Thursday, December 18, 2008

Village Saint Paul & the Marais

I walked until I could walk no more.
And then, I walked some more.
And so it goes it Paris…

I decided this afternoon to explore the Village Saint Paul in the 3rd Arrondissement, an area of Paris called the Marais. In the past few years, this area has become quite popular with many cafes and antique stores.

I ran across a store I had read about called Thanksgiving. It’s owned by an American woman from New Orleans who now lives here in Paris with her husband. The store sells impossible-to-find American groceries for ex-pats and tourists longing for a taste of home during a stay in Paris.

I saw things like Fruit Loops, Dr. Pepper, Stove Top stuffing, Betty Crocker cookie mix and Zataran’s cajun rice. Everything was of course ‘tres expensive’ averaging about 4-5 times their actual cost in the U.S. But potentially well worth the price, depending on how big your craving is! I’m glad I didn’t see this place before – I may have been tempted to eat American-style my whole time here!

After that, I once again stumbled upon an amazing church I had never seen or even heard of before. The Church of St. Paul St. Louis looked very dark and gothic from the outside, but inside it was serene and beautiful. The organist was practicing, so that made the visit even more special and I took some video so you could see and hear what I did.

After some meandering around, I found myself at the Place de la Bastille so I jumped on the Metro and zipped over to the Hotel de Ville where there was supposed to be ice skating for the holidays. The rink is set up, but it wasn’t open - I’m thinking maybe because it isn’t quite cold enough yet.

There is a department store called BHV close to the Hotel de Ville that is decorated brilliantly. I had never been inside, so I decided to go in and look around. Not as high end (or as immense) as Printemps or the Galeries Lafayette, but still nice. One funny thing I noticed about the large department stores in Paris – they ALL have a sewing department with bolts of cloth, yard, thread, patterns, etc. Imagine walking into a Saks 5th Avenue and seeing a sewing department!

From the BHV and the Hotel de Ville it’s an easy walk over to Notre Dame and the Latin Quarter – and despite the fact I’ve been over there several times already on this trip, since it’s my favorite area of the city, I can never spend too much time there!

The first little bare-bones hotel I ever stayed at in Paris is in the Latin Quarter on Rue de la Huchette. It’s called Les Argonauts and is one of the many Greek establishments on the street. The room I stayed in had a private shower, but no TV or radio – just the basics. You couldn’t beat the price or the location though (just steps away from Notre Dame). Below the hotel at street level was the Les Argonauts restaurant – a fun and lively Greek place (Mom, remember I took you to eat there a few years ago?). I can still remember the sound of Greek music and breaking dishes from the restaurant that kept me awake well into the night! But that was part of its charm :-)

Out of nostalgia, I always go by Les Argonauts when I’m in Paris. And on this trip I sadly discovered that the restaurant is no longer there – it’s now a bar with a name that is distinctly not Greek. Thankfully the Les Argonauts hotel is still there though. How sad this was to see! That restaurant had been there for (at least) 18 years. So many of the places in the Latin Quarter stay the same decade after decade, kept in the family. I can only guess that it was a victim of the global recession. With so many little restaurants in Paris, I’ve often wondered how they all do enough business to stay open. Somehow, they always seemed to though because year after year I’d come and they’d still be there. But now, Les Argonauts is no more. Very, very sad…

Click here to view all of today's photos (12/18/08)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing to be in there when it's soo empty! It's eerie in a way but also quite enveloping. Just the whole atmosphere of it!