it, which is not typical of Paris. Lucky for me, Martha did share, and we licked the platter clean.

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When we finally got out of there (I think they were hoping we would stick around for “quatre heure” offerings), the sun was on the wane, casting a lovely pink hue on Sacre Coeur.

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Sept Cinq
54 Rue Notre-Dame de Lorette, 75009
Tel: +33 (0)9 83 55 05 95
Métro: Saint-Georges

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Filed under Montmartre, Paris, Paris dining, Sacre-Coeur, shopping, Uncategorized

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?

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Filed under cooking, Marais, Montmartre, pastries, Uncategorized

Montmartre

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!

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Filed under Paris outings, Sacre-Coeur