Monday, February 25, 2013


Two weeks into this trip to Paris I gave up on going to all the newly opened hyped up bars and restaurants. In part, checking out new places to go is work for me - to potentially review for HiP Paris for example. But a big part of it is that I genuinely enjoy trying new places when they open; the holy grail being that they might become a favourite I'll want to return to. Variety is the spice of life, non?

While my friends are messaging me from London asking which date I'm back so we can go to Balthazar, it doesn't really work like that in Paris! I'm becoming convinced that the new restaurant/bar openings' lifeblood here is made up of reviewers and what I'm dubiously terming foodie tourists. Many Parisians and "people who aren't Parisians but live here" alike just don't really care that much about going to new places, which leads to weird scenarios where you end up taking them to places they hadn't heard of. It also means that if you do go, you might discover a great place not particularly full of people speaking English, plus the owner's friends, or just a great place that lacks atmosphere or a sense that something is *happening*. So while I'm not quite at the stage of being content to rock up to the most convenient corner brasserie for a croque monsieur (I tried) I really had to calm it down a bit in terms of what I expect to happen on a night out.


Out of all the places I've been that were newly opened, the one place that stands out and that I'd happily visit again - and again - is Bones. The most talented young chef in Paris (I'm trying to avoid typing hottest, well, because...) opens own restaurant in the 11th, food bloggers get all in a lather, all I hear before I come to Paris is Bones, Bones, Bones. I managed to get a table for the early seating by booking three weeks in advance. Bones. I was expecting all hype and no substance to be honest. The description of it being punk that I kept hearing didn't help. I was a bit worried that the friend I was taking would hate it and we'd be served something really unappetising, but worse that we'd be uncomfortable and unconvinced. The way it was described in some reviews you'd think they had fluorescent strip lighting, chainsaws for chairs and the meal would consist of them throwing pork scratchings at you from the kitchen.

So I was relieved when we turned up at this lovely, slightly industrial, sensitively renovated stripped back room, with a big bar area at the front featuring a suckling pig resting on the bar; no more than ten tables with comfortable chairs or banquettes and an open kitchen at the back. The staff was friendly and relaxed, the music was GREAT, natural wines were offered, discussed and ordered, we both noticed that the bread was really nice, the butter was delicious. Hmm, nice stoneware plates. Then we got into the prix fixe menu of the day, which at €40 is pretty amazing value. There were five courses on the menu, including cheese and dessert, but I'm sure we were given at least three other dishes in between the courses. Everything we ate was good. Everything was balanced, had care taken over it - whether it was on the menu or not. That is some sophisticated freestyle cooking if that was all based on what they felt like doing that day. Saint-Jacques with pear, smoked? octopus, duck heart, boudin noir - a lazy person like me could say the food was a bit like St. John crossed with 40 Maltby Street in London. By about 9pm the bar area was heaving and I felt that elusive *something's happening* vibe, which is so important in creating an atmosphere that makes you want to return.

Good food, good wine, comfortable surroundings, good music, good atmosphere - if that's considered punk, I'm into it.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


New post up on my Harper's Bazaar blog - here.

{p.s. I DO know that foux de fa fa isn't actually French!}

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


If you haven't already seen it, here's a link to my latest post for HiP Paris - I Know I'm in Paris When...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


My second Paris post for Harper's Bazaar is up now - here - on a classically left bank first few days. The next day it all changed! 

There are bits of my gathered words and pictures of Paris distributed across different corners of the internet at the moment. Hopefully all the bits will end up in the right places and won't overlap! But for anything that has to do with places you might want to check out if you're visiting Paris, my Instagram (it's private, just ask!) is the best place to look - because I'm going everywhere! I 'gram it for my own memory's sake as much as anything, but it's currently turning into a bit of a Paris guide.

Last night saw the launch of Brooklyn Brewery at Le Mary Celeste, the night before its official opening - the pre-launch of the launch if you like. I was so keen to go to this new bar from the owners of Candelaria and Glass that I insisted on going before it actually opened. It was packed, there was free beer and we stayed all of five minutes. I must remember not to be so keen - Paris nightlife is way more sleepy than London and I realise I'm the only person in Paris going, "I wanna check it out! Now! We have to go! Immediately!"

The other place that had been on my list forever that I finally got to check off yesterday was the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature - which was equal parts beautiful and horrifying. Taxidermy in the extreme, guns, a stuffed polar bear, a cabinet with a ceiling covered in owl heads, the smell of decaying fur - I couldn't deal with it and all I kept thinking was, "Stop the killing!" By the time I got to the stuffed leopards and lions I was having an existential crisis and although I took a lot of photos there, I now don't want to post them here or anywhere. Just stop the killing.

On a lighter note! I checked out The Broken Arm as well yesterday. It's a huge, beautiful, airy space in an amazing location right behind Square du Temple, that opened last week. There's a cafe which is sparely designed, but with plants and baby pink and blue touches. I ate a delicious slice of blueberry cheesecake there. Next door is a shop / gallery space with books, objects, Aurelie Bidermann jewellery and clothes: Carven, Kenzo and Jacquemus are a few of the brands stocked. And I believe the owners are 100% French - I think! - and are part of the Des Jeunes Gens Modernes collective. But hmm, I think I see the touch of some lovely non French people I know in the design! It's actually hard to find cool places in Paris (especially if coffee is involved) that don't have an international influence in their ownership, believe it or not. I'm on the hunt for them! Will report back.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Is the name of my new blog for Harper's Bazaar, direct from Paris.

And here is the first post!

Of course, you know who that quote is from.

Saturday, February 09, 2013


The other day I realised that I have time. I have time to go to all the restaurants, all the bars, all the cafes; to go to all the old favourite places and check out all the new exciting places. I don't have to go to them all right NOW. I suppose I'm used to racing round in London a mile a minute, hopping from one thing to the next.

So that afternoon I mooched around the sedate 5th arrondissement, instead of immediately jumping on a bus or metro. I went to Sadaharu Aoki and bought a matcha eclair, then wandered down to the tearoom at the Mosque, where flocks of tiny little birds flutter round your head (and the occasional MASSIVE PIGEON muscles in). There are so many heaters there that it's positively balmy, even if it's freezing cold outside. They just bring you tea, you don't even have to decide or ask for it, which I like. After a glass of tea at the Mosque I wandered around the Jardin des Plantes, then took refuge in the warmth of the greenhouse.

I was going to cross the river and walk up to Bastille to look in the Sessun shop, then perhaps have a drink at Septime Cave. But it's the derniere demarque - final markdowns in the sale, or in other words, the dregs. The sales finish on Tuesday, then all the new stuff will be in the shops. That's the time to go. So I wandered back through the gardens, went back up, up, up the winding stairs to my little home for the month and ate my matcha eclair. Sounds boring right? Haha, maybe, but it was somehow a very memorable day.

 I did go out that night though - obviously.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


I've been in Paris almost a week now and I'm still not quite settled. Here in body - the rest is all over the place. I wasn't well when I arrived and needed to find a doctor, which I was only able to do eventually with the help of friends. (Thank you!) So that was a bit scary. I was always able to navigate anything in Paris before, even without speaking decent French. I suddenly felt very foreign.

Like some kind of euro homing pigeon I keep accidentally going into places that turn out to be Italian, like this sweet cafe/bookshop in rue Charlot, Marcovaldo. I actually said "thank you, grazie, uh, merci" when the girl brought my coffee over. Confusion.

I've got a whole load of restaurants bookmarked, but as is always the case - the places that you read about from afar getting raved about on food blogs, don't always turn out to be the best places to go when you get on the ground. The couple of times I've tried to eat at restaurants I had bookmarked that weren't recommended to me personally, I've had really bad experiences. CAFE DES MUSEES I'M LOOKING AT YOU. I'm hoping to keep the bad restaurant experiences neatly to just this week, so that I can then enjoy the rest of them thereafter.

But I HAVE had some very fun times already, and you'll hear about those soon.

Backtracking slightly, here's what's going on in London this February, for HiP Paris.

Sunday, February 03, 2013


I've been out and about - the usual and not so usual. Finding my way around / to and from an unfamiliar neighbourhood, getting settled, seeing friends, lunches, dinners, walks, mooching in the 3rd and 10th - forever faves. Writing, thinking, no time for shopping yet.

Here's my room with a view. For the time being more timely updates can probably be found via my Instagram if you're on it and request to follow me. I'll be posting elsewhere while I'm in Paris too, so watch out for my imminent dispatches - I'll post the links here as and when of course.