Bonjour de Paris! (part deux)

Hmm, where was I? Ah yes. After drooling at the windows of Le Notre for a mere 2-3 minutes (and this was going on 15 hours since my last meal) I wandered around the Le Marais neighborhood for a bit, past Place des Vosages, pictured here.

While I'm in Paris, I decided I'd like to check out the craftsy places here as well so Wednesday morning I googled a whole bunch of them, and plotted their distance from touristy places and things I was planning to visit.

This is L'entre des Fournisseurs, on 8 rue des Francs Bourgeois, right down the road from Place des Vosages in the3rd arrondisment. It's a gorgeous shop but they had mostly knitting stuff and fabrics with only 1 table of cross stitch. Bummer. I didn't get anything besides their business card and this photo of the exterior.

I then backtracked somewhat since I wasn't sure where my next stop was... I ended up finding this completely wonderful secret garden, accessed by a completely innocuous door at one corner of Place des Vosages.

I finally found Victor Hugo's house... it was okay, but I wish there was more stuff on the walls explaining his life. Especially because he's not so important historically that the average visitor is likely to know his life story in detail. I didn't even know what century he lived in, and completely forgot he was French until I found his house in the guidebook. The house was pretty and had lots of interesting features and artwork, but I wouldn't recommend a visit because it's not very informative or educational.

After VH's place, I decided to skip the next bit of Frommer's walking tour and cut right to the chase, Rue de Roissy, aka the Jewish quarter. After poking around some shops, I ended up at a kosher (cacher en francais) falafel place. I made such a rookie mistake though and didn't order falafel. Note to self: ALWAY ORDER THE FALAFEL in a fal. I thought I was getting shish kebab in a pita, but ended up with pita and sausage - and it tasted like rubbery turkey sausage, too! It was a good sandwich minus the sausages, but in the future always follow rule #1. Falafel is soooo good, why mess with it?

I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Paris and doing a little souvenir shopping. At about 6:30 I found myself halfway across Paris from where I was supposed to be meeting Josephine (the friend I'm staying with), and with the strike I wasn't sure if taking the metro at a peak time was a good idea... so I tried out this Velib thing. It is absolutely the best thing about Paris, we NEED to get the same thing going in New York! You'd worry about riding a bicycle in such a big city and on the same road as so many cars... but in Paris there are tons of bicyclists these days, and they travel clumped together in packs somewhat... so if I was on a busy street and worried about car traffic, I'd just pull over and wait a moment for another pack of bikes to come along, and then tag along with them. It was great!

Josephine & I went out for dinner to an Italian place near place d'Italie. Coincidence? Hmmm.

Today I had lunch with Jeanine and her husband Guy. Jeanine is my second cousin once removed - her dad is my mom's dad's first cousin. Long story short, when my grandparents & great grandparents were being persecuted by various European peoples everyone scattered to wherever they could... and some cousins ended up in France. This was my first time seeing Jeanine & Guy in 10 years, they visited NYC when I was about 14 years old and I think they stayed with us for a couple of days.

Jeanine & Guy's apartment is in a suburb of Paris, but it's apparently in the same direction out of town as Josephine's flat, so with the Metro strike making central Paris difficult at best they decided to meet me at Josephine's. Turns out Guy used to work in the area and knew of a restaurant nearby. I don't have a clue where we went, and it wasn't fancy or anything, but the food was AMAZING.

After lunch I caught a metro to the Arc de Triumph and walked down Rue Faubourg St Honore to window shop. That's the street with all the designers. I still have no appreciation for expensive designer clothing despite the best efforts of Project Runway, but I can at least recognize the brand names thanks to my job - all the major designers these days have at least 1 fragrance, if not a fragrance empire like Chanel or Hermes. Managed to get some chanukah shopping out of the way at Herve Chapelier where I found a nice purse for my mom. I wandered around a bit more, used Velib again (love it), and then met Josephine for dinner at a restaurant called Hippopotamus near Gare du Nord. It's a nice Parisian restaurant chain, I'd go back and even recommend it.

Today was the least Thanksgiving-y Thanksgiving day ever. Not only does noone in Paris know what Thanksgiving is or what a pilgrim is, but I'm staying with a Brit who also doesn't know from such things. Thank goodness for bloggers, I've been reading all about other peoples' celebrations and living vicariously through them. I also spoke to my mom on the phone, she's having Thanksgiving at the house (as usual) so she has to get ready, but still called to say hi :-)

Today I'm Thankful for my family, my friends (especially friends that let me visit them in fun places like Paris for a week), my ability to go on this trip, and my country/culture for having holidays about being thankful. I think it's one of the better reasons to have a holiday.

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