My husband and I are living in Paris for a month. Some of you may have seen my trip report on Barcelona before (http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/a-month-in-barcelona-trip-report-and-blog.cfm)
Anyway I will be posting links to my blog here for those who want to follow along.
Here is the first one with pics, although I pasted the text below:
We have been in Paris 24 hours now, and my love affair has begun (again). We were here before, almost a year ago, for a week in St. Germain de Pres. It was lovely and perfect to be in the 6th arrondisement, with all the people, the bustling cafes, easy access to all the tourist sites. But now we are back to actually live here, and I imagine like most Parisiens, we can't afford to do that in St. Germain.
So here we are just outside of Paris actually, right between the town of Saint-Mande and Montreuil, near Vincennes. For those who don't know, we are basically just east of the 12th Arr. Now this is a real neighborhood. We dont hear any English here. We see families pushing strollers. But all the things we love about Paris are still here - the local boulangerie and fromagerie (bread store and cheese store), the Sunday market, the beautiful parks. Yes, on Saturday night if you want some action you have to get on the metro and head into the center. But we are five minutes from the #1 metro line, which takes you pretty much anywhere you want to go, and fast.
Last night we arrived to Orly airport, and after talking to someone at the tourist information desk, determined what I already knew, which was that we didn't have much choice other than to take a cab. We could have taken two trains, but with our luggage that didn't seem like a good idea. The cab from Orly to our place took quite awhile because of traffic, and cost 40E, exactly what we had been told it would cost.
I was delighted to find that our apartment is at the back of a group of buildings set off the street around a courtyard, so it is extremely quiet. Lugging our bags up rickety spiral stairs in the dark was not so fun, but we've come to expect that. When we entered the apartment and looked around, I let out a breath I didn't realize I'd been holding. The apartment is great, especially compared to the last one. It is so cozy, there are lots of books on the shelf and pictures on the wall, the kitchen has most of what we need, the couch is large and comfy, and overall you can just tell that a female once lived here, or at least set it up. Of course it is small, but the space is used very efficiently.
The next morning we slept too late as usual, then hurried to the market we'd heard about, hoping it would still be going on. And it sure was. It was much bigger than I had expected, and the stalls of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, fish, prepared foods, etc. went on and on and on. I will have to return and take pictures but at first I was just overwhelmed. I had forgotten to bring the shopping cart/bag in our apartment that everyone else had with them so I wasn't sure how I would carry everything, or even what I wanted to buy, or how to say what I wanted in French.
Eventually we settled on wanting to make roast chicken (recipe and pics to come), among other things, and we plunged right in. All the merchants were very friendly, and those that could speak English actually did so with us. No rude Parisiens here! We chatted for awhile with an Italian who sells fresh pasta at the markets here and lived in the U.S. for several years. He liked us so much he even threw in some free mini cannolis!
[I should mention though that unfortunately the market is not cheap. For example, a small cauliflower and five tomatoes was over 7 euros! Some things are cheaper than others, like the onions and potatoes and garlic weren't bad at all. It was a bit of sticker shock after Spain, and I'm not sure the supermarkets will be much better; I'll find out tomorrow when they are open.]
After we feasted on bread and cheese, bread w/butter salt and radishes, and some soft boiled eggs, we got the chicken ready and into the oven, and then took a walk to the nearby park - Bois de Vincennes.
This park is huge, and reminded me a lot of Central Park (although it's not in the center of town here by any means). There is a path around the park for biking and running, and near where we entered the park there is a pretty little lake. We only saw a small piece of the park, but I can tell I'm going to be spending a lot of time there. We lay on the grass soaking up the sun, watching all the families, thinking that we have to come back with a picnic soon.
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