September 1, 2011
Typical Parisian flea market (Josh Leo)
I first visited the Marche aux Puces (Les Puces de Saint-Ouen) 5 years ago. I was feeling adventurous and had a new house I dreamed of filling with amazing finds from the famous Parisian flea markets. As soon as I arrived, however, my confidence and sense of adventure plummeted. There was so much, and it was all so beautiful, I couldn’t decide where to begin. I didn’t know if bargaining was de rigueur, and I was timid about asking for prices because I assumed most of the dazzling objects that caught my eye had to be out of my price range (especially since most of them looked like they came right out of Versailles). I found some amazing light fixtures and chairs, but they weren’t going to fit into the overhead bin on my flight home, and I hadn’t the first clue about how to arrange to shipping. In the end, my eyes got their fill of gorgeous pieces but I left empty handed.
My experience, sadly, is not uncommon. The flea markets of Paris can be very intimidating and the vast maze of memorabilia is more than a little overwhelming. My fellow HIP gal pal Andrea knows exactly what I mean; she’s suffered from the flea market frazzle too!
So this summer, when Toma Haines and Franca Giagnacovo from Antiques Diva reached out and offered to take us ladies at HIP on a shopping tour of the Puces, we jumped, of course! After all, these women are bonafide experts on all things antique – maybe they could do something to salvage our dream of decorating our American homes with authentic French finds.
Walking the Paul Bert market at Clignancourt (Dave Bloom)
Our fabulous guide Franca met us in the morning with mini bottles of bubbly and personalized tote bags to carry home the treasures we were to collect that day. She gave us a great info package with maps and a brief description of each market within the Puces so we could pinpoint exactly where to go and what we wanted to see. Andrea and I were both on a mission to feather our nests, so we focused on furniture, house wares and art. She steered us effortlessly through the slightly rough looking streets leading to les Puces and around the sea of cheap plastic knickknacks and designer knock offs that precede the “real” flea markets. Once inside, she knew exactly which vendors had what we were looking for, and she was willing to help us haggle (a very accepted practice). Andrea has the scoop on the amazing treasures we saw.
August 22, 2011
Spending a summer in Paris is a dream come true, but as the Parisians rushed away to enjoy the famous French summer holidays, we got a bit envious and started dreaming of our own escape into the countryside. Thankfully, we were in for a treat: a day trip to one of the most famous regions of France…Champagne! We were invited along by Sydney Kruger, owner of A Tasty Side to Life, a private tour service that specializes in unlocking doors to some of the best small producers of the region.
Picked up in the morning by a private driver, Sydney, a girl who knows her way to my heart, had croissants waiting for us in the car. As we made our way out of Paris to the fresh air of the countryside, she filled us in on the history of the region (still one of the least visited in France), and gave us some great information on how champagne is actually made. By the time we arrived at the first vineyard, we had enough knowledge to taste like the pros.
January 12, 2011
Do you know Amy Reverdy, of the wonderful blog C’est La Me? If not, prepare to be wooed. This sweet expat from California charms with her self-deprecating, I’m-too-west-coast-to-take-myself-seriously tales of adapting to life with the Frenchies. In this post she shares her mouth-watering Context food tour in Saint Germain with fellow HIP Paris contributor and fabulous Parisian foodie, Meg Zimbeck.
The Inside Scoop (Photo by Little Brown Pen)
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live like a Parisian? Unless you’re prepared to travel with a dog or take up smoking, I think the easiest and most enjoyable way to experience la belle vie while visiting France is by shopping and eating.
I’ve been living in Paris for five years now. While I’d like to pretend that I spend my days strolling along selecting cheeses and chocolates from small shops, I’d be exaggerating. Sometimes I’m forced to go to the supermarket due to time constraints, hours of operation, or the simple fact that I need to buy toilet paper.
On the weekend, however, I really do try to frequent the farmer’s market and small shops in my quartier. Little by little, you start to develop a relationship with the vendors and they remember you. With my accent, it usually doesn’t take all that long. My second visit to the produce shop on rue Mouffetard, I was greeted with “Bonjour, Miss California.” I’m still smiling. And a few weeks later, after I’d paid for all my fruits and vegetables, I realized that I’d forgotten a lime. When I told him it was for my vodka tonic, he placed it in my hand with a wink and refused my money.
Caramel pastry from La Patisserie des Rêves (Edwardkimuk)
December 27, 2010
Eating and Paris. No matter how much you might try to dissociate the two, a stay in Paris without its fill of delicious treats could be a holiday in any other northern European capital, albeit one with some pretty nice architecture. Letting yourself be tempted by the window displays in patisseries and the cozy banquettes of corner brasseries is all part of the charm of living in Paris.
You won’t be blamed for spending your time here eating your way through neighborhood markets and various restaurant guidebooks, but you may find upon returning home to a routine of simpler meals (what, no Coq au Vin for dinner tonight, Mom?) you wish you had brought some of the mythical recipes back with you.
To answer the ever more popular dream of the food-blogger/cook/tourist, scores of great and not-so-great cooking schools have opened up in Paris to teach eager visitors la cuisine française. If you are not serious enough to book a semester at the Cordon Bleu, though, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the options out there. Lucky for you, Ariel and I recently tried out a class at “La Cuisine”, a wonderful cooking school geared towards visitors and locals that we feel confident recommending to anyone looking to delve a little deeper into the secrets of French cuisine.
Oliver and Jane started “La Cuisine” just over a year ago, and its popularity has already supported their move to a fantastic location right next to the Hotel de Ville. Tired with the demands of her banking job, Jane decided to drop it all, work her network, put together a group of serious culinary professionals and open a cooking school. With a soon-to-be degustation room and cellar, in addition to the two lovely kitchen/classroom spaces, La Cuisine is a great place to soak up a few recipes & tips in a welcoming environment.
On our recent visit, Ariel and I learned from the lovely Nathalie how to make the elusive Crème Anglaise. As side dishes to this queen of creams, we also learned how to make a perfect Tarte Fine aux Pommes and a traditional Tarte Tatin. Ariel has the scoop on the recipes below… – Geneviève
Mmmmm, I could just live off of Crème Anglaise alone! I miss that sweet ambrosia when I’m back in the states, since Americans tend to prefer the frozen version as a garnish to our pies and cakes.
For someone like me, an abysmal cook who can’t even fry an egg, the idea of actually making Crème Anglaise from scratch was madness, something best left to professionals for fear of botching one of the complex intermediary steps.
Au contraire mon amie! After taking the class at La Cuisine, both Genevieve and I have been able to recreate the sweet sauce (to the amazement of our family and friends)!
October 21, 2010
Lily Heise from the Paris walking tour experts Context Travel recently stopped by the Monet exhibit currently taking place at the Grand Palais. Since Paris is currently overrun by an imminent shortage of petrol, enduring public transport strikes and the madness known as contemporary art week, we thought it would be fitting to give you a little dose of tranquility, starting with Monet’s lovely waterlilies…
Every season ushers in a series of new exhibits in Paris and one of the most talked about this autumn is certainly “Claude Monet 1840-1926” at the Grand Palais. Slightly skeptical due to all the buzz, I visited the show last week to see if it was actually worth all the hype… and left two and a half hours later completely enchanted by the artistic impressions of the master impressionist.
The retrospective is certainly a must for impressionist art-lovers, bringing together over 200 works from 70 international collections, it offers a once in a lifetime chance to see so many of his paintings united side by side. Many of the works come from the Musée d’Orsay, however, dozens come from North America, where an avid appreciation of the Impressionists developed much ahead of France.
I was rather lucky to tour the exhibit with artist Marie Theres Berger who gave us some wonderful insight into the works on display, the artist’s career and his personal life. The show was beautifully curated, with the works organized thematically instead of purely chronologically, demonstrating how Monet’s style evolved through his subject matter, often revisiting the same subjects years later, such as the stormy Normandy coastline.
October 4, 2010
While I love the pace of a vibrant city like Paris, I’m a New England girl at heart. As such, there’s nothing like a big green vista or a vast ocean to make me feel at home.
On my latest trip abroad – which started off with a bang last week at the lovely Chateau de Raissac (more to come on that later) – I’m scheming up several more excursions beyond the fairest city to see the landscapes of Normandy and explore the farms and vineyards of Provence. While bopping across the country, I’m hoping to make a short jaunt to visit a new virtual friend, Kate. We met on Twitter, but I already feel like we’re best friends.
September 22, 2010
Love Locks on the Pont des Arts: Hipposrunsuperfast; The Cook’s Atelier
I wonder how the French will receive Eat, Pray, Love? It seems decidedly dorky and American with none of the glamor or decadence that Sex and the City, the other chick-flick import, had. Rather, just an earnest exploration of the meaning of life for a newly single, thirty-something year old.
Me? I love this sappy-pseudo-spiritual-go-sister-rah-rah sorta movie. So not only do I have a (girlfriend) date to see Julia Roberts smiling her way through Italy, India and Indonesia, but I’ve been plotting the best places in Paris to eat (yummy Italian), pray (or at least feign meditation while in downward dog) and (peut-être find) love.
In a town that devours nearly every body part of almost every animal, it can be surprisingly tough to find a satisfying plate of pasta. So what’s a carb-loving signorina to do? Suss out the neighborhood gems. Beneath Sacré-Coeur’s shadow, you’ll find Corso (10 avenue Trudaine, 9eme, 01 48 78 55 81), a modest Costes brothers establishment that serves heaping piles of al dente pasta, homemade gnocchi with ricotta and spinach and a mean tiramisu.
It took me awhile to find a good pie here in Paris but now I have two reliable pizza places. With toppings like rocket, baby peas, and roasted eggplant, my new favorite is GreenPizz, but for a more traditional experience, go to La Briciola (64 rue Charlot, 3eme, 01 42 77 34 10). The caprese’s sweet sauce, beautiful mozzarella and modest basil leaves are pitch-perfect.
July 21, 2010
You know how sometimes you come across a place or a person that is so totally delicious you’re torn between telling everyone about it or keeping it greedily just for yourself? Well, that’s how I feel about Monsieur and Madame de Roumilly and their beautiful château and rose garden.
If it wasn’t all uphill, I would cycle to their home, they live in a village just above our valley. They bought this sweet doll’s house of a château many years ago and have single-handedly restored it and created gardens that people come from afar to visit.
June 30, 2010
Hip Paris friend Linda Donahue, behind the wonderful site Parisien Salon, just launched PS Privé – a collection of boutique tours and workshops intended to “give you a glimpse behind the closed doors of Parisian restaurants, fashion houses, artists and entertainers.” Since Linda’s talent for discovering and keeping abreast of the latest Parisian happenings is impressive even to the most jaded Parisians, we trust her new project will soon be just as successful as her wonderful website. Here she gives us a first-hand account of how the inspiration came about.
When we launched ParisienSalon.com back in May 2009, we were hoping for a positive response. We got that and more. In fact, the feedback we received went well beyond anything we expected. One response we didn’t expect was, “When are you going to start doing tours in Paris?” So many of our wonderful readers asked this question, and we just didn’t know what to say. After all, there are so many great people already doing tours in Paris, and we didn’t know what else we could possibly offer.
But one day, over a few glasses of wine in a Paris café, we realized that what we had been doing since our launch – offering insider access to the French capital – was also something we could easily build upon. We knew people, after all.
So, after months of head-scratching, brainstorming and strategising, we’re pleased to announce the birth of P.S. Privé. This “Paris experience company” will offer classes, workshops, excursions and special events in the City of Light.
May 24, 2010
Lisa Weatherbee – Hotel Du Nord
NOT the Eiffel Tower. We’ve seen it so many times! From the Lumière Brothers’ 1897 Panorama to Merchant Ivory’s 2003 Le Divorce. You can also forget Sacré-Coeur (Amelie, 2001) and Notre Dame (all the Hunchback movies). But there are hidden romantic movie locations all over Paris waiting to be discovered…
L’Hôtel Du Nord – Hôtel Du Nord – Michel Carné (1938).
Now this one’s complicated so listen carefully. When Michel Carné made his classic movie of doomed love and dreams of escape in 1938, the decrepit Hôtel Du Nord on the Canal Saint Martin had already closed. So set designer Alexandre Trauner reconstructed the building and a whole stretch of the canal (complete with bridges) on a soundstage outside Paris. The real-life hotel was saved from demolition by its newfound on-screen fame and is now a restaurant of the same name, capitalizing on the movie’s retro glamour. It’s well worth a stop for its boho setting as well as its manouche (gypsy jazz à la Django Reinhardt) nights every Thursday. Sadly the hotel does not actually rent out rooms.
Lisa Weatherbee – Hotel Du Nord
La Place de Furstemberg – L’Appartment – Giles Memouni (1996)
I’m finding it difficult to track down the ‘little Place near the Luxembourg gardens’ where the lovers in L’Appartment, Giles Memouni’s 1996 little-known but impossibly romantic and twisty Hitchcockian thriller, meet, or fail to, but I think it’s the Place de Furstemberg in Saint Germain. Additional romance factor – Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci, the Brangelina of French film, met on set. While you’re there, you can also visit 19th century painter Delacroix’s house and studio, now a museum, in the corner of the Place.