Paris Potpourri: Seven in September

The Red Wheelbarrow bookshop, rue de Médicis, Paris

Paris remains sunny and warm. We have dined on the in-house chef’s scrumptious stew, complete with parsnips. In this Paris potpourri, we share a few photos and suggestions for seven special treats you can enjoy in September.

1 Flâneur (strolling)

Opéra Garnier, Paris

My previous post described one afternoon walk; Paris is above all a walking city, and that’s true for any time of year. Whether you pass a magnificent structure like the Opéra Garnier or stroll through an intimate residential quartier, there’s always something interesting to see.

Red café awnings seem to be disappearing — still my favourite

Statue of Liberty near some of Pompidou’s high-rises in the 15th arrondissement

2 Musée des Arts et Métiers (Museum of Arts and Crafts)

Clive viewing an exhibit at Arts et Métiers

For my birthday I chose to visit a new (for us) museum, the Musée des Arts et Métiers. This is a treasure trove of fascinating exhibits from scientific instruments to energy, communications, construction and transport inventions, capturing human ingenuity over the course of five centuries.

The museum artfully combines a modern addition with its original former monastery, dating back to the Middle Ages.

Former monastery now housing part of the museum

I had long wanted to see Foucault’s original pendulum and the first-ever calculator, invented by mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal.

Channeling my inner math major at Pascal’s first-ever calculator

The world’s first calculator

Blaise Pascal, French mathematician and philosopher

And for something more modern, a Cray supercomputer 1985

Foucault’s pendulum is brilliantly displayed, suspended from the great height of the monastery’s roof. It’s mesmerising to watch it move back and forth and contemplate the physical reality of the earth’s rotation.

Foucault’s pendulum in its stunning setting

A modern structure is built inside the church, so those game enough to climb many stairs (not us, I’m afraid) can view the pendulum from a much higher perspective.

Steps up and up and up in the modern structure – the pendulum swings above the glass table in front of the tall arch

The Arts et Métiers Line 11 metro station is also worth a stop, designed as it is so you feel as if you’re in a submarine, complete with copper fittings and portholes.

Arts et Métiers metro, Line 11

Arts et Métiers metro, Line 11

3 The Red Wheelbarrow bookshop

The Red Wheelbarrow bookshop

Paris’s best September news is the (re)opening in a great new location of The Red Wheelbarrow, Penelope Fletcher’s esteemed Anglophone bookstore.

You’ll now find this wonderful shop and its inspiring co-owner (she has several investors) at 9, rue de Médicis, in the 6th arrondissement, directly across from the Luxembourg Garden.

with Penelope Fletcher & my first purchase in her new shop (she has great recommendations!)

The beautiful shelves are still being stocked but the shop is open for business. It already has an excellent selection for Paris, literary fiction, poetry and a floor-to-ceiling bookcase of Persephone Books selections.

Cheering you on, Penelope and wishing you great success and a fantastic official grand (re)opening next month.

4 Treize (13) au Jardin Café

Treize (13) au Jardin

We arrived in Paris on Eurostar carriage 13, my birthday was on the 13th and – just a few doors down from The Red Wheelbarrow – we headed to Treize (13) au Jardin, a lovely café also recently reopened after moving from another location.

Here we savoured coffee and delicious carrot cake and –perhaps most thrilling of all — we did so on Treize’s SMOKE-FREE terrace!! Need I say more other than: we will return. We look forward to trying many more of Treize’s menu items. The flowers and plants on display are also for sale.

Treize au Jardin – if you look closely you can see Clive in the shade of the back row on left, enjoying the heavenly smoke-free terrace

5 Dancers in the Luxembourg Garden

Dancers on a small stage in the Luxembourg Garden

I know I’m not alone in adoring the Luxembourg Garden.

There are a million reasons why the Luxembourg is on almost everyone’s ‘Paris Top Ten’ list, including mine. For this post I’ll share just one: that as you’re strolling through, you just might come across a wonderful performance of music or dance or whatever else may be happening on the small stage beneath the chestnut trees.

We weren’t sure what this dance group represented but they were colourful and entertaining and the crowd loved them.

6 European Heritage Days, Part 1: Saturday at the Australian Embassy

On the weekend of les Journées du Patrimoine, European Heritage Days, hundreds of municipal buildings, monuments, churches, historic venues and museums, many not normally accessible to the public, are open and free of charge.

Last year we toured the British Embassy; this year we were fortunate to see the Ambassador’s residence at the Australian Embassy.

Australia’s Ambassador to France, Brendan Berne, speaking to our group

Stepping onto the private terrace which I’d read about for years

Close-up view of Eiffel Tower from the terrace of the Australian Embassy

View across to Trocadéro Gardens and Palais de Chaillot from the terrace of the Australian Embassy

6 European Heritage Days, Part 2: Car-free (mostly) Sunday & music at the American Cathedral

View up the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe on a (mostly) car-free day

The city of Paris was (mostly) car-free on Sunday, thanks to Heritage Days. The vibe was relaxed, the sun shone and we enjoyed a stroll to the American Cathedral, where we saw a concert by an incredibly-talented young pianist, Artur Haftman.

Piano concert at the American Cathedral, Paris

The American Cathedral has a flag hanging for every US state. After an internet search on my phone and a lot of craning my neck, I found the New Jersey state flag.

NJ state flag in the American Cathedral, Paris

7 Notre Pâtisserie

Notre Pâtisserie’s turquoise storefront, rue Amélie, Paris 7e

This pâtisserie is the kind I like supporting the most: a stand-alone operation, not part of a chain and one in which you can see through the glass at the back into the baking area. The wallpaper is Paris-themed and Francesca, the owner, told me she has an all-female baking team. Their creations look and taste divine, especially the vanilla mille-feuille.

Shelf & Paris-themed wallpaper at Notre Pâtisserie

Bonus item: a few food treats

Starting my bday with Paris’s best pains au chocolat at our local café

(Hot) Chocolat Viennoise & crèpes w/citron et sucre (lemon & sugar) at Carette

Lemon tart and *outstanding* vanilla mille-feuille from Notre Pâtisserie

Finally … keeping it real

A common problem faced by many residents and visitors to Paris, especially when communicating with family and friends, is that you have no business complaining about anything because, seriously — you’re in PARIS!

Generally I agree. It’s a blessing to be here and complaining brings me down. To me it’s unattractive, negative and pointless. I try to stay positive with my posts.

However (you knew there was going to be a ‘however’ …) I thought I would end this Paris potpourri by sharing just one less-than-thrilling event, just to keep things real.

To make quite a long story short:

– we needed to go to a Darty store regarding a mobile phone problem (this alone is worthy of a long sob-story saga, but I shall refrain)

– by the time we found the store, we were hot, tired, cranky and in need of food and coffee (and I was coming down with an annoying cold)

– there were no cafés around, only a few fancy-ish restaurants serving lunch on white tablecloths

– we became increasingly frustrated over how far we wanted to hike down the street searching, knowing we had to come back to Darty

– fiddling with Google maps we ‘discovered’ a McDo (as the French call McDonald’s) near the next metro stop

– we trekked down to McDo and succumbed

Food (of a sort – or ‘edible food-like substance’) from McDo

Now I know it’s not a sin to eat at McDo (well, for us it sort of is one), but sometimes you have to do what you have to do, even in Paris. At least it saved us from becoming one of those bickering-on-the-street couples one sometimes sees during travel. Perhaps I should say, ‘Merci, McDo.’

As always, I’ll be sad to leave my beloved City of Light but will look forward to our return, whenever that may be.

On the terrace of the Australian Embassy, a real treat after reading about it for years

Merci for reading and à bientôt, until next time.

4 Responses

  1. Love reading about your September adventures! We will be there next year and perhaps we can explore together!!! When do you leave?

    • Merci Linda! Only here a couple more days unfortunately but hope to return soon. Definitely hope to see you when you’re back next year.

  2. Carolyn, A lovely article, as always! You always pick places that I know I would enjoy too.
    I wish you a very Happy Belated Birthday, I should remember the date, it’s the day before my daughter’s birthday. But this year we managed to screw hers up too! She is a day ahead in Japan. We had just returned home from a trip to the Grand Canyon (and the scenic Southwest), with my Sis and Bro-in-Law, and those days just melted away in recouperation! I have more trouble keeping up with dates since retiring. Enough with the excuses, one of these days, we will make it to Paris and the French countryside, I still have quite a bucket list!

    • Marilyn, merci and happy birthday to your daughter!

      I have enjoyed your photos of the Southwest 🙂 and hope you do make it to Paris! I know you also would have enjoyed the Aussie Embassy.

      Cheers and happy travels.

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