A rendezvous at the Musée d’Orsay with my friend Julien and a simple dinner afterwards at my apartment was on the menu today.
Awake hours before the crack of dawn after an early night and a good nights rest gave me time to set out on a short stroll that I had devised, intended for my first day in Paris which I never got around to, before our meet up.
Minor, perhaps insignificant to most but a few things I wanted to explore nearby meant I could wander around and soak up the atmosphere. Fortunately for me, by the time I headed out the light rain had stopped, leaving the cobbled stone streets glistening.
Warning: some images may offend but the good humoured sign on the shop window of the ancient pest control store Aurouze put the first of many smiles on my face for the day.
Rather than being cranky about people gawking at their very graphic and unusual display, instead, they have created a hashtag. I love their sense of humour and modern marketing considering the business was founded in 1872.
Unfortunately it was too difficult to photograph for me but the window display is full of stuffed rats, which is pretty gruesome but I guess that is their business and having packets of rat poison would make for a very unattractive window display.
Located not far from the Pompidou Centre would have normally seen me on a random visit but it will have to wait until later, instead I took great joy in observing what was going on around me.
Often I advise people when walking around Paris, to ensure they look up but this time, look inside that window, it is these tiny little discoveries that excitement me.
And colourful characters that put a smile on my face.
Another minor item on my list was to find a small fleur-de-lis on the ground that marks the spot where Henri IV was murdered, I found a plaque on the wall but no fleur-de-lis on the ground. Perhaps it was stolen, perhaps I imagined it.
It never ceases to intrigue me that when I stop to look up or point my camera at something, others will gather and look up, or sometimes rudely stand in front of me to get the exact same angle.
When searching the ground, for the elusive fleur-de-lisI noticed people looking on the ground too and then back at me, probably they thought that I had dropped something, and then, I found it at 11 Rue de la Ferronnerie (in case you might like to find it too) and how could I miss it.
Not a small fleur-de-lis at all but a giant square where, stuck in traffic on the 14th May 1610, on the way to the Queen’s coronation a Catholic fanatic went about stabbing and killing King Henri IV on this very spot.
I have probably trampled across it many times without even realising and now it is ticked off my list!
So too, is the mosaic Paris Coat of Arms on the old bath house opposite the Pompidou Centre, another for my collection.
Tucked away down a passage at 20 Rue Rambuteau is a small pretty courtyard and the home to the oldest maker of pastels in Paris, although he only opens the tiny store on Thursday afternoons, unfortunately he was closed today but what I didn’t realise at this point that it was the beginning of exploring many courtyards. It seems all the doors in Paris were open to me today.
Time was on my side and I couldn’t get enough of them.
I was in passage trespassing heaven and having the time of my life each time I discovered another open door with an inviting glow from within.
Number 4 Rue des Vertus in the 3rd arrondissement was a former brothel or Maison Close as it is called in French and I was hoping to see a large number that once indicated the buildings past but it had been replaced by a regular white on blue number plate but this sweet street, slick with rain water and one of the buildings bulging at the seams was enough to give me some more joy before I headed off to the Musée d’Orsay to see a temporary exhibition on the Second Empire with my friend Julien.
Despite the restaurant looking spectacular, I cannot say the same about the food and quite frankly wouldn’t recommend wasting your money in here.
The risotto I ordered resembled porridge and arrived at my table within minutes, which indicated it clearly was not freshly made. I don’t normally make negative remarks about Paris and simply choose to avoid talking about it but I feel it is my duty to warn you.
Unfortunately photos were not allowed in the temporary exhibition and a few people who tried were promptly told off by the attendant, so I didn’t risk it.
However the exhibition was fabulous and much larger than we both anticipated and we ran out of time to complete it before I had to go home and Julien attend a meeting before coming over for a simple dinner to say our goodbyes before Christmas.
The table was set with the meagre offerings of the apartment and newly purchased napkins, the food prepared and music on.
Julien arrived in good spirits with a couple of bottles of lovely wine and dessert. He devoured the little parcels of scamorza cheese, tomato and fresh basil wrapped in prosciutto that I quickly dry fried in a hot pan.
But it was the pasta that was a disaster. Who can mess up a simple pasta of oil, garlic and parsley right?
That would be me. I searched in vain for dried chilli flakes which is to give the pasta a very slight lift, and instead could only find whole dried chillies, which I expertly chopped up with my newly purchased knife from Dehillerin but maybe I was a little heavy handed and the pasta blew our heads off.
Fortunately Julien saw the funny side of it but I was thoroughly disappointed and could barely eat it.
What they say in Mexico, Julien tells me punctuated by giggles is that the burning you feel on your mouth today will be burning another part of your body tomorrow.
I was hoping the leftovers would provide dinner before the theatre tomorrow night but there was no way I was going to let another ounce of it touch my mouth.
I suggested to Julien that he give the leftovers to a homeless person on the way home but he asked me if I really wanted the death of a homeless person on my hands.
Hopefully I will find it funny later. I intend to make the same dish again for the New Yorker for Christmas lunch but maybe I will forgo the chilli next time.
At least the cheese was a hit and the dessert helped calm down our burning mouths.
How Julien managed a second helping is beyond me, I couldn’t work out if he was being polite or was starving and had no choice.