Vicarious Visit: October in Paris


WHAT’S THE NEXT BEST THING to a trip to Paris? A friend’s trip to Paris, when you get to see pictures and hear about meals and fortuitous conversations and the discovery of unusual shops and forgotten streets.

These images came to me in almost real time, through the magic of texting, and some are so evocative I just had to share. (The friend in this case is my wasband, Jeff Greenberg. Commentary in italics is his.)

My sense is that Paris isn’t going the way of New York, at least not as quickly. I know there are chain stores along some of the major boulevards, but it seems that Paris still abounds with one-off shops and cafes. Not to mention perhaps the most stunning urban vistas anywhere.


The beloved Hotel du Quai Voltaire on the Left Bank, above, very close to Musée d’Orsay (we’d stayed there before, in ’98). Small rooms, big view. Note list of famous residents on plaque to right of entry.

Below, at Café La Palette in Saint Germain des Pres:


All around me, it seemed like Jean-Pierre Léaud and Bernadette Lafonte were deep in conversation. Every time I hear French in a setting like this, it sounds like they are discussing the fate of mankind, but they’re probably just talking about their laundry. 

Below, a bridal photo shoot in the rain. Do you prefer color (the original) or black and white (my doctoring)? B&W makes it look magically like Henri Cartier-Bresson.


Wish the one below was a video so we could hear the violin…


Below, a place I’ve never managed to get to, the Jardin des Plantes (botanical garden). Next time!


Nighttime street scenes:


An extraordinarily preserved 1950s neon-lit cafe on Blvd Saint Germain:


Some of the oldest streets in Paris, below, are in the 4th arrondissement on the Right Bank. The Tudor style half-timbered house, listing a bit, is one of the only remaining medieval houses, from the 1500s.


A random act of art:


Below, Picasso’s first atélier, in Montmarte.


Why does such an essentially simple scene, above, so clearly say Paris, and nowhere else?


Place des Vosges in the Marais, above, with and without people. The architecture is flawless, completely self-contained. A beautiful day with low sun casting those Last Year at Marienbad shadows. (Another film reference!)


Below, covetable items from the Marché aux Puces (flea market). Vintage posters priced around $300, which seems quite reasonable.


Mustn’t forget the food… a historic patisserie, below, and sesame-encrusted fish at Au 35 on Rue Jacob.


Dinner last night, plus parsnip soup, creme brulée and a perfect Sancerre. Lesson:  Let them pick the wine.

Yes, Paris is still there in all its Parisian-ness, and I find that very reassuring.

For more Paris, my own posts from my last visit there in 2012 can be found here.

For Sale in Springs: A Long Island House as Old as They Come


THERE ARE VERY FEW truly old houses on the East End of Long Island, but those that do remain, like Mulford Farm in East Hampton, are among the oldest in the country, dating back to the earliest English settlers in the 17th century.

So it’s possible that this little house I’ve always admired, at a bend in Three Mile Harbor Road in Springs, about 4 miles north of the Village of East Hampton, is as old as the real-estate listing says. Though “1639” strains credulity a bit. As does the whole story that goes with it, per the multiple-listing sites:

This Property Situated On 2.3 Acres Has Amazing History. Built In 1639 Part Of The House Is Made From The Wood Of A Ship And Has The Original Wood Pegs Holding It Together. The Wood Is Numbered In The Event That The Ship Was Wrecked It Could Be Put Back Together. There Is An Operating Farm Stand On The Property. This Historical Home Is Truly One Of A Kind.

Yes, the property (240 Three Mile Harbor Road) was well-known for years as the site of the Pig Pen farmstand, with a battered pink pick-up truck serving as signage. The house’s red shutters and the farmstand’s pink truck have always been a cheering sight for me when, arriving after a long drive from the city, they herald my return to Springs.

The house always reminded me of England, sitting at the bottom of a rise, surrounded by a usually very green lawn.

The farmstand never opened this season, which was a great pity — we need all the farmstands we can get — and then a For Sale sign appeared on the property.

The four-room house on 2+ acres is priced at $1.869 million, with annual taxes of $5,500. What’s odd is that it went on the market in July at $1.2. The ask was raised considerably in September.

It would be nice if whoever buys it reinstates the farmstand, and I certainly hope they don’t tear the house down.


Anyway, thanks to the real estate listings, we finally get to see the interior of the house, below. Now I believe that story about the ship’s planks.