Le Marais (Monday)

The Marais is one of the oldest and picturesque parts of Paris, characterized by its unique 17th century buildings and being a centerpiece of the Jewish lifestyle in Paris. This is a lively neighborhood with, from what I can tell, a bit of hipster lifestyle scene; lots of trendy bars, shops, and eateries.

We started out the day armed with a blog print-out of all the best vintage shops in the area. Steph deftly wove in and out of the numerous alleys and quickly and somewhat dejectedly ascertained that they weren’t up to her high standards. Luckily, there were plenty of other shops with all manner of twee housewares and accessories to occupy us. The highlight of the day was discovering two paper stores, one selling fine writing sheets, pencils, and handmade blank books, the other specializing in inks, calligraphic instruments, and postcards. At the former, Papier +, we bought an album to house all our Paris pics in, in the latter, Steph bought some nibs and ink, and me, fancy postcards adorned with all manner of French delicacies I will never taste.

I was able to taste and enjoy the best falafel I’ve ever had at L’as du Fallafel. Luckily all the upscale boutiques and stylish cafes haven’t edged out all the traditional Jewish fare in the area. We sat on the curb, chowed down; best food I’ve had here yet.

The main focus for contemporary art in France is also in this part of town, at the Pompidou Center. The Pompidou Center, also known simply as Beaubourg, is all about modern and contemporary 20th-century art. To keep the exhibition halls uncluttered, the architects put the building’s ‘insides’ on the outside, with each duct, pipe and vent painted its own telltale color: elevators and escalators are red, electrical circuitry yellow, plumbing green and air-conditioning blue. Around this time we also figured out how nasty French public toilets are. Steph was unable to go there, and we had to vamoose without going into the museum, although we checked out the architecture and design store (we’re planning to go for a proper visit and lunch later in the week).

After using the modern and clean facilites in our flat, we went out to the bank of the Ile, and I wrote postcards while Steph did some pen and ink drawings with her new equipment. For some reason, several police boats sped down the Seine in front of us, occupants armed to the teeth with automatic weapons! Hope they caught the guy.

For our anniversary dinner, I tried to get a reservation at one of the best “cheap” (not cheap) places in the Latin quarter according to Gridskipper. Dining here is a touchy subject; it seems many chefs are outright hostile to the vegetarian schtick. At least I had been told as such. I figured, hey, any good place is happy to offer a basic accommodation to one customer. We walked in a few hours before dinner time and I piped up: “Est-il possible de préparer un repas sans viande? Je suis végétarien.” The host looked pained and gave his reply:

Discouraged, and we tried a place that looked a little touristy near the flat (and it was) but we had a great fix-price 3 course meal (pasta is the name of the game for me I’m discovering) with a nice Bordeaux and stayed up people watching and chatting. Bonne nuit!

5 comments on “Le Marais (Monday)

  1. scott September 22, 2010 12:50 pm

    happy anniversary to you both!

    it looks like you’ve been getting some great weather out there, but i do have to say that your vegetarian eating troubles do not make me feel like i would do very well over there… but vegan-friendly or not, your journal sure is making paris look lovely…

    • James September 23, 2010 4:44 am

      Thanks!

      There is a vegetarian (vegan?) place a couple alleys over (one of like 3 in all of Paris). I’ll report back if they do the whole vegan thing…

    • Steph September 23, 2010 3:15 pm

      Scott,

      Thanks for the happy wishes! We are having incredible weather. How are you?!

      BTW we tried out the vegetarian restaurant tonight and it was amazing!

  2. Daniel September 22, 2010 2:35 pm

    O lala lala…. Parisian waiters… ce sont terrible (quelques temps). For such an *enlightened* people, you’d think there’d be more space for those who don’t eat meat.

    Sounded like a lovely evening anyway, though. Happy anniversary to you both! We’re loving your posts — keep them coming. Also, Kristin and I noticed yesterday that the furthest bateau in IMG_2368 (which you can just make out in the photo) is where we stopped in to have a drink on our last day in Paris in July 2009. Maman, who accompanied us on the trip and was an eager babysitter, spent time with Madeleine while we went about and enjoyed one last tryst. Lovely view of Notre Dame from the Seine. We were happy to find that it made its way onto your blog.

    • James September 23, 2010 4:49 am

      As I just told my vegan buddy Scott, there is a vegetarian place just around the corner. A real rarity, so looking forward to going there before we leave. I usual eschew vegetarian restaurants, but one can only have the cheese plate for lunch so many times!

      We love the comments, and what a special coincidence!! Steph says, “AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!”

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