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April 6

CookingLifestyle and LeisureDeath

A reader wants to know how I'm managing financially, given the unfavorable exchange rate. It's about 1.21, dollar to euro, which is actually a bit better than it was. Articles in European papers such as the Financial Times and the Herald Tribune predict that the rate will begin to come down, which would suit me fine, of course. Meanwhile, I'm paying my rent in dollars to an American landlord, and I haven't yet opened a French bank account (though that may ultimately prove necessary).

Someone else has asked what kind of trees are in the park at the back of Notre Dame Cathedral on the Isle de la Cite. I think they are oaks, pruned to give the appearance of flattops, but I will pursue this interesting question further. Anyway, the lovely little park is the Square Jean XXIII, which replaced the bishop's palace in 1844. I suggest, after sitting there for a spell, have an ice cream at Berthillon, just across the Pont St. Louis on Isle St. Louis. For those who don't know it, Berthillon has the best ice cream in the world, and I'm not even a big ice cream fan.

To Suzanne, a reader, I must report that the older women I see here have a variety of hair colors, not just blond. Seems to me L.A. is where colorists are trying to make everyone's hair yellow.

One of the patisseries near me and the Pont Neuf has diabolically delicious pastries called Pont Neufs. They are small and rectangular, a little like Napoleons, made of layers of chocolate and coffee mousse and other mysterious sweet things. Imagine, someone naming a pastry after a bridge!

More tales of music in the Metro, this time concerning a young guitar player and singer. He was performing Paul's Simon's "The Boxer" quite credibly -- except for the accent. For instance, "I ga luking fer ajeb, but I gat nowoffirz." Only the "lie, la, lie" sounded right to me.

Now that I'm finished with my month of French study, I spend my days holed up in my apartment mostly, working. But yesterday I went out for lunch: a foot-long chicken sandwich, on a baguette, with piquant mustard and a few sprigs of lettuce. I ate it on a bench in the little park by the church of St.-Germain-des-Pres, then visited the nearby Delacroix Museum on Rue Furstenberg. This is where the 19th century romantic artist lived and painted until his death in 1863. It's a pleasant little place with a pretty courtyard, but Delacroix's best work is in the Louvre and other places.

Then it was on to the Village Voice, an English-language bookstore on the Rue Princess near St. Sulpice. I'm still reading in English.

On the way home, I happened to stop by Upla, the store with the $150 bag I was lusting after -- and, well, what can I say? I bought it, with the justification that I'm getting an income tax return. Now I'm thinking about a watch I saw in a little shop on Rue Princess. This place will ruin me.

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