Paris, no capybaras (part 1)

As the Human in Charge of this blog, it occasionally becomes necessary to hijack a post and write about something that has nothing whatsoever to do with capybaras. If you stroll through my vintage blogs, you might notice some other hijacked posts, like the one featuring my ashtray collection. If you are only interested in capybara stories, check out the archives, or try the search function. You can check out the blogroll, too, for other capybara stuff. Or you can stick around for a TRIP TO PARIS!


Our street, the river Seine is just beyond those trees.

My friend and I enjoyed a couple weeks in Paris this summer. Pam and I first met long, long ago in our Brownie troop, and the less said about that, the better. After several decades of talking about travel, we went to Italy (a couple years ago) and now have enough destinations on our travel list to necessitate time travel, both functionally and financially. Here is our trip to Paris.


Peekaboo view of La Tour Eiffel from a park a block away from “home”

With her usual panache, Pam found us a spectacular apartment across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. We discovered that unlike a chic but petite boutique hotel, a fabulous apartment provides little incentive for early rising, or being out and about, at all. We compared notes and discovered that we had both “done France,” and Paris, too. Free of the pressure to climb every tower in town or to venture out to “rediscover” the French countryside with enough palaces, chateaux, and cathedrals to keep us on the road for weeks, we took our sweet time to enjoy Paris.


Our first authentic French people, also out for a walk in our neighborhood, also enchanted by the charming Belle Époque apartments

I left my cell phone at home but took 3800 photos with a real camera. You won’t be seeing them all, I promise you. I considered a “themed” approach to these blogs, but that sounded like too much work.


There is a narrow space between these buildings. Can you see it? There’s one of those turret rooms, too. Note also the motorcycle parking area.

I think what I will do is relive my trip chronologically. We’re going to walk through my photos and I’m going to try to remember why I took them. Remember that you are only seeing a fraction of my photos, so if any of you want to see “more” of something, please just ask, and I’ll tack on supplements for you.


Here is the gap. It is a staircase between the buildings, a nearly vertical connection between two streets. It took us a while to discover it, even though I took this photo of people walking up it on our second day.

Dobby has been begging to write about my trip, so I will set aside his favorite photos for a special blog. There’s no way to predict when that one will appear, but it will no doubt mess up the sequence of my presentation.


This is my friend, Pam, in a cul de sac. She looked pretty much this way the whole time, looking up, taking photos.

The only good part about flying to Europe is the free booze on the international portion of the flight. Airports are always the same: those gigantic advertisements for unfamiliar products, beige corridors, hidden restrooms with mysterious toilet and washing up fixtures, multiple empty baggage carousels,  and mayhem as you approach the taxi queue.


Our swanky area had some tagging, but overall, Paris seemed to be at the other end of the scale from, say, Brazil, which had some world class street art.

Even in Paris, the beginning of the taxi ride is forgettable, but suddenly we swooped past several recognizable monuments and then we were “home.” Once we stuck our eyeballs back in our heads after an initial swoon over our palatial digs, we reluctantly struck out for a neighborhood reconnaissance run.


At first we both thought it would be fun to bring home some French lingerie. Few purchases require more arduous effort, so it was crossed off the list as “too much like work.”

Most of our area consisted of residential buildings constructed during the late 1800’s, when decoration of the facade was de rigueur. Beyond and up the hill from the Seine, we discovered a spiffy little commercial district, upscale, but insignificant enough not to be mobbed by the bourgeoisie.


Paris in a nutshell. Check out the footwear!

Disoriented by jet lag, coming to grips with the language (We both took high school French from Miss Tully), and giddy with our good fortune, we rambled.


I ended up taking five pair of shoes with me, but no hot pink high heels. Big Mistake.

In fact, we were hungry. How about a crêpe? Not Shown: glass of hard cider.


This is a buckwheat crêpe with a bit of ham and cheese and a fried egg in the middle.

Continuing our promenade, we came upon our metro stop. When I think about it, our stop was darned weird. Heading northeast, it was underground. That’s the way we usually went. But south, across the Seine toward the Eiffel Tower, it was above-ground. I’m not going to think about that too hard, I’m already getting mixed up.


Check out the gorgeous hanging lamps. I shudder when I think of the hideous ones under our bridges.

The architecture is truly stunning. We all want that room on the corner, at the top, don’t we?


You can see that they added some sort of much-too-modern pavilion up there behind the upper oval window, but ooh la la, the views!

Here’s another one. What do you do with a tiny round room like that? Does it matter? It would be a perfect room for guinea pigs, wouldn’t it? That’s what I would do, put my Dude Ranch up there. Maybe a spotting scope so they could spy on the neighbors.


An amazing corner statement. Note the shutters, way up there, but open and folded neatly back. I believe the decorations are nasturtiums, do you agree? Maybe water lilies?

Look at these balconies! The hydrangeas are so stunning you hardly notice the curved windows up there. Check out the shutters, below. They are the elegant French alternative to BARS on the windows. Very secure, but they let in some light and air.


Note the shutters: open above, closed below.

This is kind of a plain balcony. Just roses. If you look closely, you can see that the shutters at these windows are open- they fold discreetly flat to the sides.


Each building had unique details.

The wrought iron deserves its own blog post.


Simple but elegant, I hardly saw any unadorned parallel bars. Not in this neighborhood, anyway!

The doors deserve their own blog posts, too. Is this a doorway or what?


You can see my reflection in the lower left corner of the door!

We knew from extensive research that we lived near le Musée du Vin, The Wine Museum. They serve a very nice lunch, and thanks to our previous day of surveying the neighborhood, we were able to find it before the lunch hour ended. Our second day in France, and already a navigational success!


Deceptively understated by this tidy doorway, the caverns beyond are extensive! Hah! You can see our reflections in this door, too!

My lunch and my friend and all of that French wine!


Quiche Lorraine and salade


Mlle Pamela








We lost ourselves in the museum for a while. The old cellars, with their sloping floors, nooks, and crannies are a perfect setting for displaying the tools of the trade.


It was really fun to traipse through the exhibits, not nearly as exhausting as square-room museums.

It was cool in there. Lots of copper and brick and old bottles. I wish my basement looked like this.


Cognac, gigantic copper vats used for production of cognac.

Here is a cooper making barrels. Actually, it’s a mannequin.


When I look back at these photos I realize that the ordinary things are the most French. See that blue workman’s smock? Very typical, and wouldn’t one have been a good souvenir? I would get a lot of use out of it around here.

I was very excited to see these corkscrews, because I have that one at the bottom of this photo, the sommelier with his arms in the air! I inherited it from my uncle, who knew what he was about.


Uncle Douggie’s funny corkscrew, bottom, center

Sadly, Uncle Douggie didn’t have this dog wine bottle.


I used this dogface for my facebook profile photo for a while.

He didn’t have any of these wine stoppers, either. The gift shop could have sold me the whole set if they’d had the foresight to have reproductions made before my visit.


Crow, rabbit, dog, and cat, in their own stand. There’s never a capybara.

Stupid Eiffel Tower bottles, sheesh. They were everywhere, cheap ones, big ones, fancy-pants ones, gift sets, you name it. Trashy stuff. I’d give a small fortune for one today. Sigh. Regrets.


These, however, are lovely antique ones.

One last look at the wine museum. Nicely played, wine guys.


Au revoir, little wine museum!

On the way out, the doorknobs. Seriously, the doors of Paris. This won’t be the last one you see here.


There was a pair of them on the double door entry.

There’s more to Paris than wine! These blog posts will come along, but I can’t promise when. Send along a communiqué if I dally!

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