When I plan to do nothing in Paris, it seems that the city will not allow it.
Tucked away safely in the privacy of my own apartment, I decided I had a plan, and that was to do nothing but Paris and I seem to have a struggle with this and she won’t allow me to simply be alone and do nothing.
A few text messages last night decided that my friend Julien would come over to my apartment for dinner tomorrow. Nothing fancy, just a simple meal and a moment to catch up once again before Christmas.
This of course meant that I would need to visit a supermarket. Although my local Franprix has been closed since my arrival for renovations, they have worked around the clock and it was bright and shiny and ready to receive customers but the Monoprix at Saint Paul ticks all the boxes and apart from some tea lights – which I must admit, I probably didn’t explain myself properly, I managed to buy all that I needed and perhaps a little more.
Where I come from there are two major brands of supermarkets that are in constant battle with one another, but to be honest neither of them set themselves apart from the other. If they could take a few leaves out of Monoprix’s book, I would be a happy shopper.
Monoprix is just another supermarket, except that it has French food to start with, an amazing array, delicious ready made meals to take home and re-heat, an entire section of water but more importantly wine and champagne and for a person who normally wants to get in and get out of a supermarket as quickly as possible, I tend to spend a very long time, re-visiting aisles and enjoying the experience.
The onslaught of people, after being tucked away in my quiet apartment was a shock to the senses when I hit the street but I was a girl on a mission, camera free and shopping list in hand and everything must fit in the backpack.
The lines were long at the check out and I wait impatiently shifting from foot to foot until I spotted that they have installed a serve yourself section since I was in Paris last and nobody was using it.
I place my back pack directly on the counter so I can pack as I scan but the machine gets cranky with me and continuously tells me to remove it. I always use the self serve check out at home and I was whizzing through until I got to the parsley, now I have to remember what parsley is called in French in order to key it in but wait there is a little British flag on the screen, hey presto now everything is converted to English but embarrassingly, there is no volume control and the machine broadcasts each scan.
They may as well have put it on the load speaker, and announced, English speaker on check out 10 for an added effect.
The security guard stands beside me, arms folded across his burly chest watching my every move and it seems I have become entertainment for the impatient shoppers standing around waiting to be served with nothing else to do but hey, my shopping is completed and they are still waiting in line.
There are a couple of hole in the wall cheese shops at Saint Paul that I like to visit and knowing that Julien cannot have a meal without cheese, I pop in to buy a slab or two of cheese. I text him to ask what he would like. Although I have the delectable Mont d’Or in the fridge, he is not fussed by it.
The woman asks if I have decided and I think, I expertly tell her that I am waiting for my friend and point to my phone.
Bonjour Julien, I am in the cheese shop, what would you like for tomorrow nights dinner?
I will bring the cheese he replies
No, I am here now, I will get it, tell me what you want
You don’t know how to buy cheese, he replies
Just tell me what you want, the lady is waiting for me to buy something
Well we basically have an argument about the cheese and in the end the cheese lady walks away from me, annoyed.
I notice an oozing creamy cheese filled with truffles, I tell Julien I will buy that. NO, he says not truffles, I buy it anyway and finally he says he wants goats cheese but not too soft.
Great and what would the word soft be in French but somehow I make myself understood and I defiantly walk out of the shop with my truffle cheese and a strong black goats cheese that looks like a mouldy doughnut.
Mission accomplished, I strut down Rue de Rivoli with with my back pack full of food and wouldn’t you know it a large timber door is open to a deliciously inviting courtyard, I am on a mission but the temptation is too great and at least I have my phone to show evidence of more trespassing.
I slip inside and it is lovely.
And large, it never ceases to amaze me how much space is dedicated to courtyards hidden behind large carriage doors when people live in tiny spaces at incredible prices by the metre.
Off to the right is this smaller courtyard but as I make my way further down the passage, there is another much larger cobbled area with Saint Paul church looking down upon it.
Excitement ripples through my body when I stumble across these hidden gems and this one is particularly enchanting and I go to town, snapping away.
A couple of ladies enter from one of the surrounding doors and completely ignore me and I feel safe that I won’t be thrown out.
If the truth be known, they probably do the same thing themselves.
Buoyed by my discovery, I decide when I reach rue Vieille du Temple to pop into Petit fer a Cheval for a glass of Rose before heading home for an early night.
Sitting snuggled up against the heater with a birds eye view of the street got a little bit too comfortable but I am nervous the food will spoil and I head home but not before grabbing a baguette at my favourite Boulangerie.