My dream about someone rattling at the door had me reluctantly waking up from a deliciously, warm, Sunday sleep in, but as I lay in bed, forcing myself to stay awake, the noise persisted.
The walls are thin, the apartment doors close to one another and noises can be confusing at times but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t a dream and someone was trying a key in my door, as opposed to the neighbouring apartment.
I try to tippy-toe to my door but the creaking floorboards gave away that someone was inside. It is times like these you need a peep-hole but I reassured myself it must be the neighbours having trouble with their lock because you need to know the code to get through the big carriage doors to the building.
A buzzer went off but still half asleep, I question myself, ‘do I have a doorbell’? There it goes again.
Curiosity gets the better of me and I crack the door open ajar to see what is going on. And there stands my apartment lady asking me if I remember her. Half asleep, in my pyjamas and no doubt looking a little worse for wear after my late night from the night before, all I could manage was a very sleepy and slow; yes.
I have come to give you this she says as she pushes a large brown paper bag into my hand, making me open the door a little wider than I wanted to, to accept it. I am sorry for being late the other day she continues and I wish you a Happy Christmas and as quickly as the dream became a reality, poof, she was gone.
Standing behind the once again closed door, slightly in shock, still trying to shake the sleep out of my head and definitely squinting, I asked myself out loud, ‘did that just happen, or is this still the dream ‘.
Inside the heavy bag was a pretty ceramic pot plant with white flowers, a bottle of champagne and a box of Panettone, it wasn’t until later, after I had truly woken up that I saw the post-it note attached to the bag apologising for being late on my day of arrival to Paris. I already felt like the meanest person in the world when I let her know in a tactless heated manner how disappointed I was at her not being on time and now I feel even worse.
That is how my first Sunday in Paris began.
Men were shouting, children were squealing, dogs were barking and an elderly woman sitting on the ground was making the most excruciating sound. Back and forth she slid a hand made bow across what was meant to be a musical instrument as if she was trying to saw it in half and quite frankly I wished she had, I even contemplated giving her money to move her on. I had just arrived at the bustling Sunday markets at Bastille.
don’t forget you can click on the images to enlarge them for a better view
I really love the market that runs from the centre of Place de la Bastille along Boulevard Richard Lenoir each Thursday and Sunday, but I love all the markets in Paris.
The colours, smells and atmosphere is such a fun way to spend a Sunday morning in Paris, even if you don’t buy anything but I was on mission that turned into a bit of a frenzy in order to stock up the apartment with food.
The banter between the stall holders as they call out their wares, buskers playing in the background, shoppers with dogs, children and trolleys and the excitement with which Parisians shop all makes up for a fabulous atmosphere.
You can have a crepe as you walk along or how civilised is this; why not stop for a half dozen freshly shucked oysters washed down with a glass of wine. If you prefer to eat in the comfort of your own apartment, there is a huge array of choices including the most delicious smelling roasting chickens and potatoes and don’t be fooled that the French don’t eat horse meat anymore, it is alive and well … well not the horse of course.
I purposely brought along a back pack to Paris this year (yes, I wore a back pack in public) especially for this very reason, to get my shopping home and it was bulging at the seams and weighed a ton.
I can’t resist the fresh yoghurt from Normandy and if the truth be known, part of the reason I buy it is because it comes in sweet little glass jars. I just had to have a round of Mont d’Or cheese because I am now addicted to it, together with essentials, including free range eggs and a baguette sticking out of the top of the back pack, I trundled back to the apartment.
Why I didn’t catch the metro is anyone’s guess but I think I liked to enjoy the buzz of the markets a little bit longer as I strolled along Rue Saint-Antoine.
With chores out of the way, if you can call shopping in a Parisian market a chore, it was time to hit the 20th arrondissement and see what I could discover.
My first stop was the Pavillon de l’Ermitage you can only gain entry when there is an exhibition and today was the last day of the exhibition but to be honest, I didn’t care what it was as long as I could gain entry to see inside.
A mere €3.00 got me in and I excitedly climbed the creaky, spiral stair case, only to discover that the so called exhibition was approximately 8 laminated posters stuck on the walls of a room that was in disrepair, the floorboards feeling unsteady under my feet and the ceiling, literally caving in.
The downstairs section and the other so called exhibition was the history of the building curated slightly more elegantly and the tour guide captured everyone’s attention but mine. I couldn’t understand a word she was saying which was very disappointing because Pavillon de l’Ermitage is all that remains of what was the sprawling and former Chateau de Bagnolet.
It passed through many hands but it was the Duchess of Orleans who enhanced it and it became her favourite residence. Opulent with beautiful gardens.
The property eventually became subdivided and slowly the castle was demolished, leaving behind this Pavillon.
The attendant was surprised to see me leave earlier than everyone else, I tried to explain that I couldn’t understand and I could see he was disappointed for me but I just laughed and told him it didn’t matter and as I left the gardens to continue my journey of the 20th, I laughed to myself again, this one won’t make it to the Paris Adèle Hot Tips but I hope that they can find a better way to raise money to save the Pavillon.
Things didn’t seem to be working out, items on my itinerary didn’t make sense and I couldn’t find the pretty square that I was hoping to see. It was the first overcast day since I arrived and the smog or fog was dank and heavy, mirroring a mood that was slowly seeping in.
But the ancient Church St Germain de Charonne and what I was to discover next lifted my spirits.
The area of Charonne that hugs the south-eastern perimeter of Pere Lachaise Cemetery was once an ancient village and vineyard outside the City of Paris and remained mostly rural until the introduction of the metro to the area in the 1930’s.
The small church that overlooks the village was the site, as legend would have it, where in 430, Saint Germain met a young girl from Nanterre who would later become the Patron Saint of Paris, Saint Genevieve.
During renovations, as you can see in the image above, humans remains were found because what I discovered, to my delight on the grounds of the church is a very small cemetery.
Leaving the church, I could hear voices and venturing through the large timber doors is this tiny sanctuary, not even an acre in size and one of only two remaining church burial grounds in Paris.
Some of the graves date back to the 1800’s but sadly, some as recent as yesterday.
The only item that was not on my itinerary turned out to be the thing I enjoyed most of all and that is what I love about Paris, there is always a discovery around every corner.
Wandering around the streets of Charonne, making my way up hilly cobbled streets and busy main roads I have decided I like this area with its surprising little pockets amongst the hustle and bustle. With its eclectic mix of residents, shops and apartments and a few trendy shops popping up, I think that this will become the new up and coming area of Paris in a couple of years to come.
My good friend the French Historian agreed with me when I met up with him before going to Jim’s Sunday Night Dinner.
You may remember me mentioning Jim Haynes before. An American living in Paris who has been inviting strangers of all walks of life into his home each Sunday to have dinner and met people.
He had a brutal fall when I was in Paris last year and unfortunately, one year later is still on the mend but in good spirits and to see his smiling face as I entered his kitchen gave me great joy that one hug was not enough and we went in for a couple more.
A few regulars who make the pilgrimage to Paris each year were there as were Jim’s friends, although it was a more intimate crowd last night, it was great to see old faces and meet some new ones.
The French Historian and I decided on a drink at the local café afterwards so we could have a proper catch up. One drink turned into many as we chatted the night away and before we knew it, it was 4am! Perhaps if you could have observed us trying to call an Uber, it may have given you a few belly laughs.
Left standing on the quiet streets of Alésia after the French Historian was whisked away in his chariot, I wondered how the hell I was going to get home. For some reason my app wasn’t allowing me to hire a car and the driver wouldn’t allow a double fare. It wasn’t the first time that I have walked the late night streets of Paris but the map on the Insidr smart phone was telling me it would take an hour! I began the journey and came across the night bus stand, only to watch my bus whizz by.
The only other person on the street was a kind man who informed me that the next approaching bus would also take me to where I wanted to go.
He gave me a reassuring nod as he left the bus which was hurtling through the quiet streets at break-neck speed and delivered me to my part of Paris.
Thank goodness for kind strangers.