Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Local Goods and Fun on the Streets of Paris

I feel very comfortable in Paris- sort of like home -which must have something to do with my New York upbringing as it is certainly not due to the language which I barely speak and butcher shamefully. Paris is much prettier than Manhattan and more open as it lacks the tall buildings that hem in Manhattan. Good, fresh food is far more abundant, accessible and less “precious” than in Manhattan since the Parisians expect it. 
Littered with one darling café after the next, you could become paralyzed trying to decide what to try and where to sit in Paris. In most cases (not all) you cannot go wrong especially if you are just having a café or infusion (herbal tea). Truly one of my favorite things to do in Paris (and most cities) is walk. I love exploring and each time I am there try to take different streets.....finding new treasures all the time. Fun streets lined with local eats and other fun stores include Rue Montorgueil in the 1st, Rue Cler in the 7th, Rue des Deux Pont on the Ile Saint Louis in the 4th  and of course all the markets that dot the city on any given day. 

If you find yourself in the Latin Quarter on a Tuesday morning there is a small but excellent mixed market around the Maubert Metro stop in the 5th down the street from the organic Phyto Bar restaurant. Here you will find organic produce, some beautiful shawls and clothing (different from the common cheap pashminas and arab-style, keffiyeh scarves sold elsewhere) as well as cheeses, fish and other local products. 

And keep your eyes open for the truly delicious Kayser breads that are not to be missed! The baguettes are usually warm having come right out of the oven. Eric Kayser, a third-generation Parisian baker, is the brains behind the Mayson Kaiser bakeries, making bread from natural leavening using a special machine designed by Kayser to keep the leavening in a perfect state. In addition to amazing breads, you can also buy quiches, tarts and sandwiches at the fourteen stores in Paris (with other stores in Japan, Russia and the Ukraine). You can find Maison Kayser bakeries in most arrondissements. To avoid disappointment, check store location and hours on the website as some are closed on Mondays and others on Sundays. 

If you are visiting Paris in the winter you can ice skate outdoors in front of the Hôtel de Ville (4th arrondissement)- which many confuse for an actual hotel but is how the French refer to their City Hall. For 5 euros you can rent skates and enjoy the rink for free on Monday to Friday from 12pm-10pm, Saturday-Sunday 9am -10pm. This year the rink is open until March 6, 2010. Arrive at least one hour before closing otherwise you won’t get in. Outdoor skating is also available at Place Raoul Dautry near the rail station Gare Montparnasse in the 14th – this rink is only open until 8:00pm during the weekdays but has the same hours as the Hôtel de Ville rink on the weekends. 

Afterwards you can make your way to one of the many delightful cafes and have something delicious to warm you!

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