Jim Haynes is an American living in Paris who has been hosting dinners in his Paris apartment every Sunday night for more than 35 years. Anyone can come. He asks that you call or e-mail ahead, then he sends you directions and details. It's a buffet affair, usually prepared by a friend or or friends, and everyone eats standing up, balancing plates on railings or in their hands. The "bar'' is on the porch - wine in boxes, beer, juices and soft drinks. Jim spends most of the evening sitting on a stool in the kitchen, greeting and introducing everyone. We went Sunday night when about 60 others showed up - people from all over the world who happened to be in Paris and decided to come to Jim's for Sunday dinner.
Jim Haynes and me
The food, as usual, was fantastic, an all-Indian menu with oranges and ice cream for dessert. Dinner starts at 8 p.m. and begins like a big party, with Jim making introductions, and strangers striking up conversations, mostly in English. I met a woman from Macedonia, a man from Scotland, and several people from the U.S. including a woman who lives in Portland half the year, and cooks for Jim once a month.
Jim's kitchen is the size of a closet. His whole downstairs is only three rooms, but everything is very organized. We came in to find two huge pots of rice on the stove and several Indian dishes warming in the oven. He plans for 100, and eats the leftovers all week. He started these dinners long ago just to socialize and get people socializing. He's a retired university professor and loves to write and travel. Now with most everyone making a 20-25 euro donation, they've become a source of income as well. Jim usually goes to India in November, but he skipped the trip this year to stay in Paris. Lucky for us!
I've been to Paris at almost every time of the year- January, February, November, March...and have only run into bad weather twice . Once was in February when it was snowy and windy. The other time was this week. It's been rainy and windy and cold! People are throwing upturned umbrellas in the garbage cans. I felt sorry for Tom and his sister and our brother-in-law who had to stand outside in line for an hour to get into the Eiffel Tower (while I sat in a cafe reading the Herarld Trib).
It was a perfect day to explore the coverage passages. These were built as the first "indoor shopping malls'' in the late 1800s to promote commerce away from the streets covered with dirt, mud and water. Just a few remain today. Above is the Galerie Vivienne, behind the Palais Royal near the Louvre. To get out of the rain, we went first to the indoor shops near the entrance to the Louvre, then walked under the arcades at the Palais Royal and into a few of the passages, The Galerie Vivienne is elegant, but my favotes are the Passage Panoramas and Passage Jouffroy with little ethnic cafes and restaurants one-of-a-kind shops specializing in canes and walking sticks; hats; chocolates; books and antiques.
We ended the day at dinner at our new favorite restaurant, the La Maison De Verlaine, where we met up with Nancy Penrose, a friend from Seattle who was here on a one-night Air France layover between flights from Seattle to Lebanon. We ran into the same British guy in the neighborhood who recommended the restaurant to us our first night. We chatted for a while, and then went in to get a table. After we were seated, the waiter brought us a round of drinks which he said were compliments of "Mr. Ken,'' our British friend.The food was excellent. The price was right. The company delightful. A perfect end to a rainy day.