Middle photo: view from our room. Note the moat.
Bottom photo: we bought 6 bottles at Lecomte, Pere et Fils.
But I've never been before and we had a few articles with trusted
reccomendations, so off we went.
Hmmmm, how to describe? Approach from metro stop: Tijuana. First
section of the market we found: Santee Alley downtown L.A. (part Canal
Street NYC). Then we consulted our maps and articles better and veered
off into a labirynth of stacked high, may be good, may be bad, most
certain I can't tell, wow-oh-wow, filled stall after stall after stall.
After about 2 hours, we all had high hopes of finding that one unique
special treasure that, though certain we would personaly pay to much
for, still would seem like a bargain to us. For Richard it was a
silver tureen with an amazing array of sculpted seafood decorating the
ornate lid. Price:€23,000. Lyle went decidedly smaller at the same
shop and coveted a pepper mill that had a delicate sculpture of little
woman on top of it. Price:€290.
Christine and I were decidedly more centered on art. I selected what I
thought was a stunning painting of a cliché parisean street scene with
Sacre Couer rising behind the buildings. The shop keeper eagerly told
me all about the artist, the scene, and why the value was the price it
was... I guess. Because he told me all in French. And all I heard was
"Sacre Couer... blah blah blah... Artiste... blah blah blah...
€2000... blah blah blah..."
Christine had her heart attatched to a stunning designer jacket that
she would neither try on, nor ask the price of. Judging from the
surrounding Galiano hip-high lavender croc boots and exquisite Chanel
handbags (I even examined an Hermes vintage silkn scarf for €260) she
may have been wise to walk away without knowing it was a perfect fit.
In the end she is the only person who actually made the only purchase
of the day collecting a beautiful print for €40 which they told her
not to roll. So she carried that awkward parcel with her for the rest
of the day. She's quite the trouper!
We did see the small cafe tucked into the end where legend has it,
Edith Piaf was discovered singing for her supper standing atop a table.
We paused for a very quick bite at a tragic snack shack and had
amazing sandwiches of pate with cornichons, ham and cheese, and a
croque mousier. Everyone had a sandwich and a beverage for €27 total.
That's around what we'd been spending per person for dinner each night.
We hit a few more stalls in another market (I think there are over 9
HUGE full markets, one after the other after the other) and finally my
brain could take in no more! Ok, except I am still obsessed about
that Hermes orange steamer trunk that would look amazing in my dining
We left the fleas behind and took the metro to Gare Du Nord (train
station North). We walked outside and gazed up at the architecture and
soaked in its beauty. The we walked to Gare D'Est (train station
East). Lyle finaly explained that the name has nothing to do with the
location in the city, but rather which directions the departing trains
will go. OH! I'd always wondered why they were so close, yet named
for being futher away.
We sat and had a coffee in a very cliché Paris sidewalk cafe. Today
was sunny and a nice day to people watch. After, we wander/walked to
the Paris Opera. Another stunning, can't miss, prime Paris building.
As luck (or terrific plotting on my part) would have it, that also
placed us at the Galleries Lafayette. Paris's giant department store.
With 4 floors of menswear taking up a full city block, and half of it
on sale, the hour we'd given ouselves was never going to be enough. I
did a quick tour (12 minutes per floor, 2 minutes for escalator time
to change floors, and a smidge extra for fondeling a belt or jacket
here and there). I will go back when I have fresher feet, a sharper
mind and not so heavy a coat to carry!
Now technically we can't really get lost because we have our iPhones
with the built in google maps and gps. But the idea was to go off on a
wander, see something interesting "over there", follow that hunch
until something "that a-way", and wander, wander, wander...
So we did. We started at Republique around 11 and launched up the hill
into the 19th arrondisment. We walked through a weekend food mart
along the street and continued up to where Edith Piaf was born.
We turned somewhere at the top of Belleville after I paused and played
Lyle the song from the animated movie Triplettes Du Belleville. We
wound up in a park that was full of the locals out for their weekend
jog, stroll, dog walk or children's play outing. Hither and dither we
went until I announced, "I did not fly all the way to Paris to wear my
Gucci scarf on a nature hike!".
We left the park and found a bakery that was on Lyle's list. C'est
It was about 1:30 and we decided that we should take a look on the
google map and see how far we were from home and which direction to
wander next. But first, oh look a big farmers market!
After that we did check the map. How the hell did we get so far
away?! And so we turned around and started back... Then we saw a
monumental arch in the middle of the boulevard down the road to the
right. At the arch it was Lyle's turn to make an announcement, "I need
to sit down right now and have a Perrier!". So we did.
After a refreshing beverage we started for home again. I offered to
take the Metro, but Lyle said he was fine and besides, it wasn't much
By 3:30 we were home. Lyle has a blister on his right foot and one if
his left toes is bleeding. It's not my fault. He asked to go out on a
wander. I wanted to go shopping. I offered to take the Metro. He
wanted to carry on. Now, I am ready to go again and he wants to place
his feet in the minibar.
Don't vacation with me. Apparently I'm a bad person.
We took the Metro to the Moulin Rouge and yes, I made Lyle, Richard
and Christine pose with their legs kicking high.
After that we hiked high up the hill through the streets of the
neighborhood, filled with the locals doing their food shopping. Stinky
cheese, fresh seafood, butcher shops, chocolatiers and patiseries
abounded. Just for my father, I snapped a photo of snails available in
mounds by the pound (fine Kilo, but there's no rhyme in that) just
We continued up to Place Dalida and on to Sacre Couer. Even after the
forced hike, we all still had the ability to climb to the top of the
Sacre Couer dome. It is my favorite view of Paris and it gave me
immense pleasure to share it.
We left Sacre Couer with the plan to go to the flea market. We walked
down the hill to catch the Metro and go three stops to the market.
Just seeing the mass of people around that stop had us all pause and
reconsider our plan. We all agreed that we were not up to that kind of
mosh pit crowd surfing and digging through stalls and bins of junk
while carefully monitoring our wallets and cameras warding off
potential pick pockets.
So we went to St Germain Des Pres. Bonjour Louis Vuitton! In this
vastly different neighborhood we found ourselves caught in the rain
and ducked into a bistro for a bite. Fois gras ravioli, turren du
canard, steak with fois gras on top and a duck breast sauteed in
mushrooms and cherries were some of our dishes. See how I worked that
little pun in? We ducked in to eat duck, duck, goose and goose!
A little more rain landed on us and at this point we split into pairs.
Richard and Christine headed for home while Lyle and I just wandered.
Christine's knee was starting to bother her and in a perverse way this
validated that I was making sure she was seeing EVERYTHING. My brother
has a saying, "you may work out, you may train for weeks, but nothing,
NOTHING, prepares you for a vacation with Jim." I'm not saying I take
joy in breaking my tour partners, I'm just saying they won't go home
sorry they missed something.
Lyle and I went through the Jadin du Luxembourg and headed towards the
Sorbonne. We saw the Sorbonne off a side street but were distracted by
the Pantheon (oddly, things we'd never come across previously). We
wandered more, passing a piece of the ancient city wall that was still
standing, 8' wide and most impressive. We headed home by way of the
Isle St Louis.
Last night, Lyle woke up and said he'd had a nightmare. I asked if in
his nightmare he'd gone to Paris and on his first day he didn't even
have a pastry? Because I'd had the same dream... no wait, that
actually happened to me!
On the Isle St Louis I rectified that situation and got my first
pastry of the trip. I came home a happy man!
Yellow - small brown birds (technical term)When the Bluebird arrived in our yard I was certain it was a Bluejay and I was determined to drive it away. I would go outside, yell and throw things at it. Then Lyle's mother corrected me that it didn't have the sharp feathers on it's head and that it was a Bluebird. I confessed my trying to drive it away and she told me that perhaps that was why I was unhappy. I was driving away the Bluebird of Happiness!
Red - turtle doves
Purple - squirrel
Blue - Bluebird (of happiness?)