Tag Archives: learn

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 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)


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




Filed under reality bites, Uncategorized

verbiage: “apprendre”

apprendre (v.) : learn

Whenever people ask me to help them apprendre le français, I have to laugh and explain : near-native fluency does not a good tutrice make.  I started learning French quand j’avais sept ans, and frankly, I don’t remember half the grammar rules they taught me.  I can tell you what’s right and what’s wrong, but I often can’t expliquer pourquoi.

At least signs should be universal. Except I can't tell if this sign in Rome means a) Men carrying heavy things or b) No carrying heavy things

I used to wear my relative ignorance of the rules of French grammaire as a badge of pride – as if it somehow verified my status as a deserving francophile.  (The hard-and-fast grammar rules of English, si je les ai jamais apprises, are even more foreign to me.)  But my flippant familiarity with both of these languages has recently become rather bothersome, mostly because I am now learning a troisième language: l’italien.

All of the aches and pains of starting a new langue from scratch (example: limiting my conversation to ordering food or talking about the weather) are now anything but a vague and distant souvenir.  Verbs and their ever-challenging conjugaisons are the newfound bane of my existence, and if Italian weren’t so darn fun to pronounce, I might’ve thrown in the towel a few months back.  (For the record, my favorite word is “spazzolino” (toothbrush)).

This isn’t the first time I’ve embarked on a similar aventure.  As with French classes, I had the good chance to begin piano lessons early on in life, at the ripe age of four.  By second grade, when most of my friends were just débutants, I was moving on to composers with recognizable names.  But this headstart in musique

Green Eggs and...Proscuitto? (Not exactly the same as "ham"...)

while providing me with a life-long talent and favorite pastime – was a disadvantage when it came to learning a deuxième instrument : la guitare.  I fought with a friend’s Paul Bunyan-sized guitar for a few months last fall, and while my compréhension of the music theory advanced quickly, mes doigts were slow to adapt.  After an uphill battle with barre chords, my frustrated fingers happily sent the guitar the way of Craigslist.

While I may have raté the guitar (at least temporarily), I won’t be so quick to give up on Italian.  First off, I learned from my Bunyan-sized-error (note to self: next time, buy a normal-sized guitar) that it’s best to invest in worthwhile outils.  I thus sprung for the full 5-level Rosetta Stone Italian package, a sizeable investment for a young, struggling New Yorker.  I also learned that life’s tough as an autodidacte.  No one is going to schedule lessons for me, and by the time I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is aller à l’école.  So school starts early chez Carly – and believe me, I’m toujours tentée to sleep through my self-imposed 6:30 am cours.

Learning the difference between "push" (spingere) and "pull" (tirare) on-the-fly in an Italian "chiesa" (church, "église" in French).

Luckily, contrairement à the guitar, my Italian was quickly put to good use – on a two-week vacation in June.  From Capri to Sicily, Bologna to Rome, my anglophone co-travelers m’ont confiés their lives – and I somehow got us everywhere we needed to go.  In fact, the only flub I made – at a little restaurant in Reggio Emilia – was trying to order one appetizer for four people to share.  Call it a cultural misunderstanding or an honest mistake, but my “uno per tutti” – in French, un pour tous – resulted in 3 plates of charcuterie too many.  As we rolled out of the restaurant (our appetizers followed by a hearty pasta course) I vowed that the words “per tutti” would never grace my lips again.

If there’s a lesson in all this, I suppose it’s perseverance – or humility, for that matter.  (Or that Italian is more similar to French than the guitar is to piano…)  Either way – with Italian, it seems the stars are aligned in my favor.  One week after my return from Italy, une amie italienne from Paris moved to New York.  She’s staying for the summer to learn English, and has introduced me to a new obsession : the trilingual conversation.  I really couldn’t be more pleased…

I just hope she doesn’t ask me to explain English grammar.


apprendre le français > learn French

tutrice > tutor (female)

quand j’avais sept ans > when I was 7 years old

expliquer pourquoi > explain why

ignorance > ignorance, lack of knowledge

grammaire > grammar

si je les ai jamais appris > if I ever learned them

troisième > third

l’italien > Italian (the language)

langue > language

souvenir > memory

conjugaisons > conjugations (of verb tenses)

aventure > adventure

débutants > beginners

musique > music

deuxième > second

la guitare > the guitar

compréhension > understanding

mes doigts > my fingers

raté > failed

outils > tools

autodidacte > autodidact, self-taught individual

aller à l’école > go to school

toujours tenté > always tempted

cours > class

contrairement à > unlike, contrary to

m’ont confié > entrusted me (with)

un pour tous > one for all

charcuterie > cold cuts (european style, which is not the same as deli meats in the US)

une amie italienne > an italian friend (female)

Leave a comment

Filed under verbiage