Posts Tagged ‘shops’

Catching Up

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Gosh, how time flies when you have an approaching deadline. Four days have past since I last wrote which means I have lots of Fun Time Count Down events to tell you about. Let me see if I can remember…

Monday

Tom and I have decided that now we have been living together relatively successfully for almost a year it is time to take things further. We know it is a big step but we feel we are ready. It is time… to buy a Le Creuset pot. PLUS what better time of the year to do it than during the winter sales! For those of you who haven’t discovered of Le Creuset, step out of your restrictive shell and open your eyes to the world of cast iron cookware. They are beautiful, heavy as hell pots that will last you a life time, once you’ve made the investment. Being that they come from the land of the French, they are significantly cheaper in France. Plus with the current 20-30% discounts we’ve been seeing on them at shops throughout Paris, they’re even MORE of a bargain!

Anyway, on Monday Tom and I walked through Paris in search of a bargain pot but were slightly disappointed. Mostly because at one point we decided to go to Galleries Lafayette which is ALWAYS a mistake. I dislike that place with an ever growing passion. It is hot, it is stuffy, it is full of snooty Parisians and tourists. The staff are rude and I’m clearly not rich enough or touristy enough to be worth serving. Anyway, we didn’t end up buying one. But I have since found the exact pot that I want, in red, at a shop near my house. With 30% off the original price. Excellent.

All of this shopping had made me hungry so we had crêpes. I had my usual Nutella, while Tom went all out and ordered a cheese, ham and egg crêpe from the crêperie that claims to have the best crêpes in Paris. They are good, and they’re freaking huge. Tom spent the rest of the afternoon/evening walking around like a stuffed duck. Good times.

Crepe

It warmed my hands nicely, but then I ate it.

Tuesday

Tuesday wasn’t the greatest day as our friend and fellow Australian who is trying oh-so-hard to stay in Paris next year discovered that her application for a sponsored work visa had been rejected. There were tears, there were profanities directed towards Monsieur Sarkozy and his anti-immigration policies, and there were very early evening drinks at Pip’s bar. There’s still hope for Pip’s visa if she reapplies when she is in Australia (weird French policies about not being able to get a new working visa if she already has one… blah blah blah) but it’s ridiculous really. Anyway, I bought Pip a jasmine flavoured biscuit from a very unique patisserie Tom and I walked past.

Jasmine biscuit

A delicious heart for a broken heart

We also purchased a pistachio galette for ourselves as a “we have to make the most of being in Paris” treat. It did make things slightly better.

Pistachio galette

Mmm... so green.

Wednesday

I have been trying to do some writing and expand my range of writing styles and genres. I figure I should attempt some different forms other than first person narratives about Paris. So I spent the morning attempting to do this, failing mostly but at least I tried. In the afternoon we met some friends for afternoon tea at a café called Rose Bakery. It is very popular in Paris as a BoBo place to be and sells organic and home made food. I had a date slice which was delicious and a long black. The long black was served as an espresso with a jug of hot water. Strange. But it worked.

In the evening Tom and I went and cured my pizza craving at a restaurant on the other side of the canal. Maria Luisa is one of the few places in Paris where you can get a REAL pizza and their toppings are fresh and delicious. The restaurant itself is a bit pretentious, but of the three wait staff who served us, only one was grumpy. A miracle, really.

Pizza

Mmm... pizza... so big it is nearly falling off the table.

Thursday

Thursday was a busy day of washing, shopping and eating lunch with a friend from the Récollets. She is Romanian and made us romanian crêpes which were essentially the same as French crêpes only made by a Romanian. They were gooood. In the afternoon, I went for a walk to burn off my lunch, and attempted to get lost in Paris. Unfortunately I have tried to do this too many times now that I always know where I am. That’s a good thing probably. Anyway, I ended up at the WHSmith bookshop where I purchased three books for under 10 Euros. I was happy. They are all ‘classics’ as I am on a bit of a “I must read must-read books.” So I will soon be literary and knowledgable.

My walk home involved a sprinkling of rain, sunset (well, the sun was going away but it was cloudy so you couldn’t really see much) in the Tuilleries, a sparkling Louvre and turbulent and lively waters of the Seine. It was wonderful. But it also made me realise how much I don’t want to leave this place. But I’ll be back. Just you watch.

Louvre

Sparkly!

Shampoo Fight

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

I experienced a very typical French argument today where everyone announced their opinion to the world and then argued incessantly over something that had no real importance. I went to Tati, a super-cheap department store that sells every piece of rubbish you could ever want for really low prices. I went there in search of socks for my latest sock-creature endeavours and suddenly decided I should buy some toothpaste because we are running low. I went to the cosmetics/hygiene product section and dodged past some of the slightly less-hygienic folk who frequent that part of Montmartre and who spend a lot of time hanging around Tati. Some people really need to learn to cover their mouths when they cough.

While I selected my toothpaste of choice, an elderly man was at the checkout buying a bottle of shampoo. He then started arguing with the check out lady about the price of the shampoo, saying “I’m sorry to argue with you, Madame” followed by, “But you’re wrong.” The check out eventually stood up and walked with the man to the shampoo shelf to confirm the price of the shampoo. Underneath the shampoo was a price, however this price was for a different sort of shampoo which the check out lady had great happiness in pointing out. The man then argued that whatever price is situated under the product should correspond to the product therefore he should only pay the advertised price. The check out lady insisted the man should pay the price the computer says the product is and that the price on the shelf is just wrong.

This argument went on for about five minutes and then the man had left, paying the full price for the shampoo. The argument continued. The woman in the queue behind the man congratulated the check out lady saying that the man most definitely should pay full price, no matter what was marked on the shelf. The check out lady was pleased by this. But then the second woman in the line declared that the prices on the shelves should be marked correctly and the man should have been allowed to pay the price as marked. The first lady in line left the shop and then a very firey argument between the second lady and the check out lady started with the check out lady shoving the customer’s products in to a plastic bag and barking out the required amount. Essentially they just kept talking at one another, not listening and not really caring what the other person was saying. This lady then eventually left having been rudely yelled at by the check out women yet not even noticing because she was too busy arguing.

Between this woman and myself was a man who had been rolling his eyes for most of this time. However, once he reached the check out he then started agreeing with the first woman and the check out lady. I stood trying to understand as I was asked for my opinion and apparently didn’t provide enough information. All I wanted was to buy toothpaste and leave. Finally it was my turn to be served and I could pay and run away. I stepped outside and breathed a sigh of relief to be outside in Montmartre surrounded by the normal, regular people trying to sell copy Gucci bags and dodgy cigarettes. I can handle them. It’s the weirdos who argue about the price of shampoo who mess with my mind.

Why Are You So Salty, Mr Chicken?

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Once again those French have tricked me and tricked me good. Tonight I made an ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS dinner using a recipe from my new Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall cook book, Veg Everyday (recommended to me by Ben, my wonderful darling brother who asked to be mentioned.) It was quinoa with courgettes and onion. YYUUUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!! Even Tom was mmming and yumming. As it was a completely vegetarian recipe and I was feeding a male, I bought some chicken to grill on my BRAND NEW Bodum grill pan (yay!).

Quinoa and zucchini

Everyone is jealous of my dinner. Jealous, jealous, jealous.

Now, visits to the supermarket are annoying and difficult enough as French supermarkets are generally useless and never have everything you need. I managed to scrounge together most of my required ingredients and made a few compromises in order to not have to go to another shop. I was quite pleased about this fact. It wasn’t until we were eating our meal that I realised I must have gone awry somewhere. The chicken was very, very salty. I am quite sensitive to salt as I don’t add it to anything except when I’m baking potatoes and so I was slightly confused as to why I felt like I was eating salted peanuts and needing more and more water. It wasn’t just me either – Tom agreed and so I wasn’t going crazy. Something was different.

Tom went and checked the herbs I had put on the chicken and questioned me over and over again as to whether or not I had added salt – no. Then we checked the packet the chicken came out of and discovered that the chicken was ‘marinated naturally’ in all sorts of salt. Real salt AND fake additive salt. How I was supposed to notice this I’m not sure as it was in exactly the same packet as ‘normal chicken’ except with a tiny piece of text that said it was marinated. Yum. So my extremely healthy, utterly delicious meal was RUINED by evil French additives. I guess it teaches me a lesson as I should really buy meat from a butcher but I had to buy toilet paper and we have already discussed my dislike for visiting more than one shop in a day.

Baguette Club

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Being accepted into a foreign society is hard and Parisians are tough nuts to crack. You are never dressed correctly, you have a strange accent, you drink coffee while eating food, or you nibble on bread before your meal has arrived. All of these things make you stand out as a weird outsider who doesn’t understand the culture and never, ever will.

However, every now and then, the sun comes out from behind a cloud and somewhere you can hear the sound of angels singing as a miracle of all miracles occurs – you feel SLIGHTLY accepted. Yesterday I heard angels.

Every lunch time, we purchase a baguette from our favourite boulangerie around the corner. There are so many boulangeries nearby for us to choose from, but we have narrowed it down to this boulangerie for our baguettes. The baker and his wife (I presume it is his wife) are both fairly grumpy people – they never really smile and they are very ordered and forceful in their approach to serving customers. However, I have great respect for this as often the boulangerie is full of people buying sandwiches and cakes and they take forever to make up their minds. So when people arrive wanting to just buy a baguette, they are told (ordered) to go to the front of the line and then quickly served and sent on their way. Love it.

When we first started going to this boulangerie, I always felt like I had done something wrong as the lady was very brisk and would shove the baguette in our face and turn to the next customer. Recently, however, things have changed as every now and then we get a half smile and she welcomes us with a bit more enthusiasm. Yesterday was the ultimate – as we walked into the boulangerie, she saw us, turned and grabbed un tradition (the baguette) from behind her, put it into a bag as she said “Bonjour Monsieurdame!” and by the time I had reached the till she had prepared our baguette and was awaiting payment. She knew what we wanted, was happy to see us and wished us well for the day. Tom and I left the boulangerie with smiles on our faces as we knew we had made it in the boulangerie. This is a momentous occasion! Your local baker is the person you want to have on your side at all times. If they like you they will give you the good baguette, the tart with more strawberries on top or the pain au chocolat with the crispiest pastry. Loyalty pays. And it only took us 8 months to feel truly welcome. We are on our way to becoming true Parisians.

Baguette

It's worth 8 months of grumpiness

Fruit, Fruit, Glorious Fruit

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Oh mirabelle, oh mirabelle!
How I do love you so, oh mirabelle!
You are so hard to find in shops
So when I see you, I will buy lots.
Oh mirabelle, oh mirabelle!
Let me eat you, please!

Mirabelles

All for me.

So I have found fresh mirabelles in the supermarkets! SO EXCITED. For those of you who don’t know, a mirabelle is a small, yellow plum that is difficult to cultivate and is a speciality of the Lorraine region where I lived last time I was in France. They are so good. I am so happy to have found them.

Mirabelle

The holy fruit.

A la Bretagne

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Grave apologies for the lack of posts. Actually, no… My Dad said to me via email that it is good when he doesn’t hear from me as it means I am too busy doing enjoyable things. Therefore if I don’t write on my blog it is because I am far too busy discovering new places, travelling, shopping, eating etc to spend time telling you about it. But today my planned shopping trip with my friend Pip has been postponed and so I am finally having a day at home. And so I shall write.

I think I will do as I did when I returned home from Nancy and write a list of things to write about in case I forget. Ok, here’s what you have to look forward to:

  1. More sickness
  2. Bretagne in all its glory
    • Crepes
    • Coastline and countryside
    • Friends
    • Salted butter caramel
  3. Mont Saint Michel and impressive tidal movements
  4. The weirdest salmon dish I have ever eaten.

Ok, that will do. I have other things to write about but they fit under other categories and will have to appear separately. Ready? GO!

So Tuesday afternoon I wandered around Montmartre shopping with my Australian friends, Rom and Sam. I bought an amazing dress from a wonderful clothing store called Aeschne and was served, dressed and sold the dress by the woman who made it. I also had a chat with a model who was in all of the photographs scattered around the store. I didn’t just talk to the photos – she was actually there and was very friendly. Anyway, the dress is a beautiful blue silk and is just stunning. I am now searching for a reason to wear it and will continue to hint to Tom that he needs to take me out for a nice meal. You can see the dress if you go to the Aeschne website and look at the Automne/Hiver 2010 collection and look for the picture of a short-haired woman standing against a white wall. My dress is a nicer colour though. And it looks WAY better on me.

So my point is that I had a good day but at about 5.30pm my stomach started turning on me again and I felt like the dread E-coli was returning. It didn’t completely but I did have a dinner of plain rice and boiled broccoli (which I actually enjoyed). On top of this, Tom had been complaining about feeling off all day but as I decided I was feeling worse I ignored him.

The next day we got up early (too early – we ended up waiting about 40 minutes at the train station because we were too organised) and caught the metro to Montparnasse before catching a train to Morlaix in Bretagne. Tom spent most of the train ride groaning and saying he was sickly, which I continued to ignore. We arrived in Morlaix and were met by Sarah (a friend who had been staying at Tom’s house the week before we left for Paris. Sarah is French and her husband, Brandon, is American and they live in Paris but are spending the year travelling through Australia. They had to return to Paris for a few weeks to sort out Brandon’s visa) who took us to her house for lunch before showing us around Morlaix. That evening, Tom lay in bed with a fever as he had apparently caught the flu and actually was sick. Damn.

 

Sick Tom

French blood tests are just as gross as Australian blood tests – I had to watch in case he fainted and I had to translate his unconscious groans.

So Tom ended up spending about two and a half days in bed while Sarah and Brandon took me exploring in Bretagne. Tom went to the doctor and had a blood test which I kept trying to talk-up as an ‘exciting experience in France’! I don’t think Tom felt the same way.

Bretagne is beautiful – rugged coastline, beaches and green, green, green countryside. We had one day of amazing sunshine and Sarah took me (Tom stayed home) on a long drive along the northern coast of France, visiting little coastal towns along the way. A highlight – galettes and crepes for lunch (a galette is a savoury crepe). Also being able to walk along the beach in the sunshine and inhale fresh sea air was quite wonderful. It has been awhile and I am getting a bit sick of Paris’s pollution and general secondary-smoke.

 

Bretagne

From a cold and windy day...

Bretagne

To sunshine by the beach – Bretagne has it all.

It was nice to be in a family environment again and to speak a bit of French. It is quite strange talking to Sarah and Brandon in French as I spent a week talking to them in English in Perth but now that we are in France it seems only appropriate to change languages. Speaking French with Brandon is very weird – he is American so it is instinctual to speak to him in English but we spent a lot of our time speaking in French. I guess when you are surrounded by the language it is easier to just stick to it rather than constantly reverting back. I do enjoy jumping between English and French with people who can speak both languages. It adds a new level to conversations and you can explain yourself to a much greater extent. Somethings sound better in French than English and vice versa.

I think it is about time that I wrote about the food. As I have previously mentioned, galettes and crepes are products of Bretagne and it is customary to drink cider with them. As they say, do as the locals. While I find eating galettes fun and a bit naughty, I’m not sure I would choose to eat them often. Crepes, on the other hand, I would eat at the end of every meal if I wasn’t guaranteed to get fat. Particularly if they are filled with nutella…

 

Galette

Spot the difference between a galette...

Crepe

... and a crepe

I also sampled a cake which was made from pastry, sugar and butter and butter and butter and butter. You had to drink a litre of water after every mouthful as it was so buttery. So so good. And then there was the salted butter caramel. I’m generally not that interested in caramel but this stuff was amazing. On our way to Mont Saint Michel, Sarah took us to Saint Malo where we had afternoon tea at an amazing cafe with amazing cakes. I had a piece of chocolate and caramel tart which was one of the greatest things I have ever eaten in my life. Crispy tart base with a huge slab of gooey, buttery caramel and then a thick layer of dark chocolate on top. My eyes almost popped out of my head as I ate it. It was a huge piece and I doubted my ability to finish it, but I did. I worked through it and I made it to the end. I am proud of my achievements.

 

Chocolate and Caramel Tart

Look at it! That's a burst artery.

So the few days we spent with Sarah and Brandon were full of fun and exploration (and Tom’s constant coughing fits and general groans) and it was sad to part ways. At least we did it at the top of Mont Saint Michel as we were being surrounded by approaching tides. Very cool.

So, for those of you who don’t know, Mont Saint Michel is an island off the coast of Normandy on top of which there is an abbey dating back to the 700s. It has become a bit of a tourist haunt as most days of the year (as the moon prescribes) during the day the tide goes out and you can walk across the sand (being careful to avoid quick sand) to the island, while at night the tides return and the island is surrounded by water. There is a dyke with a road allowing for easy access these days but you still need to remove your car from certain car parks before the water returns to avoid having it washed away.

 

Mont Saint Michel

Wow.

We arrived on the island at about 5.30pm and stood in the rain and slightly cool temperatures until 7.45pm and watched the water come in from the ocean.

 

Mont Saint Michel

The water approaches

It was one of the most amazing natural phenomena that I have ever seen. I put it on a similar scale to seeing the salt lakes near Menzies in Western Australia – truly spectacular. It started slowly – you could see the water approaching from the ocean far off in the distance and slowly covering the sand. Then, at about 7.15pm, it all started happening – the water broke over the lip of sand and you could see waves of water sweeping across and filling every hole it could find in the sand. The current was strong and before we knew it we were surrounded by water. Of course, my camera ran out of batteries as the water really started doing its thing, but you can see some photos and movies on my flickr site if you are interested.

 

Mont Saint Michel

Waves!

Staying on Mont Saint Michel was nice as there were hardly any other tourists around, but it was also very touristy and every shop and restaurant was set up to remove money from us. We knew we would have no option but to eat rubbish touristy food and so tried to find the best option. I don’t think we made a wise decision. We each had a set menu which is the normal deal for tourist restaurants. The food was edible but not special and my main meal was one of the most thought-provoking dishes I have ever eaten. I ordered “saumon avec riz de bretagne” – simply translated, it means salmon with rice of Bretagne. It sounded ok – I like salmon and rice so I couldn’t go too wrong. The salmon was a fairly average fillet but at least it was salmon. The rice consisted of two inverted cups of rice – one flavoured with saffron, the other was some sort of ‘wild rice’. Tasteless but I love plain rice so that was ok. It was the sauce that really got me – I think they were trying to make a béarnaise sauce but I’m not sure what they were thinking. I’m fairly certain they had whipped it, creating a soft, fluffy sauce that was just WEIRD. The fish was completely surrounded (swimming, if you will) in the stuff. Further consideration of the dish makes me wonder if perhaps the chefs were trying to represent Mont Saint Michel and the tidal movements in the form of a seafood meal. Whatever they were thinking, they should think again.

 

Salmon

Just weird.

The other problem with Mont Saint Michel is accessing it without a car. We had to catch a train from Rennes, a town 1.5 hours away at 6.30pm and so we figured we had plenty of time to wander the island before catching a connecting bus to the train station. Luckily I decided to check the bus timetable in the morning and discovered we would have to catch a bus at 2.30pm in order to be in Rennes at the right time. There were only four buses a day and the last bus would arrive 15 minutes after our train left. So we visited the abbey, wandered through the town, ate a quick lunch before catching the bus to Rennes and wandering aimlessly through the town for 2.5 hours. Luckily the weather was beautiful and Rennes is a lovely town so it wasn’t so bad. But considering the bus connection between Mont Saint Michel and Rennes is promoted as being the way to get there, it was quite disappointing.

 

Rennes

Look at how French Rennes is!

So a great week away was had and we returned to Paris being not all that excited to see rubbish and filth and dog-poo everywhere again. That said, this week Paris has had amazingly warm weather and I have been quite happy to wander aimlessly through the streets. The parks are in full bloom and every evening the canal is chock-a-block full with people sitting by the water drinking wine and eating Pringles. Tom and I joined them on Wednesday night with beer and cashews before trying out another local restaurant. Very, very pleasant. I think we will be doing that a lot in summer.

 

Beer and the canal

Good times.

Canal

All of the French people were silly and faced away from the nice view

Canal

But not the Australians!

Lost in Paris

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Another day wandering aimlessly through Paris – I got slightly lost today (on purpose) and stumbled upon areas that I didn’t know existed. I felt an extreme sense of “I have no idea where I am” and loved it. I found lots of cool cafes and a whole new section of shops to explore with my fellow female travellers at a later date.

Highlights include finding the Movida cook book (a spanish tapas cookbook written by the people who run the restaurant Movida in Melbourne) for the low, low, low price of 5 Euros. It’s a soft cover and has a different image on the front but it is the SAME BOOK. I was stoked. Also, walking through random back streets of Paris in the sunshine wearing just a dress and stockings. No jumpers or jackets required. Most other people on the streets were rugged up for some reason… Couldn’t they see the sunshine?

Lowlights include the intense heating system used in Galleries Lafayette – every time I go into that shop I want to leave immediately due to heat exhaustion. Also, the pathetic scoop of Belgian Chocolate ice cream from Häagen Dazs. I knew it was a bad decision as soon as I walked in there but I was craving ice cream so much and couldn’t find anywhere else. At least the small size means it was a ‘diet ice cream’ and I can eat something else delicious as well!

I had a lovely day today – I went for a seven kilometre run this morning along the canal and to Parc Buttes de Chaumont where I had the lookout and a view towards Sacre Coeur all to myself. Sure, on my way home I may have been somewhat stalked by a Tunisian man who decided we should run together but who just slowed me down, but let’s just forget that.

The sun has been shining all day despite original forecasts for it to be overcast and the park outside my window is blossoming, blooming and bursting with new leaves and flowers. So pretty. The only problem with leaf growth is that our view becomes less and less, but who wouldn’t want to stare at that amazing vibrant, granny-smith green all day?

Park

Look at all the colours!

Magnolias

Look at the flowers! So, who can tell me what these are?

Now I am home after spending the last four hours walking around the city, my back is sore from carrying my bag and my feet are going numb. But Tom just called to ask me what delicious treat I want from the boulangerie for dessert and I am about to whip up something amazing in the kitch (by that I mean I am making up a recipe and am extremely worried about whether or not it will work). Now that’s the good life in Paris.

The Latest

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

So long, grey skies! Hello sunshine and blue! The last few days have brought glorious weather – although the wind is still biting and has a habit of getting through all layers of clothing. It’s bloody cold, really. I’m used to consecutive days of sunshine equalling warmer temperatures but so far this hasn’t happened. They forecast some higher numbers for the rest of the week which is a bit of a relief. Every time I try and put on a skirt the wind suggests otherwise.

But sunshine does bring general happiness – my mood seems to lift greatly when the sun is out. Paris looks so beautiful when it isn’t contending with grey clouds – the buildings shine, the trees seem to instantly fill with new buds, birds flutter and Parisians make out on park benches. The past weekend was particularly glorious. Saturday was Tom and my two-years-and-six-months-versary which we celebrate just for the excuse of going out to eat food. We had had a rather late one the night before (getting home at 3am is apparently early in Paris) so we didn’t get up until almost lunch time. We headed to Les Enfants Perdus – a cosy little restaurant in the next street. We treated ourselves to a fancy lunch – I had lamb, Tom had prawns, we both had chocolate cake. The restaurant was a delight – amazing food beautifully presented, lovely staff and a very cosy place to sit. Definitely one to go back to.

Lamb lunch

My lamb – so good.

Prawns

Tom's prawns – apparently also so good

Chocolate pudding

Chocolate cake with delicious, gooey innards. So so so good - although the menu said it had chilli in it. I couldn't find it... Clearly French "chilli"

After lunch we walked in the sunshine along the canal to Parc de la Villette – a large space with parkland, museums, giant glass domes, kids’ play equipment, concert halls… Tom described a conference hall located in the park as “Like the Perth Convention Centre, but with style and it actually works.” It’s nice to discover new places and to find places we want to go back to. So much to see.

Parc de la Villette

Parc de la Villette

Sunday was the first Sunday of the month so all of the art galleries were open for free. We caught three trains on the metro to get to Musee Rodin and wandered through the gallery and gardens looking at Rodin’s work. I had seen many replicas of The Thinker so it was amazing to finally see the real thing. Sundays are always ‘days out with the family’ for Parisians and they were all out in full swing, enjoying the rays of sunlight. People had clearly come to the Musee Rodin to simply sit in the sun in the garden. Poor French people with their lack of sunshine. That said, France gets heaps of sun compared to England. Give me Paris over London any day.

The Thinker

He's a thinker.

We walked back home through Saint Germain which was completely closed and made me think about everyone complaining about Perth’s lack of Sunday trading. Paris is just as bad. Everything closes on Sundays. Bakeries close at lunch time, just when you want some bread. Tom and I walked for miles trying to find a baguette – we ended up having lebanese.

Today I went shopping with my friend Pip (a fellow Perthian who has moved to Paris at the same time as me) and bought a lot. I went shopping with a list of necessities and came home with some added bonuses. I bought:

  1. Moisturiser for my excessively dry skin due to France’s stupidly cold air (necessity)
  2. Jeans (necessity as I only have one pair and my other pair of pants are too big)
  3. A tshirt (You always need tshirts)
  4. A grey skirt that has cool angles and is just great (it was half price so it would have been wrong not to buy it)
  5. Books (Books are educational (and these are beautiful) which means they are a necessity)
  6. A statue of a pig (added bonus)

The pig needs a name and I am currently undecided. I will post a photo of him soon so that everyone can meet my new pet. Maurice is a possibility – all I know is that he is a French cochon.

Ok well it is my bed time and I am going to post this sans-photos. My internet can’t handle uploading photos at this time of the day so I will add them later. So you can read this post TWICE. Lucky you!

Belleville is Beaucoup Brilliant

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

I am starting to love the area I am living in. What am I saying? Starting? I DO love the area I am living in. The Canal Saint Martin area is lively, young, and according to the French, “bobo”. A random man Tom and I met yesterday explained bobo as ‘people with means who are pretending to be rebels.’ I like that.

Yesterday the sun was shining and having spent the morning inside catching up on house keeping activities, we headed off towards Belleville in search of nuts. Belleville is an area north east of us that is home to Arabs, Asians, Jews, Africans, Romanians, with your odd caucasian popping up now and then. It is a mixture of smells and sights that tempt your taste buds beyond belief and everything is so cheap. We wandered past amazing restaurants selling turkish, algerian, chinese, thai, you-name-it cuisine and everything just looked so good. There were hundreds of people out and about on the streets, talking and having a good time.

We found heaps of stores selling nuts and dried fruit – something I have been missing greatly. In supermarkets nuts are ridiculously expensive and coated in salt and so finding bags of assorted brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, dried figs etc was like walking into heaven. And so I stocked up. We also found some asian supermarkets selling reasonably priced ingredients. Yet another thing I miss when I’m in France – some decent spicy food. At least I can make it myself now. Take that, you French people with your flavourless food.

Tom and I headed to the park in Belleville where lots of people were sitting where ever they could find a spot of sunshine. From the top of the park there is a look out with an amazing view across the city. You can see the Eiffel Tower sticking its head up above the rest of the buildings, but due to the cold temperatures, it was a bit foggy yesterday and we couldn’t see very clearly. Definitely somewhere to head back to in summer.

It is so great to find areas of Paris that the average tourist would never go and visit. One of the highlights of our walk was along the main street in Belleville where a large swarm of people (predominantly men) were standing around in the median strip. Along each side there were people standing with a small sheet in front of them and on their sheets were things they were trying to sell. Ranging from pirated movies to second hand shoes (some didn’t even seem to have the pair of shoes – maybe you’re supposed to mix and match), most of the products on sale seemed either illegal or something they had found on the side of the road. It was so busy! Everyone was bartering and hoping for a good price. It was a wonderful sight.

I Heart Bensimon

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Wandering through the Marais district I stumbled across a very cool set of clothing and home wares stores, all under branding of Bensimon. I will be needing to go back. In the meantime, we can all dream via this very cool website – Bensimon.

Bensimon shop

Ooh la la! A Bensimon home wares and clothing store