A Picnic In Paris
Paris has many sights of all kinds that are justifiably famous. But it is also a great city for just for walking. And in Paris, walking seems to be inextricably tied to eating.
Judy and I spent a lot of time walking in the general vicinity of our hotel, which was located on the Left Bank near the Jardin du Plantes. We especially enjoyed heading up toward the Place de la Contrescarpe, which is near the University of Paris-Sorbonne.
Heading out in the morning, we had to pass the bakery across the street. This bakery made it very easy for us to have breakfast in our room every day. I would bring back a fresh baguette and Judy would bring up a pot of coffee from the hotel dining room. We might combine these with fruit or cheese purchased the day before.
It’s astonishing how many really good bakeries there are in Paris, with several within a few blocks of where we stayed.
Of course, while walking we would always pay special attention to any plantings we found. Here are some interesting vertical plantings.
And the residents of some buildings were fairly ambitious about their balcony plants.
The Place de la Contrescarpe and the surrounding area was once considered to be more or less a slum. Now it is full of students, middle class Parisians, and tourists. You can have a fine time sitting at a sidewalk cafe, watching the scene and drinking a leisurely cup of coffee.
The coffee is good, but expensive. There are no free refills. On the other hand, they seem to think it is perfectly fine for customers to sit for hours, reading or people watching. Which we did on a few occasions.
Ernest Hemingway lived in an apartment just off of the square during the 1920s. During our trip Judy and I both read the novel The Paris Wife, which is a fictionalized memoir of Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first spouse. The book helped us get into a more Parisian frame of mind.
Just off of the Place de la Contrescarpe is the Rue Mouffetard. At first as you leave Contrescarpe, Mouffetard seems dominated by tourist traps of various kinds. However, the further you walk, the more the balance tilts to Parisians doing every day shopping.
I’m not sure why, but we really enjoy fresh produce stores, even if we don’t buy anything. We noticed that here stores were selling a kind of sour plum called a mirabelle, which we have never seen in the US. Later in the week we shared a delicious desert of stewed mirabelles and caramel sauce.
We noticed that the French are very serious about cheese. The quality and variety of cheeses, both in supermarkets and fromagers, was very impressive.
One day we picked up a baguette, some cheese, and some fruit along Rue Mouffetard. We then walked on to a small park on the Rue Monge and proceeded to have a picnic.
As we ate kids played, others ate their own lunches, and the nearby fountain splashed for our appreciation.
Do you have a favorite city for walking?