A Day In Paris – Market, Masterpieces And Midnight

Just how good can one day be? In Paris our days have been spectacular and filled with variety. On one particular day we went to an outdoor food market in the morning, viewed world class masterpieces at the Louvre later in the day and watched from a sidewalk cafe as the Eiffel Tower lit up for the evening. It was a pretty darn good day for these two Americans in Paris.

Louvre with pyramid and couple

At the world famous Louvre museum

a month in paris

Phil and I rented an apartment for a month in Paris. We have traveled to 5 other countries in the past 3 months, so an apartment for this long seems glorious to us. It’s is in the Le Marais district in Paris’ 3rd arrondissement. The city is divided into 20 arrondissements, or districts, that spiral out from the 1st arrondissement in the center. This is where you will find the Lourve, the Royal Palace, Tuileries Garden and other historic sights.

Our neighborhood is only 2 miles from the Louvre and is quite unique these days in Paris. In the 1600’s Le Marais was where the fabulous and wealthy built their private mansions, because the King did, but they all later followed him when he moved to Versailles. The neighborhood has since gone through many incarnations, including a bohemian era. Most importantly, it was spared the “makeover” by Napoleon III that created the wide arrow-straight boulevards which are a Paris hallmark. Napoleon feared a repeat of the barricades that the Revolutionaries threw up on the small streets to thwart the monarchy. He also wanted to ensure that the streets were large enough to accommodate his army’s tanks. Emperor Napoleon was not going to permit another French Revolutions if he could help it.

But World War I came along before Marais’ due date with the wrecking ball, so the area was able to keep its small quaint streets and old distinctive buildings. The streets are now filled with avant garde boutiques, shops, cafes and charming, quaint apartments. Ours is a 2 bedroom flat located between Place de la Republique and the Bastille. It has a quiet center courtyard and a lovely patio for enjoying the warm weather. Our owner is an interior designer, now retired, and is spending this month on holiday in Bordeaux while we enjoy her lovely apartment.

fabulous Paris street markets

Have you looked at restaurant prices in Paris? They seem pretty high to me. But that doesn’t seem to stop the Parisianers from frequenting the vast number of cafes and restaurants that line most neighborhood streets in this city. On a journey as long as ours, it would break the bank to eat out all the time. Just as well. We very much enjoy preparing our own meals with Paris’ sumptuous food and eating it al fresco on our patio.

Eating at Paris cafe

Parisianers eat at cafes with gusto

A sidewalk cafe in Paris

A Paris cafe

Patio of flat in Paris

Our lovely patio where we enjoy our meals

Food from Paris market

To the market – then dinner at home

A large part of our pleasure is shopping for food. Like Parisianers we shop daily at whatever outdoor market is set up that day. If we miss an outdoor market, the supermarkets suit us just fine. We were afraid that we’d get lower quality in the supermarkets but we are continually pleased. We have to remind ourselves that “we’re not in Kansas anymore”. Supermarkets are a fraction of the size of their American counterparts but we seem to find good selections on everything we want.

DSC08739

The bread in Paris is out of this world. We have tried several of the neighborhood boulangeries for baguettes and Phil picked out his favorite. And then we visited others, and he picked out a new favorite. That’s because they are all so good. These addictive loafs costs a dollar or so and you can get them hot! I almost made a meal of one right there on the street the first time I got it hot.

Now I have learned the trick. Paris bakeries supply hot baguettes 3 times a day – just before breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now that’s quite nice of them, don’t you agree? I don’t think we can get hot bread in most parts of the USA. Hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts, yes. But I’d prefer a hot French baguette, wouldn’t you?

Man with French baguette

Phil’s new favorite sound is the crunch of a French baguette

Slicing French cheese

His second favorite thing is French CHEESE

masterpieces at the Louvre

Our hostess left us a slew of Paris guidebooks in English, dogeared to the “must see” sights. Of course, the Louvre, the largest museum in the world, was prominently featured. An important tip was to avoid the crowds by going there on one of the evenings that featured late hours. That suited us fine and gave us time to rest after our foray to the outdoor market – and the boulangerie –  in the morning.

We studied the guides, downloaded the Rick Steves’ app and the official Louvre app (which we liked better), and charged our cell phones for the adventure. We also trekked over to the ticket booth at the train station to buy our tickets in advance, even though it cost us a surcharge. We had been warned to avoid the long ticket lines and we wanted to be smart tourists in Paris.

Paris Louvre pyramid

I found this modern-looking pyramid at the 12th century Louvre odd at first

Inside the Louvre pyramid

From inside  the pyramid is pretty cool and  seems timeless

The Louvre has dominated the heart of Paris since the 12th century when it was first build as a fortress against the English neighbors. It had its glory days as the residence of the Kings of France. In 1793 it was made a museum for all the people to enjoy. It currently displays works from the Middle Ages to the mid-19th century.

With over 30,000 works, how were Phil and I to determine which “masterpieces” to see? The museum app has an itinerary, complete with the sound of footprints to pace the listener. This way we arrived at the masterpiece at precisely the time the narration began. And if that didn’t work, a photo of the piece showed up on the phone to help us locate it.

mona lisa

Here is a painting we all recognize as a masterpiece. Luckily, with our strategy of going in the less-crowded evening, we avoided what you see in the second photo below.

Mona Lisa at the Louvre

The Mona Lisa in the Louvre

Crowds taking photos of Mona Lisa

Here’s how it looks around the Mona Lisa at other times

Venus de Milo

The gallery that contains Greek gods and heroes has mostly Roman copies of famous Greek works from the 5th century BC, as most of the Greek originals have not survived. But one did. The statue of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, was found in 1820 by a Greek peasant on the island of Milos. It was presented to King Louis XVIII who placed it in the Louvre.

Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo

more masterpieces

midnight in paris

After our evening with masterpieces at the Louvre, we wanted to go out into the night to see yet another type of masterpiece. The City of Light earns its name. It stays light until after 10 pm at this time of year in Paris.

Eiffel tower at 10 pm

An early evening view of the Eiffel Tower

We went to the Trocadero Cafe which was featured in Woody Allen’s movie Midnight in Paris. It has a view of the Eiffel Tower and some pretty charming waiters. We had a drink and a bite to eat as we watched the day’s light gradually fade and the city lights come on. It was a beautiful sight.

Trocadero Cafe and waiter

Viewing Eiffel from the Trocadero Cafe – photobombed by my charming waiter

Night time view of part of Eiffel Tower

The lights at the Eiffel Tower finally come up at about 10 pm. Days are long in Paris

Evening selfie with Eiffel Tower

Selfie with the symbol of Paris at night

Accordion player on subway in Paris

Midnight entertainment on the subway

Night view of Eiffel Tower

Goodnight, Eiffel. Goodnight, Paris

Have you been to Paris? What did you like best? What recommendations do you have for us? Please tell me in your comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

13 responses to “A Day In Paris – Market, Masterpieces And Midnight”

  1. It looks like you two are having a wonderful time in Paris. Agreed eating out can be expensive there, it is an expensive city. Yet somehow in spite of the reputation of great French food it can often be quite disappointing in Paris. – Maybe your landlord went to find the real good French food in the south of France 🙂

    Midnight in Paris – I really liked that film. But then again I always find Owen Wilson entertaining to watch.

  2. Donna says:

    Bonjour!
    What a great immersion in La vie Parisienne! I could be very happy there for a month. Enjoy every moment:))
    XO
    Donna

  3. Pamella DeFrancis says:

    My trip to Paris was a time at the boulangeries especially and les jardins. I was on the way back from the Soviet Union. Pompideau had passed. The Louvre was closed as were all tourist sites. I translated dinner orders for the 17 others on the tour at a lovely suburban restaurant right out of a movie set. I visited neighbor gardens. Indeed, flowers and fresh food were evrrywhere. Wish I could have stayed. You might enjoy reading a French bestseller, The Elegance of a Hedgehog. (Yes, it has been translated.) Also, Dreaming in French recounts the influence living in Paris had on 3 American icons: Jacqueline Kennedy, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis. Travel on! I am enjoying it vicariously. Glad you made It out of the Middle East healthy LOL and aloha.

  4. Ramona says:

    Love hearing of the travels! Makes me itchy to go out and about again! Enjoy!

  5. Denise Montoya says:

    Hi Cousins! I love the updates! Mushroom and I drove to and from WA (5/21-6/18) and re-rented our Kent, WA house out, which is why we’ve been offline for nearly a month. Look at what we missed – your whole cruise and your time in Europe. You have had more fun than our drive on I-5! But, we’ve also visited friends and relatives, so we did have a wee bit of frivolity too! So glad you’re continuing to have such a wonderful adventure. Keep those stories and photos coming. Hugs to you both! DM

  6. Steve Hoch says:

    My favorite city outside San Francisco! Been there many times and it never gets old. Glad you’re having so much fun! Keep the stories and pix coming!

    Steve

  7. Michele Thompson says:

    Enjoy reading your blog. We LOVE Paris, it’s our favorite city in the world. We’ve been 6 times and still can’t wait to go back again soon but this September it’s Istanbul, Greece, Croatia and Montenegro. We also rent apartments when we go and have enjoyed Le Marais. We’ve stayed in the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th & 8th districts. Some restaurant recommendations (we tend to like less formal Bistros rather than restaurants): http://www.aubougnat.com/, a block to the left of Notre Dame, is a favorite – tiny wine bar but great food (the best frogs legs). http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187147-d1535771-Reviews-Vins_et_Terroirs-Paris_Ile_de_France.html Vin et Terroir is over by St. Michel metro stop has a pork & apple dish that’s delicious! Bistrot Paul Bert, 18, rue Paul Bert Paris 75011 is another good one. Over in the Marais we really liked http://robertetlouise.com/. Last but not least is http://www.auchienquifume.com/ or the “Smoking Dog” as my husband likes to call it. They have escargot in a butter/cream sauce that is to die for … and great profiteroles in season! None are outrageously expensive like the Jules Verne. We went there for our 40th anniversary and it cost us like $600 … for lunch!

    We also love the fresh markets. There’s a big one under the elevated tracks over on rue Grennell early on Sunday mornings that’s awesome. The market streets like rue Cler and rue Mouffetard are just awesome too.

    If you’re up to venturing out of Paris for a day, it’s really easy to go out to Versailles on the RER C line. It ends in Versailles so you can’t go wrong and only cost like 3 or 4 euro! They play the fountains twice a day on Sundays with music and it’s just beautiful. Easily walkable from the train station. Take a right out of the station to their big market in the town square on Sundays so you can grab a bottle of wine, some cheese, some fruit, a baguette and head to the palace and grand canal for a picnic. It is worth it to rent a golf cart if you want to see all the fountains because it’s huge!

    Speaking of picnics, a great place for one is the park right at the tip of Ile de la Cite. There’s a place that sells fresh pasta in Chinese takeout containers, Mezzo di Pasta, not too far way that we like to grab and go sit and eat. There are nice benches or grass if you have a blanket. We also like to hit rue Cler market street for sandwiches and then head to the Champ de Mars with that fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower.

    Oh and one more thing we discovered on our last visit. We had never ridden the buses but a colleague from Paris kept telling me to ride the buses. It’s the same ticket as the metro and you can do transfers. It was awesome and you don’t have to do all those damn metro stairs and you get to do a lot of sightseeing on the way instead of being underground! Buy a carnet (10) of metro tickets at a time to save $$ and ask for a pocket size metro map that also has bus routes on it. The bus stops all are well marked with the route numbers on them and they run like clockwork. There’s actually a bus that runs by St. Michel, along the Seine, under the arches of the louvre, by the Opera House and the Grand Magazins. Nice cafe’s in the big department stores some with great views, I think it was Printemps that you could see Sacre Coeur up in Montmartre from. The most amazing food store we’ve ever seen is http://www.lagrandeepicerie.com/

    One last thing, we love the area around St. Michel fountain and rue Huchette and Notre Dame at night with all the street performers and lively atmosphere and watching sunset from Pont des Arts.

    Have a ball and enjoy your visit – can’t wait to get back there!

  8. Pete Hueseman says:

    Paris:
    Looks just like the things you hear about. Enjoy it.
    Pete

  9. Stopped in Paris with some girlfriends in 1990 as we traveled by train (Eurailpass) from London to Geneva, Switzerland. We spent a couple of nights in Paris so we could visit some UT medical exchange students that had done a Fellowship in TX were we worked. Meeting them at a French cafe was fun, but earlier we had a couple of bad experiences – first thing was that some French teenagers threw raw eggs at us because they thought we were from the UK. Also, as soon as we got off the bullet train in Paris, my carry on bag was stolen. While looking for my bag we saw mean guys pick pocketing travelers with back packs. Anyway, the French police found my bag out on the sidewalk right away with only two minor things missing from it. We went to the Louvre, but it was on the day it was closed. We actually enjoyed going to the Notre Dame church the most which was walking distance from our very nice, 500 year old Hotel Bonaparte. Even in 1990 the food in Paris was very expensive, but good. We actually had a much better time in Geneva, Switzerland. It’s not that far from Paris and so beautiful and calm with the same great French foods.

    Anyway have fun living like a local – that apartment looks lovely!
    Aloha – Carol A.Peacock

  10. Di says:

    I LOVE Paris!
    Was there forty-something years ago!
    I remember scouting for Pastries….delectable.
    Love your stories and wonderful photos,
    Di
    OX

  11. Renee says:

    My favorite so far????

  12. Mary and Michael Burns says:

    Hi Carol, we loved Paris…hope you don’t miss Musee d’Orsay and Versailles. So much to see yet just soaking up the energy is magnificent. Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *