Travelogue: Paris past and present (part two)

rue des francs bourgeois

Above: Rue des Francs-Bourgeois

As the week progressed, we continued to explore our little neighborhood, Le Marais (“the marsh”). I would imagine most neighborhoods in the center of Paris offer their fair share of lovely boutiques and fine cuisine. We, however, could not imagine a more interesting neighborhood for our temporary Parisian home than our apartment on the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois.

Rue des Francs Bourgeious

The Marais district itself is located in the 3rd and 4th arrondissement (or districts). Le Marais used to be the aristocratic center of the city (thus having some really gorgeous historically significant buildings, especially private mansions (called hotel particulier), but later, as nobility started moving to other districts, Le Marais became the Jewish center of Paris, which it remains today. Relatively recently (1980’s) the Marais has become the LGBT center of the city as well with (according to Wikipedia) 40% of LGBT businesses located there. Mainly we noticed the Jewish influence.

sacha finkelsztajn

marais boulangerie

One of the destinations we fell in love with was the food at L’As Du Fallafel on Rue des Rosiers. It was about a block from our apartment and open until 12:00am. You can eat in or do take-out from the window. Their shawarma and falafel are delicious. Parisian pita sandwiches include wonderful and flavorful additions such as grilled eggplant, red cabbage salad, and harissa. The sandwiches are huge and make a mess, but are so worth it. I have duplicated these sandwiches (as close as I can) at home many times in the past couple of years… even making my own pita.

fallafel

We found the entire Marais area held a treasure trove of galleries, restaurants, clothing shops, fashion houses, and wonderful home interior stores. We definitely partook of our share of Steak Frites in and about the Marais as well, thus crossing another item off my wish list (numerous times). We wanted to visit the Picasso Museum, however, it was closed for renovations in 2013. (We were able to visit it in 2015). We had a couple days of light rain and on one of those days, we wandered about and happened upon Le Marche des Enfants Rouges on rue de Bretagne, Marais Nord (north), the oldest covered market in Paris. We grabbed some food items for the apartment and also had a wonderful Japanese lunch. Since none of the three of us speak any French, we gravitated to the Japanese restaurant (Chez Taeko) since we knew if English didn’t work, we would be able to speak Japanese. We actually did this three times at restaurants in Paris. How strange, actually looking for Japanese people in France so you will be able to communicate.

Chez Taeko

The history of Le Marche des Enfants Rouges is an interesting one. Marguerite de Navarre, sister of King François the 1st and mother of King Henri the 4th (who was the one to end the religious wars that had been bloodying France), was a very well educated, politically engaged and charitable member of the royal family. In 1534 she had an orphanage constructed in what is now the Marais whose little pensioners were dressed in red as a symbol of their status. The orphanage was closed in the beginning of the 17th century and in 1615 was transformed into a market dubbed the Marché des Enfants Rouges (market of red children) to commemorate the charitable establishment that had occupied the site for almost a century.

The market now sells fruits, vegetables, flowers, and breads plus houses numerous food stalls selling a variety of International cuisines. We purchased and ate a bento lunch there at the market and it was quite delicious. I have read good things about the Moroccan food stall as well. The market is not terribly large, but was a great find on our stroll through the local area around our apartment.

On the second day of rain, we ventured the other direction (southwest, I would guess) from the apartment and took in the sights of Hotel de Sully (private mansion built in approx. 1625), Place des Vosges built in the early 1600’s (oldest planned square in Paris, housed the lavish apartment of Victor Hugo from 1832-1848), and the Carnavalet Museum, the history of Paris Museum.

hotel d sully

Above: Hotel de Sully, Below: Window Shopping at Place des Vosges

place des vosges 1

place des vosges

Above: A portion of Place des Vosges from Victor Hugo’s Apartment.

Below: lots of shopping and restaurants around the Place des Vosges. This little family is heading into an ice cream shop, while art students are leaning against the walls and sitting on the ground sketching the square.

place des vosges 2

carnavalet gardens

Above: Carnavalet Museum and gardens

Once the clouds cleared, we ventured on a walk to the Notre Dame Cathedral (“our lady of Paris”) area, also in the 4th arrondissement.

notre dame ext

Notre Dame is such an amazing display of French gothic architecture… so many carvings of significance all about the building, there was no way I could capture it all and do it justice.

notre dame detail ext

Notre Dame 3

Below: The interior of the cathedral is full of colorful stained glass windows, statues, alcoves and services are held here every day of the week.

notre dame 2

Below: the interior of Notre Dame Cathedral with a little help from Instagram

notre dame

And then to Sainte-Chapelle, which is small but has gorgeously tall stained glass windows and a unique and beautiful ceiling. They were doing construction on a portion of the cathedral while we were there, so it was difficult to get a good picture of the ceiling, but the windows are amazing as well.

Saint Chapelle windows

Below: Detail on doors at Sainte-Chapelle

sainte-chapelle door detail

By the end of the week, it was time to head to Roland Garros for our day of tennis. I was so excited to be at the French Open and actually see, in person, matches on clay courts. We arrived after the gates were open and it actually took us quite a while to get to our entrance gate as Roland Garros is on a large piece of land and there are numerous gates all the way around. We asked a couple times if we were heading in the correct direction for our entrance gate, and were assured that we were, but by the time we actually arrived, I was pretty sure we had taken a somewhat circuitous route. Our matches (with assigned seating) had not begun, however, the outer courts were completely packed with people. We have since discovered that grand slam tennis tournaments are notoriously over crowded with people that purchase day passes but do not actually have tickets to the matches in the main stadiums. This allows the powers that be to sell a whole lot of crappy food and expensive souvenirs to people who pay a pittance for an entrance fee, just to be on the scene of a grand slam. The outer courts, which can have some pretty amazing matches being played on them, are a free for all. We ended up just going to our assigned seats and waiting for our matches to begin. Since the Pragmatist and his girlfriend were arriving that evening I decided to purchase day tickets only, which allowed us to watch three matches. Federer v. Tursunov, Sharapova v. Bouchard, and Bartoli v. Duque. If it was just me, I could watch professional tennis all day and night, which we have done at other smaller tournaments.

roland garros

Above: Philippe Chatrier Stadium at Roland Garros

maria sharapova

Above: Maria Sharapova, and Below: Roger Federer

roger federer

It always amazes me how many empty seats there are at grand slam tournaments in the days leading up to the finals. Although I am not sure I would do it again anytime soon as the tickets are excruciatingly expensive and I can see a lot more matches on TV at home, it was definitely a fun once-in-a-lifetime experience to be at Roland Garros.

Funny thing. Whenever we were home at the Paris apartment through the rest of the tournament, I desperately sought out coverage on the French TV channels… I mean it is the French Open after all, I figured it would be on at least a couple sports channels. Well, all I was ever able to find on the TV were the matches played by French players, over and over again. Seriously, I love Gael Monfils, but who needs to watch his 2013 first round upset match against Tomas Berdych 10 times in one week!

N’importe quoi!

9 thoughts on “Travelogue: Paris past and present (part two)

    • Thank you! You will have so much fun. I still have a few posts to go to get caught up. That was the most wonderful trip I could have imagined. Kind of glad it was before dday as I was blissfully ignorant of my husband’s secret life and I enjoyed myself thoroughly, especially since our kids were there too.

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    • Thanks S.W. This post is a real mish mash of photos, some from my big camera, some from my phone, some with filters, some with no filters. I do enjoy photography and wish I had more time to study it. I think composition is a big factor. Paris is a great backdrop. Hope you guys are well.

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    • I must say, at that point I was a little Steak-Frite’d out. 🙂 . We have had some amazing International cuisine in Paris. We eat a lot of French food in Japan, so why not Japanese in France. Ha. We also went to a Japanese restaurant for dinner in Paris, and a buckwheat crepe place that is owned by a husband and wife team (husband from Brittany, wife from Japan). It was just a short walk from our apartment and fun to speak Japanese with the owner. My brother has been to their restaurant in Tokyo. It is a small world after all.

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      • Japanese food is so healthy unless it is their bready cakes things. Do they have those bakeries in Japan that are just full of white flour baked things? They are everywhere here but how can most Japanese stay thin if they eat this? Maybe it is just like that for westerners. Do you know what I am talking about?
        My youngest goes to Japan next week. Travelling with her half Japanese cousin for three weeks. Youngest is a manga artist and looking to get some publishing help. Don’t ask how they go from studying wild life science to a manga artist….bad parenting?

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        • Ha, that is funny. Interests change rapidly at that age for some. Our son was trying to get a job in NY translating manga, but he ended up with a couple other jobs instead. Some Japanese food is healthy, the old traditional style way of eating, mostly raw and cooked fish and seasonal vegetables, but the younger set are getting quite large because they are eating a western diet. When our sons went on trips to Japan with their schools, Japanese kids were on average larger than the American kids! Burgers & fries, fried foods like katsu, baked goods, ramen, etc… too many starches. Yes, my husband and I lived in Japan and my brother has lived in Tokyo for 21 years. Their baked goods aren’t nearly as sweet as American desserts, but they are full of refined white flour and sugar. Very pretty, but… most men do not eat a lot of desserts, they smoke instead. Do not ask me how the Japanese stay so healthy. Maybe it will catch up with them. They do get a lot of exercise with all the walking everywhere and the older generations have very little body fat. I am sure you daughter will have a lot of fun. I want to go back and see my niece soon. The best times to go are cherry blossom season and fall leaf color. I have never been in the Fall.

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  1. I think if a travelogue succeeds in making the reader feel as though they are wandering the streets with you then you have accomplished something in your written words! Thank you! The photos are excellent. They capture the architecture and I really love the first photo with the lamp lights curving! C’est magnifique!!!!!!
    I like how you take photos of every day life. I think that is a real talent.
    So, I was thinking to walk the camino next year but I think I might go to Paris instead and walk the pavements. We had planned to walk the camino last year but somehow I think I might have pushed someone over a cliff ( doing the North Coast walk)
    Food is one of the most exciting things about travel and so it is great to read the places you have found to be good.
    Thank you!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

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