Day 54 - the latin quarter, jardin du luxembourg
We're in another brilliant Air BnB apartment; this time in the Latin Quarter of Paris, on the attic floor of a Tudor building. It's a tiny studio and every little thing has it's place. I have to hang my bananas on a hook along the timber beams.
We're five floors above two bookshops and a fruit and vegetable shop. Looking out the window, you can pretend you're steering your attic ship through a sea of gabled windows, thoroughly Parisian looking buildings and tiny balconies with potted flowers. Around the corner, there's miles of restaurants, wine bars, cafes, patisseries, fromageries, boulangeries, a butcher's shop, poissonerie, and even a sprinkling of one-star Michelin star restaurants. I drool over a window full of pies in a restaurant literally called House of Pie. I take note of Le Truffiere, a Michelin star restaurant that does an express lunch menu. Let's not forget the Vietnamese takeaway joint with a window display as tempting as a tower of Laduree macaroons!
Across the road, along the iron fence of a church, the homeless hangout with their barricade of rolled up sleeping bags. A fountain serves as a roundabout. It is electric green with algae and styrofoam box floats decoratively in the basin. Perfect Paris neighbourhood. No jokes. I love it.
For lunch, we eat Mexican food at BocaMexa. Because we're in Paris now and all the foods of the world are suddenly available. The place is packed with students, there's a big line, and I order in my broken schoolgirl/Duolingo French until the girl gives up and just starts to talk in English. My chicken burrito with a side of nachos is outta this world.
We walk and walk and walk and inevitably, we hit a monument. The Pantheon is shrouded in scaffolding, it's wearing a big plastic white hat, is partnered with a crane, and smothered in French flags. Rob takes a picture and says, "You know what I think is missing? Just one more French flag."
He turns around and he's looking down the street, straight down the barrel of the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Tour Eiffel. "It's the Eiffel Tower!" he shouts and then turns to me, suspicious, "Did you know it would be here?" My memory of Paris is good but it's not that good.
I've always wanted to go to the Jardin du Luxembourg but never got round to it. Last time, I wandered along on a wintry day and the gates were shut tight. The garden is beautiful and artfully drenched in a blanket of fall leaves. The French have upped the game a little more by arranging hundreds of bright daises and chrysanthemums to artfully cascade from stone urns. They certainly know how to decorate in this country.
It doesn't escape me that we seem to have followed the Medicis here. Their fountain is a gorgeous reflection of fall leaves, slowly withering trees, melancholic stone, and ducks that will eat absolutely anything; even the daisies I chuck in for my photo. A French king built this garden and the palace for his wife, a Medici daughter who missed the Boboli Gardens and the Pitti Palace.
At the Franprix round the corner from our apartment, we get the usual assortment of stuff for our two week stay but I also throw in a tin can of chestnut spread, stinky cheese, and a baguette. I also pop into a bakery and order my pain au chocolats and eclair in French. I get away with it this time around. Deux pain au chocolats et deux eclair, s'il vous plait. Un sac, s'il vous plait. Merci. And because we're in the birthplace country of the eclair, the lady doesn't just bung it in a paper bag like they do in New Zealand. She creates this little tower of paper around it so that I can take it away, unmangled.
I'm pretty pleased with myself. I may not know how to order in French in a Mexican restaurant but I know how to order in French in a bakery. I think bakery vocab was one of the first things my high school French teacher taught us. She even got us singing a song about baguettes that come in different sizes and once sponsored a French breakfast for us one morning. She bought some baguettes, banged chocolates in the middle, et voila!