Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A petit peek at Paris...


Three years ago my good friend Rachel (above, second on the left) moved to Paris with nothing but an A Level grasp of the French language and her boyfriend Matt. Fast forward to today and she speaks French absolutely fluently and her and Matt have made a lovely life for themselves - renting a little apartment in the 9th arrondisment.


It may have taken us three years but my girlfriends and I finally made it over to visit! We spent three lovely days with Rachel and Matt exploring this wonderful city!


On our first morning we woke up to a clear blue sky and after a delicious breakfast of coffee and cigarettes toasted rye bread set off to explore. We walked and walked all over the city, past the Eiffel Tower and along the river Siene.


Like the English girls that we are, by early afternoon we were desperate for a cup of tea! Just in the nick of time we stumbled across the The Swedish Institute which is tucked away in the Jewish Quarter and boasts a bright and airy little cafe opening onto a secluded courtyard. I love the open shelving unit with jars of ingredients! They sold tea and coffee, home made cakes as well as delicious looking open sandwiches...





The cakes were all very tempting but after a long morning of walking around the city we had empty bellies and needed something a little more hearty. We were so lucky to have Rachel with us as she knew exactly where to take us for lunch...


When in the Jewish Quarter...definitely go to Pitzman Delicatessen! Its a bustling little family run restaurant which was absolutely packed to the rafters when we stopped by! You can sit down inside and tuck in to their legendary potato gratin or grab a pitta bread stuffed with hummus, juicy salad and falafel which is served from a little hatch in the front window! We took ours to a pretty little square down the road where we sat in the sun and ate. Five happy girlies - thanks Pitzman!






Rachel showed us a great little shop selling chic children's clothes and quirky bits and pieces for the home. The best thing by far though was this old fashioned photo booth! At only 2 'ros a pop it was a great way to remember the trip!


Cafe society - stopping off for a citron presse and an espresso!


After a long day spent walking around the city, soaking up the vibes and admiring the architecture we headed back to the apartment to put our feet up! It was great to stay in a proper apartment rather than a hotel - it was so nice to be able to put some music on and chillax a vou for a couple of hours in such homely surroundings!

That night after feasting on bread, cheese, crisps, wine and meat we put on our glad rags and headed to Le Comptoir General - Ghetto Museum for some fun cocktails! (tip - it's brilliant but go early!). Then we found a lively cafe and enjoyed some more vin rouge and people watched while the table next to us sang and played the accordion. Ah Paris I love you!

On day two Rachel woke us up with hot coffee and fresh croissants. We quickly shook off our hangovers, hopped on the metro and zipped across to the outskirts of Paris to visit a flea market! There was an amazing stall selling clothes from the 60's and 70's - I absolutely love the vibrant colours and patterns!






Isn't this yellow pinafore dress sweet?






Of course no flea market would be complete with a few cheesy knock offs....Burberrys anyone?


I had never seen such an array of vintage clothes - in London items like this tend to be few and far between and very expensive to boot! A 60's swing dress at this stall cost between 35 and 45 Euros.


The rest of the market was pretty...real. Most of the stalls consisted of flat surfaces piled high with clothes and the only choice was to roll up our sleeves and get involved! If you're planning to visit I would recommend wearing a bag that you can wear across your body to keep your hands free for rummaging and don't wear anything fancy - the flea market is filthy! Just dive right in and delve deep into the piles of clothes. Use your hands and feel for quality fabrics - cottons, silks and cashmere. I came away with a vintage blue and white gingham pinny and a silk and cashmere jumper from french label Maje - what a lovely way to remember the trip! Total spend 4 Euros...




Of course if you're a fan of vintage shoes then the flea market is the place for you! Sadly with my size 7 feet I rarely find anything that will fit but I still enjoy the thrill of unearthing something really lovely!



Obviously there aren't any changing rooms but with most things costing around 2 Euros you can maybe afford to take a chance and if it doesn't fit you can always give it away to your Mother, Brother or lover. Madi had a clever idea though and wore a vintage bathing suit and shorts to the market so could try things on in the middle of the market and no one batted an eyelid.


We managed to squeeze in a visit to the legendary Pierre Herme to pick up some macarons! However, the Galleries Lafayette on a boiling hot Saturday afternoon in the middle of sale season totally defeated us and we headed home for a much needed macaron and tea pit stop! If you follow me on Vine you might have seen the little videos we made to celebrate...




These beauties are by Chie Mihara and are the shoe equivalent of wearing an ice cream with sprinkles on each foot. Instantaneous joy whenever I look down! That night we walked through Montmartre right the way to the top of the Sacre Coeur - a beautiful Catholic church which is high up on a hill and has the most incredible view across Paris. It was vibing - lots of people had settled down with a bottle of vino to enjoy the view so we did the same! We stayed until the sun set and lights started to come on across the city one by one then headed into the night in search of fillet steak and creme brulee.



Bonjour Paris girls!



On day three we hit the paves once more to explore another side to the city. The Folies Bergere was established in 1869 and is a super famous caberet venue that is right around the corner from where Rachel and Matt live! Josephine Baker even performed there in her famous banana skirt in the 1920's can you believe it!

We walked all through the Tuileries Gardens and admired the beautiful architecture of the Louvre. We unanimously decided that it was far too hot to visit any museums so after a quick pit stop at Angelina - a beautiful art deco cafe, we continued along the river Siene, over the Pont des Arts bridge (where cute couples come and attach locks) and  past Notre-Dame Cathedral.








Eventually after a lovely afternoon spent strolling in the sun, we reached the Grande Mosquee de Paris (or Great Mosque of Paris). Located just across the road from the pretty Jardin des Plantes, we stepped off the street, through a large doorway and into the most pretty little courtyard garden with shady trees, birds, and (most welcome by this point) little mosaic tables and chairs. We sat down and were immediately bought pretty glasses of Moroccan mint tea (tip - if you would prefer to have your tea made without sugar just ask!). The tea rooms are much larger than they appear from the outside - there is an indoors area where they have a counter full to bursting with delicious Moroccan pastries and another outdoor area which (when we visited at least) was covered over so was nice and shady.






That hairy one in the photo above was my absolute favourite! It was soaked with sugary rose water scented syrup and full of ground nuts.





And that is where we must say goodbye. Thank you for having us Rachel! It was such a fantastic trip - I always feel energised and full of inspiration after seeing with my girlfriends and after three days of girly lovelyness I felt positively turbo charged!


I did of course manage to bring one souvenir home with me! Pierre, you're my man man!