On this Friday, my brother, my mom and I all split up for different cities in France (well, actually they left, and I stayed in Paris). In the morning, my brother took a train to Lyon to visit one of his classmates. That evening, my mom would take a train with my uncle to Lourdes, which is a super religious and difficult to pronounce city where many Catholics flock.
I’ve always wondered why Madonna’s daughter’s name was Lourdes. Mystery solved.
Before my mom left for the trip, I spent the day with her. She is really into thrift stores. I asked Béné for help, and she sent me a link to the Guerrida Guerrisol thrift store chain. Turns out they had a location two blocks from where we were staying, so we walked there.
I barely walked into the store when…oh my God, the smell, the smell. The worst B.O. ever. I don’t know if it came from the customers or the shopkeepers. But the smell was so strong, it permeated every part of the store. I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell so I had to exit the store and just waited for my mom to finish shopping.
For lunch we took the metro to Place D’Italie, the Asian district again.
Oh look, there was another Guerrida Guerrisol there. This one was better. Less B.O. Bigger selection of clothes. Just better.
This is what the Asian district looks like. Mostly Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and Laotian restaurants, and pan-Asian grocery stores. Japanese food, especially sushi, is considered too mainstream to be here, I guess.
There were A LOT of pho places. Like a pho-ing number of pho places.
Even on a Friday morning, most of these restaurants were packed. The past two weeks, some of the restaurants we ate at were so packed that we sat down with strangers at tables where I could barely move my elbows for fear of knocking something over.
We finally chose this one below because it was crowded but not too crowded. If there’s anything that my mom and I have in common, we both hate to wait in line for food.
I ordered a bun bo hue, which is the spicy lemon-grass noodle I like. However at the place, it was pretty bland. I don’t know why I’m posting this picture. Probably because I feel this entry is lacking pictures.
By the way, some advice for Paris visitors: If you want free water, order a “carafe d’eau” and they’ll bring you a pitcher of tap water. Otherwise if you order “une eau,” they’ll bring you bottled water. Also, ice is not really a thing here. If you order a drink, it doesn’t come with ice. Yeah…just go with it. (The exception is iced tea.)
Also, in France you are not required to leave a tip. They might think you’re cheap since you’re in a touristy city and you have an American accent, but when in France, do as the French do. In most places it’s fine if you just round up your bill to the closest Euro. Servers actually earn a decent wage here. It’s not like in the U.S., where we are guilt tripped (guilt tipped?) into tipping everyone from a hotel doorman to the girl who weighs our yogurt.
We walked past a park.
Oh look, they’re playing table tennis here. I had seen these in Brussels as well. I don’t know how the balls bounce properly on cement though.
Little-known fact: I used to be pretty good at table tennis/ping pong when I was a kid. Belonged to a competitive club and everything. My dad was a table tennis fanatic.
That night, I went to dinner with Béné and her brothers, Edouard and Mayeul. The last time I met Edouard, he barely spoke English. This time, his English was good. So was Mayeul’s. And here I am, speaking poor French and understanding less. They all had to switch languages for me. Felt so bad. It was the Danish dorm roommate situation all over again.
Here is a picture of our nice crêperie. I swear, what is it about Parisian eateries and their stinginess with seating? At first they put the four of us at a tiny round table even though the place was virtually empty. A table that would fit two people, they somehow jammed four chairs into. I’m not French-sized, I need room for my elbows. (By the way, I already lost 7 pounds here, so maybe I will be French-sized after all.) After a while, we moved to a normal-sized table (that had six chairs) and the waitress didn’t protest.
That is Edouard in the photo, by the way. I think he looks a lot like Béné.
They ordered cider for me. I took a sip and…well, the cider here is not the spiced apple juice you get at the Cheesecake Factory. This one was fermented, like…really fermented. And it’s not like the alcoholic pear cider I’m used to, either. This was served room-temperature and had an unusual taste…I don’t want to say “unpleasant,” but it is something my palate would need time to get used to for me to enjoy.
Then we all ordered crepes. I ordered Andouille sausage, which all of them kept asking me, “Are you sure? It has a very strong, unusual taste,” probably they saw my adverse reaction to that cider. But I’m a big fan of sausages, and I’ve had Andouille before. It was delicious.
I forgot to take a picture of mine, but here is Béné’s salted caramel one. They all pretty much look the same on the outside…That’s what she said. Does that work? No? OK, sorry I’ll shut up.
By the way, Merci, Béné.
Afterward we walked around downtown, mostly to help Mayeul look for his car. We were about to cross the street when, oh what, what the hell? Suddenly out of nowhere a large mob appeared.
Hundreds of them.
My camera, however, was not quick enough to capture their fleeting majesty.
Yeah, not a terribly exciting or funny entry. I’ll do better next time, I promise.