The city of enlightenment… thank you, CTV. (Way better than Global News who just showed weird photos that were badly edited and had no message). I was on the internet working most of the day yesterday so I saw the breaking news when there was no information and then followed the tragedy through the day to its bitter and senseless end. One feels so helpless and there is nothing an ordinary citizen living in a foreign country can do except hold firm to positive values and lead a life that strives for virtue.
It is arguably my favourite city in the world. It’s like having more than one child. I love Paris, New York, Amsterdam and Berlin equally for different reasons. And Krakow has potential to enlarge my family 🙂 Unlike when the Twin Towers were hit, I don’t have any close friends who live in Paris. I’ve spent so much time in Paris it feels like another home town and the attack feels more personal. And these ridiculous acts are so inhumane, barbaric and stupid it is especially disheartening and really feels like we are moving backwards in our evolution as a species. Friday the 13th should just be a terrible Hollywood movie, not the date of a major tragedy.
There is nothing concrete I can do right now for Paris and I can’t even tell you to get on a plane to support them since Hollande has closed the borders. But I have spent time in Paris this year. I wrote about it a little bit but there was a post still in waiting so I think the best I can do to honour Paris is to talk about the real Paris, not the tragic Paris.
I will be back – and you should visit. I’m a little surprised Colbert – who pronounces his name as though he was French – and boasts a bandleader whose name sounds très français (although he is Jon rather than Jean so I think the name is not really French anymore) – didn’t talk about what went down in Paris but maybe no one told him before the show started… I just checked the internet! I think I need to wait for it… It’s something I have come to expect from him and Jon Stewart. Especially with Mark Ruffalo and his honorary political agenda as a guest.
So… Paris is all about art, fashion, design… I already wrote about the great exhibitions I saw in a more timely way in case you wanted to check them out…
What I didn’t talk about was my ongoing discovery of the right bank into the emerging arrondissements.
One of the great delights of Paris is still gorging myself on macarons from Pierre Hermé. Luckily, Paris is very walkable and, even if you take the métro, you will still log lots of steps and stairs. So, eat, and then exercise it off. It’s very Parisian 🙂
I discovered a couple of great new boutique hotels – Hotel Paradis and Hotel Fabric. A great way to explore the gentrifying east without giving up any creature comforts 😉
It put me in a slightly newer neighborhood and I mostly just wandered, somewhat aimlessly, as I know the city well enough I only need to pull out the map if I get seriously lost.
One of the great delights of the visit was meeting friends from Vancouver for dinner in Paris! They are more “in the know” than me so managed to actually find a restaurant in such an obscure location even my map wasn’t really helpful… but I worked out the logic and asked people for directions and eventually got to the right place! It’s marked like one of those places from the 90s where you are supposed to be cool enough to have the intel to know where it is without a sign – a way to keep out the riff-raff – much easier before the public got apps to access the internet 🙂
Anyway, the restaurant is called Au Passage and is highly recommended. Just get clear directions 😉
I didn’t spend nearly enough time in Paris in 2015 but my main discovery was a re-discovery and update. Long ago when one acquired cutting edge information from glossy magazines, I read about the 11th arrondissement and rue Oberkampf. One of my best friends was living in Paris so I suggested we should check it out… she was game and it was kind of interesting but mostly it was just Café Charbon back then. It was obviously emerging… but it was early days!
I re-visited rue Oberkampf a few years ago listening to some cool young French bands but then was semi-stalked by some Arab guy who wasn’t into subtle “I’m really just hear to listen to the music” so I gave up and went to my hotel. But I knew it was a part of Paris I wanted to explore more. The Hotel Fabric is perfectly situated for such an adventure so I could continue my exploration. As in all of Paris, there is a seriously good patisserie a block or two from the hotel (Maison Landemaine). What was more exciting, though, was the discovery that there are clubs on side streets off the rue Oberkampf that have live bands even on weeknights!
I would love to come back for an entire week but had a great time on nights where you don’t expect much. Gibus Café at 127 rue Saint-Maur definitely recommended. I obviously didn’t keep good enough notes of the place I went the second night but had a lovely evening chatting and watching the band with Surya, an Indian transplant. At the time, I had just been in India so the connection was more vibrant.
I also checked out a wine bar/restaurant across from the hotel, which was stupendous. The French love food and wine and these indie places in the gentrifying arrondissements are great value. It’s called La Cave de L’Insolite on 30 rue de la Folie Méricourt.
Stephen did come through with genuine emotion for Paris and cute James opened with some heart-felt comments. If only we could convince people black humour is better than suicide bombs. It’s a weapon of mass happiness rather than mass destruction.
My on-going love to Paris and all the people of France who have embraced me over the years – literally and figuratively 🙂 Bisous big time!!!