Wednesday, August 1, 2007
ANOTHER DAY IN PARIS
I've just returned from the Delaware shore, where Dan and I photographed an incredible beach house. Will report on it -- and share photos -- tomorrow. Meanwhile...
Day 3 Paris: As we headed to lunch after leaving the unicorns, jet lag caught up with me. I had to work hard to keep my head from falling into my chorba (a hearty Algerian/Moroccan veggie soup).
After soup and salad, despite feeling dead, I took the metro with Karen and Chris to the Marais district.
While they explored the Jewish Art Museum (I stick to my only one museum per day rule), I set out to check out the neighborhood.
Once punctuated with grand palaces, the area had become the seediest side of town. Now, it’s the new hot area with wholesale purse, hair ornament and luggage stores, a small Jewish enclave, a half dozen museums and a trendy stretch of quirky clothing boutiques, aromatherapy shoppes, upscale florists and lust-worthy chocolatiers.
One of the chocolate shops had a full window devoted to a summery vacation theme. It showed of a four-foot wide beach scene replete with palm trees, flip flops and sun worshippers – all crafted out of chocolate in various shades from sunny yellow to ocean blue. Marveilleaux!
Being a fan of everything Flamenco, I couldn’t resist snapping a photo of a shop selling flamenco outfits –and more!
And, of course, cafes! These could be roughly categorized as old world relics, chi chi types, student hangouts or gay.
I chose one across from the National Archives, an impressively-preserved 17th palace, and ordered a pot of jasmine tea. Within minutes, strains of chamber music could be heard coming from the courtyard of the Archives. A free concert, plus caffeine, who could ask for more?
Feeling refreshed, an hour or so later, I rejoined my friends and gave a quick tour of my favorite streets in the Marais, then steered us to the neighboring Beauborg district. This too had been a slum.
In the 1970s a chunk of land was razed and an arts complex erected. Named for the French president Georges Pompidou, the Pompidou Arts Centre is notorious for its avant-garde architecture.
The mechanical systems – elevators, air shafts, utility cables and escalators -- painted red, blue, green and yellow-- are all in plain view on the exterior of the see-through building.
We stopped for a drink at yet another café where I mimicked the majority of the student-types and ordered a tall fresh-squeezed orange juice.
After a metro ride back to the hotel and a brief nap, we headed back to Ile Saint Louis to choose a place for dinner.
A few cobblestone streets away from Notre Dame, we managed to get a table for four at Le Fin Gourmet. With stone walls and arches lit by candlelight, a mainly French clientele and an affordable prix-fix menu, the 30-seat restaurant was an elegant choice. The 3-course nouvelle French offerings were consistently intriguing, delicious and petitely portioned. A good time was had by all.
***** BLOG DU JOUR *****
Gypsy Purple is a blog by a South African style maven who loves all things French. It’s alive with color and creativity. I can’t exactly describe what it’s about other than to suggest you take Bob Dylan’s advice and “Go on back to see the gypsy.” This Brooklyn Gypsy predicts you’ll love what you see.