My daily commute has become twice as long since changing jobs earlier this year, thus, exponentially increasing the chances of unwelcomed encounters, such as seeing the nether regions of a drunkard naked from the waste down and passed out on a metro bench first thing after getting off the metro in the morning. Today, the ride got a little too raw and up close for my comfort. Being crammed in the métro is nothing new during rush hour. But, with the warmer temperatures from this Indian summer we’ve been having, being packed like sardines among folks who have not quite caught onto the practice of using deodorant, especially on warmer days like today, is an excruciating assault on the senses. Having my personal space violated many times over in a box full of warm, sticky, smelly bodies was torture enough, but at the stop after I had gotten on, a horde of folks boarded the train, one of them being an awkwardly rotund teen, sweat dripping from his nose and upper lip and whose backside was covered in what looked like dandruff, further pronounced by his black t-shirt. I just hoped with all of my might that the train would not brake suddenly, because my face would end up splat in that pile of dry, white head excrement. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the trained stalled a couple of times, making the ride even longer than necessary.
Each year, I wait with giddy anticipation for the summer months to arrive, during which time we can finally forgo the obscene number of layers of clothes and parkas for dainty sundresses and sandals. But this year, summer never came to Paris. With the exception of a few sunny yet cool days here and there, the weather has been rather dreary with unsually low temperatures. So, you can imagine how excited I was when the sun came out for a few hours and bathed us in a little bit of heat last Saturday. As I mentioned last week, we strolled aimlessly along the streets of Paris, wandering from the left bank, across to the right bank. Our first stop was at Sadaharu Aoki’s pâtisserie in the 6th arrondissement, which is only about a block or two away from the Luxembourg Garden.
I have a tendancy to focus on the hairy aspects of living in France, and it’s rather easy to forget how magnificent this city can be when we get sucked into the daily doldrums of life. This video, however, flawlessly captures quotidian scenes of life here in Paris, which can be breathtakingly beautiful at times, even in her simplest moments. What a great reminder of how lucky I am to get to live this everyday!
The weather that we saw this Saturday is what Parisian dreams are made of – clear, blue skies with a healthy dose of sunshine. And when the weather is this great, Parisians flock in droves to the many parks that are peppered throughout the city. We, too, took advantage of this glorious weather to replenish our vitamin D reserves. After a leisurely breakfast, we grabbed our sunglasses and headed into the city.
We spent the day wandering through the city and soaking in the scenery, starting with a stop at Sadaharu Aoki in the 6th arrondissement for some French Japanese fusion pastries (more on that later!). With snack in hand, we strolled to the nearby Luxembourg Garden, which is the scene of our first outing in Paris, back when the mister and I were still mere acquaintances. So, this park always invokes a bit of nostalgia in me, bringing me back to a time when I was still charmed by the city’s beauty and my experience hadn’t yet been colored by its unpleasantries and less glamorous side. No matter how many times I’ve come here though, it never fails to amaze me.
We were lucky enough to snag a couple of the coveted reclined park chairs. After savoring our pastries and reveling in the intensity of the green color imparted by the matcha green tea, we basked in the sun for awhile and got some much needed color. As the garden started to fill up after the lunch hour, we headed north towards the river and walked along the left bank of the Seine.
Many of the Parisians still hadn’t yet returned from their month long vacations, so the city wasn’t as overcrowded despite the many visiting tourists. We cut through the Île Saint Louis, which is a tiny island in the middle of the city and only a stone’s throw from the island where Notre Dame is situated (see last photo).
Our little excursion ended at Place de la Bastille, where I picked up a few accessories at the nearby Paul Beuscher store for my new hobby, the guitar. Just as we descended into the métro, we started to feel a few raindrops. The sunshine was rather shortlived, and the pouring rain returned later that evening. And, it looks like it’s here to stay, with rain forecasted through next Sunday and tempertures as low as 14°C.
When it comes to fabricating exquisitely, delectable pastries that would delight any tastebuds, the French without a doubt take the cake. With their innovative techniques and boundless creativity, they have elevated the craft of making pastries to a level that is unrivaled by none. In France, the profession has roots that extend as far back as the Middle Ages, so it’s no wonder that the exceptionally refined French culinary arts is renowned worldwide. Careers in pastries generally start early, where future pastry chefs enroll in professional programs as young as 14 years of age, so most will already have over a decade of experience under their belts by the time they are in their 20s. On top of that, there are numerous opporunties to exhibit their baking prowess at national and international pastry competitions, such as the World Pastry Cup, where the French have dominated year after year.