Posts Tagged With: Left Bank (Rive Gauche)

The End of May, Part Two


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The Tour Eiffel – June 7, 2010

With the best of intentions, I hoped to post this at the beginning of last week, but it turns out that it is happening now, just as we are about a week and a half from the end of  June. On the good side of that, I have been busy this past week, and have even more about which to write, and that means this blog is working to the ends for which I started it: to find a deeper, broader life for myself here in Paris. What it also means is that I have less and less time to write and post. Thus is the never-ending blogger’s dilemma: when you have time to write, there is not much to write about, but when you have a lot about which to write, there is less time to do so. It’s a pickle, ain’t it. 🙂

At any rate, without further ado, here is Part Two of The End of May.

I realized, of course, as I was writing this post that it should really be called The Beginning of June (and is now, with situational irony, being posted at the end of June). Ah well, May ended on a Monday and then the rest of the week was June. It all blends and blurs, doesn’t it. To catch you up, if you don’t have time to read the previous post, I wrote about the various adventures I’d had with some of my friends here in Paris. I wrote about my friends with much gratitude. I am sincerely grateful for the friends I have made here so far. I realized as I was writing about the things I had done in those final days of May (and the beginning of June, too) that friendship has really been the best thing about living in a city like Paris. I realize this is pretty much true of all cities and places where we live and breathe and have our being. It is often (and so it should be) the people who are with us and share our lives that have more meaning than any famous museum, pastry, or monument.

Did any of you ever see the movie or read the book Into the Wild? I saw and loved the movie. I remember the ending of the film, for which I will just give the barest details here in case you have not seen it and don’t want the ending spoiled. The protagonist, “Alexander Supertramp” aka Christopher McCandless, writes in a journal of sorts (in the margins of Dr. Zhivago, a little research turns out), “Happiness only real when shared.”

Photo found at mykdh’s tmblr page: Things I Love – January 15, 2010

It is the grand lesson he learns in the story — the moral, if you will.  I find that in my life this is absolutely true. I think one of the reasons I had so much trouble the first year I lived here in Paris was that I really did not have many people with whom I could experience Paris. It’s really not as much fun for me to visit museums and cafĂ©s and monuments by myself. It’s just a lot more fun when you have someone to hold your hand, really or metaphorically, while you see and do things. Sure, I have had to “man up” and find my own Paris cojones and get out there to see and do things on my own. I just like it a lot better when there is someone else to do things with.

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Categories: Blog Friends, Ghetto Paris Living, Museums in Paris, Paris Adventures, Paris Beauty, Paris Blogging, Paris Dining Gluten-Free, Paris Friends, Personal Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Île-de-la-CitĂ© & La Nuit Blanche

It’s been a little while since I have posted here. I’ve had a lot going on with my health, with having quit smoking and with the weather changes. I have a tendency to experience mild to moderate SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and with having given up so many coping “tools” what with not eating gluten and now not smoking, it’s an adjustment. Plus, today I stopped coffee for an as yet undetermined amount of time! I needed to — I can tell it is holding wellness back from me.

So yeah, I’m kind of bummin’.

To help me out of my funk, I went around the Île-de-la-CitĂ© this past Saturday. This is the center point of Paris proper, and where the Notre Dame de Paris is located. I’ve decided not to put a lot of Wiki links in this post — I know it is possible for people to look up this stuff on their own and I wanted to focus on what I did that day.

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I have had this post in draft form for a couple of hours now. I have THE WORST caffeine withdrawal headache ever and don’t really have it in me to post a lot of text. BUT, I want to post something, so here are some photo collages and photos I have uploaded to Flickr!

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First, I had a cup of café expresso at the Jaurés Café.

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***sigh***

Yeah, I’m off the java now. No more joe.  Maybe not permanently, but I need to heal my body still, so it’s gotta go. Now that I think about it, this was probably my last coffee in a cafĂ© for a while…

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I took the M° JaurĂ©s, Line 5 (Line 2 JaurĂ©s is closed for repairs until December) to Gare du Nord where I jumped on Line 4 towards the Porte d’Orleans to M° CitĂ©.

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I decided while taking photos of the MĂ©tro station at CitĂ© that the metal and rivets interior reminds me a lot of the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz! Take note, too, that there are LOTS of stairs to climb at CitĂ©. There is an elevator, and most use it. It’s on a timer, though, so you have to wait for it to arrive, then wait for it to close, then wait for it to go up. For me, I’d rather just trudge slowly up the stairs. I’m not too old yet for that!

I debated going on a tour of Sainte Chapelle. I still have not been inside of it, but unlike the Notre Dame de Paris there is an entrance fee. Also, as soon as I started walking towards it to decide whether I wanted to go to see it or not, I ran into a Tabac.

Oh yes, the tobacconist, which is a government-sanctioned store selling cigarettes and postcards and tsotchkes and which is often attached to a café. I had felt a little fed up with not smoking the past several days, and I decided to buy a pack of Pall Malls.

*insert suspenseful music here*

Guess what? I almost barfed when I lit up the first cigarette of the pack. I got queasy, the stench over powered me, and I got so lightheaded and nauseous, I thought I really was going to hurl. I am grateful that I did. Its had been two and a half weeks since I quit, and really I did not *want* to start smoking again, I just missed it *so much*! But, my body’s reaction let me know better, I was terribly ill-feeling, having an almost allergic reaction to smoking after just one, and I really felt so put off by the whole incident that I felt bolstered by my decision to quit. If queasy.

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What I wound up doing was walking to Place Saint-Michel and going shopping in Gibert Jeune, a four-story bookshop and papeterie. The shop’s trademark yellow awnings are hard to miss. I wandered for a couple of hours there and found a coloring-type book, Mon cahier de bĂȘtises (oh, for cheaper than on Amazon! My copy was  5€ 10!) and a couple of sticker books with a character named Martine (this one and this one). I also got some things for my little son, J, whose 4th birthday will be in early November. He lives with his dad in the States.

After the bookstore, I went to the Square René-Viviani, which is just across the Seine from the Notre Dame de Paris and next to Shakespeare and Company, the famous English language bookstore.

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The Square is just next to the Eglise Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, too. It was closed for mid-day, but I had been in it before earlier this year when my eldest son was here to visit.

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It was a beautiful fall day with perfect lighting for photographs. I just took some photos of the outside of the church instead.

I then went to Shakespeare and Company, where the highlight of my day was speaking to the clerk in English. I bought, along with A Movable Feast and Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, Julie & Julia, the book that inspired the movie I just saw last week. Or the week before. (Time blurs, non-caffeinated.)

What was fun was that as I purchased the book, the cashier asked me if I had seen the movie. I said I had. She then asked if I saw the scene in the bookstore in the movie. I said I had. She squeaked out a giggle and said, “I was in the movie! That was me, at the counter! I can’t resist telling people about it!” and she grinned. I told her I thought that was exciting and admired her opportunity. I don’t really even remember exactly what I said, I just knew I was thrilled to have a conversation with a human being and not feeling like a retarded person! 😀

I decided that maybe it was getting time to go home. Okay, what that really means is I had to pee, lol. I have this anxiety about finding les toilettes in Paris. Yes, one can pay for a coffee or soda at a cafĂ© and use one there, there are indeed free automated toilets in these UFO-looking things around the city, and I know if I were truly desperate I would find a way to locate a restroom. Still, they seem to be more hidden and elusive than in the States, have different “rules” (often they are not free), and I get paranoid. I just want to do my business at home, if possible.

What this also means is that I get dehydrated. I don’t drink so I don’t have to pee and I can fade pretty fast.

I headed back towards the Île-de-la-CitĂ© and thought I would snap a couple of pics of the Notre Dame de Paris. Then I saw it. A sign reading TOILETTES. Turns out there are free, clean, very well-maintained toilets at the Notre Dame de Paris! Right there in the square in front of the cathedral! Just go down some steps and down a long hall, et voilĂ ! Who knew? I was thrilled and what it meant was that I had more time to photograph and explore. Okay, I was still thirsty, but at least I was not concerned that I had to pee any longer.

Ah, and this:

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At some point before the potty, maybe even before I went to the Square RenĂ©-Viviani, but after Gibert Jeune, I stopped to see if having a cigarette was as horrible as it had been earlier. I think this is the Quai de MarchĂ© Neuf at Pont saint-Michel. Anyways, it was beautiful outside. I walked down the steps at the Pont, there was a perfect place to sit for a moment. In the past, in a circumstance like this, I would have taken a smoke break! It was a perfect opportunity for this. I tried one more cigarette with the same results. In fact, I remember forcing myself to smoke to the final third of the cigarette before finally saying, “This is ridiculously disgusting,” and putting out the cigarette and throwing the butt away in a trash bin.

I’m glad I tried to smoke again. The results were devastating, just as they should be.

Photos of Notre-Dame de Paris
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Last, but not least, I headed back to the M° CitĂ©. On the way, I decided to stop at the MarchĂ© aux Fleurs. The most wonderful shops are there and I got a couple of lovely cards, one for my mother’s birthday coming up in a couple of weeks, and a gift for PJ for Christmas, which I am not going to write about here as I want it to be a surprise.

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And then I went home. I think I spent about five hours out and about this day.

Later that night, PJ, his son and I went to La Nuit Blanche (“Sleepless Night”) in the Parc Buttes Chaumont. La Nuit Blanche is a city-wide arts event and this year a big portion of it was in our neighborhood! To see all the photos (a lot of which are pretty crappy, admittedly. My little Nikon Coolpix just does not handle night photography very well), you can go to my Flickr page, but here is one of my favorites:

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Okay. That’s it for today. I’m pooped, still have a headache, but I am so glad I managed to post and caption these photos and tell the story that goes with them!

I hope everyone is doing well.

Over and out.

Categories: Paris Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Some Daily Life & a Restaurant Review – Gluten-Free in Paris

I’m having one of those “crap” days today where a couple of days ago I ate something to which I have a secondary intolerance (hopefully temporary as I continue to heal). My reactions are physical ones, such as headaches, achiness, and fatigue, as well as MOOD ones! The mood ones are the “tip off” to me, but not always obvious to me at the start.

Are you one of those women who, once a month, suddenly start to feel crabby, think, “WHY on earth do I feel so crabby?” then happen to look at a calendar and say, “Oh….. Yeah.” I did this for years. PMS would sneak up from behind, grab me by the shoulders, and I would jump in surprise each time! My food reactions have been similar: elusive, could have other reasons (but, I am learning, often don’t), and every time I find myself in a grouchy mood, I think, “Ugh! Why do I feel so yucky?”, then remember I tried a new soy yogurt-type dessert a couple of days ago, say “Oh. DUH,” and then resolve to not eat it again (except there are three more in the fridge and they were not cheap). Same thing. Taken by surprise by what should now be obvious to me.

Except today I *know* it was the soy yogurt-type dessert as well as the vodka and lemon and vodka and grapefruit juices I had the other night at The Monkey Bar (or “Monkey’s” as it is officially called, but I like calling it “The Monkey Bar.” Sounds like a piece of playground equipment for adults, heh).

THE MONKEY BAR

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Lieu : Monkey’s Groovy Bar & Funky Food
Adresse : 68 Bd de la Villette
Ville : Paris 75019
MĂ©tro : Belleville

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=68+blvd+de+la+villette+paris+75019&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=53.829089,79.013672&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=16

They serve burgers there, and while I did not eat any of them, I was looking at the menu and noting that one could probably easily get gluten-free grub here. If you are in the 19th, it’s a cute place to have a burger and beer, or, if you are like me, a vodka or three (no gluten in vodka [well, maybe not: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_there_yeast_or_gluten_in_vodka] and it is low in sugar, too). Oh heck, I just checked and not all vodkas are grain-free, aparently: http://gfkitchen.server101.com/GFAlcohol.htm#Vodka **sigh** No wonder. Here’s more info here: http://www.celiac.com/articles/222/1/Gluten-Free-Alcoholic-Beverages/Page1.html and here: http://www.celiac.com/articles/11/1/Which-alcoholic-beverages-are-safe/Page1.html

Sugar is bothering me a lot, too, in all its forms: sucrose, glucose, lactose, fructose…. Alcohol, even allegedly gluten-free kinds, is problematic for me as I react to its changing to glucose in my system. I’ve been pretty much alcohol-free for the last four months because of its physical and emotional effects on me, but I had been feeling like trying on a vodka to see how it fit and learned that I am better off without it. 🙂 It was like going into a store where a great skirt is on sale (it was Happy Hour Wednesday at Monkey’s), buying it without trying it on, thinking, “It’s going to be great!” only to find upon trying to wear it the next day, it’s too small. And there is a “no returns on sale items” policy. Yeah, one day that skirt may fit, but not right now.

So, I am sitting here in my Paris apartment kind of in a funk, feeling blah, and even feeling blah about this blog. As I research things about Paris and see other blogs and writing “out there,” I keep thinking, “Oh wow. What do *I* have to offer that is not already posted, often in much better form that I am doing here!” and “Will this amount to *anything*?”

I guess this is the thing that I have that maybe others do not: I am a real person here, one that gets easily freaked out by living, moving, and having my being in this city. It is NOT a place I always dreamed of traveling, I barely know any French (although I can still order in Chinese in Chinese resturants here, or I could back in the days when I could eat Chinese…), I am just so NOT into having to see every famous site here and visiting a new museum every week… Basically, I have found myself here having to confront life and myself in the city that happens to be Paris, and making the best of it. I knowwwwww!! There are a lot of you that would cut off your left pinky toe to be here! I am so sorry. I’m starting to catch a little of your enthusiasm, though. It is partly this, why this blog exists: I have been having to teach myself to CARE about this city and find what it is in it for me, I’ve been having some success at doing that, and I wanted to share it with anyone out there who wants to be bothered to read.

My unique angle is also that I learned while here that I am gluten-intolerant. Gluten-intolerant in a city that is based on the almighty baguette and famous for its wheat-laden pastries. Heh! That’s karma for ya! Not only has it taken me a whole year to begin to feel friendly towards this city, but now its a kick in the pants from her that I cannot partake of a major part of her fame: the cuisine. It’s so typical of a French woman (as PJ would attest having been married to and dated a few of them): they can be really manipulative and vengeful. Kind of bitchy, those French women.

Oh god, now I have insulted a slew of my (potential) French women readers. I have found, though, that once a woman can be friends with a French woman, once she passes her tests and hurdles, they are most kind and beautiful.

Read this blog by a French man for more on this topic: http://askafrenchman.blogspot.com/2009/02/why-are-french-women-such-bitches.html and this: http://askafrenchman.blogspot.com/2008/04/i-have-heard-that-french-women-are-not.html

Let’s just sum this up by saying that I have desired to enter a friendship with Paris, on her terms and mine, too. It’s taking a while for the both of us to warm to one another.

LE PUIT de LEGUMES

I did warm at my experience here: Le Puit de LĂ©gumes.

On 4 July, 2009 (Happy Independence Day!) I lunched with my friend, Tess, at the Les Puits de Legumes at 18, rue Cardinal Lemoine, 75005, Paris. A vegetarian, macrobiotic restaurant with gluten-free dishes as well, the Les Puits de LĂ©gumes was a *delight.* Friendly, warm, accommodating, and very home-like, I was served large portions at a reasonable cost. I was allowed by the management to take photos, and so I did.

It was a delightful lunch!

From Google Maps

google maps le puit de legumes

Google Maps Link

A customer review here: http://www.happycow.net/reviews.php?id=15504 (English)
and here: http://www.fra.cityvox.fr/restaurants_paris/le-puit-de-legumes_200090813/Avis-Lieu?comm=326165 (French)

Photos of the restaurant interior:

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The wonderful rooibos/hibiscus tea I drank. Such pretty cups!

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YUM! Lovely soy vanilla cream dessert! Yes, I react to soy, but I thought I would try it anyways. Soy just mostly makes me achy, and I can tolerate a few aches for something this delicious.

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My friend Tess enjoying her dessert tart.

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Me, about to dig into the vanilla cream…

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I had the EntrĂ©e salade aux avocat et pamplemousse (a lunch-sized salad with avocado and grapefruit) for 7 €, une bol de riz complet (a generous bowl of brown rice) for 5 €, jus de pamplemousse (fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice) at about 4 € 50, I believe it was, crĂšme soja vanille san sucre (a soy creme dessert without added sugar), 3 € 80, and thĂ© rooibos Ă  l’hibiscus (roobois and hibiscus tea), 4 €.

The proprietaire was very aware of the need for some to eat gluten-free and aware of food preparation to accomodate, she was most kind and helpful, spoke a small amount of English (plus my friend, Tess, is pretty much fluent in the language), and I loved the experience of not having to worry about what to eat!

Le Puit de LĂ©gumes is open from noon to 10 pm Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sunday.

Please, please eat at Le Puit de LĂ©gumes! They deserve to be in business for a long time.

PLACES TO SEE IN THE 5Th

The restarant is located in the 5th arrondissement, and is close to these locations for touring/sighseeing:

The ArĂšnes de LutĂšce
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Google Map of Location
A Roman arena and gardens tucked away on Rue Monge, very close to M° Cardinal Lemoine.

The Musée de la Sculpture en Plein Air
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Google Map of Location
A modern sculpture park along the left bank of the Seine.

The Jardin des Plantes
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Google Map of Location

Paris’ botanic gardens and park which house the museums La Grande Galerie de l’Évolution, the Mineralogy Museum, the Paleontology Museum and the Entomology Museum.

ANOTHER MINERALOGICAL MUSEUM

Not to be confused with the mineralogy museum above, and in the 6th arr., but not *too* far from M° Cardinal-Lemoine, on the west side of Le PanthĂ©on and just to the east of Le Jardin du Luxembourg is the MusĂ©e de la Mineralogie (English information here: http://www.eng.cityvox.fr/visit_paris/musee-de-mineralogie_31198/profile-place ). You can hop back on line 10 from Jussieu or Cardinal Lemoine and go to M° Cluny la Sorbonne or OdĂ©on and walk from those stops, or hop on the RER B and get off at Luxembourg. It’s in the l’Ecole des Mines de Paris (like, *really* inside. You go in the main entrance off of 60, Blvd St-Michel, follow the signs (or ask someone who is in the halls, as we did). It’s on the 1st floor (which is the second floor, after the ground floor, which is “how it is done” here). It’s a little gem (heh, heh) of a museum, and while not big and sexy like most of Paris’ museums, it is a working museum (researchers were doing research as we looked around) and feels like something out of a movie with the old display cases, beautiful windows, and amazing examples of minerals. It looks like a place where Indiana Jones might have worked when not off on an adventure. Okay, well, the geologist version of Indiana Jones. 🙂

Google Map of Location

I hope to blog about this museum separately as I brought my “belle-fille” (almost step-daughter) there one afternoon a couple of weeks ago, and we were delighted with the museum.  I thought I would list it here briefly as it is not too far from Le Puit de LĂ©gumes.

(Sadly, I have not yet uploaded the photos from the Musée de Mineralogie as of today, but I will get there!)

The restaurant is close to a lot of other Left Bank (Rive Gauche) sights as well (Le Panthéon, for example), but I have been to these four places and have photosets of pictures I have taken at my Flickr page.

I’m still trying to remember that Rive Gauche is to the south of the Seine. Tess and I were debating about how it is “Left” (facing from *where*? Isn’t “left” or “right” relative to some point?) while we happened on a brocante (http://www.brocantesfrance.com/ and  http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2006/09/la_brocante.html) after our lunch.

A couple of photos I like best of the brocante:
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Thanks for tuning in!

Over and out.

Categories: Paris Dining Gluten-Free, Personal Life | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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