Yesterday morning's walk was accompanied by floating snowflakes, not enough to stick on anything, but noticeable as they fell before our eyes and melted when they hit our coats. We walked past the greenish water in the basin of the fountain at Saint-Sulpice without at first noticing that it was frozen nearly solid. These tourists from somewhere (I didn't understand the language they were speaking) were breaking up the ice and posing for photos with it.
We planned to go to see l'Âge d'Or Hollandais, the Dutch art exhibit at the Pinacothèque de Paris in the Place Madeleine and then have lunch at Caviar Kaspia, but we did neither. By the time we reached Madeleine the line to get into the museum wound around the corner, and the prices at Caviar Kaspia had gone up so much since we were there a dozen years ago that it would have been prohibitive. Luckily we weren't hungry enough to throw fiduciary caution to the winds.
Instead we wandered, our habitual default option. Peering into shop windows, Gene finally decided that he needed some warmer gloves and I insisted on his buying a cashmere muffler, since the ones he's been wearing weren't very warm. Gloves bought at Printemps and muffler at a little shop in a courtyard having a post-holiday sale, we continued wandering, looking for a gift to bring to a dinner party later this week. We found some lovely chocolates at a reasonable price at Michel Cluizel, and the good-looking young salesman gave me a wink along with the pistachio marzipan when I said I wanted a single chocolate to eat right away as well.
The streets were jammed with families and couples apparently visiting for the holiday from any number of places and all window shopping like mad, since I didn't see many bags. We found ourselves at twilight in the Place Vendôme, lit with lots of white lights and trees from which American country Christmas music was playing. Bizarre!
This isn't a part of Paris in which I spend much time and I hadn't realized that it is wall-to-wall upscale jewelry stores: Van Cleef and Arpels (with its own valet parker), Mauboussin, Tiffany, Chanel, and many others whose names I didn't even recognize, on both sides of the Place and up the rue de la Paix. Who says we're in a global recession?
By then we had decided it was a perfect evening for a cassoulet dinner and we called some friends to join us at d' Chez Eux, a traditional Southwest (French, not New Mexican) restaurant we used to go to years ago, in the 7th arrondissement. This is one of those places that never changes; I recognized at least three of the waiters from the 1980s. Not, it turned out, the cassoulet of my dreams, but perfectly adequate and large enough portions to share. The cassoulet hunt continues. We're open to suggestions.