Macarons. Macarons. Walking around Paris, many of the sweets shops feature these dainty circles in many flavors. Even Martha Stewart has a recipe: confectioner’s sugar, almonds, egg whites, salt and, yes, more sugar. Then, you make the filling. Deanna and I bought chocolate macaroons from a lovely shop, deNeuville, in the Marais on rue VIelle du Temple. (Taste? Think yummy chocolate bar.). The streets in the Marais are narrow with many old and beautiful buildings such as the two that house Musee Carnavalet, the museum of the history of Paris.
My musings were interrupted by the gas repairman who came up the 78 steps to the 4th floor apt. to check the problem with the hot water heater. For the first few days here there was both hot water and heat. Then both went off. Now, you have to go to the hot water heater and flip a switch when you want hot water or heat. Then in less than an hour both go off. The repairman spoke rapid French, but I caught the gist. Namely, the water pressure is poor, so there is nothing to be done. A friend of the owners came by yesterday with two of her friends, one of whom was a handy man who apparently diagnosed the issue correctly. (So in the tiny kitchen, we had an American, a Pole, an Italian and a man from Belgium all communicating in French and English to varying degrees.) Only Krystyna, a woman from Belgium with a Polish origin, was truly bi-lingual. C’est la vie. Pas de problem.
Back to Musee Carnavelet. This townhouse, Hotel Carnavalet, was built in 1548 then revamped in the mid-17th century by arcitect, Francois Mansart. The museum also includes the mansion next door, Hotel Le Peletier de Saint-Farageau. Altogether the history ranges from pre-history to the late 19th century. Unfortunately, they rotate the open rooms, so today the area covering the French Revolution was closed. Thus, I could not show Deanna the scale model of the guillotine. Quel domage.
Some of the rooms have been brought from other locations and reassembled here. For example, the early 20th century ballroom of the Hotel de Wendel was reconstructed. An immense mural covers the walls and the high ceiling which is of the Queen of Sheba (and her court) by the Catalan designer and painter, Jose Maria Sert y Badia. How wonderful it would have been to dance there. Magical.
After the museum, we wandered down the street to a creperie for lunch; it is called Page 35. The chef greeted us at the door dressed all in white with a tall chef’s hat. He was so delighted to see us, we felt right at home. The crepes here are either savory or sweet. The savory ones are made with buckwheat flour. Mine had four kinds of cheeses. Tasty.
After lunch, we walked around the Marais shops and came to a large memorial garden with an opening in a wall made of ancient, black beams, half-timbered. Deanna pointed out that the beams did not rot because they do not touch the soil but have a base that must have been rock now concrete. In this lovely quiet place is a plaque with the names of some of the 500 Jewish infants taken and murdered by the Nazi’s. Their ages are in months. You cannot go far in Paris without a reference to one of the great wars or other tragedies.