Sunday, July 26, 2009

I haven't kept up with my plan to visit a market, a park and a shop each day, as I eventually realized that you see pretty much the same produce, cheese fish and meat at each market, though they each have a distinctive character. I like the market at Bastille, which is close to me, and I especially like the sweet man who sells canneles and churros. Even though Idiscovered that Trader Joe's sells a pretty decent version of French canneles (one n, two ls?), I enjoy having him choose just the right one, put in in the bag with a flourish, and look me in the eye as he thanks me as though I am a special customer. I guess this is why I go to the markets.
The best part of my day yesterday was making a small detour to Jardin du Luxembourg. It is one of my favorite parks in Paris, and yesterday I dubbed it "the happiest place in Paris". It was a gorgeous day, and everyone seemed to be enjoying the sun. It was fun to see the boys and their dads or grandpas renting these sailboats to sail in the big fountain.
Each boat was different, and one even had a pirate theme. I know my boys would have loved doing this when they were little. Maybe I will start my own little fleet in Portland.

The plantings were especially lush and beautiful, all in shades of yellows and blues. I am happy that I finally made it here, as it was the prettiest park I have seen.
This just in! The Tour de France just arrived in Paris and I was there on the Champs Elysees to cheer them on. I had some misgivings about being in those crowds again after my experience on Bastille day. But I just could not be in Paris for the finish of that race and not see it in person. It was a much livelier crowd than the group that I stood with for the parade, and the wait was much shorter. I learned my lesson this time, though, and got the heck out of there as soon as the riders whizzed past. I will probably not be posting any photos from that event, as mostly all I saw were other people taking photos.


Since my days here are drawing to a close, this will probably be my last posting from Paris, unless I am feeling particularly ambitious, or hungry for a treat from McDonalds.
Yesterday I spent the day doing research for all of you. I was determined to hunt down and sample, all in the name of research, mind you, a variety of macarons. I especially wanted to find Pierre Herme, in the heart of St. Germaine, not one of my favorite parts of Paris .I did finally find it, after walking around in circles, however they were out of his signature dessert, the Isphan. It is two pink meringue discs with a filling of rose flavored creme, raspberries and lichis. It is as tasty as it is beautiful, as I can attest since I tried the version at Laduree earlier onthe trip. Actaully, I was amused to note that yesterday was the last day they were open before vacation. Imagine my dissapointment if they had just closed!
I tried the jasmine, casis and passionfruit chocolate varieties. By the time I got home and took photos of the various macarons, I didn't even want to eat them.
I vowed to never spend so much time in search of a famous bakery!
The little straberry tarte was so appealing, as each of those strawberries is the size of the end of my finger and oh, so sweet. I watched in the food hall of the Bon Marche as a clerk hand picked a basket of these strawberries for a client. Only in France!

More delicious looking confections, but I only gazed through the window at these.

That's it for now for the confections. Are your mouths watering? Just come to Paris for a taste!

Friday, July 24, 2009


I had wanted to get to the Parc Bagatelle since coming to Paris, and yesteray I finally made it! It took 4 bus transfers and a bit of a walk, but it was worth it. If you come toParis and want to to here, ask me how to get there. Or take a taxi.
I had a lovely lunch on the terrace, and this unusual peacock was my dining companion. They were everywhere on the grounds.This is a Chinese style folly tucked into the woods. I was keeping my eyes peeled for peacock feathers, as I saw others finding them, but I only found some small ones. Did you know how many different kinds of feathers peacocks have? I spent a long time watching one peacock as he strolled up to the pond for a drink.

Wouldn't you love to live here? I'm sure someone does. Maybe the head gardener?

I would love to see this rose garden at the height of the blooms. I liked seeing the cone shaped topiary. One of the prettiest roses was from Oregon's Jackson and Perkins. I would have written more, but since I accidentally erased the previous post, I need to get out and see more of Paris. Just a few days left before I pack my bags!

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this china, all of various scenes from Paris at Chez Georges. No, I did not eat here, as I briefly checked the menu and it was a little beyond my budget! I was on my way to the Bois de Bologne anyway, so I had places to be,thngs to see...
I had been planning to visit Astier de Villaite (sp?) for the whole trip, and I finally found it on Rue St Honore. It was a little jewel box of a shop, as long as you love white. It was fun to watch a Japanese woman very carefully choosing several white tea cups in a variety of patterns and sizes. I could shop vicariously through her.

The highlight of my day was visiting this wonderful exhibit of Madeliene Vionette's exquisite clothing at the decorative arts museum that is part of the Louvre. I wasn't familiar with her work, as she was designing in the early 1920's,30's and beyond. She is referred to as the "queen of the bias cut".Her creations are timeless and here is a peek at one of her dresses, before I was told "no photos". Ooops! I was temepted to purchase the book of her designs at the great shop, but it weighs about 5 lbs and even I draw the line at that.

Outside the museum I got my best shot of the giant ferris wheel that is a staple of the Parisian skyline. Jim and I took a ride for some great views of Paris. They have moved it, temporarily I hope, from Concorde to the Tuilleries, along with a lot of other carnival type concessions. One time I was here, I rode it twice in one day--once during the day, and later at night. I recommend it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sunday turned out to be a day filled with unusual happenengs, and in case you were wondering what happened when I locked my keys in the door of my apartment, I will tell my little story...
But first, isn't this a wonderful little shrine? It is one of many pieces by my new favorite French artist, Maissa Toulet. Check out her wonderful website at for more of her work. I found her, and other nice folks at a little neighborhood brocante after I realized that I was locked out, and I might as well not panic and cold still have a good day. A brocante is like a flea market, and this one had good prices and very nice vendors. I liked Maissa's work so much that I got ove my initial shyness and spoke to her in english, then ended up pouring out my whole sad story to her... She was very gracious and told me that if things didn't work out, I could always stay with her. I was so grateful for that offer, that it bouyed me through the day and I kept her card in my wallet like a talisman.
Here are the things I purchased there...and best of all, a warm shawl to protect me from the chill of July in Paris, for one euro! I felt like I had a great time shopping and interacting with the young vendors, and I only spent about 10 euros. Can you see the postcard? It is a vintage photo of an early, very early, Tour de France.
More of Maissa's interesting art. She told me that the French don't appreciate her style of art as much as American's do. In fact, she recently sold a piece of her work to someone in Oregon (not me). Maybe we need to get her an American showing.
This was the very inviting petite dejuner offered at the brocante. I really wanted to try the homemade jams, but I had already stopped along the canal for a cafe creme and croissant to calm my jangled nerves.
How odd this was to come across! Spelled out in centimes pressed into the sidewalk, I saw this
sign, which means, "the key". After that I called my landlord, who said that she would send someone over to the apartment to try to help me get it. When he arrived, he couldn't get his key to open the door, as I had left the keys in the lock. He returned with a ladder, which was a bit too short to reach the second story. What to do?? I sent him away, and finally determined that with a little help, I could inch across the ledge and climb into my window. I enlisted the help of my neighbor (to hold onto my legs!!) et voila, I was inside! We were both relieved, and I was happy to have solved my probelm. Travel can be like that sometimes, and it is important to keep a cool composure.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Along the Canal St Martin there are a number of great shops, as this has become a cool part of Paris. Antoine and Lilie has shops all through Paris, and on the canal there is a string of three shops-women's clothing, children's clothing and toys, and a housewares. Each is brightly painted, and of course I couldn't resist taking a photo of this little elf costume. Would a French boy be thrilled to wear this outfit for Halloween? This has become very big in France in recent years. WishI had one of these for the now departed fairy fest.
One of the displays in the housewares section of Antoine and Lilie.
Back to Giverny, and the lily pond. I love the clouds reflected in the water. The last time we were there, there was a man in a motorboat cutting the reeds the whole time, and it was less than relaxing. And it was raining. I asked my son if it was all he hoped it would be and he said "yes,but I didn't think it would be raining!" On the bus back to Vernon, I sat next to a pleasant Korean woman. I said that this time the weather was very nice, and she replied, "Yes, it is very shiny!" I loved that idea, and it seems as descriptive as sunny.
Just a peek at Monet's house through the trees. I did not sketch there, as we were getting hungry, and they did not allow le pique-nique on the grounds, so we took our provisions, cleverly provided by Jim, outside the grounds where we spent a pleasant hour watching the vivid butterflies a lighting on the butterfly bushes. Then we strolled up the road for a beer and cider before going to the American museum where they had air conditioning (a rarity!) and a great exhibit on Monet. We especially enjoyed the airconditioning on a very hot day. The exhibit was an additional treat.
Just last Tuesday, I was here, with thousands of other humans, waiting to observe the fireworks displayed over the Eiffel Tower. Yes, I waited on a bench with a great view for nearly 8 hours. At some point I didn't even care anymore if I saw the fireworks, as I was hungry and tired. Somehow I knew that it wasn't going to be easy to leave, so it seemed that I might as well stay. I have to say that once they started, the fireworks were spectacular, perhaps even better than I had imagined. It was the leaving at the end of the evening that was bad. I suppose if I had been with someone else, it might have just been an annoyance, but being alone as the crowd pressed around me, I imagined that I might be trampled. Instead, I just spent 20 minutes pressed up against the vitrine of a restaurant until the crowd thinned enough to make my way to the metro, which turned out to be closed! Ah, the best laid plans...So, I followed the crowd to the next metro stop and eventually made my way back to my apartment. I was so glad to be home!
This is the lovely, and tranquil Canal St Martin, which turns out to be quite close to my apartment. While Jim was here, we spent a pleasant 3 hours on a canal tour, as it was something I had always wanted to do in Paris. I would recommend it! For the first hour you travel underground, which was quite fascinating in itself. When I need a little relief from the city, I can stroll the canal, or stop for a cafe creme, as I did today after I locked myself out of my apartment! Stay tuned to see how that turned out. I am still waiting to see that for myself, but in the meantime, I am SO grateful for the free wi-fi at McDonald's that allows me a place to camp while I try to figure out what to do next. I never thought I would be happy to hang out at McDonalds in a foreign country, but now I am!
I speculated on what this charming little cemetery angle was pointing to. I found him high above Trocadero, with a great view of the eiffel tower, when I was waiting for the fireworks. Whenever I discover a cemetery, I always wander through, because each one holds surprises and something lovely to photograph or sketch.
A week ago Sunday, Jim and I took the train to Vernon, then a bus to Giverny, an hour away from Paris,but worlds away from the city! We had been here many years before in June when the roses were blooming, and we thought it would be fun to see it at a different time of the year.
As always, it is a treat, and in spite of the crowds we strolled through and enjoyed seeing the waterlilies blooming. Someone asked for photos of dahlias, and this one was spectacular!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ok,I feel semi successful getting anything published here at MCDonald's Paris, even if the image is sideways and not the one I wanted...Patience, I say. Neither of my technical advisors, Pia or Paula are here to help fix things. Too bad.
This is a sideways view of th elarge manifestation, or protest about the plan crash in the Comoros islands. This was someplace I had never heard of before now.
I spent last Sunday at Parc Floral, and was surprised at the large numers of people waiting in line, all with their picnics in various bags, baskets and coolers. The French do love le picque nique! There were hundreds of people, spread all through the park on blankets eating the most delicious looking feasts. I could imagine the same scene from Impressionist paintings, and theonly thing that had changed was the clothing.
These magnificent waterlilies were in full bloom.

There were many of these big nests spead across the grass. They were human size, about 5 feeet across or for very large birds! I do love a good nest!

Well, I have been experiencing techinical difficulties on my blog (user error!) and have even resorted to going to McDonald's france to try to do some posting. Yes, I am that desperate to send you some photos of France!. Well, perhaps I will try again tomorrow... Thanks, friends.