Paris Potpourri: Five in February

The Tuileries in February, Paris

Walking in the Tuileries, Paris

Paris in winter is special, as I’ve written before. Here are five things you can do and see in February.

1 – Café Fleurus and the Luxembourg Garden (& bus to meet Clive)

Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris

Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris

Thanks to Aussie/Paris writer John Baxter (merci encore, John!), Clive and I recently discovered Café Fleurus.

This authentic, unassuming café not only sits just outside the gates of the Luxembourg Garden but also serves the best croque-monsieur in Paris. In addition to the traditional croque-monsieur with Emmental-like cheese, the house specialty, Croque Fleurus, is made with Fourme d’Ambert, a blue cheese from the Auvergne region of France.

Over this divine creation I studied the Paris bus map and discovered a direct route (#38) from Boulevard St-Michel to Gare du Nord.

A soul-soothing stroll through the Luxembourg Garden; a wander up ‘Boul-Mich’ and a bus whose terminus was the place where Clive arrived. A truly blessed afternoon.

2 – Good kisses from Paris: Bons Baisers de Paris

Clive and a poster for the ‘Bons Baisers’ exhibit

Clive and a poster for the ‘Bons Baisers’ exhibit

This small, well-done exhibition, subtitled ‘300 Years of Tourism in the Capital’, is a wonderful walk through the development and expansion of tourism in the City of Light.

The exhibition runs through 18 March at the Galerie des bibliothèques de la Ville de Paris, the gallery of the Paris city libraries. This was a new venue for us, a welcoming space in the heart of the Marais.

The exhibition is also bilingual (not always the case at smaller and sometimes larger venues). Clive wrote a thank-you for this in the visitor’s book.

I thought of Lisa Taylor Huff and the ‘no love locks’ project again, when reading, on display about ‘New Practices’ , ‘ … the traditional activities that tourists engage in have grown to include new practices. Some, like the ‘padlocks of love’ that enamored tourists attached to the city’s bridges, have eventually necessitated official intervention.’ Kudos to both Lisas and their many supporters.

3 – Family and Friends

Comparing fitbits: how many thousands of steps did you walk in Paris today?

Comparing fitbits: how many thousands of steps did you walk in Paris today?

Getting together with my cousin’s wife and daughter; Clive making his famous slow-cooked vegetable beef stew (even though the parsnip man was closed Monday); welcoming our neighbours for a petit apéro and enjoying/struggling to speak French with them. Sharing more family and personal information, laughing together despite our imperfect communications and deepening a friendship that means so much to me.

4 Sunny afternoons and l’heure bleue twilight

Walking in the Tuileries, Paris

Sunshine in the Tuileries, Paris

L’heure bleue, the blue hour — probably my favourite French phrase and favourite time of day. ‘Twilight’ in French is ‘crépuscule’ but for some reason that word does nothing for me while ‘l’heure bleue’ grabs my heart and won’t let go.

You can enjoy l’heure bleue anywhere of course, and if you’re near the Eiffel Tower you can watch the Iron Lady sparkle on the hour. I think it’s most beautiful when it’s not sparkling but just lit up and quietly shining.

l’heure bleue, Paris

l’heure bleue, Paris

5 Architectural heritage & metro (re)construction

entry to Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine

entry to Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine

The Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, located in the northern wing of the Palais de Chaillot, is a museum dedicated to 1,000 years of France’s architectural history and heritage. Three main galleries showcase amazing casts of French buildings and monuments from the 12th century to today.

The museum café, which has a terrific view of the Eiffel Tower, is currently closed. Signs say a new restaurant is opening this spring.

Still, there are great views of the Tower from every floor of the museum and I must admit we spent some time watching out the window with a bird’s eye view of the cranes and construction going on in and around Trocadéro metro station. A bonus real-life exhibit if you’re interested in this sort of thing.

Eiffel Tower & Trocadéro metro works, Paris

Eiffel Tower & Trocadéro metro works, Paris

And after you view the architectural / metro construction exhibits, it’s only a few steps around Place du Trocadéro to Carette, which based on numerous recommendations we tried for the first time today. The tea is tasty as are the pastries.

Tea for two at Carette, Paris

Tea for two at Carette, Paris

6 – Books on the metro

One more for good luck and because I can’t resist. Along with hordes on their smartphones, people of all ages still read paper books on the metro. This woman may or may not own a smartphone (I bet she does), but she knows what to read. I tried not to stare but just loved her.

Zola on the metro, Paris

Zola on the metro, Paris

Cheers and thanks for reading. Next week’s letter will be from Felixstowe.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: