Our bed in Marias Chapon held us longer than planned. The skies were bearing witness of a different day than what we had anticipated – RAIN.
Nonplussed we embarked on our final full day in Paris determined to complete my preplanned ‘foodie tour’ of bread shops, bakeries and any other delicious thing we could find. In Canada I poured over the book ‘Barefoot in Paris’ by Ina Garten, one of my favourite cooks. She has lots of practical tips about great spots based upon her travels in Paris. I marked up my map with tiny rhinestones so my time spent in Paris (at least on the map) would sparkle.
One block in the rain and it was evident I would need a sturdier umbrella. Once we found a reasonably priced variety, we rode the rails to St. Germain des Pres (Left Bank). This is bistro/café heaven. Within this area Laduree, Poilane, and chocolatiers galore are ensconced within the brown-grey stone walls. With the very narrow sidewalks and uneven pavement, my impressions of a romantic stroll are quickly dashed and we walk single file, dodging the umbrellas of others, poking each other to get attention when we have something to say.
People everywhere have rolling luggage – en route to one destination or another. My Beloved says we can retire in Paris and he will set up a luggage repair shop. The wheels would need care after a lengthy trip. Laughing at his ridiculous observation, we press on to the first stop of the day – Poilane – an artisanal bakery in the Latin Quarter, founded in 1932. Famous for the 2 kilogram round loaf with the distinctive ‘P’ baked in the top, it sells at Holt Renfrew for $35.00 per loaf (it is flown fresh from Paris daily). My plan was to buy a loaf, add it to the carefully packed backpack of delectable cheeses, fruit and prosciutto and head to Luxembourg Gardens for a noon picnic.
My spirits were not dampened by the pouring rain. I cradled my 5 pound loaf like a precious baby under the umbrella and we meandered more little streets with tiny shops. Paris is a very expensive city, and I appreciate that in many windows they simply post the prices of their overpriced wares. You don’t need to go in and touch their goods (I think it’s frowned upon) – you just know before you go. We wandered in the general direction of the Gardens (Ina says this is a must do while in Paris – picnic in Luxembourg).
The rain kept everyone away. It is a plus to be willing to explore, regardless. The Gardens were empty. There was an overhang near the entrance that housed the old men playing chess and two watchful gendarmerie. One man motioned for me to sit down and play. I told him ‘non, merci’, I don’t know how to play chess. He had a very thick, wrinkled book with many notes regarding his game. It’s a book so weathered and so full of chess moves – an encyclopedia of his time spent at that same table, luring people to take him on, while he practices his craft. We found a couple of chairs and started to lay out our spread. Fresh Poilane, brie so creamy soft smeared on the bread like butter and prosciutto piled on top – sigh. Decadent. We ate, observed, watched the ducks trooping their colours like the British at noon. They have many different colours. We shared some and they hovered, ever hopeful.
When we finished the luxurious picnic, we strolled through the gardens, a very romantic afternoon as the beauty within them was laid before us as an exclusive display of fountains and flowers with the occasional gendarmerie watching us from his weather shade.
Between showers, we moved on to Odeon Metro but walked instead of riding the train. We happened upon a lovely bistro – Le Danton – where we had a cozy sheltered corner window and we were served coffee by an exuberant waiter. He suggested the house fresh rhubarb pie – it was creamy, silky, tart and sweet all at the same time. An elderly lady in the corner observed our time smiling at us constantly as if approving of our choices and the entertainment proffered by this actor/waiter.
Bolstered with our coffee break, we decided again to forego our Metro walk to see the Odeon (theatre) area. It was alive with delicious shops. The weather cooperated, even. We ambled through side streets – every corner there is something to see. I am in tow with my paparazzo in single file. Paris may be a city of love, but it appears they sacrificed sidewalks for a little extra width on city streets.
Parking is always at a premium and it is constantly entertaining watching drivers play ‘bumper cars’ in order to park efficiently. One of the events captured by my paparazzo was a Bentley being towed – the car alarm screaming for its negligent owner. This towing job was a quite feat on a scenic street near the Science and Technology Museum.
One of the main events I had planned from Canada was to occur this afternoon. I had read about the ‘Love Bridge’ and thought it would be fun to go, place our lock and re-commit our love to each other. Ponts des l’Arts is overflowing with ‘committed love locks’. Really, it looked like a metal wall from a distance. We had a lock with a Canadian flag key tag to distinguish it from all the others. We stood at the bridge and we shared some laughs, some tears and thanked God for our long, happy married life. We exchanged some words of how we look forward to the future together. We took our keys and threw them into the Seine. The thought here is our love is secure as it is buried at the bottom of the river. More photojournalism and the sun shone. Let’s walk some more!
We did a little side trip to Isle de Cite where we wandered around Notre Dame and some very picturesque side streets. Found a lovely orchid shop where we surreptitiously took some photos thinking of our youngest daughter who claims these as her favourite flower. We crossed over to the ‘other side’ (Right Bank) of the Seine and take in the view at Hotel de Ville and decide it’s time to return to our pied a terre to launder, pack and prepare for the next leg of our journey.
Once home we made omelettes, ate more delicious Poilane and brie topped off with raspberry-coconut cake.
A bientot Paris – your people are spectacular. Warm, welcoming – I am totally in love with the friendly folks. The city itself hasn’t quite suited me, but I have been thinking of Gucci and me – City Mouse and Country Mouse. She is Right Bank and I am Left Bank. It has taken some time for me to warm up to Paris, it’s definitely my friend, but will take more time to grow.
My final task of the day was to review our spending of this lovely rain soaked romantic day in Paris – with our shopping (we bought some items for loved ones), Poilane, umbrella, more pastries at Paul, truffles from La Dimanche en Paris and dinner items at Monprix – we spent $110.00! Value is everywhere – if you re-think the ordinary to make it extraordinary.