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On one of the many gray rainy days in Paris, I sought out the warmth and comfort of sun. Morocco was too far away to go for lunch, but Maison de Couscous is in the 14th, only a metro ride away. I found it a bit funny to see a roaring fire on the tv screen facing the dining room; it was as if everyone was pretending we were someplace warmer, using any means possible. The restaurant is a bit off the main road Alésia, so it’s easy access by metro Alésia, and the servers are welcoming and friendly. They had a big sign in front saying that all the couscous dishes included all you could eat couscous and vegetables, so the very reasonable under 15 Euro menu is an even better bargain if you are a big eater.

Since I love lamb, I tried their lamb, but found it a bit bland and dry, even though the serving of meat was quite large for Paris. The vegetables and broth were resonant with aromatics, but I longed for more depth, complexity, and salt.

I found my perfect couscous with their Merguez sausage couscous, savory, spicy, and absolutely addictive. The sausage added the depth and complexity I longed for in the lamb version and as large as this portion was, I managed to finish the entire plate. Their merguez was the best I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve eaten many many links of merguez!

I only ate about half the large plate of couscous because I was so enamored by the merguez and vegetables.

By the time my dessert pastry came I was glad it was a tiny morsel of sweet date in a honey soaked sesame topped crust.

The also offer ice cream, but I think the little bite of date or in this case, pistachio in honey soaked filo, are far more satisfying.

Finding a small neighborhood spot with nice people and excellent merguez couscous is like finding a ray of sunshine among the rain clouds; head towards it and enjoy it.

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The only time I go to a church on Sunday is when I’m visiting one as a tourist. Even though I’ve visited Paris too many times to count, and lived here now for over a year, I had never gone to Sainte Chapelle until one rainy gray cold morning last month. It is next to the Hall of Justice, so the side by side juxtaposition means entry is strictly controlled by the gendarmes; be prepared for TSA level screening because the entry allows access to both depending on the day of the week.

The Hall of Justice

The entry to Sainte Chapelle is under renovation and has only a small gift shop and this small section open to the public.

Even in the stained glass, the the proximity of “church” and “state” is a theme is played out in both the history of France and in the art in Sainte Chapelle. The stained glass comprises more of the structure than the stone in the building which was finished in a record breaking 6 years time in 1248.

The exterior does not convey the magical light the stained glass gives from within, especially on a gray rainy day.

The breathtaking 15 panels are one level above the entry, so after climbing the steps (the pic was taken looking down from the top),

you reach the main part of the church which looks like this on the outside

but the inside is magically different

with sculptures of each of the apostles in between the glass panels which depict various scenes from the bible.

Spending time inside this “colorful lantern” has a wonderful magical effect of making the gray skies outside disappear:)

On my last day in Barcelona, I went to the Fountain of Montjuïc. Originally I was going to go up to see the light show that night, but with a transportation problem, dinner plans, and club hopping all vying for my time, I opted for the afternoon. Everything works out in the end, and twilight ended up being a perfect time to enjoy the fountains with no crowds 🙂

Barcelona was a beautiful break from the gray rainy cold of Paris, and I’m sure I will have another rendez-vous soon with this delightful town 🙂

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