Day 5–An Afternoon in the 11th and 12th

After a good workout, so that we could enjoy breakfast, we thought about the day stretching ahead.

It’s overcast, again, so a museum or gallery might be in order but, this being the 5th of March, we thought we’d head to the 11th and 12th arrs., sort of like a Parisian Sudoku. The 11th, just east of the 3rd (le Marais), is a newly-gentrified area, popular with “bobo’s” or bourgeois bohemians as the French call them. (For instance, a family lawyer friend of ours, who would freely admit to the designation, and family live there.)

The area became popular after Mitterand in one of his grand projets built the Bastille opera house in 1989, ostensibly to show that the Socialists cared about artistic endeavours. It was meant to be designed by Richard Rogers, if memory serves correctly, but mistakenly awarded to Uruguayan-born, Canadian-resident Carlos Ott. Towards the end of his life, Mitterand admitted that the fix was in but that the selection committee had somehow chosen Ott’s entry in the “blind” competition. It certainly did Ott no harm. Not surprisingly, this particular bit of architectural history is not mentioned in either’s entry on Wikipedia.

Despite the fact that the locals and many Parisians generally don’t like the design, find the performances inaccessible and pricey, the area became yuppified from the 90s onwards. Not many museums, monuments and the like, but diversely-ethnic shops and restaurants dot the area.

One of our favourites, and one of Paris’s best bistros, Le Bistrot Paul-Bert, 18, rue Paul-Bert, has a sister restaurant of which I was unaware until recently. L’Ecailler du Bistrot, 22, rue Paul-Bert, specializes in oysters, fish and seafood, and that’s what we thoroughly enjoyed for lunch today before a walk through the neighbourhood into the 12th. (An ecailler is an oyster-shucker, by the way. Our server had fun repeating the word as part of her attempt to learn English and I can assure you, it sounds better with a French accent.) For these two places, and one or two others (Chez L’ami Louis, pour certain), I may have to break my self-imposed, ridiculously rigid “90 days/90 different places” sabbatical rule.

We ended up walking along a pleasant garden pathway, called Promenade Plantée, through shrubs and hedges that will become even more appealing when spring gets here. The Promenade is built on an old railway line, underneath which is a gallery of artisinal shops, called Viaduc des arts which we didn’t visit today. The arches holding the tracks form the street-side front of some of the shops, very appealing and a great use of otherwise useless space.

After a brief stop at Au Bon Marché, we ended up back at the apartment, recharging our and the camera’s batteries, the latter of which I had inadvertently depleted overnight so no photos today.

And, Shannon, those photos of me yesterday were the same. It was my poor attempt at blog humour or, in French, une blague de blog. I have attached the “real” After photo below.

Postscript: We ended up going to Cafe Laurent, a jazz club in a Hotel D’Aubusson at rue Dauphine and rue Christine. Funnily enough, we had stayed at Relais Christine down the street maybe half-a-dozen times and never noticed the hotel, let alone the jazz, at least since Sandy’s become an aficianado. I did take a few photos here as I had recharged the battery by then.

Ignoring yesterday’s 542 calorie burn at the gym, we stopped by Yves Camdeborde’s creperie, next door to Le Comptoir du Relais, for a couple of late night crepes, chocolate-banana for me (for the potassium in the banana, of course), chocolate only for Sandy.