Monday, February 28, 2011

Afternoon of a flâneuse

On Saturday I went for one of my long, rambling walks. I started at Chateau Rouge where I had an errand to run (not the loveliest area so there are no pictures) and from there I crossed the seedy Boulevard Clichy and walked down into the much classier 9th arrondissement. This square at the top of the rue des Martyres was graced by the French flag...something you don't see too often here.Adorable flower shop on the rue des Martyrs.There were lots of interesting shops in this quartier....and some flowering trees starting to bloom....I found my way to the elegant Place St. Georges. The Musée de la Vie Romantique is nearby but I didn't find it.I took several pictures of these beautiful old buildings in the place.Here is one where a famous courtesan of the early 19th century used to live.This building used to be a hotel and is now a library, apparently...I wandered down the rue de la Victoire...for some strange reason I can't remember what the name of this huge square is, nor can I find it on my map now...This was a very posh street near the Palais de la Bourse...And this was the apartment building where one of the great composers of the French Baroque lived...A very happy discovery: I stumbled upon the Galeries Vivienne, which was essentially the world's first indoor shopping mall, created in the very early 19th century.It has gone in and out of style over the years but today it's a lovely, historic, and yet busy place, with these original mosaic floors and greenhouse style roofs and very cute shops...Next to it was the Bibliotheque Nationale...and just south of that, the Palais Royale...with a couple of modern art installations in the courtyard...
I continued south to the Carrousel du Louvre......walked across the Pont des Arts...and ended up in St. Germain, where I headed over to Odéon to rest my feet at a movie. I walked out of Black Swan after 30 minutes--just couldn't handle the psyschological tension--serves me right for going to see an English movie in Paris! (To my credit, I have watched a ton of classic French films on my computer this week, but that's for another post...)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Canal St. Martin

On Tuesday afternoon I finally walked the length of the Canal St. Martin. I went with my friend Kristin--we walked from her place at Republique...passing by this sweet-looking boulangerie called Du Pain et des Idées (they have all these vintage tins in the windows) and over to the canal and up to Stalingrad. My pictures don't do it justice but it was a nice walk. I imagine it will be even nicer when the trees are green. At Stalingrad the waterway turns into the Canal St. Ourq...we walked up this to our school at Crimée so Kristin could register.And here's a picture of a get-together with a couple of gals from my class at the Sorbonne, Halina and Monica. We met on Thursday afternoon for a drink at a very nice, cozy cafe called Les Editeurs at Odéon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Visit to Stuttgart

I spent the last week in January in Stuttgart visiting a dear friend of mine from graduate school and her family.There they are: Anton, Henning and Steffi! We spent lots of time sitting, drinking tea, eating and talking. It was super cold and very conducive to staying inside and being cozy.But we also managed at least one walk every day and I got to see a lot of the lovely city. So here we of Stuttgart:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jardin des Plantes

This is where I went on Friday afternoon to console myself after a rather irritating morning. I had been up to Porte de Pantin (on the very outskirts of the city in the 19th) to attend a needlecraft fair. I was supposed to meet three lovely ladies from the knitting group at the American church. None of them were there, but there was one rather annoying lady from the group. She and I waited for half an hour, after which time she insisted we go ahead. So we did. But while waiting, I had this conversation with a lady passing by (mind you, the conversation was in French.)
Lady: What's this fair all about?
Me: I beg your pardon?
Lady: What's the subject of this fair?
Me: Oh, it's a needlecraft fair. You know, textiles and stuff. For sewing, knitting.
Lady: Oh it's for needlecraft! So you have to know how to sew?
Me: Well, yes. Or knit, or crochet.
Lady: Ah. You're not French? You don't speak French?
Me: Yes, I speak French. I'm not French, but I speak French.
Lady: Oh. Very little French.
Me (glaring): No, actually, I speak a lot of French. I've studied it a long time.Here's the next insulting conversation of the day:
Me: I think I'm going to sit down and rest for a couple minutes. I'm a bit tired.
Annoying knitting group lady: Oh you're tired! (Pointing at my stomach) You're expecting a baby?
Me: No, I'm not expecting! Just tired.The needlecraft fair was completely packed, and the reality is that Parisians are not the most fun people to be in crowded places with. They like to shove, push, and cut in line. Anyone who lives in Paris will back me up on this. The line-cutting is the worst. There is even a word for people who compulsively cut in line (risqueurs) which is about half the population here. So the enjoyment of looking at yarn and fabric was totally canceled out by the annoyance of being jammed in a column of slowly moving people, unable to stop or start at will or get anywhere close to anything you might want to see or touch. After about an hour and a half I lost the annoying lady (it was bound to happen) and got the heck out of there.I grabbed a sandwich and drink from a boulangerie in the 5th and followed the packs of kids apparently out on school field trips to the Jardin des Plantes, where I sat in the sun and ate my lunch...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The 19th and 18th arrondissements

Starting next week, I'll be spending a lot of time in the 19th arrondissement. I will be taking French classes up here...after only 2 weeks of no school I am itching to get back to class.The neighborhood is not quite as picturesque as the 5th or the 7th or the 1st or the 4th, it must be admitted.Still, I spent a pleasant hour strolling around the canal St. Martin on Wednesday.Then I walked home (taking the long, scenic route) through Montmartre.It took me 2 hours, but I got my exercise climbing many steps......and up steep winding paths in this little park.Even on a Wednesday afternoon in February, the steps of Sacre Coeur are thronged with tourists being entertained by horrible, horrible musicians.But even their wretched sounds couldn't spoil the view.And I don't even mind looking like all the other tourists taking pictures of these cute little streets.......and the windmills, of course. I love the windmills. I'm pretty sure one or both of these is a fake or a replica, but I don't care.