Friday, May 10, 2013

Left Bank

We crossed the Seine to the Left Bank for a day of walking and exploring - and food appreciation - on Thursday.

We started in the forecourt of Notre Dame, which is currently cluttered with all sorts of temporary constructions being utilised this week for celebrations of the 850th anniversary of Paris's most beautiful cathedral. One of the big marquees was hosting a big promotion of "the grain". Inside there were dozens of artisan bakers doing their stuff with the freshest and most beautiful of ingredients......

It really made me appreciate just how much butter goes into a looks like it is almost half and half by weight!!!!!!

We crossed Pont au Double and found our way easily to Place Maubert with its early morning market in progress. At this time of the year its only the berries, asparagus and artichokes that look fresh and relatively local - although all the imported stuff looks beautiful too (including figs from Chile!).

Then we walked along Boulevard - St Germain, making our way to Odeon, then right at Rue de Buci (one of my favourite little streets on the left bank), although there was no morning market in progress here as I remembered it.

Although we are intrigued to find this book of Ellas (with strange headdresses) in this elegant bookshop's window display.

And Rob kept his eye out for signs of the busy street artists, as we've been taught to do since our time in Berlin.

We make it to Rue de l'Abbaye, past Eglise Saint - Germain des Pres...

We are somewhat nonplussed to see this poster....and to read that BRISBANE C'est la nouvelle ville cosmopolite d'Australie (!!!!) - (It is hosting the G20 in 2014). Unfortunately it starts Rob off on a bit of a rant when he thinks about Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott both playing a key role in hosting this event - his first political rant in a few weeks.

Luckily he's diverted by this little vignette (which still looks remarkable to us).

We're on a mission to introduce Ros and Pete to our favourite pattissier in Paris - Poilane, at number 8 Rue du Cherche- Midi.  Fortunately their pain au chocolat lives up to the wonderful memories of previous visits.

We try to find the big fresh food market in Boulevard Raspail, which is not operating today, so we make our way to Le Bon Marche (La Grande Epicerie de Paris) in Rue du Bac.  Le Bon Marche fronts on to a lovely little park - fiercely guarded today by a diminutive, dark haired middle aged Guardien, who watches us like a hawk in case we feed the pigeons or drop any litter (or start canoodling). We take ages enjoying the purchase of our picnic ingredients at Le Bon Marche: UNpasteurized milk cheese, Spanish jambon,  fresh salads, beautiful bread and almond croissants for dessert - and small bottles of Moet - just beautiful!

From here we make our way back to Le Pantheon in the Quartiere Latin, admiring the grandiose Eglise St Suplice long the way.

However we find that Le Pantheon, one of our favourite buildings in Paris, is under MAJOR repairs (100million euros worth over the next decade), and the dome is no longer accessible to visitors. There is a huge queue just to see the interior - so Ros and Pete decide to just enjoy the exterior on today's visit.

We make a decision to explore the nearby Luxembourg Gardens instead.....adding at least another 5 kilometres to an already BIG walking day.

.. ..but it is a spectacular sight to see thousands of Parisiennes out actively enjoying all the facilities of this extensive park - and hardly a tourist in sight.

It seemed to be a LONG walk back to the Marais and we all barely made it back to our new favourite bar in Rue Veille du Temple for a reviving Pelforth.  Afterwards we all collapsed for a few hours before meeting up again for a glass of wine and some more cheese!

We've finally realised why so many places have been closed in the last two days -  apparently it is a religious holiday in France (Ascension Day) - lucky for them, unlucky for us!

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