The nice lady at our local bookstore (Mrs. Dalloway’s) is going to France for the first time this spring. I told her I’d make a list of my favorite places to go in Paris. These are the big ones. There are so many more secret little places that I adore in the city, but since she’s just there for a few days, I thought I’d start with the big-picture “don’t miss” spots.
Our building is beautiful. Classically Parisian. Haussmannian design. It has seven floors and a pretty blue door. We’re on the top floor. Our walls are slanted in because it’s the roof apartment. If I lean out the window I can touch the smooth slate shingles, and I can look down at the balcony below where just the other day I caught sight of my elegant, elderly neighbor pruning her pretty pink geraniums.
Across the boulevard the tall chestnut trees are changing from green to yellow, orange, and brown. Autumn leaves fall upon the graves of deceased writers, poets, rock stars, and composers. Sometimes we go for walks in the Pere Lachaise cemetery and collect the fallen chestnuts. But mostly we amble slowly along the cobbled lanes and admire the achingly beautiful graves. Gothic tombs stand like tiny chapels, offering a peak at a stained glass window and maybe a prayer bench decaying with dampness. The cemetery’s layout doesn’t make it easy for us to do too much exploring with the pousette (French for stroller) but we’ve gotten to know our routes. One takes us past the writer Colette and another to a very old monumental grave complete with a king and a queen lying in state. Here’s our view of the cemetery from our bedroom window.
Our living room window faces south, and if we look to the west we can see the Montparnasse Tower, the dome of the Pantheon, and millions of tiny terra cotta chimneys on the rooftops of Paris. Right now the city’s covered in a smoky haze, but the other night it twinkled just like New York does when your airplane comes in for a landing at Kennedy Airport.
One of the most exciting things about our building is, when you step out into the hall and open the window…
You see this!
I love our building. And I love living in Paris.
One afternoon last week I was over in the Boulevard Saint Michel area over on the Left Bank in Paris when I decided to stop into a church that I had never been to before. Elodie was asleep in her stroller so I thought it would be a nice time to spend some quiet time in a peaceful sanctuary. I was surprised to hear the music of Leonard Cohen when I opened the door. It was just a recording, but sounded so stunningly beautiful in the big old gothic church. Then I realized there was a funeral going on, making the experience all the more poignant. “Who By Fire” could quite possibly be the most beautiful song ever recorded. I have no idea what the images are all about in the video, but it was the best recording of the original song I could find on YouTube. Have a listen.
Last Friday Rama was working late so Elodie and I went out on a date.
We went to our favorite local pizzeria, Pink Flamingo.
While we waited for our pizza, Elodie colored.
We shared the “Aphrodite,” a delicious pie with slices of grilled eggplant and a big dollop of hummus in the middle. They make unusual pizzas but delicious pizzas at Pink Flamingo.
Here’s a picture of it.
After dinner, we hung out on the leopard print couch for a while and read magazines.
Then we went to a “concert” at Chez Adel, the bar next door, and said “hi” to the bar doggie, a plump little dachshund. It was a really fun night!
Pink Flamingo has a few locations in Paris, but we go to the one near the Canal St. Martin. They have a big dining room that feels really casual and you don’t have to feel self-conscious about your wild child squirming, screaming, and running around. Another cool think about Pink Flamingo is that you can order your pizza and then go have a seat by the canal and they’ll deliver it to you. They give you a balloon to take with you so they know where to find you. We haven’t done that yet, but maybe this weekend!
Do you go on dates with your kids? What kinds of things do you do?
Happy Easter! Did you have a nice one? Ours was sensational! It started with chocolate bunnies and ended with champagne. Here’s a little peek at our day.
Notre Dame Cathedral. What were we thinking? Easter mass at the most famous church in the world on one of the most important Catholic holidays means lots and lots of people. We made it through the door with Elodie asleep in her stroller, didn’t even attempt to take a seat in the congregation, instead slowly crept our way along with the throngs of visitors past the little side chapels to the back of the church where it was actually quite pleasant. There’s a really pretty chapel in the way back of the cathedral with beautiful stained glass windows and art nouveau wall motifs. It was peaceful back there and there was lots of space and we were able to sit and listen to the choir. After mass we escaped through a side exit and headed across the river for a yummy lunch of hamburgers and cokes.
Jardin des Plantes. This beautiful garden in the 5th arrondissement was abloom in poppies, lilacs, and cherry blossoms. So pretty. An hour early for the Easter egg hunt, we strolled around the gardens and watched the bees pollinating the poppies. There’s also a museum of natural history, a museum of paleontology, a zoo, and a restaurant there. I got a tea at the garden kiosk while we waited for the festivities to begin.
The Easter Egg Hunt. It was chaotic but fun. Look at all those kids! The adults were just throwing the chocolate eggs on the ground every so often in front of the little ones. I was a bit overwhelmed, but Elodie had a blast. We saw a bunch of our anglophone friends there too.
Easter Girls. This is one of my favorite shots from the day. Two girls and two daddies. Look at their Easter baskets. Aren’t they so cute? They’re miniature French market baskets. I was so excited to find them at a beautiful children’s store on rue JP Timbaud in the 11th, not far from our house, so I picked one up for Elodie and her best friend Dayze.
On our walk home, Elodie was so worn out from all the Easter fun she conked out in the stroller, leaving mom and dad free to sit at an outdoor cafe and drink champagne! I forgot to take a picture, but we had a really nice table overlooking the canal at a place called La Marine right down the street from our house. It was delightful! I can’t wait for next Easter so we can do it all over again!
I met Ram at IRCAM. We walked across the 4th to La Maison Rouge to see the new neon exhibition. We had a drink under a cafe heat lamp while baby slept in her stroller.
Before spring arrives and winter is just a distant memory, I thought I’d share these photos of the Canal Saint Martin. I took these a few weeks ago when it was so icy cold outside.
The best thing about our apartment is the single living room window. It looks out over the canal, and the street below, and the beautiful Paris apartment buildings across the way. We spend lots of time here watching the seagulls and the ducks and the teenagers and the doggies out on their walks. And every once in a while we catch a glimpse of a great big canal boat slowly drifting by. The one pictured above was actually breaking through the ice as it plied its course. You can see how excited the crowd was chasing after it and snapping photos. Lucky us, we got to watch it from inside our warm apartment.
Oh view, how I love you.
I was walking around my neighborhood the other day when a grouping of black and white photographs caught my eye. I was on Rue Sainte Marthe in the 10th arrondissement, pushing the stroller up the incline past all these little colorful, closed storefronts, restaurants, and artist studios. The photographs were displayed in a wide window on street level for pedestrians to admire as they passed. Taken by the Romanian photographer Dana Cojbuc, the images are remakes of old photos from the 1950s – 1980s.
I love this sort of thing. The way it reflects on the passage of time, and change, and growing old, or staying the same. I imagine the families in the photos all living life together in their little Romanian village. I wonder how their lifestyles changed in the 20 to 50 years since the originals were taken.
You don’t have to be in Paris to see the rest of Dana Cojbuc’s photos. Just go to her website and click on the “Remake” series. Which one do you like the best?