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A Day of Passages

We were up bright and early on Tuesday morning after our early evening in on Monday. We have breafast and are dressed and out the door by 9am. We have decided to explore an area that is not as popular in the guidebooks, but that I have read about and wanted to see. This is what we like about having 2 weeks in Paris, we have the time to do more than the "must sees", we can also do the "should sees, if you can".

There are about 20 passages scattered around the 2nd arrondissement. These date back to the early 19th century and many were destroyed when Baron Haussmann's grand boulevards were built. They are like the first covered shopping malls, most stretching about 1-2 blocks and covered by glass or painted ceilings. I found a tour describing the passages in one of the guidebooks in our apartment and we decided we would make a day of it and try to see as many as we could. When we looked at our map, we found that the area also incorporated many of the sights our taxi driver had pointed out to us on our way home from dinner on Saturday night.

We started walking towards the Pompidou Museum from the Marais and happened upon a sight Den had wanted the see, the Defender of Time clock, tucked away in a little corner. He took his pictures and we continued on the the Pasage du Grand Cerf, our first passage, with a beautiful glass roof letting in the early morning sun.

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The little shops won't open until 11am and it is only about 9:30 so we walk through admiring the shop windows. We are very close to Rue Montorgueil, an area our cabbie mentioned on Saturday. It is full of butcher shops, florists, fishmongers, bakeries, cafes and restaurants. Although it is still early, it is already very lively as the various merchants are ready to start their day. We pass a famous bakery called Stohrer's, which Queen Elizabeth visited in April 2004 and was presented with a hand-made chocolate Easter egg ~ many postcards at the front of the bakery attest to the visit! I spot a little hole in the wall rotesserie which I point out to Den and tell him I want to come back to for lunch if we are still in the area. I am determined to have my chicken and pototoes before we leave! We pass by another great bakery and buy some wonderfully intense chewy fruit candies. These are so delicious, we plan to come back towards the end of the week and buy some to take home.

We walk right into the Paris garment district, which our taxi driver also talked about on Saturday. We spend a good 2 hours walking around, going into many storefronts, looking for bargains. Many of these places don't sell retail, they only sell to stores in bulk. The cabbie had told us that this is the heart of the Parisian rag trade and clothing and material is exported throughout the world from this area. Den gets a great deal on a Ferre belt and t-shirt. I try to talk him into a Versace suit (300 euros!) or sweather, but he's not biting. Although I look and look, I still can't find anything for myself, besides a little silk shirt for 20 euros. Many of the places are stock shops, there are no dressing rooms, you point out what you want and better know your size. They remind me of the Chabanel garment area in Montreal, where I spendt many a Saturday morning, running from one building to another, looking for the merchants who had opened only for that morning, selling their excess stock or last year's models. Great fun as long as you are patient and understand the rules.

By the time 12:30 rolls around, we are very hungry and since we are only a couple of blocks from Montorgueil, we go back to the rotisserie place. I can't remember the name, it starts with a D (very helpful, I know!) but we are going back on Friday, so I'll make sure I jot it down. We both order the 1/4 chicken special, served with your choice of 2 side dishes (we both have the vermicelli noodles with veggies, I have green beans and Den has the roasted potatoes. There was also rice, mashed potatoes and a few other veggie choices to choose from). We each get a soft drink and our huge, delicious meal is 7 euros each! We could also have chosen roasted pork, duck, rabbit or fish for our main course. The tiny place is filled with locals munching away and many more stop in for takeout. Definitely not fancy, but a true find that we plan to enjoy again on Friday.

We continue west and enjoy more passage ways, I won't bore you with the details of all of them (plus, I do want to finish this long entry and get out and enjoy our Wednesday!) but I would really recommend people try to see some of these. We find another stock shop along the way and Den gets 2 beautiful finely knit sweaters and a linen shirt for 81 euros (it was buy 2 items and get the 3rd for 1 euro!). Another find for him and I am still empty handed, not for lack of trying. We make our way to passage Vivienne, after going by the Paris Stock Exchange ( I tried to get in with my business card showing I worked for the Canadian stock market, but the guard was less than impressed and suggested I make a reservation for a visit like everyone else!). We had a wonderful break at Priory The, a little tea shop right in the passage way. We both had chai latte tea with orange honey, cinnamon and star anise, and both enjoyed wonderful homemade scones, mine with strawberries, cream and coulis and Den's with marscapone cream and maple syrup. Yum, Yum..........

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We continued to the Jardin du Palais Royale, sat and enjoyed the sun for a little while, puzzled at those black and white columns at the end of the garden and walked around the Palais, happening upon the newest Mark Jacobs store. Seeing the 4000 euro dress in the window made me stick to window shopping and we kept walking through our last passage way where we happened upon another French shrine, the Christian Laboutin store, where one pair of shoes is the same price as 2 of my mortgage payments!! All the movie stars wear his shoes so I made Den take a picture of the store, even though he had no idea who this guy was and why he was taking shots of shoes!

We came out on the side of the Paris Chamber of Commerce and the famous Dehillerin kitchenware store was just across the street. Again, Den had no idea what this place was, but once we were in and he saw the packed kitchen accessories from floor to ceiling, we ended up spending almost an hour wandering around. We ended up buying a few things just to say we did ~ I had to talk Den out of buying a frying pan and lugging it back to Canada!

We had a couple of drinks each at a bar a few steps from the store, it was happy hour and I had 2 mohitos (yummy) and Den tried 2 different drinks. We just sat outside on their terrace and watched the world go by for almost 1.5 hours. We were both a little tipsy when we got up and almost went next door to Pied de Cochon for some onion soup, but decided to walk home in the balmy evening air and try to sober up! I was still feeling a little happy when we got home, so I called work to try to talk to Terry (who wasn't home the day before when I called and wasn't at work last week when I called with my Robert Plant news and was now with a client!) So I talked to Cindy and Di and told them I had to find a way to move here!

Since it was now almost 9pm, we realized we were hungry and called a little Italian place I had read about on a few Marais websites to see if they could seat us in about half an hour. We walked to Innamorati Cafe at 57 Charlot and had a wonderful meal. The place is right on a corner and we walked right by it at first. The waiters were very friendly and sweet, we both had the 30 euro menu, which comes with an antipasto to start, your choice of main dish, dessert and aperitif. The fresh homemade pasta comes to the table in huge cast iron pots. Den had tagliatelle with foie gras and procuitto and I had the same pasta with fresh basil, tomotoes and buffalo mozzerella. Both were very fresh, delicious and filling ~ we had the house red, bottled water and dessert was tiramisu for Den and tiramisu ice cream for me. By the time we finished dinner, it was almost midnight and since we had left our apartment at 9 that morning, it was a very long day and time to go home and dream.

This was such a great day, filled with new surprises and lots of little food and drink breaks that enabled us to keep going for such a long time. What will we do today!!

Jo

Comments (2)

Chris:

I'm enjoying your blog so much! I loved those passages--they were much prettier than I expected tehm to be.

Zandrew:

Thanks for the wonderful description of Parisian cuisine.

Now I must try to recreate (as best as I can) some of the dishes you had.

Take pictues of the dishes (if possible) so I can drool on my keyboard!

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