I love it when it’s like this in Paris. Bright blue skies and soothing sun. It’s on a Friday like this that being alone becomes something quite dull. My room has been subtracted to only a few essential things now. I’ll be moving at the end of this month (finally), but the waiting process can be frustrating with so many empty hours to fill. Luckily my new home will be in a considerably noisy area (Bastille) and it will be difficult to have empty hours, opposing to something like Tolbiac, for example…
Today was our written exam at the Cordon Bleu, and no, I’m not going to start minding on how it was. For the obvious reasons I suppose, because I’ve had the bad fortune of considering all tests easy until the results came floating unto my desk. I think the possibilities of failing are slim, but one can never be too confident on these matters. And I’m beginning to feel somewhat superstitious about it.
I tried making a batch of madeleines today. There’s a microwave-oven here, and I gave it a try. This time (not the first time) with a different kind of recipe. That is, substituting cookies for tea-cakes. If you think they burned, you’re wrong, because they didn’t have time for that. The madeleine mould wouldn’t fit in the oven by, let’s say, one centimeter? I just thought that was too hilarious to let pass… Bummer I didn’t remember to take a picture.
I like to walk around everyday though, and find good stores with very reasonable prices. For those who are tired of clubbing in the Louvre, here’s a short list of interesting spots to hand around, pass by, etc… “resident-style”:
Late Lunch and Hanging Around
Jean Bernard- This little bistro has the best mediterranean vegetable salad that I have ever tried. It’s a dish so simple, that it’s difficult to find an excellent version of it. But this one is tremendously good. Same goes for the beer which is artisanal. So if you’re into it, couple it with the chèvre and veggies. It’s delicious, not expensive and unpretentious. The café is not in a very calm area, but if you’re walking around the Pompidou Center or checking out the stores around the Rambuteau area this is definitely a must for lunch. Actually, it’s right at the entrance of a little passage (Passage Molière) and sometimes you’re able to sit outside right under the arches. And that’s slightly more quaint.
Passage Molière, 75003 (Mº Rambuteau)
Le Petit Café- Typical “Quartier Latin” Café with good and casual food. It’s situated right above rue des Ecoles and makes a good continuation for those who are checking out the area. Located in the top of a steep uphill street, this makes a good reward for the mountain-climbers. The area is calm, sunny and very friendly. As for the dishes, Salmon Tartare is quite generous and appetizing and their salads are also rich and tasty. This is a specially good spot to study with your friends or hang around for beer, opposing to the classic and noisy Brasseries off the main streets.
6 rue Descartes 75005 (Mº Maubert-Mutualité)
Le Bar du Marché- Perfect example of a place where the good-looking St.Germain crowd hangs about. The people are varied and the ambience is warm and energetic, like a bar from the Ramblas or Bairro Alto. The usual sounds are world music, much of it in the “Manu Chao” style rhythm. If you’re looking for a place where you can actually sit, this is not it for sure! It gets abusively packed and crowded, but then again, that’s what makes it warm and familiar. Cocktails and beer is the best off the menu, and the Caipirinhas are a thumbs up too. Don’t expect to get quick service or the cheapest drinks. Waiters are limited, and bartenders even more. So plan on getting as fast as possible to the counter. And staying there.
75 rue de Seine 75006 (Mº Ódeon)
Le Caveau des Oubliettes- This one’s a dancer. If you’re a student, you like blues and rock n’roll, loud music and St.Michel…here you go. A classic pub with a secret basement where you can hear live music almost any day, right in the center of St.Michel.The walls are arched and made of ancient stone, which gives a real underground feel to it. The entrance is free, but the drinks aren’t unfortunately. It’s quite expensive for a pub, but in the end you’re actually paying for the concert. Beer is the best choice in these cases. The bands are usually good and, very curiously, so is the acoustic. Excellent bar to stop with a large group of people so you can start the chaos downstairs.
52 rue Galande 75005 (Mº St.Michel)
La Féline- For those who are into rock-a-billy, garage rock, punk and other sub-genres (or whatever you call it) this is of the best I’ve been to. The area slightly different from your usual Paris, and not a common location haunted by tourists. I’d consider it more of a punky residential “quartier” with gas on full. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch some concerts on Saturdays. So if this is your genre of music and you love motorcycles than welcome home. It’s not dangerous either, so it’s just fine to take the metro alone. The best of the bar is obviously on the street curb, where you can make conversation, drink your whiskey and smoke your cigarette in peace. Prices are standard…
6, rue Victor Letalle 75011 (Mº Ménilmontant)
La Butte aux Cailles, in general- It’s hard to simply land here unless you’re a resident in Paris. It’s almost a “quartier” inside a “quartier” where you can have good laughs, and compared to some places in Paris, be treated like a human being. This is the first of Parisian nightlife that I experienced, and continue to enjoy. The streets are cobblestoned, the walls have cool graphic designs and the people are very artsie-fartsie. It’s a place you can go if you want to see the same face by the bar and have a drink by yourself. I usually stop by when it’s too late to go somewhere else, or I just want to run away from the downtown Parisian chaos. Definitely of the few places where I can chill out, draw in my sketchbook and not feel any pressure from the waiters. There’s no rush, and that’s good sometimes. Some bars on this street can get very crowded on weekends though. Such is the case with La Folie en Tête, Taverne de la Butte and Chez Michel (which are the best ones too). Even then it maintains it’s welcoming ambience, and it’s easy to make conversation. The funny thing about these places is how the french strive to speak english when they know you’re not french. The french speak english, and I answer french. The result is magnificent.
La Butte ax Cailles is not expensive at all as you can imagine. It’s typically residential, and in the middle of the 13th “arrondissement” (not a very rich area). Next to it, la rue Des Cinq Diamants which has the best restaurant in the “village”, Chez Gladines.
rue de La Butte aux Cailles 75013
rue des Cinq Diamants 75013
O’CD – This is just a simple second-hand store with a very good selection of films, categorized by genres, directors, actors. There’s just no way of not finding what you’re looking for, unless it’s not really there. The cd’s section is also good to explore, and you can encounter some gems once in a while if you’ve got the patience to search. It’s quite organized too, and the staff is very helpful. They currently have four addresses in the center of Paris, along with others in the suburbs. Become a usual costumer, complete they’re fidelity card with purchases and you’ll have 10€ off your next buy. There’s very few things over 15€, so you can buy something nice!
All this with no deadlines, no rush.
PARIS 1e 24 rue Pierre Lescot 75001 (Mº Les Halles)
PARIS 4e 12 rue St. Antoine 75004 (Mº Bastille)
PARIS 5e 25 rue des Ecoles 75005 (Mº Maubert-Mutualité)
PARIS 15e 46 rue du Commerce 75015 (Mº Commerce)
Hang around, because I’ll be adding more info to the page! Coming up: books, curious shops, and dinning out!