Sundays in Paris pose somewhat of a challenge as many places are closed and while the tourist attractions are open, they are crowded. The Marais with its Jewish community is one area where many shops are open on Sundays, so Kathy and I decided to explore it today. From the name of our apartment "Le Passage du Marais," you'd think that it is in the Marais, but it is actually in an area called Les Halles - Beaubourg. The Marais' borders are rather vague and it really depends on who you are talking to where the Marais ends and other neighborhoods begin.
We are in the 3rd Arrondissement, but on the western edge - when you walk across the street to the west of us, you are in the 2nd. The Marais comprises parts of both the 3rd and 4th Arrondissements. The arrondissements or districts of Paris are numbered from 1 to 20 and begin around the Louvre, and spiral around clockwise like a snail.
We took the #29 bus this morning, thinking we'd get off at Place des Vosges. But, the bus took a different route due, we learned, to many streets being blocked off today for bicyclists. We got a nice long ride and got off at St. Paul, the neighborhood where I had looked at apartments when planning this trip, so I was somewhat familiar with the area. St. Paul church had been covered with scaffolding the last time I saw it and now it is all cleaned up and very pretty.
I had never seen white strawberries before, but one of the fruit and vegetable shops had some. Wish I could have tasted one. They are pure white.
We spent some time wandering the lanes of Village St. Paul, which is a conclave of very old buildings. There are lots of antique shops in the area and we found a "pop up shop" of handmade items where I did buy a pendant. We also found a small shop called "Thanksgiving" that sells American goods: Campbell's soup, Hellman's Mayonnaise, and even Twinkies. It was in sort of an out-of-the-way spot, but I suppose if you are an ex-pat you'd know where it is.
We had lunch at Le Cidrie du Marais, which I had discovered the last time I was here. I had a crepe filled with ham, cheese, sauteed potatoes and an egg. It was good, but not as good as the "special" I had last time; unfortunately, they don't do "specials" on the weekend. It was really good washed down with a bowl of cidre - just like in Brittany.
After lunch we walked up to Rue des Rosiers, which is the Jewish neighborhood. Many shops were open and the street was crowded with people. The falafel shops are very popular and there was quite a long queue for the L'As du Falafel, which is considered the best in Paris.
Next we walked a block or so up the Rue St. Croix de la Bretonnerie, which is known as the gay neighborhood in Paris, but it seems pretty tame. We walked along Rue des Francs Bourgeois, which turns into Rue Rambuteau, but wanting to avoid the crowd around the Pompidou Center, we walked up Rue Beaubourg, and got back to the apartment around 2:30 for our afternoon rest.
My Paris friend invited us to dinner at her apartment, so we walked quite a distance back through the Marais to her place. Her apartment is in an early 20th century building and so French. Just exactly what you would imagine a French apartment to look like with coved ceilings decorated with painted plaster molded vines, leaves, and flowers. It is quite large by today's Paris standards. For dinner, she prepared a pot au feu, which is a sort of stew with beef, carrots, potatoes, onions, and cabbage -- the French take on a New England boiled dinner. It was really delicious with some good crusty bread and wine. French pastries for dessert, and a lovely evening with a very gracious and hospitable lady and her dog.