I hate Paris.
This morning we were determined to beat the heat by hunting for croissants early in the morning. We left about 9 or 10 and it was actually still quite cool at that time. We walked to a patisserie of Cyril Lignac, recommended by FGA of course, and on our way passed through the Jardins du Trocadéro.
It had an excellent view of the Eiffel Tower, being directly across the Seine from it. Now I can say been there, done that.
Buying the croissants was a trial. When I asked, “Parlez vous anglais ?”, I got a sigh and a yes. Then it turned out that they had a minimum credit card charge of €10, so I had to run around trying to pick out a bunch of other things. At one point the girl helping us put her hand to forehead, as if to say, “I hate Americans, they give me such a headache.” You know, if you hate us so much you could just say “Non” and we would leave and you wouldn’t have to deal with us anymore.
The pastries were good, no doubt. The croissant was eggy, which I liked a lot, although the layers were not cleanly separated. The kouign amann was great, much better than the one we had tried from Midori Bakery in Redmond. The chocolate fillings were, hmm, not in the style I prefer. They were too sweet and too airy, with a splash of alcohol in them. I prefer simple ganaches of just chocolate and butter.
We took our pastries to a park bench in the Jardins du Trocadéro and contemplated how unfriendly Parisians are and how much we didn’t want our pockets picked beneath the Eiffel Tower. (In fact, Hide had already been approached by a scammer.)
The day was not really hot yet but we didn’t want to carry around our remaining baked goods so we headed back to the hotel. There we proceeded to take a gloriously long nap, sleeping away most of the day. (New strategy: avoid Paris by sleeping.)
Our hotel was directly across from a supermarket and we had stopped by there briefly the night before. It was possibly the only thing I was remotely excited about in Paris, so we headed there after our nap to scrounge up some dinner.
It was a bit of an challenge, figuring out how to put together a meal with the limited hotel room supplies and avoid talking to anybody but we managed it. The saucisson, while nothing special (I’ve had better in the US and Canada), was dirt cheap (one thing I’ll say for Paris is that the food is far cheaper than in London). The cheese was amazing. I couldn’t get enough of it. I couldn’t even tell you why I like it so much. I ran out of bread and just kept eating it. The bread was a baguette from the Cyril Lignac patisserie. I didn’t like it, but I don’t usually like baguettes anyway. And for those who want to know, the salad greens were arugula and watercress (I have to say I really appreciate the wide availability of arugula and watercress in Europe).
At this point, we couldn’t avoid the city anymore, so we decided to take a walk around Montmartre. I think it’s supposed to be super atmospheric or something, but instead I just found it dirty and touristy, noisome and loud (those scooters make up for in volume what they lack in power). There are a bunch of narrow streets with dreadfully narrow sidewalks (good grief, it’s obvious Paris was not built for the comfort of pedestrians), many sections of which are eaten up by the outside seating of restaurants and bars and cafés selling the authentic Parisian experience.
The pinnacle of Montmartre is Sacré-Coeur, a Gothic basilica. It happens to be open to the public, and is much prettier from the outside than the inside. The inside is just creepy. I ordinarily like cathedrals but this one, ugh.
The steps outside of the basilica appear to be a prime spot for anybody to hang out and look at the fine view of the boring and ugly city. There are vendors doing brisk business selling bottles of water and Heineken. In admiration of the persistence of one of these guys, I paid £2 for a Heineken. Mostly I was impressed that he was willing to take pounds.
When we got back to the hotel, Hide concluded that he could see why French-speaking people would like Paris. I don’t see anything and remain mystified as to the popularity and charm of this benighted hellhole.
(Disclaimer: I’m not judging anybody who actually has positive feelings for Paris. In fact, it’s wonderful for those who do, because I would not wish this irritation on anybody.)