Well, not really, because there was plenty of public transportation between stops. But I did find my embroidery stores, except for one that moved. I was going to take L’Open, but Mary persuaded me that the Metro would be faster. Glad I listened to her!
The cell phone photos: https://goo.gl/photos/wgi2LKJtYoDFxTPt6
My first stop was near the Bastille, La Mercerie Parisienne. What a treasure! A lovely little haberdashery set off the street in small courtyard. Very French, very tasteful, lots of buttons and trims, some fabrics. There were some lovely patterns that I rather lusted after, but given that I have a very full box of them at home, I didn’t buy any. There were some adorable clothing patterns for dolls too, but I couldn’t find the doll pattern so I didn’t get any. By the time I got some help from the sales clerks, I totally forgot about the patterns. Not that the clerks were rude at all-on the other hand, they were very sweet and helpful. The first one that went to help me didn’t speak so much English, so another lady helped me. I asked if they knew what crazy quilting was, and the one didn’t, but the lady that ended up helping me gave me a name of a very well known French crazy quilter, Lea Stanzaltz. I haven’t had a chance to look her up yet, but if I can find a website or something, I’ll add it here. So, I bought some buttons, some trims, and some fabric. Bias tape is way different here; I imagine you can find the typical packages we buy in the U.S., but so far all I’ve seen is small lengths of it wrapped around wooden spools or loose in small packages. It’s also patterned, not plain like in the U.S. The same is true of piping-so much more fun than at home. I didn’t buy out the store, but I had a great time and came away with some nice additions to my collection at home. And the clerk assured me they do mail order to Alaska. Something to think about… Those patterns for instance.
I also forgot to ask about couture fabrics; I had this fantastical idea of stopping at one or more couture houses and coming away with scraps they were going to throw away, for this trip’s crazy quilt project. I brought the start of another chatelaine, and now that I have something to work with, I can get started on it.
This is the one I made several years ago:
By now it’s 11:30, and there’s not enough time to get to the next store and still meet Mary at the Notre Dame Cathedral. I opted to walk from the Bastille, where I’d gotten off the Metro, to Notre Dame. Lovely day and it was maybe a 20 minute walk, according to my iPhone. So I followed the instructions until I got close enough to see the cathedral, and then just wandered around. There was an outdoor exhibit in front of the Hotel de Ville (city hall), so I took a couple pictures with the iPhone (forgot the camera this morning, darn it!). I wandered across the Seine; Notre Dame is on an island in the Seine so I just walked over one fork (and yes, there is a bridge!). Lots of small souvenir shops and I stopped and got a dish towel. Figured I had one from Ireland so I should get one from France too.
I walked over the other fork-the island is very small-and continued wandering. On this side were lots of restaurants and some small shops. I found my way back to the river and stumbled across Tapisserie de la Bucherie, a needlepoint shop. I had to take a look; I love the canvases even though I have no desire to do needlepoint. The woman running the shop was so nice. I didn’t realize she was even French, she had such a mild accent. I even found some fabric to buy!
By now it was getting close to 1 p.m., when Mary and I had agreed to meet, so I walked back over to the cathedral to look for her. I sat for a few minutes, then decided to visit the toilette. I expected one of those nasty garbage encrusted holes in the ground that I encountered on my first trip to France and was pleasantly surprised to find a clean, attended series of toilet stalls. It cost me a euro, but I appreciated the cleanliness and privacy greatly.
I got back upstairs and almost immediately spotted Mary talking with one of the visitor guides. These young men, outfitted in green with yellow smocks, are supplicants? Priests-in-training. They have to do three days at the cathedral sharing God’s word and information about the cathedral with tourists. Mary and the young priest peer-pressured me into going into the cathedral, which is absolutely gorgeous. The stained glass… Bright and clear and stunning. I do think it’s sacreligious to treat the cathedral as a tourist attraction, but it is still used as a church. Besides, I’m not in charge! And I would have missed a stunning building if tourists weren’t allowed inside!
Mary and I enjoyed a long lunch at a nearby cafe and then went our separate ways. She to a medieval history museum and I to more fabric and notions shopping. Poor Mary’s morning trip was a trial. Her bus driver dropped her off at the wrong end of the street she needed to be on, so she watched bus after bus go by while she limped her way to where she wanted to be. And by the time she got there? It was time to come meet me. So she was tired and bummed by the time we caught up with each other.
After lunch, when we went in opposite directions, Mary went to her museum and I caught the Metro to Basilique Sacre-Coer (Basilica Sacred Heart), near two shops I wanted to visit. This turned out to be fabric-mecca! I found the first shop, Petit Pan, with no problem using my trusty iPhone instructions. A tiny, delightful little shop with adorable baby clothes and these fantastic tissue covered lamps in a variety of shapes and sizes. I got some more quilting cottons, fat quarters, and some more bias tape. I would have loved to bring home a lamp too, but oh dear, the logistics! So I didn’t even look seriously at them.
When I got out of the store, the phone couldn’t find a carrier, so I just started walking. Luckily I was going in the right direction and I must have passed a couple dozen fabric shops on the way to my next stop, Marche St. Pierre. I found it, it was tables and tables of dress making fabrics, and nothing interested me. I figured it was like Ireland and you had to buy one meter lengths-far too much for me. So I turned around and went down to Frou Frou, which I’d passed 4 or 5 stores before my destination.
Another find! This store was much busier than La Mercerie Parisienne, perhaps because of the time of day? Late afternoon as opposed to midmorning right after opening. Tons of bias tape along with matching fabrics, two revolving shelves of DMC thread-made me wish I had a list of colors I needed, until I looked at the price, 1.5 Euro each. Quite a bit higher than the $0.25 you usually pay at Michael’s or Joann’s. There were some gorgeous books, patterns, and a small home decorating section. I would have loved to get a book or two, but since I don’t read French and they weren’t like the Japanese magazines with tons of illustrated instructions, it didn’t make sense. Maybe in my next life I will take French instead of Spanish.
Walking back to the Metro I passed more fabric stores-again, all dressmaking fabric. On the main street to the Metro, lots of young men with small cards or watches or other small things for sale. I think the cards were phone minutes? But I didn’t investigate. The train station was full of the same. A somewhat grittier side of Paris than I’ve seen previously.
By the time I got to Gare Austerlitz, my Metro stop, I was hot, sweaty and badly in need of a toilet. And I wouldn’t have been opposed to a nap as well. I beat Mary home, so I hopped in the shower and dressed in fresh clothes, catching a second wind. I wanted a handbag that I’d seen in a small shop close to the hotel, so headed down there. I bought this gorgeous, fun, bright red flowered bag to haul my iPad, maps, iPhone, pens, sewing and probably an elephant or two as well.
Mary was waiting in the small hotel restaurant for me, so after a glass of wine for me, and orange juice and cold medicine for Mary, we dropped off gear in the hotel room and went to dinner at the cafe next door, Le Baratin. Yummm…. I got this giant seafood platter with whelks, shrimp and oysters. And I did not take any shells home with me! My first time eating whelks; they were chewy and good. Some delicious mayonaisse-based dip that I mainly used on the rye bread that came with my dinner; should have asked what was in the mayo. Mary went upstairs to our room, while I went back to the handbag store, as the control tag had been left in the bag and I wanted it removed. Darn, the store was closed already! So I wandered around a bit in search of chocolate and went back to the hotel empy handed. Another day…