09 May 2009

When in Paris (Part 1)

When in Paris, there are certain things one must do, even if it is a somewhat grey and drizzly, if warm, May day. From today's agenda:

1. Acheter le petit déj à une boulangerie. Luckily, the boulangerie at the foot of Monsieur E's building is one of the best in Paris and so we bought a croissant (me), a pain au chocolat (Monsieur E) and some delicious baguette and ate breakfast in his (then) sun-filled living room.

2. Visiter les monuments célèbres. OK, so we didn't actually go in or up them, but we did watch the vast crowds of miserable-looking tourists queueing outside the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame in the drizzle earlier and took some more (also obligatory) leaping photos.

3. Traîner au Marais avec tes copains hipsters. The Marais doesn't look its best in the rain but it's still a fun place to hang out and there are more Bexquisite-friendly shops there than in most other parts of the city. We wandered in and out of many almost identical boutiques all offering overpriced, minimalist-chic clothes in a wide variety of neutral colours. I didn't buy, of course. I did, however, buy when we got to Yellow Korner, an art and photo gallery with an interesting concept: the art is all by a variety of up-and-coming artists and you can buy each image in a range of sizes, from an A4-size, ready framed print to a 150X100 cm image ready-mounted on an aluminium back. Each one is "limited edition" so there are only about 500 copies of each one. I went one better because the 50x40 piece I bought was numbered 1 of 500.

4. Manger des crêpes. As the rain started to come down more heavily, we ducked intoCperie Suzette for some lunch (I actually had a chicken-nuts-egg-pesto-romaine salad instead of a crêpe but this is acceptable). Of course, this being Paris, the two waiters made a concerted effort to ignore us, failing to take our order féor almost 30 minutes, even though several "regulars" came in, were seated immediately and were then brought their food before they had even had to wait to receive a menu. Never mind; the food was good and the crêperie was dry.

5. Qu'ils mangent des macaronsLadurée is generally agreed to produce the best macaroons in Paris, so we stopped into the Left Bank branch for an afternoon snack. Although I was tempted by the pretty pinks, yellows and oranges from an aesthetic point of view, I was always going to choose the caramel (filled with a little of salt-caramel) and praliné options (two mini macaroons allows you to sample more flavours than one big one; it also makes you feel less greedy, I find). 

6. Acheter de la lingerie. Although Chantal Thomass and Sabbia Rose usually provide among the finest lacy, silky unmentionables, my current budget prevented me from even going in to have a look and a try. Instead, I headed to Bon Marché, which has a huge selection of pretty underthings. French brands are about the only ones that it makes any sense to buy in Paris rather than in the UK, given the current exchange rate, and so I made a beeline for the Princesse Tam-Tam collection, which I had been eyeing up last week in Harvey Nicks. The sales assistants were even a) polite and b) helpful, so there was plenty of win to go around.

7. Après la tombée de la nuit. We're off for dinner (to an Italian, this being Paris...), followed by glamorous cocktails at either the Experimental Cocktail Club or the Chacha Club. Being Paris, the cocktails will be very pricey so it's probably a good thing that each one will no doubt be obscenely strong. Errors will certainly result...

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