Things Change, Things Stay the Same


huitresRodCafé du Marché on rue Cler (7th arrondissement)

Things change, things stay the same

I’ve written about Café du Marché before, see here


The new salad perigordienne

saladeRodIt’s always been one of our favorites for lunch, so we returned when we visited Paris last month. Since we were there last, in May 2017, it has changed management, something we were not aware of until we got there and sat down.

But, it didn’t seem to matter too much as it’s still a welcoming place. The décor hasn’t changed much at all, but the menu has and our all-time previous favorite salade, the salade marché, has gone off the menu. In addition, prices seem to be a bit higher.

We liked the salade marché for its arrangement of different vegetables topped with raw ham and a slice of foie gras. So, off the new menu we chose their salade perigordienne, which also has slices of foie gras on three small toasts, as well as geziers (gizzards) on salad. It was pretty good, and the geziers were the softest we’ve ever had anywhere.

huitres outside


huitresRod2One thing that hasn’t changed is that in the winter months the café has a stand outside selling huitres (oysters) from Normandy (or sometimes Brittany). People can buy them on the street, or customers inside can order them. Rod loves raw oysters, so he was very happy!

In fact, on that trip we needed to go to a bank close by, so we went by for lunch again and were still happy. So, I guess it passed our taste test!






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Hotel Aida Opera, Paris


This is the web site official photo. We didn’t bother to take one, as much of it is covered with scaffolding right now



Cadet metro station

Hotel Aida Opera

11 rue Richer (9th),

Metro: Line 7 Cadet; Line 8 and 9 Bonne Nouvelle, or Grands Boulevards

This was our first time to stay in this hotel and on this trip we stayed here a few days, then left for the Canary Islands and then came back to Paris and this hotel again for a few days. It’s a couple of short blocks from the Folies Bergere. At first sight, in the rain, the neighborhood seems a little drab but it comes alive later and actually seems to be quite a ‘happening’ area with many bars, cafes and restaurants. The hotel, on a corner, has 6 floors but 2 or 3 are being renovated right now, so there’s some serious construction going on—a bit noisy at times, especially in the morning and especially in the rooms facing the street.



Looking out the lift down into the courtyard

All the staff in reception are very friendly and helpful and went out of their way to find a shuttle to the airport for us. Breakfast is offered for 10 euro but we didn’t take any. They also have free snacks between 3-6pm, which we also didn’t sample as we were never there at that time. We booked through and price was very reasonable.

The lobby is bright, with a painted fiber-glass horse and armchairs. There’s a new lift (elevator) on the edge of an inner courtyard, painted with bold, bright geometric patterns.

The first days we were in a room facing the street on the 6th floor, which has recently been done up. It was quite a large room, for Paris, and very comfortable, with a great bed and pillows. The walls upstairs are also painted in bright floral-type patterns, and the wall behind the bed in our room had an interesting geometric painted design. Rather nice. There was a new shower, which was great, but a rather small hand basin. The room had a fridge but no electric hot water kettle.


On the return days we had a room on the first floor facing the courtyard, so it was much quieter. It was a very large room, almost like a mini suite, with both fridge and kettle. Its only problem was a leaking shower.

When we are back in Paris we’d definitely like to return here.

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Around the Pompidou Centre


Square on entrance side to the Pompidou Centre. Note the Thumb statue, and the escalator on the outside of the building


Stravinsky Fountains with Pompidou Centre behind 

We are not particularly fond of modern/contemporary art so the Musée National d’Art Moderne (Europe’s largest museum of modern art), in the Centre Pompidou isn’t on our list of special places in Paris (sorry modern art lovers!). But, we love the actual building and the squares around it. The building is innovative and different and the squares are always humming with buskers, street performers, crowds of kids with soccer balls, and the square with the Stravinsky Fountains has a number of really good places for lunch. One of our favorites is the Creperie Beaubourg, which I’ve written about before (see here )

So, what is so special about this building?


First view of the Pompidou from the other side

In the early 1970s George Pompidou (President of France 1969-1974) wanted to build a cultural center in Paris that would attract visitors and be a new type of monument in the city. A competition was arranged, which was won by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, both unknown at the time. They collaborated and erected one of the most famous and radical, almost futuristic, buildings of the time in the city.

The building is distinctive in many ways. Each of the 7 floors extends through the building entirely uninterrupted by load-bearing structures, thus freeing up the space inside. So, each floor can be used to display art works, or for other activities, and each floor can be divided up and reorganized in any way needed. This makes the use of the space very flexible.

The other pioneering aspect of the center is that it used steel and glass, and that the load-bearing structures are external to the building, as are the circulation services. So, it’s known as an exoskeletal building. The services and pipes are color-coded: white for the structure’s “bones”; red for the lifts and escalators for people; blue for air ducts; green for plumbing; and yellow for electrical things. This all makes the exterior of the Centre Pompidou very interesting to look at.


Everything is color-coded; services and pipes are outside the building

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABesides the modern art museum on the 4th and 5th floors, the Centre houses a huge public library, and a center for music and acoustic research known as IRCAM. It’s fun to go into the Centre and up the escalators in the tunnels/tubes on the outside front of the building, for a great view of the square and surroundings and, once at the top, of much of Paris. (Note: you do need to pay to get into the building, unless it’s a free day).

The Centre was officially opened on January 31, 1977, and since then has welcomed more than 150 million visitors. So, one must conclude that Pompidou’s vision became a successful reality.

As I said, the squares around the Centre are always busy and it’s fun to watch some of the performers or buy a trinket from one of the vendors, who set their stuff out on the paving.

Recently when we were there we noticed that there are 3 new outdoor sculptures that were not there about 8 months earlier when we visited.

Two are up on the very edge of the big square and one is very close to the entrance. The two are sculptures of people, both by Xavier Veilhan (born 1963), a French artist who lives and works in Paris. Both are stainless steel, painted, and constructed in 2013. Both are a gift from Galerie Perrotin et Beaumarly-Glibert et Thierry Costes, 2017. One is Renzo Piano and the other Richard Rogers, the architects of the Centre Pompidou.




Me and the Thumb—shows how big it is 

The other is a sculpture of a very large thumb. It is in polished bronze, done by Cesar (full name Cesar Baldaccini) 1921-1998, who was a French sculptor born of Italian immigrants. He was at the forefront of the New Realism movement, with his radical compressions, expansions with polyurethane foam, and fantastical animals and insects.

The official name is Pouce (Thumb), 1965-1998, Edition 2/8. This is a representation of his thumb that was reproduced in many sizes.

Given courtesy Luxembourg and Dayan.


Interesting reflections on the thumbnail of people on the square


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Angels of Paris


Lion Tamer Angel on Palais de la Decouverte

We found a wonderful little book called “Angels of Paris” by Rosemary Flannery. So now, as part of our quest to get to know this city in more depth, we’ve decided to look for some of these angels each time we visit, if possible.

Rosemary Flannery noticed angels in all parts of the city, in all shapes and sizes, ages and genders, from the Middle Ages through the 20th century. In her opinion, Paris is a city that has escaped most invasions over the centuries and calls it a protected city. For her, these angels are a symbol of this protection, viewed as universal celestial beings, as they have been described in the writings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam; and in the religion of ancient Iran, Zoroastrianism. She also noted that the angels of Paris reflect l’esprit du temps, spirit of the times, and depict peace, war, turmoil, triumph in varying ways.

In Flannery’s words, “’Angels of Paris’ is a hymn to all the angels….and to the sculptors and architects that made Paris the beautiful city that it is today……it is my love song to Paris.”

We have only found a few so far, but it was a fun search and we look forward to discovering more.

Here I want to show you the Angel of the Opera, and the Lion Tamer Angels.


Front of Opera Garnier


The large group that has the Angel of the Opera


The angel and the cherub



Pensive little chap!

Angel of the Opera: this little angel is on the beautiful Opera Garnier and is part of a large group on the main façade, sculpted by Jean-Baptiste Eugene Guillaume. He was asked to create an allegory of instrumental music. This group is second from the left and has Apollo, god of the arts, raising a scroll and holding a lyre. Muses on either side of him hold a shawm (wind instrument) on the left, and a fiddle on the right. Flannery feels that the group is rather static, but that it is saved by the chubby boy angel on the right, and a wingless cherub on the left, linked with a banner.




Facade of Palais de la Decouverte


A gorgeous building. Just behind the rail on the steps you can see one of the lions


Lion Tamer Angel

The Lion Tamer Angels: The Palais de la Decouverte, on Ave Franklin D. Roosevelt, is part of the Grand Palais, which was built for the 1900 World’s Fair. The Palais de la Decouverte was inaugurated in 1937 as a science museum, and it’s wonderful, both for the science exhibits and for its beautiful facade.

On either side of the entrance staircase to the museum are some large lions being ridden by little boy angels. Supposedly the little angels are trying to tame the beasts and are stuffing flowers and garlands into their mouths. I must say that they are rather cute!


Rod M and the lion and angel


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New to Us in Paris: La Paella



Rod M and paella at La Paella

Paris has thousands (at least) of places to eat, in all categories and prices. For new visitors it’s likely they are following a guidebook and a recommendation from someone. We still do that sometimes, as a couple of our non-mainstream books often suggest really great places, sometimes a bit out of the way, sometimes hardly frequently by tourists.

Over many, many years of visiting Paris, we have discovered “our special” places that we like to return to each trip. But, we still get a thrill from trying new places, often found by just wandering around whatever arrondissement we happen to be staying in. Mostly our finds are pretty good, just sometimes they are rather ordinary, in which case they don’t make our growing list of favorites, or places to return to.

On our last trip, for the first time ever we took a package deal of flights from USA plus hotel in Paris. It worked out fine, even though we might not have reserved that hotel ourselves. But the deal made the flights so inexpensive that we couldn’t turn it down.

We were at esthotel in the 10th, not too far from Gare de l’Est, an area we’ve stayed in a number of times—getting public transport round here is very easy; there are many little shops and grocery stores; St Quentin Market is just around the corner; we can easily walk along Canal St Martin; and…there are many places to eat, although some are very ordinary just around the station.

In the past I’ve written about Les Ecuries twice ( and ) and L’Atmosphere ( ), two of our favorites in the city near Gare de l’Est. Of course we returned to both, but we were also keen to try a new (for us) place very close to our hotel.


The name is La Paella, at 50 Rue des Vinaigriers



roseIt’s a Tapas Bar, and bills itself as the oldest Spanish restaurant in Paris. Normally, we prefer to go to a “French” restaurant, but recently Rod had a post-doc from Spain and she raved about her home region, so we thought…why not?

It’s a lovely place with very friendly staff (some Spanish speaking) and things do have a Spanish flavor—from the menu, to the wine, to the Spanish soccer game on the TV, which many people came to sit at the bar counter to watch. There is limited seating outside, but we opted for inside, which has a bright, cozy atmosphere.


Jamon Iberia

We had a bottle of the Spanish house rose wine, with jamon iberico, which Rod wanted to try. This jamon is prized for its texture and rich, savory taste. It’s a cured ham from the Iberian Peninsula made from black Iberian pigs, or cross-bred pigs so long as they are at least 50% Iberico, and is found in both Spain and Portugal. After weaning, the pigs roam freely in pastures and oak groves, where they eat grass, roots, herbs and acorns. As slaughter time approaches, the pigs’ diet may be limited to acorns and olives, which then give the ham its distinctive flavor. It was flavorful and certainly different to other hams we know; it was a little strong for my taste, actually, but Rod was delighted with it.

We then shared a huge dish of paella, with lots of seafood and chicken, but no mussels.


That’s just my half!

The owner had told us when we ordered that he couldn’t get mussels that morning, and was worried that we might not want the paella after all. But, it was very tasty anyway.

Would we return? I think we would, if we stay in this area again.



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Chalk Artist


Chalk artist shares the open space with a dancing group

full“Life without art is stupid”

Paris, the same as many cities around the world that play host to thousands/millions of tourists, is well known for street buskers and entertainers, all hoping to earn a few coins from those passing by. Mostly these buskers are entertaining and it’s fun to stop and look at what they are creating or to watch a mini performance of some sort.

A popular spot for this in Paris is around the Beaubourg and the Stravinsky Fountains. closerOver the years we’ve seen many different folk doing many different things here. The last time we visited, however, this chalk artist stood out. We’ve seen other chalk creations, but none quite as good as this, with its shading and nuances. What do you think?

Interesting too is that his message is in English, so very obviously geared to the tourists. When you think that people will walk all over this creation and that water or rain will wash it away, that this is really ephemeral art, then I believe that it’s well worth it to give the artist some recognition and therefore some coins.

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Tuileries Garden Statues


Part of the gardens, outdoor statues and a wing of the Louvre

Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries)

I’ve written about the Tuileries Garden in Paris before, but these gardens are so lovely and so popular that I want to feature them again, although here I’ll focus on a few of the statues in the gardens.

Here is one called Annibal or Hannibal by Sebastien Slodtz (1655-1726). It’s marble done in 1722 and placed in the Tuileries the same year. What’s interesting is that many of these outdoor sculptures have been outdoors for so long.


gardentoLPart of the fun of being in Paris for a while is strolling through the beautiful Tuileries Garden, which we do every time we visit, regardless of the weather. Created by Catherine de Medicis as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, it was opened to the public in 1667 and became a public park after the French Revolution. Parisians immediately loved it as a place to relax, meet, celebrate and promenade, and this continues to this day.

The gardens are a “happening” place almost any time of the year, but especially in warmer weather. These lovely gardens are free to the public, well loved and well cared for and you’ll often see a group of gardeners hard at work, cutting, pruning, planting, raking. From about mid-March, when the lawns are just greening and the trees budding, the gardeners already have the flower beds beautifully planted so they are colorful, and this continues way into the late autumn.

Wide straight gravel walkways lead from the Arc du Carrousel at the edge of the Louvre gardenpondMuseum, to Place de la Concorde, with views all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. The paths are lined with flower beds, swathes of lawn, avenues of trees, and meander around huge circular fountains that are fringed with white marble or bronze statues of saints, Romans, nymphs, men with beasts etc.

Playgrounds with trampolines, a musical carrousel, chairs a-plenty, four outdoor cafes, and various food/drink kiosks all make it very people-friendly. Locals flock here—groups of school kids, people with kids in strollers or running around, bikers, young and old, dogs; tourists by the gazillion; youth on roller blades; folk with icecreams. People sit by the fountains, or pull up a chair to read or to have a nap.

The last time we were in the gardens we stopped to look more closely at some of the statues, all very interesting, with a theme and a story (many of which are battles and victories of some sort). We’ve never really done that before, and it seems that for most locals (and visitors even) the statues are just background sights: they are just there, and yet they do help to make the gardens what they are and add to their character.

Return from the Hunt, bronze 1888, by Antonin Carles (1851-1919), placed in the Tuileries 1890.


He seems to be shouting “victory”!

Theseus fighting the Minotaur, by Etienne Jules Ramey (1796-1852), marble 1821-1827. Placed in the Tuileries 1832.


Looking very heroic!


Tigress carrying a peacock to her babies, by Auguste Nicolas Cain (1821-1894), bronze 1873-1876, placed in the Tuileries 1884.


She seems very proud of herself

Tiger bringing down a crocodile, by Auguste Nicolas Cain (1821-1894), bronze 1869, placed in the Tuileries 1874.


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