Tuesday 30 July 2013

The Best Things I Ate (and Drank) in Paris

It's July 30 in Australia and so the last day of Paris in July for another year. As I struggle with the jet lag inherent in reentering the Southern Hemisphere I'm wondering how to wrap up my Paris in July. I was in Paris for much of this July. I have so many things to say about it, we went to so many amazing places, saw so many amazing things, and of course ate and drank so many amazing things. Every day was amazing, every day worth the long trip from Australia.

I've started to share some of the amazing places with you. Tour Saint Jacques. Parc Floral. Le Petit Palais. But I don't think I've shown you anything that I ate or drank in Paris, and boy did I eat and drink in Paris! Too much perhaps.

So what was the best of the best?

Every baguette and slice of bread we had.
Every bit of butter.
Every glass of champagne. 


Lemonta Citron that magnificent orb on the left
La Patisserie des Reves
a hybrid pavlova/scotch egg of perfection
I think this was my absolute favourite patisserie

Berthillon- still the best glaces in Paris
Vanille, Framboise, Pistache

The incredible pates de fruits from Pierre Herme
(best website ever?)
I have already mentioned my newfound love for pistachio paste. Shhh, I have a jar in the cupboard, waiting.

The Absolutely Incredible Guimauve (marshmallows) from Hugo and Victor. Verveine (lemon verbena), citron vert and vanille. Rather astonishingly these remained unphotographed, despite the 18,500 photos that we came back from Europe with.

The Astonishing Caramels from Jean Paul Hevin. Perhaps also unphotographed, perhaps I just can't find it.


Our foraged dinners at home
Sadly it wasn't Krug every night this was our last night supper of favourites

Wasabi pistachios!
Red curry lobster from Astrance
pretty much every course from that meal could make this list
but I totally wasn't expecting a lesson in red curry
 at a 3 star French restaurant


Citron vert (lime) sorbet with vodka for lunch
at Seize Neuf 75009
makes the afternoon perfect
Pommery Louise 2002 

Hot Vanilla Milk at Le Cafe Marly at the Louvre

Possibly the best single thing I ate was savoury, not sweet.

Zucchini veloute with speck mousse
 from a magnificent lunch at L'Arpege
again pretty much every course could make it here
but that speck mousse was extraordinary- speck flavoured air

These memories, and a couple of goodies hidden in the pantry, will have to sustain me until the next trip to Paris, whenever that may be.

Paris in July 2013 cohosted by Thyme for Tea and Bookbath

Monday 29 July 2013

Whiling Away the Hours #2- Paris- Singapore

Australia really is at the end of the world. You come to realise that as a particular truth when you settle your bottom into an economy class seat on a plane coming or going. And then you realise how long it is before you can get out of that seat.

We do know, they don't have to rub our noses in it,
even if they partly disguise it in French

It's a long time even if you're only doing one leg of it- Paris to Singapore alone is about 13 hours. There are many, many hours to fill. Thankfully every seat comes with its own entertainment package so that we can all watch something different.

On the way to Europe I watched Amour and Dans La Maison. I decided to continue this French theme on the way home, just to keep the French holiday feeling just that bit longer, even as it was slipping through my fingers.

First up I watched A Monster in Paris. I'd noticed it in the movie guide on the way over, and seen others watching it and liked the look of the movie. Sadly that was all I liked really.

This one didn't work for me. Even the cartoon images of iconic Paris- Sacre Coeur, the Eiffel Tower, places I had been and seen just a few days before weren't really enough to hold my attention and if I hadn't been on a plane I might even have turned it off. It was like a bizarre insect Phantom of the Opera.

Thankfully my second choice turned out much, much better. Indeed I LOVED IT. I want to watch it again and again, and buy the soundtrack I am so smitten with this heretofore unknown French Gem.

What is it?

I was rather bemused, and yet somehow intrigued, by the description in the inflight movie guide.

Sounds rather improbable doesn't it? But it's a sensational movie. Gorgeous 1950s styling and feel. Indeed at times it's hard to believe that it wasn't made in the 50s. Perhaps a French Mad Men? (although I've never seen any of that so wouldn't really know) Sweet. Funny. Fabulous Soundtrack. Indeed Utterly Delightful as the poster suggests.

I'm not sure if this has been released in Australia as yet, but I'll be searching out the DVD. Seems this 2012 French hit has recently been released in the UK, and will be released in the US in September. The Daily Mail loved it too. So did The Guardian.

Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme from Paulita at
An Accidental Blog

Paris in July 2013 cohosted by Thyme for Tea and Bookbath

Saturday 27 July 2013

Parc Floral

Can it really have only been a week ago? I was still in Paris. It was blazingly hot. And I went to see Hugh Masekala at the Paris Jazz Festival. It was absolutely fantastic. An unexpected benefit was seeing Parc Floral de Paris. I didn't really know anything about this park.

It's behind the lovely Chateau de Vincennes- we walked past but didn't have time to go in this trip. I will just have to go back to Paris- still so much to see and do despite just having spent a month there.

Parc Floral is a huge park. That seemed very well used on this beautiful Paris summer afternoon. People were playing cards, dancing, lounging in hammocks, picnicing and drinking wine.

There is always a tourist dragging a suitcase
wherever you go...
The concert stage is in a lovely setting.

Some of Parc Floral looked rather unFrench to me. The huge pond of lotus plants. 


 The lovely bonsai house.

 With many quite old bonsais.

This one was from 1896!
We only saw a tiny piece of this lovely park, and didn't get anywhere near the mini golf with monuments of Paris! Yet another reason that I already want to return to Paris, even though I haven't made it back to Australia yet. 

Saturday Snapshot is a wonderful weekly meme now hosted by WestMetroMommy

Paris in July a glorious celebration from all things Parisian from Bookbath and Thyme for Tea

Saturday 20 July 2013

Le Petit Palais

Le Petit Palais was another unexpected delight on my current Paris trip. Much like our visit to Tour Saint Jacques. I knew the builiding was there, I'd been past it many times over three visits to Paris, but really I had no idea what was inside. After a long walk the other day, we still had half an hour or so before meeting up with friends from Australia.

It's only Petit when you compare it
to the Grand Palais across the road

So, after checking out the outside

the coloured columns are a recent addition

we popped inside through the magnificent gold doors to check out the foyer. Figuring it would be lovely to look at.

of course it was

Then we discovered that Le Petit Palais is actually Paris's Museum of Fine Arts (Musee des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris), and that entry to the permanent collections is free.

Actually, museums run by the city of Paris have free admission, and they're amazing. Check out Paris's free museum options here. I've visited a few this trip, but there are still many more to see. There's always a brochure display about other free attractions.

So we were in for a rather lightning visit. They have an amazing permanent collection

Hard to see in my photo
but that elegant lady is taking a monkey for a walk

Bacchante, Auguste Clesinger, 1848

Beautiful panelled rooms filled with 18th century treasures

Not all the objects are traditionally beautiful

I always love displays like this,
like the artist just stepped out 

As with all these places the building itself is beautiful
The commentary on the walls is in French. There was an audioguide available in English, and laminated sheets in most rooms about certain exhibits in English, and other languages.

On this visit we only had time really to walk rather quickly through the rooms (there's two floors of permanent collection). Already I want to go back for the audio tour (5 euros). I expect that will have to be on my next holiday to Paris, the list for that is growing as I run out of time on this trip.

Le Petit Palais
Avenue Winston Churchill
75008 Paris

Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am-6pm
Late opening until 8pm on Thursday for temporary exhibitions.

Paris in July a glorious celebration from all things Parisian from Bookbath and Thyme for Tea

Saturday Snapshot is a wonderful weekly meme now hosted by WestMetroMommy

Monday 15 July 2013

Tour Saint Jacques

Some highlights of a trip away are predictable from the outset, some are unexpected. A visit to Tour Saint Jacques last week was an unexpected highlight of our trip to Paris. I was familiar with the landmark Tour Saint Jacques, it was actually one of the very first things that I saw in Paris 15 years ago, on our first trip to France when confusion in a taxi took us to Tour Saint Jacques instead of Hotel Saint Jacques.

That's Saint Jacques up the top there
a 19th century addition

So I was particularly excited to find out last week that this summer Tour Saint Jacques was open to the public for the first time in 500 years! I knew that we had to do it. There is a rather intricate ticketing system, but it was actually easy enough in the end. The French language website is here.

The English language version is this:

Guided tours are available Friday/Saturday/Sunday from 5/7/13 to 15/9/13.
They take up to 17 people per hour so it doesn't get too packed up the top. They don't take kids under 10. It's 300 steps up a rather steep, narrow spiral staircase.

You have to book in advance. You can telephone on Thursday between 10 and 12 Paris time, or go to the tower at 0930 on the day that you want to do the tour. Which is what we did. Much easier than trying to talk to someone French in French on the phone (I can think of nothing more terrifying). There was only a short line on the day we went, and within 10 minutes we were booked onto the 11am tour.

It's a fantastic tour and totally worth the 6 euros (or 3 euros for students/unemployed/handicapped)-indeed it's a real bargain.

The tour is fully escorted and takes 50 minutes. It's in French. It's still totally worthwhile even if you don't know a word of French according to the male members of the Wicker party.

Our lovely French guide had clearly mastered
 Intricate Scarf Tying at an early age

Tour Saint Jacques was built between 1509-1523. Originally attached to a church, the church didn't survive the revolution, and so now the tower stands alone in a pretty square on the Rue de Rivoli.

The tower has been restored several times over it's life, from the 19th century to today. Most recently an 8.3 million Euro restoration from 1999 to 2009.

There appeared to be a rather long discussion on the difference between
chimera (on the left) and gargoyles (on the right)
which I may not have fully followed
water does spout from the gargoyles mouth but not the chimera

It's nice to see old friends pop up in unexpected place
St Roch

Tour Saint Jacques has actually had a number of uses over the years

Making shot

Foucault is said to have experimented with pendulums here too
(as well as at The Pantheon)

Being used as an observatory
Which is why the major statue at the base is a somewhat unexpected Blaise Pascal

The walk is conducted in 3 stages. The first two fairly easy stages take us up to rooms within the tower. 

Looking up within the tower
The third climb is really quite long and it was quite a relief to get to the top. 

Only 294 more to go...

It was a hazy old day, but the views of Paris were sensational. Breathtaking actually.

even if some of it isn't pretty

most of it is though

Can the views from Notre Dame really be any better?
Is their very length queue going to be worth it?

Weeping angel seen from on high
If you're in Paris this summer then make sure you visit Tour Saint Jacques.

Paris in July a glorious celebration from all things Parisian from

Dreaming of France a fabulous weekly meme
 from Paulita at An Accidental Blog