Published Jul 3, 2010

One of the most stylish parts of Paris is the Marais neighborhood. Marais means swamp — just like La Cienega, for those of you who live in LA — and that’s what we walked around today. Just like yesterday’s entry promised, there was rain, and it cooled the place down, so we could just amble around. Up past the super-modern, Habitrail-styled Pompidou Center, through the old Jewish Ghetto (so many Falafel options!), we got to see one of the oldest parts of Paris, including a beautiful old house whose lady, legend has it, laughed as her new lover killed her old lover in the courtyard.

A long walk but a short entry! I could talk about the bistros and brasseries we’ve been to, I guess. We grabbed a quick beer at the Place des Vosges, Paris’s oldest park, earlier today, and sat down at a little café, where we each ordered what sounded like a nice, light, summery beer on tap. Then we each drank our beer — ooh! too bitter and hoppy! Mrs. DJ L’il Bit said; ooh! too sweet and lemony! I said — and then we switched beers, drinking  happily for the next 20 minutes until the very French, very snarky waiter saw us off. The waiter later in the evening, at Les Deux Magots (our hotel’s just down the street, we couldn’t skip Hemingway and Camus and Picasso’s favorite place!), was just as classically French rude, but we enjoyed our digestifs of Marc and Armagnac anyway, as we watched the sun go down at 10:30pm. That’s right, it stays bright late here.

Some of that waiter snark may come from my French not being all it was knocked up to be. Eleven years of disuse seem to have left me unable to get my mouth around the words quite right; I’m tripping on my vowels and rolling my rs. We’ll see if the rest of the vacation gives me enough time to return to my old pronunciation skills, which weren’t good enough to pass for French but which did leave most native speakers unable to figure out where I was from, at least. 

In contrast, the food has been all it’s knocked up to be, especially classics like Steak Frites and Croque Monsieurs. Portions of tartare, if that’s your thing, are more than king-sized; a Double Double, raw, at least. The tables are tiny, of course, and everyone’s right up next to you, all of which you would think would inspire claustrophobia, but for some reason — maybe the retracted awnings that leave the cafés open to the sky — does not. 

The tiny, definitely-not-handicap-accessible bathrooms also do not, which is nice since any long walk around town involves lots of water and maybe a wine or beer or aperitif or something like that. The score so far is that nearly every men’s room in a Brasserie or less has a squat toilet. Women’s rooms are far more fortunate. Updates on that as events warrant.

Despite the bright, far North sky that kept us out late, we’re trying to get up early to make it to the Louvre tomorrow first thing, before the crowds, so I’d better wrap this up.