Cappuccino with a chausson aux pommes and pain au chocolat at Au Petit Versailles, called one of the top ten bakeries in Paris


Last Saturday morning I stopped by a currency bureau to exchange my US $$$ for Euros. Having been in Paris only 3 days, I prepped for the conversation needed for this transaction. As I stepped to the window, I did my spiel en français, and felt quite pleased with my performance. The young man behind the counter smiled…bigly.

“C’est vrai,” I asked. He nodded his head. He understood.

“I guess you know I’m American, huh?”

He laughed…bigly.

The first carousel appeared in France in the second half of the 19th century and quickly became very popular with the Parisians. Today there are at least 20 and one is in my neighborhood. There is also a carousel museum.

Lenôtre has a shop on Rue Saint Antoine. For Easter they are featuring a collection of Les Tortues (turtles). I think this photo of my taking a photo of “Tortue Surfeuse” is fun.

Friday at the Picasso Museum I flipped to English when questioning a guard about an upcoming exhibition.  “It’s alright,” he said. “I like to practice my English.”

“Petite fille sautant à la corde”, an assembly of found objects and scraps by Picasso

I’ve shopped so often at Monoprix, the major retail store on my block, clerks already understand my fractured French. For my first Paris meal at Au Bouquet St. Paul’s, I ordered Magret de canard aux figues et miel and, voilà, quack, quack. However, anything revolving around food and drink albeit unpolished, pas de problème. I’ll get there, my friends. Time is on my side.

I pass this gentleman every day. He seems formidable.


During the past six years I have learned to be comfortable traveling alone. If you make a wrong choice on a solo trip, you fix it without feeling guilty for ruining someone else’s day. In my six years of going solo I’ve never met a problem I couldn’t resolve into a better solution. In my opinion, traveling alone makes you braver. Inspiration kickstarts creativity, expanding your mind. Dealing successfully with the unknown gives you courage. You learn to trust your instinct.

However, as many of you understand like I do, life can turn on a dime. For now, at least, I am privileged and somewhat in a hurry to be able to push boundaries. If not now, when? This 6 weeks in Paris is all about that.

Throughout Paris, if you notice or look carefully, there are small “art” objects stuck to walls of buildings and monuments. Mysterious artists such as Jeff Aerosol, Nemo, Space Invader, Philippe Gerard and Underground Paris create these pieces. John Hamon just posts his photo! It’s fun to be on the lookout for these.

Last Tuesday morning I boarded the Aspen to Chicago flight, beginning a six-week adventure into the Unknown Zone. By Wednesday morning I was unlocking the door to my tiny studio apartment in Le Marais. Unpack. Shop. Explore. Jet lag be damned. My apartment is modest, adequate and within my budget. (Yes, I have one.) It’s safe, quiet and I have already bonded with all 240 square feet.

What is fabulous, of course, is the location, Rue Saint Antoine, a street dating from the 16th century. Directly across from my apartment is the gorgeous 17th century Saint Paul-Saint Louis church, a magnificent blend of French/Italian Baroque architecture. The 170’ July Column of Place de la Bastille, dedicated to the 1830’s Revolution, anchors one end of the area. Christian Vabret’s charming corner bakery/restaurant, Au Petit Versailles du Marais, the other. Since it opens at 7am, who doesn’t need an early morning croissant and cappuccino?

Standing by my building’s doorway I spot boulangeries (5), a fromagerie, dozens of cafes and bistros, chocolatiers (5), Monoprix, grocery stores, fishmongers, flower shops, wine/Foie Gras shops, a bookstore and more. Much more.

It’s been a happy beginning.

Bonne nuit de Paris.

“Boy, those French. They have a different word for everything.”
Steve Martin

*Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina


  1. Debbie says

    Last night we were at the Elks celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (corned beef, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes cooked by George) and Mary Barbour was checking our local weather when Paris weather popped up on her cell phone. We all talked about you being there. It was 32 degrees in Paris and 42 in Aspen, so, you have some chilly weather. Your apartment location sounds wonderful. Living in a city like Paris has its advantages.

    • Mary says

      Yes, Deb, you’re right, it’s cold here. Paris does not have Aspen’s sunny and dry cold, it’s a bone-chilling wet cold. At the last minute I threw in my winter coat, thank goodness, but did have to purchase a wool stocking cap on Monday. I’ll add it to my collection of 15 stocking caps that I have in a drawer at The Gant! Miss you and Phil and sorry I didn’t see you in Aspen. When you see George again, say hello and tell him I am eating my way through this city.

  2. says

    What a lovely time you are having!!! Proud of you making this 6 week trip! I’m very excited to read of more of your adventures!!! ❤️

  3. Jessica Salet says

    You are truly an inspiration.
    I so admire your courage, sense of purpose and your thirst for knowledge.
    I especially love the photos and commentary. I am living vicariously through your travels.
    Your location is pinned on my map of Paris and I can picture you in the areas you describe.
    Love and hugs,

    • Mary says

      I am already having enough bread everyday for myself and for you. I cannot tell you how delicious it is. Everywhere I go. Plus the pastries…..Did you notice that I had two pastries for breakfast last Saturday? That little bakery is just three blocks away. Such a temptation. But, if not now, when?

  4. Judy Wender says

    I love hearing about your trip to Paris! Good for
    you, you courageous soul. Have fun and eat
    some of that delicious food for me!

  5. Donna Grauer says

    Ditto what everyone else said …times 2.
    But I do have one question. Did you say

    “I guess you know I’m American, huh?”

    In French ?

  6. Dale says

    Mayr Marie !!!! Cela semble tellement amusant! J’ai quelques endroits que j’aime. vous les enverra dans un email. jusque-là, mange bien! ton ami, Dale

  7. says

    LOVE reading this Mary! I know that ‘hood very well myself having worked on the Blvd Henri IV back in 1995 when I first lived there. I walked those streets every day. Also, I am a big Monoprix shopper! You definitely need to get to La Cuisine Paris while you are there at least once! Go you! Living vicariously through your adventures!

  8. Pam Feld says

    From a Border Collie cartoon: “Life is about the chase, not the ball. Now go get it!”
    Maybe you were a BC in a previous life, Mary. Have a glorious time there!

    • Mary says

      How nice to receive your comment, Pam. I am so glad we’re keeping up with each other as well as with your family news via Facebook. The cartoon is perfect. Thank you. I’m a Golden Retriever girl myself.

  9. says

    I cannot keep track of you!!! Enjoy every minute—hope to get back to Paris one day. We were trying to arrange a sisters’ trip—Katie and her husband have spent a few months in Paris, so I’d rely on them for translating and as tour guides 🙂

  10. says

    Marvelous! I look forward to following the entire adventure. We discovered the Marais on our last trip there (in 2001). Enjoy every minute (as if you wouldn’t). Waiting for the next installment…

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