Big Beautiful World 26 — Pufferfish in Cloche, Paris

It’s a big, beautiful world out there. Let’s stop trying to screw it up. 

There is an amazing series of passageways in Paris–wide alleys, really, that were covered over in the 19th century and lined with shops and restaurants. Les passages couverts were–are–a proto-shopping mall, where fashionable ladies would gather to shop before attending the theater, or dine after. Les passages are still in use today, protected for their historical significance, and are still groovy places to meet, shop, and have a drink or some food.

Bistrot Vivienne is nestled into one corner of the glorious Galerie Vivienne (natch), the passage that runs behind the Richelieu Library and near the Palais Royal, and is exactly what one would hope for in such surroundings. The bistrot is charming–dimly lit (but not too dim!), welcoming, with lots of snug dark wood. Try the negroni. There’s a curved staircase that goes up to a dining area, and on a shelf along that staircase is…a glass cloche filled with a stack of pufferfish.

They look so…uhh…

Nope, they are most decidedly not seeds, as George had presumed when he first saw the photo. They are puffers under glass. Cloching originated as a way to protect delicate plants from the weather and other external factors (think of the rose from Beauty and the Beast, only non-magical and without that pesky Belle poking at it). But if you can protect plants with a glass bell jar, then you can also put unusual animals on display under that jar, and the smooth surface of the jar makes for easier dusting.

Yeah, it’s weird.

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