Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday in Paris - food, fashion and underwear

Another gray, overcast day but it's wonderful to be in Paris!

Yesterday was really quite incredible, although at times it seemed oddly stressful and certainly pedestrian (literally).

In search of slippers we headed over to the "Grand Magasins," specifically to Galeries Lafayette. Post- and pre-holiday shoppers were out in force stocking up on the post- and pre-holiday sales here and we were caught in this enormous human tide of French consumerism. The store seemed to be an endless sea of designer shoes and even more designer underwear, or as they like to say here, "lingerie." And believe me people were lingering to be sure. One can easily see why: frankly if I wasn't married I'd seriously consider dating any one of the 3,000 mannequins wearing next-to-nothing. Curiously, though one wonders who, in fact is buying all this "lingering clothing."

It was a treat to see the store windows though, and the central open atrium, some 6 floors high, was decorated as well. Tres cool. We also strolled through the food and wine sections as well and wondered how long we would last if we actually lived here before we simply exploded from too much incredible food. I think the risk would be worth it, don't you?

Oh, and if you must know we did indeed find slippers -- comfy isotoners. Located in the "underwear" or linger wear departments, naturally.

Notwithstanding the lousy weather, cold temps and an occasional chilly drizzle, we left the store and headed over to the Carnavalet Museum to try and meet up with Andrea and Barbara and their friends Matt and Susan who were also in Paris, on their way back to the US after working in the UK for a couple of years. We failed to connect, though, due ro malfunctioning mobile phones, and Susie and I set off to Carette, at Place des Vosges for a mid-afternoon hot chocolate and mille feuille for her and a Kir and espresso on the side for me. We lingered over our drinks chatting about one thing or another, or nothing much at all.

After paying the bill we walked home (it's really quite close to the Marais) to sort ourselves out before heading back out for dinner.

A little after 6pm Susie and I grabbed our coats and headed out the door, making our way to the no. 5 line at Richard Lenoir, connecting to the no. 10 at Gare Austerlitz, and getting off at Emile Zola. (The metro not his house -- he is dead after all, or so we're told.) We quickly found our street, the rue du Commerce, a delightful street with a dazzling array of lights overhead running some eight or ten blocks. We strolled for a while, taking in the feel of the place, assimilating the "cool," and, since we were still a bit early for dinner, found a warm corner cafe, where we stood at the bar and had an apertif (Kir for susie and Suze for me).

Our day concluded with dinner at the Cafe du Commerce. Originally built as a soup kitchen for the auto factory workers (presumably from the nearby Citroen plants now long gone and turned into green spaces), the cafe is centered around a three-storey atrium, with a retractable glass roof, and seating was right along the railings all the way around. Quite dramatic and most impressive.

We had come for the steak frites, as recommended by both Clotilde Dusoulier and David Lebovitz, and were not disappointed. But there was also plenty to offer besides beef (although this would probably not be a place for vegetarians, unless they planned to load up on frites). The service was almost worth the price of the meal as well. The beef and potatoes were washed down with a lively Gigondas. Delicious.

Le Cafe du Commerce. 51 rue du Commerce, Paris 75015. Website.

The end of another wonderful night in Paris was fast approaching and we had to leave. After paying the bill (something they appreciate here it would seem), we headed back to the no. 10, switching to the 5 and getting off at Richard Lenoir, we were soon back home.

Wish you were here,

Steve

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