12 Hours in My Paris

3 05 2010

I’ve gotten requests to do this “12 hours in…” meme that made its way around the interwebs a while ago, but mostly just felt confounded by the enormity of the task when faced with only 12 hours in Paris.  If I wasn’t frantically packing, I’d probably end up with my nose buried in various guidebooks, trying to figure out the perfect day, only to find that once I had it planned, my 12 hours were up.  But my recent move (for those interested, the fridge gets delivered on Saturday, and maybe one of these days our bathroom will have a medicine cabinet and a door, all of which will go a long way towards making the new place feel like home) prompted me to give the 12 hours thing a second thought. 

Granted, we really only moved about half a mile away, but it feels very different over here in the heart of the 10th arrondissement.  Both neighborhoods have diverse immigrant populations, but while the old one was predominantly North African and Chinese, the new one has Turks and Indians.  The old street had a dozen butchers and at least twice that number of crappy clothing stores.  The new one is a veritable market street, with vegetable stands, a fromagerie/wine shop, and a handful of butchers and kebab shops taking the place of most of the cheap clothes.  Which is just fine with me.  But I still want to take you on a farewell tour of my old neighborhood, which centers on the Goncourt métro station and stretches its arms up into Belleville, down along the Canal St. Martin, and over a bit into the lively Oberkampf district.

So here we go… 10 am: Escargot pastries (basically croissant dough rolled up around various fillings and sliced to show off the spiral shape), chaussons aux pommes, and pain au chocolat-banane for breakfast at Du Pain et Des Idées.  Ideally, it’s sunny out, so I’ll eat at a bench along the canal, and then find a Velib’ to ride up the canal to the Bassin de la Villette.

Just try walking past here without succumbing to the mouthwatering aroma of roasting chickens.

12 noon: Make my way back home, stopping for a roast chicken from Boucherie Tizi Ouzou (the best), Boucherie d’Agadir (the friendliest), or Boucherie Djurdjura (if I’m in the mood to pay a little more for a poulet fermier).

1:30 pm: After devouring chicken (and potatoes, and hopefully some salad or fruit) chez moi, take a walk up to the Parc de Belleville to enjoy the flowers, people-watch, and take in the wonderful view of the city.

Parc de Bellville, in full bloom

3:30 pm: Wander further up the hill to the village-y Jourdain neighborhood.  Admire the St. Jean Baptiste church, the pastries in the window at the Pâtisserie de l’Eglise, and the smells emanating from the Boulangerie au 140 and the Fromagerie Beillevaire.

St. Jean Baptiste de Belleville

5 pm: Head back downhill, stopping for a drink (or two) on the terrasse of Aux Folies.  Look at the graffiti around the corner on rue Dénoyez.  And of course, more people-watching.

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A Picnic by the Canal

8 05 2008

Given the incredible weather we’ve been having this week, I decided it was too nice last night to have dinner inside.  I won’t go into the various unfruitful market trips I embarked on before realizing that most of what I needed was in my fridge, instead I present to you:

Spanish-inspired picnic salads

Arugula and Piquillo pepper salad with Chorizo and goat cheese in Sherry vinaigrette.  I packed the salads into individual serving-sized Tupperware (What do you call non-Tupperware brand Tupperware?  Airtight plastic container just doesn’t have the same ring to it.) and placed them in a bag with a bunch of grapes, a baguette tradition, a bottle of rosé, and a couple of cookies.  Now that picnic season seems to be in full swing, we have a cupboard dedicated to picnic supplies: paper napkins, plastic utensils and cups are all at the ready for a last-minute weeknight picnic.  We took our dinner to the Canal St. Martin, a few blocks away and sat by the water alongside hundreds of Parisians who had had the same idea.

Bridge over the Canal St. Martin at dusk

We got there just as the sun was setting, so the temperature was just perfect.  We enjoyed our picnic and watched the sky slowly grow darker.

Crescent Moon over the Canal St. Martin

Nick got this photo of the crescent moon just above the buildings.  I love pictures taken at this hour of the evening, where the sky is still a brilliant blue but here on Earth it is already dark.  It reminds me of a Magritte painting.

So this is what people are talking about when they wax nostalgic about Paris in the Spring!








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