Paris Journal 2012 – Barbara Joy Cooley                        Home: barbarajoycooley.com

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Before going for our evening stroll, we decided that we needed to briefly visit the discount grocery store down the street to buy essentials like Colgate toothpaste, Gillette razors, and L’Oreal hair conditioner.  I found a pleasant surprise – some beautiful mushrooms – in the produce aisle of the otherwise dirty and chaotic store.  The place is deteriorating into a third-world state of affairs since the Dia corporation bought out the ED stores.

 

It was so bad, it was comical.  A small woman was running a big, loud, ineffective floor waxer/cleaner machine and many of the shelves were empty.

 

I walked up one aisle in the middle of the store, well ahead of Tom, and BOOM!  An explosion!  I felt liquid on the back of my head.  I was stunned.  I touched the liquid – it was cold.  Good.  Not blood, I thought.

 

I looked up at the top shelf 5 feet away from my head.  There, a cheap champagne (or was it a crémant?) bottle had some fizz coming out of the top.  It leaned precariously as I moved back toward Tom.  How many more bottles were going to explode, I wondered?  I heard a crash, looked back, and saw green glass and liquid on the floor.  I asked Tom to check my hair for bits of glass.  Fortunately, there were none.

 

Spritzed by a mysteriously exploding bottle of cheap sparkling wine on my second day in Paris.  Wow.

 

A woman standing nearby was as shocked as we were by the event.  We finished our shopping and went back to the apartment just long enough to put things away.  Then we ventured out again.

 

The rue du Commerce is looking as prosperous as ever.  There is no sign of a limping economy here.  I wanted to stroll down the avenue Félix Faure because something I’d seen on Google maps had me worried that one of our favorite newer restaurants, Axuria, no longer existed.

 

As we reached the end of the rue du Commerce and were walking around the side of the St. John the Baptist of Grenelle church, we were surprised to see something very new at the end of the leafy park behind the church.

 

There, looking a bit out of place, was a shiny new structure.  I thought at first that it was a futuristic bus stop shelter.  As we approached, I saw that it is one of the brand new Autolib stations for electric cars.

 

I’d been wondering exactly where this new program was in the implementation stages.  Here’s an article on Wikipedia that explains it all.  If you read French, here is the City of Paris web page that describes the rate structure and rules for renting these vehicles.

 

Autolib is pretty cool, but it is only for those with French driver’s licenses.  The charging stations can also be used (for a fee) by private owners of electric vehicles.

 

Something seems to have changed about the St. John the Baptist of Grenelle church.  In the past, it has seemed to me to be frumpy and out of touch with the neighborhood.  But yesterday evening, there was some kind of event happening at the church, and it seemed to be ending with socializing in the little park at the rear of the church.

 

Judging by the way people were dressed, I’d say that this event was not a wedding or baptism, but rather a class or study group. 

 

Normally the occupants of this park are neighborhood men who have severe drinking problems.  We call them the “denizens” of this park.  A couple of them seem to be homeless, but most of them seem to be low-income residents of the ‘hood.  There are probably about a dozen of them altogether, but usually only 6 to 8 present at a given time in the park.

 

They are not harmless.  They’ve been known to get into fights, and I think that one of them might have been responsible for a stabbing last year (the victim had refused to give the denizen a cigarette, as I recall).  I remember thinking at the time that it didn’t seem like the church was doing anything to reach out to these guys, other than giving away free sandwiches sometimes.

 

The culture of these denizens is not a healthy one.  At any rate, yesterday evening, with the church activity making use of the park, the denizens were pushed out to the edges of the little park, and they looked really put out.  Their grumpy looks seemed to say, “How dare these other people use our park?”

 

I hope the church continues to use the park more for its activities.  The park seems to be church property; not a public park operated by the City.

 

Moving on down the leafy and very French avenue Félix Faure, we enjoyed looking into the occasional shop window and checking out restaurants.  We were greatly relieved to see that Axuria is alive, well, open, and thriving.  Because Tom has had some digestive trouble since our trip over here, we weren’t up to an elegant French dinner yet, so we didn’t think about going in to inquire about a table.  We were just happy to know it is still there.

 

Ah, the wonderful Grand Marnier soufflé at Axuria – heaven on earth.

 

There’s an interesting-looking new shop with fair trade items next door to Axuria.  I must return when it is open.  I spotted a bag that I might want there.

 

We walked on to the rue Duranton to be sure that the restaurant Le Granite is still there (it is), and then we turned back toward the apartment.

 

What to do about dinner?  Something simple, we thought.  We passed in front of a promising looking little restaurant that has great reviews plastered on one of its side windows.  The chef, a Greek woman, is well regarded.  A simple dorade royale main course was offered at only 16 euros.  A basic, good fish dinner like that would be fine for Tom, we thought. 

 

But anyplace this good at good value is booked up, of course, and so this place was not able to accommodate us yesterday.  We will go back, however.  It is Mare Monte, 19 avenue Felix Faure, tel. 01 44 26 10 77.

 

We ended up dining at the busy Brasserie called La Tour Eiffel (see photo in yesterday’s journal) because the evening’s special was travers de porc , pork ribs with a pineapple barbeque sauce, served with white rice.  The ribs were very good (not as good as mine, however), and the service warmed up to us over the course of dinner.

 

I reminded Tom that this was the first place we dined when we first came to Paris together in August 1998.  After arriving from England that day, we went out for a walk, lost our bearings, and then found ourselves in front of this brasserie.  Because of its name, we thought it must be near the Eiffel Tower (it isn’t, really), so we dined there, figuring that we could find our way home from the Eiffel Tower after dinner.  But after dinner, we came out and discovered that we were actually back at the rue du Commerce, very near the apartment, and not so near the Tower.  It was a pleasant surprise.

 

Now we know Paris so well that we’ll never be that lost in it again.  And even if we didn’t know it, now we have a smartphone with GPS on it.  Thank you, brother Robert, Mr. GPS, for your fine contributions to this technology that has enhanced the quality of life globally. 

 

Some technology changes have affected this journal, too.  The “guest book” is no longer available.  Sorry about the dead links to it in prior years’ journals.  But it seems that all the newer social media sites like Facebook have taken over.  So if you want to send me a message, do it via Facebook (link below).  And if you want to follow this journal with reminders from me when there are new postings, just “friend” me on Facebook, but if you don’t know me, be sure to send a message with your friend request to tell me that you are a Paris Journal reader.

 

Life goes on . . . .

 

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

 

French blue bag and Asian cat figurine in a shop window on the avenue Félix Faure.

 

Futuristic structure at an Autolib station.

 

One of the Bollore electric cars charging up at an Autolib.

 

 

 

 

The Autolib stanchions have step-by-step instructions.

 

Tom is happy after a simple dinner at La Tour Eiffel.

 

We shared a crème brulée for dessert.  It had just been torched, still warm and crunchy on the top.  It was absolutely “correct,” as the French say.

 

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