Bonjour and welcome back to French Fridays! So you’re heading to Paris and wondering: is it true the French have all fled the city now that Bastille Day has passed? Mais non! You’ll still find plenty of potential Parisian pals on Sunday in Le Marais, the central section of the city built atop swampland, where the Orthodox Jewish, gay, and urban French enamored of buildings so old they tilt backward (look up, you’ll see what I mean) populations have combined forces to create the “it” place to while away a sunny afternoon.
You’ll have no trouble finding the place – virtually everyone on the metro will be heading for the St. Paul stop, as it’s the liveliest quarter of the city on Sunday. Be sure you bring your appetite for food and history as well as fashion, since no trip to the Marais is complete without fallafel and a stop at some of the most intimate museums in Paris.
Lenny Kravitz is right. L’As du Fallafel (34, rue des Rosiers) does serve up some of the best fallafel on the planet (although in fairness I’ve never had a bad meal anywhere in the Marais), and if you come early (pre-12:30) you’ll be able to snag a table indoors and a chance to order off of the extensive menu. Otherwise, join the queue waiting for a take-away sandwich and amble with the crowds. Sample Paris’s version of bagels (poppyseed) and cheesecake at Findelstajn’s then stroll over to rue des Francs Bourgeois, your gateway to some free entertainment.
That’s right, free. The Musee Carnavalet (23, rue de Sevigne), consists of two mansions and a lovely courtyard that will make you swoon at the history of France. Don’t forget to check out the military medals upstairs – you’ll chuckle at the similarities between the drop-dead gorgeous uniforms and the fashions on the street below. Then head over to Musee Cognacq-Jay (8, rue Elzevir) for a look at how a childless couple with more money than most of us can ever envision outfitted a fabulous French mansion. This chic, underestimated, free museum will give you a rare small-scale look at the grandeur of old France. (But beware, no visit to the Picassos is possible this trip, as this fee-paying museum is closed for renovations.)
End your afternoon on a bench at Place des Vosges, at the end of rue des Francs Bourgeois. Many people consider this to be the most beautiful square in the world. A cellist often plays in the far corner, near the Victor Hugo museum at number 6 (visit and see why old Victor was such a misanthrope). Grab a crepe or an ice cream at one of the stands beneath the shady arcades that line the square, or just enjoy the fountains. Either way, you’re bound to have a Bon Dimanche (“Happy Sunday”, the greeting the French exchange with each other) when you head for Le Marais.
One of the reasons I love the Marais so much is because it provides such a fascinating cross-section of people. But the best part of the quarter has to be its free museums. What is your favorite free thing to do on Sunday?
Mes amis, this is a special French Friday. I am participating in BlogFest 2011. When you leave me a comment, you are eligible to win a copy of “Matching Wits With Venus”, my paranormal romance about a Hollywood matchmaker and the Roman god Cupid, which has been receiving five star reviews. As always, merci beaucoup for your visit, and bon weekend!
Please visit other BlogFest 2011 blogs. Here are other links to BlogFest 2011:
http://www.1099mom.com/. For the BlogFest 2011 master list, please visit: http://www.ajourneyofbooks.com/
CONGRATULATIONS KOWANDA McBRIDE – YOU ARE THE WINNER OF A SIGNED COPY OF “MATCHING WITS WITH VENUS”. THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR PARTICIPATING – IF YOU WANT ANOTHER CHANCE AT A FREE BOOK, PLEASE ENTER THE TREASURE QUEST GIVEAWAY ON MY BLOG. MY NEXT GIVEAWAY AFTER TREASURE QUEST WILL NOT BE UNTIL THE FALL. HOPE TO SEE YOU ALL ON FACEBOOK AND/OR GOODREADS. ONCE AGAIN, THANK YOU – HAVE A FANTASTIC DAY.