Le 6 Paul Bert-Hugh’s Birthday Dinner!

I subscribe to a blog written by David Lebovitz, chef and author of The Sweet Life in Paris. Because of David’s review of a new Paris restaurant, Le 6 Paul Bert, Hugh and I celebrated Hugh’s 62nd birthday there. Owner, Bertrand Auboyneau also owns another bistro, also called Le Paul Bert and a fish house, Ecallier de Bistro.

We had a wonderful evening! What we liked best about this small galley shaped restaurant is that our table was at the end right next to the stainless steel kitchen where we could watch Canadian chef, Louis-Phillipe and his assistant prepare the small “plats” of over 30 different savory dishes from which we chose. It was exciting to watch and seemed effortless-though we know that a great deal of labor went into the delectable creations. For 38€ (euros) each, we could chose 3 of the plats and have dessert. Wine of course was extra. Our waiter was very patient with our rudimentary (but improving!) French and kindly recommended just the right wine to accompany the superb meal. I love that the portions are small and that there are so many choices. Not many Parisian restaurants are like this.

Another highlight of the evening was watching the glow on the face of the kitchen helper when chef Louis-Phillipe ran over and high fived him. Mr. Hugh had a most indelible birthday. His choice of the chocolate ganache dessert with the additional crumbles of crunchy darker chocolate and dollops of a piquant creamy strawberry sauce created his look of diverted wonder.

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April in Paris-Jardin du Luxembourg

Finally the trees have green leaves, tulips and flowering shrubs are blooming, and it is much more fun to visit the Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens) only about half a mile from our apartment. These are the gardens featured in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables! The 60 acre park attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. It includes traditional French and English style gardens, an orangery, fruit (hundreds of varieties of apple and pear trees) gardens and hot houses, the latter of which are only open to the public during European Heritage Days, this year, 2013, the 14th and 15th of September. The hot houses contain tropical orchids. The park also features beautiful fountains and about 100 statues. We will visit often as the place is a magical, green haven away from the bustle of the city. Currently the fence surrounding the gardens displays photographs of the Tour de France bicycle race. It is fascinating to see race photos dating back to the 1920’s. Until July 21st the Musée du Luxembourg (museum which is on the park grounds) has an exhibit of Chagall’s art that is on my list of things to see.

The Palais du Luxembourg shown in several of the photos has a long history. It was built in 1615 by Marie du Médicis, mother of King Louis XIII and member of the Médicis family of Florence, Italy. The Palace was a museum forerunner of the Louvre, one time home to Napoleon Bonaparte, Cardinal de Richelieu, and to Hermann Göring during World War II. It was used as a prison during the French Revolution and since has been home to the French Senate (which is not to say that the French Senate is being held in prison).

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Sunday in the Marais

Yesterday, April 14th was sunny and warm (74 degrees) in Paris- the most enjoyable weather since we arrived at the end of January. Hugh and I spent the afternoon in the Marais, the lively historic, gay, Jewish, Chinese, trendy district full of specialty shops, restaurants and art galleries. It is only a short walk from our apartment. Because it was such a gorgeous day and a Sunday, the neighborhood was teeming with Parisians and tourists. Street musicians, from blues to jazz singers, steel drum and classical piano players to performers with eccentric costumes and instruments entertained us. Tmode was a fabulous exhibit of 95 contemporary artisans who had their jewellery, clothing, bags, shoes, hats etc. for sale. I bought a vintage art blouse from Rose de Fountaine. She kindly agreed to let Hugh take our photo. One must watch out for dog shit on the streets and sidewalks! It is everywhere. Parisians do not believe in picking up after their dogs. So far neither Hugh nor I have stomped in a pile. Oh, fashion trend women with extra tight short shorts paired with tights and high heels. On Sunday I was only able to get a photo of one of the more tame of these outfits-blue jeans shorts with plain black tights. I will get some shots of the wilder versions. Stay tuned.

Merci beacoup pour la Bonne Journée!

My friend Ali Zeitoun is Egyptian. He speaks Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish and English. When he is not traveling the globe he lives near Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has a friend he met in the forest lands of Brazil who moved to Paris about a year ago to marry a Parisian. Ayna speaks Portuguese. Ali arranged a meeting via Facebook between Ayna and her husband and me and Hugh by translating Portuguese to English and back again! When we met José, Ayna, and her son (also named José) we communicated in French! Fortunately for us José Sr. was very patient and able to explain carefully and slowly so that we could understand! Merci beaucoup José, Ayna and José for a wonderful day. They took us to the famous Rue Moufftarde and treated us to the best crèpe in Paris. Then we walked to the nearby  Grande Mosquée de Paris, founded in 1926 as a token of gratitude to the Muslin tirailleurs, 100,000 of whom died in WWI defending against the Germans. Next we were taken to a tea room for hot sweet mint tea and delicious pastries. Our final destination was the famous Les Arènes de Lutèce, an ancient Roman arena where gladiators fought in the 1st century AD.

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Lauren Meyer bonne journée

Hugh, Lauren, and Brenda at dinner at Le Reminet

Hugh, Lauren, and Brenda at dinner at Le Reminet

Late in March we had the opportunity to have dinner here in Paris with Lauren Meyer. She works for a company on Bainbridge Island planning tours like the ones you might receive from your alma mater, “Join us for a 2 weeks on the French Riviera!” or something like that. She said that the Naval Academy and Georgia Tech, both of which send Hugh mailings with these types of travel opportunities, are clients of her company. Lauren was in France doing some advance planning for one of these trips (she was working the whole time), but was able to take a break her last night in town and have dinner with us at Le Reminet, a local restaurant about 50 yards down the street from our apartment. Unfortunately husband Greg didn’t get to make the trip. She sent us a nice note after returning home:

Hi Brenda and Monsieur Ewg,

I am filled with memories of a fun, relaxing evening surrounded by two lovely people in a beautiful room with stone walls and warm light.  Thank you so much for the delicious dinner in Paris. It is tops on the list of moments I enjoyed on my trip to France.  Your home away from home is lovely. I hope you get hours of curling up in that “book nook” with the world’s best view.

Thank you Lauren for taking time from your busy schedule to spend time with us.

Just goes to show that it’s not all work and no play if you have a chance to visit us in Paris.

Knock yourself out at Shakespeare and Company Bookshop

Brenda in her corner at Shakespeare and Company

Brenda in her corner at Shakespeare and Company

Only a few blocks from our apartment is an enchanting place called the Shakespeare and Company Bookshop. It’s a wonderful spot to spend a rainy cold afternoon browsing three floors of books, most in English, stacked floor to high ceiling. One is literally encased by books! There I am in my nice soft chair tucked under a stairwell engrossed in an art book, “Paris Line By Line” by Robinson. All is well until I realize too much time has passed. Quickly I stand up forgetting that I am sitting so far back under the stairs. Yep, knock yourself out at Shakespeare and Company! “Les Etoiles” is French for ” the stars” I see after hitting the top of my hard head on the stair tread.

Although Shakespeare and Company is a long standing venture, it’s actually the reincarnation of an even more famous bookstore by the same name. In the 1920s a free thinking American named Sylvia Beach started Shakespeare and Company on Rue de l’Odéon, also in the Latin Quarter, as a haven for American writers who flocked to Paris after World War I. Earnest Hemingway, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Gertrude Stein, and Ezra Pound were all known to have frequented Sylvia’s original store.

Below is a link (sorry we could not embed it) to Shakespeare and Company’s short video that details some of the fascinating history of the store. George Whitman, who started this bookstore died in 2011 but his daughter, Sylvia Beach Whitman carries on the tradition of encouraging young writers.


Cut and Color at Carita


Marine, my colorist

On March 5 th, Hugh and my 24th wedding anniversary, mon proprietaire, (landlord) was kind enough to arrange an appointment for me with her colorist and stylist, at Carita Paris3 rue du Boccador, Paris. Carita is billed as the House of Beauty and has several Paris locations. They have their own line of beauty products for face and body. At the entry the receptionist takes my coat and scarf and gives me a white robe to put on. Then I am led to the back of the salon to meet Marine, my colorist. She has lovely ear length wavy hair in a very natural reddish brown color so I am relieved that I will not come out with wild blonde streaks. While Marine is examining my roots and deciding how to blend new color with old, Audrey,  a delightful young and very petite dark haired gamine gives me the best manicure I have ever had. It is swiftly and expertly executed and my nails gleam with a high gloss coating.

IMG_4330The salon has black and white tiled floors, black washing basins with white sinks, thick black towels and lots of chrome, glass and wood cabinetry displaying Carita products. Marine, wearing a shiny black vinyl apron, carefully paints color onto each section of my hair, lets me rest for about 20 minutes while the dye works its magic, then washes and rinses my hair and gently massages my scalp for at least 10 minutes. I notice that colorists from time to time lightly squeeze the tops of their client’s shoulders- maybe just a sign to let us know that we are in good hands and to relax? It is very comforting.
When the rinsing is finished, Marine wraps my head in one of those abundant black towels twisting and tucking it into a turban then leads me to the cutting station where I am introduced to Clementine, my stylist. Carita is a very busy place. My landlord has told me that it can take weeks to get an appointment.
IMG_4334Clementine and I practice French while she cuts. She has had 4 years of training to become a stylist at this salon. Eventually she may want to have her own shop. She shapes my hair very carefully but quickly, following the style that Tyson at Robert Leonard Salon in Seattle has previously cut. Maybe next visit  I will be more adventuresome. Clementine blow dries my hair into waves which look very natural.
My hair is slightly darker brown than the color that Ward Fuentes at Seattle’s Robert Leonard Salon creates. We can work on that next time. Voilà! I am ready for our anniversary dinner celebration!
 See a video on U Tube at this link: http://youtu.be/rwST0LS_Uqw
Here’s another view of the salon.

Street side crèpes!

Creparie artisan in the Marais

Crèperie artisan in the Marais

Oui! There really are crèperies with windows opening onto the street so you can walk right up, order, pay then continue on your way while enjoying a delicious snack. In the Marais, a lively neighborhood within half a mile of our apartment, this delightful frenchman sings and jokes while preparing your crèpe. You can have sweet (sucre) or one filled with chicken, egg, ham and or fromage. (cheese)

Roller Blading in Paris

IMG_4323 IMG_4324Late in the afternoon on Sunday as Hugh and I were leaving our new gym to walk the short half mile to our apartment, the street suddenly filled with roller bladers! They were escorted by police and followed by bicycles and emergency vehicles (in case of roller blade accident.) While they stopped at a traffic light, I got a few quick photos. When I ran back in to the health club to ask about the roller bladers, the receptionist told me that there is gathering every Sunday for a race through the streets. Further research informed me that every Friday night starting at 10 PM there is a 3 hour roller blade ride through the streets of Paris sponsored by Pari Roller. There can be as many as 35,000 bladers! The bladers we saw on Sunday were beginners or families but the Friday night event is for experts! What a great way to see the city!

Our new apartment in Paris!

Our tiny, 450 sq. ft. apartment is located on the left bank just across the Seine from Notre Dame. We look right at that beautiful cathedral. We checked out 9 different apartments that we found on the internet, noting in the process that www.pap.fr  was the easiest site to navigate. Apartments with more square footage did not equate to better condition or better neighborhood, so we chose a smaller place with the best location and remodel job. It was surprising how few options we had for furnished long term rentals. Wouldn’t you know it the first apartment we looked at was the best one! Of course we didn’t understand how nice it was until we compared. I’ll post a gallery of photos so you can look around.

We have a small bedroom with windows opening to a non traffic street. All the apartment windows are double glazed, which is good because the road in front has heavy traffic. There is a cozy reading nook with lots of cushions, a living room with couch/pull out bed, and a wooden table that can expand to seat 6. The tiny kitchen is open to the living room. It contains dishwasher, washing machine, refrigerator, microwave (which can also be used for grilling or roasting) 2 burner electric cook top, fan with hood and cabinets for glasses, dishes, pots and pans. The bathroom is tiled with marble floors and walls, though one whole wall is mirrored, and there is tub/shower and double sinks. The heat is electric (3 separate wall units.) Water is heated with gas. We have great Internet access and a flat screen TV. Apart from the marble bath, all other  flooring is wood.

The landlord provides an iron and ironing board, vacuum cleaner, mop, swifter, toaster, coffee maker, cooking utensils, bedding-though you buy your own sheets, towels and pillow cases. Our biggest problem was where to store the suitcases-they are stacked  atop a small cabinet in the bedroom. All walls are white. Windows have privacy/sun shades.

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