The Blue Notes: Denfert Rochereau

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Lines seem to be a theme in Denfert Rochereau.

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You ascend the staircase, and just across the street is a line for the Catacombs. On the West side is a line for the ORLY Bus. To the Southwest, I’ve seen Cafe Oz have lines that intersect the line for the ORLY Bus. It’s almost a joke, except, I have a hunch that it literally is a joke. Look. There. A Parisienne sitting with a Spritz, watching you suffer. They’re laughing. They’re toasting to you.

Play it cool.

Once I saw a guy ask acceuil (information), ‘where’s the bus driver?’ and put his face towards the sky in agony when the answer was ‘he’s taking a coffee.’

Again, play. it. cool.

Denfert, once you step out of the line, is a fantastic little place. It’s great for a day or a night. It’s great for meeting friends, walking around, exploration and drinks.

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Rue Daguerre, just a block away, is a major walking street in Denfert Rochereau that is home to bars, cafés, and eateries. There are also boutiques, a fish market, a good bowl of pho and a wonderful stall for farm-to-table produce.

I’ll write another article on it, but I recommend walking through and seeing what attracts you. (Coming soon)

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A sprawling playground for adults called Les Grands Voisins is down Avenue Denfert Rochereau. It’s a massive beer garden with live music, pop-up shops and a few food vendors inside an abandoned hospital.

At night, big band jazz jams for an exuberant crowd of at least 100 people. During the day board-game developers give tutorials for their newest releases. Since moving from Brooklyn, this is one of the few places that have impressed me with its uniqueness and creativity.

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The history of the neighborhood is well documented and even referenced in Les Miserables, unique periods of style marks the architecture.

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There’s also a hodgepodge of cool street art. While not enough to stop and admire, it puts a nice accent on the neighborhood.

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Denfert Rochereau is my favorite hub in South Paris, because of its variety of bars, restaurants, and shops. It is well worth a visit, for reasons other than standing in line.

With Love,

Alex

Read Also:

The Weekend Guide to Bruges: The Do’s & Don’ts in a Tourist Town

In Brugge we trust.

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Some days you feel down, and you don’t know why. On other days, you know the exact causes.

I’ve been rejected from French courses for no apparent reason, ghosted on apartment tours, and my book is now out of my hands, so, to escape this pestilential air, I decide to hit the road with a backpack and an old mate.

We rent a car for the 3.5-hour shuttle north on Highway 1 and watch white clouds disperse over the rolling, gold countryside of France. To Bruges!

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Brugge: Of course, I’d heard of it from the Colin Farell film. I know that they specialize in beer, chocolate, waffles, and fries (a fu**in phenomenal combo) and that the town has the sleepy, enchanted atmosphere of a fairytale village.

fullsizeoutput_ca4In reality, Brugge is calm. It has a walkable, medieval city center, with a sprawling suburb just across each of its 21 bridges. Cobblestone roads wind through every sector of the city, and they become lamplit after twilight. Lush parks, waterways, and overhanging greenery dots every vista. Bike lanes are well marked, and the frontage of brick apartments look like a freshly swept staircase. The air is pure, and the tourists run wild!

Don’t #1: Continually reference the film ‘In Bruges’

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Source: IMDB

It’s a great film. It really is. But there comes a point in a person’s first few hours actually in Bruges, where you realize that everyone and their cousin is also referencing the movie. ‘In Bruges’ isn’t as ‘indie’ or rare as you thought, and it turns out that between that film and the unfortunate nickname ‘Venice of the North,’ poor Bruggians have a lot to live up to.

Do #1: Book a hotel over Airbnb or Hostel

At 8pm, we check into Monsieur Maurice after a short walk from a parking lot (Bevrijdingslaan), gratis, a brilliant recommendation from our hotel.

A quaint entryway with black marble and violet tones leads us to the concierge. She hands us a key and a map. My friend and I split a small, yet immaculate room with a private bathroom–45€ a night. Breakfast and Wifi are included.

My friend wrote this of his hostel ‘it felt like a majority of the people partying (at the hostel), worked there as well. So, they were those wannabe bohemians who think it’s dope that they’re living in Brugge for 2 months and bartending at a hostel.’ 

Spot on.

Inexpensive, boutique hotels are the name of the game in Brugge making it a perfect place for a cozy, stressfree stay.

Don’t #2: Fall for tourist traps

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The concierge hands me a list of recommendations and explains in French. I’m not French, however, I’m proud that I know enough to fake it. After double checking on TripAdvisor, we try one. It’s a traditionally Flemish restaurant called, the Flemish pot, or De Vlaamsche Pot.

Our dish, their traditional stew, is a beef brisket that I imagine had been tumbling in a hotpot of bbq-ketchupy sauce for a day and a half…served over frites. It’s goopy, heavy, and far too sweet.

Brugge, living up to it’s ‘Venice of the North’ label, grants you the experience of an antique store, where you’re perpetually sorting through what is genuine and what is kitsch.

A few signs of Tourist Traps:

-Free Wifi Sticker

-English Menus

-‘Traditional’ Beer Samplers

Do #2: Wake up early (745am-815am)

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Breakfast at our hotel opens at 8am. We’re sure to be there not 5 minutes later.

An early start follows the locals’ schedule. You can feel the warmth of bakeries and local businesses as you beat out the hellish lines that form a few hours later. We arrive at the Belfry with only a handful of people in front of us, which, wins us the day.

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Upon exiting the belfry, we dart past the droves to the boat tour and then see Michelangelo’s Madonna. Having accomplished those three in-town musts, we decide to rent bikes and cross the bridge.

Do #3: Rent bikes

A simple tip; Brugge has well-marked bike lanes and bikes open your horizon.

Don’t #3: Ride in the middle of the road

Motor Bikes thunder past in these bike lanes, so please, be safe.

Do #4: Eat at a Modern Brugge Bistro

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Two Words: Tête Pressée. In a neighborhood far, far away from the tourist center lies this lunch-only, peach of a bistro.

For an entree we ordered the house special, a crispy tartine covered in clumps of foie gras, topped with pickled radish shavings;  filets of skate coated in parsley and a citric oil. For our main course, we were served a Belgian risotto, that surprisingly resembled the flavor profiles of Gumbo, tossed with sausage, shrimp and clams.

Don’t #4:  Think that you need to eat Frites more than once
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Source: NYTimes

I word it this way because you’re old enough to make your own decisions. Just warning you, it’s not any different the second time around.

We went to Chez Vincent, a fast-food joint written up in the NYTimes for their superior frites, and I was heavily disappointed. Unsalted and needs sauce!

Do #5: Have one or two beers and then taste everyone else’s

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Pubs in Brugge look like a distant relative of British or Irish bars with swinging logos of the preferred beverage out front, and a wooden interior with stools, small tables, and dim lit backrooms. Along with the ridiculous amount of Belgian beers, each has a distinct tulip, flute, or mug, to enhance the aeration.

I assumed the pubs would be touristy. But I assumed wrong. They had an organic mix of locals sprinkled with a few Anglosaxons. The three I tried were:

t’ Bruges Beer

A lively, old-fashioned pub with locals and tourists alike. Deep beer list and a cheap 50cl.

t’ Poatersgat

Divey as Brugge gets, an underground cellar with a rowdy ambiance. Best with a large group of chums.

Cafe Rose Red

Quiet, kitschy festoons of roses, for couples who care for great beer at a premium price.

Don’t #5: Have 5 or 6 beers yourself without assessing first

There are limits to trying things out. Remember, Belgian beers are around 8%-11% Abv, so be prudent when drinking. My friends and I went a little overboard, and the legendary Trappist ales gave me a legendary Trappist hangover.


Hope you enjoyed this guide, I’ll leave some extra links for you at the bottom.

A serene town like Bruges cures the big city woes.

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With Love,

Alexander

ig: @african.bowtie

 

Restaurants:

Tête Pressée

#LocalFare #Bistro #OneOfAKind

Blackbird

#Brunch #VegetarianOptions

Lieven

#Bistro #LocalFare #FreshIngredients

Amuní

#Pizza #SlowFood

Hotels:

Monsieur Ernest

Monsieur Maurice

Letter from the Editor: Mental Health

October 2nd, 2018

Today, I had this thought.

It’s overcast, a glum, fall day in Paris, only the first like this, and I’d been pinned to my mattress by the weather and the suffocating sensation of depression. I fell into a 2-hour waking dream where I confessed to an old, random acquaintance of mine that despite all of my facades, and Instagram stories or whatever, I’m not feeling well.

And I need to be candid.

I’ve just finished writing a book, and am thoroughly exhausted from this experience, in the literal meaning, like an empty, discarded, rusting automobile. I’m tired of hiding this  side of me, and I’ve decided that I’ll take this blog a new, authentic direction, which doesn’t limit itself to drinks, bars, experiences, and ‘cool,’ but also confronts the situation of living abroad with depression, because it is in times of displacement where one can feel most vulnerable, and I’d like to write about it.

The two topics don’t inherently go together, in fact, they almost seem to oppose one another, but that’s life–we figure it out as we go.

Living abroad in regards to mental health.

Love you all, Alexander.

The Weekend Guide to Palermo: Where to Wander, Drink, and Dine

This is a tale of two cities, one in the light and one at dark. The Capital of Sicily strikes as a larger, more complex metropolis than what it embodies, an ancient city that has seen the perils and progress of society.

Graffiti plastered over walls like propaganda. Twisting, trash-filled backstreets that open onto crowded piazzas. Colorful markets with buzzing flies and the aroma of fried Arancini and thick cuts of Pizza. Palermo is a riot. Palermo is a clash, one side spilling onto the other. A mix between Rome, Los Angeles, and Casablanca, the city is even more. Palermo is a furious medley of class, culture, food and aesthetic.

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A cheap flight from Paris, my girlfriend and I arrive after two hours of smooth travel over an azure Mediterranean.  The Airport, small and clean, is located about 45 minutes from the city center of Palermo and gives you three options on how to get there:

  1. Rent a car
  2. Take a Bus (Prestia e Comande)
  3. Share a Taxi

The air is thick, yet arid. After a moment of confusion, we stumble onto the shared taxi line where a man is yelling at the taxi driver to let him board an already full van.  The driver departs without him. He yells something and slaps the trunk in frustration.

Here we have a big city Sicilian. A severe red tan and curly black hair, this portly man anxiously watches incoming traffic.

The next taxi arrives 10 minutes later. The man motions to the driver that my gf and I are with him in a friendly and ‘Tutto benne’ manner. We nod our appreciation and hop on board. The three of us are in the back and two others plop into the van. He yells over them to tell the driver to go. He’s not pushy or angry but welcoming. In fact, he has a huge smile and is almost joking as he directs the driver to get on the highway.

He works in Paris, but his French is questionable at best, and he speaks zero English.

The green, palm-tree covered countryside sweeps passed us, he points at a few landmarks and vigourously yells when something is lost in translation. Mafia! Mountain! Motorcycles! Through the windows, we watch, as the van is engulfed by urban life. Apartment buildings stretch down boulevards like sunny CA, white fountains, and two large Teatros.  The man tells us of a bar called Champagneria and bids us a farewell and safe journey.

The First Night: Bisso Bistrot & Bonter

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That evening, after a small introduction, our host directs us to Bisso Bistrot, a jazzy, contemporary take on Sicilian food.

Sicily is famous for its street food, which while tasty, is a reduction of its complexity. The cuisine departs from traditional Italian food in several ways: its Arab influence (Eggplant, Saffron, Mint, Rice, Apricots, etc.), and the bounty of Seafood (Cuttlefish, Tuna, Mussels, Squid, even Sea Snails). I once saw Cous Cous with Fish!

Bisso Bistrot is packed, full of Palermo Street Style (something I will talk about later). We take a glass of wine and drink outside.

Let go of the plane flight, I think. I take another glass of wine–it’s only 2 Euros. 

We set it off by ordering two starters, and a main dish. A Calamari Milanese dressed in parsley, capers, and caciocavallo; Roasted Octopus Salad with greens tossed in oil,  and lemon; and a Pici (Pasta) with Mint, Aubergine, Tuna, and Saffron. It was world class. It was 7 Euros. I am in f***in heaven.

Elegant but stripped down, the industrial walls, and minimal furniture filled with well-dressed urbanites yammering about philosophy over wine, and I enjoyed every second.

Bonter

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For some reason, I’d forgotten the Italians do cocktails so well. To me, the Negroni is arguably the greatest drink of all time.

Bonter Bar, however, showed me a thing or two about a good G&T.  If you know me, you know my thoughts on the Gin-Tonic; it’s a basic-ass drink somehow elevated to a cult-like Martini status.

The bartender prefaced this Gin-Tonic with an introduction to their ‘special’ tonic water…oooooohh. Then, he brought over two dark, mysterious bottles, the Gin de Professor-Madame et Monsieur (Italian Gin!!!!). He asked, ‘do you prefer a subtle gin or an aromatic gin?’ Pause. OK, at this point, I’m starting to buy the hype. Unpause. Then, the guy was like, ‘ here’s this custom made platter thingy that’s only for this drink. Oh yeah, and don’t forget a slice of cucumber and juniper berries. JUNIPER BERRIES?!?

The nerve!! I was rattled by this titan of a drink that rested on the pine before me. I sniffed it like I worked for Le Guide Michelin. I paused. And finally, I took a sip.

Yeah, it exceptional, smoky, yet refreshing. I recommend the bar, however, for the ambiance. No one needs all of those dramatics! In the background, they had a folk band playing with a great harmonica soloist.  The crowd was lit. The bartender seemed offended when I asked if any of the owners had been to East Nashville. Right, people don’t like Americans because of him.

Visual Interlude

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The Second Night – 30 Mazzini Taverna & Frida

After sightseeing, we return to our flat. I read online about this place that serves really, really good pizza. That sounds like something I’m interested in, I thought. I ask my girlfriend and we agree, it’s something that we’re really, really interested in. As we leave the Airbnb, I see my host, and we start talking. I ask her about Champagneria, as I’d heard it was good from this cool ass guy in our shared taxi.

She says, ‘no, if you want a really good cocktail, you must go here–30 Mazzini.’ No need for arguing, so I say ‘Tutto Benne.’ She insists on making reservations for us, and she adds that she’s friends with the owner.

So, we head out. Down the boulevard, we pass the two Teatros and enter a…posh neighborhood.

30 Mazzini Taverna

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The bar is elegant and has that style composed mostly of dark tones, except for ridiculous neon lights behind the bar. We see the hostess and she directs us to a table out front.

Sitting outside feels bizarre. It is a world apart in only a few avenues of difference. The grit and raw beauty that up to this point had defined my time in Palermo have been manipulated into something resembling a ‘Europe proper.’

It’s not a bad thing. There is still beauty, but it is of a different, manicured kind.

I enjoy a Gin Fizz (pictured) and later, I take a Negroni.

Out of a car pops two men holding glow in the dark trinkets. They have dark, brown skin, and look as if they come from a foreign land. They pass and plead that we purchase the trinkets. I don’t carry cash, so I apologize and we let them on their way.

At a table next to us, a man has purchased one for his baby, who is there in the stroller at the moment. We gaze over. The man turns, makes eye contact with my girlfriend, and stands. He is a rather dapper middle-aged man, he paces over to our table and introduces himself in a broken language. I am the owner of this bar, he manages to say. A warmth flows from his smile as we tell him who our host is, and once again, we are back in Sicily.

Frida

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After our drinks, we are hungry, so we decide to try for Frida, even though it is past 10pm. No matter for Italy. When we arrive, there’s a 20-minute wait. The place is full and we stand about, waiting for our table.

The street style in Palermo is distinct, and Frida (named after Frida Kahlo) is a place for the stylish. Striped slacks with tucked, over-sized dress shirts, suspenders pulled up, and earrings curve through like moons. Tans, breezy cloth and oversized skirts, high heels and jewelry, it’s a cross between luxury and vintage, between beach and city.

When we’re seated, I order the spectacle above. A four cheese pizza with soppressata and mozzarella tucked into the crust. It’s the original stuffed crust. And it might be bold to say, but this pizza rivals the best in New York.


The Short List

  1. Bisso Bistrot – Via Maqueda, 172a, 90133 Palermo
  2. Bonter – Via Orologio, 43, 90133 Palermo
  3. Mazzini 30 –  Via Mazzini 30, 90139 Palermo
  4. Frida Pizzeria – Piazza Sant’Onofrio, 37/38, 90134 Palermo

Bise,

Alexander

 

I hope that you enjoyed my post, if so, please give me a follow on:

IG: @african.bowtie

Mapstr: @african.bowtie

 

 

5.26 The Blue Notes: Champion’s League Final

May 26th, 2018

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The Setting: 30 minutes before the 2018 Champion’s League final, Real Madrid vs. Liverpool with a growing fervor for the upcoming World Cup.

Two friends have invited us to a local’s bar in Denfert Rochereau, a small, cool, but not quite a chic hub, which separates inner and outer South Paris. The bar is one of those you go to get decent priced drinks, and although they don’t have a good Gin Fizz, and aren’t highly rated on La Fourchette or even Google, the mojitos are average and thus satisfying.

In the air, an essence wafts that all French flock to on a sunny evening. The bar is nothing special, or distinct, but lifts you into a good mood, and leaves you buzzing for hours.

From Porte D’Orleans, a messy pocket of Paris where nothing is cute, nothing is fancy, nothing shines except the occasional clean bus window.  We speed-walk north on Avenue General Leclerc to get there. Brick, mortar, and stone bâtiments are painted in vermilion colors from the sun’s departure, it’s 9pm.

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Subway map confusing AF, but you will notice Porte D’Orleans circled at the bottom.
Denfert Rochereau is where we are headed.

Porte D’OrleansOne of the many bus terminals of Paris, signified by its name ‘Porte,’ meaning door.  Like any bus terminal, it’s not a place you choose to spend time. Unfortunately, we live on the opposite side, and to enter Paris, you must use a door.


Underneath a red-tiled roof rests a flower-filled window sill, and above spreads an indigo sky. The ground level hosts a bio (organic) grocer, a brasserie,  a small magasin for chachka. As we pass Alesia and close on Denfert Rochereau, clothing retailers, and perks of France become more apparent. Boulangeries with sprawling displays of brioches, baguettes, and biscuits.

A man spits a fat loogie on the street. Disgusting;

“C’est dégoûtant!” my gf Cece yells at him.

He is a hulking man. The sleeves of his brown hoodie look like cigar leaves, stuffed to the brim with tobacco. I haven’t been to the gym in months. ‘Attention!’ I yell. We accelerate and cross the street at the next intersection.

Almost hit by a scooter, ‘putain,’ the rider curses at me as he whizzes; ‘pardon,’ I yell back. So far, it’s been a fantastic night.

Disoriented, lost, moving to a new country has reintroduced me to these old friends of mine.

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A brief existential interlude:

  1. What am I doing here?  2. Why am I so opinionated? 3. Who the f*** am I anyway?

I ask myself these questions every day. We all do, I’m sure.

  • Irrefutably, I moved to Paris for my girlfriend. Though we might dispute if it was the best move, after three years in a long distance relationship, a relationship where nothing is certain, especially not the ‘where,’ I jumped on the quickest route: a year-long Visa and a one-way on Norwegian Air to CDG.
  • I’m opinionated because currently, I’m adrift.  Those who know me see a serene person on the outside. But I brood! I’m a brooder, not a bruiser! And my opinions form from this ego, they funnel from a place that seethes with these emotions and wishes to express them, but in futility (and maybe fear?) I pander, and joke, and supplace my truths with sarcasm.
    • Note: Alexander, you will work on this throughout the year. 
  • Once I was told that everyone needs family, needs community. This was in response to the feeling I was suffering from the distance with my own. That I was failing because I felt distance from my own. I was failing to keep in touch with them. But family helps form identity, they said. Family grounds oneself. The cliche goes, you don’t choose your family. But family chooses to change while you’re away, and act like things are the same when you return, family makes mistakes, and you must forgive family or else larger problems will follow you along your travels. Who can you forgive, if not family? Choosing to create new ‘families’ is a decision made out of love, not of rejection of your origins.

I ask myself these questions every day. We all do, I’m sure.


In Paris, warm weather drives people to the streets like the first week of Pokemon Go. Except, instead of breaking into private property or stumbling upon dead bodies in the river, Parisiens long for a streetside table, and a straw chair.

Along with an Aperol Spritz, a packet of cigarettes, their ego, and maybe some olive tapenade, they sit, watch and talk, inhaling and exhaling smoke in their OH SO dignified way with three cigarette-free fingers waving and controlling the conversation like a Maestro on his podium.

We pass an Indiana Café, a Mexican-American French bar chain, and head to a different bar chain–Café Oz.


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Cafe Oz — Denfert Rochereau

The Land Down Under now cares about Soccer, Neopolitan Pizza and has ‘Surf Bars.’

This installment of the Australian bar chain is top. And by top, I mean the best of its kind.  A massive outdoor beer garden supplemented by cheap Fosters and decent pizza makes it the fucking JAM for Futbol matches. Plus, when the sun’s gone down, the dj turns up, and the crowd gets wild. It’s top-40. It’s Calvin Harris. It’s LMFAO. It’s more Belle Eclasse (Beautiful Trash) from Australia.

Setting: the Champion’s League final, Madrid vs. Liverpool.

We’ve made it. The place is elbow to elbow. Squeezing past a viewing area indoors, we find our friends at a spacious beer garden out back called the Surf bar.

Small thought: the French must equate the two geographically large anglophone countries with terrible, cheap beer because that’s precisely what you find at these bar chains. Maybe they’re right?

We’ve joined two French guys, and one of my gf’s friends, a wonderful spirit, who seems to lack an unfunny bone in her body. I’ll call her Zara.

She once leaned over with her cigarette in hand and simply whispered ‘I met Cece partying, and we became friends.’ Like that’s the process. 1. You meet someone at a party 2. You become friends. Another time she told us of a guy who texted her at a late, late hour–presumably another friend from another party. Her response was, ‘just because I’m Brazilian, doesn’t mean there’s a time difference.’ Effectively shutting him down, and making a joke out of it. Her frizzy hair and huge smile takes up the as much room as her personality, and I’ve had many great moments watching her antics. C’est énorme meuf.

Her guy Max is a genuine Gosling, an extremely nice dude with puppy dog looks. I try with my French to get to know him, but the crowd is too loud, and often you can find out more about a person, just hanging around them. He’s surprised to find out that I like soccer. I’m surprised to find out that he lives in Versailles. Memories of the sparkling marble floors and twisting stairwells come to memory. But, apparently, people who live in Versailles don’t live in the actual castle.

Mo Salah, Liverpool’s star is injured and carried off the field. An injury that we will see affect his performance in the World Cup. So far, it’s been an even match, but this is a huge loss for Liverpool.

I turn to the scene; an eclectic crowd has gathered.

The first table to catch my eye has two elegantly aged women sitting with a bottle of Rosé on ice. One strikes me as beautifully out of place at this rowdy sport’s bar; dark lipstick, her hair is up; she wears a blue sundress, cigarette in hand, smoke envelops, and she’s shrouded from all excitement in the match.

The table next to them hosts a group of well-groomed 20-somethings with expensively cut white-T’s, designer sunglasses and recently trimmed hair, a girl with spaghetti string top joins them. She’s wearing striped bell bottoms that blossom in the way that is at once fashionable and ironic because it’s unfashionable.

Behind them, next to us has a table of guys that Cece calls racailles, or ‘the uneducated.’ This is a term that I will return to. Personally, I dislike the term and find it marginalizing and classist. I, however, have not had the experience of being catcalled by a large group of them, followed down dark alleys, and cornered for my wallet. These guys wear Lacoste joggers, jerseys, tanks and pull their hats low. They’re a bit louder than everyone, point at women, use improper grammar, pour pitchers and toast. The table has done nothing harmful to me, they seem to be having a good time, and still, these supplanted thoughts creep into my head.

Boom, Madrid scores right out of the half. It’s Karim Benzema, king of racailles, whose stunts curbed him from Les Bleus at this World Cup. Then, out of nowhere Liverpool equalizes. The Surf bar goes wild. Red jerseys are lifted into the air. It seems as if the bar is more than 50/50.

We order two pizzas, and I grab another drink. One of the guys from the table next to us ushers his crew to the bar. They use elbows. I patiently turn to the screen. The match is closely contested. Then, Gareth Bale is subbed in.

Out of my periphery, I notice a group of West Africans in Yellow uniforms. They look to be a part of some crew, not watching the game and instead huddled in a small circle, one yelling to the others. When I look back, the game is out of hand. The Welsh footballer has a monstrous 30 minutes, scoring two goals, and leading the heavily favored team to a win.

After the game, the lights turn low, and the DJ tries to shift the mood. I’m wearing Doc Marten’s, aka an impossible mood to shift. So we leave it at that and depart for home.

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Bise,

Alexander


Follow me on,

Insta: @african.bowtie

Mapstr: @ african.bowtie

Très Chic, Très Zen Bars: Des Prés Tapas in Montrouge

Listen. Tapas are Spanish, but the Spanish don’t just eat Tapas. Got it?

One of my friends from Madrid reminded me of this cliché like…hmm..they only drink sangria, and dance Flamenca, and stay up gabbing until 4am, wait, no, that is a real thing. If anything, the Spanish rival the French in terms of tradition, but the French will forever be difficult to top in cuisine.

So, when the French make French tapas, believe that they are insane.

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Hol’ up. This site is about drinks though, correct? True, but while in Europe we have to get a few things straight. Each country in Europe has their own drinking ideology, and they are often very different from ours.

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That’s me.

The French believe in complements, not to be confused with compliments. Rather than balance, drinks build off of a meal and elevate the experience, creating uplifting, convivial atmosphere. A stark contrast from a moody dive bar banging Gang of Four, ironic leather vests, and empty rocks glasses. If the French sound uppity, they’re not, they are just raised this way. It’s instinctual. And it’s a little unfair to label instinct as uppityness (yes, it’s a word).

Anyways, back to the food, back to Des Pres Tapas. I’m almost done and I’ve hardly written about the restaurant!

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Their raison d’etre is their tapas, a spectrum of flavors, neatly divided on a menu as meat, fish, or vegetable. Gambas sauteed in Pastis, hand-made falafel, mini-croque monsieurs, and roasted veggies with thick wedges of Pecorino delight the table. Pair four or five plates with a cheap glass of Rosé, and you won’t be disappointed. Pair it with a bottle, and you’ll be feeling all types of jolly as you hobble out of the somewhat cramped, casual yet elegant spot.

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Opened just earlier this month, Des Pres is the laid back edition of their next-door neighbor, and the Montrouge culinary Juggernaut, Aubergine et Cie. I’d imagine that the owners have plans for the future.

They have draft beers from Brasserie Toussaint, a craft brewery from Louveciennes, (dare you to pronounce that) France. And a large list of wines as cheap as 3 Euro a glass.

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Me also

If you want a drink without all the fuss of eating involved, below I have a list of other bars in the area for a cocktail. Also, I’ll attach Des Pres info, if you want to do your own snooping.

Bise,

Alexander

Insta: @african.bowtie

Mapstr: @african.bowtie

Address: 38 Avenue Henri Ginoux, 92120 Montrouge

Website: des-pres.fr

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