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Paris Markets: Part 4

Rue Cler

All the days I have spent wandering around aimlessly in Paris, I never knew there was a name for it. I am apparently a flaneuse: a woman who wanders in Paris with no particular destination in mind. Edmund White wrote a book about this called The Flaneur. Who knew? Although to be accurate, I've been wandering to different market destinations. But those walks generally take me off course to, well...wherever they take me.

My latest exploration took me near the Eiffel Tower to the American Library in Paris where I got a library card and applied for a fellowship to a writer's workshop. Only twelve will be accepted and I barely made the deadline, so I'm not holding out much hope. But since I was in the neighborhood, I strolled over to the market street Rue Cler. Technically speaking, I don't consider this a market since there are standing shops that exist all the time. But Rue Cler is well known and well documented as being one of the best food streets in Paris, along with Rue de Mouffetard and my all-time favorite, Rue Lepic. I confess that as I wandered, I kept an eye out for Ina Garten. She is in Paris filming her show and where else would Ina hang out, but in a market, right?
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Rue Cler is everything I've heard it was. I spent over an hour ogling the fromagerie, les fleurs, the wine shops, the produce stands, and the gorgeous, enormous heads-on shrimp. The smell of carbohydrates permeated the air from the boulangerie. Who doesn't love the smell of carbohydrates in the morning?
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But the shop that pulled me in and pulled my wallet out was Juesselin. I had to remind myself I didn't have to buy everything I saw all at once. I can return. So I limited my purchase to les haricots verts, les champignons, un melange des vegetables and some kind of veal meatballs. With my baguette in my bag topping off my purchases, I returned home satisfied I had finally found a market worthy of its reputation. Even if I didn't spot Ina and Jeffrey.

Posted by teethetrav 02:20 Archived in France Tagged food france french_markets rue_cler flaneur flaneuse juesselin ina_garten ina_and_jeffrey Comments (0)

Paris Markets Part 2

St Germaine Marche

This is a lovely indoor market. It is small and, like all things in St. Germaine des Pres, classy and pricey. A short walk from Boulevard St. Germaine, I love the arches and the look of the architecture. If you live in St. Germaine, you can pretty much find everything you need in this market. There is poultry, a butcher for your meat and charcuterie, beautiful fish, pates of all kind. I am not a fan, but there is even a pate fois gras! Did I mention St. Germaine is tres cher (expensive)?
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Even if you not are staying in St. Germaine it's some where everyone should visit. Just wander, leche les vitrines (window shop or literally, lick the windows) and enjoy the cafes.
I stumbled on my new favorite perfume here last time I visited. It's by Hayari and it's called "Just for Her." When I am home every time I inhale the scent, I feel like I'm in Paris.

Posted by teethetrav 01:04 Archived in France Tagged france paris_markets st._germaine_des_pres Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

P.S.: Renters Beware

A few after-the-fact words on my experience with renting an apartment in Paris. I have rented apartments in Europe and elsewhere and had excellent results. One company in particular stands out: Parker Villas who rents apartments throughout Italy. I was met by the owner who handed me the keys and a list of suggested restaurants, taxis, emergency numbers, etc. But I have also had a bad experience with JavaVillas where the owner was actually on the premises and hung out with us for a few days, poolside. That was never the plan. There, I had contracted a cook who disappeared and I was never given a refund by the owner or the company. See my previous post: Jamaica: JAVAVILLAS The Bad and the Beautiful.

So when I set out to rent an apartment in Paris, I knew I had to do my homework. Long story short, I used VRBO thinking I was going to be eliminating an agency and renting direct (isn't that what Vacation Rental by Owner suggests?). Well, no. I ended up dealing with a rental agent. The photos and description of the apartment were sort of true. But not really. The apartment was run down and somewhat shabby. The curtains were stained and the floors were in sad need of repair. And there were lies by omission. WHY would I ever think to ask if there was central heating? Well, now I know. You need to ask. Believe it or not, there wasn't. There were three space heaters and numerous power strips plugged in to several outlets. How do you say "fire hazard" in French? 4C6668F0D5A2600886CC0CA8AA2F53C2.jpg4C65496E0449D860317229E0FA1ABAA9.jpg

Almost as disturbing was the lack of cooperation on the part of the rental agency responsible for the apartment (ask me in the comments section and I will tell you their name!). I was arriving on an early flight, so I asked if I could pick up the keys early. The apartment was empty the previous week, but I was told there would be a fee for early arrival. Wow. But that was nothing. The key pick-up was an elaborate, complicated mess. The keys were locked in a safe about 1/4 mile away and up four flights of stairs. When you are traveling with luggage, this is no small problem. Factor in the hilly, cobbled streets of Montmartre and the detail that the apartment was on a steep, stone staircase, and this becomes a true ordeal. For fifty euros, the agency offered to deliver the keys. The return of keys was the same situation in reverse. By the way, it was never made clear that the apartment was in the middle of seven flights of stone steps.
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The next lack of cooperation I encountered was when I asked for sheets and extra towels for the sofa bed. The apartment was advertised as sleeping four--which it did, comfortably. The agency informed me I would be charged for "additional guests." This was not mentioned in my lease or on the contract I signed.

Finally, I received my deposit back minus a charge for heat. What heat? Seriously? I did challenge this fee and the deposit was returned, in full.

I did some research when I got home and saw that VRBO is now part of Home Away and there are some pretty bad reviews out there about both. But I'm still seeing recommendations for both sites in places like the NY Times this month. I would advise differently. I guess there is no foolproof way of renting sight unseen. But personally, I would avoid VRBO going forward. I would also suggest asking to contact previous renters directly instead of relying on site-specific reviews.

I certainly didn't let any of this affect my trip. I'm home a little over a week and I miss nearly everything about Paris. I miss the view from my terrace, the crowds on the Metro, the food, my Sunday chicken place, Paris by day, Paris at night, my favorite wine store, the café down the steps, baguettes and croissants. I don't miss my broken toilet and my one-person, claustrophobic elevator. But I even miss the daily challenge of those damn steps. Did I really just say that?
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Posted by teethetrav 06:13 Archived in France Tagged paris france montmartre renting javavillas vrbo home_away apartment_rentals parker_villas Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 30: Au Revoir Paris

Au revoir Paris. Revoir means to see again, so it is appropriate for me to say since I will be back, next time for a longer stay. Here are some of my favorite moments. And, oh yes. Meet Louis.
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Posted by teethetrav 06:26 Archived in France Tagged paris sacre_coeur france louis_vuitton Comments (3)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 29: Food Crisis

I am fully aware that hunger is a true crisis world-wide. I have seen it and know there are plenty of people for whom one meal a day is a luxury. This post is not intended to be taken seriously.

A food crisis in the USA is a snowstorm that prevents you from getting milk for 24 hours. At the mere threat of bad weather, supermarket lines are impossible.

A food crisis in Paris means I just realized it's Sunday and I can't buy my favorite wine from my favorite cave, my favorite baguette from my favorite boulangerie, or my favorite cheese from my favorite fromagerie. What's worse is that these places are also closed on Mondays too, and these are my last few days here. I will have to do without my reblochon fermier until Tuesday. YIKES.

I am eating my favorite foods and drinking my favorite wine from now until I go home. Back in the US I will dream about the almond croissants, the crunchy baguettes, the crisp, salty French fries, the petite baguette sandwiches, the surprises on the chalk board menus, and the hours spent lingering over meals in tiny spaces, or put together in my well-equipped kitchen.

I think I will miss my chicken place most of all; Les Rotisseurs du Roy. The one with the line. I never tire of the rotisserie chicken, the chicken sausages, the haricots verts, the pommes terres, and the champignons. The owner was a bit like the soup nazi from Seinfeld, at first. But my French has improved and I order quickly now, in French, and I bring my own sack to carry home my chicken and fixings. She even smiled at me yesterday and gave me a bit of sauce (gravy). A first, for me.

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Although I will always hate the stone steps and all the hills, I have walked off all that I have eaten and I still fit easily into my jeans. No need for a gym work-out, here. If I ate at home what I've eaten here, I'd be in big trouble.

Posted by teethetrav 09:12 Archived in France Tagged paris france wine chicken foodie baguettes almond_croissants Comments (1)

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