One of the great things that happens when you have guest in your adopted city is all the great stuff they can introduce you to that you've been too busy to be bothered with.
Like the Shopping Arcades of Paris!
These were the original shopping malls- posh covered places to shop away from the mud and elements the Paris streets had a reputation for in the early 19th century. At one point, there were more than 150 of them in the city. Today there are about 20, almost all of them in either the 2nd or 8th arrondissement.
Some of them were run-down and practically empty of shops- sad shells of their former selves. Others were restored beautifully, with lots of boutiques, cafes and unique shops. Christian Loubitan and John Paul Gaultier both have boutiques in an arcade, but for the most part there are a lot of small, independent businesses.
Most of them I had passed by at one time or another without stopping to explore.
We had a list of them printed out and mapped out and scooted from one to the other over a couple of days. A posh yarn shop was located in one of them, and a really nice surprise of a wine bar as well.
We also had dinner at a tiny gyoza counter that served nothing but their homemade pork dumplings in quantities of either 8 or 12. They were fantastic.
Lots of antique shops, book sellers, jewelry and gift shops make the arcades an ideal place to stroll on a rainy or wintry afternoon.
Not in Arcade, but a great Parisian institution anyway:
Denise Acabo has the most fantastical chocolate shop in all of Paris. She enthusiastically points out every bit of chocolate in her shop and tells you all about it in rapid French, and then after she's given you the tour of her shop, stands with a tray in her hand, waiting for you to decide. I don't think anyone has ever walked out of her shop empty handed, and based on her enthusiastic recommendations I picked out some wonderful chocolates that I wouldn't have chosen otherwise, included a tiny candied orange coated in chocolate that was unbelievably good and was eaten on the sidewalk in front of her shop. I totally made an epic yummy sound.
Another confectionary find:
La Mere de Famille on Rue du Martyrs. It was an ancient old shop crammed full of chocolates and candies that were just beautiful and nostalgic.
It's actually good that people don't visit me too often as I would have had to automatically route any paychecks I get to a confiserie.