5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

We’re almost to the end of September, which means that I’m almost past what is a crazy busy time of year around these parts.  Just one more bounce back across the Atlantic this week before at least a week or two of calmness.  In the middle of that, was this oasis of weekend back home.

1) Flew home from Saudi Arabia

I started off my weekend at the beginning of the weekend Thursday night for many countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.  My flight departed at the most awesome time of 2:35AM, just me, seat 45A and a few hundred of my closest friends for the hop up to Frankfurt.  I don’t quite have a photo of leaving Saudi, but here’s one arriving:


I was in Saudi for about 36 hours for some meetings.  I did manage to sneak one run in though along the waterfront.  It was much cooler than the last run I had there a few weeks back (which was 106°F).  This time, down to about 92°F…at sunset.


Since it was in the evening and equal to our Friday night, it was plenty busy out along the sea, quite a difference from my mid-afternoon run back a little bit ago.


And juice boxes.  When someone asks if you want to ‘get a drink’ in Saudi, that’s what it generally means:


No worries, I like juice.

2) Fall back home in Paris:

After landing back in Paris around 10AM, I had meetings across town just after lunch.  Given it was a beautiful fall day out, I took the Velib:


Over the course of the weekend though it became clear just how much fall has set in the trees over the past week.


Even with the weather, rainy one minute, and sunny the next.  The above and below photos were only separated by about 45 minutes.


We did a lot of walking this weekend, exploring parts of the city we hadn’t spent much time in.  With the weather mostly perfect and warm, it seemed like everyone was out and about to get the last of the summer-like weather in.


For example, we’d never quite made it to the Le Palais-Royal before.


And despite having run a gazillion circles around Luxembourg Palace, and having picnicked many times on the grounds, I’d never wandered through the forested park portions of it.  Turns out there’s ponies in there:


Yes, I know, we live the hard life.

3) The dancing goose market was in town:

Perhaps our favorite local event of the year was back in town this weekend, the Dancing Goose Market.  Well, it’s not actually called that – but that’s what we call it.  The reasons listed here.


This market is directly in front of our house, so it’s only about a 15 second walk (slightly longer if you get hit by cars crossing the street).



It features products from the South West region of France, and each year the stalls appear to be the same.  So by now we’ve got our favorites (mainly chocolate, cheese, and ham).

And each year we get our free bag of produce from the region:



These are currently sitting on our desks, possibly for eating tomorrow.  Well, not the garlic  – we’ll save that for cooking.

4) Deliveries, unboxing and such

Of course, in order to make the world go round for us here in Paris, there’s still work to be done.  In our case that meant a few different deliveries.


For the last few weeks we’ve been using these sweet wooden boxes that The Girl’s dad made for us.  They’re perfect for transporting cakes as they have grooves in the bottom and a little door at the front to get it in and out.


And then handles cut into the sides as well for easy pickup.  This is the petite box for smaller cakes.  Of course if a customer orders a cake for pickup they get a regular brown box.  But for deliveries we prefer the wooden boxes since they’re a bit more secure.


On a side note, I was noticing that when we buy large boxes of Coke at the restaurant supply store, apparently each case is all the same name on the can:


Thus, everyone visiting this weekend at the shop and buying a Diet Coke was a Princess.  Somewhat fitting for a cupcake shop I suppose.

In my world, I unboxed a few things earlier this past week but didn’t have a chance to dig into them as much until this weekend.

For example, the Withings Aura system.  About the only sports technology item that I review where the company is based just across town, so it showed up the day after I ordered it online.


It’s designed to be a combination bedside lamp and sleep tracking system.  The pad goes under your half of the bed, and can measure your sleep as well as heart rate.


I’ve been reasonably impressed with the tracking aspects thus far, in that I don’t need to tell it I’m going to sleep.  If I just lie down it does its thing.  Be that for a quick nap or for the night.  Below, the result of catching up after multiple short redeye flights this week:


Though, there’s a ton of stuff missing from the device that was part of the announced features.  In fact, it really doesn’t do anything at this point except what you see above – which is the same stuff any activity tracker 1/4th the price can do.  Kinda disappointing.  They have a list of planned features published and the timelines through the end of the year, but even that’s somewhat disappointing.

For example, heart rate display/recording doesn’t appear to have made the final cut – despite being a major PR focus area at launch last January.  We’ll see, hopefully things will settle out this fall.

5) Eating our way through the weekend:

Lastly, we seemed to have done a lot of eating out this weekend.  Perhaps making up for being out of town for basically the past month.  For example, we picnicked with our friends (who are sadly leaving permanently on Wednesday):


It was a beautiful day to picnic at Luxembourg Palace, at least until these clouds showed up (the below photo is completely unedited):


A few minutes later:


But, back to the food…

We went to Schwartz’s Deli, which is somewhat of a typical NYC Jewish deli.  A bit pricey though, and not quite at the same level as Katz Deli in NYC.



We went to Verjus, which is an 8-course tasting menu (set price), below, the menu.  Very good – and definitely worthwhile visiting if in town.  Lots of variety from course to course as you can see below (sorry, very dark in the restaurant, so a bit hard to take a photo of the menu).


Finally, tonight for dinner we went for a really long non-direct walk, eventually taking us to a Japanese noodle place we went to last winter.  It’s somewhat near the Louvre, but in an area with many other Japanese eateries.


While there was a line, it was pretty quick to get in, and the food came at very quick paces as well.  We had gyoza followed by ramen.  We realized we really need to go to this place more often.


And thus, the end to our weekend (well, minus walking home and working on more cakes for delivery on Monday).  A weekend with lots of steps walked!


This upcoming week is definitely slated to be busy around here.  On the docket includes the Suunto Ambit3 In-Depth Review, some announcements, the ANT+ Symposium and then a few leftovers from Interbike still.  Definitely quite a fun fall ahead!


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  1. Navnit R

    Wow, as always its fun reading through your blog.

  2. Martin

    Awesome to see some of the upcoming items for review on the blog. However I am curious as to when you will do a full in depth review of the wahoo tickr run/x

  3. Jamie

    Ray –

    It looks like your Paris Schwartz’s is actually a knock-off of a Montreal institution:

    link to savethedeli.com

    • Yeah, for us the issue was the meat was too lean. I don’t mind lean, but this lacked much of the flavor typically found in pastrami. Also, for 16EUR, it was perhaps half the size of Katz Deli. I could have looked past the size (it’s Paris after all), but the taste was…so-so.

    • Schwartz in Montreal is absolutely great.

    • Richard Withington

      It looks like they even stole the logo… “Too lean” would never be the description of a problem at The Schwartz’s in Mtl. You can actually order how fatty you want the meat :)

    • Trubletz

      Schwartz in Montreal serves Montreal smoked meat, not pastrami and they give you a choice of lean, regular or fatty. MSM is to die for and both Swatz and Dunn’s do it right (with a side of poutine of course!)

  4. Oscar

    i’d like to know wich app is the last photo of this post. The one with the steps you made, sleep… thanks a lot and congrats for your amazing web.

  5. Jackson

    Simple cake question: The Girl’s cakes are really nice. If you have to hit the brakes hard while transporting then, while the cake is in the back, doesn’t the cake move and get messed up?

    • First step: Drive slow enough that hitting the brakes quickly isn’t an issue.

      Second stop: See first step. ;)

      For us the biggest issue in Paris is actually the cobblestones, which act like a bit of a continual earthquake. She’s slightly changed some of the interior structural design of the higher end cakes to account for this, but we still avoid the cobbles. Also, the random potholes are never fun.

      Actually, we place rubber mats below the cakes, which keeps them from sliding. It’s like a Silpat*, but a super-cheap $1 mesh version we found here at a random grocery store. We cut them up and make little 3-4″ wide dots below cakes/boxes/etc…

      *These: link to amazon.com

    • Semi

      That electromobiles are rented or you own one? I heard that Paris pushing really hard in to electro mobiles :)

    • jackson

      Thanks Ray – If my wife made a cake like the ones that you show I think she would hire a police escort.

    • It’s rented, but like a bike-share system for cars. Here’s a post I wrote up on it: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Eli

      Neoprene wouldn’t work better? Unlined gets grip and padding for bumps

  6. Eli

    Including beddit in your sleep tracking review?

  7. Nick

    I thought I knew a lot about super heroes having a 5 year old son but I can’t figure out the cake. Who does the cake represent? I see the Batman, Spiderman, and Captain America cookies.

  8. Andrew

    Ray if you’re looking for YYC hospitality or places to check out be sure to drop me a note.

    • Thanks Andrew! I’m unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), fairly time constrained on this particular trip. almost exactly 56 hours on the ground with seemingly every hour planned out for me. That said, I love it up in that area and always wonder why I don’t find a way to spend more time there!

    • Andrew

      Just be glad the snow melted from last week haha. That’s the thing about this place, it can come any time of year!

  9. Steven K

    zero0db: Tanks for posting the link to the Garmin Forerunner 920XT. Good sign for it to arrive soon.
    Ray: Any update on availability of the 920?

  10. Matt B

    Looks like we got lucky with the Paris weather the weekend before! I can vouch for the Girl’s cakes being awesome, myself and the other half managed to restrain ourselves to just the one cupcake each, but I now understand why Ray has to run so much! Yum :)

  11. Greg

    Oh, the South West festival was the best. My wife and I, along with my sister, her husband and a friend sat on the riverbank (almost exactly where you took the picture of your food bag) and put away quite a bit of rosé on Friday afternoon. (And Saturday. And Sunday.)

  12. Adam

    Ray I know your pain sir. Im over in Qatar and work nights. After work I like to go for a run at 7 in the morning and its already 96 degrees out. Makes every run just that much more special…

  13. Damn – my computer freaked and just commented an old address. But I digress – I LOVE the french names on your Coke cans. The ones in the US say Mike and Sam. No Cheri :(

  14. lionel birkenbach

    noticed in you juice box photo — the ashtray cigarettes & lighter— hope you didn’t pick up a bad habit over there lol

  15. Richard S

    Great post, love paris!

  16. Lukasz

    What a discovery – DC Rainmaker lives in Paris (honestly – I did not follow your blog on a regular basis). Thanks for the address of Schwartz’s Deli, even though quite far from my place.

  17. anybody

    I wouldn’t count on the Withings still to come feature list. For the body analyzer they canceled to long anticipated feature air quality touch which they even advertised. :(

  18. Tony

    Yum… Ramen. I haven’t been to Paris in a while, but a remember it having some really good Ramen joints. But of course not quite as good as the stuff we find here in the SF Bay Area. :-} (Can you sense a little bit of a bias here?)