Paris, seductive city

OK, here’s what I like about living in Paris: days are rarely ho-hum.  Something is always happening. One is constantly surprised, exasperated, bedazzled, outraged, charmed…..emotions run high here, the atmosphere is heavily charged.  There’s a lot of tension in this country on all fronts: politically, emotionally, socially, sexually.

When people ask why have I lived in Paris for so long, I answer unhesitatingly:  I’m never bored.  It’s the French people themselves.  Love ’em or hate ’em, they are a complete paradox and, as a result, life is unpredictable.  I guess I like that.  I might be bored elsewhere.

Example:  yesterday, an ordinary Thursday, I took the metro to the 6th arrondissement on the other side of the city after work.  At Châtelet metro station, one of the busiest stations on the metro system – and during rush hour – I literally walked into a pop-up string orchestra playing Bartok in the main corridor.  It was totally unexpected and sheer delight:Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 006Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 012Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 010After listening for awhile, I took the corridor to Line 4 to catch the train to Odéon. Once on the crowded train, a pickpocketer managed to open the flap of my handbag, but luckily (for me) was thwarted by the zippered main pocket.  Beware of pickpocketers on the Paris metro and elsewhere! Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 017Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 020Got off at Odéon in the 6th arrondissement (near the Latin Quarter) and sauntered up several roads that led to Berkeley second-hand English-language bookshop, located at number 8 rue Casimir-Delavigne. You can buy, sell and swap books here which is what I did (I swapped.)  Then I headed over to my favourite department store, the terribly chic Le Bon Marché, at Sèvres-Babylone further west.  Le Bon Marché is open until 9 pm on Thursdays.  Here’s a few random shots I took along the way:

Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 041Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 044Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 030Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 033Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 034

Look at these testosterone terrors.  Why is the riot police out in full force? They look like something out of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 045

Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 047I’ve reached my final destination. La Grande Epicerie, the magnificent Food Hall of Le Bon Marché.  Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 049Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 050Look at these fresh shrimp (prawns) from Madagascar!  Could shrimp be any bigger??  In France they’re called Gambas.  And only 69 euros a kilo, folks.Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 052 I bought some divine herring in cream sauce, olives from Provence, plump raspberries from Spain and some irresistibly-good gingerbread that the French call pain d’épices, made from rye flour, honey, orange marmalade and spices. With coffee in the morning or tea in the afternoon, it’s, well, irresistible.Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 070

Could a car be any smaller?? I wouldn’t be caught dead in that thing.  Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 067

Stepping outside, I walked smack into a demonstration which explains why the riot police were out, however this was a very tame crowd waving flags marked Mariage pour Tous (Marriage for All) which supports the new law François Hollande’s socialist government  is pushing through to legalize same-sex marriage. These images are in stark contrast to the opposing right-wing (and very scary) National Front demonstrators who resort to violence and intimidation.Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 057Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 058Paris 5 and 6th arr avril 2013 062

ADDENDUM – In fact, the people protesting against same-sex marriage, I later learned, is not wholly the extreme right-wing National Front but conservative Catholics out in full-force with their families.

8 thoughts on “Paris, seductive city

  1. I am a recent subscriber to your blog, but my wife and I come to Paris each year and always stay in the 6th. So, seeing your photos was a special treat and a reminder. In fact, we are leaving for Paris next week, with a stop first in Bordeaux for a few days and then our Rental Apartment on Rue St. Sulpice. Your photo of the smart car reminds me of one we took of 3 Smart Cars parked one behind the other on Rue Jacob at the intersection with Rue Bonaparte. you are so very correct that there is always something to see in Paris

    • Hello Sherman, and thank you for your comments. I shouldn’t knock the Smart car because it’s eco-friendly, however it’s so small that I don’t think I’d feel safe sitting inside it. Enjoy your stay in France!

  2. My dear friend who lives in Vancouver sent me your blog today. I live in Los Angeles and I spent 6 weeks in apartment in the 4th last Spring for the first time in 30 years. It was exactly as you described, it was magical and it was exactly the opposite of Los Angeles. I’m on my way back mid-april 6 weeks in the 4th, 4 weeks in the 6th. I’m counting the days and i know that your sharing will enhance my trip. Every day was a huge surprise and it will be again, just walking and walking and walking…..A journey starts with a single step, that describes it perfectly.

    • Kathy…I loved your comment. Thanks so much for writing. Will you spend 10 weeks in Paris or do some side trips? Oh, there are so many many places you could visit for a weekend or more! Brussels….the Atlantic Coast of France….Brittany or Normandy….how about London, my fave city?? Taking the Eurostar there is fantastic (not to mention convenient). If you click on August 2014 (on the home page), you’ll see 5 blog posts on my favorite spots in London when I was there last summer.

      If you want any travel or sightseeing ideas, feel free to contact me. As for myself, I’m off to Naples and Capri over the Easter break. I’m excited. I’ve never been to that part of Italy before.

      Happy travels and enjoy Paris!


      • thanks for responding juliet. And for the suggestions. here’s my problem. at this point, i am so in love with Paris, the streets of Paris, every street in Paris, that i just don’t want to travel. i don’t want to be a tourist, i just want to pretend i live in paris and that’s kind of that. Perhaps that will change when i get there and i might go visit a friend in Lyon but right now my love affair is in the early stages and i just want to plant myself and see every street. it’s such a strange reaction for me because i never walk in los angeles and i can’t stop in Paris

      • juliet, giving this a iittle thought, i think going to London for a day or two is a really good idea. Per haps a few more places too. I might pick your brain and I thanks you for the offer. kathy

      • Wow! I love your enthusiasm. It’s true that walking is the best way to see a city. When I go to London, I walk 6 to 7 hours a day. I can recommend some inexpensive places to stay in London (it’s a very expensive city). Also, the earlier you book your Eurostar ticket, the cheaper the price.

        Brussels is also a lovely city, as is Bruges and Antwerp. I went to Belgium 4 times last year and have blog posts. I really like Belgium. Oh, I also went to Amsterdam over Xmas and loved it too.

        I’ll be happy to meet up with you when you’re in Paris. If you want more travel ideas before you come over, here’s my personal email address –

      • HI Juliet, here’ s what I find so amazing about Paris. I went last year with no agenda and some paid for info about what to see because of the history of everything. well, that didn’t work for me nor did the maps. I walked and I walked and I got lost and I realized nope, no short cuts. I finally loved getting lost and just walking. People I know, for the most part, only go to the monuments and stay in either the 6th or the pricy hotels and really don’t get that that is just a tiny part of Paris and the magic is just everywhere and the french are so nice and the city is so safe. There are always precautions we have to take but that’s to be expected everywhere. And i love the cool spring weather and the clouds..I’d love to get together. thanks for your personal email. kathy

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