Day 83–Back to the Bastille (and a Side Trip to the Marais)

Off to the gym early today. Well, as early as they open. On the way in,we saw another guy having his few last puffs of smoke and downing his espresso before he worked out. Hilarious.

Meanwhile, having heard me mention this to Sandy (oops!), he asked me in the locker room if we were American. I told him we were Canadian. But I still think that even if they didn’t hear us talk, they know we aren’t French. I can’t figure it out but must be the look.

For instance, I bought a scarf at a boutique yesterday and the owner showed me how to tie it, French-style. I suggested to her that if I wore it that way, people would think I was French but she assured me that, however I wore it, they would never mistake me for a Frenchman! She did say it nicely, though.

On a news note, the French pilots’ union has threatened a strike, just in time for the French summer vacation. Seems to me, much labour discord here, despite seriously excellent health care, aged-care, child-care and a 35-hour maximum work week but who knows…it’s all a matter of perspective, as I’ve been reflecting this whole sabbatical. Maybe that’s why they have great health care, etc.

At Sandy’s suggestion, I put on sunscreen as this is the most glorious day since we’ve been here; beats wearing my JFK Library hat.

Went on a seriously long walk through the lower and east side of the Bastille area (where we were last night, in fact) including a long side trip to the northern Marais for a light lunch and a little, mostly window, shopping excursion except for Jacques Genin, fondeur en chocolat, and supplier to many restos in town, who has a beautiful boutique at 133, rue de Turenne in the 3rd. Worth a visit if you like chocolate. (Except for GPS, who doesn’t?)

On the way there, we stopped into look at the beautiful Belle Epoque interior of the brasserie, Bofinger,, but, despite Joanne Kates’ advice, didn’t stay to dine. (Alec Lobrano, who’s lived here 20+ years, says this: “The beautiful decor at this historic brasserie on the edge of the Marais can’t compensate for the kitchen’s mediocrity and the offhanded service.”) Instead, we had lunch at a 99% organic food place called Rose Bakery, 30, rue Debelleyme, also in the 3rd. After 3 months of French bistro food, you really crave salad greens and vegetables once in a while. (J/N,J/A, she has a place in London as well, Comme des Garçons, Dover Street Market.)

After lunch we explored the 11th arr. a little further (see photos), checked out a Giles Sacksick show (hadn’t heard of him, either, except that there’ve been posters for this show all around the Métro for weeks) at an interesting gallery down winding stairs in a basement on rue Daval,, ending up at the Promenade Plantée. Although it was only about 2 1/2 months ago that we were there on a cold March day, it felt like a hundred years especially now and with the flowers and foliage in bloom, it’s become an even more beautiful walkway over the old train line.

Came home for un petit pause and people-watched at Les Deux Magots (as Le Flore, much to be preferred, was completely full) for an hour or so in the sun.

Had another fun dinner at Le Paul Bert and came back home, blvd Saint-Germain still overrun with a mélangeof tourists and others, as far as I could tell.