Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Paris V: fun stuff, clothes, food, getting around are getting around.

Paris V: fun stuff, clothes, food, getting around are getting around.

Old Jun 10th, 2015, 10:56 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,169
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Paris V: fun stuff, clothes, food, getting around are getting around.

Well, everybody always wants to know what They are wearing in Paris. The answer is, of course, almost anything. It varies by class, income and national origin. It does not necessarily vary by weather. It is spring so you wear spring clothes, if you have the, of course. So here are some HUGE generalizations I have observed in the past week. These are not universal as I have spent very little time in the 1st, 7th, or 8th.

Black has never left, but very bright colored, slim cut summer trousers -- red, green, brilliant blue, and magenta -- and shirts are very common on men and women of all ages, though the men are mostly younger. Business casual (jacket, no tie) has almost replaced suits for men. Both men and women are much given to winkle-picker shoes, with very long narrow toes. Both genders are into gingham in a big way. The men wear shirts like Orvis gingham shirts but with those short European collars. The women, usually young, are wearing gingham shirtwaists and sun dresses and sometimes look as if they are in a road company of "Oklahoma" but usually look adorable.

Young women are wearing a lot of jersey dresses or skirts, some sheer enough to be almost an overgarment to a lining or slip underneath. They are wearing ballet flats or sandals, flat or wedge, with these. I haven't seen anyone wearing gladiator sandals, but you may. Too warm for boots. Another thing I haven't seen are exercise clothes except on people actually exercising -- no yoga pants at all, no running tights except on runners, leggings pretty rare indeed and only on the youngest and slimmest.

Don't mistake me. There are people wearing Hawaiian shirts and Hawaiian shorts, sometimes at the same time, though not necessarily matching. The Bro look is alive and well, and there are guys in this neighborhood in flannel shirts who look like they just arrived from Seattle. Jeans are ubiquitous, very slim jeans on women. African women in traditional dress are common and very beautiful. Islamic women covering their hair are ubiquitous but unlike Boston, I haven't seen anyone in a chador, and though there are many South Asians and sari stores, I haven't seen anyone in a sari or shalwar kameez, both of which are common in Boston. Enough. If you have questions, I will give them a shot.

What are we eating? We are eating, with a few exceptions, the traditional food you find in bistros or cafes. Our diet has been heavy on pork and pork by-products, which I love; duck, usually confit, which I also love; bread. The diet is grossly deficient in vegetables, which are very expensive here, and heavy in bread, which is delicious here almost everywhere, both baguettes and pain de levain. We have only been served pommels frites once. Food is not particularly expensive for Northeasterners though might be for people from elsewhere. It continues to be true that eating a big meal at lunch is cheaper than the same thing for dinner. We had excellent sandwiches -- subs -- from one of the three bakeries on our block, €7 for two, much cheaper than home. We watched them be made. The worst meal I have had, perhaps the worst meal since college, was at the cafeteria at BHV, often touted as an inexpensive place to eat. My wife's was fine, mine horrible. My fault. I do admire the man in front of me who chose for his two sides an order of frites with mashed potatoes and gravy on top, low carb be damned. I am going into week 2 resolved to make better choices.

Finally, getting around. It is cheap, seriously cheap compared to Boston or New York. We took the Metro yesterday from Gare de l'Est to the Jardin Albert Kahn in the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, about 15 km, for one ticket, €1.41. We came back on the highly scenic Bus 72 and the interesting if less scenic Bus 38 on one ticket, because as long as you are going in the same direction, you can transfer from bust to bus on the same ticket, though there are time limits and you cannot transfer from Metro to bus as you can in Boston. If you were among the thousands bumping into each other yesterday between the Conciergerie and the Eiffel, give yoursel a break, buy a carnet and ride to the end of the line and back!
Ackislander is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2015, 10:59 PM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,169
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sorry for typos, esp in title. My finger slipped!
Ackislander is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2015, 12:52 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,056
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great report. I love the new colours on men, especially mixed, eg violet trousers with blue shirt.
tarquin is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2015, 03:46 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23,813
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
Vegetables are expensive here? That's the first time I've seen anybody write that unless they think the Grande Epicerie or the Président Wilson street market is a place to shop for groceries.
kerouac is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2015, 04:56 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,056
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
They may not be expensive in markets but it is damned difficult to eat them in restaurants!
tarquin is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2015, 05:19 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23,813
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
Wow, then all of the places that offer unlimited vegetables must be going bankrupt.
kerouac is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2015, 05:29 AM
  #7  
GLM
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
SO true about the yoga pants and workout clothes thing.

That's a huge difference in my opinion, Ackislander. We live in yoga pants and workout gear. I even blog about gym to brunch "athleisure" looks for a website but that is just not done in Paris. I appreciate the time people take to get dressed, even though I would love nothing more than to pick up coffee in my yoga pants while I'm over there.

Interesting about the vegetables. We do enjoy picking up produce from the markets but, to your point, I can't say I have been overwhelmed by them as I am in say, Barcelona.

Are you on Instagram? Would love to follow along!

Have a great 2nd week!
GLM is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2015, 06:26 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,169
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Kerouac, I am not much seeing vegetable only restaurants up here in the 10th, with an exception below.

The price of cherries at my local supermarket in Nantucket, which is an island with expensive shipping costs, are roughly 20% less than at Richard Lenoir. We get Peruvian asparagus, then Mexican asparagus at a similar discount. Hydroponic tomatoes and sweet peppers from Canada are cheaper than market prices in
France.

Fish is roughly the same price, but our meat is absurdly cheap by French standards, though beef seems very high to us at home. Bread is cheaper, quality bread is much, much cheaper in France because it is regulated, though it is up from about €.95 to €1.15 in the two years since I was in Paris. Our supermarket chicken isn't very good, but I bought some just before I left for about $4 per kilo.

What France has is astonishing variety -- three kinds of salted and dried fish, peaches in every size, shape, color and fragrance and ready to eat. Our peaches are cheaper by far but they come chilled from California hard as rocks and often mealy inside unless you are lucky enough to live in South Carolina. I was astonished to see that I can buy chicken hearts, which I love, by the kilo. You might be able to in Chinatown in Boston but never in a shop. And on and on.

America restaurants above the McDonalds level invariably serve two "sides" with meals, one may be frites and the other cabbage slaw, but there is huge government and social pressure to reduce meat and fat, so quite inexpensive places, the TGIF chain for example, will serve a piece of meat, pasta or potato or yam, steamed broccoli, and a garnish of kale or lettuce for $10.95 or so.

When I get mad cravings for vegetables in France, I go to a Thai restaurant as I did last night and eat lots of vegetables. Back to the charcuterie this morning! Happily!
Ackislander is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2015, 07:10 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,483
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The Sunday market on Richard Lenoir is pricey. The vegetables at the Place d'Aligre market in the 12th (the outdoor part) are way less expensive. There is another market Tuesdays and Fridays, still on Richard Lenoir but closer to rue Oberkampf, and the veggies are less expensive at that one... but, maybe neither of these is convenient for you!

If you like smoothies, Bob's Juice Bar is in the 10th...
http://www.bobsjuicebar.com/

The "bro look..." haha.. the hipsters are everywhere with their handlebar mustaches or giant beards. I have heard even mullets are coming back.
rialtogrl is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2015, 07:16 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 3,499
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
ackislander, your reports are so worthwhile. I appreciate the focus in each of them. Even though we don't go to Paris, I'm finding these useful and very enjoyable to read.

Sadly, I agree about the vegetables. They are an afterthought, a bit of side dressing on the plate to make the meat look pretty.

Mealy peaches? I have one word for you--Pennsylvania, but only in season.
Coquelicot is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2015, 07:37 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 9,171
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I always have said Paris is cheaper than Boston. We were surprised by the 16 euro a pound for white asparagus in Germany during harvest time. Strawberries in the Paris markets were so good. Gingham is in.
flpab is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2015, 08:53 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23,813
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
The price of bread has not been controlled since 1978.

In my neighbourhood, onions and potatoes cost 1.50€ for a 5kg bag, tomatoes of course are variable since there are at least 10 varieties available, but ordinary round tomatoes are less than 2€/kg. The huge straight cucumbers are 0.80€ now, a head of lettuce is less than 1€, artichokes are 1€ each for the large ones, huge bunches of cilantro or mint are 0.35€, turnips are 1.20€/kg, the German asparagus (Germany being the #1 producer and consumer in the world) are about 2€/kg, a head of cabbage (red or white) is 1€ -- those are just the prices I noticed today. I am well aware that prices in the tourist ghetto are considerably higher.

Meat will always be more expensive and less tender) in Europe because growth hormones are forbidden, so the animals are smaller and did not balloon quickly in size to make the meet mushy (tender). Rabbit is currently the most expensive meat.
kerouac is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2015, 01:22 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,897
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I don't think vegetables are expensive in markets at all in Paris, they seem about the same as where I live back home. But I agree that vegetables are not common or plentiful in restaurants and expensive. If you order a side of any vegetable or salad, it always seems expensive to me in most restaurants anywhere and Paris is no different. YOu have to find one where it comes with the Prix Fixe, but then it is often just a very small amount.

I've never been in any restaurant in Paris in 3 decades that served unlimited vegetables. What kind of restaurants or cafes are these? Because I love vegetables. ( I really seldom in a real "restaurant" in Paris, so cafe or bistro would be better).
Christina is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2015, 01:36 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23,813
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
Well, I admit that I am not a customer of Flunch, but I do know that one of the prime selling points of the chain is that vegetables are unlimited. But there are also quite a few cheap restaurants with an unlimited buffet of <i>entrées</i> -- obviously mostly vegetables/crudités.

I think that most people who are missing the vegetables in French restaurants are the ones who are not ordering them -- taking the pâté or foie gras instead of the salad as a starter or perhaps preferring the roast chicken to the ratatouille or the cassoulet. Or even never ordering couscous, the second most popular dish in France, which is mostly vegetables.
kerouac is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2015, 01:49 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 910
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If your looking for cheap fruits and veggies, you will find them at the Barbes market (under the L tracks at Barbes Rochechourt metro station. The Oranges from jaffa are the sweetest I have ever had. The covered market at Saint Quentin is also convenient. But as long as you have bread who needs veggies!
Love the 10th.
giro is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2015, 09:25 PM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,169
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Interesting on the price differences between different markets; thanks for the information.

Certainly in Richmond, Virginia, the least expensive fish and vegetables are at the Tan-A Asian Supermarket, and those at 88 in Brighton (Boston) are comparable.

I checked some of Kerouac's prices at of the local Franprix last evening, and their tomatoes matched his and were much cheaper than mine at home, but their long cucumbers were much more expensive than his, comparable to mine at home.

I've switched over to composed salads for my one meal per day for my vegetable fix and will again hit a Thai resto when I need to top up the intake! I actually prefer Vietnamese because it is lighter, but Vietnamese in France is mostly Hanoi-style which is heavier than South Vietnamese food.

Enough about food. I am off to write about gardens!
Ackislander is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2015, 05:47 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 3,499
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Looking forward to ackislander's take on gardens.

But there's never "Enough about food" so let's hope this topic comes up again. Talk to us more about bread, for instance, especially pain au levain.

And there's an ice cream made with cultured fresh cream that maybe you can find but we never have.
Coquelicot is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2015, 08:43 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 229
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree about the lack of a lot of vegetables on menus in Paris. I try to eat a salad at least every other day when I'm in Paris. I do get my fill with fruits!

Looking forward to your report on the gardens.
powhatangal is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2015, 09:28 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 57,091
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
I have found that a way round the lack of vegetables in restaurant meals is to buy a bag of fruit at the market and make sure I eat at least one piece a day; trying to take a salad option is also a good plan.

one of the problems, Kerouac, is that in the UK, for example, if you order a steak, it will come not only with frites but also vegetables and/or a salad. Ditto the vast majority of restaurant meals. Even pasties have vegetables in them. It may sound daft to you, but we are just not used to having to order vegetables separately and often fail to do so out of misplaced parsimony or just forgetfulness.

Ackilslander - bring on the gardens [but don't forget the food - we like to read about that too].
annhig is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2015, 09:33 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23,813
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
It's very true that most Vietnamese food in France is North Vietnamese. However, the southern 'boat people' who arrived in 1975 mostly settled in the brand new apartment towers of the 13th arrondissement, so it is easier to find South Vietnamese dishes in the 13th.

But one interesting thing about the northern food is the "nem" (small fried egg roll and one of the favourite items in France, rolled in lettuce and mint). Nems are so popular in France that they migrated to South Vietnam under the pressure of French tourists in Vietnam wanting them. A south Vietnamese version existed (called <I>chả giò</I but basically the southerners have caved into the northern name and the desires of the French tourists. However, I approve of the fact that they are not always served with mint leaves in Vietnam but sometimes with basil or other 'odd' herbs. I enjoy being surprised.
kerouac is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -