After a strong start in Montpellier, my whistle-stop tour of the South of France continued in Arles, a town that interested me because it was once home to Van Gogh, my favorite painter. I wanted to see the place that had inspired him to create some of his most beautiful work. Continue reading
I gotback from the beautiful, sunny, warm South of France to wet, gray Paris a couple of days ago. Not surprising, but still deflating.
Yesterday, I was wandering around running errands in a dour mood, but I kept noticing charming things despite myself. So I started taking pictures and making a list of them. I posted it on Instagram and am now pasting it here because I realize I have not been writing as often as I’d like.
So… an inventory of delights encountered during a walk in Montmartre:
1. Joyfully screaming kids behind walls shielding a school playground. (At a certain hour of the afternoon you hear this on nearly every block.) The fact you can only imagine what they are getting up to makes it even cuter.
2. Pretty tilework taken to the level of art.
3. A cat hanging out in an antique store.
4. Hazelnuts in their full natural packaging. First time I’ve seen this and it’s beautiful.
5. As are french fruit displays.
6. As is vintage french lettering.
7. As is my tied-for-favorite cheese shop…
8. …from which i bought the most gorgeous and delicious goat cheese.
The end. / Fin.
Have a good weekend!
I have written about my fruitless search for rose glace in Paris before. About three weeks ago I finally found it – nearly 25 years after the first time I tasted it – at an ice cream shop just a few blocks from my new place in Belleville. And I got doubly lucky, because they also had violet flavor. It tasted sort of soap-like but still wonderful.
I am triply lucky – or very, very unlucky, depending on how you look at it – that the most well-suited cheese shop for my particular palette is also located just a few blocks from my place.
See that top row of round cheeses? It is made up entirely of goudas. The first time I came in I bought truffle gouda and 3-year aged gouda, along with a humongous ball of burrata. It cost the same amount as the rest of my groceries for that week. I have since returned for the aged gouda at least four more times. It is crystalline and sweet and tart and creamy and every other adjective you might use to describe the world’s most delicious cheese.
My friend got wind of my cheese obsession and recommended that I try aged comté, which I also found at the local shop. It was heavenly, though aged gouda remains my best cheese friend. That’s the comté and some chevre, below.
Just for good measure, I leave you with the vitrine of what may be the world’s most beautiful cheese shop, in my old neighborhood of Montmartre. (I’ve been jumping around the northeastern section of Paris and its outskirts a lot; between Barbès and Belleville I spent three weeks in Montmartre and two weeks in Montreuil.) It was in this shop that I bought the best goat cheese I’ve ever had. It ate like cake.
- Half of Macron’s cabinet are women. I think that is awesome, even if other forms of diversity, along with much of his political agenda, are lacking.
- France plans to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040. Ambitious environmental leadership at the national level – unfortunately now a foreign concept to me.
- Starting in 2018, vaccination of children will be mandatory in France. This while the anti-vax movement and anti-science sentiment in the United States appears to be growing stronger.
- Right around the time it was looking like Obamacare would be going down the tubes, I went to the doctor in Paris. I paid for the visit out of pocket, without any insurance, and the cost was around $35. If I had had French social security (which includes health insurance and a bunch of other benefits), it would have been no more than $12 or so. On the other hand, if I had gone to the doctor in New York without insurance… well, I wouldn’t have, because it would have cost me like $300. I knew theoretically that the French health care system puts the American one to shame, but experiencing its straightforward humanity in real life, at the same time as I was following the events in DC with ever-growing disgust, made me highly emotional.
- And finally, on a “one of these things is not like the other” note: I recently found out that France has almost 250 distinct varieties of cheese. If I were more gutsy about the stinky ones, I might make it my mission to try one of each.
Also, an honorable mention. I couldn’t include it in my list since it’s not actually true, but oh how I wish it were:
I was sad to learn that Paris Plages – wherein the city creates beaches along the Seine – would be sand-free this year, since it looks like it was amazing in years past. But, when I heard a rumor that the cancellation of sand was because the construction company that provided it had put its hat in the ring to build Trump’s wall, I couldn’t have been prouder of my temporary city. The truth is a little more complicated. Apparently the decision was more to do with environmental considerations and / or the company’s having indirectly funded terrorism. Both of which are highly admirable reasons… It’s just that I really loved the idea of Paris giving up its summer fun to take a stand against the Trump agenda.
On several occasions, I’ve noted the many reasons to learn Spanish. But I have never done the same for the language I’ve devoted far more time to learning. So, here are ten very good albeit very personal reasons to learn French: Continue reading