Snapshots of Paris Shopping

Snapshots of Paris Shopping
    After climbing the winding staircase of Notre-Dame, my brother  took up the challenge of warming up his ultra-modern  camera-equipment  from one of the most popular camera-clicking spots in the world as his girlfriend, Kath, stood shivering by his side. Later, I led them across the pont au Double, across Quai de Montebello onto rue Lagrance, then took the first left onto the pretty rue de la Bucherie, where there is an extremely useful Internet Shop and an extremely useless (unless you’re Buffy the Vampire Slayer and out of stakes), giant-pencil shop. My brother was so surprised, he forgot to photograph it. ‘If you bought three of those pencils, a pencil-sharpener, and an eraser,’ he pointed out, ‘you’d make it about half-way down the street and collapse.’   Just around the corner, on the right, on rue Frédéric Sauton, is a doll-shop full of spookily real babes and kids, guaranteed to stop any female in her tracks. It had this effect on Kath. She smiled through the glass, saying, ‘Aww, she’s cute,’ and girly things like that, whilst I imagined waking up in the night and seeing them marching across the floor towards me, clutching butcher’s knives and giant pencils. Luckily, just further down the same street is a sight guaranteed to stop any Northern English male in his tracks: An English Pub, The Long Hop, which made it my brother’s turn to get all watery-eyed and emotional, and for Kath to have nightmares of her own. The convenient thing about The Long Hop is that it’s about ten steps soft of Metro Maubert Mutualité on Line 10 and just across the road, Rue des Carmes leads straight up to the Panthéon.   Walking across the front of the Panthéon and looking down the broad rue Soufflot and across to Eiffel’s Tower, Brendan, who has an artistic eye, saw what a great photo opportunity this place is. He then walked around the Panthéon and his other eye, which is alcoholic, saw a second English pub, The Bombadier. Luckily, Kath put her foot down and her hand firmly on his valuables (camera equipment, silly), and pointed him back towards the Panthéon (built by Louis XV, apparently, as a thank you to Saint Geneviève for curing him of illness; although, judging by the growing number of stiffs kept in there, she doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to repeat the favour.) TOP STIFFS INCLUDE: Voltaire (‘I don’t think, therefore I’m dead,’) Rousseau, Hugo, Zola, Dumas. No common corpses here. Any ghosts caught wandering in through the walls of the Panthéon on cold, moonlit nights, are directed straight back out again.   Back down to line ten, into the Metro, three stops in the direction of Boulogne Pont de Saint Cloud to Metro Mabillon, brings you out at Place d’Acadie in the 6th. I lead us to Rue du Four, on our left, and along that to Rue Princesse, the second on our left, the start of a cool little area around Pl. St. Sulphice. Rue Princesee is full of inviting little restaurants and shops. My brother spotted a photo opportunity and pointed out, in a seemingly casual way, that there was an English pub, The Frog & Princess, right beside us. Luckily, Kath was right beside him and delicately led him in the direction of away. We walked to the end of this street, spotted another pub, turned right and walked along to Rue des Canettes, another picturesque little street, full of eateries, shops and, Brendan noticed, a bar, O’Neil’s, that brewed its own beers.   The front window of O’Neil’s was filled with designer brewing equipment, the inside was dark and inviting, and Brendan, who by now had more drool hanging from his lips than a starving Komodo Dragon, decided that he needed some inside shots of the place. Once in there, he stoically decided that, since I quit drinking some years ago, somebody had to research these fine ales. He threw himself on the sword for Bonjour Paris, and Kath loyally joined him. Their reviews were good, but Brendan knew that—as professional research has to be thorough, and as somebody had just announced that it was Happy Hour—he’d better have another. I bought an orange juice and flicked through one of the stack of Fusac’s available there.   The next day, with a late start and home-brewed headaches to contend with, Brendan and Kath called and informed me that I was helping with the shopping, as they were booked in for a show at the Moulin Rouge and had been advised to turn up around seven. Kath wanted to buy a dress and Brendan wanted his clothes ironed. This would be a race against the clock, of course. As always in these cases, the male is easily pleased, whereas the female knows her own mind. I found a dry-cleaner and amazed nobody with my grasp of French, as I asked if the clothes could be made ready for six. We got a big yes. Sorted.   Bren and Kath had done their research, though, and had the addresses for some of the major stores: Galeries Lafayette, Printemps de la Mode, and of course, La Samaritaine. I took us down to rue de Rivoli, home of La Samaritaine in the 1st, via Metro Chatalet on Line 4 and popped into several clothes shops as we walked along; Brendan and myself making the mistake of giving advice and telling Kath which combinations looked good and which didn’t. Kath instinctively rejected everything we said, of course. Probably a good idea, as I just wanted to get out of there and was nodding and grinning at anything.   When La Samaritaine was a bust, I started to get worried, but Kath seemed to be following some deep-seated intuition, even though time was running down with alarming speed. So we hopped back on the Metro and headed for Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th, home of both Printemps de la Mode and Galeries Lafayette, and spent fifteen minutes stuck in…
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