The last night we were in Paris I thought to myself... I really wanted to see the Arc de Triomphe! I knew we could wait until the next time we visited Paris, but the idea of seeing it that evening just sounded so great.
This idea came about when we were taking a break at the hotel from walking around the city earlier in the day, and before we went out to dinner (with a reservation.) It was also the time when most people probably just got off work, and during traffic peak hours.
We had avoided taking the train anywhere during peak hours during the whole trip until then. We didn't want to be in a train that's too crowded and to take a chance on missing our stops, etc.. But we decided we would do it, because the few times when we were in a fairly crowded train, Parisians seem to be respectful and kept everything to themselves, and they never would push or "squeeze" anyone:
But something happened on our train ride to the Arc de Triomphe.
As we were waiting to get on the first train at the station there were lots of people around us. A group of young girls were talking to each other, laughing, and such. When the train came everyone started walking toward the train in an orderly fashion, and one of the girls from the little group mentioned above began pushing and squeezing among the crowds to get to the door. I thought it was strange and rude, but didn't think too much of it. She was the only one from her group that got on the train.
When everyone was on the train the girl was pretty close to both John and I. Again, most Parisians would not have direct contact with you or your body even if it was crowded on the train. But the girl was still leaning on people. Eventually she leaned on me and my bag (like a small messenger bag). It was weird and uncomfortable so I stepped backward and stood by the seating area.
The train made a couple stops, and every time it stopped and went people in the carts would "shift" a little. All of a sudden the train jerked and John seemed to be losing his balance a bit. He reached out to the metal bars to keep himself from pushing onto others, like so:
All of a sudden John looked at me and said, "My wallet is gone," and then he told me it was the girl (who was leaning on everyone) who was then facing toward the door. She was also the small girl pictured above... the one on the left standing between me (camera) and John!
I asked if he was sure. He said yes, so I then said, "then get it back!"
The train was still moving. John poked the girl's shoulder to get her attention. She turned her head and was like, "what?!"
John said, "MY WALLET. GIVE IT BACK."
Everyone standing around them was looking. A couple people started talking (and I had no idea what they were saying.)
She didn't speak. Just looked at him. John then said again, "Wallet. Give it."
The girl slowly reached down toward the floor and pulled up John's wallet and gave it to him.
A couple guys standing by the door nodded at John (a gesture of approval?) and an old guy started scolding the girl, until everyone got off a larger station (to transfer.)
John and wondered if the old guy scolded the girl because she was stealing, or because she didn't get away with it.
Fortunately John discovered that his wallet was gone soon enough, and before anyone got off the train. The girl didn't have time to take anything from his wallet before she was caught.
John said he knew it was the girl because he felt the girl's hand on his leg when the train was stopping too quickly. He thought she was just trying to grab onto something for balance. But then he felt her hand again a bit higher, and he realized that spot was where his wallet was (deep in his front pocket!) and he knew she took his wallet.
We knew we had to be careful, but I think we got a little too relaxed and was not being more cautious of our belongings, and almost got taken advantage of. Lesson learned.
Oh, and this was confirmed: A good Parisian would not push or touch you in the train station or on the train, but a bad one probably would.
John and I visited the Marias many times during our stay in Paris. Once we were all geared up to visit the flee markets in the area (near St. Paul), but when we got there we didn't see any; however there were cool little shops that sold antiques and I had a great time browsing through the shelves after shelves of old kitchen gadgets and cafe au lait bowls.
Anyhow, here are some more photos taken from the area:
One of the most conveniently available and yummy "quick lunch" options we saw in Paris was a baguette sandwich. The little stand outside of the bakery near our hotel started serving them mid morning, using the bread from the bakery! We saw students and office workers holding baguette sandwiches and chomping them down around lunch time on the streets and in public places.
And what usually accompanied a delicious baguette sandwich? A Coke of course! At least that what we saw. Sounded wonderful to me!
John and I did some research, and decided we would go to Bouillon Racine for a "serious" and more traditional French cuisine.
The restaurant was fairly close to the hotel (within walking distance,) which was very convenient for us. We arrived in front of the building (that read "Bouillon Racine").
We walked into the restaurant and paused. The decors were nice and interesting, but I wouldn't categorize them as "French"...
The hostess lady took us to a table, and we realized we were not at Bouillon Racine. We were at Bouillon des Colonies! But writings above the doors did read "Bouillon Racine"!
Anyhow, we figured since we were there, we might as well try the food.
As its name indicated, Bouillon des Colonies served food from "the colonies." There were dishes that were mostly Asian and African inspired.
Both John and I went with the set menu options. We each picked an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert.
I was skeptical at first, but boy, Bouillon des Colonies actually delivered! The food were cooked and seasoned well, and I really enjoyed it!
Here were the dishes we had (slightly translated into English):
Shrimp and crab muffin.
Soup of the Day. I think it was a pea soup of some sort (?)
Lamb with couscous.
Both the fish and the lamb were cooked to perfection. I was impressed.
Creme Brulee and special ice-cream (no photo) for dessert.
We had a lovely dinner, and when we stepped out of the restaurant we walked up the street a little further, and saw Bouillon Racine was located next door! We looked at the menu and still wanted to give it a try, so we walked in and made a reservation for the next evening, and that was a very good call.
I thought there were a few spots inside the subway stations that I saw had a very futuristic vibe. I've seen subway stations in big cities like New York and Tokyo, but there was something about Parisian subway tunnels that made them look like "future" to me.