I lived in sunny Southern California for so long that I don't remember what seasons are, other than warm (75-85F) and cool (65-75F). I arrived in Paris in September to rain, so it was a temperate change, and with an umbrella, boots, and a raincoat, I was fine. There was definitely a difference in November as night fell earlier and the crispness in the air began to chill to the point of being cold, requiring layers of clothes and the very Parisian art of wearing scarves. Menus changed to include heartier dishes like soups and braises, and oysters started arriving at all the fishmongers and restaurant terraces.
My friends and I met for an afternoon meal and found five cafés at the Place du Marché Sainte Catherine, all with sheltered patios and heaters. Since all five cafés had variations of the same formule, or lunch special of entree+plat or plat+dessert for 14,50€ (about $20), we chose the one which had the plats we wanted the most that day. Open 7 days a week (a rarity in France), Le Marché is the one with the green patio at 2 Place du Marché Sainte Catherine 75004. We all ordered the lentils with saucisse, a cold weather comfort food staple. My dish could have been hotter, but the flavors were so good that we all scrapped every last bit of lentil with bread to clean our bowls.
One of my friends rarely eats red meat (yes, she is French, and yes, she ate the lentil & saucisse appetizer:), so she ordered the curry shrimp which smelled so good that I want to order it next time! The shrimp were lightly sautéed and it was a very generous portion for the price.
My other friend is as much of a fan of red meat as I am, so we both got the steak frites with green peppercorn sauce cooked bleu (almost raw). She said it should have been warm in the center, but I've only ever had a steak cooked bleu cool in the center. We both agreed it was better to have a steak arrive bleu and cool than warm and (to us) overcooked.
The green peppercorn sauce was divine and I used it more as a dip for my frites than as a sauce for my steak. The fries could have been crisper, but they were good enough that my shrimp curry eating friend ate half my portion.
I don't watch much television here, but one of my friends recognized this guy (in black leather jacket seen in profile) at a neighboring table from a local television series. She waited until we were leaving to go up and talk to him and made his day by recognizing him in front of his friends!
We walked to the nearby Place de la République where numerous demonstrations are held and it seemed one was about to take place as a fleet of Gendarmes (police) were in formation with helmets and shields.
So we left the monument and went window shopping on nearby Rue Meslay, where wholesale stores sell shoes and clothes. A few will sell retail (look for a sign that says "detail"), but most sell only in lots or half lots. As in any business, if it's a slow day and you have cash, you might be able to get what you want even if it's not their official policy to sell individual items. You won't find high end designer names here, but you might find something for a lot less than you would buy it for in a department store.
At the end of Rue Meslay, near the Strasbourg St. Denis Metro is this arch at the intersection of Blvd. Saint Martin and Rue Saint Martin.
A few blocks away at Rue St. Denis, this arch will remind you that this was one of the oldest streets in Paris, originally laid out by the Romans.
Keep in mind that the oldest profession is still practiced around this area, so if a young woman approaches you and acts very friendly, be aware that her company has a price.
My vices run more along the lines of food and wine (as anyone reading this blog already knows), so when author Laura Florand said Jacques Genin is her favorite chocolatier in Paris, I had to taste his wares. She writes romance novels about chocolatiers in Paris, so she has to do extensive research to make sure the details are on point. It's a tough job, and I'm glad she has taken on the task so enthusiastically and thoroughly for the sake of her readers!
Jacques Genin's shop is the inspiration for the shop that she wrote about in one of her books, The Chocolate Touch. There is a beautiful tea salon where you can taste the chocolates, caramels, and colorful jewel like pâtes de fruits, as well as one of the richest hot chocolates in Paris. Eat lunch somewhere nearby and come here for dessert.
I came for the chocolate and caramels so I got an assortment of both. The gray metal box which holds the chocolates is a great souvenir of the tastes you savored and can serve as your place to stash anything else you treasure after you've finished the treats inside it.
Of course the collection you chose for your box can be customized to your tastes and the presentation is as sophisticated as you would find if you bought fine jewelry.
The smallest box of nine cost 11€ (about $16 USD), but they offer boxes as big as a flat screen television, so you must decide on the appropriate size for your appetite :)