Saturday, September 19, 2009

Montmartre Model and Lace at Marché St. Pierre

We have awakened as Parisian apartment dwellers, and it's a pretty cool feeling. We now know what's behind all those big fancy doors on these big fancy apartment buildings: not much - an entrance hall, some mailboxes, and another locked door. We also know what the view is out the back of the building, something I've also wondered about. I try to remind myself to take a "Room With a View" picture at each place we stay but there is not much to admire from our back window. The view out the front is dazzling however. Paris. What's not to love.

Saturday - September 19, 2009 - Paris, France

Did I mention that there is a combination clothes washer/dryer in the kitchen? It is very similar to the machine we struggled so mightily with at the Quinta da Luz villa on the Algarve last year. We didn't understand how it worked then, and nothing had changed. What the other three people in the apartment did discover throughout the night was that the infernal machine emits a high pitched beep at various times in the wash/dry/spin cycles. The other person (me) slept with Princess Lunesta and heard nothing. I started the day with the best attitude.

The Montmartre area was our choice for the morning outing because Rich and Lu had not spent much time there and we were on a lace mission. It was a crystal clear, blue sky day; perfect for walking the hills around Sacré-Cœur. We split up and Kat & I headed for breakfast at Chez Eugene, Rich and Lu to listen to some street musicians. It is fun (albeit it a little pricey) to sit and watch the world go by on the lively Place du Tertre. An omelet, french bread, and cafe au lait go perfectly together and I savored every bit.

The four of us walked to the front of the cathedral, where from among the throng of tourists a serene young model daintily climbed one of the stone posts and "struck a pose." Her cameraman snapped off a few shots, she climbed down and off they went to look for more interesting backdrops. I imagine the red dress, white church and dark blue sky made for a startling French-flag picture. Perhaps we'll stumble across it on some magazine stand. As we headed off to our lace store, we caught a glimpse of the same model perched on a stair railing with the spires in the background. She moves pretty quickly in heels and a tight dress.

Marché St. Pierre is the center for fabric shopping in Paris. At least 6 floors of every imaginable type of cloth suitable for upholstery, curtains, or wedding dresses. It is a beehive of activity with salesmen flitting too and fro between bolts and customers, and by the way, no English is spoken, not even "a leetle." The "polite police" have not visited yet so not a lot of patience toward foreigners was evident among the wait staff. That made it a touch more difficult for us to convert inches and yards to meters and centimeters then translate that to French (tell me who remembers what 90 is in French - answer at the end) while the salesman was tapping his meter measuring stick against the floor.

Then came the enjoyable part; agreeing on a pattern for these panels. The variety is endless. Do we want a farm scene, or fruit, or perhaps some ducks? All white or with some colors, repeating pattern, fringe on the bottom, and or sides? Since I was the driving force in getting these curtains (Kat is still not sure she wants that look on the front of the house) I couldn't get by with my usual "yes dear" or "doughnuts" (any kind - whatever you pick I'll be happy with) responses. Somehow, someway we came out of the store with a bag containing 3 coordinated pieces of fabric that someday may grace our front door. I have no recollection of what they look like. Whew.

Rich was in an uncommonly energetic mood, climbing fences, etc. all excited about this interesting street he had discovered called "Rue Mouffetard" a couple of nights before. It was a short walk from the apartment, and had a certain ambiance that just felt good to him. We had never heard of it and agreed to head back, looking forward to exploring his discovery. As we emerged from our Luxembourg metro stop we were met with the most eardrum shattering, boom box blaring noise from a parade that was passing by the Jardins. There was a float with a disc jockey on top spinning disks backward and forward with his hand (I think there is a word for this), creating a sound that I have spent years trying to avoid. This float was plastered with pink and black placards and the letters "SIDA". We didn't know if it was a parade or protest, but there was plenty of noise, drinking and people. The younger folks (and there were thousands of them) were jiving to the beat. This little placard may answer the question of what was being thrown from the float like beads at Mardi Gras.

With ears covered we headed back toward the apartment. Along the way we saw three males blithely relieving their bladder pressure against walls, the resultant streams of which we merrily hopped over as they made their way to the gutter. Now I know why the Paris streets are washed down at least twice a day. All this time I thought it was the dogs.

Kat and I decided to walk up to the Pantheon to look around and get away from the noise. In fact it was open, quiet and best of all, free. We spent a couple of hours amongst the tombs of the "Great Men" of the country. If you like tombs this is the place to come. It was worth that day's admission price, barely.

For dinner we headed down to Richard's neighborhood. He seemed so proud of himself, and it is quite an interesting place. On the way we passed the Curie Laboratories and Museum and Pasteur's labs. It was a warm, perfect night for walking. The variety of restaurants made choosing difficult, but we ended up at Au Petit Bistrot, as we were in the mood for French food. Like the neighborhood it is a lively place with good wine, some great conversation and a few belly laughs, just glad for the place and the company. I'm not sure what others had but I delighted in my first dish of skate (Raie in French). It had long spines surrounded by very tender, very tasty white meat, and was served in a white wine sauce with capers. Delicious.

We returned to our apartment and clean, dry clothes (we let it run all day and cared not how many beeps and groans it made), congratulating Rich on his discovery, with full tummies and some great memories.

Answer: quatre-vingt-dix is 90 - literally "four-twenty-ten". Bonus points if you remembered.

April 2010 - A little update. We have fond memories of our stay in Paris, and they are renewed when we gaze upon the lace curtains we bought at Marché St. Pierre. The dimensions were perfect and we were pleasantly surprised to find the patterns fit between the mullions so well.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

I feel like I'm back in Paris with you and Kat after reading your blog. Thanks! Lucy