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Report 2040: Paris au Ralenti (Paris in Slow Motion)

By Doru from Canada, Fall 2012

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Page 9 of 19: Friday, 21 September - It is About the Risotto; Intermezzo: Crosswalks of Paris

photo by Doru

Vehicles parked in front of the elementary school on rue du Petit Musc

Morning dedicated to shopping, gifts for grandchildren and other family, and some funky tableware for us. When on Île Saint Louis, I highly recommend to stop and to at least look at the displays of “Pylones”, at 57 Rue Saint Louis en l'Île (there are many other Pylones stores in Paris, including at the Charles de Gaulee airport.) The subtitle of this store is “Editeurs d’objects” and indeed they are. We always find there something of original, attractive and colourful design.

[Noted in passing: No line-up at Berthillon at 11am! Not even at the original Berthillon.]

On the way back to the apartment, I reserve a table for lunch at “Le Temps des Cerises.” Last time we ate there, I missed on the risotto; we were late.

I have a weakness for risotto. Wherever I see it on a menu, I cannot resist. I think that the risotto is one of the two things most difficult to prepare. The other one is the soufflé. Both the risotto and the soufflé share the need to know when to stop. A few moments too early and the rice is still raw, the soufflé does not rise. A few moments too late and the risotto is paste, the soufflé collapses. To know when to stop, this is the question! For people too.

At lunch, the risotto aux coquilles Saint-Jacques lardée offered at “Le Temps des Cerises” is excellent, slightly creamy, the rice still defined, the scallops - wrapped in their bacon envelope - crisp on the outside. Wonderful. For Josette, Madame suggests a lactose free, made just for her escalope de saumon aux haricots verts vapeur. Josette likes it a lot; no sharing with me today. A glass of Viognier, a clafoutis aux poires, two coffees. (€43.60). The little café-restaurant is packed, as it was whenever we walked by, lunch or dinner.

On the way back to the apartment, a stop to get a baguette for the evening, an éclair-café, a croissant naturel.

Dinner at home followed by a walk in the neighbourhood above Saint-Antoine/Rivoli, if the rain that just started will allow it. If the rain persists, there is correspondence, emails to write or to respond.

Intermezzo: Crosswalks of Paris

I think I have finally figured out the most difficult thing to do in Paris. No, it is not climbing Tour Montparnasse without an elevator, or forcing your way to the front line to view “Mona Lisa” under siege by amateur photographers at the Louvre, or finding living people in Père Lachaise after midnight, or driving through Place de la Concorde, or even finding Nespresso coffee pods, pardon: cartouches.

No, the most difficult thing to do in Paris is to cross a street.

Again, I am not talking about the large intersections, such as the Circle Bastille, or around Place de l’Opéra. And I am not talking about automotive traffic.

No: you recognise the real Parisians by how they cross the small, one-way streets in their residential neighbourhoods.

I have diligently tried to observe and imitate the Parisian backstreet crossing technique and I am still working at it. I will share here my observations the best I can.

The difference between Parisians and those who aspire to at least fake the impression that they are at home in Paris, is that the real ones know already before birth, through genetic modification, where to look for the oncoming hurtling cars. Thanks to this unique extra-sensory perception, they can concentrate on what is really important before placing their feet on the zebra markings of the crosswalks between the two sides of the street. Not so I. Or others like me.

That is because, being a temporary import, I have to look at the same time for two things, not only for one:

(a) the motorised cannonballs piloted by drivers with the specific intent of flattening me, and (A) the even more dangerous, inevitable presence of the doggy do on crosswalks.

You see, everybody here knows that you may step into a doggy accident at any time, on any sidewalk.

But dogs are not only cute; they are also smart, and thus they learn. The new predilection of the Parisian cute, sweet, human’s best friend for crosswalk use indicates an until recently unknown inclination to perfidy: they know, the little ones, that their production is less identifiable in between the confusing alternation of white paint and black asphalt that crosswalks offer.

I just cannot perform this multitasking: watch for cars that would kill me, and for dog deposits that would mark me. Since human beings are wired to worry more about projectiles than dejections, therein lays my quandary... But I continue my training!

Which gives me the obvious idea that a buck or two can be made by founding a school for “Organic crosswalk safety in Paris.” But who is going to underwrite the third party liability and foot gear insurance?

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Trip Report Pages

Wednesday, 12 September - Arrival and Settling in the Lower Marais

Thursday, 13 September - Making Sense of the Neighbourhood, between Rue de Rivoli and the Seine

Friday, 14 September - Expanding the Teritory and Another Torontonian in Paris

Saturday, September 15 - Rue Cler and Pont Louis-Philippe

Sunday, September 16 - Slow Travel Get-Together

Monday, September 17 - BHV;Memories; Temple of Nespresso; a Grand Concert

Tuesday, September 18-Wednesday, September 19 - Biennale des Antiquaires; Marché des Enfants-Rouges, on rue de Bretagne

Thursday, 20 September - Izraël-Le Monde des Epices; Mr. Pickwick sells Marc de Bourgone?

Friday, 21 September - It is About the Risotto; Intermezzo: Crosswalks of Paris

Saturday, 22 September - The Stravinsky Fountain; Back to rue François Miron; Meeting Dear Friends

Sunday, September 23 - Around the Marais with Friends; Alas, at Night the Rain Starts...

Monday, 24 September - GTG at Café des Musées; Thoughts for a Rainy Day

Tuesday, 25 September - Canaletto at Musée Maillol: Acqua Alta in Paris?; rue du Bac

Wednesday, September 26 - One Can't Fight Musée du Louvre; and More Rain...

Thursday, September 27 - Musée du Quai Branly; Village Saint-Paul&Place du Marché Saint-Catherine

Friday, 28 September - The Impressionists of the Le Havre Circle of Modern Art; Jardin du Luxembourg

Saturday, 29 & Sunday 30 September - Le Temps des Cerises; Sunday Morning Concert

Monday, 1 October - Wonderful Lunch at La Régalade Saint-Honoré; Getting Ready to Return Home

Au Revoir, à Bientôt!


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