dimanche 31 mars 2013

Brocantes!

   

I love brocantes, flea markets, just poking through other people's treasures - here is a small listing of brocantes around Paris in the next few weeks - check it out if you are just passing through or a permanent member of this crazy city!!


Day           Time                        Place                                 Metro

1 April              not listed                   Blvd. Blanqui (13e)                  Place d'Italie
                                                                                                      (Line 5,6,or 7)



6,7 April           not listed                Blvd. des italiens (2e)                Richelieu-Drouot
                                                                                                           (Line 3)



6 April             8h - 19h                  Avenue de Laumière (19e)         Laumière
                                                                                                           (Line 5)



14 April           7h - 19h)                 Ave. du President Wilson (16e)    Ièna
                                                                                                            (Line 9)




21 April           8:30 - 19h                 Bords de Seine                           RER A -
                                                                                                     Rueil-Malmaison


 I have tried to create an accurate listing - I apologize in advance if something is incorrect - however I am not responsible for irrational purchases!!  Happy Hunting!!


samedi 30 mars 2013

Easter Celebration - French Style

   
Easter is fast approaching as chocolates fill up the window displays of patisseries and chocolate shops. I have never witnessed such chocolate fanfare before with regard to these showy, sophisticated works of art.  Huge chocolate roosters, bells, and fish are the norm for Easter here in France.

The cloche volant* is an important Easter tradition of France. French Catholics believe that on Good Friday all the church bells in France fly to the Vatican in Rome carrying with them the grief of Jesus' crucifixion.  These flying bells return on Easter Sunday morning bringing lots of chocolate and eggs. I know we have the rabbit, but flying bells?..... really??......


Here are some beautiful Easter displays floating around Paris streets.


These are my favorite!




* flying bells

samedi 23 mars 2013

Atlantic Coast of France



  We are lucky as we get to experience different parts of France through a website called Mind My House. Individuals look for others to mind their home and pets while they go away. In return, you get to visit a new area, save some money as you don't have to pay for a hotel and live like a local. This is the third time we have done a house sit, and we have been lucky every time. You can search for house sits all over the world. If you are not familiar with this site, you can check it out here.

La Rochelle

  We recently spent some time near the Atlantic Coast of France in an area called Deux-Sèvres. This is another beautiful area of France dotted with charming villages. I got to visit a part of France I have been yearning to go to - La Rochelle and Île de Ré. While this time of year is not the best time to visit these beautiful places, it was still amazing. There are two towers guarding the entrance to La Rochelle's seafront and a third tower, which is just a short walk along the port was a jail that still has original grafitti from sailors on its walls. We climbed to the top of the third tower and were rewarded with a fabulous view of La Rochelle. The windy streets, the old port and the vibrant city life make this a must-see on anyone's list.






View from the top of the third tower - La Rochelle

They call Île de Ré the "Hamptons of France". I can see this must be a rockin' place during the summer where all the beautiful people hang out. Yet to me, it does not seem to be as pretentious as the Hamptons can be. The island, which is connected via a 2.9 km bridge from La Rochelle is made up of 10 towns. The more notable ones are La Flotte and Ars-en-Ré. Îl de Ré of course is known for their salt and long ago, they used donkeys to help the workers in the salt ponds. The donkeys wore suspender like pants to protect their legs from mosquitoes while in the ponds. Today, they just wear the pants for show. We saw the donkeys, but they were not dressed in their Sunday Best - apparently only for show during the summer months. You can find the donkeys in the town of Saint Martin-de-Ré. One can also rent bikes and discover the island this way.  Bike paths are abundant all over the island.


Donkeys in their striped pants.


La Flotte



fleur de sel




A poster from long ago for the Transpondeur Bridge

Transpondeur Bridge
After, we headed over to Rochefort to hop a short ride on a Transpondeur Bridge or suspended car bridge that long ago carried people from one side to the other for shopping and to sell their wares. Today, it's used as an attraction. We had no luck as it was closed until April.












One other village of notable interest is a village called Coulon. This village is part of a network of canals and waterways that are ironically called the "Green Venice of France." The beautiful white farmhouses with blue shutters are typical of this area. During the summer months, one can take a leisurely boat ride down the canals.

Coulon

Can you imagine living here??





During the Spring and Summer months, this is a great area of France that offers so many beautiful towns and villages.





dimanche 17 mars 2013

Good Lunch Stops

Here to tell you about two more good lunch finds in the City of Lights both introduced to me by my friend, Jen who knows all the good places to eat around Paris!!

First up is Da Piero at 57 Rue de Suffren - Metro: Commerce or La Motte Piquet-Grenelle. This is the real Italian deal!! This is a family run restaurant where the food is served fresh in a traditional Italian style. Everything is cooked to order and all the products as well as the people are authentic. They also have a nice Italian wine selection for lunch or buy a bottle for later. The portions are perfect and won't leave you hungry - just room for one of their delicious desserts, be it Tiramasu, ice cream, or one of their other yummy concoctions you won't be disappointed. They also have take out should you wish to continue your Italian feast of sorts later and a small selection of Italian grocery items for sale. I have been here twice already and each time the restaurant has been full. Definitely worth a trip! Check out this place, it is a good stop over before/after your climb to the top of the Tour Eiffel. Only open for lunch.


Next up, Rose's Bakery. They have 3 locations scattered around the city. I was at their location in the 9th on rue Martyrs. What a great area - very bourgeois!! This place has had many good write-ups and they are not wrong. The kitchen dishes up wonderful lunch plates using fresh ingredients and the portions again are just right. I had the vegetable plate and it was fabulous. If I had someone prepare veggies for me like this everyday, I would never eat meat again. My friend Jen had a tofu plate, and I tell you, I don't care for tofu, but this was very good. Rachel had the thin-crusted pizzette served with a tasty green salad. It is a tiny place so I recommend going at the late end of the lunch hour or else you may be waiting a bit for a table.  Only disappointment was that their "to die for carrot cake" was completely sold out. After lunch, wander this awesome area - so many fun, neat places to "lèche-vitrines"*



*window-shopping


lundi 11 mars 2013

20th Arrondissement Street Art Walk

   
I was interested in doing a bit of a mini street art walk and decided to embark around the 20th arrondissement.  This arrondissement is a quartier* undergoing some regentrification and becoming a very "hip" place to hang out. This is not your "fall in love" with romantic Paris area, however walking down these streets give you a real connection to all the ethnicities of Paris. This is more the nitty and gritty of Paris, however do not let this deter you - this is an area not to be missed.

 I saw some amazing things here that I had not encountered before. Coming out of Metro Belleville, I made a left on Rue Denoyez, another left on Rue Ramponeau and left again on Rue Julien. Heading up the hill to Place Frehel and Rue Belleville, I found myself in front of this full on street art at the corner. Just to the left on the other wall is another piece of street art where at first glance it appears the artists are in the process of creating the art. Looking more closely, one realizes the "artists" are not real at all but part of the scene.
French Artist - Ben Vautier - simply known as Ben 
Loosely translated  -  "Look out for words" by French artist Jean Le Gac


Continuing on down Belleville you turn on Rue de Plat and continue walking and you will run smack into Parc de Belleville. This must be one of the best kept secrets of Paris. The view is amazing with the city spreading its wings beneath me. I imagine when the flowers are in bloom in the spring and summer this park is incredible.  Plenty of these "space invader" type plaques are scattered throughout this area as well. No one knows the real identity of this street artist, as he has continued to remain anonymous.


Space Invader Plaque




Seating great for sunning and lounging in Parc Belleville

Parc Belleville

Continuing on down Rue Cascades I turned down Rue Ermitage. This is a little jewel of a street - a secret paradise. Sadly, it appears to be undergoing construction and teardown like much of this neighborhood.

A little oasis in the heart of Paris

 Heading up telegraph and turning left back onto Belleville, I ended my walk in a mini square by Metro Jourdain. I stopped at a pastry shop recommended from David Leibovitz's app.This square had more beautiful street art. These are just a couple of the panels. They were about 7 panels all done by Mosko and Associates - well known street artists in Paris. Check it out:




I was trying to find this bakery Boulangerie 140 and I went round and round this square trying to find it. The pastry shop - Pâtisserie de L'Eglise which incidentally has the same owners gave me a one-off response about where the bakery was and seemed a bit irritated that I was even inquiring about the bakery. In any case, the desserts were awesome and worth a second trip.

Here is an excellent link to a street art walk in this area. This author has put together a very detailed walk complete with bios of the various street artists. Well worth a look.

*neighborhood

samedi 2 mars 2013

Artiste Fleurie

   

Flower shops are scattered everywhere in Paris. There seems to be an equal number of florists to hair salons to pharmacies.....hmmmmmm. These beautiful eye candy displays are just begging for someone to take them home. People here seem to purchase flowers with the same gusto of buying a baguette for dinner and why not.









Flowers brighten any one's day and they are a thoughtful, sincere gift. Here in France, one can actually go to a trade school to become an "artisan fleuriste"* as this is a respectable trade to learn the proper methods for displaying flowers and arranging them in such a way to create fabulous displays of art. I love going in to my local "artisan fleuriste". HIs arrangements never fail to put a smile on my face and everything he does with the flowers is truly inspirational.  When I come into his shop, he asks me my budget, colors, types of flowers and plucks various flowers from their sunny spots and begins his magic.




 If it is flowers "pour la maison"** he will wrap them in brown kraft paper tied with raffia - a simple gesture - and if they are "pour offrir"*** he will wrap them in colorful tissue and paper and tie them with rafia complete with his business card that proudly says he is an "artiste fleurie" - elegance. None of this plastic wrap around the flowers with the price sticker smacked on the front.  I have explained to him when I go home to the USA, I am very disappointed by the flower displays. Most of the time, flowers are purchased from a grocery store, and the choices are awful with no thought to the arrangement.

 If you are having the winter doldrums there's nothing like a beautiful bouquet to create a "sunny" day.




* floral designer
** flowers for the house
*** gift