Saturday, 29 March 2014

My Favourite Paris Evening Rooftop View

*Apologies to everyone as I have had to start watermarking my photos less discreetly in the middle of the photo due to a recent issue where my photo was used without my permission and not credited nor acknowledged appropriately - I have always wanted to share what I find in Paris as honestly and 'organically' as possible with anyone interested in my blog and will do my best to continue this, but for the time being I haven't found a more discreet way of protecting my photos   


The final part of this four part series takes me to one of the most magical views I've seen of Paris in my life. 

What started off as an idea to try to find some private (and free!) unknown views of Paris took me to the corners of buildings, squeezing myself (and my iPhone) in between pots and pans and designer bed linen and mattresses. I received more than a few suspicious looks from French sales assistants as I unconvincingly tried to pretend I was perusing through their latest range of overpriced pillow cases. 

I discovered many hidden beautiful views and the best thing was for those brief moments in time, it felt like they were created just for me.

I stumbled across a gorgeous rooftop, with spectacular panoramic views (for free!) that came along with outdoor seating and inexpensive prices. 

I also found a reasonably priced brasserie where you could enjoy views of a stunning stained glass domed ceiling over lunch, a snack, dessert, or even a 3€ coffee. 

But the most surreal moment of all was when my friend and I returned to the Printemps rooftop at 6:59pm exactly. We were told by one of the friendly staff members to come back later on in the evening, but before 7pm. As we ran towards the rooftop, the clock struck 7pm and the Eiffel Tower started to twinkle magically in the distance, against the gorgeous backdrop of a Parisian sunset. 

I squealed and started to embarrassingly jump up and down in excitement with my friend and we raced to the railings to see our dear Eiffel Tower sparkle. It felt like the Eiffel Tower was just as excited to see us as we were excited to see it.

Parisian sunset

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Brasserie Printemps - a Sight Worth Seeing

After surprising my friend with panoramic rooftop views of Paris on Printemps Beauty and Home's top floor, I had a second little surprise up my sleeve. It was another discovery from my search to find some secret, private (and free!) views of Paris, Brasserie Printemps on the 6th floor of the Printemps Mode building. 


Surprise!

My All Time Favourite Paris Rooftop By Day

Following on from my previous post where I tried to seek out some lesser known secret views of Paris, the last department store I went to try my luck at was Printemps. And, this was where I really hit jackpot.

Right on the very top of the Printemps Beauty and Home building is my all time favourite rooftop of Paris. This is where you go to be blown away by the beauty of Paris. Trust me, it offers one of the best Paris rooftop views and to top it off, it is for free.



Opera Garnier in the distance

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Secret views of Paris

One of the beautiful things about Paris is that for me, it is not a city where you have to have a big budget to enjoy and appreciate. Sure it will help of course but it's not the be all and end all. In fact, I would even say that the less financially comfortable I have been during my time here, the more awe-struck and appreciative I have felt about Paris. When you remove money from the equation, often what you discover is how beautiful and overlooked the simple things in life are. 

Just because something is free doesn't mean that it is worth less, if anything I find when you have less, that very thing is worth even more. 

I'll explain why. 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Three Vietnamese Restaurants You Should Try in Paris

They say the more you can't have something the more you want it. Visas to stay in a country, that item that was sold out in your size, that guy/girl who takes their sweet time to text you back. 

For me in Paris, it's authentic home cooked Asian food. 

Don't get me wrong, I love love love having delicious French food at my fingertips. I'm very lucky that John is a fantastic cook and that he takes pride in his repertoire of classic French dishes. But every now and then, I just miss the amazing variety of different cuisines we have access to in Australia. I miss "contemporary modern Australian cuisine" (whatever that really is) and, I miss the hearty soul-filling comforting Asian food from my childhood (and, I suppose all the reassuring warm fuzzy connotations and feelings it evokes). 

It's like every now and then my feelings of homesickness manifest through my taste buds. They suddenly crave to be psychologically teleported back to that simple, happy safe place. 

Predictably, the re-enactment of this simple, happy safe place isn't very convincing when it's you doing the recreating for yourself, on the other side of the world. I go out of my way to try and recreate those familiar mouth watering dishes over here. I make traditional Chinese dumplings, spring rolls and Vietnamese bánh cuốn (a type of hot rice roll with meat filling) all from scratch. I can recreate modern Australian okay, but it's the traditional Asian dishes that I can't seem to get right.  

One of these dishes I won't even bother trying to recreate is phở, the classic Vietnamese beef noodle broth. This is serious stuff, it takes days of slow cooking and the addition of various spices at exact quantities. Even a change in the material with which you wrap these spices in before letting it float and simmer will alter the taste of your phở broth. 

Luckily for me, Paris has always had a significant Vietnamese population. Vietnam being a French colony between 1887 and 1954 as a part of "French Indochina" resulted in the establishment of the Vietnamese community in France way before the Vietnam War. With immigration starting during the colonial period well over 100 years ago, it is really fascinating to observe how the French Vietnamese community here differs from the Australian or American Vietnamese communities. 

Good news for my phở cravings because I'm definitely in the right country to be having them! Take a walk in the Asian quartiers and you will be spoilt for choice with the amount of Vietnamese, Chinese, Laotian and Cambodian restaurants available. 

Here are my top three Vietnamese restaurants worth checking out. Of course, it's never going to get as good as my Mum and Dad's cooking obviously haha, but it hits the spot pretty well. 


Friday, 21 March 2014

Jour du Macaron - Macaron Day 2014

My love affair with the macaron is immeasurable. I love everything about the macaron. I love how the word macaron sounds in French, I love the beautiful colours. I love the subtle fragrance of macarons. I love how incredibly photogenic they are. I love their cute shape and petite size that fits ever so neatly between my fingers. I love the round delicate crispy shell and its slightly chewy interior. I love the generous ganache, the rich but not too rich buttercream, the delicious filling that always looks like it gently wants to overflow out of those shells but never does. I love sinking my teeth into a macaron and closing my eyes, experiencing the different textures on my palate and explosion of intense yet subtle flavours in my mouth.

I was first introduced to the macaron by my friend who was living in Paris in 2008, she was also the one who introduced me to Rob Ryan, she's taught me a lot that girl! I was visiting her for her birthday that year from London where I was living at the time I distinctly remember she came to meet me at Gare du Nord with some macarons.

My life was never the same again after that day, where had they been all my life..?

Anyway, so last year, I found out about the existence of this Macaron Day, Jour du Macaron started by Pierre Hermé, just after it had already passed. I was gutted knowing that I would have to wait another year. So as you can see, I have been waiting for this day for a long time. 





Here's why. 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Friday, 14 March 2014

EUROPAIN 2014

EUROPAIN 2014 was without a doubt one of the best 'conventions' I have been to in my life.

Picture this: a trade show with over 770 exhibitors from France and around the world all gathered in Paris to showcase their finest products, creations, ideas and innovations in the industry. 

Which industry..?

The bread, pastry, ice cream, chocolate, confectionery and dessert industry.

Talk about being a kid in a candy store, this was even better than a candy store. This store had chocolate and ice cream and desserts and pastries and cakes and, did I mention ice cream..!?

Now, aside from spending the day tasting delicious samples (!!) at Europain, I was also able to witness the final ceremony announcing the best bakers in the world at the Bakery Masters 2014 as well as see all their competition creations on display. In addition, I was able to chat with many industry professionals, watch some interesting live demonstrations and also learn a bit about the technology, techniques and expertise that is involved in creating the final product.  

Starting off in the bread section, the largest part of the show, I was immediately blown away by all the beautifully different shapes, sizes, colours, flavours and variations under the sun.

What a perfect place to have a Bread Convention, France, I thought to myself. 

Bread heaven

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The World's Best Bakers Announced at the Bakery Masters 2014

Like a kid in a candy store, I spent yesterday at the 2014 World Bakery, Pastry, Ice Cream, Chocolate and Confectionery Trade Show, EUROPAIN held in Paris. Yes, you read correctly, bread, pastries, chocolates, ice cream, desserts and all you could simply imagine under the sun..! (EEEEE..!!). 

Willy Wonka's, eat your heart out.

Aside from EUROPAIN showcasing over 770 exhibitors from France and around the world, it also hosted several major competitions such as the World Barista Championship, the World Cup Tasters Championship, the World Latte Art Championship, the World Coffee in Good Spirits Championship, the Bocuse d'Or France, the International Confectionery Art Competition and, the prestigious Masters de la Boulangerie 2014, ie the 2014 Bakery Masters 

This competition, the 2014 Bakery Masters is some serious stuff. 

Likened to the Olympic Games of the bakery world, the Bakery Masters is the final stage of a series of internationally renowned competitions such as the Louis Lesaffre Cup and the Bakery World Cup, which saw teams from countries around the world compete against each other. The best individual contestants from these competitions then went on to the gruelling final Bakery Masters in Paris. For each of the three categories Bread, Viennese Pastry and Artistic Piece, only the top 8 candidates from around the world were chosen to compete. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Best Way to Walk Around Montmartre


One of my favourite areas in Paris is the Montmartre area, the hilly quartier where Sacre Coeur perches up top overlooking Paris from its highest and most northern peak. 

Home to the studios and workplaces of many waves of artists in the past like Picasso, Van Gogh and Dali, this Bohemian area is one of the reminders of what old Paris used to be like, well, as best as it can anyway in 2014. 

The only thing I'm not a big fan of in this area is the fact that it can get crowded with tourists and by default, scammers and pickpocketers. I always find myself nervously anticipating when I'll have a clipboard or a friendship bracelet waved in front of my face and then thinking about how I should plan my escape strategy. 

However one beautifully clear Winter Parisian day, my friend who lives in the area took me on a little walk that I'd like to share. Being a local Frenchie in the area, she had come to get to know the area quite well, as well as the locals/shopkeepers/bar owners. We had a lovely night out once at an old, tiny hole in the wall type French bar in the area, playing board games against the locals, drinking and being given samples of freshly sliced cheese from a giant cheese slicer to try from the bar staff (go figure why the staff were eating cheese in the bar while serving drinks at 11pm..!)  

This walk isn't your standard Sacre Coeur/Place du Tertre walk. So it does take a bit longer but I think it's worth it. 

Ok, so once you've navigated your way past the Moulin Rouge area (depending on if you are coming from the Blanche/Pigalle way or Anvers way), head up the slope (rue de Steinkerque) past all those shops selling huge piles of bed linen, clothes, underwear and souvenirs. You'll reach the gates surrounding Sacre Coeur.


Now, instead of following the crowds directly into the enclosed area past the carousel and up the stairs, (ie towards those scammers and pickpocketers), turn right just before the gates and take the side street. This way, you can take your time to meander up the hill in a long, uninterrupted, quiet stroll through the park. Up at the top, you can find beautiful cobblestone paths like this. 


Monday, 10 March 2014

Brassaï Exhibition - Hôtel de Ville

The Paris City Hall, Hôtel de Ville hosts a series of free exhibitions, open to the public each year. Hôtel de Ville is situated in a central location between the Marais and Notre Dame which means it's a great place to drop by to see an exhibit while you're exploring the city. 

The current exhibition on show is a photographic exhibition - "Brassaï, Pour l'amour de Paris" (highly approriate for this blog!). Brassaï was a great Hungarian French photographer, filmmaker, writer and sculptor who had a love affair with Paris that led him to all the nooks and crannies of the City of Light. 




Saturday, 8 March 2014

How to tackle Paris Fashion Week - a Guide for Newbies

Paris Fashion Week has been and gone and I am finally able to feel my legs again (YAY!). So I thought I would put together a little guide for anyone who is interested in getting to know the ins and outs (based only on what I've learnt of course) of Paris Fashion Week, in case you want to experience it for yourself but don't know where to begin. I had spent hours researching "how to do/get into/sneak into Paris Fashion Week" during its lead up, so I figured why not summarise and disperse? 

So here it is, my 14-step guide on how to tackle Paris Fashion Week (from a complete newbie perspective like myself).  

Friday, 7 March 2014

Paris Fashion Week 2014

Paris Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2014/2015 wrapped up this week as quickly as it unfolded in the City of Light. Eight days of non-stop Prêt-à-Porter shows running from Tuesday 25th until Wednesday 5th this year had celebrities, editors, fashionistas and industry movers and shakers briefly take over the city and its iconic locations. 

Karl Lagerfield transformed the beautiful Grand Palais into a luxury Chanel supermarket to showcase his latest collection that featured some very comfortable runway footwear ;) while Nicolas Ghesquière unveiled his highly anticipated mod-influenced debut collection for Louis Vuitton at Cour Carrée du Louvre. 

On the other side of town at the opulent Palais Garnier, Stella McCartney presented her collection described as sporty/evening, while a little walk down from Place de la Concorde in the Tuileries Gardens, Valentino and Elie Saab revealed the direction of their respective signature styles at Espace Ephémère Tuileries

Musée Rodin on the other hand hosted the quintessential Parisian Dior show while the edgy Saint Laurent show took place in the evening at Carreau du Temple in the Marais.


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Valentino - Paris Fashion Week

Mardi 4 mars 2014
14h30
Espace Éphémère Tuileries - Jardin des Tuileries, Paris 1er

Click here to watch the Valentino A/W 2014/2015 Prêt-à-Porter Runway show


Olivia Palermo and Johannes Huebl

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Chanel - Paris Fashion Week

Mardi 4 mars 2014
10h30
Grand Palais, avenue Winston Churchill, Paris 8e

Click here to watch the Chanel A/W 2014/2015 Prêt-à-Porter Runway Show



Anna Wintour


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Stella McCartney - Paris Fashion Week

Lundi 3 mars 2014
10h00
Palais Garnier, 8 rue Scribe, Paris 9e

Click here to watch the Stella McCartney A/W 2014/2015 Prêt-à-Porter Runway Show


Rhianna at the side entrance

Monday, 3 March 2014

Elie Saab - Paris Fashion Week

Lundi 3 mars 2014
16h00
Espace Éphémère Tuileries, Jardin des Tuileries, Paris 1er

Click here to watch the A/W 2014/2015 Prêt-à-Porter Runway Show



Saturday, 1 March 2014

Piano Staircase Fun!

Remember that Volkswagen Fun Theory idea in 2009 that had a set of piano keys installed on some stairs at the Odenplan subway in Stockholm overnight? You know the one with the idea of making exercise fun, to encourage people to take the stairs instead of the escalators...?

Well that cool idea I had been watching clips of all those years ago rolled out in Paris very recently..! This time, it even came with a unit to change the sound from piano to marimba to vibraphone to synthesiser to electric piano! 

For something to take the kids/adults/family/partner/anyone really to this weekend in Paris, drop by Hall 1 at Gare Montparnasse and check out this video from SNCF.

It ends on a Sunday March 2nd (coincidentally a Free Museum Sunday) on the last day of the school holidays so get in quick this weekend before it's gone. I can guarantee you that it was a lot of fun..! :)