Tuesday 7 June 2011

Paris: What's In, What's Out

Enjoying the peace and quiet of a private
compartment on the train.
This is an entirely personal list of those things that particularly struck me on our recent trip to La Ville-Lumière.

Paris Montparnasse station waiting room.
What was in and cool:
  • Le Parc des Buttes Chaumont. I know we've written about it before, but it is the most attractive park and so well used and appreciated by everyone in the neighbourhood.
  • The museum Aux Arts et Sciences Réunis. Yes, a restaurant with a museum. Strictly speaking it's a guild college training master craftsmen, with a private museum/archive and restaurant attached. On this visit we were invited in to see the huge chefs d'oeuvres (architectural models) made by guild members and talked to some of the young men learning their trade. Very impressive.
  • Chez Kim, a Vietnamese restaurant in a Jewish area of town. Clearly frequented by locals (much 'bising' and interacting with the owner from customers, who ranged from 8 to 80 and seemed to be from quite a broad social spectrum) they serve the best rouleaux de printemps that we've had in a very long time. Like most neighbourhood restaurants, completely unprepossessing on the outside and unpretentious inside. Don't be fooled by appearances - this place is a très bon rapport de qualité et prix.
  • Knee length or shorter floral dresses in fine lightweight cotton. It was stinking hot in Paris, but everyone took the opportunity to dress for the sun.
  • Traveling to Paris by the 'Tourist Train', especially if you sit in the bike carriage and get a compartment for 8 to yourselves. It's a lovely way to see the Loire Valley.
  • The large, peaceful, airconditioned waiting room at Montparnasse station - curiously under used.
The museum Aux Arts et Sciences Réunis.
What was out and past it:
  • Montmartre. The view from Sacre Coeur may be good, but the place stinks of urine and faeces (both human and canine) and the crowd is too much. Whatever ambiance it had in the 19th century is long gone.
  • The communal boiler in Villette by the Canal St Martin. It's being demolished to make way for a new eco-friendly facility that will provide heating for the neighbourhood. It may be on it's way out, but the partially demolished building with its huge boiler still intact was fascinating. I wasn't the only person to stop and watch.
Amboise from the train.


Jean said...

Susan - you look like you were poised give a Royal wave to your subjects !!

It's a shame about Montmartre. We enjoyed being there a few years ago but that was in the middle of winter when I suppose the smells were less pungent.

Simon said...

Jean - she gets enough practice with that in Célestine.

I think the problem with Montmartre was that Thursday was a holiday and the cleaning wasn't done.

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