Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Le Grand Tour: Paris Day 6

I wanted to explore the Abbesses area during our stay in Paris, since it was near the apartment and also featured in the movie Amelie. We had walked up Rue Lepic a few times for dinner, passing Cafe des 2 Moulins where Amelie worked. But many of the shops were closed by then, so on Friday morning we continued onto Rue des Abbesses for breakfast at Le Coquelicot. I had a big bowl of hot chocolate and brioche with jam, and Dan had a poached egg in brioche, and a croissant amande. We observed the gentleman next to us slathering butter on his baguette, and though he did not speak much English, he expressed that it was very delicious...reminding me that I had read about how wonderful French butter is...at the time, I did not think butter could be so different, but now I decided that we would have to try some. We picked up a baguette and set off to explore.

We passed Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre, which has gorgeous tile mosaics, and the Abbesses Metro station. I love seeing all the beautiful buildings and the different signs for shops.

Pretty tiled church

Accordion player at Abbesses Metro station

Charcuterie cuisine

We wandered into a store devoted to buttons, so many different kinds! I did not buy any, but I love that there is store devoted to buttons. At the time, I did not realize this area is known for its fabric shops...silly me...this may be a good thing, as I have more fabric than I need at home. But I would have enjoyed browsing. Next time, perhaps. We also popped into a shop that sells pretty colored lights, and I was very tempted to buy a string of them. We walked by the carousel in front of Sacre Coeur and eventually made our way back to Rue Lepic. I was thinking about lunch by now, so we went into a fromagerie and bought a bit of salted butter from the giant mound behind the counter. (I wish I had taken a picture.) Then we stopped at a traiteur for some cabbage salad with gruyere and walnuts, and saucisson sec, which I think of as the French version of salami. Next, a wine shop for a bottle of Bordeaux. It was hard to choose a dessert at Les Petits Mitrons, a little patisserie, but eventually I decided on a beautiful fruit tart. At the spice shop next door, I bought some fleur de sel de Guerande to take home, and Dan got some sausage de Toulouse at the boucherie.

Spice shop
The spice shop smelled divine


It started to rain, so we quickly made our way to A l'Etoile d'Or. Though the owner did not speak much English, and I don't speak French, we were able to communicate in the language of chocolate, and I bought some chocolates and buttery caramels to take home, for us and for gifts. (Though I wish I had bought more, as I am nearly done with my supply.) Also, I forgot to take photos. The owner told us that soon she would be closing up the shop for several weeks for her annual vacation...I'm so glad we made it there before that!

We returned to the apartment and had a great spread for lunch. I put some butter on a baguette and instantly became a French butter convert. I only wish I had tried it sooner, instead of waiting until the sixth day. After lunch, Dan read his book, while I researched how to get to the airport on Sunday. We decided to try a bus route to Gare du Nord, find the RER entrance, and buy RER tickets to the airport while we there. Then we took the RER to Jardin du Luxembourg.

We started out walking along Avenue de l'Observatoire, the panhandle of the gardens, where people were playing ball on the grass, and there is a giant fountain with spitting turtles and dolphins at one end.

Spitting turtles
Spitting turtles

At the main entrance of the garden, a sign warned to keep off the grass. We did not see any children sailing boats on the octagonal pond, probably since it had been raining. But it was nice to sit in the pretty green chairs and admire the many statues in the gardens and the view of the Pantheon, and we saw children riding ponies. At the other end of the garden is the Palais du Luxembourg, which houses the French Senate. We also found the Medici fountain.

Please, keep off the grass
Keep off the grass

Luxembourg gardens
Pretty green chairs & view of the Pantheon

Carol in Luxembourg gardens
Carol at Jardin du Luxembourg

Jardin du Luxembourg
Palais de Luxembourg

Medici fountain
Medici fountain

We saw on a map that there were beehives in the gardens! So we walked through the orchard to see them. Fancy French beehives with copper rooftops. Dan even risked stepping on the grass for a closer look.

Dan & French beehives
Dan & French beehives

Dan on the grass!
Taking a closer look

We decided to go to the Pompidou Center (but the French don't call it that, apparently they call it Beaubourg) and headed toward the Metro station. On the way we stopped at Boulangerie Julien and picked up a baguette for later...and I had a chocolate eclair. We also stumbled upon Les Bonbons, a cute little confiserie, but I didn't buy any candy since I had purchased chocolate and caramels earlier in the day. Dan also pointed out that I was eating a chocolate eclair, though I don't see how that relates to candy.

We had seen lots of space invaders and other street art during our visit, though I forgot to take pictures. We spotted Oscar the Grouch near Les Halles. There was more street art by the kinetic sculptures in the fountain outside the museum. And performance artists too.

Oscar the Grouch
Oscar the Grouch

Outside the Pompidou
Outside the Pompidou

We headed up the hamster tube escalators to take in the views of Paris. The signs said to carry your dog on the escalator.

Pompidou (Beaubourg)
Hamster tube escalators at Pompidou

Carry your dog on the escalator
Carry your dog on the escalator

The views of the city were lovely, but I was disappointed the doors to the patios with sculptures and fountains were locked. Maybe because of the rain?

Eiffel Tower from the Pompidou
View of Eiffel Tower from Pompidou

Looking down from Pompidou
Looking down toward St. Merri

Sculptures at Pompidou
Patio with sculptures, Sacre Coeur in the distance

Then we looked at the art. They have a huge collection of modern art! I enjoyed the Kandinsky paintings and learned that he worked in print as well. I also liked the Matisse collages and a few of the Picasso paintings, but much of the contemporary art was beyond my understanding. It was raining when we left, and we decided to head back to the apartment for dinner. Later in the evening, we went to a bal des pompiers (fireman's ball) at the fire station a few blocks away from the apartment, since it was the eve of Bastille Day (though the French don't call it that). There were lots of people, but not much dancing on the outdoor square since it was raining.

Bal des Pompiers
Bal des pompiers

It was neat to see Parisians gathering for the national holiday. We hung around and people-watched for a bit, then headed back to the apartment for bed. It had been another busy day in Paris! I was sad the next day would be our last...

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