|One view from the tower of Notre Dame de Paris|
The activities of week 1 were varied and relaxed. At this point, exploration is my main focus during down-time. I want to familiarize myself with Houilles, Paris and anywhere else I might find myself on a regular basis. Paris is relatively easy to explore without feeling lost as a landmark can always orient you. So, as of yet there has been no real anxiety on my part about being lost or feeling unsafe.
One of the nicest Parisian pastimes is window shopping. Not only fancy department stores put real effort into their displays; chocolatiers, shoe shops, and stationary stores all have impressive or pleasing arrangements.
|Murciano shop window in Le Marais|
|Patrick Roger chocolate showpiece in the window|
So far, I have eaten some pretty delicious food. It's a treat to be in a new place and try all there is to offer. I think it might take me the full seven months to even scratch the surface of Paris' food scene.
|Strudel au Pavot|
There is a Crêperie everywhere you go. I have had two this week. One sweet - chocolat noir avec amandes - and one savory - complet. The savory variety is made with buckwheat flour, so it's vaguely healthier and slightly darker in appearance. In my case, "complet" was filled with egg, ham and cheese and finished with butter. It can be mesmerizing to watch the sellers whip up your meal to order.
|admittedly an unattractive photograph of my crepe chocolat noir avec amandes|
The most posh morsel I've eaten thus far was a pistache et abricot macaron from Pierre Hermé. I went to the small storefront on Avenue de l'Opéra with elegant automatic doors, dark luxurious interiors and absurdly helpful employees who spoke to me in English even when I tried French. For the record, I continued speaking my meager French.
Today, I went to the local market in Houilles with my host mom. The market is open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. There are vendors of all sorts, yarn, shoes, jewelry, and lots and lots of food. My host mom likes one grocer in particular, so we bought lots vegetables and fruits from his stall inside the covered portion of the market. He was exceptionally friendly and spoke no English, but told me that he has family in New York. Truly, he was so kind and gave us extra haricots verts and a container of lychees just for me. The point was to prove that French markets are better than American ones, though he conceded that in the US we have better organic markets. In terms of friendliness and generosity, he certainly proved his point. My host parents joked that now if they want to go to the market they have to take me so that they can get a little extra for free. I can't wait to go back next week.
Of course there is much more to share: experiences, anecdotes, foods and happenings, but for now...