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At the end of August, I took an impromptu trip to Paris, Geneva and Franche-Comté. I couldn’t be more grateful for this francophile trip, and I’ve been eager to share my new finds – from a zany barbie artist in the Parisian puces, to an old-timey Besançon patisserie that serves up one hell of a chocolate/meringue bomb.

First things first? Paris.

EAT
Comme à Lisbonne: A tiny boutique specializing in Portugeuse pastels de nata. I first tried these flaky, flan-filled tarts in their hometown (Belem, Lisbon – near the breathtaking Jeronimos Monastery) and was delighted by the Parisian reproduction. Moreover, the accompanying espresso was top-notch, a true find in the notoriously coffee-challenged city of lights.

Chez Jeanette: A very hip, low-key bistro with impeccably fresh cuisine. The saumon en cocotte blew me away, and I also loved their just-rich-enough nutella tiramisu.

Neva: Neva may be in one of…

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reality bites: “quatre jours” (continued, journée 3)

quatre jours: four days

Journée 3 : Paris chic et gourmand (Chic and foodie Paris)

Shopping for cheese at La Fermete, Rue Montorgeuil

1. Rue Montorgueil (2e)
Start the day at the nothern end of Rue Montorgueil; this historic market street is home to the supposed best éclair in Paris, among a number of other famous and lauded fromageries, boulangeries, épiceries, et bistros.  For breakfast, I’d suggest to poke your head into Eric Kayser for a morning pastry.  The brioche au chocolat blanc is literally one of my favorite things to eat in Paris.

2. Saint Eustache
When you reach the southern end of Rue Montorgueil, pop into the church on your right – Saint Eustache.  Don’t forget to check out the unique heart shaped windows, and when you leave out the front door, look for La Droguerie, a colorful tricotage shop.

Copper pots at E. Dehillerin

3. Magasins de Cuisine (1e/2e)
As you leave Saint Eustache and pass by La Droguerie, continue to suivre Rue Coquillière to the point where it intersects with Rue du Louvre.  On this corner stands E. Dehillerin, one of the oldest kitchen/restaurant supply stores in Paris, and a personal favorite shop of Julia Child.  In fact, this whole neighborhood is filled with lovely cooking stores, appropriately surrounding the former site of Les Halles (the famed central Parisian market).  Turn left out of E. Dehillerin, and follow Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Rue Montmartre, where you will find several other worthwhile cooking stores, including Bovida and Mora.

A Parisian passage couvert

4. Galeries et Passages Couverts (2e/8e)
After you’ve spent an hour or two playing le gourmand, follow Rue Montmartre north until it becomes Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre (this switch occurs when you traverse Boulevard Poissonière).  On the left-hand side, at 31 bis, you will find the Passage Verdeau.  This is one of a handful of gorgeous covered passages/galleries that remain from the mid-19th century, when the upper-crust of the rive droite found it safer and chicer to shop indoors.  Only 20 or so of the original 150 passage remain, and they are truly some of the most spectacular, interesting, and overlooked attractions in Paris.  (For a list of the most beautiful passages, click here or check out this website with a map of the passages (in French)).  From Passage Verdeau, you can follow a series of passages until you find yourself near the Opéra.

5. Palais Garnier et Galleries Lafayette
When you’ve exhausted the succession of passages heading ouest from Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, head towards the Galleries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann.  This historic department store is one of the oldest in Paris, and the main building has a gorgeous stained glass ceiling (over the perfume section) that is not to be missed.  Anyone craving a good peek at the Eiffel Tower – or who just wants to get their bearings – should head to the toit, where there is a lovely view of the Opéra de Paris
(Palais

Palais Garnier, as seen from the roof of Galleries Lafayette

Garnier)The Palais Garnier is your next stop after Galleries Lafayette, a historic building known among tourists as the setting for the Phantom of the Opera (and a visit to the building will only reinforce your wildest theatrical fantasies).  The place does feel downright haunted, and you cannot help but imagine the lavish soirées and opening nights of centuries passed.  A self-guided tour is well-worth the 9€ entry fee, if you have the time. 

6. Madeleine et macarons
From the Opéra, descend southwest along the Boulevard des Capucines, to Place Madeleine.  Pop your head into the church, which has an impressive altarpiece (if you feel so inclined), or continue sans arrêt down Rue Royale to La Durée, the most famous macaron shop in Paris.  Sweet tooths should definitely sample a smattering of mini-macarons; my favorite flavor is cassisviolet.

Children playing in the Palais Royal courtyard

7. Saint Honoré et Palais Royal

While you nibble on macarons, quickly poke your head down to Place de la Concorde, renown as the spot where Louis XVI (and other important historic figures) lost their têtes to the guillotine.  Head back north on Rue Royale, and swing right on Rue Saint Honoré, the most chic shopping street (no it’s not the Champs Elysées) in modern-day Paris.  Home to stores such as the much-lauded concept store Colette, this street also runs adjacent to several historic squares, including the Place Vendôme and the must-see Palais Royal.  Make sure to take a tour through the arcaded garden and courtyard of the latter monument, which houses such institutions as the most-prominent Parisian antiques dealer and the oldest (continually operating) restaurant in Paris.

8. Et après?
The nearby Louvre is actually lovely in the evening, whether for a jaunt through the courtyard or a proper visit to the musée.  The Louvre des Antiquaires is also à cô– a veritable wonderland of antiques that could intrigue even the most bored of museum-goers.  Or if you’re feeling outdoorsy, perhaps it’s time to vadrouiller through the Jardin de Tuileries.  Those in the mood for a cocktail (or a nightcap) might enjoy a stop at le Fumoir, and the nearby Rue de l’Arbre Sec is a hot-bed of culinary hit-makers, housing some of the very best restaurants in Paris (if you haven’t made reservations, try for a spot at Le Garde Robe, a small bar à vins).

(Journée 2Journée 4)

—vocabulaire—


fromageries, boulangeries, épiceries, et bistros > cheese shops, bakeries, grocery stores and bistros

brioche au chocolat blanc > white chocolate brioche

tricotage > knitting

suivre > follow

le gourmand > the foodie

traverse > cross

rive droite > right bank (of the Seine river)

toit > roof

soirées > parties

sans arrêt > without stopping

macaron > a typically Parisian dessert – meringue sandwich with jam or cream like filling

cassis-violet > blackcurrant-violet

têtes > heads

musée > museum

à côté > next door

vadrouiller > ramble

bar à vins > wine bar

 

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reality bites: “quatre jours” (continued, journée 2)

quatre jours : four days

Journée 2 : Paris, en Noir et Blanc (Paris, in Black & White)
The rive gauche, Notre Dame, Île Saint Louis, and Hôtel de Ville (aka the Parisian myth we love to love)

1)     Saint Germain des Prés (6e)
Start your day early with a chocolat chaudat Les Deux Magots.  This is the best people-watching in the city, and my very favorite morning boisson.  After an hour or two of relaxation, give up your spot to another Parisian dreamer, and stroll down the Rue Bonaparte.

2)     Saint Sulpice
Follow Rue Bonaparte to the church of Saint Sulpice.  I adore the fountain outside, as well the masterful sculpture of Mary in the very back of the église. Then continue south on Rue Bonaparte.

The Medici Fountain

3)     Jardins du Luxembourg
Follow Rue Bonaparte to the Jardin du Luxembourg.  This lovely jardin is home to the French Senate, and has a few lovely corners worth exploring.  My favorite spots are the pétanque courts, whereold men gather for their afternoon gossip; the central pool, where children sail toy bateaux; and the dramatic Fontaine de Medicis.  Leave the gardens via Rue Soufflot, and climb the hill towards the Panthéon.

4)     [The Real] Quartier Latin (5e)

After checking out the famous Panthéon (don’t bother going inside), walk around the back of the building on the left side.  For those who like churches, Saint Étienne du Mont is a lovely little church, housing the remains of Saint Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris.  When you exit out of Saint Étienne du Mont, head south, along the back of the Panthéon, until you reach Rue Descartes.

5)     Mouffetard
Head south on Rue Descartes, until you reach a small square.  By this time, you might be ready for lunch, and Rue Mouffetard (Rue Descartes becomes Rue Mouffetard after the square) is the perfect place to grab a bite.  Crèpe lovers should check out Chez Nico, while sandwich lovers will find many options (including an open-air boulangerie on the left-hand side of the street that has excellent sandwiches).  Descend Rue Mouffetard until you reach another roundabout.

Mint Tea & Hookah at Café Maure (La Mosquée de Paris)

6)     La Mosquée
From here, an optional detour to my favorite marocain restaurant/tea room might be a welcome pause.  For those who want to check out Café Maure, head left on Rue Censier, then left again on Rue Monge, which you should cross to reach Rue Daubeton.  Follow Rue Daubeton until you reach the corner at Rue Geoffroy Saint Hilaire.  For those so inclined, I highly recommend the mint tea, Moroccan pastries, and hookah at the little outdoor café through the white archway on this corner.

7)     Maubert Mutualité
After (or without) the stop at the Mosquée de Paris, head north along Rue Monge until you return to Boulevard Saint Germain. At the intersection of R Monge and Blvd S-G, there will be a cluster of little shops and potentially an outdoor market on the miniscule street “Ter Blvd Saint Germain”.  All the shops here are quite good, but Fromagerie Laurent Dubois is one of the best in the whole city – as the famous fromager holds the title of meilleur ouvrier de France (MOF).  But be warned – this is no “self-serve” cheese shop.  Ask for help, and your wish will be their command.

One of the most dramatic Photo Opps inside Notre Dame

8)     My essential “Saint Germain Loop” (6e)
After checking out the cheese, head left along Blvd Saint Germain, until you reach Odéon.  Poke your head into the nearby Cour du Commerce St. André, if you can find it, for a lovely view of a charming cours pavé.  Then head back along Blvd Saint Germain until you reach Rue de Buci, on your right.  Head towards the Seine on Rue de Buci, and admire the outdoor market/pedestrian street.  You will eventually run into Rue Saint André des Arts, which will lead you towards Place Saint Michel.  If you’re craving a coffee along this route, check out Café Malongo.  Otherwise, proceed directly to the Saint Michel fountain, where you will conclude your Saint Germain jaunt.

9)     Notre Dame (4e)

Cross the river at Pont Saint Michel, and continue East along the river until you see Notre Dame on your left.  Head into the church for a quick tour (c’est gratuit).  The drippy, long taper candles on your right after the entry are my favorite bougies in a French cathedral.

Pont Saint Louis

10)  Île Saint Louis

When you leave Notre Dame, walk around the left side to the back of the cathedral.  Admire the famed flying buttresses as you walk towards the church’s gardens (where there is a fairly clean bathroom, should you need it).  Head over the small Pont Saint Louis, a spot well-noted for the omnipresence of charming street musicians, onto the Île Saint Louis.  Once of the oldest and chicest voisinages, this island holds a charm all its own.  Duck into the many shops (noting that some are more touristy than others), and make sure to try some Berthillon ice cream.  The historic Berthillon shop is open Wednesday-Sunday, but the ice cream can be found at several other shops on the island.

Amour, Rue François Miron

11)  Marais

Once you’ve taken a good look around Île Saint Louis, cross the river at the Pont Marie.

Head north along Rue des Nonnains d’Hyères until you reach Rue François Miron on your left.  Head east on R F-Miron, keeping an eye out for two unique wooden buildings – among the oldest in Paris.  A favorite Parisian photo-op is the drainpipe to the right of these twin buildings – where the word Amour has been wittily painted onto the sidewalk.  If it isn’t too late, you might also be able to poke your head into Izrael, Epicerie du Mondetowards the end of Rue François Miron on the left.  You’ll also find another fine stop for the church-loving tourists, Saint Gervais, with its stunning vitraux.

Hôtel de Ville

12)  Hôtel de Ville

As you leave Saint Gervais, you’ll be facing the back of the stunning Hôtel de Ville.  Walk around this building on the Seine side, to gain the most dramatic views.  This gorgeous mayor’s office is one of the most impressive buildings in town, and if you’re lucky, you’ll near it around dusk, when it’s beautifully lit.

13)  Et après?

The neighborhood around the Hôtel de Ville is not my favorite for eating, as it can be quite cher.  Hop the metro to the nearby Bastille district (many good restaurants can be found near the metro Ledru-Rollin, check my Paris Guide (11e/12e) for more info).  But if you’re going to take the metro, tonight is also a good night to check out some of the noteworthy restaurants of the 7e or 15e, (which are also closer to the Tour Eiffel – with a little luck, you’ll catch her sparkling on the hour).

(Journée 1; Journée 3)

vocabulaire

chocolat chaud > hot chocolate

église > church

jardin > garden

pétanque > bocce/lawn bowling

bateaux > boats

marocain > Moroccan

Mosquée > mosque

fromager > cheese monger/maker

meilleur ouvrier de France (MOF) > “Best worker in France” – a contest that covers everything from baking to tile-laying, recognizing the very “best” craftsmen in France

cours pavé > cobbled courtyard/alley

Seine > the river that runs through Paris

c’est gratuit > it’s free

bougies > candles

Amour > love

vitraux > stained glass windows

cher > expensive

Tour Eiffel > Eiffel Tower

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reality bites: “chanteuse”

chanteuse (n.f.)  : female singer

This past rainy Wednesday, I hit up the West Village bar à vin, Buvette, with la musique, la bouffe, et la mémoire on my mind.

I was meeting with Georgia, an Irish chanteuse, and a friend/colleague from my own collegiate jazz-singing days.  She knew me before my foodie/franglophone phase, when one was more likely to find me vocalizing than philosophizing about the perfect oeufs mollets.

I met this amie from my past in the epitome of my here-and-now – all food, and distinctively frenchy. Perching at the bar, apron-and-tie’d dandys served us heirloom légumes, grilled baby artichauts, and brandade de morue.  Deciding between two Languedoc whites, we noted: one had a nicer début, the other, a better fin.  We went for the fin, thinking that it’d be more fun in the long-run.

Sipping and nibbling, we slipped back into our old habitudes – talking of life, love, and jazz.  The conversation itself an interesting improvisation – an abbreviation of 3 years past, editing and reinserting all that seemed important.  Après dîner, I walked her to a nearby free-jazz concert, then moseyed off under the spattering rain, contemplating jazz, and jazz chanteuses in particular.

In the past year that I’ve left France, I’ve discovered a treasure trove of francophone muses – my “jazz-ladies”.  Trans-atlantic femmes who have sung me to sleep (or to work, or to play), keeping my pseudo-parisian cool in the hot mess of Manhattan.

Maybe these days I’m on a video kick, or maybe it’s just an aural-fixation, but here are a few of my favorite
chanteuses franglophones.

Cyrille Aimée (French), “Love for Sale”

Stacey Kent, (Americain) “La venus du mélo”

Melody Gardot, (American) “Les étoiles”

—vocabulaire—

bar à vin > wine bar 

buvette > establishment where one drinks

la musique, la bouffe, et la mémoire > music, food, and memory

oeufs mollets > “medium-boiled” eggs, cooked white/runny yolk

amie > friend

légumes > vegetables

artichauts > artichokes

brandade de morue > a paste made with salt cod, potato and cream

début > beginning

fin > end

habitudes > habits, tendancies

Après dîner > after dinner

francophone > french-speaking

femmes > women

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typique: “accent”

accent (n.m.) : accent

When I was living in Paris, I used to pride myself on the fact that no one could place my accent.  Guessing my nationalité became something of a competitive sport – with espagnole, maghrébine, iranienne, grecque and italienne all ranking among the most frequent guesses.  That said, everyone was certain that I wasn’t French (save the owner of the local doner kebab shop), and so whatever my accent was – it certainly wasn’t français.

Well, the other night, I attended my first ever French Tuesdays party (where, it seemed, the majority of people were not French – but an eclectic mix of other foreigners).  That said, I was the extended invitee of a Frenchman, who upon meeting me, observed, “T’as l’accent parisien, toi”.

Now, while ça ne veux pas dire that I have a perfect French accent – it does mean that despite my rambling 15+ year French education through the ranks of québécois, belge, haïtien, et français teachers, I finally ended up on the other side with a Parisian-bred accent.

My elated, inflated ego à part – it seemed appropriate to set up a little video montage of some French accents across l’hexagone, and the rest of francophonia.

1) L’accent parisien

2) L’accent du nord de la France

3) L’accent du Midi

4) L’accent de Marseille

4) L’accent québécois

5) L’accent belge

Vive la difference: Regional French accents are in (BBC)

—vocabulaire—

nationalité > nationality

espagnole, maghrébine, iranienne, grecque, italienne > Italian, North African, Iranian, Greek, Italian

français > French

“T’as l’accent parisien, toi” > You have a French accent [you]

ça ne veux pas dire > That doesn’t mean

québécois, belge, haïtien, et français > Canadian (from Quebec), Belgian, Haitian, and French

à part > aside

l’hexagone

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snapshot: portable

portable (n.m.) : cell phone (abbrevation of téléphone portable)

I’m usually one of those people who is a little slow to accept new technologie.  I prefer to keep my iPod, portable, and my appareil photo separate, for example – and I’m a sucker for old media platforms like le tourne-disque.

But every once in a while, someone does something truly innovative with all this poche-sized power – and I start considering crossing over to the tout-en-un, amazing wonder gadget myself.

Par exemple, this ridiculously cool video filmed on a Nokia portable – that won the Nokia Shorts competition 2011.

“Splitscreen : A Love Story” (a perfectly franglophone NY-Paris histoire d’amour)

—vocabulaire

technologie > technology

appareil photo > camera

tourne-disque > record player

poche > pocket

tout-en-un > all-in-one

Par exemple > for example

histoire d’amour > love story

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snapshot : “encore”

encore (adj.) : again

La première fois that I saw Ben L’Oncle Soul sing, it was in Paris, in the Haut Marais, next to the parc, Square du Temple.  And that time, I didn’t get a very good photo.

Lucky me, I got the chance to le revoir yesterday, as part of Fête de la musique.  While MakeMusicNewYork has attempted to create leur propre version of this annual French day of free music, the official French festivities went down at Central Park Summer Stage.

Ben L'Oncle Soul, Central Park Summerstage

For those who missed the action last night, you can still catch Ben, ce soir, at the Hiro Ballroom for FranceRocks.

—vocabulaire—

La première fois > The first time

Haut Marais > “high” (north) Marais

parc > park

le revoir > see him again

Fête de la musique > Annual French music festival

leur propre > their own

ce soir

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