Trip 38 Day 14
Cedric Grolet is a celebrated French pastry chef and we’re fortunate that he has two boutiques near our hotel. The boutiques have pretty limited hours, with one not opening until Wednesday at 12:00. There was a small line outside, which was actually a small group looking at the window display. The boutique itself is very small with no seating. There’s a small selection (5 today including a Strawberry and a Pain Perdu) from which to choose, as each one is hand and individually made and a small work of art.
We chose the pamplemousse (grapefruit), $18 at todays exchange rates. It looks very much like a small grapefruit, down to the texture of the”skin” (maybe a meringue?) , but this is all edible (ok, not the box). Inside is a gelee texture that flows out once the skin is broken and tastes like (surprise), a delicate grapefruit. We carried this little food jewel around for a while before sitting down to consume it, as we had some shopping to do.
From the boutique, we walked up rue Faubourg Saint- Honoré towards the Mothership (aka Hermès main store). The store was busy, but not particularly crowded, as it will be in a few months. My wife looked at scarves (you must have an appointment to have the chance to look at purses and that wasn’t what we came to look for). So spared, after finalizing our purchases, we browsed a bit before crossing over to walk though Le Village shopping arcade on the adjoining street that comes out on the other side to rue Royale.
Across the street is Laduree, which makes some fabulous macarons (not macaroons) and is also a tea room and restaurant. All we wanted was une citron pressé. What is this? It’s really just deconstructed lemonade. It’s a staple in French cafes and perfect for summer. I prefer it to lemonade because each person is able to adjust the sweetness and tartness to their own taste by adding more or less water and sweetener. As is the case in cafes, they never rush you to turn over the table.
From Laduree, we walked around the corner to another restaurant for a coffee and finally, our pamplemousse. Laduree wouldn’t have looked too kindly on eating another restaurant’s pastry in their own. There’s a nearby Metro station we’ll use to go to Place des Vosges.
Place des Vosges (video) is in the Marais district, it’s a square with a park in the middle, flanked by fountains on each side and surrounded on all four sides by red bricked apartments with a ground level arcade. Place des Vosges was originally known as Place Royale, though no royals ever lived here, and was built by Henri IV between 1605 to 1612. Place des Vosges is the oldest planned square in Paris.
The arcade that runs under the entire square is populated mostly by art galleries and cafés, but there were a few other shops (perfumery, leather goods) and one one end of one section is the Maison (house) Victor Hugo, who lived here from 1832 to 1848.
This curious little car, obviously well restored, was parked out front of one of the art galleries, probably within sight of it’s owner.
There was a plaque on a nearby wall dedicated to the thousands (11,400) of Jewish children (enfants) deported from France and (500 from) this district, during WWII, to death camps.
We exited the square on the way back to the Metro (fortunately a straight shot on the same line) back to the area of our hotel. It was interesting to note as we walked along Blvd Beaumarches to see three different motorcycle brand showrooms within two blocks. There are quite a few motorcycles in Paris; parking is limited, expensive and gas is obviously more expensive than ever.
Another interesting discovery was a secured parking enclosure for bicycles; this one was steel, but we saw another made of wood. These are operated by the city of Paris and the cost is 75€/year. I can only imagine that theft is a problem here, though not on the order of magnitude as in Amsterdam.