Paris Portmortem

I forgot to blog about Paris! We had a good time. Our apartment was so, so much tinier than the AirBnb photos conveyed. There was a gap in the floor where we couldn’t step without it knocking over a mug on the nearby table. The bathroom had no vent and smelled moldy. The loft area with our bed was accessed only by climbing a small, vaguely unstable spiral staircase. And it was a 5th-floor walk-up in a building that was clearly crumbling – the stairwell had visible mold and plaster chunks hanging around. Nonetheless! It suited our needs just fine once we got used to its quirks.  The tiny kitchen had only one induction stovetop, but we managed to make dinner 4 nights and breakfast every morning, so that was good. And the location couldn’t be beat – in the 2nd arrondissement, a few steps from the beautiful rue montorgeuil, and within easy access of 4 metro stops.

My French came back! I was shocked at how good I sounded. Granted, I wasn’t having anything more than basic conversations with waiters and shop owners, but I made myself well understood and may have even passed as French once or twice.  A few people spoke back to me in English, which I found rude, so I continued speaking to them in French.

In terms of sight-seeing, we did everything. A few times, I sent J. out on his own, when I wasn’t feeling well enough to get going in the morning in a timely fashion. He navigated the city admirably and managed to go to the Louvre twice by himself, as well as to the Saint-Denis cathedral north of Paris.

Saint-Denis is somewhere I’d never been and wanted to see, but alas I wasn’t feeling up to it. This is where all of the French kings and queens are buried. During the Revolution, their bodies were disinterred and, uh, desecrated with various bodily fluids. Relics and statues were destroyed or vandalized. You can still see where certain statues have slogans and markings on them:

We toured the usual suspects of Paris: the Louvre, the Tuileries, l’Orangerie, Musée d’Orsay, the Pantheon, Musée Cluny, l’Arc de Triomphe, les Champs-Elysées, the Luxembourg gardens, Père Lachaise, Centre Pompidou, and Versailles. I had been to Versailles a few times before but had never gone down to see the Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, or Marie Antoinette’s little farm. (By the way, have you seen Sophia Coppola’s Marie-Antoinette? Great movie.)  I think Marie-Antoinette gets a bad rap. As J. said to me, “This is basically where she cosplayed as a peasant.” But if you were thrown into her situation, you might have wanted to escape too.

We ate, and ate, and ate, and drank. We planned well on the food, with a few exceptions. First, I accidentally sent J. the wrong phone number for Le Châteaubriand, that uber-hip restaurant I mentioned here, so when I called to confirm our reservation, I was told we didn’t have one. Apparently there’s another Le Châteaubriand in Paris and J’s French friend had probably reserved us a spot there.  Ugh. Also, we were excited to try Frenchie because we knew it was in our neighborhood. On Friday night after a spectacular dinner elsewhere, we found Frenchie to try and get a reservation for Saturday. Not only was it across the street and around the corner from our apartment (we had no idea it was so close), but it’s closed on Saturday and Sunday. Only in France, god dammit.

But don’t pity us, we ate plenty of duck and steak and chicken and cheese and bread and croissants and desserts. And drank good, inexpensive wine. Our other great find, thanks also to David Leibowitz’s blog, was Le Rubis, a crowded old-school French wine bar just off the rue de Rivoli. We managed to squeeze into a tiny table and ate a hearty array of duck confit, oeufs mayonnaise (French deviled eggs), and rillettes – washed down with some good cheap Beaujolais.  I think we may have been the only non-French people there, and we weren’t getting stares, so we must have blended just enough. Le Rubis came complete with gruff waitress. A true Parisienne experience.

I’ll leave you with this photo outside a restaurant we saw:

Which translates to:

“Here, the cows aren’t mad; the chickens don’t have the flu, the pigs don’t have the plague, the cheeses aren’t stuffed with listeria, and eating here won’t make you fat. The food arrives daily, just like our customers.”

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