Monday, March 11, 2013


A few favourites from February in Paris. I'm trying to avoid the usual suspects. I keep reading about the same places again and again in round ups of where to go in Paris - and I'm part of that cycle, being *in the business.* So in my own space here, it's nice for me to step back from diligently reporting on what the top ten must-go places are, with a unifying theme to each post... and just think about what I really enjoyed.

Le Comptoir General
Sort of surreal, multi layered, multi functional community space that describes itself as a ghetto museum. It was one of the coolest, most unexpected places I went to in Paris. Thanks J!

Hardly a secret, being right on rue St. Honore opposite the Astier de Villatte shop, but it's only when you open the door and are greeted by the mingling scents of candied fruits, spices, tea leaves and coffee beans that this place hooks you in. Dark wood panelled walls, plants and pictures on the walls of the far flung places their supplies come from give it a colonial feel. It's authentically charming in the best sense. Apart from the extensive menu of tea and coffee there are cakes to be chosen from a glass display and a small menu pour un petit faim. I like to sit upstairs by the big arched window, watching the world go by on the street below.

Rue Charlot Sunday veg feast
I've mentioned here before (six years ago!) how strange it is that in a city/country where incredibly high quality vegetable produce is so easily available, no one seems to eat vegetables?! (Or eat much at all, but that's another story.) I still haven't solved that mystery, but I am grateful for friends that live a two minute walk away from the Marche des Enfants Rouges, who over many years have perfected the art of the vegetable based recipe and who were kind enough to invite me to lunch most Sundays. It's not an exaggeration to say they probably saved me from malnutrition while I was in Paris. We would go to the bio veg stall at the market, then to the greengrocer on rue de Bretagne, who I was introduced to - very important to be introduced to local shopkeepers. Then I would be given a glass of wine and would sit and watch them prepare the most beautiful, fresh soups, salads and concoctions: artichokes with freshly shelled peas, potato leek and dill soup - I wish I'd photographed all the meals we had, but I only took one photo of this salad.

I was busy, ingesting nutrients! Back in London I'm inspired to make more of the weekly farmers market - I always go, but I have a bad habit of only buying flowers and a cup of coffee. Must become more familiar/confident with all the goodness that's on offer.

Richard Lenoir Brocante
I was mooching around in the Marais killing time before my friend arrived, when J (her again with the good tips!) tipped me off to the brocante that was on at boulevard Richard Lenoir. So I ambled over and indulged my "if I lived here I would buy those chairs/that table/that lamp" side for an hour or so. Everything was displayed so wonderfully. I was tempted as always, but then thought how many teeny tiny vintage glasses, broken clocks and apple shaped containers can a person need? I do wish I'd given into getting that earthenware jug for €3 though.

Dinner at Bones (We went back for drinks and snacks another night and it was just as good.)

First sunny day by the canal then walk home
The day before I left Paris, the sun came out. We got a takeaway coffee at Craft, then sat by the canal, soaking up the first weak rays of the sun for a while before saying goodbye - for now. Later, I decided to walk as far as the river, then get on the metro back to where I was staying in the farthest reaches of the 5th. It was still icy cold but the sun was low and illuminated the sides of buildings and fell in shafts through the trees.  It was so beautiful that I ended up walking the whole way.

Watching Merci's Fiat 500 being filled with rose petals

Very late dinner at Le Dauphin
By the time C and I rolled up at Le Dauphin it was 11pm and in true English apero style, we'd already shared a bottle of wine without having eaten since lunch. The kitchen was about to close so we quickly ordered five dishes from the menu: one meat, one fish, one vegetable etc - just chosen at random more or less. Maybe it was partially down to being starving, but the flavours in each dish were amazing enough that I listed them in my iphone to remember. The list means almost nothing to me now and I could never recreate those flavours. Now I have only the memory of certain types of stock that seemed to enhance everything. I'm pretty sure if I attempted warm oysters in blood orange stock with sliced radishes it would be vile rather than sublime, which is a bloody good reason to go back again. I also find this photo of us there really amusing, distorted by the rounded corner of a mirrored wall.


charlotte said...

Behold our cone heads! They were the best warm oysters in blood orange stock I've ever had.

RD said...

While Paris markets might trump those in London, let me remind you that London markets are pretty fab! Might seem bizarre but one of things I miss from London is the weekly market. It's true, I'm not exploiting Union Square Market here, which is close by. But, what I liked about my local London Sunday market was just that -- it was local, unglamorous but good, and a rain or shine even. USQ Market here is good but very very busy -- a bit like Borough Market in London. And there is something liberating about just going to the market with an open mind and seeing what looks good. I've been meaning to ask you if you would ever move to Paris, but perhaps I'll do that on another occasion. xo

Claire said...

RD - I completely agree! My local farmers market (well actually due to various legislation it's not allowed to call itself a farmers market as some of the stallholders aren't officially farmers) has become something of a destination, with loads of press saying how fabulous it is. It's changed the neighbourhood so much for the better. But every time I go, I sort of hover over the amazing produce without knowing what to choose and then go and get a coffee! Hrmm, yes ask me that about Paris another time!

p.s. wasn't your local farmer's market in London Marylebone? Not unglamorous, surely!

Anonymous said...

Yes, RD's local farmer market was indeed in Marylebone, I know because I went there once, I think it was on a Sunday morning. And also loved your local market (Saturdays, right?). Such great produce, fell in love with British cheese!