A Travellerspoint blog

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 21: Market in Montmartre

Montmartre is home to one of the biggest flea markets in Paris. You can visit it any weekend from Saturday through Monday. It is so huge, most people suggest taking a map so you don't get lost. I like small markets; the kind where you can find great food treasures and see locals shopping. This weekend, there was just such a market near the Abbesses. Late Friday night, the tents went up. By Saturday morning the tents and the square were filled with people. Early in the morning, it poured. As if celebrating the festival, the rain stopped abruptly. The sun and bright blue skies appeared. The temperature climbed to mid-40s f and it felt like a tease of springtime.
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The longest line at the market was for Champagne, poured in real glasses which you can keep. All day long, people wandered around the streets of Montmartre with Champagne glasses in hand. 42593977C3F3B79A40096B4A6DA2F577.jpg

The next line was for oysters. They were sold to eat right there, or you could buy a dozen or so to bring home. 425D579CE05EC856D645AB78F56C7C41.jpg425EB84DC870DBF45BFEB2E63D6297EE.jpg

The gallete is a French tradition. It's a pastry made with light, airy dough and filled with almond paste and other amazing ingredients. It is only made and sold from Epiphany when Baby Jesus was presented to the three wise men through Shrove Tuesday (fat Tuesday), the beginning of Lent. The [/i]Gallette[/i] comes with a crown. Inside, a fete is hidden. Whoever gets the fete, gets to wear the crown and make a wish. The line for galletes looped around the festival.
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After slurping down the briney-est oysters I ever tasted, I purchased little jars of pates and some fresh pasta to cook later. It was 11 in the morning, so I skipped the champagne. I know. It was 5 o'clock somewhere, but I have to pace myself.

Posted by teethetrav 00:37 Archived in France Tagged markets montmartre oysters champagne foodie epiphany gallette_des_rois shrove_tuesday fat_tuesday feve Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 20: Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

On our side trip to Amsterdam we visited the Anne Frank House. Almost everyone has read her classic diary at some point. Even though you know her story, which is the story of so many others, to be in the house where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis for two years gave me an entirely different understanding and appreciation of the Holocaust. The house, like all of the houses in Amsterdam, is tall, beautiful, and overlooks the canal. The downstairs floors were her father's office. Because very few people knew they were hiding upstairs, they couldn't speak above a whisper until the offices were closed for the night.

Anne's father Otto planned for months before they went into hiding. All of the windows upstairs are blackened so no one could see inside and discover them. The tiny rooms in which eight people lived and hid, were excruciatingly claustrophobic; dark, and small, with low ceilings. I tried to imagine not seeing daylight or going outside in this beautiful city for two years, but it was impossible.

After two years, the two families were found and sent to the camps. To this day, no one is sure who betrayed them. Otto Frank was the only one to survive. He found the diary and had it published because she had wished to be a famous writer and wanted her story told. Otto turned his office into a museum in honor of those who died and in honor of his daughter.

I saw many people in tears as we made the short, powerful tour. One of the most poignant moments for me was a video of a former friend of Anne's; a woman who survived the camps. She had known Anne before the war and they found each other in the camp in Bergen-Belsen. By then, Anne knew her sister and mother were dead and believed her father was too. She was ill and, as her friend says in the film, she had lost her will to live.

She died and very shortly after, the war ended, the camps were closed, and her father returned home. "If she had only known he lived," her friend says. "I think she would have survived."

Here are a few photos of the view Anne couldn't walk outside her door and see.
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Posted by teethetrav 03:26 Archived in Netherlands Tagged amsterdam netherlands anne_frank_house Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 19: Art in Amsterdam

A side trip from Paris to Amsterdam is an easy train ride. For me, the primary purpose of a visit to Amsterdam was to see the Van Gogh museum. I have long been intrigued by his life and his art and on a previous trip to France, I went to Arles and St. Remy where he painted so many of his finest works. Of course, he also was hospitalized there after a break down. His short, tragic life ended nearby.

I knew he spent time in Paris and that his brother, who supported him throughout his life, lived in Paris. A few days before visiting the museum in Amsterdam, I found where Theo lived and photographed his door in Montmartre a few blocks from my apartment. Nearby, you can visit the Moulin Galette. There were several paintings in the Van Gogh Museum that reflected scenes from my neighborhood. There is, in fact, a painting called "View from Theo's Apartment" and several paintings of the windmill at Moulin Galette.
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One of my favorite paintings in the Van Gogh museum is of "The Yellow House" which still stands in Arles as a cafe.
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The most moving part of the visit for me was to see excerpts from the letters Vincent and Theo wrote back and forth throughout their lives. I was struck by the beauty of their penmanship and by the fact that they wrote hundreds of letters to one another throughout their lives. Now, we email. Or text. We will never again have such documentation of a relationship, of two people pouring out their lives, thoughts, feelings, to one another.

The letters were published and I have placed them on my "must read" list. What is on yours? Let me know in the "comments."

Posted by teethetrav 11:22 Archived in Netherlands Tagged amsterdam arles letters van_gogh_museum moulin_galette theo_van_gogh vincent_van_gogh the_yellow_house Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 18: Amsterdam: A Foodie City

A side trip to Amsterdam was packed with art, architecture, canals and other sights and activities. A side benefit, somewhat unexpected, was the delightful, delicious food we found everywhere (and no, we were not suffering from munchies).

In between visits to museums, walking, taking a boat ride around the canals, we grazed our way through the city. Our first meal was at a tiny cafe called Bistro Bi Jons where the chef, a woman, cooked as you ordered, in full view of the customers. No prepared foods, here. As she cooked, the aromas got better and better, which made me even hungrier. The liver,with onions, bacon, and bread was intense with flavor. The soup of the day was filled with sausages, vegetables, and the base was green beans. I need to steal this recipe.
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After visiting a few museums, we stopped and shared a warm waffle drizzled with Nutella. Warm carbohydrates with chocolate and hazelnuts. What else is there to say about that?

For dinner, we ate at a restaurant called Het Karbeel near Central Station, where we were taking the train back to Paris. They, like so many other places in Amsterdam serve craft beers, beer on tap, and have an extensive wine list. We started with a cheese fondue, then I had chicken thighs in a peanut sauce on a skewer. Again, I need to figure out this recipe. Not that we had any room left, but we split a dessert. Crepes wrapped around ice cream, sitting in a sauce, with a dollop of whipped cream on the side.

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I love travel. I love especially travel with fellow foodies who get as excited as I do when they read a menu. DC367A6DD4954D082A3839E64061EB5A.jpg
I will return to Amsterdam at some point for a longer stay. Please comment and tell me some of your favorite places to eat and to go.

Posted by teethetrav 01:02 Archived in Netherlands Tagged beer paris france amsterdam netherlands wine crêpes fondue waffles nutella Comments (1)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 17: Amsterdam: Bicycles, Houseboats, & Canals (Oh My!)

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A day trip from Paris to Amsterdam is an easy trek. A train ride takes you through Belgium into this pristine city which looks like it was designed by a type A toymaker. In a good way. Man-made canals criss cross the city. And they were, indeed MAN-made. The founding fathers ensured we would know this by giving them names such as the Gentleman's Canal, the Prince's Canal, and the Emperor's Canal. Be that as it may, a boat ride takes you through most of the city and gives you a view of some of the 1200 bridges. This is a walking city, so walking along the canal is also truly enjoyable. When you get tired of looking at the water, you can glance into the windows on the opposite side and see into the living rooms of the locals. Window shades are not big here, which makes the voyeur in me very happy. I love to see inside homes.

There are way more bicycles here than cars. There is much more of a chance of being hit by a bike than of being run-over by a tram, bus, motorcycle or car; the other modes of transportation. Everywhere you look there are bikes flying past you or parked on the streets and bridges. They steal bikes where I come from. In Amsterdam, it seems it's safe to leave your bike. The big fear is forgetting where you parked it. I have enough problems finding my car sometimes and have been known to stand in a parking lot trying to open a stranger's car, thinking it was mine. How do people here remember where they left their bike and how do they tell them all apart? Leave a comment if you think you know the answer, please.
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If you don't want a typical tourist experience in Amsterdam, you can rent a houseboat for your stay, instead of an hotel room. They dot the canals and are fully equipped with satellite TV, fridge, stove, living room, and all the comforts of home. In fact, some are stationary homes on the canal. Many, though, are true houseboats. Each is distinctive and has a charm all its own. Privacy, however is an issue since you have boats traveling up and down the canals all day and into the night and people like me peeking inside your windows to see how you live.

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Posted by teethetrav 00:23 Archived in Netherlands Tagged canals paris france amsterdam houseboats netherlands bicycles day-trip Comments (0)

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