I had my second day trip to Paris on Monday. This time instead of going with a list of unmapped addresses of places I wanted to check out, I decided to make myself an agenda. This is eHow you follow an agenda.
- Step 1. Decide what specifically needs to be accomplished. More sightseeing, less getting lost.
- Step 1B. Try that again. Okay … one museum, one neighborhood.
- Step 2. Consult with colleagues. Paris Guidebook, husband, David. Practice your I’m-not-a-stalker-banter in case you bump into David.
- Step 3. Distribute the agenda in preliminary form making sure to allot enough time for each item. Google calculate walking times. Print accompanying Google Map with specific points of interest. Whip out the highlighter to do some color coding. Do NOT send agenda to David.
- Step 4. Stick to the agenda, follow the plan item by item, be ready to move on when necessary. Shopping streets are dangerous. Café lingering, while on plan, can become a distraction.
- Step 5. Table some items until next time, be flexible, know what needs to be completed. Making train home.
So how did I do? I successfully visited everything on my agenda (though in a slightly different order) plus had time for a couple of extra stops. The overarching goal for the day was to hit one museum (the Pompidou – the museum of modern and contemporary art) and wander one neighborhood (the Marais -- the bustling, fashionable district on the Right Bank home to small cafes, chic boutiques, art galleries with an ethnic mix of Jews, Alergians, Asians, and the gay community.) Here then is the detailed agenda, revised for actual events.
8:50 – Train arrives in Gare de l’Est. Take Metro M5 towards Place d’Italie and get off at Bastille (6th stop). Use leftover metro tickets. Push your way onto the subway train and make like a sardine. Count stops.
9:20 - Arrive Bastille Metro. Exit nearest exit, correct when above ground. Pull out map and walk 1 KM towards Soluna Café (52, rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, 4th), otherwise known as the Caféothèque . Walk fast because Guatemalan coffee is waiting. Notice Seine to your left, but don’t be distracted. You’ll see the river again.
9:30 – Caféothèque. Here, they know that Parisian coffee blows and they want to make it up to you. Delicious, full of cozy nooks and crannies to sit, and quirky in that “plants coming out of wall” kind of way. Text photo to husband to let him know you’re safe and caffeinated. Take home some Guatemalan bean$. Gulp quietly when they tell you your total.
10:00 – Be flexible, part 1. Caféothèque is right next door to the Memorial de la Shoah, a memorial that honors the 76,000 Jews who were deported from France to Nazi death camps. Stop here.
10:30 – Walk the quarter of Le Marais. Try to not be in the grip of the map. Let it flow, but make sure to hit Rue de
Turenne, Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, and Rue des Rosiers. If you miss them, you’re walking another
quarter and best to consult the map again. You'll want to come back here on every trip to Paris.
11:30 - Bernard Garbo (41, rue de Turenne) and Palenzo Chemise a couple of doors down. Stylish shirts at unlikely good prices. Buy your husband some shirts. He will love you. Remember the “shopping streets are dangerous” caution and refocus on your husband’s shirts. Table trendy she shops for next time.
12:00 – Place des Vosges. Take in the square that is considered among the most beautiful in the world by Parisians. Give it a few minutes. Notice the impressive symmetry – 36 houses with 9 on each side. Try not to notice the construction equipment. Time’s up. Don’t beat yourself up if it looks just like an ordinary square with trees and park benches. Take a picture anyway.
12:07 – Be flexible, part 2. Thou shalt not be in the grip of the map, but best to hold on to it. Search purse/shirt bag/coffee bag. Again. Search in tiny places too small for a map – your back pocket, your wallet, your bra. Retrace steps. OK to beat yourself up on this one, particularly if it’s a special map. Be glad that today you weren’t responsible for things you cannot lose like children and car keys.
12:30 – L’As du Fallafel (34, rue des Rosiers) for to-go lunch. Follow the bouncing blue ball on your iPhone and don’t think about the international data usage charges. Join the cultish crowd salivating at the window and be ready to order. Crispy on the outside/soft on the inside fallafel, slightly pickled cabbage, cucumbers, perfectly grilled eggplant, tahini sauce, hot sauce, all packed into a heavenly pita. Order a water and be ready for the harassment. Don’t forget a fork and lots of napkins.
1:00 - Pompidou (can’t miss it in the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement of Paris). Focus 90 minutes on the permanent collection on level 4 (contemporary art from 1960 onward) and level 5 (works from 1905-1960.) Enjoy the glass enclosed escalator that overlooks the piazza filled with street performers and smokers.
2:30 – Look for Pompidou checked bag ticket in same place you put map. OMG, how old are you? Locate passport and move it to a zipped pocket. Describe bag to French attendant and pray for mercy.
2:35 - Be flexible, part 3. Find your way past the Forum des Halles complex – an unsightly 17 acre fortress that is also a mall. Don’t curse the remodeling project that has trapped you on the wrong side. Be glad that there is a plan to overhaul these retail ruins.
2:45 – Be flexible, part 4. Stop in a bookstore, buy a new map. Know that it will not live up to your old map. Tell the blue bouncing ball you no longer need him.
2:55 – E. Dehillerin (51, rue Jean- Jacques Rousseau). Not on the agenda, and you have paid tickets for something starting in 5 minutes. Still you must walk in to this amazing professional french stainless steel cookware shop. Touch the copper and table for next time - preferably when you have an able bodied sherpa with you.
3:00 - O Chateau (68, rue Jean- Jacques Rousseau) for the Beginner French Wine Tasting booking. Stop judging that all 30 people there are tourists from the US or Canada – you signed up for the English class, you expat snob. Taste a Sauvignon Blanc from Loire, a Cabernet Sauvignon Rose, and a Malbec from Cahors. Get tips for reading French wine labels. Buy a couple bottles of the Rose – who knew all French Rose was dry and unlike the sweet passable stuff back home.
4:45 - Candaleria (52, rue de Saintonge) taqueria for dinner. A choice only a Mexican food-deprived American would make. Open every day, Sunday- Wednesday 12:30pm-11pm and Thursday-Saturday 12:30pm-midnight. Be flexible, part 5. Candaleria’s kitchen may be closed from 4:45-5:30. Do not mention hours listed on door.
4:50 – Café Charlot (39, rue de Bretagne) aka David’s favorite place to write and people watch. Sit outside, order an overpriced espresso, and eavesdrop on a beautiful, 20 something US Rhodes Scholar interviewing a Parisian women about energy policy for an article she’s writing. Best not to get out your Moleskine. Just listen and remember back when the whole world was still in front of you.
5:29 – Candaleria, second attempt. Order chips and black beans, roasted squash and Queso fresca tacos on real corn tortillas. Belly up to the one communal table. Apply hot sauce liberally, savor every perfectly (it’s been so long, the threshold for perfect is low) fried chip, use the electrical outlet to charge your phone. Order another roasted squash taco and celebrate the vegetarian day you weren’t planning on having.
6ish – Remember your power cord, skip the metro and leisurely walk in the direction of the Gare d’Est.
6:30 – Triple check that you are only 5 minutes away from
Gare d’Est. Stop into an outdoor café that’s
not on your agenda. Who cares which one. Order a glass of wine. Confirm that no
interesting conversations are going on around you. Bring out your agenda to take notes on the day. Linger.
7:15 - Arrive Gare d’Est. Stop for 4 small chocolates and a bottle of water. Wait to board train to savor the chocolates … or not. Stay vigilant on watching boards for when track number appears.
7:40 – Train departs Gare d'Est for Lux. Be on it!