It’s hard to believe it’s been a week since leaving JFK.  From my first post feeling lost and homeless, Paris now feels like a different place.

Location, location, location

Staying in the 5th arrondissement has located me in excellent proximity for walking to everything.  15 minutes to Jardin du Luxembourg and Pont des Artes, 20 minutes to the Louvre and Tuilleries, and 3 minutes to Maubert marche for this weeks’ painting spots with Atelier Alupi. Despite the fact that Google maps have started me in the wrong direction EVERY time I walk out my front door, the extra few blocks help to work off the morning croissant.  Now that I have firmly oriented myself with the Seine River and Notre Dame, I can ignore my phone, look up as I confidently strut down the Paris streets, and smile at strangers.   Bonjour!  This would not be common for a Parisian or a New Yorker, but I just can’t get the happy grin off my face!  (And I like the reaction I get in return.)


Menu du Jour

Paris makes it easy.  There’s no pressure when looking for a great lunch to dine alone– just look for a sunny spot facing a busy street and there are bound to be friendly faces.  Once I translate a few keywords on the standing menu board (i.e. gigot d’agneau and salade de maison) 12 euros is a bargain for my main meal of the day.  Being adventurous with the “plat du jour” has consistently been a good choice.  Salmon, veal, lamb and a few mystery ingredients have not disappointed.   The menu today at the local crepe cafe listed “galette with traditional Breton-style with andouille sausage.”  Anything wrapped in a pancake is good– right?  Seriously inaccurate translation.  Fortunately, the waiter questioned my choice of ordering “intestines” and directed me to the other special with salmon and spinach.

Maubert Marche inspires paintings and meals

After exploring the beautiful fresh markets on Sunday and Wednesday, overwhelmed by the amazing selection of fruits, cheeses, and everything else (that Rob would love to buy),  I had visions of preparing simple, yet gourmet meals, in my apartment when I didn’t feel like eating out.  After spending a painting class morning, perched on an empty vegetable cart for 3 hours, trying to capture the emotion of that produce, while passerby peered over my shoulder to view my painting progress,  I had a realization. Nah, I don’t want to shop or cook.  Instead of adding groceries to my bag full of brushes, paper, paints, and my messy paint apron, it was an easy decision to walk past the luscious strawberries to a quaint bistro on the corner with my new painting friends.

A Week in Review : JWH Design & Cabinetry in France
Compact kitchen in Paris

Not a JWH Kitchen

I’m not the cook in the family, even with all the kitchens I’ve designed for our family and others.  Although this Paris Airbnb would not be the key to my cooking inspiration, I’m amazed what can be condensed into 8 linear feet!  After figuring out how to turn on the strip of countertop outlets (after 2 days), the electric team kettle and coffee maker were easily put into action.  The under-counter refrigerator nicely holds a bottle of wine and a few yogurts.  The induction cooktop mounted directly above the dishwasher is an interesting design that would allow a quick meal and easy clean-up, but I’ve ignored both appliances.  The under-counter washer/dryer combo unit, taking only 24″ of space next to the dishwasher,  was definitely worth trying with a trip this long.  This one-step machine promises to take your clothes from dirty, to clean, and dry– in theory. After identifying which box contained laundry detergent packets versus dishwasher tablets, the 15-minute express cycle was the clearest instruction on the machine.  Attempting to program the load directly thru the dry cycle, I only managed to wash everything again, this time without soap.  Taking my chances again, I pushed the button named “seche” and waited  2 hours and 40 minutes for it to unlock my jeans and pajamas.   While making a ton of noise for the cycle, it literally did nothing.  With clothes now hanging on chairs and doorknobs, I won’t be recommending this space-saver to clients.

Train to Sancerre

The painting classes finished today, and now I’m packing up for Sancerre.  The big-ass suitcase which almost killed me on the first day, will not make this train ride to the Loire Valley.  My acrylic supplies that weigh A LOT more than my watercolor palette are staying in Paris, along with the odd assortment of “wrong” items packed for this 2-week trip.   (For example, any shoe with a heel is NOT comfortable in Paris.)  This mega suitcase will be dragged the 6 blocks back to City Locker tomorrow morning, through the same empty Sunday morning streets as last week.  With a lighter load, a lighter mood, and excitement for this next step, the train leaves tomorrow for French classes.

#Au revoir!

-Jennifer Howard (Thanks for reading!)