Samedi 16th Aou

Posted by Jeni in | 20 August 2008

Even roadworks look artistic in the Parisian sunlight.

Okay so I'm an inveterate romantic, but having made the decision to be in Paris on my own, ostensibly to work out the Metro, I needed to look at everything through my own myopic, rosy tinted spectacles.

Nothing was going to prevent me from seeing the Capital of France in style. For comfort I had travelled in my plimsolls, no space in my 16 x 10 bag for 'Crocs', but as it turned out my trainers were to hot to handle, or should I say feetle, so I borrowed a pair of mine hostesses sandals, essential footware for a Lau-treck through the Arrondisements of Paree. I figured if my feet were cool so would the rest of me be.

Linda and I took the lift down to the ground floor. I tripped onto the stone floor, (bloody sandals) pressed the button and released the big metal door onto the outside world.

The Gaston Baty square, with its leafy trees and shrubs, is home to sparrows and benches, the bin men had cleaned up very early, so all the bags of discarded garbage had been removed.

Then it was left over the roadworks and right onto Blvd. Edgar Quinet. Nearly every 'Rue', 'Boulevard', 'Square' or 'Avenue' is named after somebody great. Edgar Quinet, par example, was a French historian and intellectual, whilst Josephine Baker, the black chanteuse, gave her name to the accompanying pavement. As the sun beat down and the occasional cloud skittered across the sky I had to remind myself that not 180 minutes away the rain was pouring and everybody was crunching on their credit-flakes for petit dejeuner.

We sauntered off to the little market.....

The local cheesemongers, fishmongers, butchers and gourmands had laid out their stalls under the lime trees and the only skyskraper in Paris.

90% of Parisians take their holiday in August, they migrate South, leaving just the hard core left, which meant me, Linda and a few hard core customers wandered between the stalls marvelling at the monk fish and cooing over the chou- fleurs. I know a cauliflower is a cauliflower wherever you are in the world but on a Saturday morning in Paris a cauliflower really does become a chou-fleur - although in my book if I were aportioning gender to nouns I wouldn't have made the cauliflower male, now a cucumber/ concombre obviously, but not a silly, frilly colly..

Anyway we started our Grande Tour, having stocked up on lemon presse and an omelette, cooked in the French way; 30 seconds on one side, flipped over like an envelope, the heat cooking itself, and then flopped onto the plate. SO delicious. I had to remind myself that one oeuf was enoeuf....

Down the Rue, over the triangular square and onwards towards St.Germain. We stopped at every single boutique looking for earrings that I could sleep in, and by that I don't mean sleeping in the earrings I mean earrings that would allow me to put my head on a pllow without piercing my jugular. After two full days of scouting I couldnt find any anywhere, good job I say I saved myself a fortune.

Onwards and upwards towards St. Michel. 'Look for the churches' said my guide, the clue is in the Saint. On and on, my feet slipping around my sandals, the Parisian dust turning my souls black, through shop lined streets, along cobbled rues, over elegant bridges.

'How many bridges does Paris have?' I asked Linda. 'Oh!' she said knowingly, 'Loads.'

We stopped in Rue de Buci, and found a table, on the pavement, opposite 'Aquarelle', the best florist in the word. An elderly man played the accordian - I finally had my vey own French film sound-track - pigeons pecked at croissant crumbs, and a paper boy delivered 'Le Monde' to the restaurant opposite, I half expected Renee to cycle by with a row of onions round his neck shouting 'Ello 'Ello to moi.

'You see.', said the my guide, 'Everybody in France knows their place. The waitor may kiss the paper boy but the paper boy knows he may not get too familier, and its reflected in the language as 'Tu' and 'Vous', and whereas we British moan the French merely complain.'

'No we don't ' I whined.

I ordered what all the old French women were eating, Tarte de Boeuf est pomme frites, which to you and me is raw steak and chips.

We watched dogs glide by, as chic as their owners, sipped on our Badoit water until our lunch arrived, which it did with timely ease. My raw beef had a raw egg yolk in the centre and raw onion on the side. Mustard,ketchup and Tabasco was placed on the table for seasoning. I chewed on my raw-red-meat-marveling at my ability to blend in with the locals, when I had swallowed the last sinew I wondered what the Bloody Hell I was doing, but hey when in Rome.....

We waddled off to the Seine and found Le Plage. For one month of every year sand is put down and people pretend the River Seine is the seaside. Deck chairs, brass bands, blankets and sun-bathers lounge on Le Plage. For 28 days The Seine looks insane.

We were now on the Right bank in the 'Īle-de-France', a little Island, which the real Parisians hail as the real Paris. I bought an ice-cream from 'Bertillo', considered to be the best ice-cream maker in the world, reflected by the queues and the prix. I don't like chocolate at the best of times but I was seduced by the promise of the Everest of ices. It cost me £6.00 for a three tiered cornet with chocolate so intensely rich that by the time I had licked my last lick my dungarees had shrunk three sizes.

A clown had cleared a bridge, set up a circle of tiny little plastic chairs, amassed an audience and was balanceing a bike on his chin for our delectation. I too parked my big bum on a little yellow chair, as I slurped at my cornet. The clown looked around for a stooge. He noticed my dalmation dungarees - obviously an extrovert - but then witnessed my ever increasing wasitline and shrewdly decided that any balancing trick with me would break both the bicycle frame and his fourth veterbrae - he opted for a young slim blonde instead.

He pedalled on his bike, balanced on his bike, made silly noises and showed off his little red pom-pom which was stuck to the top of his bald head. By the time I had swallowed the last piece of praline his act was up, we threw him Euros and unpeeled ourselves from our little plastic potties.

More walking and we were back at the Blv. St. Germain for an exotic carrot cocktail and some people watching.

My feet were black and stinging but my resolve was firm, I would not give in. We hopped, well lurched, onto a bus and arrived back at our arrondisement. Our final push was a quick troll round the only supermarche I had seen.

We stocked up on French morsals and made our way upstairs to the flat.

As the evening drew in we laid the table and settled down for a nibble and a natter, the nibbles lasted until 2.00am whilst the nattering stopped bang on later.

I had opened up the sofa bed the better to stretch my legs. I hadn't banked on the mattress being a bed of nails, by the time I fell asleep my back was broken in three places, my feet swollen like a blown-up air bed, my colon stretched full from the raw beef, and my brain buzzing like a Parisian square on a Saturday night.

I slept like a baby, at least I think I did I was too comotose to know...

To be cont....

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes


1. At August 21, 2008 7:38 AM chrissie wrote:

Continue ENCORE!
c x x

2. At August 21, 2008 10:17 AM RC wrote:

Tres Bien Mme Barnett, I feel as if I'm pounding the streets of gay Paris with you.

3. At August 21, 2008 6:48 PM June wrote:

Hi Jeni

The dalmation dungarees are they a black or white background (I do like to get the whole picture!)
I was exhausted by the time I arrived back at the flat with you, even my feet ached!
Can't wait for Sunday or should I say Dimanche.

Love June

4. At August 22, 2008 9:01 AM Marmite wrote:

Oh Jen that took me back to when I lived in Paris! Opening night in Alabama went well but it looks like hurricane Fay will catch up with me on Sunday! Look forward to the next instalment love Marmite x x

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