One of the things Priscilla and I have enjoyed the most so far on our Parisian adventure is meeting the locals (who sometimes aren’t as local as you might think). Early on Priscilla met Rasmus and Elisa, the owners of the Zone Nordique store that is directly below our flat. Rasmus is a Dane from the Copenhagen area and Elisa is an Italian from Milan. They have a one-year old boy, so their lives are quite busy. The lingua Franca in their relationship is English. She doesn’t speak Danish and he doesn’t speak Italian, so English it is, although they certainly speak French as well. They’ve been helpful steering us to the right store to find a step stool for granddaughter Cora during their visit last week.
Then there is Claudia, who goes by the moniker Miss Lunch. She is a Canadian from Ottawa who came to Paris for Art School twenty-some years ago and never left. She runs a lunch only restaurant near the Aligre market as well as a vegetarian stall in the market itself. Claudia gave us a private tasting of capers that she prepares as well as artisanal olive oils. We picked up the capers tapenade and a bag of the salted-cured capers. The tapenade is to die for by the way. We had it on hearty bread with wine yesterday for our late-afternoon repast. While at Claudia’s stall we also got to know her brother-in-law, Charles, who is an American from Indiana who spends most of his time now between Paris and Italy. We decided to have lunch yesterday at Miss Lunch. We had a marvelous time. The conversation flowed between all of the few tables in her dining area, so it was a bit like a big family lunch. We met a woman named Eileen who retired from NYC to Philly, and now lives half the year there and half in Paris where she owns a flat in the Marais. She was able to get an Irish passport because her Grandmother emigrated from there to the U.S. That is how she is able to stay for such a long time.
Another activity Priscilla and I have been undertaking to get to know Paris better is to get out to visit neighborhoods we are unfamiliar with. Yesterday it was the Belleville and Buttes-Chaumont area. The Belleville/Buttes-Chaumont walk started with visiting the Butte Bergeyre hilltop neighborhood. This small neighborhood is deemed a micro-quartier, and is accessed via a stairway that seems to go to the heavens. Priscilla asked me to assure her that we weren’t going up that set of stairs. I could offer no such assurances. She counted 81 steps. This little enclave on top of a hill overlooking Paris was a wonderful find. If you lived here you’d certainly have no trouble getting your stair steps in each day, as you have to go down the steps to get to any shops.
After walking the Butte Bergeyre neighborhood we walked to the Buttes-Chaumont park, which is built up among all the hills in the area. This area used to be a pretty shady spot where executions were held and those killed were left to hang. Nowadays, it is a beautiful park with aggressive hills and sweeping vistas. Leaving Buttes-Chaumont we walked the lovely shopping street of rue de la Villette. The quaint Villa l’Adour alleyway runs off rue de la Villette and is a picture postcard like street that apparently has a cat for a watchdog. At the end of all our walking, we caught the 11 Metro at Jourdain and switched to the 1 Metro at Hotel de Ville, which takes us to our primary Metro stop, Saint-Paul.