After 18 hours of travel, we got to the appartement. The greeter was great—a fellow musician—and we were settled in short order. We quickly freshened up and struck out.
First on the list was the closest Monoprix. Scoff if you must, but I maintain that it’s a great store for the staples. Beurre, confiture, lait, café, jambon, fromage, une baguette, des pêches, vin blanc, et Badoit got us started for the next day’s breakfasting and drinking.
With the apartment stocked, we wanted to get the lay of the land and pick out a boulangerie for the next morning, so we wound evocatively through the streets until we grew hungry. The first café we happened upon after the onset of hunger was Bar de la Croix Rouge. I suppose I could say it’s a typical French café, with the cute tables and the relaxed service, but I think that would sell short the whole experience of this café, and Parisian eating overall. I feel better saying something like: The French really have the whole eating-out-as-part-of-a-day’s-activities down. In the States, even if a stop for a bite takes a shorter time empirically, it always feels like such an undertaking. That might just be me, though. Anyways, I had the Assiette Paysanne, and my Aunt had the Assiette Provençal. I have absolutely no problem admitting that we were much too hungry and bleary for me to stop and take a photo of my Aunt’s plate.
Regrettably I also forgot to make note of our wines, a dry, just-sweet-enough rosé and a white that my Aunt very much enjoyed.
Rejuvenated, we made a straight shot to the Seine and turned East for Île de la Cité.
I could wax enough to make a whole separate post about my feelings when I first saw Notre Dame. Shivers through my spine like I’ve never felt before. No picture nor description I’ve seen or read properly conveys the majesty of it. In fact, that goes for much of the famous landmarks here. Modern skyscrapers, though many times bigger in every dimension, just do not have the same emotional impact. Of course, the general hype surrounding all these places is affecting my perception, but so far I find that that hype doesn’t live up to Paris.
I did my due diligence and checked around the back of Notre Dame for the fabled mulch pile and cat gathering area. The park remains, but there was no mulch pile to be found.
The pedestrian-only Pont Saint-Louis carried us over to Île Saint-Louis, land of Berthillon. Bear right onto Rue Saint Louis en Île and look for the fifth storefront on the left. A dark red awning bearing “Esterina” hangs over a red door where one finds Berthillon at a better price than other locations (€2.50 for une boule dans un cornet simple), with less of a fuss than the main Berthillon storefront. They don’t quite have the full lineup, but 20 choices is more than I could ever need, especially if I stick to my usual chocolate and vanilla.
We took a pleasantly circuitous route back home (I had already started referring to the apartment as “home” by that time) to see another stretch of vendors and such long the Seine. More Paris, more beauty, etc.
I ended up crashing hard around 20:00 local time, bringing me to about 26 hours of actual time since I woke up back home.