My Pad

I’ve had a few questions and comments here and there and I thought I would clear up the whole mystery of where and how I live. I know there are hundreds out there wondering. Some people have said, “You’re in Paris? I thought you lived in Provence.” Actually, I am lucky enough to live in both places, though not at the same time. When I first married Maurice and moved to France we lived in an apartment he bought in Paris. When he retired we built a house in Provence. At the time we thought we would be living there just about full time but after our first winter there and the drama of the plumbing that wouldn’t work that had us heading back to Paris on friggin’ Christmas day, we decided to just live in Provence from Spring to Fall. It gets cold there in the winter, believe it or not, and a little desolate and deserted feeling, a little depressing. Usually we go somewhere for vacation, somewhere warm, often make a trip to the States or just hang out in Paris, not a bad thing.
Maurice bought our place in Paris before we married. I like it, on the whole. It seemed very small to me when we first moved in, with a broad entry hall, a very narrow kitchen and three rooms and a bathroom. We are on the third floor if you are a European or the fourth if you are an American and there is no elevator. This is really hard when you are carrying up luggage or groceries and I sometimes wonder what we will do when we get really old. There is an elderly lady two flight above us and she still seems to do well-so far.
Some people want to see the kitchen. There isn’t much to it although it was what we redid first. There is a small washer/comination dryer hidden behind a false cabinet door. It is so small that I have to do loads more often than in the States where there are those luxuriously huge washers and, unfortunatlely, it takes hours to do one load and things end up mysteriously wrinkled and, thus, I have to do more ironing than I used to. I have an electric stove and oven-gas wasn’t a choice- a small refrigerator and a really small freezer. When the kitchen guy planned it all, he planned the microwave to go above the freezer-I could imagine hot liquid pouring down on me from the great height when I tried to remove some cooked dish. The reason we didn’t put it up there-besides the possibility of second degree burns- was because the space wasn’t big enough and because the freezer door is attached to a false cabinet door, we would have the freezer door open every time we wanted to microwave something. Seemed strange to me.

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The washer

From our bedroom we can see the street and the buildings straight across from ours. Sometimes I can see people inside them working at their desks or, even, in their underwear (note to self: you can see people behind sheer curtains at night if the lights are on). From our kitchen and living room we can see a courtyard down below, split into four parts as four buildings are joined together forming a square within, very common in Paris. Little buildings are in each square for garbage cans, bicycles and baby strollers. I can also see people across the way: an old couple behind grimy windows with a curtain hanging in tatters, their hair shining silver in their ceiling light, a young man with cerebral palsy, constantly moving in an unending dance. I also see families in their lives, then the shutters will be closed for months and, soon, there is a new family or couple, painting the walls and moving in. Sort of like the movie, Rear Window, but no murders and I don’t have binoculars.

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My new blog: Side Roads of Europe

We Did It!

This post is for Sylvette. She is Maurice’s sister and she reads my blog, well mainly she looks at the photos as her English is about like my French. Anyway, the last time I saw her was at her house for a party on January 2nd where I ate and drank way too much. Why do I mix champagne and two kinds of wine and cognac? Don’t you think I would know better by now? Anyway, Sylvette said she wanted to see a photo of our apartment now that the renovation is finished.

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This is a view of the living room which was once a bedroom. We finally got the book shelf up after agonizing over how difficult it would be. It turned out to be easy. We didn’t anchor it to the wall as advised but it seems very stable to me. Now I have to find some attractive things to put on the shelves. The ones in the middle top are meant for CD’s. I don’t have any here in Paris as I listen to the radio and our car is in Provence, my main CD listening place. It is nice to have the space for company now in our little apartment.

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Here is my cat, Elliot, on the rug that cost more than I thought it did. I like it now that it is in place but man, it sheds more than my cat. Every day I can see little blue fuzz balls all over the place and blue hairs on the floor of my bathroom which is white. I guess it is going to do that for quite a while and, meanwhile, I vacuum just about every day-one of my least favorite things to do, right up there with ironing.

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Paris Christmas Windows 2

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The front of the Gerard Mulot Patisserie with some of the best pastries and candy in Paris. It’s near St Sulpice Church off of St Germain Blvd.

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One of the Christmas cakes called Buche de Noel. I’ve noticed that there have been searches for the recipe for it but you will never find it on this blog. I don’t do things that are difficult-I just buy them-but even these are a little too sweet for me.

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Here is a tree made of macarons. They are a cookie made with egg whites and almond paste with a ganache between two cookies-heaven.

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Another cake-a work of art.

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I think these are candied chestnuts. I seldom really eat them whole except for one from a vendor that has roasted them in a metal drum to sale on the streets. There were some chopped up in the dressing of my stuffed turkey from Picard. One time, years ago, I was making a recipe of stuffing that called for chestnuts and I had no idea what they were so I added water chestnuts, the things you put in Chinese food. It wasn’t too bad actually.

Treat

It has been rainy here in Paris and sometimes when I am trudging along the wet sidewalks and the toes of my socks are wet-I discover that my shoes aren’t waterproof-and, even though the temperatures are in the 50’s, I start to feel a little chilled because there is a wind–then I start dreaming of a few ways to cheer myself up. 

 I was in the Marais neighborhood and the thought of some Christmas tea sounded good. Why not treat myself?  I went in the warm little store right there on rue Bourg Tibourg, filled with the scents of teas mingling in the air and bought a little sack of their Christmas tea. It has cinnamon and orange peel in it and a cup of a tea with this flavor is always guaranteed to brighten your day. They handed me my little paper sack and, darn, if they didn’t put a little raincoat over it so my sack wouldn’t get wet.

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 See the little raincoat?

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My sac of Christmas Tea

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A closeup of their label.

 I had to run into the grocery store before coming home and as I was checking out I saw something only available at Christmas and Easter around Paris. It is candy, not the handmade, expensive, exclusive candy for sale in marvelous shops around Paris, but the packaged stuff. Still, I love it. I love the chocolate covered cherries that used to be available in the States-I think they stopped making it. This is called Mon Cheri and along with a cherry inside, there is also some cherry liquor. My, is it good. So I bought a package of five pieces and ate it in ten minutes. At least I didn’t buy a package of twenty.

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 Side Roads of Europe

A Purple Christmas

 The George V is one of the most luxurious hotels in Paris, if not the world. I always like to drop in when I happen to be in the area and look at the flower displays ever since I met the floral designer, an American, a few years ago. At the time he got one million Euros a year just to buy the flowers so, as you might imagine, they are really spectacular. I stopped by the other day to see what the displays would be now that Christmas is coming. I was a little disappointed as it is all purple, trees, and neon lights but I have to admit that it was striking.

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Here is one of two trees in the entry lobby

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 The chandelier got a nice purple hue

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There are some interesting reflections in the Christmas balls too.

Side Roads of Europe