A Travellerspoint blog

Paris: Neighborhood Walk


Every neighborhood in any city has its own unique atmosphere. My temporary home in Paris is no exception. I currently live on the western edge of the 4th arrondissement in an area known as Beaubourg, a short block away from Paris's town hall which is housed in the building known as L'Hotel de Ville. There are busy shopping streets such as the Rue de Rivoli and Boulevard de Sebastopol that criss-cross the area. But if you turn off the main streets, there are dozens of tiny, winding walkways to explore. There are fun boutiques to discover as well as endless cafes. The Hippy Market is a second-hand shop I stumbled across on one of my walks.
The most popular destination in the area is the Pompidou Center, a modern art museum named after Georges Pompidou which is most famous for its controversial architecture. It was designed to be inside out. All of the escalators, elevators, and normal building innards are on the outside of the structure. I find the adjacent square and Stravinsky Fountain far more interesting. Named after the composer Igor Stravinsky, colorful sculptures by the artist Niki de Saint Phalle and her husband sit in the water surrounded by the fountain. If you listen, the water emerging from each sculpture is supposed to sound like a Stravinsky composition!!!! Behind the Fountain stands the St. Merri Church which dates back to the 1500s. Catty-corner to the church is a huge mural called Chuuuttt!Ssshhh! I love the juxtaposition of old and new here. The artwork and sculptures side by side with a gothic church just makes me smile.
There are two cafes where you can sit across from the Stravinsky Fountain and enjoy the view. One is Dame Tartine which has reasonable prices with good food and blackboard specials every day. The other is Creperie Beaubourg which not only serves crepes, but omelettes and salads, as well. If you desire a glass of wine, Dame Tartine is the place to go since the Creperie only serves coffees and soft drinks.

Posted by teethetrav 07:58 Archived in France Tagged les_halles pomidou_center beaubourg stravinsky_fountain dame_tartine creperie_beaubourg st._merri_church Comments (0)

Perfume in Paris

Fragonard Perfume Museum

I adore perfume. I find scents seductive and, of course, they are designed to seduce. We all seem to be attracted to different types of fragrance; florals, orientals, fruits and naturals for example. To make perfume even more interesting, scents smell differently on each person due to body chemistry. I have no idea what attracts me to a perfume. There are many scents which I can barely tolerate. But the few scents I'm attracted to are addictive. And I love discovering a new scent.

If you are a perfume lover (or eaux de toilette for men) The Fragonard Perfume Museum is a perfect way to spend an hour or so, in my opinion. Across the street from the Opera Garnier, the Museum is entirely free. At the end of the tour, you are invited to sample scents and make purchases at factory prices, but there is no obligation to buy. Of course I did, but several people in my little group left without sampling the scents and no one was made to feel guilty.operahouse.jpg

Guided tours are provided as soon as anyone shows up. They are given in English, French, Chinese, and I suppose in whatever other language you may speak. The museum is now is its new location where it opened in October, 2015. Your guide provides a brief history of perfume, bottles, and an explanation of how perfumes are made, beginning with how the flowers are cultivated. Many are still picked by hand which explains why perfume is so costly. Of course, there are different levels of scent ranging from perfume--the best--down to eau de cologne; the weakest. Most perfumes are kept in beautifully designed glass bottles. According to my guide, glass only keeps the scent for up to two years. Fragonard uses metal which, they claim, keeps the scent up to six years. I'm sure I'll use mine up by then, so I'll never know. There are fascinating artifacts and old perfume bottles inside the museum, but you are not allowed to take photos inside.
One fascinating detail I learned about was the job of the "nez". There are only 50 expert "noses." Most are in France. These all people who have an instinctive heightened ability to smell different scents, but their gift must be trained for up to six years.

You can only sniff about five scents at one time before your sense of smell gets lost. For me, the clear stand out was Belle Cherie, one of the florals. 90_mychoice.jpg

Posted by teethetrav 05:14 Archived in France Tagged paris nez the_nose fragonard museum_of_perfume free_things_todo_in_paris Comments (0)

Paris Markets: Part 5

Rue Lepic

This is my favorite food street in Paris. Not technically a market, Rue Lepic is a market street. I lived a few blocks away from Rue Lepic when I spent a month in Paris last January. My apartment now is much closer to the center of Paris, so when I returned to Montmartre for a visit I planned to buy groceries at all my favorite shops. Two metros and two cloth bags brought me to Rue Lepic and the realization that I am truly food centric. I might obsess about spending twenty euros for a beautiful scarf, but think nothing of purchasing quality food products without batting an eyelash or asking "C'est combien?". My visit to Rue Lepic took me to the Boulangerie, The Cave de Abessess, Les Rotisseurs du Roy for my all-time favorite rotisserie chicken and chicken onion sausages, to the best cheese shop in Paris, and to the Cafe des 2 Moulin, also known as the Amelie Cafe because many scenes in the film Amelie were filmed here. On the day I came I purchased:
1 chicken sandwich at Josse--the fantastic epicerie and charcuterie place (I was starving)
1 rotisserie chicken
2 onion chicken sausages
2 pork ribs
some pomme terres (potatoes)
two cheeses (one blue, one runny camembert)
a bottle of wine
and (but of course) one baguette.
I still have more markets to visit, and the Christmas markets will open later in November, but it's going to be hard for any market or market street to surpass Rue Lepic.

Posted by teethetrav 07:15 Archived in France Tagged montmartre rue_lepic food_markets_paris amelie_cafe les_rotisseurs_des_roy Comments (0)

Paris: The Covered Passages 2

Passage Jouffroy and Passage Verdeau

There are more passages to explore than there is time in one day. Two that follow the Passage des Panoramas are just off the Boulevard Montmartre not far from the Opera Garnier and the Grand Boulevard where the wonderful Galerie Lafayette is located. A stroll through Passage Verdeau and Passage Jouffroy in the 9th Arrondissement can trick you into feeling as though you time-traveled back to the 1800s.
With no cars, there is little to remind you that you are in present day Paris. It is easy to imagine the awe that Parisians must have felt in these glass and steel covered arcades with dozens of enticing windows and restaurants whose only job was to lure you in. They still do.
For me, one of the more seductive elements are the book stores with rows and rows and boxes of old books that smell as only an old book can smell.
My olfactory memory kicks in and I recall libraries of my youth and the distinctive smell the library, the books, and the pages within those books had. For a moment, as I stand looking at a water color of women from another time, I am lost in the dream of what these passages must have been like a hundred years ago.

Posted by teethetrav 07:23 Archived in France Tagged passage_verdeau passage_jouffroy galerie_lafayette grand_boulevard books_in_paris covered_passage_in_paris Comments (0)

Paris: The Covered Passages

Les Passages Couvert

My flanerie (aimless wandering) got a bit of guidance in a walking tour of some of the many covered passages in central Paris. These delightful, nearly secret--at least to tourists--places hide lovely boutiques, bookstores, restaurants, and even apartments. Many of them have exquisite architecture with archways, steel frames, and glass ceilings. The first passage was attached to the Petit Palais. You could spend an afternoon here just enjoying the large square, the stunning gardens, and the upscale shops under the passage.
The beautiful Galerie Vivienne across from the National Library has intricate mosaic floors, a rotunda, a cupola and decorative details such as painted wreaths. D0594FC1C6593EC57871627DEB010383.jpgD056538803DF6A440C91275760A4E2D8.jpg

Galerie Colbert has no shops, but is known for its columns and architecture. Lately, it's been known for being next door to Le Grand Colbert the restaurant which is featured in the Diane Keaton, Jack Nicolson film called "Something's Got to Give." In the movie, Nicholson crashes a date Keaton is on with Keanu Reeves in the restaurant. He ends up eating with them and paying for dinner. D05A90D2F8FDC2DCB757A1B42C6F59BB.jpg

The Passages des Panoramas has browse-worthy shops galore. It also has restaurants with to-die-for aromas permeating the passage. I had plans for dinner so I resisted the urge to eat, but will definitely return to give one or two of them a try.

Posted by teethetrav 05:59 Archived in France Tagged galerie_vivienne le_grand_colbert diane_keaton jack_nicholson passage_choiseul passage_des_panormanas Comments (0)

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