On the ninth day my French friend Véronique offered to show me around. I was curious to see the 19th arrondissement, which is a diverse residential neighborhood that has recently grown in popularity (or rather is gentrifying). Our first stop was 104/Centquarte, a contemporary art center in the former building of Municipal Funeral Services. Over 200 artists work in the center’s studio spaces, which are open to the public. Unfortunately, we were there too early and most of the building was closed, but we saw some installations around the vast lobby.
After 104/Centquatre, we took the subway a few stops to the nearby Buttes-Chaumont park. Buttes-Chaumont makes Central Park look like a flatland. The park has a lake, waterfalls, bridges, cliffs, hills, etc. It reminded me of the romantic-style settings of Watteau’s fête galante paintings (a genre of paintings typically depicting aristocrats frolicking outdoors).
We went for a mini-hike in the park and then met up with our friend Jacqueline for lunch in the Marais. We went to one of the two locations of the Rose Bakery, which is my favorite non-French, non-Moroccan restaurant in Paris. The restaurant is owned by a Franco-English couple and serves English-inspired food, specializing in market-fresh vegetable dishes and baked goods. We ordered two vegetarian tarts and one tofu avocado salad to split. The food was delicious and the trendy people-watching was equally interesting (my friends recognized a French actress, although I didn’t know her). I found it was funny that the restaurant’s help wanted sign was only in English.
Following lunch Véronique and Jacqueline showed me their favorite boutiques in the Marais. We walked to the Bastille and then decided to go to the Great Mosque of Paris for tea. The Great Mosque is the largest mosque in France and it is stunning! We selected several types of middle eastern pastries and then sat in the courtyard garden where waiters came around with trays of sweet mint tea. The courtyard was pretty and relaxing, minus the occasional pigeon flying around. We peeked into the indoor restaurant, which was also quite beautiful and took some photos there.
We took the bus back to my friend’s apartment to meet Monica. It was my first and last time on a bus in Paris, since similar to NY’s buses, it was scenic, but very very slow. At night Monica and I went out for (an undocumented) dinner with a family friend at the historic Brasserie Wepler. Picasso, Modigliani, Apollinaire, Henry Miller, and Truffaut all frequented the restaurant, so it was lovely to experience the grand brasserie and enjoy a meal with great company.