July 4, 2011
Riverside picnicking by the Seine (Malias)
Summer is at last upon us, and with it comes the opportunity to partake in the favorite past time of many Parisians: Le Pique-nique. The possibilities for picnics in Paris are endless -from benches and bridges, to parks and promenades- so when the weather is warm, there are few better ways to wile away the long summer evenings than by gathering some people, bread and wine and picnicking like it’s the last supper. Here are a few places to enjoy the perfect picnic…
Picnicking staples: le vin, le pain, le paté! (Kari Geltemeyer)
The medieval gardens at the Museum of the Middle Ages
The institution of the picnic dates back to medieval Europe, when outdoor feasts were served before hunting, so what better place to have a picnic than where it all began? The medieval-inspired gardens beside the Musée National du Moyen Age, right in the heart of the Latin quarter, offer a tranquil haven from the bustling Boulevard Saint Germain. Split into three sections, the names of the gardens sound like something straight out of King Arthur. Past the ‘carpet of a thousand flowers’ and through the ‘sunken lane’ you come to a courtyard headed by a silver reed fountain. Within lie a quartet of square gardens with period-inspired themes: a medicinal garden, a celestial garden, a vegetable patch and a garden of love. When it comes time to unpack your basket, head beyond the courtyard to the shady glades of the ‘unicorn forest.’ Hidden behind a woven wicker fence, medieval plants like hazel, elder, holly and medlar reign supreme here. Through the ‘forest’ you can even glimpse the ruins of the only remaining Roman baths in Paris.
Musée du Moyen Age. 1 rue de Cluny, Metro: Cluny la Sorbonne (line 10)
Gardens of Cluny museum – Erica Berman
Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 7 Comments »
June 11, 2010
When Marsha Moore contacted me in April about her upcoming Paris guide book 24 Hours Paris, (note: To order 24 Hours Paris, click here), I was interested, but too busy to delve into it at the time. Little did I know, the timing could not have been more propitious. Not easily impressed by most travel guides, I had low expectations for 24 hours London, which I had on hand (thanks to Marsha’s generosity) for my first trip there in 8 years. Nevertheless I was rapidly wooed as Marsha successfully and succinctly helped me explore London’s cool, hip, lesser known areas and sites.
Paris, mind you, is another cup of tea (or should I say café au lait). My 17+ years here have me well acquainted with what the city has to offer, but I am always on the lookout for new things to do. Marsha’s 24 hours Paris truly digs into the depths of the city and unearths things that many a long term resident have yet to discover. Marsha even managed, along with mentioning many of my favorite Paris restaurants, shops, spots and events, to provide me with some new ideas and inspirations!
Encouraged and intrigued, I decided to interview Marsha to find out more about the woman behind the guides, the origins of her innovative concept and where she is planning on taking it all next!
Q: Why did you decide you wanted to write guide books?
When I first moved to London from Canada six years ago, there was so much to do here that it was a bit overwhelming. I’d read all the guide books and think: where should I start? So, along with Prospera Publishing, we started to think about a new kind of guide, a guide that would provide a kind of ready-made itinerary for activities around the clock – where you would only need to turn to the hour you were free, and just take your pick! That’s how the concept for the 24 Hours series began. We decided to start off with London since it’s where we were based, then move on to Paris since it’s such a popular tourist destination. We’ve had a great response so far!
Q: How would you say your guide sets itself apart from other more conventional city guides?
Traditional travel guides group their content by activity – shopping, drinking, etc. The 24 Hours series groups its content by time. It’s particularly useful during the nighttime hours, if you’re looking for something to do at 4 a.m., for example. Instead of flipping through a whole book to find a restaurant that’s open all night, you can quickly scan the 4 a.m. chapter. Also, we include lots of off-the-beaten-track activities for both locals and tourists – like anti-drawing classes or midnight movies – to help explorers take advantage of everything a city has to offer!
Q: What are your favorite things to do and see in Paris ?
I love the Promenade Plantée. It’s such a unique feeling – walking through trees and plants, even though you’re surrounded by buildings in the heart of the metropolis. The Bastille Artists’ Market is also one of my favorites, because I really like that you can talk to the artists directly and get some insight into their creative process. And as a writer, the Georges Brassens Market, where over 60 booksellers gather on the weekend, is paradise! If I can sneak one more in, the cruise on Canal St-Martin is also a great way to explore some of the more hidden parts of Paris. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 5 Comments »
May 24, 2010
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 Sacre 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.
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. Continue Reading »
Posted in Arts, Tours and Classes | 6 Comments »
December 8, 2009
Guest blogger Simone Blaser takes us on a walk along Paris’ elevated promenade, a spectacular place to stroll, even in winter!
Promenade Plantee. Photo: amytoensing.com
Text by Simone Blaser
Sometimes the French just get it right. For the 20 years preceding the buzzy unveiling of Manhattan’s Highline Park, Parisians have quietly enjoyed their own walk-in-the-sky: the promenade plantée, a 4.5-kilometer respite from the often overbearing honks and crowds that can conquer even the best-planned day in Paris (the best laid schemes of mice and men and all of that). This respite is a garden, a journey, a picnic; it’s a moment to breathe and walk under an arcade of trees and colors; a moment to appreciate the marriage between nature and architecture. The promenade plantée is Paris’ very own elevated park. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 2 Comments »
September 29, 2009
Guest blogger Richard Nahem (of Eye Prefer Paris tours) offers insider tips for eating, drinking, shopping and strolling within minutes of the city’s major railway stations in his article for The Guardian…
Canal St Martin – courtesy of france.jeditoo.com
Gare du Nord – Gare de L’Est
Head south down Boulevard de Magenta and you’ll find the trendy Canal Saint-Martin neighbourhood. Stop at Galerie Impaire (galerieimpaire.fr) at 47 rue de Lancry, an outpost of the innovative Creative Growth Art Foundation from California, and view the impressive artwork from self-taught artists and artists with disabilities. Feeling peckish? Worth waiting in line for are the delicious pastries at the boulangerie Du Pain et des Idées at 34 rue Yves Toudic (specialities include a delicious puff pastry with chocolate and pistachio paste). For a quick beer or some light eats, La Marine on quai de Valmy and Chez Prune on rue Beaurepaire are good bets right on the canal.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Travel | 1 Comment »