We have sublet apartments in Paris before, and I have to say that our experience has been that Parisian apartments are better equipped than Italian ones—the kitchens especially. We sublet this time from Paris Address (http://www.parisaddress.com/). We have an artist’s loft in the 11th arrondissement, just the other side of the Marais. It is in a real neighborhood with an elementary school on one side and a bakery on the other. About a block walk to the metro.
You can see the great kitchen!
We arrived by train from Milan on Sunday afternoon. Couple of things: I didn’t think that we were gonna get here, there was a train strike in Italy (ok, someone is always on strike in Italy, they even have a strike hot line in Rome that you can call to see who is on strike that day), and they cancelled all of the trains…..except for the one that we were taking. Turned out it was a TGV French train and that saved it. And two, we were arriving in Paris on Sunday afternoon—everything, and I mean everything, was closed. The French take Sundays even more seriously than the Italians. We did notice that our neighborhood alimentarie was open , so we could buy a few things for breakfast in the morning.
Shopping in France is very similar to shopping in Italy with all of the same types of stores. There is a difference in that the department store was born here in France and in Paris, there are some wonderful ones—all with food emporiums on the first floor. We set out on Monday to do some serious food shopping and we visited some specialty shops, our neighborhood farmer’s market and Epicerie Bon Marche. Like the Parisians, we decided to shop for only a couple of meals. Mostly, we like to eat breakfast in when we travel, so we looked for breakfast items and something to make for dinner. No one can bake bread like the French, and even the most modest neighborhood bakery is fabulous and inexpensive. We cannot resist going in the morning to buy fresh croissants, pain au chocolat, or quiche.
The farmer’s markets all have asparagus, leeks, strawberries, raspberries… grapes, currants…
I should mention that when we are in Paris we take the Metro everywhere. It is the best public transit system in the world. At any one time, there are 1000 subway trains running under the streets of Paris. You never have to wait more than 5 minutes for the next one. When it starts to rain, or our feet give out, we take a taxi. If you are here for an extended time, buy a carnet of 10 tickets—it is a discounted price and they work on all forms of public transit. Just don’t throw your ticket away—at any time the French Transit Police can ask you for your ticket and if you do not have it, they can arrest you. The first night we were here, Elliott tossed his and sure enough, 2 blocks from home, he was asked for his ticket. It took a lot of explaining and pleading, but they let him go.
The specialty stores are very similar to the ones in Italy. One of our favorite shopping streets is the Rue Cler—there are so many wonderful food shops here, you can find just about everything that you need.
I mean, what’s a chef to do….I bought some of everything…..of course. Then I had to check in with the Epicerie at Bon Marche—this is sort of like Bristol Farms on steroids. This is the scene that greeted us as we walked in:
Not one, not even 10, but many many types of fresh tomatoes from which to choose—all displayed like a florist shop. At Bon Marche there is always a man or woman who weighs your choices and prices them for the cashier. You bag your own selections; he just weighs them for you. Every different department has someone there to help you. We decided that we were going to roast a chicken for dinner with some roasted potatoes, some asparagus, and a salad.
I specifically chose a small chicken; it weighed only a couple of pounds, called a Coquelet Mieral. This young man prepped it for me. He cleaned all of the remaining feathers, trimmed off the extra fat, and asked me what types of herbs that I wanted stuffed into the cavity and then trussed it for me.
Talk about service!
OK, now if you really want to see some gorgeous food, head over to the Place Madeleine where you will find Fouchon and Hediard—these places, like Peck in Milan, are like condensed versions of Dean and DeLuca carried out to the 10th degree. Check out the windows at Hediard:
And another shot of those berries!
Check out the fruit!
And the dried Fruits, too:
Finally the Chocolates…
The proper response in French when presented with all of this largesse, is to say, “I will take some of each”…..so we did. In the next blog I will show you what we did with all that we bought. As Julia would say: “Bon Appetit!”