As I plow through my summer reading list, much of which centers around Paris and its delectable goodies, I think back to some of my most memorable petit déj around Paris. I am not one to have a long list of must-hits in Paris. I tire of reading and hearing about the same spots. I prefer to wander about as I do so well and happen upon a breakfast spot. After all, there’s a lot you can gather about the yumminess of its breakfast offerings by how many people are congregated out front on any given morning. And thank goodness for those terraces… they’re better than online reviews in helping to determine if a place is worth my euros.
At my last apartment, right next to Canal Saint Martin, I took regular long morning walks in all directions. One of my favorite routes for when I didn’t mind being amidst the bustle of the city was through the haut Marais and around by Bastille. Usually I was dressed for a serious workout (😉), but on occasion I would put on sensible clothing au cas où there was a good reason to stop.
One of those “sensibly dressed” mornings I found myself unable to resist the temptation of that freshly baked bread scent. Only this time, not only was I sensibly dressed, I was also carrying a bit of money with me. Jackpot! I zeroed in on a rather nondescript place on rue Saint Antoine terrace dwellers were lingering over some sort of Eggs Benedict, it appeared. The care that looked to have gone into that was all that I needed; I found a cozy spot facing the busy street and waited for the server to arrive. Although it had been a fancy brunch dish that had lured me in, I am not one for frou frou breakfast dishes unless I know all the details of how it was made. It’s Paris anyway, who needs more than a croissant or a crêpe? Me, it turns out. Yep, I ordered not just a croissant, not just a crêpe, but both. And it was perfect.
Back in 2012, a friend of mine let me stay in his very nice place on rue Gay Lussac for a few weeks, in the 5th arrondissement, where (at the time) I had spent very little time. If you’re not familiar with the street, perhaps knowing that it was just around the corner from the Luxembourg Gardens gives you a hint of its lovely location. Usually, my route to get home from a day out in Paris took me down Boulevard Saint Michel (which borders the Gardens), past Quick and other unfortunate fast food restaurants, then up rue Gay Lussac. Day after day, I would pass this modern looking pastry shop with dozens and dozens of colorful macarons sitting in the windows and display cases longing to be taken to a Parisian park and savored. Alas, I caved one day but limited myself to a mere half dozen. It was just enough for a sampling of the flavors and to get a sense of the quality. Now, I do not tout myself as a macaron connoisseur (though I have had my fair share over the years). If memory serves, the flavors I chose were: Mangue Passion, Praliné noisettes, Pistache grillotte, Caramel fleur de sel, Café, and Ganache chocolate Noir.
I was unfamiliar with this patissier at the time, and really haven’t heard much of Franck Kestener since, but I must say his macarons are on par with the best I have had anywhere in Paris. Crispy shells, moeulleux insides, and rich flavors. I recommend this place enthusiastically.
7 r Gay Lussac
Tel: 01 43 26 40 91
Ouvert le dimanche et le lundi de 11H00 à 20H00
Mardi au Samedi de 10H00 à 20H00
Back to my recent opportunity to cross a very cool thing off my Bucket List… I still think witnessing the final stage of the Tour de France is one of the coolest things I’ve done to date. The energy in Paris that day was so high, and of course I love the attention the French and the Tour give to cycling throughout the year and especially during the month of July. Although I’m not into racing, myself, I do love a good joyride on a bicycle… I mean, who doesn’t?
This year’s winner and final yellow jersey-wearer was Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali. Defending champ, Chris Froome had left the race short of the final stage after three crashes. Not only did Nibali win four stages throughout the 21-stage competition, he also wore the yellow jersey a whopping 19 days.
Again, these photos are from the 2013 Tour, but it’s fun to look back at the photos and see just how into this event the Parisians, the French, and tourists from all over get. The French really put on a great event throughout the month, but the light show on the Arc de Triomphe was one of the coolest touches I have seen and made for a beautiful and creative end to another great Tour de France.
Looking for a new way to experience Paris? Last week, the Cyclo-Cafe was “rolled” out (pun intended). This unique cycling experience is a fun way to learn about cool spots in Paris, as well as the food and culture all while cycling around a specially-made group “bike”. They look like Beer Bikes in Amsterdam, but this one is more about picnicking.
Check it out and book here: http://www.cyclo-cafe.fr/
Vous recherchez une expérience unique et romantique à la parisienne? Vous cherchez à vous émerveiller? Vous cherchez à en apprendre plus sur l’histoire de Paris, sa gastronomie et sa culture? Vous recherchez une expérience vraiment unique et délicieuse dans un environnement amusant, social?
Concept unique, sur le Cyclo- Café, nous combinons:
• Une visite écologique de PARIS,
• Une ballade amicale entre personnes de tous horizons,
• La dégustation des meilleures spécialités locales françaises.
Well, today was the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France. It had been on my Bucket List for some time (that list is not in any order), but I had always seemed to be away from Paris in the last weeks of July, so I was thrilled when my schedule had me wide open for attendance of this exciting event last year.
That day started out as a typical Parisian Sunday for me… a morning walk down near Bastille (where I encountered a Dutch cyclist who asked for directions to Place de la Concorde), reading, relaxing, and enjoying the sunshine. I thought myself a clever spectator by arriving around 40 minutes before the stage, but boy, was I wrong! When I came up from the métro – and not even the nearest one, since Charles de Gaulle Étoile was closed for safety reasons – I was shocked how many people were already ready and waiting. Oops. On top of the massive crowd that I hadn’t anticipated, it was so hot that the pavement was melting beneath our feet and sticking to our shoes. But few seemed to notice as we looked around for a sign that the riders were on their way up the Champs Elysées. The organizers had done quite a good job with setup, providing giant screens as well as speakers blasting the play-by-play of the commentators down at Place de la Concorde. On the screens, we could see what TV viewers could see – them starting at Versailles and making their way through the streets of Paris to rue de Rivoli, past Place de la Concorde, up the Champs Elysées, and around Place de l’Étoile only to do it all again. When they finally made it, it was just as thrilling as I had imagined it would be, and it was also incredibly fast (no kidding, right?)!
That’s all I will share for now. Look for Part II in the next couple of days.
The photos I’m posting today are from last year, as I’m away from Paris again this year and I never posted these in 2013. Last year’s winner was Chris Froome.
Part of the pleasure of wandering the streets of small-town France is spotting little gems like these racks full of postcards of those famous vintage French posters from back in the day. Maybe one day when I actually settle down and have a home somewhere, I will have one of these beautiful posters in actual size upon my wall. But then, how to choose…?
I have a friend in Paris who invites me over often. She used to live in the 15th arrondissement until a couple of years ago when her growing family needed more space and they ended up in a lovely apartment near the Hippodrome d’Auteuil. She is literally on the border of Paris, but in a way the neighborhood couldn’t feel more quintessentially Paris. There is this fabulous neighborhoody feeling that I remember her area in the 15th had as well. As she passes by the boulangerie and the wine seller, she waves to both, as they have almost-weekly encounters, if not more frequent. Sure, she is particularly charismatic, but she also seems to have excellent taste in quartiers. Seeing her interact in her neighborhoods has made me appreciate them more. One evening as I was going to visit her, I hopped off the metro several stops before hers because I wanted to take in the 16th in the late summer light. I have noticed the beautiful ironwork around Paris and other French cities before, of course, but I was truly taken aback by the beauty of building after building with these beautiful ironwork balconies and infinite other details modern-day architects seem to leave out. Here’s the first in a series of what I enjoyed…