Friday, June 28

I visit Montmartre and walk home.

I'm getting a bit shaggy and will need a haircut soon. J'ai besoin de faire couper les cheveaux. That should be another one of those little adventures. They don't really have barbershops here, just lots of "salons de coiffure" where both men and women get their hair done. The signs on the windows typically show the prices, more for women and less for men. I'm going to have to look up how to say "just a trim" in French.

I know better than to ask for ice. But I stopped at a café a few days ago and asked for coffee and some water, "un café et de l'eau". The waitress asked whether I wanted hot water or cool water to drink, "l'eau chaud ou frais pour boire?" I asked for "frais". I'm guessing that the hot water would have been to mix with the coffee to dilute it, but I'm not sure.

I've started calling rue Mouffetard "the mouf". It's my own little love name. I've got everything on the mouf - that little convenience store, my boulangerie, my chocolate shop, my marchand du vin, the Franprix supermarché, and the outdoor marché where I bought the produce for dinner last night. And yesterday I discovered a good fromagerie, so in the future I won't have to go all the way over to the right bank to buy cheese. Only my boucherie isn't on the mouf, that's over on rue Monge across from my métro station, along with the ATM I use.

Anyway, I don't know whether I've mentioned that rue Mouffetard is one of the oldest streets in Paris. It used to be the main road between Paris and Rome a couple of thousand years ago. That, together with the cute shops and restaurants and about 50 crêpe stands, is why it's a second-tier tourist attraction.

It's a nice neighborhood. Touristy for sure but also a regular residential area. I did quite a bit of research on it before I picked this apartment, but I still got lucky to be in such a nice "quartier".

Just plain chilly all week here in Paris. 13 (55 F) now at 9:30 in the morning, going up to only 17 (63 F) later today, with light rain (légère pluie) in the forecast. Both the men and the women are still wearing their winter Parisian scarves, and it's almost July! A few days ago my sommelier told me that there's going to be almost no decent grape harvest in France this year for the wine. And the flower beds in the jardins here are really sad. But when the sun is shining in the afternoon and evening with temperatures in the mid-60s F, it's very pleasant with a light jacket. Just very unusual for this time of year, I think. I'll take it like this any day, especially with no air conditioning in my apartment for the summer.

In the evening (after 8 or 9 pm) all the cafés and restaurants on Place de la Contrescarpe are packed. I've noticed that it's almost all young people - nobody over about 35 or so. Interesting. During the day I see people of all ages in these places, but not in the evening. Is my particular neighborhood a popular hangout place for young people, or is this something general in all of Paris at night? I don't know.

I left to go to Montmartre, but it was so chilly and drizzly, I came back in to wait a bit in the hope that the weather will improve. My street looked so pretty in the rain. So I took this picture to show you. Voila, je vous présente rue Rollin dans la pluie. Après la pluie vient le beau temps?

The rain finally let up so I took the métro to Montmartre, then walked home. My longest walk so far. It was a good decision to do it this way rather than the other way around, because the way home is downhill. I suspected that I might see some interesting things on that walk, and it turned out I did. I took lots of pictures.

Got a chocolate croissant at a stand in an outdoor market in Montmartre for lunch. Very good, and I easily worked off the calories on my big walk.

Went right past Musée du Luxembourg on the way home, but didn't go in the Chagall exhibit. I can do that tomorrow.

Greetings from Paris. I'm huddled under a blanket on the couch trying to get warm, waiting for the rain to end so I can go to Montmartre.

My boucherie, on the same corner of rue Monge as the stairs of rue Rollin, my métro stop, and the Arènes de Lutèce. I wonder if the butcher lives in that apartment above his shop? Could be. The propriétaire (the M. Perraud of the sign?) is a very nice gentleman who chatted with me quite a bit the other day.

Another one of those free pianos. This one actually worked, and as you can see, someone was playing it when I took the picture. I like the little poem. Très amusant.

About to climb these stairs at the base of Montmartre with these other tourists. Ces escaliers, sont-ils trop pour un vieux homme comme moi? Pas du tout! Je peux le faire! I passed several whiny American kids complaining about the stairs and how tired they were to their parents. Little twerps.

Bonjour chat! Made me miss my girls Aladdin and Ziggy.

View of the city from on top of Montmartre. This is why people come here.

La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre.

The most beautiful flowers I've seen so far in Paris. In case you haven't figured it out, my favorite pictures of Paris are of flowers and little kids.

I have this print of a picture by the photographer Walter Bibikow hanging in the hallway in my house. It's called "The Steps of Montmartre". My Mom has a black and white version by the same photographer taken at a different time in her house, and I always loved it. So when I was doing some remodeling last fall I bought this one for my house.

So you know I just had to take a picture of the same stairs. Different time of year, but definitely the same scene. Bibikow's version is exquisite. Mine is nice too! The iPhone did a good job, didn't it?

Walking down the hill in a gorgeous park, I took this shot of an apartment building barely visible through some trees. I wonder what it's like to live there?

Opéra National de Paris.

Across the street from l'Opéra. Well, you know I just had to go in...

And I thought the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue was swell.

It's always dangerous to go into an Apple store, because I nearly always leave with something I don't need. This time, a little keyboard for my iPad Mini.

Same blue shirts, same email receipt, only this time in French:

Votre reçu de l'Apple Store, France
Merci pour avoir fait vos achats à l'Apple Store. 
Afin de partager votre expérience avec nous, cliquez ici.

I love "cliquez ici".

My new Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini cost about 80 euros, or about $104. It lists for $80 on the Logitech web site. Rip off?

Oh là là! The picture on the box shows a QWERTY keyboard. I open the box and discover it's an AZERTY keyboard. Oh well. And the instruction book offers the choice of Dutch, Italian, French, or German. The laugh is on me, I guess.

Hmmm. The Apple dude was trying to tell me something about AZERTY in the store, but I didn't fully understand him. Double laugh on me!

Comédie Française.


Famous sign above the métro station near the Palais-Royal.

The usual huge crowds at the Louvre. Yuck.

Bookseller on the left bank of the Seine.

Here's a woman who was never ever out of place in Paris.

Time for another walk down on the bank of the Seine, this time on the left bank. This is Pont Neuf again, up close, from below. Exquisite.

Underneath Petit Pont on the left bank of the Seine. I've taken this picture before. It's always been one of my favorites. Why not again?

Stopped at a shop on rue Monge for some flowers to brighten up the apartment.

Hungry with a couple hours to go until dinner. This is surprisingly good. Brie from the fridge nuked in the microwave for 30 seconds on bad cheap bread from Franprix. Alas, no more champagne to wash it down. Bordeaux haut-médoc will have to do.

My apt came equipped with 12 wine glasses. It's Paris. Sad that I have no one around to use the other 11. Although how in hell you'd fit 12 people into this place is beyond me.