Monday, May 28, 2007

Paris Holiday - Latin Quarter

I've been to Paris once before - a quick day trip via train from Amsterdam so I was already a little familiar with the public transit system. During that brief visit, I walked along the Seine River and saw the Louvre and the surrounding gardens. This time around I planned to explore the various neighborhoods on foot and by subway....and I did. I found the Great Paris Walkpack a wonderful guide in my walks and I did all five during the seven days I was there. One of my favorite areas was the Latin Quarter with the markets along Rue Mouffetard ...the breads and pastries were beautiful and delicious..
the fruits and vegetables were abundant - I also saw mounds of white asparagus at markets all over the city but somehow neglected to take any pictures...
wines were inexpensive and often available in smaller bottles that are hard to find here in the U.S.
This plaque marks a building where Ernest Hemingway lived with his wife in the early 1920s. Close by I saw a vegetarian restaurant - I snapped a picture but did not try this one..
The Church of St.-Etienne-du-Mont

and the Place du Pantheon

are also in this area and both are absolutely worth the time exploring. Eventually, we ended up on the Quai de Montebello which is a busy street that runs alongside the left bank of the Seine . Merchants set up stalls along the wall selling all sorts of books, posters, and memorabilia that appears to be marketed to the tourists. Side walk cafe sitting seems to be mandatory and we did our share here overlooking the Seine watching the traffic and people going by. I appreciated the Parisian habit of unhurried service and the total lack of any sort of feeling that you need to vacant the table for someone else. In fact, it is considered rude to ask for the check until you are absolutely finished and ready to go! So much different that our mentality that quick service = good service. Being the bookworm I am, I was happy to spot the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore and did make a second trip back to browse the shelves and pick up several books from the second hand bins out front.
The streets became much narrower and reminded me of the Amsterdam streets -

Fishing Cat Street is the narrowest street in Paris (more like an alley) and has a restaurant opening out onto it...
I ate a tasty Maoz falafel in this area - Maoz is always a sure thing for a fresh,inexpensive falafel!