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We were back at Le Bon Marché bright and early in the morning. Hubby’s aunty had asked us to get her her dream Chanel bag. We thought it best not to leave it to the last minute. We thought we would beat the crowds if we got there early but when we got there, there was a security guard outside the boutique. There were many people in the shop and we had to wait till they left to get in. I could not believe this was happening in my favourite department store. (It is for this very reason that we avoid Printemps and LaFayette.) Thankfully, the guy who served mum the other day saw us and waved to the security guard to let us in. Boy did I feel special! 🙂 He was again very helpful and polite and we were quickly shown the model that we asked for. We got to chatting (great way to improve my French) and he was shocked when I told him the inflated price of the exact same bag in Australia. It was ‘le scandale’ and he could not wait to tell his colleague. We paid for our purchase and hurried to get our detaxe forms stamped.

After dropping our shopping off at the apartment, we decided to head to Palais Garnier.   Getting there by métro was easy. However, when we got there, we found out that the opera was closed to visitors that day as there was a performance later on in the evening. That was a bummer. By then the clouds were gathering and it had started to drizzle. We decided to run down Blvd Haussmann. There was a Comtesse du Barry store close by and we had planned on buying lots of tinned foie gras to bring home to Australia. Australia has very strict quarantine laws and only tinned meat products are allowed into the country. I read that Comtesse du Barry had tinned foie gas d’oie (goose foie gras, which is so much yummier than duck). The lady at the counter was pleasant and helpful enough. We bought several tins of foie gras (hubby is a huge fan) and a block of mi-cuit (semi-cooked) to have at our apartment.

Leaving the store, the rain was coming down in earnest. We decided it was time to break out our rainy-day itinerary – Les Passages Couverts de Paris. Les Passages are covered shopping galleries and arcades that are home to a wide variety of shops. The often eccentric and specialty shops are set against a backdrop of amazing architecture. Click here for a list of these galleries and their opening hours. It is a great way to spend a rainy day.

We strolled down Galerie Vivienne, one of the most well-known arcades for clothing, jewellery and accessories. Built in 1823 according to plans designed by the architect François-Jean Delannoy, this arcade was declared a historical monument in 1974. With a 174 metre long walkway laid with intricate mosaics, this arcade is a wonderful treasure trove of luxury boutiques, bookstores and cafés.

Galerie Vivienne

Galerie Vivienne

The beautiful mosaic floors of Galerie Vivienne

The beautiful mosaic floors of Galerie Vivienne

I found a wonderful dépôt-vente store called La Marelle. The proprietor was very welcoming when I stepped into the store. The store looked like what I’d imagine the end of Paris Fashion Week to be. The racks were crammed full of clothes, not a single one of them alike. There were bags, belts, shoes… A few chic-looking Parisians were rummaging through the racks. (So this is how the local Parisians shop…) The prices were incredible – up to 70% off retail prices. If one had the time to rummage through the racks, I’m sure there would be a bargain or two to be found. I gave it a half-hearted rummage but decided to spend my time searching for what I came to Paris for this year – books.

I had by now taken on a very healthy obsession with mastering the French language. Since French books are so difficult (and expensive) to come by in Australia, I wanted to buy as many books as I could to take home with me. I found a quaint little second-hand ‘librairie’ called Jousseaume. I spent a good hour rummaging through the second-hand books on sale, and was so happy with my finds – children’s books (perfect for my level, and improving my French!). At 1-2 euro each, I was ecstatic!!! The friendly proprietor (who looked about as ancient as his ‘librairie’) was very quick to recommend a few titles that he thought would interest me. He even pointed out a few more advanced books for me, ‘for next time, after you have finished with these’ he said.

Choosing my books at the bookshop

Choosing my books at the bookshop

By then, our tummies were beginning to rumble and it was time to head down to rue Montorgueil. We walked down rue La Feuillade, past Place des Victoires. Walking past the square, all I could think about was the poor mother who dreamt of her dead son in the movie ‘Paris J’taime’.

Place des Victoires

Place des Victoires

Along the way, I decided we had to stop by at e.Dehillerin. Recently made famous by the likes of Julia Childs and David Lebovitz, this place is heaven for the serious cook. It has everything your kitchen needs and more. Hubby thought he had gone to chef heaven. Shopping here is quite different to shopping at your usual kitchen-ware store. The shelves are piled full of wares, all in different sizes, but there are no price tags on them. To obtain a price for an item, you have to either consult a huge register, which lists all the items by numbers, or request the assistance of a salesperson. Some people have complained that the staff here are snobby and rude, but we found the guy who was helping us most friendly and polite. It’s the same as everywhere else in Paris, a little effort to speak French and politeness goes a very long way. The price of copper pots were definitely cheaper, and the quality superior, to the ones back home in Australia. Not having the room to lug pots home in our luggage (we hadn’t planned for it this time), we had to content ourselves with a gratin dish. For our next trip, I will be posting some of our clothes home by Colissimo to make room for pot purchases.

By the time we arrived at rue Montorgueil, the rain was coming down in earnest. Starving, wet and cold, we decided to head into the first restaurant that took our fancy. We found a seat at Bistro Burger. A burger place in Paris? Yes, a burger joint in Paris. There was hardly anyone around and we were the only two customers there as it was late in the afternoon. The proprietors down rue Montorgueil were shutting up shop for the day, and it was raining. The guy who served us was very chatty, explaining to us the origin of the beef in his burgers – a breed called Charolais which originate from the Bourgogne region in France. I went with a Burger Fromage while hubby went with a Burger à Cheval. We had a serve of fries and a bottle of Domaine Rouge Garance from Côtes du Rhône. We had very low expectations. Seriously, a burger in Paris? What would the French know about cooking a good burger? But we were so shocked by the quality and deliciousness of the burgers we were served. The patty was cooked to just the right amount of pink, the flavours were good, the meat was top quality… Hubby swore it was one of the best burgers he had ever had and promptly ordered another baby burger with avocado. The rain didn’t stop so we hung around that restaurant for almost 3 hours. We had two bottles of wine and even got to chatting with the guy who was serving us, who was probably the owner. He was very interested when he learned that we were from Australia and asked us lots of questions about the way burgers were cooked in Australia. It was a wonderful meal.

It was early evening by the time we made our way down to L’église Saint-Eustache. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to experience all rue Montorgueil had to offer and vowed to return on our next trip. Saint-Eustache is a fine example of gothic architecture with a huge organ. The was a service in progress while we were there so we didn’t stay long and didn’t take any photos out of respect.

The weather was still dreary and a little chilly so we decided it was time to head home to our apartment. After all the walking we had done for the day, we were keen to stay cosy and dry in our apartment, so we headed down to our trusty bistro L’Atlas for some more seafood takeaway. By now, the guy recognised us and was very friendly, patiently putting up with hubby’s earnest attempt to order in French. Another bottle of champagne from our local caviste Nicolas and we headed home for the evening. Back in our apartment, we pan-fried our block of semi-cooked goose foie gras and filled our tummies with the wonderful seafood. It had been a full day or walking and we were glad to turn in for the night.

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