Monday, December 7, 2009

Send me an angel: La Boutique des Anges













Although the shop is open all year, December is clearly the best month for visiting La Boutique des Anges at Montmartre.

The store is tiny and crowded with angels (and often with people as well). Sacred music gets you in the mood and optimises the chances that you fall for a angel figurine, an angelic postcard, a puny pocket angel (to watch over you wherever you go), an angel soap, a book or some other angelic item.

The old-fashioned place is really unique. And irresistible in December.

2, rue Yvonne le Tac 75018 Paris
Métro Abbesses (line 12)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wallpaper with soul: Farrow & Ball





















The most beautiful wallpapers in Paris. I am particularly fond of the ones with bold stripes.

So British, so chic! Need I say more?

50 Rue de l'Université, 75007 Paris
Métro rue du bac (line 12)



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The queen of details: Nadine Delepine





















Nadine Delepine's boutique is one of my favourites. The shop is located in a street called "rue princesse" (really!) and its front is painted with mild, inviting colours.

Inside you find Nadine's lovely jewellery creations as well as chic accessories selected by her. The latter comprises porte-monnaies, umbrellas, gloves and hats. She makes some accessories herself too, namely some charming shopping bags, porte-monnaies and the like. There are also some clothes to be found in the boutique. I think Nadine is the creator of those as well. Key adjectives for all the items are "romatic" and "nostalgic".

My only regret is that I did not know about this shop when I was a 10-year old girl. It would have been the perfect place to go to with my Mum on a Saturday for cultivating the already quite developped dream of being a princess... :-)

Nadine Delepine, 14, Rue Princesse, 75006 Paris
Métro Mabillon (line 10)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Great lunch value: Krua Thai















When I started this blog, I did not intend to write about restaurants. Obviously I have changed my mind! I will, however, only include restaurants I return to, i.e. the ones that are part of "my Paris". Krua Thai is one of them. It is a simple restaurant with a family-ambiance; the owners' sweet daughter is often playing at a table at the back of the restaurant.

The service is friendly and the food truly tasty. At lunch they serve a special menu (ask for the lunch menu if you do not get it spontaneously) that I usually opt for. You can choose between two or three starters/maindishes/desserts for 10 euros. I always go for the crispy spring rolls and the coconut-curry-chicken with sticky rice. A delight!

41, Rue du Montparnasse 75014 Paris. Telephone: 01 43 21 90 53
Métro Montparnasse (line 4, 6, 12, 13)


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Old-fashioned music boxes: Anna Joliet





















Palais Royal is a delightful place with a delicate perfume from the past. I appreciate the beautiful garden, and strolling in the surrounding arcades where one finds a range of cafes, restaurants, art galleries and boutiques. Boîte à musique Anna Joliet is one of the latter.

This charming shop is specialised in music boxes. Anna Joliet carries music boxes in all styles and all price ranges; from the simplest one-melody box to true masterpieces made in Switzerland. I love specialised boutiques, and this one is no exception!

9 rue de Beaujolais, 750001 PARIS
Métro Palais Royal (line 7)

www.boitesamusique-paris.com

Monday, June 29, 2009

A room with a view: www.groscaillou.net















A couple of friends of mine rent out their apartment in rue du Gros Caillou, a quiet backstreet in the rather well-to-do Ecole Militaire area. If you need accommodation in Paris for a couple of days or weeks, this is your place!

While landmarks such as the Tour Eiffel, the Invalides, and Pont Alexandre III are all in walking distance, this is a residential quarter with a local atmosphere and several neighbourhood stores and boutiques in close proximity. The great chef Christian Constant having four restaurants just a block away isn't an inconvenient either... People often say that Paris is more like a collection of small towns than one big city; seldom is the saying more true than here.

The apartment dates from the turn of the last century. Renovated in 2003, it comfortably houses two people and can accommodate up to four. Far more than just a place to crash after a day of sightseeing, shopping or work, this is a true home from which you will leave with an insider’s experience of Paris.

www.groscaillou.net

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My haunt: La Coupole















La Coupole has been my favourite café ever since I first came to Paris. I have probably been there hundreds of times, but funnily enough I have never had lunch or dinner there! I do know, however, that the café specialises in seafood and that, according to friends of mine, "les plateaux de fruits de mer" are splendid! For me La Coupole was the place where, for years, I had my hot chocolate before going to class at La Sorbonne or where I had (and still have!) an apéritif before dinner.

When having a glass by myself, I love to sit near the window and watch the hasty street. If it rains, it is even better... La Coupole is a wonderful place to have breakfast too. Choose a table with a banquette (bench), enjoy and observe! Many of the elderly customers are patrons and have their habits...

The interior is all splendid Art Deco and so Parisian. It's grandiose and cosy at the same time. The waiters are dressed as waiters should be dressed, and the whole place is perfectly traditional. A true delight!

102 Boulevard de Montparnasse, 75014 PARIS
Métro Vavin (line 4)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pamper yourself: Hammam Pacha
















Nestled in the 6th district of Paris is a Moroccan oasis of well-being; the Hammam Pacha. I particularly recommend going there on a grey and rainy day. Be prepared to spend 2-3 hours in the haven of rest.

The Hammam Pacha is a beautiful place. Its decoration evokes “1001 nights”. After having put your clothes in the painted wood lockers in the dressing room and put on your bathrobe, head towards the main hall which is lukewarm and humid. Let your body get used to the ambiance, have a shower (remember to bring scrub products!) and lie down on the tiles. Later, you can visit the sauna and the steam room – before you let the streams in the pool massage your back...

The Hammam offers various treatments, namely massages. I find their massages too gentle and therefore I don’t recommend them. Save your dimes for the culinary pleasures. Before returning to the outside world, spend some time in the relaxation room! Under the arcades, dive into the ocean of cushions and enjoy some mint tea and pastries. Spend time with a good book you have brought with you or take a nap. If you are really hungry, you can enjoy a tajine or some oriental salads in the restaurant afterwards.

Entrance; 35 euros (includes rent of bathrobe and towel). For the cost of the various treatments/massages, see the website (below).

Hammam Pacha is open seven days a week - exclusively for women.
17 Rue Mayet, 75006 PARIS
Métro Duroc (line 10 and 13)
http://www.hammampacha.com/

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My favourite spot: Place de Furstemberg















In a breathtaking city like Paris, it is naturally very hard to tell which place is "the most beautiful one". The answer will always be subjective and difficult to give. However, like most people, I have some favourite spots in the town where I live. I have written about some of them, and there are more articles to come.

I love the cosy area near Abbesses, the superbe park "Jardin du Luxembourg", the impressive courtyard of "my" university La Sorbonne (see separate articles), the charming island Ile Saint-Louis, the stunning Place des Vosges, the village-like Place Dauphine, and many other addresses. Nevertheless, if I should name THE place that best captures Paris' spirit, I would elect Place de Furstemberg.

The dimensions are perfect, the surrounding architecture rich, and the harmony complete. It is grandiose, but it doesn't give you the feeling of being in a busy and big city. It is Paris.

At the very address of Place de Furstemberg you'll find some nice textile- and interiorshops. One minute walk will take you to the English-spoken wineshop "La dernière goutte" (6 rue Bourbon le Château) as well as to Cosi, the perfect place for lunch with delicious sandwiches made with straight-from-the-oven-Italian bread (54 rue de Seine). No mystery I come here almost every Saturday...

Métro Mabillon (line 10) or Saint-Germain-des-Près (line 4)

PS: The marvellous litography illustrating this article is made by Jean-Pierre Petit who was generous enough to let me share it with you.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Charlie and the chocolate factory: Rochoux
















A compulsory stop when wandering around in the Saint Germain area is the marvellous chocolate shop of Jean-Charles Rochoux. The shop is small, but the products are grand.

Mister Rochoux invents the recipes and makes his chocolates backstage, but sometimes he gives his sales assistant a helping hand too. He is a very nice man, and is likely to invite you to taste something (he knows that once you have tasted, you cannot resist!).

The shop opened about four years ago, but mister Rochoux learnt his "métier" long time before that. For several years he worked in one of Paris' most famous chocolateries. He has also been dessert chef in the three-star restaurant Guy Savoy.

He makes some absolutely stunning "truffes". However, as the recipe comprises cream, the treasures must be kept in the fridge, and are thus not suited for being brought back home, if you are a tourist. In that case I rather recommend you buy some small, individual chocolates. Have a box filled up, or simply ask for a few pieces in a bag. My all time favourite is "citron" (lemon), but Mira, rose and "framboise" (raspberry) are strong cards on Rochoux' hand too...

Common for them all is that the thin chocolate coating crunches, and that the subtle and tasty ganache cream transport you to the land of perfect well-being, and lets you stay there - indeed the taste lasts for a long time. Simply delicious!

16 rue d'Assas 75006 PARIS . Métro Rennes (line 12)


Thursday, February 19, 2009

The final hours of a Queen: La Conciergerie





















Marie-Antoinette was an average woman with a huge destiny. During the French revolution she tempted to flee Paris together with her husband, the king Louis XVI, and their children. Their plan failed, and they were placed in arrest. La Conciergerie is where the incredible life-journey of Marie-Antoinette ended. That is, she was decapitated at Place de la Concorde, but spent her last time in her cell at La Conciergerie in the Palace de la Cité.

As the first royal palace in Paris, this palace had its hour of glory under the Capetian monarchs. In 1793, La Conciergerie became the main prison of the revolutionary law courts. In addition to the revolutionary tribunal, it housed up to 1,200 male and female prisoners at a time. The tribunal sat in the "Great Hall" between 2 April 1793 and 31 May 1795 and sent nearly 2,600 prisoners to the guillotine. Its rules were simple. Only two outcomes existed — a declaration of innocence or a death sentence — and in most cases the latter was chosen.

When visiting the palace as a tourist, you can benefit from a historical presentation of the tragic hours of the Terror. Several cells have been reconstituted, including that of Marie-Antoinette. Today the palace also houses several of Paris' law courts.

Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris. Métro Ile de la Cité (line 4)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A quiet pearl: Le musée de la vie romantique





















This atmosphere museum has kept the lure of the bygone-day Nouvelle Athènes quarter townhouses untouched. It once belonged to painter Ary Scheffer and his nephew by marriage Ernest Renan, and became a shrine to writer George Sand, one of the Romanticism’s leading lights. The museum contains a certain number of pieces of furniture and personal items (portraits, jewellery etc) that used to belong to George Sand, and that were later donated by her daughter Aurore Lauth-Sand. Upstairs you can study some of the works of Ary Scheffer as well works made by some contemporary artists.

Across the courtyard, you will find the atelier where Ary Scheffer worked – and met Chopin, Liszt, Lamartine, Tourgueniev, Delacroix and other celebrities – from 1830 to 1858.

In summertime, the premises of the museum invite you to a romantic moment; sit down in the quiet garden, enjoy the perfume of the roses, drink your afternoon-tea and allow yourself a delicious piece of cake.
Hôtel Scheffer-Renan, 16 rue Chaptal, 75009 Paris
(métro Pigalle, line 2 and 12, and Blanche, line 2)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Perfection all the way: Apicius












Finding a good restaurant in Paris is easy. The same goes for an excellent restaurant. However, finding a place where you feel like Alice in Wonderland (if you're a girl, that is...) may require some more efforts. The good news is that there is a simple and guaranteed way to make your most exquisite culinary- and service -related fantasies come true. Simply elect "Apicius" as your dining room.

Nestled in a beautiful garden in the very center of Paris is the splendid mansion housing Apicius. The building is said to be owned by a famous French film producer who also happens to be a good friend of the divine chef Vigato. If it is on a summer evening that you choose to enter the premises, you are likely to be greeted with a multitude of candles spread out on the tables in the garden. It's magic.

The long corridor leading to the dining room is often very hectic. Indeed, it links the kitchen and the diningroom. However, when your welcoming waiter walks you through it, the corridor is yours alone. The unpronounced exclamation "freeze!" - that your presence as a guest automatically leads to - pastes all the staff to the walls and makes them bow while uttering "Madame, bonsoir". If you did not get that Alice in Wondeland feeling when entering the garden, you will definitely be filled with it now.

The dining room with its (at least) 5 meter high walls and well-chosen colours and textiles exudes quiet elegance and luxury. The food is nothing but divine. When I have had the plesure of dining at Apicius, recurrent thoughts of mine have been "Is this really fish? Or is it some kind of magic invention made from scratch in the kitchen?" "How can a soufflé be SO perfect?" "I did not know that endivie could taste heavenly!"

What makes Apicius so special is the harmonious combination of location, cuisine and service. The latter comes level with the food. Being Alice in Wonderland is not a free exercice, but the incomparable experience justifies spending some money. The cost of the adventure is not shocking - at least not for special occasions.

20 rue d'Artois, 75008 Paris Métro Saint-Philippe-du-Roule (line 9)
www.restaurant-apicius.com/

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Student souvenirs: La Sorbonne















I have had the plesure of spending four wonderful years in a palace dedicated to knowledge : La Sorbonne. The buildings are beautiful (though not very practical…) and the history of the university is both inspiring and fascinating.

In 1250 the Parisian academia left l’Ile de la Cité, and teaching was hence organised at La Montagne Sainte-Geneviève. The Church imposed latin as spoken language on the premises– whereof the name Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter).

Founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon and Saint Louis, the first aim of the Sorbonne was to welcome destitute theology students. The university was rebuilt between 1626 and 1642 upon the wishes of Cardinal Richelieu. It was closed down for several years starting from the Revolution, and teaching was only taken up again in 1821. In 1884 was put down the first stone of the new, expanded university. Nénot, architect in command, imagined La Sorbonne as we know it today.

One of the treasures that are housed by La Sorbonne is the Library (photo above). How can you not feel inspired when sitting and reading in such a beautiful place? Another pearl is The Large Amphithéâtre. The latter is where graduates receive their diplomas. In The Large Amphithéâtre, that has space for some 3000 people, are statues of Sorbon, Descartes, Lavoisier, Rollin, Pascal and Richelieu. In the dome you can see symbols of Law, Medicine, Science, Litterature and Theology – the five faculties that constituted the university in 1889. Above the scene is the famous and symbolic painting “le bois sacré” (the sacred woods) by Puvis de Chavannes. The beautiful piece of art measures 25,60 m x 4,50 m.

Of the former Sorbonne, there remains only the chapel, built by Lemercier between 1635 and 1642. The Cardinal's tomb, by Girardon, is located inside.

La Sorbonne is still the most famous university in France. It is worth visiting, but a visit is not necessarily easy to organise. You can try by writing to Visites.Sorbonne@ac-paris.fr. If you are a group, your chances of success are certainly greater than if you are a single person. Need I say that writing in French would be a smart move..?


Métro Cluny La Sorbonne (line 10)
http://www.sorbonne.fr/

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wild animals, insects and curiosities: Deyrolle





















Since 1831 the unique store Deyrolle has been the central point in Paris for entomology and taxidermy; wild animals, rare butterflies, strange insects, beautiful shells, old-fashioned science posters and other curiosities linked to mother nature can all be found in this beautiful store in rue du bac.

Deyrolle has always been a fascinating and inspiring place both for scientists and for profanes like myself. The painters Bernard Buffet, Mathieu, Salvador Dali and André Breton, the writer Louise de Vilmorin as well as the philosopher Théodore Monod were often seen here.

In early 2008 a tragic fire caused great damages to the boutique and the unique collection. Deyrolle being an important parisian landmark, last winter several artists gathered around the noble cause of its restoration: 75 works of art were sold at an auction and brought in 260 000 euros. Thanks to this tremendous help, Deyrolle is progressively being rebuilt. Several rooms are already fully restored. I strongly recommend that you a drop by, it is worth the visit!

46 rue de Bac (métro Rue de Bac, line 12)
http://www.deyrolle.com/ (website only in French)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cinema Paradiso: Le Chaplin




















In Paris you can find many local theaters called "cinémas de quartier". Le Saint-Lambert, recently renamed Cinéma Chaplin, is one of them.

At Le Saint-Lambert time has stood still for many years. There are few signs that we have actually passed the 50s... The elderly man selling old-fashioned tickets with slow and meticulous gestures has probably worked there for decades.

Le Saint-Lambert is never in a hurry. Movies come to this place when they are taken off from other theaters. The combination of a small theater and lots of different films means you must pay careful attention to the program (see link further down). A given film is maybe just being projected every Wednesday afternoon, whilst another one is solely being shown on Sunday evenings. The advantage is that it is never crowdy: fifteen people at the most is my own, personal experience. Another good point is that there is a decent selection of films in "version originale" (not dubbed into French).

Forget about popcorn, crisps and modern jelly beans. However, if you would like to buy a traditional chocolate bar, then pick one from the small selection in the wicker basket near the entrance and tell the old gentleman.

Find out what's playing at the moment: www.allocine.fr/seance/salle_gen_csalle=W7515.html (NB: VF = French, dubbed version. VO = original version with French subtitles)

6 rue Péclet (métro Vaugirard, line 12), close to the townhall of the XVth district.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The summum of prêt à porter: Paule Ka


















Serge Cajfinger makes timeless and very chic prêt à porter inspired by Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy. Always stylish and classy, sometimes sexy, but never vulgar.

The PK clothes are quite expensive (400-1000 euros for a dress), so look out for the sales, and remember that it can be great to combine designer clothes with much more affordable pieces. That perfectly cut PK-jacket can make you look outstandingly good, although the rest of your outfit comes from H&M or Zara!

There are several PK-shops and corners in Paris. I recommend the shop located 192 Boulevard Saint Germain (métro Saint Germain des Prés, line 4) as well as the corner at Le Bon Marché (métro Sèvres-Babylone, line 10 and 12). www.pauleka.com

Cheesy fantasies: Quatrehomme





















To fully appreciate the exotic results of turning goat- sheep- and cow's milk into cheeses, check out this Rive-Gauche fromagerie, run by one of the most respected cheese experts in Paris, Marie Quatrehomme. Personally, I appreciate a lot her reblochon, comté fruité, tête de moine and camembert.

Enjoy your cheese with a rustic baguette and some white wine. The latter often matches cheese better than red wine. Camembert, for instance, tends to give a "metallic" taste to red wine whilst it goes perfectly together with white.

62 rue de Sèvres (métro Vaneau, line 10)

Heaven for Port- and Armagnac-lovers: Ryst Dupeyron



















Ryst-Dupeyron specializes in vintage armagnac, as well as Bordeaux grands cru, port and malt whiskies. If you look for a birthday present, you will definitely find something from the year your friend is born. The staff is very friendly, gives great explanations and willingly answers questions you may have. There are generous possibilities for tasting as well...

79 rue du Bac (métro Rue du Bac, line 12)
www.ryst-dupeyron.com

A "Parisian" shopping experience: Le Bon Marché


















There are other shopping centers in Paris that are more known abroad (like Galeries Lafayette and Printemps), but the one and only that is truly Parisian and chic is Le Bon Marché.

The atmosphere is calm and bourgeois. There are no disturbing announcements of promotions, nor any hip music. If any music is heard, it is most likely Bach or Händel, and you are never obliged to raise your voice and compete with the music when addressing someone.

Books, records, jewellery, cosmetics, prêt à porter, lingerie, shoes, furniture, art de table - at Le Bon Marché you find it all. Do not miss La Grande Epicérie in the building next door - clearly Paris' best supermarket for food.

24 rue de Sèvres (métro Sèvres-Babylone, line 10 and 12)
www.lebonmarche.fr/

A walk in Amélie's footpaths: Abbesses















One of the most charming areas in Paris is Abbesses. It is also a treasured place for all those who cannot help but smile when they think of the film "Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain".

Enjoy a walk in the cosy streets, and let the Parisian old-fashioned ambiance fill your mind: Rue des Abbesses with all its cafés, Rue Lepic with all its fabulous food shops (and the "Café des Deux Moulins" from the film), Rue Yvonne le Tac, Rue des Trois Frères...

In Rue des Abbesses you find a wonderful bakery called Coquelicot (www.coquelicot-montmartre.com/) where you can buy tasty "pains spéciaux", for instance olive-bread and bread with gooseliver bites.

When coming from Rue des Abbesss, I recommend you walk Rue Lepic both downwards and upwards - all the way to Place M.Aymé where you will find a very charming theater. Continue straight ahead towards Place Dalida, and then take Rue de l'Abreuvoir. If you stay on the west-side of the cathedral, you will find lots of enchanting streets and houses.

If it is your first time in Paris, it is worth to walk up the stairs from Place Saint-Pierre (or take the funicular), enjoy the spectacular view and have a glimpse at the Sacré Coeur cathedral - but elsewise focus on Abbesses and avoid the touristic area near the cathedral.

Métro: Abbesses, line 12.
"Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain" trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=sECzJY07oK4 (English trailers are also available on youtube)

The essence of Paris: Jardin du Luxembourg
















Created in 1612 following the wish of Marie de Médicis, Jardin du Luxembourg is a beautiful park in the center of Paris and a cherished meetingpoint for Parisians.

Green, characteristic chairs are found all around the park, even when the lawns are covered with snow (it happens!). In spring- and summertime astoningly beautiful flower arrangements can be admired.

The park houses the Palais du Luxembourg (le Sénat), a prestigious engineer school, a museum, an orangerie and lots of quality sculptures representing animals, French queens and princesses, greek mythology, composers...

Many Parisians spend their Sundays in the park, playing chess, tennis, bridge, basketball or reading in the sun. Children can rent old-fashioned sailboats and steer them with sticks on the dam in front of the Sénat, go pony/donkey-riding, attend puppet theater and enjoy mary-go-round-horses.

Be aware that you are not allowed to walk on the lawns. If you do so, you will soon here a whistle and see a guard approaching with a finger lifted high up in the air...

Métro: Odéon (line 4 and 10), Rennes (line 12), Saint Sulpice (line 4), Cluny la Sorbonne (line 10), Notre Dame des Champs (line 12) Vavin (line 4)

The King of Pastry: Pierre Hermé


















The pastry of Pierre Hermé is as beautiful as it is delicious and subtle. Some creations can be found all year long, like my all-time-favourite Ispahan (rose macaron with fresh raspberry and lychee) whilst others vary according to the season. Indeed, in line with French fashion industry, Pierre Hermé launches his summer- and winter-collection... So chic!

If you are a tourist and want to buy something you can eat outdoors, I recommend that you opt for a couple of macarons (easy to handle!).
There are two shops in Paris and several in Tokyo.

72 rue Bonaparte (métro Saint Sulpice, line 4)
185 rue de Vaugirard (métro Pasteur, line 6 and 12)

A beautiful museum: Nissim de Camondo



















The Nissim de Camondo museum takes you into one of the most sumptuous private homes from the early twentieth century in Paris.

Moïse de Camondo, a reputed Parisian banker during the Belle Epoque, was a passionate collector of French furniture and art objects from the eighteenth century, and he amassed a collection of unusual quality. In 1911, he hired architect René Sergent to build a private mansion next to Parc Monceau that would be worthy of this collection and suitable for his family. Behind the handsome décor of wood-paneled apartments were hidden the accoutrements of modern life, including kitchens, offices and bathrooms. The home, which is fully preserved in its original condition, offers an opportunity to discover the taste of a great collector and to get a glimpse of the everyday life of an aristocratic home.

63 rue de Monceau (métro Monceau, line 2 and Villiers, line 2 and 3)
www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr/francais/nissim-de-camondo/ (The best photos are found on the French pages)