Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Finishing Paris, I hope....

Lochranza Castle and a place to blog

We've just had a thunderstorm, so I'm going to take this opportunity to finish Paris! About time! But I get to do it on the Isle of Arran with a view of Lochranza Castle - oat cakes in the jar to my left.

Swans feeding below the window

View from my bedroom window

It's difficult to get into the Paris spirit when one's in a place that is so completely different! So I have to get a few local and current photos onto the blog before going back in time.

The B&B in the middle

The B&B is an old church converted to a B&B and art gallery and sometimes music performance space. In this picture, the castle is right behind me.

The window of my tiny room

This is my tiniest room so far, up under the eaves of the church. I was told to close my window at night to keep out the midges, but that would have been too stuffy. Once my light was out, I opened the window again and had no problem. And it was absolutely silent - quite different from Paris, but I can sleep either way.

Lochranza Castle - partially 14th century and mostly 16th century -
seen from the B&B - sheep roam at will

And a quick mention of blog views - according to the blog overview, I'm getting quite a few views from Russia and some from China, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Australia. What's that about?

My street of bars empty on Bastille Day

I've already mentioned Bastille Day - not something I'd do again, except that it emptied out large areas of the city (including the Bastille area) and it made for very pleasant walking. That day on google.fr, the graphic was of military jets with red, white, and blue trails. When they roared overhead in real life, the trails were pinkish (though the country gets steadily less socialist all the time).

Ship's prow above a doorway overlooking the canal

Many of the buildings built between about 1875 and 1925 were engraved with the architect's name and the year it was built. Every once in a while, I encountered a building that also acknowledged the sculpture. This, with its elaborate door, was one of them.

Old and new

I can't remember whether I've mentioned the guy peeing at my entrance - something we expect of homeless in the US since there are so few alternatives. But in France there were pissoirs until recently and I'm imagining that men resent their demise. 

Butts are everywhere!

One afternoon, I approached my entry door to find a man squished up against the corner peeing under the entry key pad panel - broad daylight, people all around, right next to a produce market. He didn't appear to be drunk - just asserting his male right to whip out his penis. I had to get in while keeping my feet dry.

Promenade Plantee

One thing the French do well is provide lovely shaded places for walking. The Promenade Plantee begins a short distance from the Place de la Bastille and runs almost three miles east.

View from above

The walkway was created on an abandoned railway structure (one was later created in New York City). It is well used and runs through quite variety of neighborhoods - ending in an ethnically diverse, working-class neighborhood in the east.

More Promenade Plantee

"jogging is tolerated"

And the rights of walkers supersede those of joggers!

A little warren of shops and cafes

I don't have a picture of him, but one day while I was sitting at a cafe, there was a poodle singing along with the ambulance sirens going by - almost everywhere that people can go, dogs can go in France. I don't think I have ever been anywhere with more sirens. It's almost constant.

Tools of the trade

I forgot to write down the name of this restaurant - a famous one, I could look it up. I had been looking at the menu out front - out of my league with lots of ingredients I didn't understand - but when I walked down the side street, there was an open window to the kitchen with tools of the trade - lots of whisks!

If your apartment is too small to store your bike....

Another overheard conversation in a French creperie - this time some late 20's early 30's young women from the United States who had encountered each other in Paris and were exchanging life stories. One young woman lived in Washington, DC and had apparently been a congressional page. Then she had worked in the State Dept. with an office right by Hillary Clinton's (she wasn't too clear about what her job was, but it was fairly low level). Recently she had left and was working for a non-profit (helping to preserve something, but I can't remember what). But what I liked was her comment that she was finally doing something useful. We've always known the State Dept. isn't useful (at least not to most of us), right?

Where Picasso painted Guernica

My sister sent me an article from the Washington Post about what a large percent of French food is prepared in central kitchens or is frozen. It is causing a controversy around which establishments should be able to call themselves restaurants. I finally did find good food. It meant spending more - more than for the same quality in Sonoma County - but it was worth it. Otherwise, just like that other land of mass produced food - the USA - the food was mediocre or, sometimes, downright bad.

Not really an empty restaurant - people had just left
and the room would fill up again

It's sad about France. The US has never had a gastronomic reputation to maintain (though I think we now have some of the best food and wine in the world), but France has.

Old workshops, now artist's studios

I never really did make much use of my feeble French. Most people automatically spoke to me in English. But I was very happy the few times people actually let me try speaking just French. Sometimes it even worked. There were people who spoke very clearly and distinctly (even with each other) and others I couldn't understand to save my life. A different education? A different region?

Modern working class housing project with
balconies inspired by a bygone age

My last dinner in Paris was at a restaurant that was recommended by three people in Sonoma County, as well as guidebooks. As Ellen says, "Meh." The dishes were very traditional - which can be very good - and very boring. Too bad.

A loaf of bread, a glass of wine, and no thou

The profiteroles - the only time I ordered them figuring I couldn't leave Paris without having profiteroles - were good, but huge. I did not finish this!

Profiteroles - choux pastry, ice cream, and chocolate sauce
- portion sizes have definitely increased in France

By the time I left Paris, I was ready to get out of the city - ready for some countryside. But despite that, bizou, bizou, Paris - I'm so happy I did this! So much human-made beauty in one place. Thank you!


  1. I am so enjoying your travelogue and those beautiful photos! Is everyone celebrating the latest addition to the royal parasites, or does there remain that ancient sullenness which the Scots and Irish reserve especially for the colonial birth spectacle?

    1. If it weren't for Facebook, I wouldn't even know there was a baby!

  2. Great photos again. I really liked the interior of the restaurant, beautiful lighting.

    Maybe you get views from around the world because you're now world famous and people from all over are enjoying your pics and commentary. A new career? Or the State Dept. may be tracking you from various locales. Time will tell.

    Take Care,

  3. Loving the coastal birds - especially oystercatchers - and I ate haggis today and lived to tell about it!