Friday, May 20, 2011

If I were in Paris: May 20, 2011

Woody Allen's film, "Midnight in Paris" opens today, but only in New York and Los Angeles... not Paris, tant pis!

I would definitely be reading the papers today, in light of the major news story about ex-former IMF head (and ex-possible future president of France) Dominique Strauss-Kahn. In case you are unaware, Strauss-Kahn is facing charges of attempted rape and other charges from a member of the hotel staff in NY, where he has been arrained, granted bail, and committed to house arrest. The papers in Paris surely carry the story in a slightly different context or with different outlooks than American ones.

This afternoon, at 5 pm, I would headover to the 5th arr. to hear Paul Harding read from his Pulitzer Prize novel Tinkers (which I am reading!) at 37 rue de la Bucherie--yes, Shakespeare & Company.

Being in that area, I would probably take the time to visit some of my favorites there: Notre Dame and the statue of Jeanne d'Arc 3/4 of the way down the far right aisle (no one actually recognizes Joannie in that setting, and the boorishness of most visitors is so huge it is always best to go early, before the tourists flock), as well as the statue of Henri IV and his square on the Ile de la Cite, the lovely garden behind the cathedral (where, again, most tourists are noticeably and thankfully absent!), and the shops along the main street of Ile St. Louis, as well as the original Berthillon shop--where I taste-test new flavors of ice cream. Never found a bad one!

Henri IV on Pont Neuf

St. Michel, near Notre Dame
This is also a great location (throughout the locale of Notre Dame, on the north side of the main cathedral) to purchase particularly kitsch-y souvenirs; things are more expensive here by a couple of Euros, but you'll find some surprisingly fun stuff. Pick over and through the cheap junk, and find some curiosities.

Do not eat here! I recommend the short walk to the cafes along the Right Bank at Chatelet or in the area of St. Paul instead. Better food, better prices, and more charm by far. better people-watching, too, because the crowd will be French, not American and Italian!

On the Left Bank--if you want to go that way--I recommend postcard shopping at Gibert Jeune, the papeterie I love beyond all others in Paris. Best postcards in Paris outside the store, under the awning. I also recommend either of the too-expensive cafes situated between the St. Michel fountain and the Seine: ridiculous prices, great people watching, true Parisian cafe experience.

Then stroll the banks of the Seine in either direction and enjoy the offerings of the bookanistes, who sell tourist junk, postcards, prints, and books. Some sellers are legit, some are cons: I leave it to you to enjoy the discovery of either!

This early it is worth strolling to enjoy Paris in any and all directions from this central site--Shakespeare & Co. or Notre Dame--while observing everything!

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