Sunday, 11 March 2012

visiting paris with Mom

FINALLY getting around to putting up some pictures of my week with Mom in Paris. To give you an idea of my tiny little room, here are our beds all set up one night, taking up pretty much the entire floor space. Luckily we didn't spend much time in the room and were out in the city for long days so we didn't feel too squished! The beds stack up in the daytime to make more room. 
We started off on Sunday morning by visiting Les Puces de Saint-Ouen - a huge flea market in the north of Paris that has furniture, clothes, trinkets, fabric, trinkets, art, toys and more from every time period imaginable. It is a super inspiring place, and I wish I had a few massive apartments here to decorate with all the stuff you can find there.
 We mainly fantasized about getting one of these massive solid wood tables and shipping it back to Canada - then of course we could fill up the shipping crate with all kinds of other treasures... Next time I have a few spare thousand dollars this is where I'll be spending it.
 On Tuesday we wandered around the Marais, which is one of my favourite areas in the city. It is a beautiful historic district, and is also the Jewish centre and home to a growing gay community. Lots and lots of boutiques and cafes and restaurants to keep you busy. We started off at the lovely Place des Vosges with a morning pastry and then spent the afternoon wandering into shops. Of course we tried the shawarma and falafel at the famous L'As du Falafel. So delicious and so much food! At the end of the day we passed the skating rink outside the Hôtel de Ville and watched all the skaters.
 On Wednesday we took a long walk just outside Paris (Nogent sur Marne) through an interesting neighbourhood along a river. All the houses seemed to have very different and unique architectural styles so it was a refreshing change from the similarity of all the Haussmanian buildings of Paris. Thanks to Angie for being our navigator!
We visited the Musée Jacquemart-André another day. The museum is a well maintained home from around the turn of the 20th century that was owned by a wealthy couple with a penchant for traveling and collecting Italian art. They left their estate to the Institut de France and their art collection and home has been preserved essentially as it was left. It is fascinating to explore their house and imagine the lifestyle that they led in those rooms. It also has a pretty fabulous looking tea room.
We visited the Galeries Lafayette after that. One of the beautiful old grands magasins of Paris, Galeries Lafeyette has a stunning glass dome that is worth a visit in itself. We stopped in at Angelina's for some of the classic ancient-style hot chocolate that definitely delivered on its reputation.  Super rich and chocolatey, I think we drank about 3 pitchers of water along with it to quench our thirst. We also stopped in at the Lafayette Gourmet - the specialty food store section of the Galeries Lafayette which is stocked with all kinds of gourmet treats and French specialties. 

 We had the best croque monsieur of our lives at Le Nemrod on Monday afternoon, so one night we tried to recreate it on our own with some tasty Poilane bread. A satisfying dinner while watching "Funny Face" and relaxing. The meal was followed with a first try of Laduree's macarons. We were not creative at all and chose the identical flavours (pure dark chocolate, milk chocolate, salted butter caramel, rose). Very tasty, but in my opinion, I think Pierre Herme's take the cake.
 On Friday we visited the Sainte-Chapelle on Île de la Cité. This church has the most amazing stained glass that tells the story of the bible in panes of red, green, blue and purple (who knew those were the only colours?). Apparently they hold concerts there sometimes so I would love to find a time to attend one!
 On Saturday I introduced Mom to my local market. The produce there is so colourful and inviting it is an inspiring place to do your grocery shopping and I imagine myself making all kinds of elaborate meals. Most of the produce is also organic, and the farmers themselves are generally there selling it at the market.
Mom convinced me that we should climb up the Arc de Triomphe and it was definitely worth the visit. Even though the day was grey and dull and windy, the view over Paris was beautiful, and it was fun to watch the traffic navigating the massive roundabout below. So glad that I do not have to drive in this city!
 Later that afternoon we went up to Montmartre and shared the most delicious curry chicken sandwich from Le Grenier à Pain, which we ate by a carousel a couple blocks away. When we finished eating (about two minutes later), we immediately went back to buy some more bread because the baguette was so ridiculously tasty. And here are some of the many pictures we took by the Sacre Coeur. Total tourists.

We ended up by the Canal St. Martin in the afternoon, and watched this boat pass through the series of locks. In a nerdy way, I found this totally mesmerizing. We also discovered the best design bookstore ever (Artazart) nearby with so many enthralling photography books I could easily have spent hours in there.
Then on Sunday morning it was time to head back to the airport! The visit went by so quickly, but I was so glad that Mom could take the time and money to come for a visit. I hope she had as much fun as I did!

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