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Life in Paris


I have the habit of chewing gum. I think I’ve done it most of my life. I remember my Dad chewing gum as I grew up, my ex did it all the time mostly as a way to keep his breath fresh and I started and have just continued on. Sometimes I unfortunately pop it. I know this is annoying. A friend once even asked me to stop which made me realize it wasn’t necessarily a good thing. I’ve gotten looks by people sitting near me too. I read that the Queen of England was offended when the mother of Princess Catherine chewed gum around her and considered it low class. I chew gum not only after a meal, especially if it involved garlic or onions, but because my mouth is often dry. I think I am drying up as I age with dry eyes, dry lips and dry mouth my constant companions. When I did tours and did a lot of talking I chewed gum just so I wouldn’t have to carry a bottle of water around leading to a search for a toilet. I chew gum when I exercise too so I don’t need water. Anyway, the other day I asked Maurice if my gum chewing bothered him, expecting him to saw no as he has never mentioned it before. He paused and then said, “Sometimes”. I was astounded. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?” and he said, “In a marriage sometimes you just have to bear things”. “You mean you bear it?” I couldn’t believe it. Guess I’ll stop chewing gum.
So, anyway, here are a few more shots of the Marais area in Paris-one of my favorites.

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Seen in the window of a cafe. I thought the names of the drinks were funny.

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I love the architecture of this building. I’m so glad it wasn’t torn down.Haussman tore down 60% of the buildings in Paris when he was changing the look of Paris under Napoleon III but missed the Marais.

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I just thought this was very strange. I’ve never been taken outside by an optometrist, if this is what the man is.

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I’m sure there was another statue here in this niche, Mary in fact, but I like this one.

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I went into the Italian store next to our apartment building the other day to buy some veal picatta. We were having company for dinner and I wanted something simple and am never able to keep that crispy coating on my veal when I try to cook it. So, I told the man behind the counter in my bad French that I wanted the veal, pointing to it, three in fact. He laughed and said, “You mean les escalopes du veau. It will be really big if I give you a veau.” Well, he was right. I didn’t want a whole calf. I guess it sounded strange to him while it made sense to me. The veal was good and the spaghetti that I made as a side dish was perfect. I tried out the recipe everyone had been writing about created by the Italian cook and book author (who recently died), Marcella Hazan which has only three ingredients: one 28 ounce can of Italian tomatoes, five tablespoons of butter and a peeled onion cut in half. Simmer for 45 minutes, removed the onion, smush the tomatoes and you are done. It was very good but what made the spaghetti especially good was the fact that I stood by the stove as the pasta cooked and tested it every minute are so until it was perfectly al dente. Earlier, when I told Maurice I was making spaghetti he said, “Make sure it isn’t soupy”. This is the first I had heard that my pasty is soupy. I like a lot of sauce myself. But this pasta was just lightly coated with the sauce with little chunks of tomato here and there and no sauce spreading over the plate.
None of this has a thing to do with the Marais. I just thought I would tell my little story. The next day I did walk through this area of Paris on a bright sunny day and enjoyed it.

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This looks like an alley but it was once actually a street.

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Two old buildings from the 14th century, once covered with plaster.

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There is a store called Israel that sells all sorts of things, this preserved fruit among them.

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They also sell these beans and spices. I would have taken more photos but was told they weren’t allowed.

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Before I went to Ibiza I was at the WH Smith bookstore getting a guide to Ibiza and decided to roam down the nearby rue Saint-Honoré, a very nice street full of mostly high end shops.

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I looked into the new Madarin Oriental Hotel. It’s very nice but I soon got a “may I help you” from the staff so left.

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Roses waiting to be made into a beautiful creation at, I think, Costes flower shop.

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I passed by Place Vendome, the location of the Ritz Hotel, now undergoing renovation.

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Chocolate shops abound and are getting ready for Easter.

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This is the interior of Colette, a concept store full of the newest things in the fashion and art world. They were just robbed of 600,000 Euros worth of watches so I wandered in out of curiosity. It looked the same as always, full of mostly young, hip people.The watches are kept in a large glass container.

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A door handle that I liked.

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When I read about an exhibit at the George V Hotel about the photos taken of the Beatles fifty years ago when they first arrived in Paris and stayed at this hotel, I wanted to see it so my friend, Barbara, and I set out to see it. We walked in the door expecting to see the photos set up and the lobby was bare. Several employees looked at us with puzzled expressions not knowing what we were talking about. Here was the quote from Forbes Magazine:
In honor of the 50th anniversary, the Four Seasons George V in Paris is running a photo exhibition of Benson’s iconic shots of the Beatles in the hotel, blown up and displayed in the lobby and in front of the bar (the photos accompanying this story are used with the permission of the photographer and appear in his latest (2013) book, Harry Benson: The Beatles on the Road: 1964-1966).
Doesn’t that sound like the exhibit is going on now? Finally a lady found out that it is supposed to be in June. So, in a way, it was a wasted trip but I always enjoy seeing the flower arrangements there.

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They are celebrating Spring with yellow flowers.

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The courtyard, still too cold for breakfasts.

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Even quiet, unseen little corners aren’t forgotten.

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The flower arranger, Jeff Leatham, is famous for his leaning flowers.

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I looked in the gift shop and saw a children’s book of triplets at the George V and saw that they also have plates with scenes from the book, sort of like Heloise at the Plaza.

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Yesterday I joined a friend for lunch. We started at Tsubami, a “Japanese bistro” and ended up at Miss Ko, an over the top Starck restaurant that we stumbled upon accidentally.

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Our lunch at Tsubami was served in these cute little bamboo containers.

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Here’s what was inside. It was very tasty. I liked the little vegetable sides. I thought the place was a little over-priced (or am I just cheap?) but it was packed with people and there were many there to pick up to go orders.

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Then we were on our way to the George V hotel for an exhibit that didn’t exist-we think it may be there in June-when I spotted some chairs outside a restaurant with fake fur on the backs. “Look at that,” I told my friend. She said, “Look at that entrance!” So we went in and were amazed at the interior. Starck is a famous designer who started that orange juicer that looked like an alien who then went on to designing just about anything you can think of including restaurants and hotels. This place is an oriental fusion sort of place with huge paintings of tatooed and naked women and cartoon characters. These umbrella lights were over a long line of tables. The place was huge extending back at what seemed a city block.

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There was also a long, long bar with TV screens showing news from Japan and a dragon went zooming by now and then. We decided to sit there and have a drink. Again, I thought it over-priced, but fun. They had bo bun on the menu, one of my favorites, at the cost of 22 Euros. I can get one for eight Euros at an authentic Thai place but you are paying for the atmosphere here and the location is right up the street from the George V, so there’s that.

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Our drink, a spiffed up iced tea with fruit juices.

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An enormous light fixture in the shape of a tea pot.

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There was a tiny little gift shop selling cute plates and these “glamorous” champagne bottles.

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Winter is late this year in Paris. In fact, I think it totally forgot to come, sort of like our guests for lunch yesterday. They are what we call an older (French)couple although, actually, they are our age. I wonder if we seem older to them. Anyway, I had asked another person to join us for lunch at noon and said guest arrived right on time. Thirty minutes passed and I started worrying because, like the Swiss, they always arrive dead on time. (We had a party once at our former place in Provence which included all of our neighbors. All of the French arrived 15 to 20 minutes late while the only Swiss couple on our street rang the doorbell on the dot announcing, “We’re Swiss! We’re always on time” They have all those clocks in Switzerland as you know.) I asked Maurice to call them because I knew something was up. He was reluctant but finally did when I suggested he call to see if they had our building codes. Sure enough, they thought our lunch was the next day. Instead of just cancelling, Maurice told them to come on. By then it was one o’clock and they live in the suburbs. I had already put my stuffed veggies (farci) into the oven and there was a little time left for them to cook, so I turned the oven off. Maurice went and bought another bottle of champagne because our other guest and I decided to start drinking and eating the munchies. An hour later, the couple arrived all breathless but bearing gifts-they always make me feel guilty and I have anxiety attacks when we go to their place trying to find something fun and original. So far, they have never given us the same thing twice, not even wine. Interestingly, this couple also brought along their house shoes. They took off their street shoes and put them on. Hmmm. Maurice does take off his street shoes when he gets home and switches to house shoes but he’s never taken them to someone else’s house when we go. I think a lot of Europeans change their shoes when they are home. I hardly ever do. My grandsons living in Switzerland have to change from street shoes to slippers when they go to school, at least in the younger grades. I suppose it keeps the floors cleaner. I have a cat so it’s a lost cause anyway. So, around 2:30 we sat down to a lunch of very well done farci. The vegetables had sort of gone very soft and fallen away from the stuffing but they tasted pretty good. I’m always a bit nervous when I cook for the French with all of those thousand of years of cooking tradition and Maurice had told the lady this so she told him for me just to serve a salad and a slice of ham. If I had done that, the late lunch would have been no problem. Oh well. They left at six. I went and crashed on the bed for a late nap and woke up with a champagne headache.
So, photos of Spring in the Luxembourg Gardens. I actually took these on the first day of Spring. It was sunny and warm enough not to need a coat but it was very windy-Spring arriving like a lion?

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Most of the statues there-except for the Statue of Liberty-are surrounded by flowers.

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Parisians, and some tourists too, facing the sun.

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The trees are getting leaves. They are almost always cut in this fashion in the parks.

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A look at the palace where the Senate meets. Every chair was taken to enjoy the sun but there was some sand blasting too from the wind that was blowing. I walked through the park holding my hair down.

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And, my word, look how they have the Pantheon covered up for renovations. I’ve never seen any place covered in such thick plastic. I’m sure there’s a reason.

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