Today we shopped in Paris but bought little. Shopping is a different experience here. We started by inspecting a Brocante on the Rue de Cler. It is sort of a cross between a second hand store, a flea market, and an estate sale. Booths are set up outside with all manner of stuff; different from a flea market in the states. From postcards, to books, to Baccarat glass and Christofle silver it was an amazing pot pourri of old and not so old French objects. Didn't buy a thing but enjoyed looking.
(Click on the photos to enlarge them.)
We had a repeat breakfast on the Rue de Cler followed by a delicious fig from the greengrocer. On the street, we noticed this cute tableau of father and son.
Metro to the Grands Boulevards and then explored the passageways or arcades that were 19th century Paris' answer to shopping malls. Only these beautiful glass ceiling and ironwork galleries have nothing modern to buy.
Mostly things no one ever thought they needed. Each passage has a different set of shops; some with toys and miniatures (full of Tin Tin figures etc),
some with antiques and collectors items, such as old books,
others with galleries of unusual items such as jewelry set with semiprecious stones to represent animals and birds or a figure that looks like it was the product of a taxidermist's (or a mortician's) nightmare,
still others with spooky and mysterious figures.
The passages connect and one can spend hours looking and perhaps not findings anything you want to buy or have! They exude memories of what art nouveau Paris must have been like with cafes and restaurants and the Hotel Chopin (where he once lived) and a cane maker that has been there since the beginning. Also a Men's Club in a less-fancy passage.
We then walked down Haussmann Blvd to the Galleries Lafayette and were overwhelmed with shoppers (Saturday and sale time). We made our way to the food section and stopped to have a Cafe Latte served in a glass with the foamiest milk.
We looked at the wonderful 19th century stained glass dome and then marveled at how expensive Paris is.
We walked to Fauchon, amused at the window displays in department stores along the way,
to buy chocolate
and stayed for lunch in the most Parisian of dining rooms with wonderful risotto with artichokes and chanterelles and lamb and good French wine. We have not yet encountered anyone who wouldn't or couldn't speak English; the French are very formal - always Bonjour Madame or Monsieur or Au Revoir Madame or Monsieur surround every transaction. Waitstaff are polite; but never any 'my name is Joe and I'll be your server today' type of interaction. It certainly is less tiresome.
Back to the hotel for a nap: still playing catchup. Then to another restaurant for a late dinner. The place was full, but they had just opened another restaurant around the corner, so the hostess walked us part way there and we were escorted the rest of the way by the proprietor - charming service. Though we weren't hungry, our exploratory urges kicked in, so we shared an excellent octopus salad as appetizer, had lamb shank and sea bass main courses, and shared a plum tart dessert. Along with glasses of decent house wine, we were well satisfied.
A light rain was falling as we walked back to the Metro, but not enough to cause problems. We should mention the excellent experience we've had with the Metro: we hardly ever had to wait more than three minutes for a train, connections are good, and the stations are clean.
Tomorrow (Sunday) we take the train back to Charles de Gaulle Airport, and join our group for the long flight to Madagascar, We leave at 3 PM, arrive in Antananarivo at 3 AM, with only a one hour time zone difference. So we're likely to be pretty beat after an eleven hour flight, and may not post again for a day or two.