Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pt.10 Wandering in Montmartre

This is a story of our only trip to France. If you'd like to follow the exciting adventure from the beginning follow this link to PART ONE

Pt.10 - Wandering in Montmartre

Continuing up the street (Coquiliere?) we came upon Rue Montmartre again. The particular four-block stretch of Montmartre we happened upon was loaded with cooking-supply places. My theory is that E.Dehillerin is the genuine article, and all the others are the imitations. The other cooking-supply places we checked out, although they looked like the merchandise might have been priced less, might have been a source of disappointment in the form of inferior quality. None of them had the — genuineness— of E.Dehillerin. They were more along the line of the “liquidation” places in the US.

Fancy a Truffle, dear?
Montmartre, according to Joyce’s homework, was the place to search for truffles. And, sure enough, there was an abundance of stores advertising truffles on their painted window signs. We entered one of the stores, which was primarily a coffee shop. The truffles are sold as brown lumps in a watery yellow liquid, in a very small jar. The jar has one lump, which is your truffle, or truffles? The jar is not full, just the lump, and the liquid at the bottom of the jar. The jars are kept in a glass case, and cost begins at about $30. We decided not to buy truffles, for now.
French Alleys
On Montmartre, I noticed for the first time— the alleys. They weren’t really alleys, they were courtyards. Through an entrance which sometimes had a gate, but usually was an archway going through the first-floor level of the block of buildings, the backs of all the buildings were accessible. The courtyards we saw were always very well-kept and clean, except for the ever-popular urine smell, but there was very little litter. Some of them served as parking lots for cars, some had private gardens, some were just open areas with balconies. Compared to Milwaukee’s alleys, these had more of a sense of — community. If you’re sharing the back-yard with a whole variety of neighbors, it’s gotta affect your conduct, the respect you have for your neighbor’s business and privacy. On the other hand, maybe they’re just putting on a show for the tourists.
The Metro is Everywhere
Continuing down Montmartre, then up another street, we realized, that, as long as we stayed in Paris, we could go anywhere we wanted, and when we got tired, get into the nearest Metro. Without the encumbrance of the luggage, only our 30-lb shopping bag of Mandoline parts, a few mis-steps on the Metro wouldn’t kill us, but only serve to make us stronger.
Everything is Foreign
A narrow street, we turned right. A woman’s accessory shop. The oriental woman at the counter wished us “Bon Jour”. I went in for awhile, but it was so hot - a man gets terribly hot in a ladies' shop. After nodding approvingly at a few purchases, I told Joyce I’d wait outside. Across the narrow street, there were a number of people working on the second floor, remodeling. Somehow, even the remodelling, hammering, sawing, etc. had a ‘foreign’ sound to it. A neatly-tied bundle of discarded insulation was laid in the street.

Carried away by the relaxation of it all, I sat down on a narrow ledge at the foot of the building, clanking my 30-pounder of cookware down next to me. A few moments later, I noticed that the urine smell seemed stronger here. I stood back up. Baaad dog! Was it the dogs, or, as Joyce’s brother later conjectured, was it the Parisians? Who was pissing all over these streets?

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