Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 7 - Rue Montorgueil and Pompidou Center

Many of the tour books that I have read tout the Marche d'Aligre market as being truly authentic - that is, more locals than tourists can be found here.   I hope to get an early start to the day and tour the market in style.  At this point I should hope to be a pro - or at least not so self conscious.  

While I have no real plans for today - which is exactly the way I like to spend a Saturday - I thought it might be fun to keep a food theme going and visit Les Halles (I have linked you to a fabulous blogger who provides detailed descriptions as well as countless photos of the city of Paris).  For those of you who are familiar with Zola's work, this is the Belly of Paris location (I personally have not read any of Zola's works yet, but this may go to the top of the TBR pile after the visit).  In a former life ever so many decades ago - I dappled in the area of catering and I think deep down there is still a culinary interest.  It might be fun to traverse this area pretending to be a chef and looking for that perfect ingredient or that special cooking utensil.

Entrance to Rue Montorgueil
Today was the last day for my museum pass ticket and I knew I wanted to visit the Centre Pompidou, so I reviewed my maps and decided that I would visit Rue Montorgueil (as per David Lebovitz's suggestion) and save Marche d'Aligre for later this week.  On the one hand, this was a perfect morning.  The streets were not terribly crowded at 10:00AM (I have decided that Paris does not really wake up until about 11:00 - perhaps that is because it stays light until after 10:00PM) and there were so many specialty food shops lining the pedestrian only roadway.  If I lived in Paris - I would frequent this place at least once a month.  On my way there I just happened upon the specialty cookware store, E Dehillerin, and enjoyed browsing the aisles of every conceivable knife, mold, and cooking utensil.  There are no prices anywhere near these items however, so you really don't know what you are paying until they check you out.  I am sure I am not the typical clientele, and they knew it, but I did buy a couple of pastry scrapers and a butter curler as souvenirs for a price of 13 euros.

The infamous sign!
I did learn today that the French shop owners are not like those in America.  We think nothing of whipping out our cell phones and taking photos every where we go - and usually no one thinks twice about it.  Not so in France.  Now I can understand that they might wish to be protective of their shop interior - and the baked goods that are, in essence, their intellectual (and gastronomical) property.  But one particular vendor became very upset when I took a picture of the sign outside his establishment.  This made me rather wary of taking any pictures for the duration of my visit, which is quite unfortunate, because the entire walk is quite reminiscent of what Paris might have been like around the turn of the century.  (of note ---- the same shop also has a cart in the Jardin Tuilerie - with the same signage - and no one cared if pictures were taken or not!)

Along the route I did buy a Poulet Sandwich and a Tarte Orange to eat in a local park.  There were so many tasty sensations all along the way from arromatic fromageries to decadent patisseries, and I could easily have bought so much more, but I knew I had the rest of the day ahead of me and little room in my backpack to carry things.

The next stop was the Centre Pompidou - where I did indeed find a nice spot to sit and eat lunch and enjoy people watching.  The lines were quite low at this museum - I don't know if it was still too early for the crowds (around 12:30PM) - or if the extremely nice weather (sunny and around 75) dictated outdoor activities rather than indoor museum visits.  In any case, I was able to enter immediately and set on my way.  Interestingly .... I have purchased audio guides at each museum (I really don't know much about art and can use all the help that I can get) but the Pompidou was the first time that I had to leave my driver's license as collateral.  That was a bit eerie - but then again, the audio guide was essentially an iPod Touch and I am sure much more expensive than the others.

La Liseuse by Picasso
I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this museum.  While I have always suffered from the "I don't get it" syndrome of modern art, I allowed myself to just view the paintings and the photographs without judgment.  Those that did not attract my attention, I walked quickly past --- and those that did attract my attention, I stopped and pondered.  I didn't necessarily struggle with trying to find the meaning (although if the audio guide provided clues I was certainly willing to listen) - but I did try to discover what exactly drew my attention.  Typically it is color - or simple form that attracts my interest.

I spent quite a bit of time in the gift shop looking at all the paraphernalia - but ultimately decided on just a few postcards and a fun writing notebook.

Taken on Pompidou terrace
I left the museum about 2:30 and wandered toward the Seine.  I figure you can never go wrong going towards the River.  I ended up at the Hotel de Ville which provided a lovely spot to finish my sandwich, and enjoy the sand volleyball courts they have set up in celebration of Paris Plage.  It was then that I decided I will throw caution to the wind and take out the DSLR.  I repacked my back pack - assembled the camera with the zoom lens - and got on my way.  I am pleased to report that my walk along the Seine from the Hotel de Ville to Place de la Concorde by way of Tuilerie Gardens provided me with an opportunity to take nearly 150 pictures and not a single one showed any signs of dust.  BRAVO!

I logged nearly 19,500 steps today and I must admit that I am quite weary.  I have decided to stay close to home tomorrow - and in fact, I actually called and booked a lunch reservation at the Moulin de la Galette!  To call and make a reservation in French was w-a-y outside my comfort zone - but I am so very glad that I did!  I plan to also visit the Museum Montmartre and the Cimitere Montmartre - as well as perhaps the touristy Place du Tertre. it is very hard to believe that I have already been here a week - and I know that this next week will simply fly by.


  1. Sounds like another wonderful day, and you even got to see the infamous snooty Parisian shopkeeper:) Glad to see he didn't keep your camera in your bag for long!

    Wow! That week went fast even for me:) Can't wait to hear about your delicious meal tomorrow (pictures most welcome!)

  2. I'm glad to see that everything is going well and that your photos are dust free! :)

  3. Sounds like you had a wonderful day. 19,500 steps is a lot. I'm sure you will enjoy being closer to "home" tomorrow!

  4. Awesome itinerary. While here in France I have had two stop overs in Paris, but haven't yet been able to do this kind of stuff (last visit being the final day of Tour de France). So thanks heaps for these idea's - I hope to be back in Paris after I finish school here in Montpellier this week. I'll be looking to your blog for some idea's then.

  5. I remember asking to take a photograph last summer in the shop known for its macaroons and being turned down. Surprising. But understandable.

  6. Every post I read I marvel at how daring and brave you are to be doing this on your own. I love it and exploring Paris along with you. Now I wish I could speak French!!

  7. Centre Georges Pompidou is quite a unique museum. Using the phone in a foreign language is always intimidating.

  8. I've made a couple of phonecalls in French, and know how stressful they are. Well done. I don't know why Paul would be so touchy about photos- it's a chain. Perhaps it's a bit more corporate. Certainly the smaller places vary quite a bit about photos. Good to hear that you enjoyed the Pompidou. I haven't been there yet.... Maybe next time?


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