day 11 :
thursday, 7 may
This morning's breakfast had a decadent twist: we did a side-by-side butter comparison between the fabulous Jean Yves Bordier and Pascal Beillevaire butters we bought this week, slathered on baguette Kayser. The verdict? The butters definitely tasted and looked quite different, but we'd be hard-pressed to declare either one as decidedly better than the other. The real issue is: why aren't these available in the States?
It was about 10:15 by the time we headed out today, and finally, a beautiful day filled with sunshine! While we had felt at home with all of the overcast skies this past week, it was a nice to feel the sun on our faces again. We didn't quite trust the weather, though, and mistakenly carried our coats around with us all day. Then again, it seemed like everyone else in Paris did the same thing, with many people continuing to wear their coats and chic scarves in spite of the heat.
We had plans to meet a friend of Eric's for lunch, so we opted to run some errands this morning and went looking for a bookstore that said they had copies of The Sweet Life in Paris for Dawn. We walked from our apartment to the Rue de Rivoli in about 10 minutes, but once we consulted our maps, we realized that this is a very long street and we were nowhere near the bookstore's address. We hopped on the Métro for a few stops and got off for a short detour to the Musée du Louvre. We didn't have time to go inside, since that took us more than a half day on our last trip to Paris, but we walked by the glass pyramid, then along the Jardin de Tuileries for a long stretch. (We wondered aloud, "What, exactly, is a tuilerie? Can you have just one, or do they always come in multiples?" We later found out that a tuilerie is a tile kiln; there were apparently many of them in this spot in Paris, long ago.) We finally reached the bookstore, and Dawn bought her book. The bookstore clerk reminded Dawn that she could come the following week to have her book signed by David. If only! We would unfortunately be back in Seattle then.
We took the Métro to the outlying 19th arrondissement to meet Eric's friend Manuel at Musiwave. Manuel gave us a tour of the office, where about 100 people work on software and systems that let people purchase music on their European cellphones. Over lunch at a simple but tasty home-style restaurant, we caught Manuel up on what's been happening in Seattle, and he gave us the low-down on living in France.
Eric had been looking forward to our afternoon plans all week: hanging out in the largest cemetery in Paris. Well, not so much hanging out as sightseeing in the famous Cimetière du Père Lachaise. As recommended by our guide books, we bought a detailed map of the cemetery from one of the vendors outside the walls, then followed the route outlined in our Walking Paris: Thirty Original Walks In and Around Paris book. Jim Morrison's grave had a constant crowd of a dozen or more people, as did Edith Piaf's. Eric's not as good with directions as Dawn, and the cemetery layout is rather confusing, so we meandered a bit more than expected looking for particular gravesites. But that just gave us all the more opportunity to see the tombstones, mausoleums, columns, grave markers, stained glass, and wrought iron that fill the 118 acre cemetery. Dawn suggested that she might like a large, colorful tomb someday in this cemetery after we saw a few marked 2008. Given that every plot of land already appears to be filled, we wondered how they could still be adding new graves there.
It's hard to believe it, but nothing food related happened during that cemetery tour. Dawn fixed the situation by directing us to G. Detou, a gourmet food shop in the 2nd arrondissement. The shop's name is a play on words – it's pronounced the same way as one would say j'ai de tout, which means "I have everything." Ok, so it hardly has the selection of an American superstore (and thank goodness for that), but they do stock a wide range of French chocolates, nuts, teas, sardines, honeys, sugars, extracts, molecular gastronomy powders, and so on. We stocked up on real Dijon mustard and paté de fruits (jellies), and wished for bigger suitcases.
Dinner tonight couldn't have been more convenient: it took only a minute to walk to the far corner of our block for our reservations at Le Pré Verre. We didn't even have to cross the street! The restaurant is a neo bistro, meaning that it serves updated versions or twists on classic French bistro dishes. Dishes were reasonably portioned and seasoned creatively with interesting combinations of spices and herbs, and service was fast and efficient (the latter being surprisingly un-Parisian). Dessert was particularly good: mousse de cassis, with caramelized celery and crunchy nutty bits sprinkled on top; and crème caramel poivre et sel, a caramel flan with a peppery syrup drizzled over it.