Paris Potpourri: new/old wifi, purple pastry, old/new fridge, a Boulanger that’s not a baker and a few photos of summer in the city

Café in the sunshine, 7pm looking like 2pm

Paris this week has been hot hot hot, thanks to a string of sizzling summer days. Today will peak at 34C/93.2F, which we realise is cooler than where many of our family and friends are at present. Yikes!

This is not our favourite weather, despite the sunshine, as both Clive and I find the heat quite draining. More positively, every year Paris seems to offer more and more places with air-conditioning. Our favourite Paris app, Citymapper (thank you, Kim B for telling us about this free gem!) even tells you which public transportation routes have a/c.

We’re here this time mostly to deal with wifi issues and a 20 year-old refrigerator. I’ll also include a few photos taken on outings between store trips and appliance searches, to share a taste of summer in the City of Light.

Hot summer morning on Blvd. des Capucines

New/old wifi

In late May, when we arrived at the apartment, our normally-excellent fibre wifi service appeared to have died. Oh la la!

The in-house tech guru disconnected and reconnected all the equipment and confirmed the TV and hard-wired Ethernet cable were working but alas and indeed, the wifi was not.

Fortunately, we had with us our little top-up UK portable device, which works in every country where we travel. We usually only use it when we’re out and about (we prefer it over random free wifi as it’s a secure connection, not to mention cheaper than roaming), but were relieved to have it as backup in the apartment.

Our wifi saga unfolded as these situations often seem to do. After trekking back and forth multiple times to Darty, our local electronics store and agent for France Bougytel, we became best friends with employee Matthieu (who seemed to be the only one with a direct line from Darty to Bougytel); sat patiently while he contacted various support staff; accepted advice the wifi equipment needed replacing; wasted a day waiting for a technician who never showed up; rescheduled for this past week; arrived to find the old wifi working perfectly; hauled the two new yet-uninstalled Bboxes back to Darty; resumed our friendship with Matthieu; made sure the latest contract was cancelled and nearly, gratefully, burst into song (Clive says Maxine Nightingale sang the original), ‘Wifi’s good, wifi’s strong, we’re gonna get right back to where we started from.’

Long may it last, and may our trusty backup keep working, too.

First things first: arrival evening at Vlad’s cafe

Old/new fridge – or – a ‘Boulanger’ that’s not a baker

Also last month, the freezer door inside my reliable albeit 20 year-old fridge decided to crack and fall off.

My in-house DIY expert (same guy as in-house tech guru, lucky me) thought he might be able to fix it, though from the start he also said it was unlikely due to the age, unavailability of parts and brittleness of the old door. Nonetheless, back in the UK he scoured the internet and found various items which he tucked into his backpack. Security had no problem with threaded plastic rods of a specified diameter sticking out of his bag on the Eurostar.

If there were any way to fix the old door, DIY expert would have done so. Sadly, after an afternoon sawing and drilling (or attempting to drill?), he reluctantly conceded we need a new fridge.

Our friend Matthieu at Darty had told us his particular branch will soon be replaced by another electronics store, new to us, called Boulanger. ‘Nothing to do with bread,’ Matthieu said.

After looking around Darty and BHV with no luck, we made our way yesterday to Boulanger Opéra, where we finally found a fridge that fits the limited space available. The purchase transaction was smooth and painless, thanks partly to the young Frenchman’s excellent English – we now have another best friend, this time at Boulanger – and delivery is scheduled for tomorrow. I’m at once optimistic and slightly holding my breath. [Update: the fridge was delivered as scheduled, with a nice little freezer and the doors opening the correct way. After trekking all over the city in the heat wave and finally having a new fridge, we bought ice cream to celebrate!]

Summer in the city – a potpourri

In lieu of multiple in-depth posts, I offer the following photos and shorter commentaries as a sample of Paris sights and sensations.

Summer evening, Paris

When you’re strolling on a Paris street – virtually any street! – there’s always something to appreciate, whether a news kiosk, a metro sign, the availability of a Pharmacie, a café or two or three, endless shop windows and doorways or just the daily bustle of Parisians going about their business.

Of course there’s also the innovative Paris parking, which Clive always notices, including frequent, flagrant violations of parking signs, which as ever seem to be completely ignored in most areas.

This vehicle caught our eye because in addition to being parked sideways — not an unusual sight — it’s the first we’ve seen with only one seat.

Parking in Paris – a one-seater

You can also admire the view from a reasonably-clean metro window …

Summer day with la Seine and la Tour Eiffel from metro Line 6

… and currently, in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt station on Line 1, you can cheer for this fabulous poster – multiple copies, up and down the platform – and its creator, artist Carol Gillott of the wonderful Paris Breakfasts blog. Warmest and well-deserved congratulations, Carol!

Paris Breakfasts artwork in FDR metro, Line 1

Regular readers here will know I can never stay too far away from Paris’s countless papeteries, or stationery shops. One of my absolute, all-time favourites is Papier Tigre, which I made it to on this trip after being thwarted last time by a broken toe.

Running repairs: earlier this month, after a pharmacie stop for supplies, Clive bandages my broken toe

From stepping into Papier Tigre (with or without a broken toe), to browsing and maybe choosing a few treasures, watching the cashier package each selection with care and then hand you a petite colourfully-designed ‘Merci’ card containing your receipt, this papeterie is always a joy.

Papier Tigre, Paris

Papier Tigre, Paris

Speaking of favourites, I may have discovered the best pâtisserie on earth on this trip, a concoction I’d read about for several years but never tried myself.

Lily Valley is its name. This sublime creation of choux pastry, violette and vanilla cream and crunchy-ish base – topped with the most wonderful, outrageously-delicious sugared top — was invented by Carl Marletti, who named it for his wife.

I haven’t tried everything Carl Marletti makes, but we may one day get there. Everything in this shop is quality and I can’t recommend it highly enough. (A crazy man started screaming right behind me on the hot, crowded bus when I was desperately trying to balance the little pastry box and keep my precious Lily Valley from sliding onto its side, but that’s another story and I didn’t take a photo.)

Lily Valley, an exquisite looking and tasting pastry


Carl Marletti pâtisserie, Paris


Outside of Carl Marletti, rue Censier, Paris 5e

On the afternoon when DIY expert was tackling the old freezer door, he diplomatically declined my offer to assist. In fact, he said it was fine with him if I went for a walk to the Musée Marmottan, which I’ve written about many times before. What a gift!

Shady path on a hot day, Ranelagh Gardens, Paris

To my surprise, in the early afternoon, the museum was unusually quiet and calm. The few visitors who were there seemed mostly to be in the lower-level Monet gallery, while I made a beeline for the first floor Berthe Morisot rooms. There I spent a most peaceful time, followed by a blessedly-uncrowded perusal of the many Impressionist-related books and souvenirs in one of the best museum shops in Paris.

Be still my heart! For a few moments I had this Berthe Morisot room nearly to myself (a couple was behind me when I took the photo)

A beloved (by moi) Morisot painting that deserves a post of its own is this one of a shepherdess with her goat. Julie Manet, Morisot’s daughter, wrote about this painting in her diary, ‘the shepherd girl … and her she-goat Colette.’

A she-goat named Colette! Painted by Berthe Morisot. It just doesn’t get any better.

Bergère couchée (my photo doesn’t do it justice),  Berthe Morisot, 1891 (Musée Marmottan)

We’re thankful that despite the wifi issues, the broken freezer door and the intense heat, we’ve been able to get out and about as much as we have. A coffee date with Aussie friends Charlene and Graham was also a treat; our sons spent many days together as Sydney baseball teammates and it was truly lovely to reconnect in Paris. Merci C&G!

Go England! Allez les Bleus!

World Cup excitement is building in Paris, as France beat Argentina yesterday. Our freeview TF1 channel seems to be about 15-20 seconds behind our neighbours’ cable station(s), so every time France got close to the goal, and especially when they scored, ever-deafening whoops and shouts filled the courtyard before we saw the goal on our screen. It sounds strange but was actually quite fun to experience.

Flags are flying and the streets are buzzing. Go England! Allez les Bleus! May the best team win.

World Cup excitement — France won this one 4-3

I hope this post and photos have given you a small taste of Paris in summer. Cheers, stay cool and merci for reading:

À bientôt, until next time.

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