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When I went to Ramen Week in January, I passed by Dosanko Larmen. I saw the tiny kitchen through the street window turning out six bowls of ramen at a time to the line of people snaking around the block, and I made a mental note to return. It only took me a 10 months, but I finally kept my promise to myself 🙂

The nearest metro station is Quatre Septembre, which features the classic old style signage, and sits opposite several beautiful buildings.

Walking just one block south, you will find the Passage Choiseul, which is particularly welcome on cold rainy days. There are many options within the passage for lunch, ranging from ramen to wraps, and salads, and none had a line like Dosanko Larmen, so if you are in a hurry, pick a place in the passage. There are also some great shops for stationary, jewelry, and shoes, if you want to shop before or after lunch.

Once you exit the passage, one block to your left (west) is Dosanko Larmen. I learned that Larmen is ramen by doing what everyone does, looking it up online:) The line at 11:30 was about 20 minutes, but by noon it was at least 40 minutes, unless you were dining solo (random counter seats were available).

The first time I went I ordered the large standard white miso, which included bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, chives, ground pork, roasted pork, and a mellow rich broth. It was 10 Euros and HUGE. I ordered a large because 1) I am now used to Parisian sizes being small, so I thought a large would be equal to an American medium, and 2) I was very hungry, so I thought I could manage to eat most of it. I was wrong on both counts. The bowl was about 10″ in diameter and I ate just about half of it.

On another rainy cold day, I returned and ordered a small bowl:) This time I chose the red miso with the addition of egg, corn, black sesame seeds, and two slices of roast pork in addition to all the ingredients in the standard bowl for 13 Euros.

Halfway through, I knew I would not only finish this wonderful bowl, but I would reorder the red miso next time. The flavor was much richer and I loved the perfectly cooked soft boiled egg. They offer menus which include 4 gyoza for 3 Euros more, but the small bowl filled me. They also have a soy and butter (?!?!?!?) option, and curry and rice dishes, but come here for the red miso larmen and you will go back out into the cold with a smile:)

Since the sun sets now around 5pm, a stroll along the banks of the Seine could be a perfect ending to your afternoon:)

Fondation Louis Vuitton is the newest contemporary art space in Paris. It’s privately funded and is a spectacular building that makes me imagine a sailboat in space. It’s best to buy your tickets online here; the price includes admission to the adjacent park and you get to avoid the wait of over an hour on week-ends if you pre-order. There’s a reduced rate of 9 Euros until December 17 as they install all the exhibits.

There are signs everywhere leading you to the Fondation, but if you are not sure just follow the crowds from metro Sablons, Bus 244, or take the 1 Euro shuttle from Place Charles de Gaulle at Avenue Friedland near the metro exit.

Just watching the water was soothing 🙂

Some of the most beautiful surprises are friendships that last decades and which span continents and generations. I moved here thanks in large part to a friendship like that and last week I was invited to a fantastic event here because of another friend who doesn’t even live in this country! Ok, so Belgium is only an hour and a half away by train, but it boggles my mind how connections to people can be made and evolve no matter the time and or distance.

She is an alumni of a University in NYC which held a private event in Paris, so she invited me to attend as her “Plus One”. In a building with a view of Notre Dame and the Seine, champagne was served alongside beautiful appetizers. Not all of them were delicious, but all were gorgeous with contrasting textures, flavors, and some combinations worked better than others. My favorite was the one with the edible flower, filled with a marinated beef, and my second favorite was the mushroom square with the gold enoki. Her favorite was already gone by the time I got there, since six other savory bites had been passed earlier. Sweet bites were offered from chocolate to citrus, but I skipped those to make sure I could still eat dinner afterwards.

We met up with a friend of hers who lives in Paris, for dinner after the event. I love finding and sharing a new place for a resident in Paris, especially if it’s in her old neighborhood and she loves it! Le Café d’Avant is a very casual comfortable place that offers set menus from about 15€ for lunch, to 25 € for dinner. If you book with The Fork or La Fourchette, you can also get a discount don’t want to order the set menus and get at least two items from the full menu.

My friend’s friend saw two boudin and didn’t hesitate to order that and the panna cotta since that was her favorite entrée and dessert! She happily enjoyed both the traditional white and black sausages with apples, pureed potatoes and salad.

My friend and I both ordered the grilled Daurade, one of my favorite fish, served with a cheesy risotto and green beans. The menu noted that the fish was fresh and it was not only fresh, but prepared well. It could have used a bit of salt, and the risotto could have been a bit warmer, but for the incredible price of less than 15€ it was remarkable!

The only one who had room for dessert was the one who didn’t eat appetizers before dinner:) Both my dining companions loved panna cotta and both said this one got better with each spoonful (yes they shared). It was lighter than most and yet still made with cream (we asked).

The best part of any day is spending it with company you enjoy, but when I got to eat well, treat my eyes to beautiful views, and meet interesting people, all in the same day, that is a heavenly day in the city of lights:)

I finally went to Les Puces de Saint Ouen (the biggest and most well known Flea Market) last week-end. I followed the excellent instructions/map from OhHappyDay which really helped me navigate not only public transportation there, but also getting to the actual Flea Market. Most people think the swap meet is the flea market, but if you see this type of knock off stuff for sale, you are definitely NOT at the flea market.

A few words of caution, DO NOT carry your cash or credit cards in a purse or back pocket in this area, and DO NOT head back to the metro from any other street than the one in the OhHappyDay map. There is an entire tent city of homeless people under other parts of the bridge and the people hanging out next to the soccer field are very edgy, druggy, and easily provoked (and this was at noon on a week-end). If you are familiar with how the Bronx or Tijuana used to be, this is the Parisian version, so just stay on the main roads as they said in “An American Werewolf in London“!

You must get to Rue des Rosiers before you are in the center of the actual markets of Saint Ouen, and there is a handy map of the stalls online or on the street once you get there.

There are 15 markets in all and some are marked with huge signs

while others have more discreet ones like these

the stalls may line cobblestone alleys

or be scattered amid two story modern metal structures.

Some of the antiques cost thousands of euros, so there are beautiful displays

where you can peruse the unique furniture

and sparkling chandeliers.

My favorite piece was this transportable wardrobe which likely served a well to do traveler aboard a ship a few decades ago. In perfect condition and at 2900 Euros, it could serve as an armoire in a Parisian apartment today 🙂

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