Sunday, July 08, 2007

Le Weekend

Bea needs to work from Paris, so she goes to the Cafe Contrescarpe with WiFi and they allow her to sit there for about 8 hours every day so far, totally undisturbed, and drink 2 coffees and one coke. I feel one of these days they are going to call les flics and send her off to jail for loitering, or some idiotic American hostess (like the one we had recently at Luna Park) will ask her to clear the table after 2 hours because that is their policy, (regardless of the fact that the 8 people at the table at the time couldn't seem to get enough beers and that if allowed to stay their check would have been considered a small boon to the restaurant industry). Luckily, this is Paris, so apparently you can sleep over at a cafe if you so desire. Nobody rushes you out. But enough about work. Le weekend started with a wonderful lunch on Friday at a Basque restaurant near la Contrescarpe, called Le Bugne. The food was homey and delicious: cod cakes with piquillo pepper coulis, a wonderful beef stew in red wine with incredible mashed potatoes and a basque rice with tender octopus and chorizo, like a paella, delicious. And a bottle of house wine. For dessert: nougat ice cream.

Then yesterday morning, off to Barbés for a dose of working class, basically African and North African immigrant Paris (for Friday night we walked the tony streets of the Marais). We ran into the street market in Barbés, which was amazing, with the smells of fresh fish, cilantro, mint, strawberries, all mixed together. We ate at a tiny Senegalese restaurant where there were people lined up, a good sign. And it was great. I had Yassa, which is chicken in a lemon onion olive sauce that was incredibly citrusy and oniony and intensely yummy with perfect white rice. We also had fried plantains, oh, and seemingly fresh guava and mango juices.
Then we crossed the city by metro to go to the cinemas at the Bibliotheque François Mitterand, because right now there is a Paris Film Festival and we wanted to see DP Christopher Doyle (In the mood for love) who was going to talk. But since lunch always takes so long, we missed him. Still, we saw a film called This is England, a pretty brutal coming of age story of a young, sweet little skinhead in the Thatcher years. History is judging that woman pretty harshly, methinks. What a disaster. The young protagonist was an amazing little actor, and the movie was intense but utterly depressing, even though it tries hard to keep the tenderness afloat.
The new library is in a very modern stretch near the Quai D'Austerlitz, which reminded me a little bit of Berlin, but even more of the modern neighborhood of Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires. At least here they have a library and a very cool cineplex, but still maybe in about a hundred years, when we all live in pods under the earth, one will be able to see the charm. Right now, it's handsome, but feels rather soulless.
After the movie we took the bus (my favorite way to see Paris) on a perfect route by the Seine, by the Gares of Austerlitz and Lyon, by the beautiful Jardin Des Plantes, and to the Luxembourg gardens, which we left for another day, opting to walk the very elegant streets of the 6th instead. Rue de Seine to Rue Jacob, to Rue du Bac to Rue Grenelle, to Saint Germain des Prés to be ogled by the snobs and the tourists at the Cafe de Flore. I was not in the mood to pay three hundred dollars for a beer, so we just walked by. Saturday night seems to bring out an element of French Can Can in some peeps. There was such an outrageous character at the Flore, we are still debating whether she was a spectacular whore or an over the top drag queen. All I can say is she was covered in tones of screaming lilac, from eyelid to hair, to lips to shoes. She looked like a violent chandelier, and of course, nobody minded her.

Then we took the metro again to Montmartre where the Paris Film Festival ran a free outdoor screening of recently restored silent and ancient films with live music. That was so cool! Behind us, the illuminated meringue shapes of Sacre Coeur, the hordes of tourists and the pests who try to leech off them (who are really obnoxious in Montmartre, with their transparently hostile forced charm and their ridiculous pretense at French bohéme). But below us, in front of the crowded grassy incline, a giant screen and the rest of Paris by night. My favorite film was a little jewel by Georges Melies, about people wrestling, complete with beautiful special effects. There was also a rare Stan Laurel film from 1922, when he wasn't with Ollie yet and he was very young and far less hapless.

Today is only Sunday. Yay!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:32 PM

    I guess you are having a good time there but still you missed a nice party in your apartment this weekend.