Monday was Charles’ last day in Paris, so we had a decidedly un-cultural day, spent walking around and shopping for gifts for his friends and family. Our first stop was Le Bon Marché, which is my favorite department store. Contrary to its name (“the good deal”), the store is anything but cheap. It reminds me a lot of Barneys, which also started out as a discount store and features similarly trendy items. We perused the clothes and then visited the beautiful gourmet store across the street (Le Bon Marché’s Grand Épicerie). It makes Whole Foods look dumpy! We bought a variety of foods (cheese, bread, raw cut vegetables) and had a picnic in a nearby park.
After lunch, we stopped at A la Mère de Famille, which is the oldest candy store in Paris and has a charming old-fashioned interior. We also visited the original Ladurée location, where Charles bought a box of macaroons for his family (this was the week before Ladurée opened in NYC).
We walked to Galeries Lafayette, which is the most famous department store in Paris and also my least favorite. It is like a zoo! The store is expensive and packed with people, which does not make for a pleasant shopping experience. However, I thought Charles should see it because it is super famous and the large stained glass ceiling in the main building is beautiful. I told Charles that the stained glass reminded me of a church and he remarked that it was like a church to capitalism.
Our next stop was the Passage Jouffroy, which is one of my favorite sites in Paris. The passages are 19th century shopping arcades, located throughout Paris (esp. near the Grand Boulevards), that were the forerunners to malls. I am curious to know how the stores inside the passages manage to stay in business because they are not in the direct way of pedestrian traffic. We visited a very cute doll house/minature store (my idea). The Passage Jouffrey also houses the Musee Grevin, which is a historic wax museum that was one of my favorite places in Paris when I was a child.
We headed back to the 10th arrondismont, continuing along the Grand Boulevards and then walking up the Rue du Faubourg St. Dennis, where we passed through an African neighborhood. It was interesting to see how the neighborhood had changed and become more diverse since I was last there in ’05. We also passed Passage Brady, which is a passage with all Indian restaurants that was around when I was in Paris.
For Charles’ last night we went with my friends to a Kosher Tunisian couscous restaurant in Belleville. I didn’t take photos, but the food was great and it especially fun to try because there are no Kosher Tunisian restaurants in NYC…at least not that I know of.