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.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
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3 Responses to Vicarious Visit: October in Paris

  1. Charlotte Thorp says:

    Dear Cara, I just love these missives! I’ve been thinking of Paris for February… not a bad time for culture IF one is lucky with weather. The thing is— I, a veteran solo traveler—am beginning to feel LONELY on my trips. Do you ever have this problem? (or ever travel alone?) Especially in the evening when I don’t particularly like going out for dinner (fine), but during the day, I sometimes want to chat with someone! I speak French, so I often do get into little conversations… lovely people… but it’s not enough. In May I was in Bordeaux (fabulous, beautiful. Did I send my account with photos? Shall I?) and had a wonderful time (patisserie lesson, ha), but… Any thoughts?? OH. I was in an airbandb. Bad idea when alone. You close the door and feel locked away… xx Charlotte


  2. cara says:

    hi Charlotte, yes, I travel solo a lot — was in Europe for a month the winter before last. What worked was to start with a 3 day visit to friends in Spain, and have my cousin meet me in Italy for a few days at the end. I fortuitously met an English couple in Nice right in the middle, and spent some pleasant time with them. Other than that, though, I had very few conversations, in any language. Yes, it does get lonely, but there’s always email and texting (and in my case, blogging). I rarely eat dinner out in a proper restaurant (usually a picnic in my hotel room will suffice, or a casual cafe). Lunch alone is easier. I’d love to see your pix of Bordeaux sometime, but not now… I have too many blog posts to write about my own stuff for the moment!

  3. Lula says:

    I want that bowl of soup right now! Hospital food sucks big time!!

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