Europe 2012: Day 20, Paris

Yes, it is this gloomy! Market on Rue Poncelet (Paris, France)

Tuesday, 6/26/2012

Woke up at 8:30AM.   I have become “quite the lazy bum” as my DH likes to say.  It is cloudy.   But, my DH and I need to get another roast chicken so out into the drizzle we will go!

We decided on a new market today, the one on Rue Poncelet.  It has been written up in a number of guide books/blogs as one of the best in the area.  The place was empty due to either it being the middle of the week or that the French know when to stay indoors.   Here are some pictures — I know you love pictures!

At least the rain keeps the veggies fresh! Market on Rue Poncelet (Paris, France)

The rain helps keep the seafood from smelling like seafood — Market Rue Poncelet (Paris, France)

The bakery — my favorite shop! I am sure there in bread in there somewhere but who really cares when you can have cake! Market Run Poncelet (Paris, France)

The cheese shop — my second favorite shop! The smell is heaven, all briny and sour (in a good way)! Market Rue Poncelet (Paris, France).

Snails — they’re alive!!!! My DH eats these cooked in garlic and butter, but I don’t. I like their soft green color and pink flesh though. Market Rue Poncelet (Paris, France)

Maybe its the rain but shouldn’t all apricots be this wonderful orangey-pinky color? I’m serious! Market Rue Poncelet (Paris, France)

More fruit! Look at how black the cherries are (upper right corner). Market Rue Poncelet (Paris, France).

We left the market with a roasted chicken and potatoes in a bag.   It was excellent!   More leftovers for us, we are happy about that!

I took a nap.  My DH worked on the laptop.   Around 2pm, we decided to try another museum, the  Jacquemart-Andre.  This is a private home that has been preserved in its original interiors.   I needed some decorating ideas for our Paris apartment anyway (hint, hint).

Front of the Jacquemart-Andre House (Paris, France)

As usual, you can not take pictures of the interiors of the house — they want you to buy the book.   It is really magnificent (see the website).   However, you can take pictures of the tea room.

I love this room! Tea Room at the Jacquemart-Andre (Paris, France)

Another great painting in the Tea Room of the Jacquemart-Andre House (Paris, France)

And another great painting in the Tea Room of the Jacquemart-Andre — the wonders in this place never seem to end! (Paris, France)

Tall windows in the Tea Room of the Jacquemart-Andre House. Ok, I did a couple of special effects with this picture but I think it looks cool! (Paris, France)

Around 5pm we went back to the apartment.   It was partly sunny and warm with a bit of humidity in the air!  However, there were also big, dark, and heavy storm clouds hanging in the sky.   Still, it was a pleasant walk back to the apartment.   Our landlord stopped by with some lightbulbs.

We hung around the apartment catching up on stuff (emails, news, and facebook).  Around 9pm (the usual dinnertime for most Parisians), the weather was clear and warm, we took a walk.   We looked for cafes with people in them — the best way to know if a place is good.   We found one a few blocks from the Arc de Triomphe called Lacombe.   We shared a common French dinner: an omelet with cheese and ham.   It was tasty!

Even with the rain, we still love Paris.   Both my DH and I have been here before numerous times so forgive me if I don’t do a complete travelogue of all the wonderful sights of Paris.  The purpose of this trip, after all, was to live as the Parisians live — and they don’t spend a lot of time at the popular tourist sites if they can help it.

So what is it that we find so appealing about Paris?  For me, the first time I came here in 1992.   I worked here for 5 weeks installing a computer system for the French Railroad.  Even though I could not speak the language (I still can’t), I immediately noticed an general appreciation of life for family, food, and beauty that I believe is missing in the States.

For God and family:  The French only work 35 hours a week and have at least 8 weeks of vacation.  Spending time (especially mealtime) with family is vital to them.   The French also believe that travel is important.  Afterall, two World Wars have been fought on their soil, they believe that this binds them with their neighbors and they feel the need to understand them better — this can only be done through travel and travel takes time.

For food:   Good food means good health and satisfaction. The French insist on fresh produce and have a whole system on how food should be prepared.  The French appreciate fresh strong flavors — they actually want to taste their food.  Thus, they are satisfied with smaller servings (which is good for the waistline and the environment).  Americans, on the other hand, we want our food to be a good value (the bigger the serving, the better) and most of the time is don’t taste it, we consume it — is it not all salt and sugar anyway?

For art:   The French have a need to be surrounded by beautiful things like flowers, art, clothing, and clean wide boulevards of classic architecture.  The French will spend their money (30-50% of their income go to taxes) on things they feel feed their souls (parks, museums and other public spaces and facilities) and make them a better individuals.  Americans, on the other hand,  like to own things.  Most of us Americans live in large cluttered homes and eventually allow our processions to own us.  At the same time, we cut art and music programs from our schools so to have more money (American taxes range from 0-35%) to buy more things.   A French colleague once told me that “Math and science feeds the nation, but art and music feed the people.”

One of our guides (an Englishman) told us the France has the fourth largest economy in the world — not bad for a country that offers its citizens generous vacations, free university (if your child scores well on the Level A exams), universal healthcare, and retirement entitlements.   This is by no means a dog-eat-dog society in France as it is in the US.   However, the downside of this socialist state is that if you are an ambitious Frenchman, you go to the US to make your fortune (and return to France for your retirement).  Also, Paris has its share of homeless people sleeping in doorways of expensive shops, too.

Hey, I’m an American but I think I could learn a few things from the French.


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