I don’t need anything special in Paris. I could be completely happy doing nothing more than walking around, drinking coffee, and reading the newspaper. I don’t mind the perpetually grey skies. They enhance the atmosphere created by the narrow cobblestone streets, the tin roofs and red chimneys of the Haussman era apartment buildings, corner cafes with their sidewalk seating and the murky, contained mirrored waters of the Canal St. Martin. There’s more photos on flickr.
I want to give a huge shout out to the restaurant Le Berber, located at 62 Rue Crozatier in the 12eme arrondissement. It can be surprisingly challenging to find North African restaurants with vegetarian options and sometimes those that have them are often really expensive and not very good. Not so with this one! Not only are they reasonably priced, but they made us vegetarian tagine, even though it was not on the menu and the mixture of piping hot vegetables, dried fruits and spices in the tagine let me know that it was as fresh as could be.
The other night G. gave me a special French test, part of in concerning gastronomie and the other concerning verlan and argot, aka French slang. Needless to say, I did o.k., but not great. However, I found a helpful site that explains new verlan, which is incredibly grammatical, to use thick headed English speakers. My favorite part is that it’s not the spelling of the words that are reversed, but the syllables.
After spending the quietest new years ever (laundry), on new years day we took a bike ride through eastern Paris, ending up at Notre Dame and then the Jadrin de Tuilleries. I love seeing Paris at the pace of a bike, it’s a great way to get to know the city and see how it all fits together. Velib is Paris’ new bike rental program where the bikes are everywhere. It’s not as straightforward as it should be to rent a bike (I couldn’t have done it because I have a US bank card without the chip that European bank cards have) and you have to go through several seemingly redundant steps, but once you get the bike, it’s pretty damn cool. And people really use them! I also feel like Paris has done a lot to become more bike friendly and I feel safer there than in NYC, but maybe this is just being naive.
In case anyone was wondering how my recent European sejour went…
G. and I borrowed my mother’s car and took a road trip to Montreal to visit my Brooklyn neighbors Marty and EJ, who were living there for the summer. There we found amazing bike lanes, cold weather and this wonderful bike shop Revolution, which is run by Marty and EJ’s friends. The lady mechanics not only fixed my borrowed bike, which got a flat tire, but I got a $15 “lesbian haircut for anyone” which everyone says is great. There’s more photos on flickr, including Village de Valuers (Value Village) where we got yelled at, in French, for taking pictures and mocking the mardi gras beads with the Quebec flag attached. I also spent too much money at Preloved, a clothing store that fashions new clothes out of old clothes. Every piece is unique and they are so terribly cool, it’s one of those shops that makes me wish I had my own personal stylist who could put together many outfits for me from their clothes. Maybe when I’m a famous Museum Educator… the trip also featured drives through the backroads of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, where I got to see natural wonders I had not seen since childhood. I must say, I love New England and the eastern provinces.
Forgive me for blogging about my cat. LJ found this amazing piece of kitch culture on the street by our apartment and presented it to me for my birthday (the cat clock behind Ida, not Ida herself, though she was also found on the street some years ago). I could not resist posing the real cat infront of these two creepy, 3-D fuzzy felines. If anyone wants this, get in touch. Though I’ve recently decided my apartment is “thrift store chique” (or a clutter magnet, if you look at it differently), this doesn’t fully fit the decor. Or so I’d like to believe. Even I have my limits.
The other weekend I traveled with my friend Andi to Austin, TX to visit our friend Jennifer. It was awesome. Here I am catching up on my reading at a spring fed swimming pool (as a side note I found Miranda July’s stories like reading candy, but not quiet so satisfying). I was also introduced to the wonders of Frito Pie and a city that has rivers clean enough to swim in inside city limits.
My last full day in Paris was May 1st and with a national holiday came a perfect day for a picnic. We took the RER into the 93 and walked along the Marne river until we came to this pratically empty lawn bordering an old hospital. It was the perfect place for a picnic away from the crowds and heat of the city. P. transported tons of good eats on his retirned from the post office bike, which seems like one of the more useful city bikes I have seen.
The day also included marches and rallies that were most definetly anti-Sarkozy in tone, so I would say that perhaps those are warm ups for what will and must come in the next 5 years. My condolences to France for being stuck with (as my sister said) “a little Napoleon,” I know how it feels…
For more pictures see my flickr page at:
I never get sick of walking around Paris. In the past week and a half I can’t even tell you how many kilometers, much less miles, I trekked in shoes that were hardly made for standing, much less city walking. There’s always something new to see and I love learning about how cities unfold and fit together. This trip took me to some new neighborhoods, such as this small corner of the 20th arrondisement, which looks like a small village in the French countryside. Many thanks to G. to showing me this place and many others and putting up with me when I wanted to go back to some of my favorite places (like the Canal St. Martin).