Showing posts with label Marais. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marais. Show all posts

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A December weekend in Paris

As regular readers will know, my student daughter is at university in Paris this year. She’s settled into a flat on the Left Bank and, three months on, her French is pretty fluent. She says she still sounds English but that’s hardly surprising. Unless you’ve spoken French from the age of two or three it’s impossible to sound completely français.

I’m trying not to be a clingy parent, I really am, but I’d been counting the days till I could whizz across the Channel to stay with her. I booked a Eurostar ticket weeks ago (£99 return) and, finally, the big day arrived.

Paris has always been one of my favourite cities and December is the perfect time to visit. The Boulevard St Germain twinkled with chic white lights, a team of carpenters was busy building white wooden huts for the annual Christmas market and the shop windows were a vision of festive loveliness.

With temperatures dipping towards zero (I’m SO glad I delivered my daughter’s duffle coat – she really needed it), we spent loads of time catching up in Paris’s brilliant cafés.

My favourite place for breakfast was a tiny bakery (below) in the rue de Buci (6e). It’s called, quite bizarrely, The Smiths. When we asked the waitress why, she explained that the architect was a huge fan of the band and named it after them. But Morrissey apart, The Smiths sells a café crème, croissant and orange juice for 5.5 euros, which seems pretty good value. The French are clearly a hardy lot because even though it was freezing lots of people were sitting at tables outside. Luckily, The Smiths, like most other cafes, supplies blankets on the backs of chairs so you can wrap up warm as you sip your coffee.

Meanwhile the Rose Bakery is brilliant for lunch. Rose Carrarini (author of the fabulous cookery book, Breakfast Lunch Tea) co-founded Villandry in London in 1988 and later went on to open the Rose Bakery, an Anglo-French bakery and restaurant in Paris. Some people were sceptical about how the French would take to a menu featuring cakes, scones and brownies, but it was a roaring success. Ten years on, there are three branches in Paris, as well as others in London, Seoul and Tokyo.

When we arrived at the branch in the Marais (30, rue Debelleyme, 3e) the queue stretched the length of the narrow restaurant and spilled out on to the pavement. Within 20 minutes though, we got a table and happily sat down to lunch. Everything is kept simple – with brown paper laid on the table, hunks of warm wholemeal bread and huge carafes of water. The only tricky moment comes when you have to choose what to eat – it all looks (and tastes) delicious.

Friday, 22 July 2011

A weekend in Paris

“You shouldn’t have to buy an umbrella on vacation,” grumbled the American woman in the hotel lift. My daughter stifled a giggle. “Oh dear,” she whispered in my ear. “We’ve already bought three.”

We were in wet, grey Paris for a whistlestop weekend but the fact that the clouds had turned black the minute we stepped off the Eurostar didn’t matter a jot. We bought our first umbrella for eight euros at a tacky-looking tourist shop off the Champs Elysées. Big mistake. The shopkeeper warned us it wasn’t “très solide” and sure enough, the blooming thing snapped within half an hour. So we dashed into H&M and snapped up two garish brollies for just under ten euros. A much better move.

The great thing about being in Paris with my daughter was that we were keen to do pretty much the same things. We walked everywhere, lunched at the Rose Bakery, discovered that the ultra-chic Colette on the Rue Saint-Honoré now sells Topshop make-up and wandered round the Musée Rodin garden in the rain.

We stayed at La Maison Champs Elysées, a lovely hotel that’s been done up to the nines by Maison Martin Margiela, the avant-garde Belgian design house. We didn’t get an MMM room but the hotel is amazing, with a silver corridor, trompe l’oeil wallpaper and a pretty white drawing room where a waiter was playing jazz at the piano as we arrived. More to the point, it’s relatively affordable compared to other Paris hotels.

Our best discovery of the weekend though was a tiny shop called Popelini in the Marais (see above). Launched by Lauren Koumetz, who grew up in the Marais, and with a chef who used to work at Ladurée, it sells exquisite iced choux buns. Flavours range from cherry and pistachio to vanilla and strawberry and they’re so light and tiny you don’t feel guilty afterwards. You can buy just one or get a selection wrapped up in an elegant cerise box. Forget cupcakes and macaroons. Popelini makes them look completely old hat.

Mark my words, these choux buns will catch on in the UK faster than you can say Popelini.

29 rue Debelleyme
75003 Paris
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