Paris on Stage
Parler Paris–your taste of life in Paris and France
Monday, May 2, 2005
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
Paris is theater and all the city’s a stage.
In just a weekend, even when much is devoted to writing (I added lots of new restaurants to the guide!), a lifetime of images can pass before our eyes. A pocket digital camera goes everywhere with me — there is so much to capture — and then later to reflect on, and to show you.
The weekend gave us two of the warmest, sunniest, most glorious spring days I can remember. Parisians were out on the streets in droves all of Saturday and “Labor Day” (Sunday). Women quickly rediscovered their summer clothing to bare their skin and soak up the rays.
On a balmy Friday night at Chez Omar on rue de Bretagne, in his non-smoking room at the back, we suddenly realized that 4 out of 5 diners were smoking! …No less under the very sign he’s so proud of! That “petit coin” of Paris can feel much like a family gathering — a wedding, a Bar Mitzvah, a celebration — so, it was easy to raise a ruckus, have a laugh and cajole over the insanity of it all. Just a few years ago the sign wouldn’t have existed, and neither would have the good humor about smoking.
For those of you who prefer oxygen to smoke, you’ll be happy to know that it’s law now restaurants must provide non-smoking sections and 44% are actually respecting it! Some are even 100% smoke-free. Shocking! In this new update to the “Insider Paris Guide for Good Value Restaurants,” I’ve added special notes and Web site listings to these establishments.
Along the quai de la Megisserie Saturday afternoon, baskets holding 10 potted geraniums in every color filled the sidewalks on offer by all the merchants. The Seine was glistening at our right. The air was decidedly cooler in this urban jungle alley of foliage. How could one choose? There were varieties of flowers I hadn’t seen before and everything was in full bloom. At every turn there was a photo op.
That night, restaurants with tables on the sidewalks were standing room only. The area surrounding La Bastille was hopping with Paris hip youth and we remarked on how sophisticated the neighborhood had become. Café Moderne on rue Keller started out more “tranquille” than the others, but ended in another hilarious ruckus. It’s also owned and operated by Omar, with the same French lunchroom decor, warm ambiance and great food (it’s the most tender, tastiest ‘Steack au poivre’ in Paris!). The large tables filled up fast with groups of friends…particularly in the back room under the glass roof — about twenty young women all dressed in the season’s latest colors of fuchsia and turquoise took all the tables — a bachelorette party, perhaps?
A young waiter, seizing the moment for an appreciative audience, started to tap dance on the ancient tile floor, wearing his special tap shoes…clickity, clickity, clack. Surprisingly fun, but not so shocking — an impromptu display of talent engendering a wild round of applause! We left him a nice tip and smiled our way home in the breezy warm air.
Sunday the “muguet” sellers were on every corner as the temperature climbed and the windows opened to everyone’s apartments. Cafés were busy and waiters were in good humor, pocketing overabundant tips. I took a cool reprieve at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal with Leonard Pitt, author of “Paris Disparu,” to see the exhibit “Paris La ville et ses possibles” on until June 19th.
If you subscribe to “French Property Insider,” than you may have read about the exhibition and all the projects on the drawing board for Paris of our future…like it or not! Are the plans broad brush strokes or a surgeon’s careful incisions? Either way, the city planners have much in store for the City of Light and it’s all there for everyone to see…free.
It’s a contemporary use of an ancient space, and while the exhibit isn’t the city’s finest attempt, it’s a worthwhile visit with fascinating architectural models of the city, old map
s and photos…definitely more photo ops for an architectural eye.
Pitt spoke to a full house at Paris Soirées that evening, mostly about the Louvre as it was, has evolved and as we know it now, rotating comparative photos displayed on this laptop for all to see. Being the thespian by nature and training, Patricia Laplante Collins’ tiny island apartment was his stage and he mesmerized us with Paris history we hadn’t known.
Close to midnight, the lines to all the Berthillon ice cream and sorbet stands on the Ile Saint Louis were still miles long. Over a drink at a café overlooking Pont Saint-Louis, the Seine and the garden behind Notre Dame, we reflected over the differences in our French and American lives. Where else can we do nothing as we were doing then, just watching the world go by like life’s natural theater, and so deliciously!?
A la prochaine…
P.S. A few special announcements:
*** There are only two spots left to take Leonard Pitt’s special tour of the Left Bank Saturday, May 7th, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. For a mere 60 euros you can be one of them. Reserve NOW by emailing email@example.com or call 01.40.27.97.59
*** The latest May 1 edition of Jean Taquet’s monthly Q’s and A’s is online at /parlerparis/practicalanswers.html.
*** Mark Tuesday, May 10th on your calendar to join us for Parler Paris Après Midi, /parlerparis/apresmidi.html
* Great meals in Paris don’t have to be expensive. Parisians do it every day and Adrian Leeds tells how to pay less, eat better, enjoy Paris more. Learn how.
* Many people don’t have the time nor the resources to look for their own little piece of France. Let us make your dream to live in France come true.
* First You Dream It. Then You Do it. Attend the Working and Living in France Conference, May 20 – 22, 2005, Paris
* Property E-Zine: French Property Insider
Learn how to buy property in France. French Property Insider is an e-mail newsletter from the editors of Parler Paris. If you’d like to learn about the insights, recommendations, and discoveries about buying and investing in real estate in Paris and France that French Property Insider readers get every week, read more about a subscription here:
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Located in a 17th century Le Marais Hotel Particulier, this 70 square
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Paris on Stage
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