Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Last Paris Walk

Saturday morning with Paris offering us clear skies and although a little chilly on the morning’s walk, people were shedding their jackets and scarves by mid-day. Now there's a thing with scarves here - they seem to be the big fashion item here compared to Melbourne. Scarves and man bags. Maybe even I can be a trendsetter this winter after Paris.
The morning walk actually lasted to mid-arvo. Although we walked several new streets, we also retraced some of the old familiar streets from past visits. So what’s wrong with a bit of nostalgia? As much as we know we will once again return to France, we don’t know when. Maybe Sue’s 60th in a couple of years.
Rembember the "On the Street where You Live" post, well this has been our home for the last two weeks. As you can tell from the shadows the morning promised another day of sunshine.  Rue Marie Stuart is tucked away around the corner from a Rue Montorgueil, a street full of food and wine shops, bars and restaurants, and a colorful range of pedestrian traffic.
Our apartment was very comfortable and quite economical for its size and location. The secret to renting is Paris is to be aware of the AUS$ exchange rate. At the time our $ was strong against the US$ so we booked through an American company.

Our morning coffee and the change we were trying to spend before leaving.
A morning walk will usually start off with a Cafe Creme at a local Cafe to watch the workers on their way to a day of drudgery - poor things. Did I say that, I'm back at work in 4 days at the time this was taken. Coffee is not just coffee here - a word of advice, don't ask for a Latte or you will get hot milk. I saw this happen on the Champs. Horrified look from the patron.
Prices of coffee - Hmmm, another horrified look. Sit at the bar and prices are OK. Sit out side to geek at the passing traffic, and prepare to pay up to 4.50 euro on the Champs, that's about $6.00AUS. Motto is to be aware where you buy coffee. Our experience has been that you pay more for Cafe Creme and less for espresso.

Part of the walk was a quest for birthday presents for my two daughters on the Gold Coast Queensland. It dawned on us that we were looking at winter presents until we realised that the Gold Coast doesn’t actually have a real winter to speak of. Poor things.
During the morning we could hear a brass band playing and amongst the tunes was the wedding theme from the Godfather so we decided to investigate where the sound was coming from. Just down from our street, Rue Marie Stuart there is a little square or “Place” where there is the local “hotel de ville” or town hall.
A wedding was being held and this zany brass band had attracted a reasonable size crowd amongst the wedding guests. After taking this scene in for a while we took off down Rue Montorgueil. Over the last two weeks we had met several of the local shop keepers. The boulangerie where each morning I would run down and get our baguette and crossiants, The poissoniere selling all manners of seafood would be starting his day as were the boucherie and the fruit and veggie stores. We’ll miss their familiar faces.

We were woken by the sound of a brass band on our last full day in Paris. The sound of the Godfather's wedding song wafted down the street to our bedroom window. We heard it again as we emerged from the downstairs door. We followed the direction that the sound was coming from to discover this zany French brass band playing to the wedding party and guests. Oh yes, plus us and other non-descript spectators. A bit like "hire a wedding crowd" in a way.

At the other end  of our street is this covered walkway - I've mentioned it in a previous blog. The square in the pic above this one is between our street and the covered hallway. Sue needed to visit a shop in the hallway to say hello to one of the shopkeepers. This person had been to OZ and mentioned she liked Vegemite so we needed to deliver our last tube to her.

These trees look bare but looking closely and you can see spring appearing as they bud and bare small green leaves. Previously our visits to France have been a little later, around late April or early May when the trees are greener. Autumn is also a great time to visit.
We disccovered a new "Place" or square where people congregate and buskers offer their talent for coins. I'm happy to chuck a euro or two into a busker's hat but I'm saddened when seeing beggars on the street with a plastic cup held out for a coin or two. I'm not sure how my emotions sit with this. Should I be concerned that the Government is not doing more, or are the beggars at fault. I can't answer these questions but I guess that all big cities are faced with the same dilemma.

I just love these Gazelle bikes, they are allover Paris, ridden by businessmen, mothers and dandies.

Jazz and blues clubs are big in Paris, and they get some great artists.

Down along the Seine there is a stretch full of florists and pet shops. It's always very crowded but worth a look. The French love their chiens, almost like their children. Dogs travel everywhere with them. On the Metro, in restaurants, dogs there are mostly very well behaved as are the children.

I did say dogs are "mostly well behaved", that is until they meet a "Chat" cat.
Is this an altercation?????

One of the flower stalls on the right bank of the Seine. I sometimes wonder what my readers think of our photos. Flowers, Food, Wine, Architecture, Museums, and of course Bikes. What can I say, these are the things that we enjoy. (Well, OK, I enjoy the bike part)

After leaving our little shopping street we took off towards to Rue Saint Denis where it’s a little seedy but fun as well, in day-time that is!!!!!
Rue Saint Denis took us to the Seine where we said goodbye to the grand river, Ill de Cite, and the flower and pet shops along the Seine.
Turning off the tourist main drag for an inexpensive light lunch, we found a little café that offered what we thought would be reasonable value - How wrong were we.
My salmon taglettelli consisted of possible tuna out off a tin and whacked in the micro wave and Sue’s veggie soup came out of a squeeze packet and again in and out of the micro. Oh well the beer couldn’t be spoilt and so we could look forward to our “last supper” before returning home.

Where we had lunch, non-descript, cheap prices, cheap meal - never to be recommended except for this poster. No smoking, no guns, Shhhhh and most definitely no underwear.

And if you want to entice birds into your environment, maybe I could offer you a bird chateau.

On the other side, that is the Seine side or in the case of non-pet owneres the "sane" side are the numerous book and poster sellers.

The two big M's of Paris, the Metro and Maccas. Maccas is where the toilets are clean but the food is crap (apologies but it's true isn't it?)

Yuuummmmm, Paris has the best in food, so far as we know (except Maccas).

This accordian player took an elevated view of his craft - we just had to chuck a euro or two into his cap. There are so many buskers around Paris that you need to stand out to be different.

We criss-crossed our way back towards home discovering new sights. Sue had discovered several foodie type shops she never knew existed and on our last day it was too late to spend time investigating their contents.

As we returned to our apartment Sue said she would like one last bottle of Pouilly-fume so I purchase a bottle but unknown to her, I also booked a table for two at Escargot, a restaurant with some history.
The last supper, in Paris that is. L'Escargot was the place for our last dinner before leaving. I have to say it was quite special. Really sorry that I didn't take better photos and actually before I started eating. It looked so great that I forgot to take out the camera.
At the end of the meal our waiter offered us a complimentary digestif. We shared a whole duck which came to us in two serves. I noticed other diners see our choice and request the same. The wine came from Auxerre in Burgundy where we had been on our last trip.

My desert was beyond description, Crepes suzete. Sorry, I forgot to take a photo until I finished it.

An early (for us) night with the alarm set for 7.00 am, would ensure we had a good night’s sleep with the long haul that lay ahead of us. The shuttle Taxi would pick us up at 8.00 am to get us to Charles de Gaulle for our mid-day flight back home via Singapore. The first and longest leg was fairly light on and we had a row of four seats to  ourselves which made things a little more comfortable.
We did have to contend with crying babies, nasty old men sniffing, (etc) but finally we arrived home to say hello to our boys and sleep in the next morning. Paris/France is magical but when it comes down to it, where ever home is, its home.
Paris reflections:
1. The city itself is romantically magic.
2. It has a fantastic history.
3. There is a lot less doggie poo thest days - I didn't see or step in any this time.
4. Yes the people are friendly and courteous, IF you are.
5. Riding a bike is not dangerous - if yummie mummies and grannies can do it, so can I.
6. You will never have time to discover all of its secrets.
7. The food and wine if chosen carefully is fantastic.


  1. Thank you for all the lovely photos of Paris. I am so glad you had a great time and the photos remind me it is a very long time since we were there and we should make the effort soon. Especially if the dog poo is less of a problem !! Being able to look properly at the surroundings instead of just the couple of yards of pavement in front of me would be a real joy !!

  2. As always - great pics Leon. Glad to hear that you have arrived safely home and sorry you didn't get up-graded. Heres to the next time, meanwhile we'll be reading your Melbourne blog!
    Love Carol & Michael

  3. I am sad it is over for your northern adventures but glad you are back home and looking forward to new discoveries in your own land.

  4. We've enjoyed sharing our trip with people and judging by the hits it seems like theres been quite a few that have popped in for a look.
    Thanks especially to the followers and the comments. It is now back to blogs of our own backyard. There's a bit of catch up with work and home over the next week so we'll post sometime next week.

  5. Leon have you ever read
    They have a place in Paris and it is always nice to read her blog.

  6. Hi so pleased you had a great trip to Paris. I adore Paris, went there for the first time last April and the second time was last August/September. I found your link on My Sydney paris Life.. who I had the great pleasure of meeting in Paris last April along with her husband and 12 others. All arranged through bloggers. I have made really good friends, two are coming to the Uk next week.... by Eurostar(booked)!!

    I still wonder why I never went before.


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