Sunday brunch at Le Germain.

Brunch seems to be a big thing in Paris. Numerous restaurants offer their brunch menu until 6pm on a Saturday and Sunday. And said menu includes a selection of hair-of-the-dog refreshments and a myriad of different ways to order the simple oeuf. We did brunch at Germain this Sunday and found ourselves amongst the well-heeled but casually chic of the left bank. A couple of Janice Dickenson look alikes who've obviously overindulged on the collagen and a more than just a scattering of LV bags casually slung over chairs (these were the real thing, baby) completed the picture. 

But the interior stole the show.

A massive bright yellow sculpture of a woman in a coat and heels breaks through from the café floor to the lounge area above. It's by artist Xavier Veihan. Interior architect India Mahdavi.

With spaces like these in which to while away your weekend, it's no wonder brunch is trés popular.

Marie Delafon.

Marie Delafon illustrates childrens books amongst other things. We came across some of her personal work recently and couldn't leave without buying a print. Her work explores tracking dreams, fears, wishes and "little experiences". I like the naiveté. This is her blog

All photographs Marie Delafon.

Musée de la Monnaie: Willy Ronis exhibition

We went to see an exhibition of photography by Willy Ronis just before it closed. This French photographer died at the age of 99 in September of last year. His photographs have become synonymous with Paris and he is celebrated for his reportage style of shooting "ordinary people with ordinary lives”. 

It was an extraordinary body of work to see - one that inspires you to look through the viewfinder of your own camera differently each time you lift it for a snap shot. 

Images: Le Petit Parisien (1952), Les Amoureux de la Colonne Bastille (1957), Place Vendôme (1947), Lorraine en hiver (1954).

La Terresse.

We've been visiting a lot of churches.  Their age and beauty is quite staggering. In fact, I'm so inspired by these spaces that I've even pulled out my water colours to engage in a little creative project of my own. 

Gallaries Lafayette, on the other hand, is the ultimate church to consumerism. Seven floors bursting with merchandise and an annexe for the 'Homme' and 'Masion' sections. It's shopping deluxe. But the highlight of our visit to this shopping mecca wasn't carrying out bags of goods - I was actually  forcibly extremely restrained. Rather, it was our lunch with a view of Paris. 

The eighth floor has a recently opened restaurant called La Terresse. It has an amazing panoramic view of the rooftops and monuments of the city. Unfortunately when we stopped by for lunch they had had a recent power failure so we could only order a salad (and a glass of champagne) but by the time our lunch ended electricity was back up and a coffee rounded it off nicely. 

Definitely much nicer to store this experience in my memory bank than the pair of shoes I was eyeing in my closet. 

Credit: Top three images used with kind permission from thepariskitchen. Perhaps I drank too much champers as my own snapshots weren't that great! 

Merci beaucoup.

Last week we visited 'Merci'. It's a concept store on boulevard Beaumarchais in the East of the Marais. Outfitted in a converted fabric factory it houses a wide range of products - from designer threads to furniture to one euro bits and pieces. All carefully curated and displayed.

The really interesting thing about the store is that 'Merci' gives all it's profits to charity (a foundation that it runs is currently helping children in Madagascar). Certainly retail with a conscience.

We also visited übercool 'Collette' although this time around I wasn't as impressed. And apparently if we really want to discover the best of the Parisian concept stores then we still have 'Spree', 'L'Eclaireur' and 'Hotel Particulieur' to explore. 

Bumper day.

Today we set off to discover the Marché des Enfants Rouges or Market of Red Children in the MaraisBeing a national historical monument and the oldest market in Paris as well as off the tourist beaten path it seemed worthy of a visit. We weren't disappointed. Apart from the fact that it's August and not every stall was open we still browsed the photography store where I picked up some vintage postcards of Versailles; bought a baguette and fresh produce and dawdled over coffee. 

The strange name of this market is well explained here.  "Marguerite de Navarre, sister of King François the 1st and mother of King Henri the 4th (who was the one to end the religious wars that had been bloodying France), was a very well educated, politically engaged and charitable member of the royal family. In 1534 she had an orphanage constructed in what is now the Marais whose little pensioners were dressed in red as a symbol of their status. The orphanage was closed in the beginning of the 17th century and in 1615 was transformed into a market dubbed the Marché des Enfants Rouges (market of red children) to commemorate the charitable establishment that had occupied the site for almost a century."

A few hours later we were drenched. And I mean drenched. Our search for a specific art supply store was fruitless and the umbrella proved flimsy and inadequate. It would have been far more sensible to take cover until it was over but 'non' we pressed on! The weather in August is changeable - apparently the hottest but also wettest month in Paris. Up until this date it's been a light drizzle now and again - no serious rain. But enough about the weather.
Far more interesting I believe, is the latest task I've set for myself. Along the lines of the Julie & Julia Project I've purchased a copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". (We found an English bookstore near the Tulleries and I blew my entire daily budget on books.) 

I like to cook, I like to bake and quite unfortunatly for the waistline I like to eat the results. So it should naturally follow that while in Paris I should attempt some French cooking. The catch is that I'm severely limited in this endeavor by an teeny-tiny, extremely basic kitchen - with no oven. That rules out a vast number of recipes in the aforementioned cookbook. Nevertheless my aim is to attempt a dinner menu composed from it and I'll document the results should they be blog-worthy. Or perhaps even if they are not. 

Our bumper day was rounded off nicely with a visit to 'Angelina'. It was simply impossible to pass by this century old tea shop on Rue du Rivoli. Apparently once frequented by Proust, Coco Chanel and other famous names it was definitely worth the stop. 

Another full day. Now what to do this evening?

La couleur verte.

A friend asked me how I felt about our apartment in Paris - did I feel 'hemmed in' in a small space amidst all the concrete and stone that make up the streets and buildings? Well, you can almost swing a cat in our space and admittedly we feel right on top of our neighbours but we don't feel stifled. We spend most of our time outdoors and there is a surprising amount of green in Paris -  it is summertime after all.

Of course the great green areas of Paris are the beautifully landscaped gardens. But above is some of the green we've spotted in unexpected places during our walks. Amazing overgrown window boxes and carefully cultivated vertical green walls. 

Perhaps cultivating vertical gardens is owing to the fact that in the majority of the cities gardens you aren't to sit, walk on or otherwise touch the manicured lawns!

Bonjour, Paris.

We were woken this morning at 4am by a jazzy rendition of 'I love Paris in the Spring time' played full blast by one of our neighbours. Although sleep disturbed our response was surprisingly tolerant - after all, it was just someone a little pissed, and enjoying Paris.

Piss, on the other hand has been something I'm not that keen to tolerate. It seems to be the summer perfume here. I'm not sure if it's because we are walking everywhere or if there are just more Parisian bergies making use of pavements as toilet facilities than usual! 

We've had a chance to explore the Marais - and everything we could need is fantastically close, had a sundowner champagne picnic on the bank of the Seine, done a bit of the Decorative Arts section of the Louvre, explored Rue de Rivoli, the Tulleries and the Jardin de Luxemborg and wandered St. Germain. 

And I'm still pinching myself that we are here.

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