Pasages de Paris

July 12, 2008 at 1:40 PM | Posted in Paris 2008, Paris markets, Wanderings | Leave a comment

Yesterday morning over breakfast, my housemate told me about a series of passages in the area between the 2nd and 9th arrondissements. She had a hand-drawn map from one of her friends, and I wasn’t quite sure what constituted a “passage” (I had an image of an alley in my head), so I set out towards that neighborhood, figuring I would find them sooner or later. When I eventually got there (of course I took a few wrong turns and came across this really cool fork in the road), I was standing right where the map said–the corner of Rue du Fauberg Monmartre and Blvd. Poissoniere, but I couldn’t find any cute-looking streets.

Then I noticed what looked like an open gate, so I walked through, and I was in a magnificent passage that runs through the spaces between the buildings–it was like a really, really beautiful and official covered market, filled with boutiques and galleries and a few little cafes. I spent awhile browsing around an antiquarian bookstore, and I found a boutique consisting entirely of flowers made of paper (where I took this picture).

Then I met up with my friend Pascale from work and a couple of her friends, and we went to the Gallerie National du Jeu de Paume, which is at the far end of the Tuileries, right near Pl. Concorde. We saw an exhibit of the photos of Richard Avedon, who was a fashion photographer in Paris/New York in the forties and has continued his work to the present day (in the eighties, he took a series of photos about people of the American west). It was really wonderful. After seeing the exhibit, we went to Angelina, which is a fancy pinkies-in-the-air type tearoom/patisserie by the Louvre. We got French hot chocolate, which is essentially melted dark chocolate with cream, and it was out-of-this-world amazing. And along with a madeleine, it was filling enough to serve as dinner.

This morning I went back to the Marche d’Aligre to do my fruit and vegetable shopping, and of course I couldn’t resist stopping to gaze at the fromagerie (this is a small part of the case devoted to solely to French goat cheese) in the covered part of the market. Earlier this week I discovered the glories of unpasteurized (cru or raw-milk) cheese at a fromagerie on Rue St. Antoine, and it’s pretty much a different product than pasteurized cheese. The flavor is really unique and when I first tasted it, I almost couldn’t decide if I liked it (the owner of the St. Antoine fromagerie gave me ten or twelve cheeses to sample, after which I decided that I do like it, a lot)–it’s much more assertive and has a different flavor than I am used to, even for milder cheeses. Raw cheese is actually illegal in the US (ironically, due to public health concerns), so I better eat up while I have the chance! I also decided that in order to find the best baguette at the market I would go to the bakery with the longest line (it happened to be the organic bakery), and it was a good strategy. It’s really hilarious to stand outside a bakery and watch people leave–they pay, pick up their bread, walk out, and like a reflex they break off the part of the baguette sticking out from the bag and eat it. I do it, too–it’s absolutely irresistible, especially when the baguette is still hot.


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