The train journey on Saturday night was uneventful and we arrived at our hotel before 11pm. All in good time and we pretty much went straight to bed. . .
Then slept until we woke up on Saturday morning. One of the beautiful things about Paris is that there is not a whole lot of reason to be up and around before, oh say, 10am. So by the time we were up and around and out the door at 10:30 it was perfect timing. We grabbed a pastry and coffee from a little nearby place (nothing to write home about, merely good enough) and then headed over to the rue Moufftard.
Our guidebook described it as one of the oldest open air markets in Paris. I have no idea if this is remotely true, but a delightful open air market it was. More types of plums than I had ever truly appreciated as well as a selection of mushrooms and seafood that kind of made me wish we had a place to cook (not necessarily in the same dish, mind). We also ran into another jazz ensemble playing to the crowds that reminded us of another random jazz group, if not in style than in the same method of discovery.
It also seemed to be the the savoyard district, with more fondue/raclette restaurants than you could shake a stick at. There was also a very intriguing Iranian-Armenian restaurant, unfortunately closed, but which went on "the list" of places worth trying.
Along the rue, we grabbed a quick lunch of gallettes (buckwheat crepes) and a soda before walking over to the Jardins des Plantes for the afternoon. We wandered through the cabinet d'histoire before having a meander through the gardens themselves. The mineral exhibit was unfortunately closed (and if not closed, then with an entrance that was not obvious) so we spent the rest of our time exploring the gardens, including a surprising "exhibit" of dahlias, all the while playing spot the bee. We also took the time to sample some of the iced treats available - I had a lemon-basil sorbet (stunning in its freshness and intensity) and Stephen had an almond milk ice cream (marzipan ice cream, he declared it).
All in all a really delightful, if not particularly story filled afternoon.
After the gardens, we still had a few hours to kill and so decided to head over to the honey shop mentioned in Clotilde's guide. Seeing as we were in the same arrondissement, it seemed a shame not to take advantage. On the way, we passed by the restaurant (L'avant gout) where we would be having dinner and had a bit of an ogle of the menu.
Then we walked through the delightful Rue de la Butte aux Cailles. One of the things I love about Paris is you can be in a neighbourhood one minute, which looks a bit dull (shops closed for the weekend, chain supermarkets) and then you turn a corner to find a quartier filled with life - sidewalk cafes doing a brisk business, local florists calling their wares to the passing public, cute little shops all open for business.
Les Abeilles (literally The Bees) is on one of these streets and the proprietors were as unique as their surroundings. The shop in part sells honey (and all things derivative of honey) and in part also sells whatever you might need to keep bees yourself. But it was the honey that we were mostly interested in and they had more kinds than I ever knew existed. Most of it was from various places in France, but some was from as far afield as Tasmania, Chile, and China. We tasted several different kinds and after coming to terms with being unable to bring it all home with us, settled on one from Vienne, just south of Lyons (mostly sourced from buckwheat flowers, it is a dark chestnut colour that crystallises almost golden), and two from the south of France sourced from "lavande maritime" or lavender near the sea and the "garrigue". We chose the garrigue honey not only because it was very tasty, but also because one of our favourite French wines also comes from that region.
Throughly satisfied, we headed out of the shop and looking left we saw the little local square filled to the brim with people and with signs declaring "Viva La Commune!", so naturally we had to check it out. Turns out it was the "Fete de la Commune 1871" complete with wood organ, accordion and appropriately stereotypical frenchmen singing communist ballads to the crowd. "Let's also not forget the communards had political views" the main singer announced before getting started. They also had literature, t-shirts, bandanas and other appropriately populist movement accoutrements on sale. Unfortunately they didn't have a t-shirt anywhere near my size, but Stephen may have found one he liked. . .
After spending a bit singing along and watching the crowds, we headed back to one of the little sidewalk cafes further up the street for a glass of something tasty (vin aux noix for me and something chosen at random for Stephen) to rest our feet and reflect on the day. Not sure that the day had any particular themes that we could draw out, but we felt quite satisfied with ourselves and had a pretty good set of memories we felt gathered for the day.
So with that we headed back to our hotel for a wee nap before getting ready for dinner.