The Latin Quarter and the île de la Cité

After a two hour nap (i.e. our entire nights’ rest) we dragged ourselves up and out the door for lunch at a brasserie around the corner from the apartment. The place was full to the brim with people-watchers and couples gazing and smoking. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the sunshine and crisp weather. Our interaction with the waiter was our James’ first attempt at conversation in French. It went well, but the waiter suddenly switched to English halfway through the ordering process. James proceeded in French, while I spoke as little as possible in English. I muttered “merci” a few times. AWKWARD. The next time he came around it was not so weird and he started speaking in French again. For the remainder of the meal it was this way until it was time to pay the check. James did really well. He’s memorized many of the phrases we will be using this week.

I have been considering learning a language (maybe French?) when we get back. It’s possible that this is one of those grandious plans one makes on vacation while hyped up on caffeine, feeling ambitious and not burdened by the day to day responsibilities of life. I am so envious of people who have mastered multiple languages! At any rate, the french-speaking went much better after the ice-breaker lunch and we were more confident for the rest of our day interacting with shop keepers and market workers. We bought groceries at this fabulous french grocer (Monoprix) that sells food, wine, cosmetics, clothing and housewares. Sort of a Harris Teeter, H&M and Ulta miniaturized and combined? a I bought some excellent bobby pins that are much better than the kind I find in the US. James looked at jeans and I had to talk him out of buying a silly hat.

We walked most of the Latin Quarter today and also walked the grounds at Notre Dame. During our trek home we stumbled upon Shakespeare and Company. It turns out we are on the same street. Today there is a wine-tasting / festival on the left bank, right outside of our front window. The live music just stopped but had been playing all day long across the street. Lots of people are milling around and tasting the wine.

We are so exhausted. We will make some food and go to sleep early to get a good start for tomorrow!

3 comments on “The Latin Quarter and the île de la Cité

  1. Daniel September 20, 2010 2:57 pm

    Ah Monoprix! C’est fantastique pour tout les choses français! A few suggestions pour votre plaisir:

    – Le Rustique (camembert) [the fromagophile may turn up his nose at cheese not purchased from a fromagerie, but this blows anything from the States out of the water]

    – Montbazillac (wine) [white and semi-sweet – but not too sweet – this is the favorite of my Parisian aunt]

    – Aussi la source nécessaire pour l’eau minérale! [which reminds me, if I didn’t mention this before, tap water – which is actually very good in Paris – may be easily procured at restaurants by requesting “un carafe d’eau”. Don’t be fleeced by €5 for mineral water to which tourists fall prey!]

    Water. Wine. Cheese. What more could you want? Ah yes — each other.

    • James September 21, 2010 3:05 pm

      Water. Wine. Cheese. These are most of the words I know in French. Also, mainly what I am living on. Sadly, “Pouvez-vous preparer un repas sans viande?” mainly gets us kicked out of all decent restaurants. Poor Steph!

      We did figure out how to get still water, but thanks for the grocery suggestions. We cooked in tonight, and real French butter makes everything taste better, albeit de Monoprix. So no noses will be upturned!

    • Steph September 21, 2010 4:41 pm

      Dan! Thanks for your comments. We are so happy to hear more suggestions—keep them coming!!

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