Monday in Le Marais

Complaining again: there is no more good people-watching on the streets of Paris. Where did the beautiful people go? All these guys lounging around in the cafes – whom are they looking at? Once upon a time, Paris offered the best people-watching there was, but today, I could no longer get complementary front-row tickets to this free show 😦
Thank goodness, architecturally, the city still rewards the accidental traveller. When you aimlessly wander, you can still experience the joy of discovery. Luckily, I don’t know Paris well enough to be robbed off the pleasure of stumbling upon a previously undiscovered passage, a stunning facade, another patisserie or a boulangerie. But here too I noticed some changes. There are too many gaudy cheap signs spoiling the beauty of the historical facades. Gone are the Art Neuveau letterings and bright awnings that used to enliven the monochromatic buildings. Now, it’s stark block letters, clashing colors, and oversized signs that are in your face blocking the ornate architectural details. There should be some ordinance to disallow these signs. You have to look up above them to block them out of your vision and capture the beauty of the architectural details.
We spent today at Le Marais. On Lisa’s recommendation, I went to check out the store in Le Marais with the simple name Merci. It was a bit of a challenge finding it. Google sent me to 111 Boulevard Baumarchais, but what I found there was a restaurant and a large sign asking “Voulez vous couchez avec Droog?”, which is funny because “droog” means “friend” in Russian. I was going to blame Google for sending me to a wrong place and walk away, but my curiosity took the best of me and I ventured into the archway where some odd stuff was hanging off the roof. That lured me further in. Inside the courtyard, I discovered a wacky lobby of the hotel called “Droog.” On the right, there was a library where tables were set in front of tall bookstands, and people were eating lunch. Off to the side from the reception desk, there was a bench, which indented top was filled with marbles. People were seating on round plates set on top of the marbles and rolling around if they felt so inclined. Finally, up the stairs from the reception, I spotted the store. Spread over three floors, Merci is a cross between ABC Carpets and Urban Outfitters. It is a cool store to look at, but the featured merchandise is overpriced cheap chic, like tee-shirts for 150 euro or straw hats for 240. One handbag really called my name, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend 800 euro on a non-designer brand most likely made in China.
As I later found out, the Amsterdam-based hotel Droog took over Merci for a few weeks to offer a taste of Amsterdam in Paris. I am a Capricorn, and thus, a very practical person, so what I wonder is where the hotel quests are sleeping and what are they doing about bathrooms, let alone showers?
After Merci, we went to Rue des Rosiers, where during our last visit, we had some outstanding falafel. IMHO, the famed L’As du Fallafel is not the one. The line here is huge, and I feel for all the other falafel stands on the street. To me, L’As does not live up to its reputation. I think it’s only a 6. The best falafel, in my humble opinion, is in the restaurant across from Korsarz bakery, but it was closed this Monday 😦
And so was Musee Carnavalet, and so was the beautiful Japanese store Noriem, off place des Vosges. I guess Monday is not the best day to visit Le Marais!
Still, on we walked and walked, and when we got back to the hotel 8 hrs. later, boy, was I glad that these days sneakers are a perfectly acceptable footwear in Paris!
So to sum this trip up, my most memorable moments were: the magic of Mont Saint-Michel, the French countryside in the Loire Valley and in Normandy, Chateau Saint-Aignan, Honfleur and Dinan, and the two dinners at Sa.Qua.Na and, especially, at L’Evidence in Tours.

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