Thursday, August 19, 2010

The WWPD Guide to Paris, Part I of ?

-The Batignolles organic food market: Pricey like the Raspail one, but not quite so full of kitchen-free but camera-happy tourists in search of Rustic French Fruit. (Disclaimer: I took pictures of rustic vegetables when I had no kitchen to prepare it in while on study abroad.) I'm an organics sceptic/agnostic, but it's the only true street market within walking distance (loosely defined) of my apartment, and whatever has or hasn't been done to these fruits and vegetables, they're delicious. There's also a woman who sells gorgeous rich-hippie clothes. Not really my style, but the scarves are exactly the kind of scarves one ought to return from a trip to France with. They are also 15 euros, and when faced with the choice of 15 euros worth of produce and a gorgeous scarf, I, apparently, choose the produce.

-The 7th Arrondissement, plus the parts of the 6th that seem like the 7th: This is the location of my fantasy apartment. It's tucked away in a courtyard, and comes with a whole new wardrobe to match. It is Paris-Is-Pretty Paris, unapologetically so. It isn't Real Paris of the Real Parisians, with gritty working-class authenticity. It's just nice, in that you're-in-Paris-why-not-see-what-Paris-does-best-even-if-the-equivalent-neighborhood-back-home-would-put-you-to-sleep kind of way. The buildings are pretty, the people are pretty, and where to begin re: the accessories. The danger of shopping in this area is less that stuff costs more - which it does - and more that you can never know for sure if you're admiring the thing itself or the setting. A good trick is to picture yourself wearing whatever it is to the supermarket back home, in, literally and figuratively, a different light. (If you're from NY, picture the light in a Duane Reade.) If you still want it, and it costs less than The Apartment, then you can consider it.

-The 15th Arrondissement: I had a vague recollection that there was nothing there, but after running low on new neighborhoods to explore, I ended up on the Rue du Commerce, which is the most accurately named shopping street I can think of. What's special about this street/neighborhood is that it's wealthy enough that people there shop enthusiastically, yet not so upscale as to become a ghost town in August. As in, it's the usual lineup of Monoprix, 39-euro sandals, and fromageries, but for whatever reason, it has the feel of a provincial town, even with the Eiffel Tower being right there.

-Tiny artisanal shops with beautiful things I want want want: Such as. And also. Despite being in principle against the fetishization of "Made in Whichever Romantic-Sounding Western-European Country," and despite reading an article for a course in the fall about how the source of French anti-Semitism in the 1930s was small shopkeepers who used concepts like "artisanal" and "craftsmanship" as a way of saying they wanted the Jews gone, I am, when confronted with them, a sucker for boutiques filled with stunning, classic accessories of the sort you can't get at Zara or H&M. See also: my attitude towards organic food markets in theory, in practice. And the 1930s, that was ages ago.

-The Rue Varenne Pain Quotidien: The Belgian-chain-that-isn't-really-like-Belgian-food-but-does-in-fact-come-from-Belgium is not one I usually seek out in NY. But it has several advantages in Paris. For example, say you want to eat lunch at 3:30, and alone. Lunch in Paris is meant to be consumed either with a crowd at 12:30 sharp, or hush-hush in a corner somewhere, in the form of a utilitarian sandwich. But what if you've just started a really long novel, haven't gotten breakfast or lunch yet, and are ready to park yourself? There, the fact that I came in alone and at an off hour wasn't questioned, nor was my choice to order off the (cheaper, yet still substantial) "accompaniments" section of the menu. I also ordered a "café frappé," which was a lukewarm iced black coffee (milk being more than a euro extra) with a couple glaçons as garnish, but it was my own damn fault, since I'd asked what this drink would be, and had been forewarned that nothing resembling a Tel Aviv iced blended coffee was in store.

-La Roche Posay nail polish in Beige Rosé: The perfect generic nail polish color - and I mean it in a good way. I put it on Monday night and here we are Thursday and it looks just about the same. This much could not be said for my fourth-ever manicure, which I got back in NY, which cost a fortune (I was feeling paranoid about hepatitis, and so opted for a reportedly sanitary salon filled with the kind of Tribecans who wouldn't risk anything), and which bubbled and chipped shortly thereafter. The polish was seven-something euros at a pharmacy that claimed to have low prices, is more elsewhere, but is at any rate still within the drugstore-makeup price range, such as it exists in Paris.

-The Seine: Standing on one of the bridges near the center, and looking west towards the Eiffel Tower. No, it doesn't get old.


Anonymous said...

Does Tel Aviv iced blended coffee have milk in it?

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Not sure if it's milk or milk powder, or maybe condensed milk, but yes, I think there's milk. Definitely sugar, most likely milk.

Anonymous said...

Slush machine?