I am a maker of lists. I’m not talking your every-day to-do list, which I actually make very few of. I’m not really inclined to write down everything I need from the grocery store, preferring to wander the isles with an idea of dinner in mind (which I have to admit doesn’t always ensure I leave the grocery store with everything I need). These are running lists, not all in written form, normally with a larger picture in mind, but they’re lists all the same. And I have many of them.
I have a running list of what I’ll call my “current priorities.” These have nothing to do with making sure I file my taxes on time or remembering to pick up my dry cleaning. They’re tasks or projects that I’ve set aside that for one reason or another I’ve decided I need to take on. Often they involve a life skill I think I should have (gardening) or an experience aimed at personal betterment (classics that didn’t make my high school reading list). One item on this list for me this month was to more fully appreciate eggs, which led to quite a few frustrating, but productive, poaching trial-and-error sessions and a fantastic jar of homemade mayonnaise — after one that was completely inedible.
Another list, which I think most people have some version of is my “bucket list,” things I think I should experience before I die. These are usually places I want to go or things to accomplish, like running a marathon, visiting Angkor Wat (check!), and seeing the Northern Lights.
When I found out I was leaving Paris, the first thing that came to mind was a sort of bucket list. Sure, I’m not dying and I don’t mean to be as melodramatic as all that, although I did go through stages of grief after finding out my time here was limited. Gotta hit the big stuff one last time, right? But, when I sat down and asked myself what those things were, I realized that when I think back on any city I’ve lived in, it’s the little things that come to mind. The store I always went to. My favorite place to grab something to eat. The things that feel like “home” after a while and let me make that city my own. So, here’s a few of those things that ended up on that list, in no particular order.
Tartines at Cusine de Bar
I cannot sing the praises of Cusine de Bar (38, rue Debelleyme, Paris 75003) or the charming people who run it enough. I frequented the Marais location, but there is another on rue du Cherche-Midi in the 6e as well. I won’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped into this place for a formule – salad or soup to start, a tartine, a glass of wine, and a coffee with a perfect little spoon-shaped butter cookie, all for 14€90 — because it borders on the obsessive. The food is top notch, reunites some of my favorite pleasures in life — cheese, cured meats, and perfectly-toasted bread — and is served completely without pretense. The welcome is always warm, even when they’re bursting at the seams busy. And, trust me, when you see that maybe three or four people are running the whole deal from seating cutsomers to making the tartines, it’s a feat to say the least. In a city notorious for curmudgeonly service, these people, working at one of the most famous bakeries in the world, receive their customers with such grace, ease and bonne humour. Well, c’est class.
Marché Richard Lenoir
In every city that Z and I have lived in, I’ve had “my market.” Sure, the market is often frequented by hundreds or thousands of people, but once I’ve found it, that’s what we call it. And, in Paris, that’s the Marché Richard Lenoir (metro Bastille, Sundays and Thursdays). From the jocular guys with my favorite onions to the soft-spoken man at the Auvergne stall with the best ham in the marché (who sneaks me in a few tranches for free because he’s a kind soul), I love this place. It’s safe to say that these few blocks on Sunday morning are my favorite place in Paris. I love to cook, and the pleasure of getting to know the producteurs you’re buying your ingredients from is a privelege. I’ve had many-a-wonderful Sunday dinner thanks to these folks, and Z and I cooked our way through the marché on his last visit, one last time (well, for now).
La Baguette Tardif (5, rue de Sedaine, 75011) around the corner is open on Sundays. They have wonderful baguettes, tarts, and mini croissants and pain au chocolat to sustain you on your market trip. We picked some bread up for cheese after our Sunday dinner comme dab.
“Chiner” and “brocanter” are both words for antiquing or bargain-hunting. While the larger markets are always on my “oh, I really should get out there one of these days” list (I told you, I make lists), I frequently find myself wandering through the pop-up brocantes throughout the city. Good places to look find out about where these will be each week is on Paris.fr (check out their “Quoi fare ce week-end” posts) and vide-greniers.org, which lists all the marchés aux puces, brocantes and vide-greniers in France (and Switzerland and Belgium too, apparently).
I also hit the vintage shops along rue des Rosiers and east of the rue de Turenne. One of my favorites, Les Georgettes (20 rue du Pont aux choux, 75003) often has just the perfect thing hidden in all the 1980′s monstrosities that are ubiquitous at Paris friperies. I can thank this lady and her shop for many beloved blouses and the perfect pair of brown leather boots for an absolute steal.
Best Sandwich in Paris at my corner bakery
I know. Naming the “best sandwich in Paris” is gutsy, especially in a city where eating is as well documented as here. But, this is hands-down the most consistently good bakery baguette sandwich I’ve had in Paris (and, this was frequent, rigorous testing I assure you). With jambon de pays, rosted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, herbs and a drizzle of olive oil on a tradition, I stand firm that the sandwich huile d’olive at Moisson des Saveurs (86 boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003) is the best baguette sandwich in Paris. So, shoot me.
I bought a beautiful cocotte de moules here.
A walk through the Jardin de Luxembourg in full bloom.
A run along the Canal Saint Martin.
Two very memorable dinners with people I love — Z and my Mom — at Le petit cheval de manège (5, rue Froment, 75011). When John Talbott reviews, I listen, and I’ve never been disappointed.
One last visit to the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (62, rue des Archives, 75003), one of my favorite petits musées curieux et insolites in Paris.
A croque madame.
A galette jambon oeuf.
Some of the best pizza I’ve had in a long time and an incredible honey basil martini at Grazie (91, boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003). Proof that good pizza and cocktails in Paris are possible. Sickeningly-sweet mohitos, adios.
A visit to the Jeu de Paume (1, Place de la Concorde, 75008). This museum always has something interesting going on. The Ai Wei Wei exhibit brough back all the conflict, wonder, disillusionment, raw energy, and all-out love that was my Beijing experience. I need to get back there.
My Paris splurge: the perfect brown menswear-inspired shoes from here (warning: their website has annoying music).
And, of course,
One last Velib’ ride along the Seine
Paris, à plus.