Paris for 4th-timers

Monumenta

So what do you see when you’ve seen it all?  My parents just packed up and set off.  But we spent the past week together not seeing the sites.  But like any great capital city, there are plenty of new things to discover in Paris that have not yet been immortalized on postcards.

1.) Daniel Buren’s Monumenta 2012.  What better way to wrap up a visit than with VIP passes to a vernissage at one the most impressive monuments in Paris, the Grand Palais!  Thanks for the passes, mon mari qui fume.  Buren planted 72,000 meters of candy-colored table trees.  It is as if Mary Quant was Avatar’s production designer.  The plastic-topped trees link together to create an interactive forest, flirting with the reflection of daylight and the passerby.  Catch it until June 21st.

2.)  The Bois de Vincennes.  Just east of Paris lies its largest park, complete with a proper chateau, free botanical gardens, and a forest almost three times the size of Central Park.  After getting lost in the streets of Paris, why try it in the forest?

3.)  Want to take a daytrip?  Want to see a castle?  How about the Chateau de Chantilly.  Check it out here.

4.)  The Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, the ultimate flea market, one of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday afternoon.  Take line 4 to Metro Porte de Clignancourt and walk toward the expressway to a find a tented market.  Unless you need a new Bob Marley t-shirt or a cell phone cover, keep walking.  I can never trace my steps because I always end up meandering through the small side streets of packed antique malls.  There’s a bit of everything, from museum pieces, to postcard vendors, to button booths.  My favorite little haberdashery is Daniel et Lili, tucked away at stand 128 at the Marche Dauphine.  With an immense stock of carefully organized vintage brooches, antique postcards, and bargain bins of original odds and ends, it is the perfect place to find an oddball souvenir or two.  Or stumble upon a little bit of music and catch a bite to eat at  La Chope des PucesParis’ premier Django Reinhart bar.  LIve music plays in front of the house, and the restaurant in the back beckons the jazz age.

Can you add anything else to my list?

Cheap Date

Every now and then, we married folk give our MacBook Pros a rest and we get some fresh air.

Most recently, we caught Molière’s Le Malade Imaginaire at the Comédie-Française, where his plays have been produced since Molière himself.  Unfortunately, the opulent Salle Richelieu is closed for renovations, but steps away in the Palais-Royal, the Comédie-Française  is camped out temporarily in the Théâtre Ephémère.  With 746 places, green construction, exceptional visibility even from the nose bleeds, and the unparalleled production values of the  Comédie-Française, it was an evening of high culture with a very small addition.  65 places with an obstructed view are available at the last-minute, starting at 7:30 for just 5 euros. For all the young lovers under 28, free tickets are available on the first Monday of every month with the presentation of an id.  When the curtain goes down, there is an obligatory stroll through the designer galeries of the Palais-Royal.  Fortunately, Rick Owens does not frown upon a smiling window shopper.

To top off our evening, we grabbed a bite just nearby on Rue Sainte-Anne, the Japanese quartier of Paris.  The long lines are a testament to which places are recommendable.  One of our favorites is Aki at 11 Rue Sainte-Anne, 75001 Paris.  Although there is a variety of soups and menus, the okonomiyaki, the seafood and vegetable omelette, is the highly-recommended specialty of the house.

It was such a wonderful evening, I had to run back home to my MacBook Pro and tell you all about it!

What are your favorite cheap dates?

Cafe Titon

Original illustration by Jessie Kanelos

Very few cafes have the same open charm and open arms as Cafe Titon on the corner of Rue Chanzy and Rue Titon.  On a no-frills corner in the 11e arrondisement, Cafe Titon opens up like a clamshell onto the street.  Maybe it is the ancient stone mosaic tiles geometrically breaking up the floor or the makeshift loveseat of beatup leather armchairs pushed together.  Photos are hung back-to-back to engage patrons and the passerby. The wraparound bar’s stocked shelves of Paulaner glasses and a currywurst special on the menu are a subtle wink to the fact that Cafe Titon is Paris’s Germanophile bar.  An overhead projector broadcasts football matches, riling up a rowdy crowd in the evenings.

It is one blueberry scone and chai latte away from being a coffee shop in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Wicker Park, Chicago, or anywhere but here.  But I will spare the comparisons and embrace the currywurst, the beer on tap, and maybe even football!

34 Rue Titon  75011 Paris 09 53 17 94 10

Nail in Foot, Burger in Hand

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We are in the demolition stage of our new apartment.  This morning, as we walked into the place for our daily visit, our quirky 1950s flat to-be was transformed into the town of Bedrock.  Before I could even say “Wow, what a dump!”, “Ohmygawwwwputainmerde!”  My first step into the apartment, I got a nail in the foot.  The throbbing pain was the least of my worries.  Since I have the undisputed Generation Me dilemma of not having had health insurance since my shatterproof undergraduate days, I was sure I could feel my jaw locking in the matter of moments. Luckily, I had an unsuccessful semester in grad school that got me up to speed on that important tetanus shot.  Phew!

To help ease the pain, I was whisked off for lunch at the hyper-popular food truck Le Camion Qui Fume by mon mari qui fume.  Le Camion Qui Fume ends the search for an authentic American cheeseburger in Paris.  Although there are imposters on every cafe menu, 18 euros for a dry, uninspired hamburger on an industrial bun is not worth the ho-hum indulgence.  Food trucks have not  taken off in Paris yet, partially considering that the French cannot eat with their hands alone.  But fellow American expat Kristin Frederick has mastered the right fatty mix of ground beef, the soft, butter-brushed sesame seed buns, real cheddar and shoestring fries to cheer up any expat having a bad day.  Although the truck changes locations everyday, we dug into our burgers on the steps of the Église de la Madeleine overlooking the Place de la Concorde.  And at just 10 euros for a burger and fries, there is no better bargain or breathtaking view.

http://www.lecamionquifume.com/