Chatelet Les Halles has fast become my least favorite metro station to try to navigate. I have yet to be able to make a quick exit to the street. It's enormous, and several lines and trains converge here and spit you out into a banal suburban shopping mall. I've had to jump the turnstile several times here as it never seems to want to let my valid ticket unlock the exit turnstile and the thought of being stuck in that place gives me agita. The shopping mall is even worse: I've yet to find a clearly labeled pathway to get out and end up wandering around a bit panicked, wondering how long it will take for friends and family to file a missing persons report on me. The whole station smells like pee, the panhandlers are ultra agressive, and it's a notoriously good place to get your pocket picked.
Once you emerge into the light, gulping for fresh air: magic.
E. Dehillerin is a Parisian institution of kitchenware. It's been around for almost 200 years. They specialize in copper pots and pans (Julia Child bought hers here) and they have about a million little molds and specialty items used to make all the different French pastries and traditional French cuisine. It's slightly chaotic inside, with staff rattling off prices when you need them. The basement is filled with all shapes and sizes of pots and pans, the isles are stacked so tall with shelves that your neck cramps trying to see what is up there, and there are several close shaves trying to get past people buying knives. And the knives! Impossibly heavy meat cleavers, sharp little filet knives, gleaming bins of stainless steal chef's knives.
I ended up walking out relatively unscathed with a gorgeous cheese knife. Living in a furnished apartment means you are at the whims of whomever decorated and cheaped out on kitchen equipment. I was awfully tired of sawing through cheese with a butter knife, and it's really not something I could live without for another wedge of fromage. The cashier, in perfect English, asked me where I was from.
"J'habite à Paris" I replied.
"Paris, Texas?" He joked.
At least I think it was a joke.