Thursday, October 31, 2013

DATELINE: Paris (4)

More sun today so more wandering around outdoors.  First stop was Dehillerin, the sine qua non of cookware stores over at Les Halles.

This marvelous store covers three addresses.  Two levels crammed with the most wonderful cookware and kitchen gadgets imaginable.  Makes William Sonoma look like a 5-and-10¢ store!

Need copper?

Need strainers?

Down the street I discovered a market selling these beautiful scarves, grouped by colors.

I could have bought one of every color.    As I have said before everybody had a garden, no matter where they live.

Then on down the street was the Church of Saint Eustache.

Back home for an early lunch so I could go out and do some other shopping.  There is a huge department store, BHV (Bazar Hôtel de Ville) that's about 2 blocks from here.  Eight floors of everything you could possibly want/need, except food (you have to go to the food hall at the Bon Marché for that).  It has a bricolage (hardware) department that would make the Home Depot drool.  I had my list, got almost everything, came home determined to go back and look at all that great stuff again.  Mr. C is definitely NOT a shopper so I get to go by myself and take my time.  But let me say this:  the Parisians ~ and her visitors ~ are the shopping-ist people I've ever seen.  Swarms of them in every store and on the streets, carrying bags and packages from stores all over the city.  It's truly amazing.

We've definitely decided to cut the trip short by almost a week and will be heading back on Thursday, November 7.  So only 6 more days to see everything I haven't seen already!

As for Halloween in Paris, I saw one person in a costume on the Down escalator in the Les Halles Metro station as I was going Up, although in Paris, especially during Fashion Week, it's hard to say whether this is costume or couture.  Otherwise I don't think it's a big deal here.  I've seen no costumes in store windows or adverts for candy or treats.  Maybe this is one bad habit the French have not imported!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

DATELINE: Paris (3)

A quick post because I am SICK and need to go to bed.  Mr. C generously shared his germs with me so I am now just as infected as he is.

Not to be cowed by illness, this morning we headed out to the Place des Voges and La Mule du Pape for lunch.  On our way we passed this lovely little oasis, the Square de Georges Cain.

We found the Place des Voges .  . . 

The colonnade at the Place des Voges.  Chanel lived in the apartments on this beautiful square.  So did Rudof Nureyev.

Lots of restos around the Place; they all have those outdoor heating things you can feel as you walk by.
Try as we might we couldn't find our little restaurant.  The last time we were there was 2005.  I think it has been turned into an art gallery; there are tons of them in this area.    We gave up in despair, returned home for an in-house lunch.  I checked Google  and the last resto review about it was indeed in 2005.  So we'll now start the great hunt for the favorite lunch spot around this area. After lunch I went out to explore the area while Mr. C stayed in and coughed.

The weather is holding so tomorrow may be a trip to the Tuilleries/L'Orangerie/Jeu de Paume.  We'll see how we feel in the morning.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

DATELINE: Paris (2)

The sun was out almost all day, then some clouds, a bit of rain, and now it's dark and cold (47º).  We expect about the same tomorrow.

Here's the apartment.  It looks almost exactly like the one over in the Latin Quarter.  I think the owner got a deal on furnishings, fabrics and paint.

the living room

dining room with, again, mirrored wall for the illusion of space

bedroom, smaller than the other one

this kitchen is actually big enough for two people and has more cupboard space

tiny tub/shower and basin

toilet in tiny closet off living room.  Note raised platform; like sitting on a throne!

apartment is on 1st floor so only one 26-stair flight up!

This apartment is across the courtyard from ours.  I took this picture to show you the tiny garret window on top with its little garden in the sky  Note sunshine!

There is a "world famous" falafel shop on this street, L'As du Falafel (The Ace of Falafel) that usually has a line a block long at the take-out window.  But when we came back from our morning shopping trip there were only a few people there.  We bought two "sandwiches" of falafel in pita with all sorts of wonderful salad garnishes and hot sauce to bring home for lunch.

It was spicy, crunchy and very filling.  I think one would have been enough between the two of us.  I'm not sure how I feel about this dish but at least I can now say I've been to this place. It also serves shawarma, sandwiches made with meat shaved off a large rotating cone of layered beef or lamb.  I'll try that next time.

Back home, I finished "War and Remembrance" and now have to look for something equally as enthralling and majestic.  That's going to be difficult.  It also has to be enjoyable because I think I'm getting THE COLD and may have to be quarantined for a day or two.  Tomorrow will tell.

Monday, October 28, 2013

DATELINE: Lille to Paris

We are happily back in Paris after the recovery weekend in Lille.  Mr. C is still coughing and wheezing and blowing his nose but assures me he's feeling better.  We caught the 11:40 TGV to Gare du Nord ~ first class seats on the TGV are well worth the euros ~ stuffed our bags into a taxi and were at the front door by 1:30 PM on a grey and occasionally rainy afternoon.  The apartment is exactly as I remember it from our stay here in 2005.  The rue des Rosiers was jammed (as usual) with pedestrians so we got out of the taxi and walked the last couple of blocks.    We've been to the market for basics, picked up a couple of quiches for dinner and are ready to relax and take it easy for a day or so.  Then it will be back on the museum/shopping/exploring/dining routine again.  Photos of the apartment and environs tomorrow.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

DATELINE: Lille (2)

Nothing much to report from here.  Walked over to the train station to buy tickets for ride to Paris tomorrow morning.  We'll get to Gare du Nord a bit after noon, taxi to the apartment in the Marais and then decide what to do in the next week or so.  We may go home early, may stay until mid-November as originally planned.  Mr. C spent most of today coughing, sneezing, blowing his nose, snoozing, drinking tea.  I spent most of the day finishing up "War and Remembrance" which is an absolutely wonderful book..

Next message, I think, from Paris.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

DATELINE: Lille, France

And here we stay.

We have had to scrub the Normandy/Brittany trip altogether.  Mr. C is much too sick to go anywhere except to bed.  So we will be at this little hotel over the weekend, then head back to Paris for perhaps two weeks, perhaps less.  He just needs to rest, cough, sneeze and get it all out of his system.  I am hoping I don't get worse, but with one really sick guy filling the air with his germs it's going to be a miracle if I don't.  At least we have the Marais to look forward to.  We had to move out of our room and into a different one up a floor higher under the eaves of the building.  Larger, which in this case means more IKEA furniture!  But it will be just fine for a couple of days.

First thing I had to do this morning was cancel the car rental.  I walked over to the train station to the rental office and the rather snotty young chap behind the desk was of absolutely NO assistance.  He sent me on my way saying I had to figure it out myself.  I got on the computer and the rental site was also of NO help.  Its service site is completely circular; you can't get where you need to go to click on some CANCEL button.  I finally send an email to some obscure address I located and QUICKLY got a message back that they were so sorry but I notified them too late so I have to pay the whole rental cost.  If the site had had a usable contact link I would have been well under the time to cancel.  Nothing is going right for this northern visit!

So since we're staying the next big activity was to lay in stores.  We walk over to a huge shopping mall to with a big fancy market.  I felt very uncomfortable while in this mega-mega mall; thought about Westlake Mall in Kenya and just wanted to get the heck out.  We now have a full 'fridge, lots of dried soup, some charcuterie things for dinner, plenty of water and wine.  Now all we have to do is amuse ourselves until Monday morning.

Europe changes to Standard Time tonight so it will be light before 8:30  AM!

Friday, October 25, 2013

DATELINE: Bruges to Lille, France

Vive le Roi! 

Who was to know that the King of Belgium, one Philippe and his wife, Queen Mathelda, would be in town today?  But he was indeed!  He became king in July 2013 upon the "retirement" of his father, King Albert.  He has been making a country-wide tour and today was his day in Bruges.

We checked out of the apartment and planned to spend the morning on a city bus tour followed by some nice strolls and ending up for lunch at the Duc du Bourgogne.  Up in Markt square there were hundreds of squealing school children waiting to get a glimpse of the king, so no city tour buses.  Plus all the streets were blocked off so in order to get anywhere meant long detours.  So we just ambled around until we got cold and a nice Belgian hot chocolate seemed like a really good ideal

Rich, deep chocolate flavor topped with thick cream.  A diabetic's dream!a

Was it good?  What do you think?
Then it was back up to the Markt to see if the king had done his duty and the city could get back to its daily business.  Not a chance.  Crowds still lined the route he supposedly would take into the city, kids in the square, more people jammed into the City Hall square.  Sent off some more post cards (your is on its way) and then it was time for lunch.

View of the restaurant, overlooking the canal

We ordered mussels, of coursel  They were delicious.

The Mayor's boat ramp is right across the canal from the restaurant.  The king was supposed to take a canal ride at 2:30 and, if he actually did, he'd get on here.

After a wonderful lunch we strolled back to the apartment (the king still hadn't shown up), got a cab and went to the train station.  We arrived in Lille about 5 PM under cloudy skies and occasional rain.  Our hotel is across the street from the station.  It's convenient, clean, comfortable, completely furnished by IKEA ~ but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  And it's only for one night.  Mr. C's sniffle has developed into a full-fledged cold with juicy coughing and totally stuffed head.  I, on the other hand, seem to be getting better.  I think we are both suffering from travel fatigue which we probably won't be able to deal with until we get back to Paris and move into the Marais apartment.

Meanwhile, we pick up the car tomorrow and head to Normandy.  See you there.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

DATELINE: Bruges (4)

Today was our last full day here so we tried to make the most of it.  The weather didn't always help, but here's what we did.

First, off to the market, with camera.

Up and down these 26 stairs for all activities!
We walked up to the Markt Square for some scenics.

City museum on main square

carriages awaiting riders

clock tower

Markt Square without Wednesday market

City offices
cafes in front of beautiful buildings

this place sells fries only!
After marketing I mailed some post cards and went home  Then we went out looking for a restaurant for lunch tomorrow before we leave.  Our destination:  Le Duc du Bourgogne.

Over the canal.  You can see why it's called the Venice of the North

not Venice, but close

Mr. C surveys the canal view

flowers for sale in a little shop

there was a craft market; this fellow was selling beautiful scarves he had woven

flower boxes in restaurant windows
We found the place, made a reservation and will go back tomorrow for lunch.  We managed to snag a table by the window on the canal.  I'll document if I can.

Then we walked back to the apartment.

Bruges' s version of the Bridge of Sighs

just an ordinary apartment house

clock tower in the mist

 side street; all streets seems to have a bit of a curve to them
I was planning to go take the canal ride this afternoon, but went outside about 2 o'clock and it was very cold and the wind was howling.  Given my standoff with the cold germs I decided it was not a good idea.  Maybe tomorrow.  We have to be out of here at 10:30 and lunch isn't until 12:30 so there is plenty of time if it's not too cold.  We go to the train station for a 3:30 train to Lille.

Too much to see; too little time.  This calls for a return trip.