On sunday, I went to the Aquarium de Paris. On timeout it had fairly good reviews and they raved about it in one of my guidebooks so decided to pay the €15 entry fee. There were quite a few fish there I guess. The best bits were probably at the start of the museum where they had lots of brightly coloured and exotic fish and crustaceans and you could see them really close up. There was also a short film about the running of the aquarium and how they deal with injured sharks that was interesting and challenging to understand all in french! Then came the most exciting part I think – the touching pool! They had a pool full of coi carp of varying sizes, (some were huge!) and you could just kneel down and put your hands in the water and touch them quite freely. No supervision, nothing (-so european!) just a few signs saying don’t feed them, but of course the french being french were throwing in bits of croissant and there were huge feeding frenzies. It was okay for us though as we went over and got to touch loads of fish. They were pretty slimy, and I did feel bad for them. Hardly much of a life swimming round in that tiny shallow tank all day being grabbed at by people and fed food which may or may not kill you. The big tank had a range of fish in it, mostly larger ones, a weird eel and sharks!! Though I must say the sharks were on the small side, they were the ones which have black tipped fins. They had tried to make a tunnel going through the tank but it was only one side of it was made from glass, which made it slightly less impressive. It was a good aquarium but I think I’ve been spoilt having visited the Great Barrier Reef!
Today I met a friend for lunch and we went to the french equivalent of eat/pret. It’s called Cojean, the main colour theme of the place was a lovely fresh baby blue, and they have this pretty cool website with some nice music on it: http://www.cojean.fr They even had little grass patches on white tabletops dotted about, it was great! The prices were similar to pret, though they had a better variety of foods, little pots, types of sandwiches, rolls, soups, cakes, smoothies, biscuits. I had a nice warming soup, which was carrot, orange and honey flavoured – very unusual, but tasty! Then we went to Bon Marché Grand Epicerie. Its a big department store in Paris and they have a whole separate floor for food from all over the world. Its a bit like selfridges. We had to try one of the macarons as they looked so delicious! I had a salted caramel one which was to die for!
I then went to the Champs Elysées to check out the christmas market they have on there at the moment. The huge road was lined with little white huts which were offering du vin chaud, les gaufres, tartiflette and all sorts of homemade gifts. There were christmas lights all along and decorating the trees. It certainly was beautiful and I imagine even more so by night. Something which I had noticed a while ago whilst living here and walking many of the streets of Paris is the pervading presence of the french flag displayed on the roads everywhere. And here they had even more, one about every 3 metres! Very patriotic when it comes to showing their flag it seems!
Yesterday, we decided to make use of our cineday 2for1 on a mardi and go to the cinema. We saw Looper, the new thriller with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I thought it was good, I liked the concept of the loopers. People who are employed to kill people sent back from the future. We went to a little independent cinema near Cluny la Sorbonne called MK2 Hautefeuille.
Today we had decided to go to La Musée Depuytren. I saw some people talking about it on facebook and thought it looked interesting. Its an anatomical museum with “items illustrating diseases and malformations” There were lots of specimens in jars, some of which were pretty horrible, the deformed foetuses in particular. But it was interesting all the same. Photos were forbidden, but I managed to sneak in a few!
We then explored the 5th district a bit, and walked up to Le Jardin de Plantes. It is the main botanical garden in Paris and also houses several museums and a small zoo. We saw a few animals without entering the zoo which was fairly pricey. Then we went to La Grande Galerie de l’Évolution. It promised a really exciting museum about evolution, however was really just a lot of models of animals and some taxidermy. The museum was very modern and had this weird colour changing roof, but the problem was that it was very dark. In some rooms you couldn’t really see much at all. Which really was quite important in a museum like that exhibiting animals!
Later on we went out to dinner at Breakfast In America. Its basically like the french version of the Breakfast Club (except I dont think its as good – you dont get the same warmth when you walk in, and although I havent tried them, i’m not sure their pancakes will live up!) Anyway, it was quite nice, I had the All-American burger, with red peppers, onions and blue cheese with salad. It was a massive burger and quite tasty although the cheese certainly wasn’t stilton! I’ve started on a stamping card though, and I (only!) have to go another 9 times to get a free meal!
On friday night, we decided to go out for dinner to celebrate us settling in in Paris. We had all finally found a place to live and recieved our bankcards! Les dingues was recommended online on ‘Top 10 Paris Bistrots for those on a budget’ – http://www.ifood.tv/blog/top-10-paris-bistrots-for-those-on-budget as an authentic bistro at resonable prices, nearish to Gare de Lyon. It was down a rather souless road, but we soon found it, and although it wasnt very busy that night, it looked charming. We all had the set menu which was €14 for 3 courses. To start I had the ‘bruschette de bruzzes’ which was tasty, followed by steak and chips and all accompanied by a fresh, crispy tradition of course! The puddings weren’t so great though, I had the ‘crème aux œufs cannelle-orange’ which seemed to have curdled slightly and we weren’t quite sure on the orange and cinnamon together… All the same it was a nice restaurant, good service, delicious bread and steak!
Bonne Journée – two words I heard four times in the space of 30 minutes on a trip out for baguette, eggs and milk this morning! They literally say it all the time here… and for those of you who don’t speak french it means ‘have a good day’
It’s mostly in the boulangeries that I am greeted with a bonne journée possibly due to the daily bread culture here and just nice friendly baker customer service. But I’ve also had tramps say it repeatedly to me and even when I’ve just held the door open for someone. It seems everyone, everywhere here is wishing everyone else good days! Its something you don’t really come across in London quite so much. Only very occasionally will someone working at the till in tesco say thank you very much have a good day. Though you are of course more likely to find that the case in a waitrose in Chelsea rather than a tesco express on holloway road! I’m getting more used to hearing it now and I too have started wishing everyone a bonne journée!!
Just off the Rue de Rivoli, there are a few really nice Parisian vintage shops… Some are ridiculously over-priced, some are packed to the absolute gunnels and its just unbearable to be in there for more than 5 minutes, but this one is a good’un. Its called the Kilo Shop and is at 69-71 Rue de la Verrerie. Its kind of like Beyond retro in that its all displayed and categorized really nicely. The top floor is girls, and boys at the bottom. Everything has a tag on it, red or green according to the garment. Then you basically weigh your item on the scales around the shop to find out how much it is. Either 20 or 30 euros/kilo. Like any vintage shop, a lot of it is crap, but I found a lovely silky grey long sleeved shirt which was only 3 euros! I think it depends what you’re looking for whether the weighing works favourably or not, but its definitely worth a look for those vintage lovers!
Today I had the day off so I decided to go to a ‘mois de la photo’ Timeout Paris had chosen a top five of this exhibition and body language at the Centre Cultural Swisse was one of them. It was a fairly small exhibition and the idea behind it was flesh, whatever its form:
“A l’honneur : le corps humain sous toutes ses coutures, du plus pudique au plus exhibé…”
– translation: “In the spotlight the human body, in all its glory, from the most modest to the most exhibited” It was a rather odd exhibition, due to the eclectic taste of the photographers. The piece I liked best was by an artist called Ugo Rondinone, sans titre. It was a collection of 21 different shots of magazine models in which the face of (a rather ugly) man had been superimposed on each one. The same face each time on all these different girls. It was utterly bizarre to look at, but also interesting in the way that this mans face on these women’s bodies totally changed my perception of the image itself. The women no longer seemed beautiful but grotesque.