Parisian notes

by on May 5, 2014 at 3:32 am in Food and Drink, Travel | Permalink

By this point most of the Right Bank is mind-numbingly oppressive.  I discovered the upper part of Marais, however, and fell in love with (parts of) Paris once again.  Start on or near Rue Vertbois, explore the small streets, and end up in the food stores of Rue Bretagne, stopping many times along the way.

I’ve mostly seceded from the restaurant scene here, instead preferring to buy foodstuffs in the small shops.  I just spent seven dollars for three (excellent) artichokes.

I know exactly how long an unrefrigerated crottin can stay good in a French hotel room.

Overall, what I am seeing more of is bagel shops and e-cigarette stores.  The stand-alone fromagerie is increasingly difficult to find.

There is a separate art to ordering in Indian restaurants in Paris.  Focus on the salmon and spinach, mostly unadorned.

For the first time ever I enjoyed gazing at the Mona Lisa.

prior_approval May 5, 2014 at 3:43 am

‘By this point most of the Right Bank is mind-numbingly oppressive.’

Old money tends to be like that.

Alexei Sadeski May 5, 2014 at 11:12 am

If only!

Just Another MR Commentor May 5, 2014 at 3:55 am

Not sure what you mean by ‘By this point most of the Right Bank is mind-numbingly oppressive.’. Are you speaking of too many tourists, as many American tourists are wont to do?

Visiting Paris or Rome in the summer time these days is a fantastic reminder of the successes of our globalized world. More than the architectual splendors of the Right Bank it warms my heart to see the massive groups of Chinese tourists dominating the scene. The wealth that increased globalization has brought places like China allows the tourists to come and certainly makes Paris more exciting and more interesting. Definietly another benefit of the spread of capitalism.

Doug May 5, 2014 at 6:11 am

This handle has become a satire of itself, rather than the site.

“Oh you ridiculous libertarian econblog readers! You actually think having a billion peasants escape starvation-level poverty is worth the crowds at the Trevi Fountain. I wish things could be like they were back in the olden days, when third-worlders around the world knew their place and let vacations in Europe remain the prerogative of white people.”

Larry Siegel May 6, 2014 at 1:33 am

Good point. My first thought when I read “mind-numbingly oppressive” was “not compared to the little town I live in, but I guess life is tough all over.”

Peter Akuleyev May 6, 2014 at 12:56 pm

You’re damn right. There is no benefit to me personally to having hordes of tourists run around Rome or Paris. My own quality of life has mostly suffered from globalization. I would certainly prefer a world where ordinary Italians and French could defend their property rights against people encroaching on that property, whether immigrants or tourists.

Philippe Duhamel May 5, 2014 at 5:22 am

You should try La Ferme Saint Hubert at 36 rue Rochechouart in the 9th.

http://www.la-ferme-saint-hubert-de-paris.com/home.htm

Or Julhes at 54 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis in the 10th. This street is a nice mix of the different cultures one can find in Paris.

Tom T. May 5, 2014 at 7:06 am

I could have unadorned salmon and spinach at home.

el chorizon May 5, 2014 at 7:19 am

Ugly chicks galore in the food stores of Rue Bretagne, I trust?

Joël May 5, 2014 at 8:45 am

The upper part of Marais? I lived there for a while, back when I was french. Just in front of the Musée Picasso. It’s truly a very nice place of Paris, architecturally beautiful and also quiet. Only problem (when you live there): despite of its pretty central position in Paris, it is not well connected by public transport.

dearieme May 5, 2014 at 10:10 am

“I discovered the upper part of Marais… “: that’s nothing – I discovered Manhattan once. I liked it so much that I discovered it a couple of times more. Regular Dr Livingstones, you and I, eh?

SamChevre May 5, 2014 at 9:10 am

Ten years ago, there were better places to get French food than Paris; what I have not found, though, is a better place to get Algerian-French food.

My recommendation–go out to Buttes Chaumont and wander until you find a restaurant that serves couscous, and get couscous.

Philippe Duhamel May 6, 2014 at 9:11 am

Couscous ? Walk on rue Richer (9th) or rue des Petites Ecuries or rue de Hauteville. You’ll find all the couscous you want in nice & clean places.

Turpentine May 5, 2014 at 9:13 am

By ‘Right Bank’, I am guessing TC really means the touristy parts, because there are still some pockets of ‘authentic’ Parisian areas in the 20e, 12e, or even in the 18e, north of Montmartre, where unassuming bakeries and cheesemongers are aplenty. If he is referring purely to the more touristy and bourgeois areas, then he is certainly right, but in that case the same applies to the equivalent parts of the Left Bank. I guess that’s the downside of a truly globalized world!

Philo May 5, 2014 at 9:15 am

“I know exactly how long an unrefrigerated crottin can stay good in a French hotel room.” I suspect there is no “exactly,” that the deterioration is gradual–thus a matter of degree.

eddie May 5, 2014 at 9:57 am

I honestly can’t tell if this is Tyler, or if this is Tyler parodying Tyler.

Norman Pfyster May 5, 2014 at 11:03 am

I was thinking the same thing. It comes across as self-parody.

Corey May 5, 2014 at 10:33 am

Only Tyler goes to Paris to eat Indian food.

Adrian Ratnapala May 5, 2014 at 2:20 pm

It’s worth a try though. Since the local food is a little, well, samey.

Fazal Majid May 5, 2014 at 10:52 am

Have a browse through SF transplant David Lebovitz’ blog “The Sweet Life in Paris”:
http://www.davidlebovitz.com/paris/

Anon May 5, 2014 at 11:13 am

“For the first time ever I enjoyed gazing at the Mona Lisa. ”
Implication that it was being seen for the first time ? If not , what was different?

Slocum May 5, 2014 at 12:10 pm

I would guess he mean that, for the first time, he happened to be there at a moment when it wasn’t surrounded by an idiotic camera-flashing mob and that he actually *could* gaze at it:

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2009/mar/09/mona-lisa-tourist-snappers-louvre

I would put viewing the actual Mona Lisa as the #1 culture experience that undershoot expectations by the widest possible margin. This is a much, much better experience:

http://musee.louvre.fr/zoom/?culturename=en-US

Anon May 5, 2014 at 11:16 am

My wife and daughter visited Paris for a few days last year and struggled to find vegetarian food . What were they doing wrong ? Where is it easily available in central areas?

prior_approval May 5, 2014 at 12:05 pm

The French don’t care about vegetarians – in stark contrast to the UK. Starting with the extremely detailed labelling (voluntary, it must be noted, due to seeming customer desire – apparently there is essentially no need for any government regulation in the UK when it comes to accurately portraying what makes up the food one is eating).

Jersey was a paradise to shop for a vegetarian – not to mention the couple of vegan friends I brought things back for. France wasn’t impossible – Bretagne had an interesting variety of products produced according to traditional methods.

But in the Elsaß, vegetarians are pretty much shunted off to eating Flammkuchen without ham – and vegans can just about forget about eating in that part of France in public regardless. The few places serving that traditional French dish, Käsespätzle, aren’t a substitute for vegans either.

As for Paris – you can always eat bread and cheese (I assume Prof. Cowen was at least capable of finding a good bakery), and it is a large city.

Philippe Duhamel May 6, 2014 at 1:15 pm

I confirm. Some – extremely rare – Parisians go for vegetarian food.

You can find a vegetarian restaurant (Le Végétarien) right down my office on rue du Faubourg Poissonnière (10th). But surrounded by meat-rich eateries.

Try Big Fernand which makes ultra-delicious French-style burgers. http://www.bigfernand.com/fr/pdf/menu.pdf

Who said the French do not adapt ?

Jun May 5, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Use Happycow.net. There are lots of options and their number are increasing by the day.

taips May 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Why would you expect NOT to struggle?
Vegetarian food has never been a strong tradition anywhere in France.
None of the numerically important migrant communities come from particular vegetarian-friendly places (North Africa, Indochina, West Africa, China). Contrast this with the massive Indian subcontinent communities in London (language, historical ties, etc.). As a result, self-reported vegetarianism rates are low (around 2%, wiki says) even by WestEurope standards, and that may include some that identify as vegetarians while eating fish.

So vegetarian restaurants would immediately cut a massive chunk off their potential customer base. Add in a subsidized cattle & pig industry (not that meat is that cheap in France, but it’s probably cheaper than w/o the CAP) and what’s left?

Unless you really build up your niche and attract every vegetarian tourist in sight, a veg restaurant really isn’t that profitable an endeavour. What am I missing?

Adrian Ratnapala May 5, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Because there are lots of vegetables in the world and it’s not really that difficult to cook them and put them on plates.

Doug May 5, 2014 at 11:25 am

Meh, London’s gotten so much better in the past 5 years (thanks Boris) and Paris has gotten so much worse.

Pierre May 5, 2014 at 12:52 pm

I have the impression restaurants and bars got better in Paris the past 10 years.
The city got cleaner too.
But lots of poor immigrants from eastern Europe. That’s new.

Philippe Duhamel May 6, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Yep. The world is going for Paris. London’s too damn expensive….

Pierre May 5, 2014 at 12:07 pm

American tourist likes Marais.
In other news, water is wet.

Attila Smith May 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Cher Tyler, comment un homme aussi intelligent que vous peut-il être à ce point obsédé par la nourriture ?

Gabrielle May 5, 2014 at 4:09 pm

I’d venture to disagree – having lived on the left bank for many years, it is indeed most of the left bank that is now oppressive and rather bourgeois, particularly St. Germain des Pres and the Latin Quarter (overrun by gaggles of British tourists and American students on a spree). The up and coming areas of the right bank, around the Place de Clichy and to the east near the Buttes de Chaumont and the Canal St. Martin, once no-go zones, are where you’ll increasingly find the young, the hip, and most of the decent nightlife. The Rue des Martyrs, south of Montmartre is a true dining destination as well – you’ll find a lot of relatively inexpensive and chic restaurants focusing on local and seasonal produce, like the wonderful La Famille. The Gare de L’est neighborhood is also a hub for nightlife and cuisine these days since the artist Andre opened La Fidelite in 2010 – Chez Jeanette, once a neighborhood wine bar is now the place to be scene on the right bank – but go for the cheese and charcuterie platters. Further east, the Rosa Bonheur has been the best place to snack and drink for years now, a traditional guingette in the heart of the Buttes de Chaumont park.

Outside of the western parts of the Rive Droite which remain staid and very bcbg, the right bank has a great deal to offer !

Philippe Duhamel May 6, 2014 at 1:17 pm

The Right Bank IS Paris.

Gabrielle May 5, 2014 at 4:14 pm

By the way, for a great stand alone fromagerie, try the one on the Rue Daguerre (where I lived for many years) – it’s one of the last traditional market streets in Paris and you can find some excellent cheese here – as well as fruit (two primeurs) and fish. Also one of the greatest traditional restaurants in Paris is adjacent, called a mi-chemin, situated on Rue Boulard, long a favorite of traditional French political types.

Another market street to try for fromage is the Rue du Commerce – though the side closest to the metro has been overrun by chain shops, the side furthest from the Eiffel tower still has some gems, including a great fromagerie. The outdoor market on the Boulevard Raspail (Sundays) is also great.

Pierre May 5, 2014 at 4:54 pm

And rue Montorgueil, rue de Lévis, rue Mouffetard, rue Lecourbe, rue Rambuteau, etc. etc.
It is not so hard to find typical streets in Paris with excellent fromageries.

Gabrielle May 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Rue de Levis, for sure, though not many tourists are going to venture into the XVIIe. As for Rue Montorgueil, I find it’s mostly overpriced restaurants and clothing stores these days rather than a market street – haven’t had a good meal there in years. I LOVE Rue Lecourbe, though, especially since it leads to my idea of nirvana – the Grande Epicerie at the Bon Marche !

Bradley Gardner May 5, 2014 at 4:24 pm

The Mona Lisa is underrated.

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