Sunday, September 15, 2019

Shop, walk, eat

Friday evening, we dined with Sanibel friends Jane and Marcel once again.  This time, we had a drink in the apartment and then ventured simply around the corner to Le Café du Commerce, where I'd made a reservation by phone.  Le Café du Commerce is not reservable online.

We paused for refreshments at Le Murmure Fracassant
(The Shattering Whisper) on Friday.  It is a brasserie on the Avenue Félix Faure.
Notice the crows in the overhead display cases!
But it is always open, 7 days a week, even on holidays, all the way through the entire summer.  Le Café du Commerce is big, and it is spread out on three levels, with a central atrium open to a glass ceiling that opens and closes according to the weather.  Before the space became a restaurant, it was a fabric store -- hence the need for a glass ceiling that allowed for lots of light.

The servers are appropriately attired in black and white, and they are quite professional.  The restaurant has a fairly extensive menu, which includes many of the French classics that we have come to expect.
Sardine appetizer at Le Café
du Commerce

After a delicious dinner, we walked our friends back up to their hotel on the Rue de l'Avre.  That's a hotel which we recommended to them.  In fact, we've recommended it to many friends over the years, yet we have never stayed there because we have the apartment.  The Hotel de l'Avre has kept up with the times and now has air conditioning.  The location is very convenient, yet the street where it lives is quiet.  We recommend asking for a room facing the courtyard garden.

Earlier in the day, Tom and I found the Rougier et Plé art supply store that is located in our area, on Rue Lecourbe.  While not quite as big as the Saint Germain location, the Rue Lecourbe store is impressive enough.  It occupies a graceful building that was once a workshop or fabric store.  Tall, arched windows line the upper floor's façade on the street side.  Toward the back was an old glass ceiling with metal framed glass panels, some of which could be opened at an angle.

I've been wanting to do some sketching, so I bought two small sketch books, three art pencils, an eraser, and a small pencil sharpener.  So far, I've sketched an image of the sunflower from the center of the Provençale tablecloth on our dining table.  I hope to sketch some more today.

Interesting note about my main sketchbook:  its 67-lb. paper is made in France, but the sketchbooks (spiral bound, with hard black covers) are assembled in China!

A women's hat shop on Rue des Entrepreneurs.
Yesterday was one of those Saturdays when Rue du Commerce is pedestrian-only.  So far, this is just one Saturday per month, as an experiment.  But people of the 15th arrondissement clearly like it.  By mid-afternoon, swarms of locals were walking and shopping on the street.  Pedestrians rule here, unlike back home in Lee County, Florida, which is the most dangerous place for pedestrians in the entire USA, according to one of my dearest friends who is an expert on the subject.

I needed to replace my handbag, which had a broken zipper.  (Zippers are great deterrents to pickpockets.)  So I joined all the other shoppers yesterday.

The first shop I entered, Le Bagadie, sells nothing but handbags and wallets.  The saleswoman was particularly helpful.  First she showed me several Longchamp bags, but as she learned about my preferences, she came closer and closer to finding a bag with the features that I wanted.  Finally, she showed me a Lancaster Paris bag which seemed to be perfect.  But, I explained, I just started looking, and needed to look around some more.  I did say that I thought I'd probably return for that bag later.  It was an expense, and I needed to shop to be sure I had the right thing.

And so I looked in every shop on the Rue du Commerce, Rue des Entrepreneurs, and the entire Beaugrenelle shopping mall that carried handbags.  This took hours, and miles on my feet.  After the Beaugrenelle mall, I returned to Rue du Commerce to check out a few last places.  Then I went back to Le Bagadie and bought that taupe Lancaster Paris bag.

I explained to the saleswoman that I found myself comparing every bag that I saw to that particular Lancaster Paris bag, and all those other bags came up short.  Lancaster is a French leather goods company, headquartered in the 9th arrondissement.  The company was founded in the 1990s in the heart of Paris.  Not coincidentally, France has numerous technical school programs in leatherworking.

Interior of Bernard du Qunzieme.  Notice the many pepper mills
lined up, on display, in the middle.  The Chef recommends a
particular kind of pepper for each dish -- even dessert!
Later, at home, I listened to Tom talk about his day (going over reviewers' comments about proposed new readings in the next Norton Sampler) and transferred the contents of my old, broken-zippered bag to the new French handbag.

Eventually, we decided to dine at Bernard du Quinzieme on Rue des Entrepreneurs.  The walk to the restaurant is pleasant -- down Rue du Commerce to Place du Commerce with its beautiful park named Square Yvette Chauviré, and over to Place Violet and Rue des Entrepreneurs.

On Rue du Commerce, we paused in the doorway of Le Bagadie so I could show the saleswoman the new handbag in use, and how well it coordinated with my dress for the evening.  She smiled said she loved the dress, and that the handbag went well with it.  She is an excellent saleswoman!

Golden bream with julienned veggies at Bernard du Quinzieme.
Dinner was very nice -- rabbit terrine and golden bream with julienned veggies for me, and ham with melon and veal chop with veggies and scalloped potatoes for Tom.  Desserts were a rhubarb concoction resembling profiteroles without the chocolate sauce for me, and a nougat for Tom.  This was great value:  three delicious courses (with properly sized portions) for 27 euros per person.

Even though we've dined at Bernard du Quinzieme only a couple of times, the place has fond memories for us:  it used to be the location of Le Tire Bouchon, a fine bistrot that was run by Isabelle and Laurent Houry.  Nobody makes a tarte fine aux pommes or a pomme purée as well as Chef Laurent does.  He makes so many things so very well!  And you'll never meet a sweeter, nicer person than Isabelle.  We miss having them in the neighborhood!

Here are some more photos:

Veal chop and veggies (above) at Bernard du Quinzieme, along with scalloped
potatoes served on the side (below).

Two kinds of pepper, one for each main course, at
Bernard du Quinzieme.

Desserts at Bernard du Quinzieme:  rhubarb and cream stuffed pastries with pepper ice cream (above),
Nougat with pepper, below.

Starter courses at Bernard du Quinzieme:
ham with melon, above, and rabbit terrine with gherkins, below.

The former town hall for the village of Grenelle was terribly neglected for years,
but now is is properly restored, maintained, and used for community programs.
It sits at one end of the lovely Place du Commerce.

Around the hugging bears statue in Square Saint Lambert are new community
gardens, with apples, ripe tomatoes, peppers, and much more (above and below).
We passed these on our way to Rougier et Plé on Rue Lecourbe.

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