Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Paris à Pied

We cut a swath across Paris today, from our new neighborhood of Les Batignolles in the northwest, down to the Bastille in the east-central part of town. Quite a ways, if you know Paris - but not as daunting as it sounds.

A quick stroll down Rue de Clichy started our day out right. Alannah made a necessary stop at Sephora. A brief stop in the Opera neighborhood gave us a quick dose of culture... and the feeling of impending doom of dark clouds above.

The wetness started to build up, but we take no prisoners here. So it was to Place Vendome for shopping that neither of us could afford without selling a kidney. Let's just say we checked out a lot of windows.

Admittedly, the cold was getting to us. This made for the perfect excuse to hit up the oft-touristed but also highly revered Angelina. A tea room and cafe on the pricey stretch of the Rue de Rivoli, it's the best place to get one thing, and one thing only: Hot chocolate. As in the best hot chocolate you will ever frickin' have in your life.

We then cut east over to my old neighborhood around the Louvre.

Ok, so I never lived in Paris. But I did stay here for a week and this neighborhood sort of became mine. I know the local bakeries, laundromat, pharmacies - that one week was a crazy microcosm of life, and afterward I felt like I owned the place. Like the narrator/main character in L'auberge Espagnole said, after a while, these funny metro station names, odd streets, etc. start to become yours. And that's how I feel about Paris. I like the funky streets. I love the stink of the Metro. and I love all the weirdos.

And hell, I like the way it brings out my gal's natural beauty.

Alright, so I'm kissing ass because I'm spending valuable romantic Paris time writing in this electronic diary... but she is purdy, ain't she? Besides, why go out and do touristy shit, when it's more fun to observe the tourists? Notre Dame, for example, is prime hunting ground. Next time you're there, ignore the gigantic gothic cathedral, and watch the people around you instead.

The other fun activity around here is cock hunting. Umm, I'll explain. Le coq - the rooster - is France's national animal. And with the Rugby World Cup in town, there are painted up rooster statues around town. They're pretty funky and cool. And there are also monumental statues adorned in French rugby jerseys. Serious.

After our requisite tourist and cock shots, we went after the Jews and the gays.

Umm, ok, that sounds wrong. We went to the Marais, a very hip neighborhood that is traditionally the Jewish quarter and more recently the gay part of town. I'm not quite sure how that goes hand in hand, but it's the way it is. And it's a gorgeous part of the city - old, charming, and home to the beautiful Place de Vosges.

Ok, history and beauty are just an excuse to go bar hopping at some of the loveliest bars in town. While waiting for the awesomely decorated Leche Vin to open (whose every square meter is about covered with Catholic iconography), we sucked down drinks at the über-hip Megalo Bar.

We then cheated and took the Metro north a bit, struck out trying to go to a highly recommended restaurant on Rue Petrelle (tiny, needs reservations), and wound up walking the seedy Pigalle route back toward our hotel.

Honestly, I don't mind at all the sleaze factor around Pigalle. The sex shops, the touts, the hookers - whatever. A red light district is a red light district. What does suck are the hordes of loud American tourists ruining the subtle, dirty vibe with their own drunken hooting and hollering. Yeah, that's right, you're in front of the big neon windmill of the Moulin rouge. Isn't it beautiful? Now shut the fuck up before you give the rest of us a bad name. Oh, wait, too late.

Anyway, if you're in the neighborhood and want the exact opposite of Ugly American tourist hordes, hit up restaurant "Au 24" at, you guessed it, #24 Rue Biot. A French gentleman cooks up classic French and Antillais specialties in the kitchen, while one of the warmest women serves it up, attending perfectly to each table. With only eight tables and very little space in between them, it's the perfect quiet, cozy, and cheap place to enjoy a practically home cooked meal with all the trimmings.

Time to let the food coma go to work and hit the sack. Tomorrow will be an early - and long - day.

1 comment:

  1. coq hunting, jews and gays....yep, it's definitely Omid on vacation.