Tuesday, January 23, 2007

First Day in France

The morning finds me on the steps of Sacre Coeur, the carousel whistling an infectuous tune, a camera in one fist and a baguette avec la confiture du marmalade au chocolat in the other.

Our plane arrived only a little late yesterday, and we made it to our hotel in Montmartre without incident (apart from some minor difficulty understanding how to aquire Metro tickets). My dormant middle-school French is serving me rather better than I expected, and we wandered around the arrondissement, observing the bizarre proximity of the pricey upper-class neighborhoods to the notorious sex district surrounding the Moulin Rouge. Looking for dinner in mid-afternoon on a Monday proved difficult (the French eat at eight or nine, and many restaurants close on Mondays), but we finally stumbled across a welcoming (if empty) Italian establishment. We ate here out of starvation, despite every guidebook's warning that Italian food in Paris is not to be trusted. We were not disappointed - though, if anything, J's trois fromage pizza tasted, well, French, and was dotted with lumps of tangy gorgonzola and brie rinds. My escargots were a little earthy, but the gorgonzola ravioli was better than many an East Village nook. My favorite part was the complimentary kir, a popular French aperitif made with champagne (or sometimes white wine) and cassis syrup or liquor.

We slept a shocking fourteen hours as a result of our jet lag, and woke barely in time to grab an underwhelming breakfast in the hotel dining room. Our plans for today consist mostly of finding our hostel (where we'll be for the next three nights) and a good cafe. After that - well, I'll let you know.

I hope this suffices as an intermediary return to blogging. If anyone has suggestions and/or recommendations for Paris, Avignon/Provence more generally, the coastline west of Marseille, Carcassonne and the Languedoc region, or Barcelona (this gets us to Febrary 10th) - please let me know.

Until next time,
Your Intrepid Explorer


Al(ex)an(dra) said...

So it is official... While you are away, my dear best friend, I will be stalking you via email, facebook and your blog. That is how much I love and miss you... to stalk you...

Wow, I sound NUTS.

Keep up the blogging! So excited to read more about your adventures.

Anonymous said...

Let me know when you are going to be down in the Languedoc - I'll give you some ideas of things to see and places to go.
Ian (ian @ wine-cru . co .uk)

Anonymous said...

thanks! will do!

Alex Charles said...


With regard to the Languedoc region and where to go and what to do, eat, see etc. there is an excellent website dedicated to this beautiful region - which is packed with info you will find useful as a visitor. the site address is Creme-de-Languedoc.com

Be warned though - at the moment the weather has turned colder - so you might need to wrap up! Have a great trip.

Terry B said...

Here are a few suggestions I gave Mimi of French Kitchen in America recently, who will be traveling to Paris soon.

I guarantee I'm going to give you the strangest suggestion for things to do in Paris: Visit Deyrolle, a taxidermist since the 1830s. It is wonderfully weird, and they are happy to let you walk around, take pictures, ask questions... Some things are for sale, many are for rent for parties, films and such. You can buy all kinds of biology and botany posters, though. But you don't have to buy a thing--just go. It is one of the coolest things I've done in Paris. Google it. I only found the French site this time, but an English language one does exist.

Also go to Ste. Eustache for a free organ recital on Sunday afternoon--5ish? A beautiful church, beautiful music and you can be sitting down while still "doing" something--always a plus when traveling.

Oh, and a food thing--the street market in Rue St. Cler. Produce and seafood and flowers and... even if you're not staying somewhere with a kitchen, you'll find things here to delight you. I must say, though, it made me wonder who was the first brave soul who thought there might be something edible inside a sea urchin.

A couple of wonderful museums are the Picasso museum and the Rodin museum. Seeing Picasso's then revolutionary [and still quite powerful] work in this 17th century building--once one of his homes--heightens the experience of both. And walking around the grounds of Rodin's spacious estate in the heart of the city would be fabulous even without his amazing sculpture scattered throughout.

pantalonesenfuego said...

Darling! So glad to see you're back (internet-wise, at least!). Hope you and J enjoy your European jaunt together. My favorite street for fooding in Paris is Rue Mouffetard in the 5th district (I don't really know what "5th district" means, but it'll hopefully help you locate it on a map). It's a long, narrow street packed to the brim with foodsellers, fruits and veggies, bread, etc. The best thing to do for food in Paris, in my opinion, is buy bread, cheese, and some fruit here and then make your way over to the Seine or Jardin du Luxembourg, or even the Eiffel tower. Ah, I am so jealous! Enjoy, enjoy yourselves, and I will talk to you soon!

pantalonesenfuego said...

P.S. Pantalonesenfuego is Alexis :)

reog said...

wow...go to france?
Its my dream.....
greetings from : reog foodie