Bonjour mes amis,
I have been in this fair city for 5 days and the weather has been absolutely magnificent. After everyone got settled in and rested up, our private bus picked us up to go to dinner at Le Babylone. Its a French West Indian restaurant that I’ve been frequenting since the early 90’s and they never disappoint. The décor, our warm reception and most of all the food is tres magnifique!. Pictures of past celebrity guests adorn the walls —- Snoop, Danny Glover, Marvin Gaye, Wil I AM, models, and right there with the rest of them you will even see yours truly — Kat.
Day 2 the group met with Ricki Stevenson of Black Paris Tours who would enlighten them with a wealth of knowledge on blacks that have come to and made their marks here in Paris. After a brief orientation by Ricki, we were picked up by our private bus and treated to a full days tour of the sights. Ricki led the morning tour of the historical sights and after lunch the tour was devoted to the African American portion, ending in Little Africa. Most were amazed at the facts they learned. At the end of the day, the group rested and then they were ready for part 2 at the jazz club where the performer for the evening was a blue eyed blues brother who could play his guitar just like ringing a bell.
Saturday and Sunday are 2 of the 3 free days the group has to do their own thing. Some went to London, some to Amsterdam (both less than 3 hrs away) some spent a day in Le Vesinet the town Josephine Baker lived in while working in Paris. She had a mansion there which is currently under renovations. Monique Wells and her husband Tom of Discover Paris! arranged this great afternoon tour. The group had a wonderful lunch spread laid out for them at Villa La Riante. Sunday night is always a good night to hit Le Speakeasy for drinks and appetizers or even dinner. They usually have a brother from Chicago, Boney Fields jammin’ there. Sundays find a lot of Paris restaurants closed so when you make the trip on your own make certain you know what’s for dinner on a Sunday. Le Babylone Bis is a good standby —- open most of the time.
Monday was our shopping excursion for those that wanted to do souvenir and department store shopping. Robin with great talents such as being totally fluent in French and having studied at the Sorbonne University, being our “shopping Diva” kept the shoppers under her watchful eye and was there for them for whatever need may have arisen.
We’ve replaced our last African restaurant with Le Dogon. The Dogon is a tribe in the country of Mali, where you will find the city of Timbuktu. The décor of the restaurant is typically African with masks, skins and prints on the wall. Here you will find a tropical setting. The fare is from various west African countries (Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast).
Choices tonight were either Thieboudienne (pronounced ceebu jen) a traditional fish dish from Senegal prepared with onions, carrots, cabbage in a tomato sauce served with white rice
or Poulet Yassa (pronounced poo lay yah sah) also from Senegal is a marinated chicken dish prepared with onions and lemon and served with rice. The owner had a Griot from West Africa come in playing a 21 string instrument. Dessert was presented in old fashioned sundae glasses and was a delightful sorbet of mango and passion fruit, so refreshing to the palate.
Tuesday was a another beautiful day in Paris. After taking the group to the museum Quai Branly to see the exhibit, “L’Atlantique Noire” A Negro Anthology, I headed back up to my studio apartment on the Champs Elysees where I sat at a sidewalk café, Le Deauville. I had lunch, enjoyed the warm shirt sleeve weather and people watched for as long as I wanted. I’ve stayed at over 15 different Paris apartments but this one by far has the best location; just down from the famous Fouquets Café, H&M, next door to Starbucks and Sephora, upstairs from MAC Cosmetics and Biodini Shoes. The unit is on the 5th floor with security cameras and everything one would need in an apartment.
This afternoon was our rendezvous with author Jake Lamar. A brother, an author who grew up in the Bronx, went to Harvard, worked for Time magazine, came to Paris on a Fellowship for a year and has been here 21 years. Jake comes to our hotel and discusses his 6 books and his life in Paris as a black man. Oh the group so enjoys this time with Jake.
Tomorrow: C’est Mon Plaisir (It’s My Pleasure)