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A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 3: There is no bad weather, only bad clothes

The wind howling woke me. The shutter outside my terrace door was banging. It was late for me, but no wonder I slept in. It was still dark as night, raining and windy. Welcome to Paris in January.
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I was prepared. A friend who worked there recommended a Columbia lined raincoat before I left. It has a thermal lining and a hoodie, yet it is light weight. I also own packable light weight rain boots. It took me weeks of buying and sending back boots to find the perfect pair (Zappos must hate me). I highly recommend Packables by Baffin. They roll up and weigh nearly nothing. I bought them when I was going to England because it's soggy there. They pack beautifully. So, I decided to stick to my plan and begin to explore my neighborhood. My immediate goal is to find routes which do not include the stone, steep staircases which surround Sacre Coeur and dot Montmartre. Going down is not the issue. I need to avoid up, except of course for my apartment which sits in the middle of stone steps (see Day 1 for photo).

So I set off to find lunch at a place that was highly recommended called Le Progres. I found it easily and had a hearty, but over-priced chicken with potatoes and vegetables. Nourished, I set off to walk the Rue des Martyrs, a street known for its restaurants, small shops and bakeries. It did not disappoint. I ended up sorry I had eaten already, but will return to eat my way down this street which leads all the way down to the 9th arrondissement. I stumbled onto a Boulanger-Patisssier called Rodolphe Landemaine where I purchased some rolls for tomorrow's lunch and a tempting little tarte tatin. So pretty. As I was paying, I saw these irresistible little pastry balls and asked what they were. The cashier popped one in my mouth. It was light, airy, sugary and perfect. She asked me if I wanted a little bag of them for 3 euros. Obviously I wasn't going to say no. All that walking and hills would kill the calories, I was sure. Fighting the wind and the rain would easily kill the rest.

By the time I trudged back and stopped at Carrefour to buy a few daily groceries , the sun miraculously appeared. It was the first blue sky I 'd seen since I arrived. I'd like to report that the steps to my apartment are getting easier, but that would be a lie. I stop every few steps and rest, especially if I am lugging groceries. But at the end of the climb, sunlight was pouring through my window. I made a cup of tea and ate half of my little sugar thingies. I'm going to have find out what they are called. image

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Posted by teethetrav 08:38 Archived in France Tagged food winter paris france weather rue_des_martyrs Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 2: Terror and Sales

By now you have heard about the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris yesterday January 7, 2015. I was out and about on my first full day in Paris. You see, Paris has two sales periods per year; one in summer and one starting--you guessed it--January 7. I did not plan my trip around this, but as luck would have it I am here for the sales, les soldes.

I am not an avid shopper, but I have coveted a Louis Vuitton forever and made my way on two metros to the Champs-Elysees to visit Louis. Turns out, Louis never goes on sale. You wouldn't know that from the amount of people in the store and the voluminous number of products flying off the shelves. A bag that I liked was actually out of stock! But one that l loved was right there calling me. It is brand new and has the traditional monogram but a salmon-colored trim and lining, a removable shoulder strap as well as two chic handles. The price? Well, you know what they say: if you have to ask...Since Louis never goes on sale, I will consider this purchase while I am here. The dollar has been growing stronger, so I'll wait it out while I decide.

I walked the Champs along with a massive number of tourists and Parisians searching for bargains. And bargains there are. Everything (except Louis) is 50 to 70% off. Monoprix, H & M, Promod, Zara, everything is on sale and people were out. I window shopped and bought one warm sweater for 12euros (did I mention it's freezing?). I walked towards the Tuileries and watched as workers removed hundreds of wooden structures that had housed the recent Christmas market. At one point, a large parade of police cars went by but no one seemed concerned or like anything out of the ordinary was happening. Eventually, I asked a security guard where the entrance to the Concorde Metro was and he told me. He didn't seem concerned either.

By the time I got back to my apartment at around 3, my mailbox was filled with concerned emails from my family asking if I was alright. I had no idea what they were talking about. I read a link about the attack my son sent me and I turned on the news. Twelve people were dead. Murdered over a cartoon while Paris shopped the sales.

By late afternoon and evening protesters were out in droves wearing "Je suis Charlie" ('I am Charlie) signs. The French refuse to stay in and be afraid. Good for them. Tomorrow I will be out and about. Otherwise, terror wins.

Posted by teethetrav 07:40 Archived in France Tagged paris france charlie terror je_suis_charlie hebdo i_am-charlie Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 1: What was I Thinking?

The east coast of the US had a terrible winter in 2014. Freezing cold, lots of small snow storms. In other word, not fun. So this past summer, I decided to get away for the month of January. Most people go to Florida. Snow birds, we call them. I decided to fulfill a lifelong fantasy and go to Paris for a month, rent an apartment and just be. An English major and a romantic to the core, I had notions of writing amongst other writers and artists and living like a local in a corner of the world I had lusted after in my imagination.image.jpg

I researched scrupulously (or so I thought, but more about that another time). I've stayed in apartments before with good to excellent results. I found one in Montmartre that seemed to fulfill all my needs; one bedroom, sleep sofa in case I should have guests, a beautiful looking bathroom and a functional kitchen. And oh yes. A terrace with a view of the whole city. Even though I was going in January, a terrace for me was de riguer. A must.

What was I thinking? This is a refrain you will hear from me often if you follow this blog. Montmartre is hilly. Very hilly. With many stone, steep stairs that cannot be avoided. I had only been twice before, Both times were many years ago and I did not stay in Montmartre, just visited on day trips. My memory had failed to remind me of how difficult it is to navigate here. The day I arrived was challenging. My apartment was in the middle of stone steps and there is no way to drive up to the apartment. One must lug luggage up (or down) these steps, depending on which way you arrive. There is no good way. See the photo.

In addition, the key pick-up was far away and up four flights of stairs. The rental agent wanted to charge me 50 euros to deliver the keys to my door. I rented from Parker Villas in Italy and loved the entire process. They met me, delivered the keys, showed us how to use the apartment and left us notes for where to eat, shop, go, etc. This was the exact opposite of what I had come to expect from rentals. I will trash them further when I get my deposit back, but they were not pleasant nor easy to deal with.

Posted by teethetrav 07:24 Archived in France Tagged food paris france travel apartment montmartre monet hemingway picasso Comments (1)

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