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Sunday sans poussette

25 Sep

We were childfree this weekend as our little one was spending a few days with her grandmother. Although everyone said we should “profiter” I found myself moping around the house, feeling a little lost. My husband decided to cheer me up by taking me out for Sunday breakfast. What better way to put a smile on my face than to entice me with luscious food??

We jumped on our Vespa (my favourite way to get around) and headed for the oldest food market in Paris, the Marché des Enfants Rouges in the Marais. Built under the rule of Louis XIII in 1615 it’s name refers to the red uniform the children wore at the orphanage nearby.

Although small in parameter, this market offers a large range of produce ranging from wines, cheeses, meats, breads, bio veggies and flowers. A variety of food stalls serve freshly made Moroccan, Lebanese, Italian, Caribbean and Japanese meals which can either be enjoyed at the communal tables or taken away. There are also a handful of restaurants that serve salads and brunch on Sundays.

We sat on the terrace of the l’Estaminet Cantine, where only fresh, natural, farm produce is served on the menu. We had their excellent baguette (which won second prize for best baguette in Paris!) with butter and jam, croissant, fresh apple juice and a hot drink. Their brunch menu (which also includes home-made scones…yum!) is only 20.00€ (which, by the way, is a bargain in Paris) and served from 11:30 to 14:00. Unfortunately we were a little too early and hungry to enjoy that. A great excuse to come again another time!

We then had a little wonder and happened upon a gem of a stall. Carole Belenus, the woman behind La Petite Fabrique, is an artist. Her sweet and savoury cakes are not only original in composition (she does a mean looking Paella cake with olives, saffron and chorizo) but also beautifully presented. Never missing an opportunity to replenish my soul with sweetness, I decided we should try all three flavours of her homemade guimauve (marshmallow): Lime and mint, passion fruit and orange blossom. One bite of the orange blossom and I was in Provencal heaven! The refreshing mint faded into a zesty lime punch and the passion fruit was pure unadulterated sugar. A big thumbs up for the foodies at heart!

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Tea for two?

22 Sep

The “English-speaking mums of Paris” met for another tea and scones morning but this time at the salon de thé of the chicissime Bonpoint children’s couture clothing boutique in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Located in a sublime hôtel particulier, the flagship store offers not only room upon room of quintessentially French clothes, shoes and accessories to die for but also a calm, peaceful and unusually spacious salon de thé for mums and kids to enjoy to their hearts content!

Downstairs from the main shopping floor, the salon de thé is split into two large indoor rooms beneath vaulted ceilings with an outdoor summer courtyard terrace.

The key feature of the main room is the central table displayed with cakes, cookies and bonbons, just what you need to get the appetite going!

We had the second salon all to ourselves complete with big, soft pillows, children’s books and fairy lights (high chairs and a sparkling baby changing room are also available on the premises).

Claude, our waiter, was extremely friendly and accommodating. We chose from a selection of teas, coffees, hot chocolate and juices and all ordered the scrumptious, hot out of the oven, scones served with butter, cream and an assortment of jams. Needless to say everything was incredibly delicious.

We were all able to enjoy ourselves without having to worry whether the volume of our excited children annoyed fellow customers. This was, after all, their domain!

We stayed for just over an hour then strolled to the nearby Jardin de Luxembourg where some of the kids went and played at the playground (with entry fee!) and others went riding on the beautiful wooden carousel followed by lunch in the park. A perfect day out had by all.

The salon de thé at Bonpoint really is a gem of a find. Who would have thought it? A mum and kiddie haven slap bang in the middle of Paris…and utterly chic to boot!

Paris Express

19 Sep

My cousin came for a visit this week and it was extra special as it was her first time in Paris. As she was only over for a short time I had to condense the sightseeing to the bare essentials so I put my tour guide shoes on and off we went. First stop: The Bateaux Mouches at Pont d’Alma. What better introduction to Paris than from the Seine? I took my little one along and she had a blast (especially going under the bridges). The climax of the hour-long tour was, of course, passing in front of the Eiffel Tower. The sun was shining that morning which only heightened the majestic glory of La Dame de Fer. Cameras were clicking away and I couldn’t help but feel proud of being a Parisian!

We then walked up the very chic Avenue Montaigne trying desperately hard to ignore the Prada, Escada and Louis Vuitton window displays to join the most beautiful avenue in the world. We strolled up and down the Champs Elysées, had a drink at one of the outrageously expensive cafés and, girls being girls, made a b-line to Sephora for all things beautifying.

The next morning we went to the Sacré Cœur in Montmartre, which has the best panoramic view of Paris. I love this area because of the village ambiance and the authentic feel of vieux Paris. Even though the Place du Tertre has lost its bohemian artist charm and is more of a tourist trap it’s still a must on my list. We strolled down to Place des Abbesses munching on macarons bought at the charming Biscuiterie de Montmartre and went into La petite Maroquinerie on rue Houdon. I love this store because you can find funky leather bags, purses, clutches, jackets and wallets for next to nothing. A definite must for any accessories addict!

We continued down towards kinky Pigalle and stopped for a photo op in front of the Moulin Rouge and then headed off to the Marais for lunch. One of my best friends made reservations at Ma Bourgogne under the arcades of Place des Vosges. According to her, this restaurant does the best steak tartar in Paris. I must admit it was very scrummy and the location was to stunning. We then strolled up rue des Francs-Bourgeois and salivated in front of Sandro, Barbara Bui and Zadig & Voltaire to mention just a few (one of the best shopping streets in my opinion). We veered off to admire the colourful Centre Pompidou, one of my favourite buildings because, in my opinion, it has a great sense of humour and then jumped on a bus on the rue de Rivoli to head home.

My cousin loved Paris even though there’s so much more to discover but this little trip was like an amuse bouche. It also gave me the opportunity to fall back in love with the city I now call home.

A dream come true…

5 Sep

About a year ago I read an article in Le Parisien supplement magazine about the most important chef pâtissiers of the moment. I tore it out for future reference and I’ll be damned if I remember where I put it now! Pregnancy does that to the brain. If you think you’re forgetful before you have a baby wait until after, you’ll be lucky to remember your own name never mind where you put important pieces of paper! However, I gave my mind a jolt and here’s what I saw in flashing neon: Le Pâtisserie des rêves (the pâtisserie of dreams). One of the best names I’ve ever heard! I decided to take my mother (a woman who appreciates the good things in life) who was visiting, for a taste. Philippe Conticini, the chef pâtissier extraordinaire has created an original boutique with the cakes on display on a centrepiece covered by glass domes. It’s a bit of a tight squeeze to get around with a poussette but well worth the effort (although I found the choice to be smaller than I’d hoped for). We had the Paris Brest”, which is shaped like a crown, the base and top made out of choux pastry and filled with praline flavoured cream. YUM!! I was so smitten that the following week I took a couple of yummy mummies to this address. One lady bought a “brioche” for her daughter who isn’t the easiest of eaters. Not only was it the biggest we’d ever clapped eyes on but also the little one managed to gobble up the whole lot without a word! Now that’s a good, honest, critic if there ever was one!