After work, I went back to my room for a bit, then strolled down boul St-Germain and had a kir (white wine and cassis) at a café on the main drag. Very refreshing, and it even came with a complimentary amuse - a few toast points with a little container of smoked fish spread.
Then I walked around the neighborhood for quite a while, very indecisive about where to eat. Some places just don't seem like they're going to be welcoming (especially to a single diner, as I've mentioned before). Finally I ended up at Le Mâchot d'Henri, which turned out to be just perfect. I was seated at a small table in a tiny back room that also had a table for four, and soon after I sat down, a couple was seated at that table. It turned out that they were South African and spoke very little French, so I ended up helping them order. We struck up a conversation, and they (Irma and Burgert) were so friendly and nice, it really made my day. They invited me to come visit any time, and Irma gave me the URL for the nonprofit organization she had founded -- Kaross, which distributes handmade crafts by South African natives.
Dinner was really delicious and perfectly French -- a salade champignons with arugula and Parmesan, and saumon rôti with cream sauce and haricots verts:
(Also mousse au chocolat, though I forgot to take a picture of that...) I had way too much wine, because the waiter thought I ordered a carafe of wine (75,cl) instead of the quart (25,cl) I was trying to order. I need to work on that. I think maybe I'll try un petit pichet next time.)
Today (Saturday), I very lazily slept in (I blame the wine!). Eventually I got up, finished inflating the air mattress that a friend at the university had lent me for Caroline's visit (I couldn't get the built-in foot pump to work, so ended up blowing it up with "lungpower" in several sittings), then stopped by the local crêpe kiosk for a crêpe Nutella on my way to the Métro.
I rode to the Rambuteau station near Centre Pompidou and decided to actually go into the museum -- in all of the times I've been to Paris, I've never actually been inside. I must admit I'm not all that much of a modern art fan, but it was interesting and there were some things that I did really enjoy.
By the time I was ready to leave a couple of hours later, I was getting hungry again. There are tons of little restaurants and sidewalk stands, but I was in indecisive mode and couldn't decide what I want. Then my homesickness got the better of me, and I went to McDonald's for some fries and diet Coke (though in some ways, eating McDonald's fries and drinking diet Coke in Paris is just a way to become more homesick, since neither one tastes at all right! Still, it hit the spot...) That area is full of young people, and a mecca for any type of fast food that an ex-pat might want -- McDonald's, KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut, and even a Mexican restaurant all within a few blocks of each other!
I wandered through Les Halles a bit (a huge underground mall, with less familiar stores than Quatre Temps, though I did spot a Clare's), then took the Métro back "home." I went into the Marché St-Germain but wasn't really inspired enough to overcome the intimidation factor of buying food there. (It was kind of deserted by that time of day, so I felt out of place.) I ended up just going to Monoprix and buying enough groceries for dinner tonight and tomorrow night (I remembered that everything is closed on Sundays!)
Tonight's dinner: pork chops with plum glaze (which you may recognize from the chicken I made on Day Three...), ginger carrots, green salad, and pain nature au beurre, plus a glass of the Bordeaux that my officemate gave me last week. Delicious!