Crowded, Noisy and Recommended!

August 31st, 2014

dijestiflepetitmarcheLe Petit Marché is on rue Béarn, a small street just north and directly off of the Place des Vosges. Le Petit Marché is not for those who want a quiet, romantic dinner. It’s busy, noisy, jam-packed café perfect for a quick lunch and people-watching.

Most of the staff speak English. Start with the Chinese salad or the ceviche. You’ll find French cuisine with Asian influences such as fresh tuna tartar with toasted sesame seeds served with a Thai sauce. Main courses are served with small bowls of mashed potatoes and green beans. Other recommended dishes include the cod, lamb, steak tartare with Asian spices, and the succulent duck breast in a honey sauce.

As we were leaving the café, the waiters at the small bar offered us a complimentary digestif!


Le Food Fad

August 30th, 2014

bacon cheeseburger
Went out for dinner tonight to a nice place in the 16th arrondissement and was surprised to see that since the last time I was there, they have added cheeseburgers to the menu. They are now officially fashionable in Paris. But not cheap. That’s $33 a cheeseburger.

Tippy Top!

August 29th, 2014

The Paris Blog - Top Blog Prize


Aw, shucks. We’re thrilled to be named the top expat blog for France by The accolade actually goes to all the blogs you see to your right under the header “The Paris Blog Bloggers.” Those writers and photographers, who each run their own blog about life in the City of Light, are like the lights that sparkle on the Eiffel Tower at night. So thanks, you snappy electrifiers! You keep this creaky old dame feeling young!

Heavenly Cakes and Teas

August 28th, 2014

ciel paris sponge cakeOne of my favorite indulgences right now is Ciel, a Japanese tea room that only has one kind of pastry: light and airy angel food cakes with cream filling in flavors like strawberry, yuzu, chocolate, matcha, Griotte cherry, vanilla, or black sesame. They are beautifully presented for eating at the small counter space or to go in a Japanese origami-style box you won’t want to throw out. You can also get three mini-sizes if you want to try a “flight” of them. Ciel serves Japanese teas with the cakes, as well as little sandwiches rolled like makis, and matcha ice cream. In the evening they serve Nikka whisky, cocktails, and savory finger foods. Word to the wise: Don’t eat the little white thing on the plate that looks like a mint, it’s a hand towel (they add hot water).

Seeing the Metro Differently

August 26th, 2014

paris metro seatI’ve always had a fascination with the colored seats of the metro and photographed them before but there was always something missing from the photos, either the lighting was poor or the reflection of the fluorescent light marred the color.

While waiting for the metro last month, I looked at the metro seats in a different way and photographed them more abstractly just focusing on the top of the seat against the background poster. After, I started to notice the posters in some of the metro stations had either mustard or avocado colored ceramic frames around them and I started to photograph the just the edges and got some very interesting results.


Ready for Lift Off

August 25th, 2014

peninsula paris hotel cocktail barThe luxury hotel Peninsula has made Paris its European point of entry, introducing a few new drinking and dining options to the city. The rooftop restaurant and bar, L’oiseau Blanc, was named after the French plane that attempted to make the first non-stop flight from Paris to New York in 1927 but mysteriously disappeared. Fittingly, the bar is kitted out with aviation themed decor and old pictures of the airplane. It offers up a 360 degree few of Paris in a sophisticated and staid space. The drinks menu features around a dozen drinks ranging from appropriate classics (Aviation, anyone?) to twists on classics like their Take Off (gin, sweet vermouth and bitters).


Summer’s Last Gasp

August 24th, 2014

audrey hepburn billy wilderSummer isn’t quite over yet, despite the cool, wet weather in Paris the past two weeks. There are many events for the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris (August 1944), including a free sound and light show tomorrow evening commemorating the historic events followed by live dancing and a Bal Populaire (dance party) on the esplanade of the Hôtel de Ville. If the weather still sucks, the Musée Galliera (host of the 1950s French fashion shows) has partnered with the Grand Action Cinema to show big-screen classics every Friday night through the end of October, including Monkey Business (Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, Ginger Rogers), Roman Holiday (Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn), Vincent Minelli’s Designing Women (with Lauren Bacall, RIP), and Roger Vadim’s And God Created Woman (Brigitte Bardot), The films are in English with French subtitles.

>more summer events

Carving up the City

August 23rd, 2014

parisblog_arrondissementsA reader named Philippa has informed me that the arrondissement system that divides the city is a fairly new element of city geography:

The organization of Paris into its 20 arrondissements, spiralling out from the Ile de la Cité, seems so well established that you may be surprised to learn that the arrangement is only 150 years old. Today’s arrondissements date from exactly January 1, 1860. On that day, the city was restructured and 11 surrounding villages or communes were annexed: Auteuil, Passy, Les Batignolles, Montmartre, La Chapelle, La Villette, Belleville, Charonne, Bercy, Vaugirard, and Grenelle, along with some bits and pieces of territory that fell within the Enceinte de Thiers. old Paris map paris blogToday, some of these areas retain faint traces of their bucolic past –a few winding roads, some country houses now hemmed in by urban development, glimpses of trees that were once part of orchards and are now marooned in courtyards. But in 1860, they instantly became “urban” and had to leave behind their rural roots. If you want to understand more about this watershed in Paris’s history, go to an exhibit called “1860: Agrandir Paris: 150 ans des vingt arrondissements parisiens” at the Galerie des Bibliothèques, 22 rue Malher, 4th arrondissement (2 September to 24 October, 2010), which commemorates the reorganization and annexation of 1860.

>Click here to read more about how the city used to be divided by church parishes–and how one arrondissement was almost named Brutus.

Champagne in Champagne

August 22nd, 2014

champagne1Over brunch one Sunday years ago, a friend raised her glass and said, “Thanks for introducing me to champagne.” I responded, “You’d never had it before?” And she said, “Well, at weddings. Not, like, every day.” Regrettably, I don’t drink champagne everyday. It’s more a once-a-week thing. Though I can be cheap in other areas of my life—I never buy water, and I peel uncancelled stamps off envelopes—I splurge on champagne. It comforts me to know that when I am on my deathbed, I can say to myself, “I drank a lot of really good champagne.” champagne_regionSo last summer I made a pilgrimage to the region of Champagne. It’s just an hour and a half by car to the east of Paris, and you know you’ve arrived when you see a gigantic bottle pouring liquid into a glass on top of a hill…overlooking a cemetery. Its proximity to Germany gives Champagne’s architecture a Hansel-and-Gretel look, and you see crunchy Teutonic names on the many churchyard memorials to fallen soldiers. Just don’t tell anyone who lives here how German it feels, or they’ll go off on you as one woman did to me: “Four years of occupation was enough!” My boyfriend and I found Chateau D’Etoges online, and were thoroughly charmed by the castle’s moat, expansive but simple gardens, and discrete updates, such as a large bathroom with a tub. champagne_chateaudetogeWe ate at L’Orangerie, the chateau’s fancy restaurant, and went all out on a 200-euro bottle of Krug Grand Cuvee. It was like drinking diamonds. Surprisingly, we were tipsy after a single glass. I was so involved with the flavors and experience of the wine that I didn’t have much of an appetite for my pork loin dinner. Failing to convince my boyfriend to peel the aluminum casing off the bottle’s neck—to wrap the leftovers in—I instead used my dinner napkin, sneaking it all into my purse. The champagne gave the dinner an epic quality. champagne krugIt lasted for hours—or seemed to, though it was a mere (albeit fabulous) three courses. The champagne amounted to more than a night at the chateau, and it was worth every penny. We took cellar tours in Epernay (Moet) and Rheims (Taittinger) and found small owner-operated vineyards for afternoon tastings (Doyard-Mahé was a revelation; besides being delicious bubbly, it is also exclusive—you have to drive to the place to by a bottle, since it is not sold in Paris or anywhere abroad.)

After the trip, and back in our Montmartre apartment, we went to Le Bon Marche to buy provisions for our last night of our three-week holiday in France. Spotting a bottle of the same Krug Grand Cuvee, I snapped it up. That evening, we drank it a different way than we had at the chateau in Champagne. We opened a bag of chips, invited down a neighbor, and quaffed it without even mentioning to him what it was. If that’s not living, I don’t know what is.

Chic and Ew

August 21st, 2014

subwaychicsubwayawThe two extremes of Parisian style for women of a certain age were displayed across the aisle from each other on my subway ride this morning.