Monday, June 11, 2007

A Paris Morning

Life in Paris is not all croissants and cafes, foie gras and champagne. Sometimes you have to do the laundry. So I thought I'd share my walk through the streets to do this little chore, and show some not-typical shots. They aren't glamorous, but they're different, and so unlike life here that perhaps they'll be interesting.
Here's home: on one side of this church building on a corner of Blvd. St. Germain are flats the University rents to visiting students and faculty:

Here we go down Rue Jacob on a rainy Monday morning.

It's the day after Pentecost, a semi-holiday in France, so there aren't many people around. We're going all the way down the street and around the corner for several blocks. Rue Jacob is a fairly typical street in this part of Paris: a few hotels and cafes, lots of shops selling expensive jewelry and clothes, decorators, and art galleries. The street originally ran along the northern wall of the Abbey of St. Germain de Pres, which took up most of the land in the area until it was shut down during the French Revolution. Except for the church and the Abbot's Palace the remaining abbey buildings were torn down during Napoleon III's major urban renewal project in the 1860's.

This building predates the destruction of the Abbey, because according to the placque on the front, in this building in 1783 John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and representatives of Great Britain signed the Treaty of Paris ending the American Revolution and establishing the United States.

Now we see some glamor shops: sorry, pictures don't show too well.

Off to the right: Rue Echaude--this used to be the eastern wall of the Abbey. Obviously street widening did not happen here. There are more lovely expensive galleries and shops up there.

Here's the destination. See that little maroon sign? It says "Laverie" (laundry), but the windows are almost hidden by posters, and of course the garbage can in front for pick up doesn't help either. Two years ago, I came with precise written instructions from a friend about how to find this place, but I couldn't find it. I looked for a week, and then--there it was! I hope you can see why I had trouble. (No, it wasn't sideways--blame that on Blogger :))

Here's the inside view. This is it, in its entirety except for three chairs at the front. It takes a lot of patience, good manners, and "pardons" to manipulate laundry through this space. One pays at another machine in the front, not at the machine, which means more siddling back and forth.

After I put the laundry in, I usually went and bought a copy of the International Herald Tribune at this shop. Too picturesque, isn't it? Usually there are so many people around that you don't notice.

And then back home dodging some typical urban hazards:

This round-trip is almost a mile, and I carried laundry in my handy-dandy L.L. Bean tote bag. Then I usually went out again to do the grocery shopping, carrying groceries back the same way. Did I mention we lived on the third floor, no elevator? THAT'S why French women don't get fat.


Debra Spincic said...

I am sure you are right about french women. The more conveniences American women have the fatter they seem to get!

I love the purse with its nod to the GFG quilts and that yellow storefront!

Great walking tour!

Allison Ann Aller said...

It all looks terribly exotic to me, laundry or no laundry.
Very cool to see where the Treaty of Paris was signed. Gave me goosebumps!

Jane Ann said...

Ah, Kay, you're in my favorite area. Being an old decorator warhorse, rue Jacob is one of my faves. And I love the rue de Buci marche, which must be near your laverie and newstand. I think we've traced each other's footsteps. (I swear I stayed in a very small, very worn hotel near the bookshop in your picture.) Thanks for the memories!

Rian said...

Kay, what a great adventure--you win the prize for the coolest blog chapter yet! How everyday! How j'ne sais quois! I remember trying to navigate the laundrette in France, and you are so right, it takes patience and perseverance!

diva of quilts said...

thanks for sharing your photos, next best thing to being there!

Rhonda said...

I always wanted to visit Paris. Thanks for showing me a little bit of it and sharing some of the history. Love your humor, too.

Angel said...

Love the photos! Quite an exciting adventure.

Deb H said...

I actually lost weight on our trip to Barcelona, & we ate really well, but walked a LOT!

Thanks for taking us along. It really is interesting to see another country, & Paris is one I really want to visit some day.