I wanted to keep riding my emotional high for a bit before reading and travel-prepping roped me back in, so I decided to give myself a food quest today partly because I haven’t treated myself to a meal out in a while (yay constant stream of leftovers resulting from big-batch cooking!). It was also a good excuse to get out of the house instead of lazying around all day, although I probably should have paid a little more attention to the weather before leaving my apartment without an umbrella. Mist – which briefly turns to actual rain – does not make for the greatest of umbrella-less walking conditions.
After cutting through Père Lachaise, my first stop was Blé Sucré, where I had hoped to snatch a kouign amann, but unfortunately had to make due with a (still excellent) croissant, seeing as how they had run out of the former by the time I got there. So much for showing up at 10am instead of 9 like I had intended. Ah well.
I had a bit of time to kill after that, so I decided to take a little stroll along what was the inspiration for the Highline in New York: the Coulée Verte. Stretching along a former elevated metro track, this promenade runs parallel to ave. Daumesnil, and drops you off a little before you reach Bastille. There were quite a few joggers up there this morning, though I’m not sure I would have felt safe running along some of the more slippery surfaces (seriously, there’s this wood – or at least, wood-like – material that’s used on some surfaces here…literally the worst thing to walk on when there is even a hint of moisture).
My next stop was actually the primary reason for this walk, as it had been quite a while since I had been to this place, and I figured that, given the sudden drop in temperature, a visit would be well warranted. Plus, I was just really craving a nice bowl of ramen.
I didn’t take a picture of my ramen to share with you lovely people, but quite frankly, it was because I was too busy devouring it the minute it was placed in front of me. In my defense: mist and no umbrella. Fortunately, the rain actually started to let up after this point, so I was able to finish up my walk in peace. First, a walk up la Rue des Martyrs to walk off some of my lunch:
Then it was over to the canal, where once again, I was left mesmerized by the peaceful beauty that is Paris in the fall.
And it was here that I made my final stop at Ten Belles for a noisette and, because I had walked around 3-4 hours, a chocolate-caramel brownie.
Both of which proved to be helpful fuel for the walk back home:
This is going to be short and a bit scattered, but I think I only slept a total of 6 hours the past two days so bear with me.
Friday was relatively low-key, as I wanted to make sure I got a decent night’s sleep before waking up at the crack of dawn on Saturday. Due to staying on a skype call/meeting longer than I should have (yes, I take full blame for this), I did not get to sleep until around two, giving me only to hours before I had to get up and get myself ready to head to the train station.
That’s right everyone. I got up at 4am.
‘But, Effie,’ you, being a reasonable person are probably asking, ‘why the hell would you need to get up at the ungodly hour of 4am?’ Good question. My answer is that the train my friends and I were taking left from Massy-Palaiseau, not from one of the many, many TGV/SNCF stations within the city. Massy-Palaiseau for those who do not know, is south of the city on the RER B commuter line, aka at least an hour away from me. As I had to be there thirty minutes before my scheduled departure time of 7:30, the 4am wake up seemed like a reasonable idea. And it was. Except for the not sleeping thing.
I’m not going to talk about the train ride because I spent the whole 2.5 hours of it attempting to sleep. Needless to say, my breakfast of a croissant, tartine, orange juice and café crème upon arrival in Bordeaux (all for the low price of 6.50eu, the first sign we weren’t in Paris anymore) provided a very welcome burst of energy.
The plan for the day was, after eating a quick breakfast, renting a car and making our way to a few sights in the Bordeaux area. As we were lucky to have a sunny, pleasant day to work with, we opted to go by the sea – because really, how many more chances would we get before fall/winter chills really set in?
First stop was Arcachon, a seaside town about 45 minutes away from Bordeaux. If it weren’t for the light breeze in the air and the occasional sweater sighting, you’d think the summer season was still in full swing. Everyone was enjoying lunch en terrasse when we arrived, and as it was the middle of lunch time, we parked ourselves at a table at one of the many restaurants lining the seashore and tuck in to some fresh, and very tasty bivalves.
Afterwards, we strolled along the beach for a bit, and I found a few more specimens to add to my shell collection (although I do wish there was some sea glass around as well):
It was a good thing we had a satisfying lunch (yes, we ate things besides just the oysters) because our next stop would pretty much exhaust all of our energy.
Behold, the Dune du Pilat:
This is the tallest sand dune in Europe, and naturally draws a lot of visitors, given its close proximity to Bordeaux and Archachon (only 10 minutes or so from the latter). Although there were clearly visible stairs we could have taken to reach the summit, we opted instead to trudge up the old fashioned way. The view from the top, however, made it all worth it.
In case you were curious, yes we did climb down to walk along the shore, and no, there were no stairs to help us get back up to the top again (which we had to do in order to get back to the entrance where we parked the car). As we wanted (well, I wanted) to get back to Bordeaux before the sun fully set, and as our legs were all already exhausted, we chose to abstain from walking the entire length of the dune, although this was something a few other groups of people seemed to have opted for.
Alas, even with our careful planning, a traffic jam on the road back meant that daylight would pretty much be almost gone by the time we dropped our things off at our hotel. I was a bit disappointed by this, as I only had one day to see Bordeaux, given I had to be back in Paris by noon today, but I did manage to get a couple of decent-ish looking photos.
After a late dinner and a quick stroll by the river, we headed back to our rooms to turn in, whereupon my two girlfriends and I (who were sharing) found a rather…interesting design feature on the bathroom door
This morning, I was up again at 5am, and after a quick shower was on my way back to the station to catch the 7am TGV back to Paris and my Shakespeare monologue class. And let me tell you, working on Shakespeare while only partially coherent is a rather…enlightening experience.
I of course rewarded myself with food. First, a croque monsieur and noisette coffee at Ten Belles :
And then with a black sesame éclaire from Boulangerie Utopie:
Any guilt I had about consuming these (especially the éclaire) was immediately assuaged by the fact that I walked from my class to Ten Belles (so Opéra to Canal St Martin), Ten Belles to the boulangerie, and then the boulangerie back to my place (and this bit involved going uphill).
I think to give my body a bit of a break, I’m going to forego setting an alarm for tomorrow, and just spend the day reading at home (oh and grocery shopping). We’ll see how that goes.
I know that popular opinion still hails Paris as one of the food capitals of the world, but sometimes I wonder if maybe we need to rethink that…
My favorite thing about this is that little reminder to practice regular physical activity written at the bottom of the ads. It’s cute.
In other food-related news, today was one of those days where sitting at the library reading for longer than my usual 4ish hours was just not going to happen. Coupled with a somewhat sour mood that has been nagging at me for the past few days – this may or may not have something to do with the cold I’m currently getting over, as well as the general feeling that can only be described as a screaming ‘blegh’ that comes with the realization that the partner that would normally help care for you is not there and you have to make soup for yourself while dealing with the sinuses from hell -, I felt like I deserved a treat. After all, it’s Wednesday, the middle of the week, and sometimes it’s nice to make yourself feel a little good.
So I trekked over to Blé Sucré, a boulangerie I usually stop at for a croissant or kouign aman if I can get there early enough in the morning (seriously, if you ever get the opportunity, get the kouign aman. Buttery, sweet, sugary goodness. I get cravings just thinking about them). As I arrived just after 4pm, the majority of the viennoiserie were gone, but thankfully a small stack of cookies in the display case caught my eye.
Originally, I thought this was a chocolate chunk-macadamia nut cookie, but after taking a bite, realized that what I thought were macadamia nuts were really almonds. It was a nice surprise, though. I love almonds.
Of course, I’m not planning on making these cookie trips a regular thing (granted I did walk pretty much all the way across the city after eating this, so I’m not too worried about it ‘going straight to my hips’ or anything). But I’ve started to readopt a habit I first cultivated when I was doing my masters here, namely, putting the books down and letting myself be in the world, allowing myself to enjoy a little of whatever indulgence without feeling guilty about it. One of my professors when I was at Reid Hall made a point to tell us at the beginning of the year how important it was to ‘go outside’, even if the work we did regularly confined us to the inside of libraries. With all the walking I do, I guess you could say I didn’t need much convincing in order to adopt the idea.
And because it’s always good to end on a positive food-related note, this evening, I had some delicious bibimbap in the company of good friends. I’ll save those strange pizza/burger/things for another day.