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A good day for me begins with blue skies, warm weather, and a live band like this heralding the European Market Festival in my neighborhood. These guys gave me a concert directly under my window, one of the perks of living on a pedestrian street!

Instead of the usual market held three times a week in the enter square, today was a European market day with booths representing food, crafts, and information from various nations in the European Union.

I’m not sure which nation this guy comes from, but he seemed pretty happy high above the crowds.

This troll didn’t look mean or scary at all, maybe because he was the mascot for the beer bar below.

France showcased products like local honey and pollen

to the hearty bacon, potatoes and onion dish, Tartiflette.

Neighboring Spain had sausages and ham from Ibérico carved to order,

the Italians showed off Murano jewelry and glassware,

and the Hungarians sold traditional clothing.

Wandering around made me hungry, so I stopped at the Portuguese booth for some bolinhos de bacalhau (cod), meat, and chicken, all under 1.5  each (about $2 US)

My favorite was the chicken, second to the bacalhau, but since they weren’t hot, my opinion may have been different if I had heated them.

Deciding I wanted hot food, I stopped by the Romanian booth for some grilled meat. The bottom is an uncased sausage called mititei, made of lamb and beef that was slightly spiced with black pepper, thyme, paprika, and garlic. It’s very good on its own or you can dip it in mustard. They served it between bread if you preferred a sandwich, and the grilled pork end was a free appetizer with my order that cost all of 2€ (about $3 US). They also offered a taste of Romanian wine which was quite good for only 5.50 per bottle (about $7 US); it was my first taste of Romanian wine and I intend to explore more.

There was plenty of beer and cider for sale as well as wine, and some of the stands even had presses and refrigerators.

There were desserts to go like waffles, or these mini crepes from Brussels, ten for 3€  ($5 UD)

or more refined sweets from Malta or Cypress.

With tables and seats set up throughout, you could sit and enjoy the fountains

or watch children build Eiffel Towers

before the end of the festival

when of course there was also music and pageantry:)

 

It’s a beautiful balmy 72 degree Sunday and it seems everyone was out in the park enjoying a picnic, a run, or a stroll. The shaded path between the trees looked too inviting to resist

so I walked alongside the athletic people in running shoes

until I got deep enough into the park that I was alone

except for one other stray stroller.

There were plenty of empty benches and picnic tables

and even the manicured parts of the park were fairly quiet

until I saw a bevy of horses who were enjoying a day in the park too!

Flowers, a fountain, and a flawless day 🙂

 

Spring showers soaked Paris for a week. On Monday, the rain was so heavy that at times people literally hid in storefront alcoves. I meant to take pictures of the new canopy over Les Halles, but the brief moments when it wasn’t pouring were so rare that I didn’t want to risk ruining my new camera. The only outdoor shot I got was this “canopy” in the five minutes it cleared enough to take a shot.

With weather like this, we literally just ran into a restaurant nearby, the chain from Brussels, Léon. My friends who live in Brussels say that they eat there, so caught between the downpour and flooded streets, we decided to try it. They are famous for their mussels, guaranteed fresh and inspected, and they offer an incredible lunch menu of salad, mussels, coffee and dessert for under 12€ ($15 US). Being in France means a nice selection of wines, and being a Belgian chain means their beer selection is equally good. My friend ordered the menu and I ordered the regular portion of mussels marinière. They offer many varieties from creamy to curry, and if you’re not a fan of mussels, they also have pasta, burgers, chicken, and fish, but why come here for a burger? The salad wasn’t particularly inspired, but decent and fresh.

This huge receptacle for our leftover mussel shells was in the shape of a mussel 🙂

My regular size portion was 800 grams, nearly two pounds, and yes I happily ate it all! The lunch menu portion is 400 grams since you get salad and dessert. My French friend taught me how to use the shells as “pinchers” to grab the mussels and I had fun playing with my food as I ate it 🙂

Fries accompany all the mussels, and this is one of the only things that I’ve ever seen here served with as many refills as you wish. They were obviously previously frozen, but not bad.

The dessert with coffee was a crème brulée and a very sweet rich chocolate mousse. All in all, a very decent meal for the price and our waitress was wonderfully friendly and efficient, so much so that my native French friend tipped her (usually no one tips here since service is included on the bill). They have locations all over the touristy areas, so if you are on the Champs-Elysées and looking for a decent place to eat, this is a safe bet; it’s like going to a Cheescake Factory in the US, nothing spectacular, but you won’t walk away hungry or angry.

My favorite “dessert” is a clear sunny day, when you can actually see La Défense instead of hazy pollution

and when the only water spouts come from fountains 🙂

 

It’s been raining. A lot. Spring showers have brought flowers and occasionally blue skies promise better days. Instead of picnicking in a park, I went to Beaugrenelle, the new shopping center along the Seine, a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. Having the option of a warm dry indoor space in case of rain turned out to be a great idea because even though it was cloudy but dry when I left the metro, by the time I walked the three blocks to Beaugrenelle, wind and rain both came out to play.

This is the newest shopping center in the 15th arrondissement, divided into three areas, two of which are connected by a covered bridge. The “Magnetic” building was completed last year; it’s the main area with shops and quality quick food options like Eric Kayser and Exki (which is opening a branch in NYC).

The covered bridge leads to a nearly finished second area called “Panaoramic”, which houses a multiplex Pathé movie theatre, the nightclub/restaurant Bermuda Onion, and more fast food options, like Chipotle.

Since the center is brand new, everything is high tech with touch screen maps and free wifi, not to mention a very modern look.

I first went to Exki in Brussels for dessert and coffee with my friends, but lost the pictures I took there. Luckily I do remember that everything was wonderful, so I was glad to find one here stocked with the same items. Besides all organic coffees and teas, they offer salads, quiches, soups, and sandwiches to either take away or eat there for under 10€ ($14 US) you can get a menu of soup or salad, sandwich and dessert or drink. Coffee and dessert for an afternoon snack will run under 5 ($7 US). If you want something healthy, are vegetarian, or simply want a quick inexpensive meal, this is a great place to go. It reminds me of Tender Greens in Los Angeles.

There are microwaves you can use to heat up your meals

and salads come with a choice of dressings, ranging from balsamic, to raspberry vinaigrette.

You can get your fruit in fresh juices like this delicious strawberry and apple,

or if you want to indulge your sweet tooth, there are desserts which range from classic muffins, to cheesecake and tarts.

I may move in, at least until it stops raining 🙂

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