Thursday, September 29, 2011

Paris Sister Trip: Part 2

Day 2 in Paris started off the way all good days in Europe should, in my opinion. With perfectly frothy (and heart-adorned!) cappuccinos and new and delicious pastries at a local pâtisserie. It also started off freezing, unfortunately, and although we were ill-prepared in the way of fall clothing (especially me, having been used to the 3 months of excruciatingly humid NYC summer) we were determined to brave the outdoors all day.

Well, not at breakfast--we were freezing at breakfast, at least I was, but the pâtisserie had no more indoor seating so alas we decided to make do.

We then wandered the empty, Sunday morning streets of Montmartre in search of baguettes and other French picnic supplies. One thing I love about Sunday mornings in Europe is how even the most busy of neighborhoods is suddenly devoid of people, shut down, and the whole place appears laid out for you and you alone to explore. So we trekked up and down the hills of Montmartre, admiring the outdoor fruit and vegetable stands that were beautifully arranged at even the simplest of neighborhood markets (if you can say one thing about the French, it's that they don't skimp on presentation, ever); the gorgeous architecture complimented by splashes of bright color (ah, to live behind that blue door...); and the pâtisseries. We came across this one and, intrigued by the stand they set up in front, had to stop by. Apparently the French needed to get their mandatory daily baguettes without waiting in the long pastry line inside. Love that.

The macarons we picked up (salty caramel for Nic, of course, and passion fruit for me) were beautiful but, I'll grant Nicole this, not as good at those at Ladurée. Lesson learned: sometimes the expensive ones really are worth it.

We then headed to Les Puces, the giant flea market that I've heard so much about, for the afternoon, using the very helpful directions from Oh Happy Day. Just wandering the small alleys jam-packed with old knick-knacks, antique furniture, jewelry stands, and French sellers sipping wine and waiting to make a sale was worth the excursion. We wandered from busy street to quiet alley in awe of the size of the market. We came across lots of things we'd never buy (an old clotheless baby doll?) and a few we'd die for. Like this fabulous old bar cart that Nicole was seriously ready to pounce on, had we figured out any possible way to get it on the plane back to Berlin. Pretty sure she's still mourning that missed opportunity. We also thoroughly enjoyed the various paintings hanging around, including the still life (shown above) that is really the best kind of still life--includes fruit, a jug, and a dead bird. Just what I want hanging in my living room...

Other items we would have taken home if possible: this piece of an airplane (random, but Micha is an airplane fanatic, so Nic may actually have to go back one day and get this. And then move into a bigger apartment); this beautiful gray, ornate-but-not-too-ornate armchair that would never fit in my NY apartment but hey, a girl can dream (with our fun reflections in the mirror above!); and an old bust with the greatest skeevy mustache I've ever seen. If I don't have a Roman column in my house one day, I'm determined to have at least a fantastic bust of a dapper European man.

Then we did what we do best in Europe: just wandered. Down to the 7th arrondisement, admiring how picturesque every street is. (And also, to Nicole's happy German sentiments, how many of them have well-marked bike lanes.) To a fountain we hadn't seen before, where we had a macaron break and admired the Baroque pink-and-black column combination, definitely a favorite style of ours. To the lovely café/restaurant Paul for picnic-appropriate baguettes. And then down to the Seine, for our requisite daily picnic (after acquiring some delicious Sancerre to add to our meal, but of course). No day in Paris is complete, in our opinion, without a picnic. And, in Nicole's opinion, without more Ladurée macarons.

One silly but oh-so-practical accompaniment to our picnics were the ridiculously genius mini sippy cups (as we called them) that I picked up at The Container Store for this trip. They fold up to fit in your purse and expand when you open them to hold your wine! During our two-month Europe backpacking trip after college, Nicole and I learned the hard way to always remember to pack cups in case a spontaneous picnic opportunity presents itself. Now, we will never be cupless again!

Coming up next: Notre Dame, the Louvre, and a sangria break on a boat. And then updates on my excursion through Croatia! Ah, I miss Europe (and Nicole!) already...

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