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Monday--Jacquemart-André, Canal Saint-Martin, Paris Plages

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We've always managed to not quite get to the Musee Jacquemart-André on previous trips. I had seen that they had a special exhibit on Spanish artists, so we headed up there on Monday. This museum (along with the Louvre) is one of the few open on Mondays.It's up in the 8th, an area we don't often find ourselves in. We arrived early so walked around a bit, found a patisserie with croissants au beurre (the ones made with butter, not other fats, will be labeled as such) then found a bench to sit and discreetly nibble as we watched junior bankers stride by.

The museum has English-language audioguides as a freebie with admission, very much appreciated by us. The museum is fascinating, in a 19th century mansion owned by serious art collectors. Nélie Jacquemart was a society portrait painter, and after she married Edouard André they roamed the world collecting goodies. Both the "Museum" areas they set up to display their collections and the more private apartment are lovely and fascinating; and the show "From El Greco to Dalí. The great Spanish masters" was a nicely focused way of showcasing how Spanish artists have approached certain themes or subjects. You can't take photos inside (although I saw several folks sneaking them) so you'll just have to look at the website: http://www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com/en/jacquemart/

We had wanted to eat in the cafe (under the famous Tiepolo ceiling) but the line was terrifying. So we took the Metro over to the Canal Saint Martin area, to check out where another ST friend will be staying. Ah Mondays in late July, so many Paris restos closed. We ended up in Le Bistro des Oies for a very pleasant lunch. Like many little cafes they offer a lunch dish of the day for about 9 euros so those with lunch tickets (Ah, France!) go. I had a great piece of salmon with buttery carrots and mashed potatoes, and Larry had the special, pieces of lamb with dynamite frites. Crunchy-top creme brulee for dessert. I liked the vibe (the owner is delightful) and food, and would definitely return. Le Bistro des Oies, 2 Rue Marie et Louise (near the Saint martin Canal in the 10th, Metro Goncourt, Republique, or Jacques Bonsergent. http://lebistrodesoies.com/

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This area reminds me somewhat of maybe parts of Brooklyn---a mixture of working class and young trendy types, some harmless winos sunning themselves along the canal , busy avenues with quiet little streets in between with shops selling everything from vacuum cleaner parts to artfully ripped clothing. Perhaps not as manicured and heartbreakingly lovely as tourist Paris, but definitely more real.

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We decided to walk into the Marais, and then just kept on walking, ending up at the Seine.

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We walked along the Paris Plages, the temporary "beach" the city sets up in the Summer along the quai on the right bank. Deck chairs are at a premium, but we finally pounced on two as their occupants left. We had a blast watching the mixture of people sunning, eating, playing in the little sand areas, bouncing on trampolines, playing boules or ping pong.http://www.paris-plages.fr/

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Walked a bit more, crossing bridges back and forth.

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Took the bus home, rested, then went around the corner to the little restaurant Charles-Victor (8 r Brézin, Metro Mouton-Duvernet), where we noticed many happy people eating the other night. I'd seen a lot of steak tartare on other tables, and that's another of my Paris "must-do's". Larry had a beautiful salad with all sorts of duck bits and pieces. I won the frites award with this meal; and the tartar was beautifully fresh (as it damn well better be!) and nicely seasoned. http://charles-victor.com/

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