October 11, 2017
One of the interesting things about having fibromyalgia is that I’ve started to ignore pain. Some days, if I’m going to get anything done, I have to just “man up” and get on with things. (is there such a phrase as “woman up?” I’ve been known to say that I’m going to “babe up” from time to time…)
However, ignoring pain can get you into a spot of bother. Like when you get back to your apartment and find that one of your socks is full of blood, and that a few of your toes have magically turned into steak tartare…
Third day in Paris, we’re donating 2 pairs of shoes, and going shoe shopping! Lucky for me, there’s an Arche store just around the corner from where we stayed, and they proved to be exactly what the podiatrist ordered…
Please note that these shoes cost a TON less in France than they cost in the US – I’m not completely insane!
The first day, I had to replace my ballet flats, and so I bought the top shoes. I’ve wanted cap-toe flats for a while, and the combination of suede, patent and leather was right up my alley… The 2nd day, I went back and picked up the rather Hobbit-like loafers. They look less squishy when you put them on, and they’re mad comfortable. The day before we left, I decided to be smart (?) and grab a pair of short boots. The two tones are really more of a contrast between patent and smooth leather, and less of a “man she’s wearing silver boots!” kind of look… Overall, a daunting pile of shopping, but my feet are happy, and that’s worth a lot!
But that’s not all that I bought – I go to Paris with shopping on the brain (and planned in the wallet, thanks to some serious discipline!)
There’s a great Uniqlo store in the Marais, on the Rue des Francs Bourgeois – right around the corner from our apartment on the Rue Sevigne. It’s an old factory, and you go through the old factory gates to get into the multi-story shop. I always visit, although I don’t always buy something.
But this trip – first thing I see are sales staff wearing these wonderful velvet (velour?) cropped pants, and I’m ON THEM! The fabric is soft, the fit is forgiving, the length very much mimics a mid-calf skirt, and I’ve already worn them a few times; with my velvet-trimmed lace top, tights and ballet flats, they’re perfect.
I also wanted a less bulky black down vest, so I bought one here – I got one that’s technically made for men, because I like the v-neck. I don’t think that the gender police will care, do you?
Another store – really a pair of stores – that I always visit are COS and their sister store & Other Stories. Again, these are the kinds of places where I might not see anything that appeals, or I might walk in and within 1 minute have a couple of pieces in my arms. (that was this trip!) The black and white sweater is a no-brainer for me, and a velvet sweatshirt will probably be lounge-wear, or pajamas…
So that’s my shopping, except for a vintage Hermes scarf that I’ll tell you about another time – I’m still washing (and washing and WASHING it…) On to the other Paris fun…
Where did we eat? Breakfast almost every day was at our “local” cafe, the Royal Turenne. It wasn’t the cheapest breakfast in town, but it was worth it to be able to sit for ages watching everyone bustling about (during Fashion Week, this wholesale neighborhood is fascinating….) And we stopped whenever we were in the mood and had an eclair, or two…
We drank gallons of coffee in a futile effort to get through jet lag… but then we had cocktails every night, which messed up our sleep! Such a terrible problem, eh?
If you’re looking for a great cocktail and you’re near the Winter Circus, don’t miss Pas de Loup. They don’t open until 6:30 p.m., and by 6:31, wise people in the neighborhood have a seat on the sidewalk. But head to the back, and chat with the bartenders – they’re charming…
Other restaurants we enjoyed – Cafe des Musees on the Rue de Turenne – we’ve dined there quite a few times and it’s always a pleasure…
If you must have brunch on the weekends, you could certainly do worse than La Favorite, on the Rue de Rivoli. It gets busy, lots of locals, and service is characteristically slow. Well worth whatever wait you have – enjoy watching the neighborhood catch up with each other! The music they play is also worth your while, if you like 80s disco…
Just down the street, on the Rue Francois Miron, is a great little Italian restaurant called Fuxia. Some days I must have pasta, no matter where I am, and this place filled all of my requirements with highest marks. An attractive young staff makes it fun to watch the evening unfold…
For when you’re in the mood for a classic French bistro, I still suggest Brasserie Balzar on the Rue des Ecoles – over near the University. Yes, it’s part of the Brasserie Lipp chain, but the staff has been there for YEARS, and the food is consistently good. I had the best cod dish I’ve ever had in my life there… They’re amazingly kind and patient with even the most annoying tourists, and if you’ve been there more than once, they welcome you like a long-lost cousin…
And in case you want to have dessert at home:
While most people take photographs of the landmarks of the city, I take more… small… pictures! I like the things that are temporary, and put there without decades of planning and authorization:
There are always things in Paris that remind you of beauty, and of the possibilities for defining your personal aesthetic and taste. Whether it’s a range of colors that suggest that you choose your favorite, or just something that you’ve never thought of doing, you will always have plenty to admire, and to think about later!
Where did we stay? On the Rue Sevigne, in an Airbnb call “La Sevigne.” If you can bear the 3 flights of stairs, it’s a gorgeous apartment. Plenty of storage, all of the modern conveniences we needed, and smack in the middle of the Marais neighborhood.
I have to mention the lovely Karina Clarke, who runs www.travellightparis.com. She’s not the owner of the apartment, but she functions as the hostess and general super-helper with any questions or concerns. She’s available to help plan your trip to Paris, and I think she would do a marvelous job. She’s a native English speaker, which can be very helpful… If you don’t want to manage everything on your own, and you want to have some things scheduled in advance or just plain handled for you, definitely contact her!
Sigh…. in closing…. I’m homesick for Paris already. There’s something in my heart that just responds to the city. I can’t explain it – I won’t even try. But I will be returning soon, and often, and forever!
sushi queen says
Great post Janice – full of great information about Paris and your airbnb looks fab! I've tried to comment several times on your blog but something goes wrong every time! (I'm theartyfoodie on insta) – &Other Stories is one of my favourites too – you never know what you will find!
Terri Howard says
I have only been to Paris once….I miss it daily. I think I would give my eye teeeth for it to be my home.
Margie from Toronto says
Your poor feet! When I travelled to Scotland regularly to visit family I always bought 1 or 2 pairs of new shoes as I could get wider sizes at great prices. I also have fibromyalgia and have learned to both pace myself, grit my teeth when it comes to the pain and mostly just "soldier on" – but sometimes a bit of rest is required in order to function the next day.
Such wonderful shopping and great info Janice – thank you so much.
I can tell you're in love…such passion! I have only been to Paris once and stayed in the Montmartre district very near to the Sacre-coeur. Although it was an adventurous week and I saw everything on my wish list, my overall experience of the City and its people wasn't great. I guess we might have been 'those most annoying tourists' that you spoke about – not sure, but I do know that it put me off ever visiting again. Sharon, U.K.
Such a wonderful post, Janice. I will save this one as it will be so helpful. Next autumn we are planning a trip to Paris and I can't wait. I've not been there for 25 years and it's motivated me to brush up on my French. Do you speak French? Are the French people speaking more English these days? Also love your purchases especially the birds eye sweater and velvet sweatshirt. The French food! I'll have to just plan to gain some weight there as we will be viditing France for 20 days. How DO the French stay so thin?
Love the tiny pictures at the end of your piece, oh and also the fashion :-)
Madame Là-bas says
Wonderful post! I feel that I have been in Paris with you. Three years ago, I spent two months on Rue du Pas de la Mule just above the Cafe Hugo on the Place des Vosges. What a great area for everything that a person could want to do. I have never had such comfortable shoes as my Arche And Thierry Rabotins. It is worth the trip to Paris just to buy some more. Merci.
Those ballet flats are dreamy!! Almost worth a trip to Paris to get a better price…. – nancyo
Elegant Axe Handle says
I always enjoy your travel posts, and vicariously enjoy your Paris trips! Thank you for sharing. (And yes, "woman up" is a thing. So is "cowgirl up.")
Oh, Paris. There's so much life in that city, from the smallest details to the grand monuments. I enjoyed your view.
Katrina Blanchalle says
I had a feeling that bigger suitcase was going to be pushed to its limits. :) Very smart to stock up shoes that really work for you when you can get them at the best price.
Yes, I know about ignoring pain. It can be a problem when you're sitting in the ER and they ask you rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10 and you have to make a conscious effort to dig it out of the place you hide it every day.
We went to the same Uniqlo in the Marais and found lots of great basics there. It was my first time in a Uniqlo. Also, I don't know if you saw it but there is a Muji near that same Uniqlo in the Marais and it was great too: pieces with simple, clean lines and not exorbitantly expensive – I love it! I empathize with your shoe shopping. I have a bit of arthritis in my feet and my right foot suffers from plantar fasciitis. Now I only shop in the "comfort shoe" section but thankfully many brands have finally figured out how to make good looking shoes that are also good for the feet.
So sorry to hear about the fibromyalgia! My sister-in-law has it. She says mindfulness meditation is helpful with pain management.
Re shoes, two separate foot injuries (a different type in each foot) have caused me to completely replace my shoe wardrobe over the last year, from sandals to dress shoes to hiking boots. Oh my aching wallet!
I've found that Alegria is a useful brand, comfort with pizzazz, though I stay away from the bright florals.
Jean Shaw says
good to know that Arche is not as expensive in France!
My version of "man up" is "cowgirl UP!"
Nancy K says
I bought my first two pairs of Arche in Paris, at a store on the Rue de Rivoli that discounted Arche. I don't recall the name of it though.
Right after I retired I bought new, clean sneakers for a trip to Disney World. I don't remember why I tried a different brand from my usual, but what a mistake. The first day I blistered my toes and heels. As you have pointed out, even what we think are comfortable older shoes can bring pain on a long day's walk. I am sure you are still healing, but so glad you found some relief in your new shoes.
Marie-Thérèse Norris says
Well, my dear, something else we share in common — Fibromyalgia. I've been dealing with it for 20 years. We're old friends/foes. The pictures are gorgeous. How lucky you are to have a husband who will accompany you while shopping. Mine hates to shop. He usually says just drop me at the nearest café and pick me up when you're finished. I do have girlfriends in Paris to shop with, however, so don't feel too sorry for me.
I can relate to the sore feet — one of the inconveniences of traveling, but every blister is worth it. Can't wait to see the scarf.
You've made me homesick for Paris. Certainly my American husband's favorite City in the whole world.
The Pouting Pensioner says
Ouch, Janice,that foot condition sounds painful (must look it up) but what a relief it must have been to sink into shoes that sound a joy to walk in. I had plantar fasciitis this year and it made me rethink my shoes too.
Lovely photos. Thanks for sharing, hugs, x.
Fibro does reconfigure your life somewhat (not quite as much as ME/CFS which I have as well) – but finding joy and beauty in the small things – ah, that is something it does tend to help us do! And what a wonderful collection of things (smitten with the leaf dish). I will happily admit to a fascination with architectural features, ephemeral art/graffiti. Also loving those high art chocolates. Worth knowing that dark chocolate is high in magnesium, which can help with pain. I've got a 71% block next to me – one row per night. I find it more effective than magnesium as a supplement – I suspect the fats help it absorb better.
Totally agree with the need for supportive shoes – the saying is "no hoof, no horse" and no matter how gorgeous a shoe is, if it's not comfortable, it's not worth it.
I remember one trip to Paris (and London) where I also "shredded" my feet and ended up buying the most expensive pair of sketcher sandals I've ever owned. The alternative was trying to board a plane to Ireland barefoot, but my broken blistered feet had no pride. Thanks for sharing your journey, I want to be back in Paris!
Cheryle Moore says
I have never commented before but if what I say can help with the fibromyalgia I'll be happy.
Many years ago I had undiagnosed Fibro for 10 years. Still remember the pain. Moved house and
had a new Doctor who prescribed for me Amitriptyline, which is an old fashioned anti depressant
which relaxes muscles. Side effects, dry mouth and lots of deep sleep. It did the trick and it has stayed away.
Very happy. I love your interesting posts, thank you.
Oh your poor dear feet, and Arche to the rescue. They did same for me in London at least 30 years ago and I've bought them since. Sometimes you can find them on eBay, and then there are sales. Janice, have you ever gone to the Winter Circus? It's magical and who doesn't love a circus with a champagne bar? Makes me wish I were on a plane tomorrow.
@Jean Shaw: "Cowgirl up" is perfect!
Dear Janice, Thank you very much for the lovely comment! It was a real pleasure to meet you both, and I'm also delighted to have found your Blog. I've already earmarked a tweed grey skirt! I'm glad you had a wonderful time back here in Paris. Best wishes, Karina (travellightparis.com)