Saturday, November 26, 2016

Arriving in Paris

We left our rental car in Avignon (Goodbye GPS Beatrice and thank you!) and took the high speed train to Paris. Highly recommend! The train is very comfortable, quiet and speedy and very affordable. Do be aware that the seats are placed slightly above the aisle. When we switched places after about a half hour because Sweetie wanted to sit by the window, I didn't see the change of level due to the dim lighting, so I fell and hit my forearm and elbow, although mostly I was embarrassed.We saw acres and acres of crops as we sped north. Once we reached the Gare de Lyon and left the train we had the first part of our to use the Metro. Other travelers were extremely helpful both is assisting with the ticket machines and with directing us to the correct platform to go to Gare du Nord where we were getting off. The apartment we were renting was supposed to be only a few blocks away from there. After spending a week in France where everywhere we went it was tidy, with no litter or graffiti, it was noticeable and surprising how littered Paris was, starting with the train station and continuing on to where we stayed. Love this blue door, but not the grafitti.

The next part of the puzzle was finding the correct streets to get to the Anvers Park, which seemed like a good landmark to head to since I knew that it is across the street from the apartment. After a little zigging and zagging we entered the park and looked around. 

No sign of the bar where we were supposed to get the keys. By this time we were a bit tired, so we sat on a bench in the sun and relaxed a few minutes, then phoned our Paris contact person. She explained that we were at the wrong end of the park. It runs a full block and the bar we were looking for wasn't visible from where we sat. It was by the Anvers Metro station.

So we walked up the block and I went into the busy bar (the theory being that I can sort of speak French) and eventually I did secure the keys. The door of our building was only a few doors down from the bar, but the key was tricky, the elevator was tiny (one suitcase and one person per trip tiny), and...yay...the apartment was absolutely lovely. The living/dining room was light and airy with a tall window that looked out onto the park. The kitchen had a bright red wall and an efficient layout and everything one could want, although we did forget that the owner had told us where the placemats were hidden below the oven. The bedroom was not huge, but not tiny either and it had a window looking out on a courtyard. The bed was comfortable and there was a reading lamp.

It was quiet and the living room had a very comfortable couch, decent chair and a good reading lamp. There was also a coat rack just inside the front door and a nice bathroom to the right of that. There were beautiful paintings and art pieces and lots of travel books. We settled in for a while and then had dinner at the bar where we had gotten the keys. Nothing to write home about (or to post about either).Before we went back to the apartment we found a tiny produce shop where we purchased some lovely organic fruit. The next day I had fun finding other local places to purchase fresh food and we were able to have a nice pork chop dinner at home the second night,

a number of breakfasts, including some great Polaine bread toast,

and at least one lunch. I know that Paris has spectacular food, but much of it also has milk, cream, butter and cheese, so knowing what was in my meals gave me great peace of mind, plus I had always wanted to cook in Paris!

The Anvers area is just a few blocks from Sacre Coeur Cathedral and in the lively Montmartre area. This used to be the artists section of Paris and there is still a bohemian flavor to the neighborhood. I loved that it was diverse. We passed people speaking many languages and of various skin tones and types of dress. When I was walking around doing the shopping I noticed shops with exoctic spices from Turkey and Iran and Morocco and similar signs that this area of Paris is cosmopolitan. The people watching is fun, too.

In the morning the park is quiet and the view across it is towards the area where artists like Toulouse Lautrec lived.

About 9 am the children start to arrive to play and the park is lively with the noises of children playing until about 7 pm when they go home. The park is mostly sunny, so there are plenty of people other than children who enjoy sitting in the sun on the benches, too.

About a block away I noticed an antique store with pretty things in the window.

Further down, on the Rue de Martyrs, I found the macaron shop of my dreams, Arnaud Delmontel.
They had other baked goods, but this is what caught my eye:

I purchased three of the raspberry ones since they were filled with raspberry jam (no buttercream) and I love raspberry. I ate them with afternoon tea later that day and they were perfect!

Another shop I passed on the same street was a boulangerie, with a window filled with tarts, palmiers, and a number of different kinds of bread. Since I had plenty of baguettes and a whole pound of the Poulaine boule, I passed it by.

There was a fantastic natural food store, a regular grocery market, and a green grocers where I picked up items for our meals in Paris. I think I enjoyed the shopping quite a bit too, although I never made it to a market like the one in Lourmarin. Never made it to a bookstore with English language books, either, although we did visit one where all the books were in French (totally wasted on book-loving Sweetie).

Tomorrow we will be taking another Metro ride and visiting the area of Paris by the Seine.

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