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Blé Sucré is on so many lists as the best croissant in Paris that I had to taste them for myself 🙂 The tiny shop has a few tables outside if you want to have a coffee and eat facing the park, but I didn’t want my croissant accompanied by the melody of screeching children, so I took mine to go. This is a pâtisserie not a boulangerie, which means they offer pastries but do not sell bread. If you want a baguette, go elsewhere, but come here for the madeleines, the pain au chocolat, or the croissants. The croissants here are HUGE by Parisian standards, easily twice as big as others.

The airy light layers and satisfying crunchy flakiness make for the best of combinations, and I added these croissants to my favorites list along with all the others who came before I did 🙂

Not far away is another kind of pâtisserie, La Rose de Tunis, specializing in North African sweets infused with honey, nuts, and spices. This one is in Belleville in the 11th, but there are other locations in the 15th and 18th, as well as in other cities throughout Europe. There is always a line out the door, so be prepared to wait for your sweet treats.

Since I went to the Yelp event at Les Piaules, I wanted to explore the Belleville area a bit more along Blvd Belleville with all the streetside vendors making freshly grilled breads filled with your choice of meat, tomatoes, onions; think of it as an alternative to pizza:)

The stores sell products I’ve never seen before, like Rose jam!

There were also markets that sell products I knew very well,

like roasted ducks and char siu.

Off Rue Belleville, which intersects Blvd Belleville, the famous graffiti of Rue Denoyez adds color

 and art to everything from the storefronts to the plant holders.

Some artists were working as I passed by, but this area will be transforming in the next few years to “modernize” the street and about 30 of the local workshops and artists will be displaced despite a petition with over 10,000 signatures trying to preserve the character of this street.

The most surprising thing I saw in the neighborhood wasn’t the rose jam or the graffiti, but a Lamborghini, the only one I’ve ever seen in Paris 🙂

The Musée Rodin reopened this year with over 7 acres of gardens and sculptures. You can easily spend a day here wandering around contemplating the meaning of life 🙂

The temporary exhibit usually has a very short line, but the permanent exhibit line stretched down to the edge of the sculpture garden. Entry fees range from about 3-11 Euros ($4-13 USD), with the first Sunday of every month free, but be prepared for lines on sunny days. These days there are security checks for all museums, so leave your backpacks at home.

There are sculptures along the side of the garden which are protected from the elements due to their fragile nature.

The sturdier sculptures are scattered throughout the garden.

 

This gives you an idea of the scale of the garden area; this view is looking back at the building with the permanent exhibitions,

and this is one of the pathways from the permanent exhibition to the rotunda,

with a pond surrounded by sculptures.

One of the nice things about having sculptures outdoors is that you can literally touch them.

The Eiffel Tower is hidden by the fog, just behind the “Thinking Man”, as obscure as his thoughts…

An afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of Paris is refreshing, not only for the change of pace, but also for the reminder that not all of France is Paris 🙂

The forest and chateau of Fontainebleau is only about 35 miles away and adjacent to the forest is the small village of Barbizon. It’s a side trip worth making, especially if you have a car, but if you take public transportation, the easiest way to get here is to go to Fontainebleau and then take the short taxi ride to Barbizon (about 10-15 minutes) on the other side of the forest. Barbizon School was named after this town and this is still an artist colony with mosaics that line the main street.

The entrance to the Barbizon School.

There are charming places to eat and sleep if you want to stay in town, ranging from inexpensive to very expensive.

There are numerous ateliers where artists work and showcase their craft.

 Some homes are private sanctuaries

 while others are sometimes open for tours (but not on Mondays or Tuesdays).

 Sometimes it’s a pleasure to go to school 🙂

Today is Pablo Picasso’s birthday and Paris celebrated by reopening the Picasso Museum after 5 years of renovations. Located in the Hôtel Salé, a historical former residence, the museum displays 5,000 pieces of his work (the biggest collection in the world) as well as 150 pieces of other artists such as Cézanne, Matisse, and Gauguin.

I only saw the news that the opening day was today with the regular hours of 9:30am-6:00pm, not knowing that because it was the grand opening the doors actually opened at noon. I got there at 11:15am and there was already a huge line, so I waited, knowing it would only be a much longer wait if I came back later.

The crowd control was very well organized; I heard the Museum director say she was very pleased that over 4000 people were already queued up for over five blocks at opening time. Those at the end of the line were in for at least a three hour wait to get to the entrance!

The restoration of the building was spectacular.

Three floors of various periods and mediums gave fans plenty to peruse.

This was my favorite Picasso,

but this was my favorite piece, a Gauguin 🙂

Eons ago when I first came to Paris, the Centre Pompidou was a brand new structure that contained the newest technology and cultural exhibitions. They remodeled the entire space in 2000 and about 16,000 people visit it daily, so it’s considered successful in fulfilling its mandate of exposing people to culture in the middle of Paris. The adjacent Les Halles is being remodeled into a multi-story atrium work/shopping space called Canopée which is due to be completed in the next few years (as anyone in construction knows, every estimated completion date is a guess at best).

If you are coming to this area, you should be aware that although it has been “cleaned up” from all the drug dealing days of years past, it is still rife with street people both performing and begging for spare change. Keep your valuables at home and just be as conscious of where your wallet and camera are as you are of the antics around you, especially around Rue St. Denis.

My favorite part of this area is the space next to l’église Saint-Merri where there are several outdoor cafés and the Stavinksky Fountain with colorful whimsical pieces by Niki de Saint Phalle and her second husband Jean Tinguey.

Her pieces make me smile as much today as they did over 30 years ago when I first saw them, and I think that is the best indicator of art appreciation 🙂

What would be more apropos than to go eat sushi and have 100% of the profits from your meal help the victims of the tsunami and earthquakes in Japan? Because several of the people at Takami Sushi have family and friends in Japan, they are donating all their profits to the Japanese branch of the Red Cross with no end date for this generous act of charity as of this post.

If you want to help and either don’t like sushi or don’t live near downtown Los Angeles, you can buy a piece of art here and 100% of the profits will go towards charitable organizations in Japan. Pieces range from $15 to $1000 so get one or get several.

To update yesterday’s post, T Mobile, Comcast, and Time Warner have finally joined AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint in offering free calls (and texts) to Japan for prepaid US subscribers; better late than never, and that applies to sending aid as well.

The space at Royal/T is fun just to wander around as an art gallery and shop, but what if it is a lazy afternoon and you want a nice nosh in Culver City? Royal/T cafe offers a food fusion of Japanese art/aesthetics with French and Californian styles, all served by waitresses in French Maid Costumes (I know my friend Pel wants to work here just to wear the costumes).

All this translates to a High Tea with a choice of loose tea, served with small pastries, mini quiche, kappa maki, California roll, egg salad and spicy tuna finger sandwiches ($19.50). If you want Japanese comfort food they have a chicken curry bowl ($9.50). Just want a salad, then get a spinach & beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts ($9.00). Meat lovers can order the flank steak with roasted tomato and Gruyere on baguette ($10.00).Wash it all down with one of their 15 kinds of tea, a fruit juice, or one of the organic espresso drinks.

Today may be Friday the 13th, but there is nothing unlucky about finding great fusion fun at Royal/T.

>The space at Royal/T is fun just to wander around as an art gallery and shop, but what if it is a lazy afternoon and you want a nice nosh in Culver City? Royal/T cafe offers a food fusion of Japanese art/aesthetics with French and Californian styles, all served by waitresses in French Maid Costumes (I know my friend Pel wants to work here just to wear the costumes).

All this translates to a High Tea with a choice of loose tea, served with small pastries, mini quiche, kappa maki, California roll, egg salad and spicy tuna finger sandwiches ($19.50). If you want Japanese comfort food they have a chicken curry bowl ($9.50). Just want a salad, then get a spinach & beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts ($9.00). Meat lovers can order the flank steak with roasted tomato and Gruyere on baguette ($10.00).Wash it all down with one of their 15 kinds of tea, a fruit juice, or one of the organic espresso drinks.

Today may be Friday the 13th, but there is nothing unlucky about finding great fusion fun at Royal/T.

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