Saturday, October 22, 2011

Postcard from Paris, Day 3: Browsing

On Saturday, my husband went to the Louvre in the morning, an easy walk from our hotel. I did some shopping. I tried on boots and bought Poilâne walnut bread to bring home, and caramel èclairs. Also elegant French toothbrushes and an absolutely strange cough medicine with codeine that tastes as green as it looks. (I've had a lingering cough from a cold.) I struggle to describe the taste: woody? herby? chartreuse? At any rate, there's something about codeine that makes cough medicine taste better and better the more you take it, to the point where I soon forego the spoon and take swigs... good thing I bought only one bottle! And it cost less than 3 Euros.

Paris weather was nippy the whole time we were there; I layered my warmest clothes and was glad to find gloves in the pocket of my jacket. Many of the women I saw were wearing jeans and leggings tucked into elegant, low-heeled boots; I'm glad that trend is still going because it's comfortable and I was planning to wear it for the next 6 months or so, fashionable or not. I also saw plenty of wonderful, tailored short coats in pretty colors. Ponchos and capes were everywhere, and I wonder if we will see them in Boston as well. I'm not sure anyone but a Frenchwoman can carry off a poncho.

For work, women wear classic, chic skirts and suits in subdued shades, layered with big, warm scarves. Frenchwomen carry big, classy leather bags without fussy details. I did not see a lot of lightweight Longchamp nylon totes as I have in the past, but I was glad for mine, since I was hauling three heavy guidebooks and assorted pastry and other purchases.

I did not observe anyone staggering around in fashionably ridiculous high heels. The heels I saw were more moderate and were managed perfectly. French women know that if you can't walk elegantly, with that certain sexy confidence, there's no point in wearing a trendy shoe.

We strolled around St Germain, the Latin Quarter, and the Ile St-Louis. Some photos:

The bridge to the Louvre on a chilly morning.

St Germain ironwork on a door.

The Village Voice English Bookshop. Click to read the sign.

One of the prettiest flower shops, on the Ile. St-Louis

Lunch on the Ile. We had French onion soup. Then he had duck with 
a fruity sauce and I had organic chicken with mushroom sauce. I'd recovered
from my earlier mushroom overdose. Mashed potatoes mixed with cheese 
and mashed squash (perhaps?) and baked in cups until crispy on the top. Divine.

Inside La Cure Gourmande, a very golden candy store.

We could not resist a box of flavored caramels... candied orange, marzipan...

Can you see the rusty flea marking a shop on the left?
The French are wonderful but sometimes unfathomable.

At Cybèle, a scholarly bookstore, my husband browsed and bought while
I studied the antiquities. I love the expression on this Egyptian fish,
which is wearing a Hathor (cow) headdress. Poor, puzzled fish.

A gorgeous antique bookstore on the Rue Jacob. 
Straight out of Harry Potter.


After lunch we looked in at my favorite tea shop, La Charlotte de l'Isle, owned for decades by a witch who had a way with pastry, tea, and atmosphere. I've had only memorable experiences in her shop and I always go there when I'm in Paris. Alas, it's gone, Madame has retired. Her cluttered, shabby-chic tea room, with its mismatched tables, Japanese teapots, old china, and bentwood chairs, has been replaced by a depressingly tidy, very pink, very bare, and very nameless tea shop that was closed on a Saturday afternoon. A great loss.

So we stocked up on tea at Mariages Frères — butterscotch, caramel, and Noêl, a spicy, fruity holiday tea.

As we were leaving Saint Severin (I had to show my husband), we were amazed to see a perfectly coiffed and heavily made-up young blonde in a 60's-style cream wool miniskirted suit, carrying a fur muff and wearing a matching fur pillbox hat and fur collar. Vintage couture? She was with a very handsome and well-dressed older man. You seldom see people that dressed up on a Saturday. Her cream high heels were a challenge for her on the cobblestones, but she looked exactly like what you hope to see in Paris. 

1 comment:

  1. I feel as though I was tagging along in your shadow! Your photos are just a marvel! Every shop and cafe is just perfectly delightful! I'm using too many !!!, and I don't care.

    And a muff?! I had one which I found at a not quite antique shop many years ago. I wore it out and would love to find another.... That mental picture gives me hope!

    (I hope you enjoyed your trip as much as I'm doing)

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