As the weather cools down and the holidays get closer, I always look for recipes to make that will keep me warm and that are also festive. Two of my favorite things to make this time of year are vin chaud (hot or mulled wine) and bonhommes de pain d’épices (gingerbread).
When I think of either of these, I immediately think of my boyfriend’s family who comes from the Alsace-Lorraine region of France. Both of these treats are traditionally served in this area around the holidays. Go to the Christmas markets in Strasbourg, and you will be surrounded by people selling pain d’épices in all different shapes and sizes and stands offering hot wine by the cup from their huge kettles. The first time I had vin chaud, in fact, was homemade in my boyfriend’s mother’s kitchen. Now, both of these have become a part of my holiday repertoire (thanks to the recipes shared with me by my boyfriend’s mother).
In search of a romantic night out, we popped into the relatively recently opened Sherry Butt in the early hours of the evening for a nice cocktail and some munchies.
It looks like a spot straight out of Brooklyn. The atmosphere is a perfect marriage between the uber-crowded and fashionable cocktail bars of Saint-Germain and the underground hipster hangouts of the Bastille. The industrial feel of the bar stools and cinderblock walls is juxtaposed with comfortable velvet couches and lounge chairs and low mood lighting. Hip but not so hip that it comes off as pretentious.
Cathleen and Amaury, the minds behind Sherry Butt are both graduates of the ECC group, having perfected their cocktail skills at Curio Parlor and Prescription Cocktail Club. With this kind of background, it is no surprise that the cocktails here are excellent. Continue reading
If you are looking for that perfect, unique piece of clothing to add to your wardrobe, vintage shopping is always the way to go. I really enjoy searching through the racks of clothes for the one vintage dress or shirt that fits perfectly and is exactly my style. Paris is chock full of vintage shops and as a city known for its fashion sense, you can be sure to find stylish pieces that fit any budget. Here are a few of our favorite vintage places across the city.
8 rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004
61 rue de la Verrerie, 75004
20 rue du Rivoli, 75004
If the idea of sorting through packed clothes racks and digging through bins to find that perfect vintage piece sounds like fun, then Free”P”Star is a must-visit. With 3 different locations around the Marais stuffed full of clothes and accessories all at low prices, it is hard to walk away empty handed. All three shops offer men and women’s clothes, though the shop on rue de la Verrerie has by far the widest selection of both. Though a lot of their stock is hung on racks around the stores, all priced under 30 euros, the highlight is definitely the bins of clothes priced at 1 euro a piece located towards the back of each store. Be prepared to fight your way through the crowds between the clothes racks to find that perfect piece.
Paris is getting colder and the temperatures will only drop in the next few weeks. We all know that no one moves to Paris for the weather, so here are some of our favorite warm and cosy tea, coffee and goodie spots to keep your spirits high, and your fingers warm.
La Loire dans la Theiere
3 Rue des Rosiers, 75004
Open Monday – Friday from 10am – 7:30pm; Saturday & Sunday from 9:30am – 7:30pm
01 42 72 90 61
Named after the dormouse who gets dunked in the teapot at the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice in Wonderland, this classic cafe and salon du the is a Marais staple. A great place for a casual lunch with friends (their quiches are delicious) or spend an afternoon with a pot of tea and their to-die-for citron meringue tarte with meringue that reaches sky-high! Continue reading
One of my favorite things to do in Paris on the weekends is to pick a neighborhood and go on a long walk. Even if it is a neighborhood that I have spent a lot of time in, I always end up noticing things that I never have before, such as cute little shops and restaurants that are tucked away from the busy thoroughfares. A couple of weekends ago I was taking this kind of walk through the Marais and happened upon an adorable cantine, Plan B.
Plan B is a cozy little neighborhood spot, perfect for getting a bite to eat as you shop around the Marais. Chef Claudia, who has previously worked at Candelaria, opened the restaurant in July of this year. Although she has since left the shop to pursue other projects, this hip lunch spot has retained her touches and menus.
One of the best things about living in Paris is taking vacation like a true Parisian. This past Toussaint, the Savoir Faire Paris team took our Frenchmen and the puppy, piled into the car and headed southwest to the Vallée de la Loire for a week of countryside exploring.
The chateau of Chambord
Located only three hours from Paris, the Loire Valley, as it is called in English, is comprised of about 800 kilometers of historic towns, vineyards, and over 300 châteaux, all spanning along the middle stretch of the Loire River. Its rolling green hills, quaint villages, beautiful architecture and its proximity to Paris make for a perfect getaway from daily Parisian life.
We rented a house in the western part of the region, not far from the city of Angers. We spent our days exploring the sights of the Vallée de la Loire and our evenings curled up by the fire in our cozy house. The temperatures are usually a little milder than in Paris and we had four days of beautiful blue skies and sunshine before the rain kicked in towards the end of the week.
The cathedrals of Tours (left) and Bourges (right)
The region is packed full of sights. We visited the picturesque châteaux of Villandry and Chambord as well as the smaller Château d’Angers. Instead of tasting the light crisp wines of the region, we toured the caves of Bouvet-Ladubay in Saumur to taste their famous sparkling red wine. We also visited the spectacular Cathedral Saint-Etienne in the quaint town of Bourges.
What are your favorite sights in the Loire? I am sure we will return soon to explore more!
Gardens at the chateau Villandry
From the fresh pastries at the bouglangerie to a nice warm meal at a trendy bistro, Paris is not lacking in good food. In fact, French cuisine is so important that it is protected by UNESCO. But sometimes expats, and even some French, get tired of French food and start craving things from other countries. My friends and I stock up on our favorite American treats every time we go back to the States; for me it is peanut butter and oatmeal. But as more and more anglophones come to Paris, speciality anglo food stores have been popping up all over the city. Here are some of our favorite places to stock up on anglophone products for snacking or for your Thanksgiving and holiday meals.
20 Rue Saint-Paul 75004
For most Americans, this is the go-to shop for all the things to cure their homesickness. They have everything from sugary American cereals and M&M flavors I didn’t know existed, to Betty Crocker cake mixes and pumpkin pie necessities. In the back of the shop, they have a small baking section complete with measuring cups and all the materials you need to roast your Thanksgiving turkey. The store is famous for its “American-style” turkeys (heavy on white meat) that it sells every year. Stop by the store a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving to pre-order one and pick up your authentic side dishes.
Le Marais is one of those areas in Paris that you will just never be able to get enough of. I love it because of its complicated and juxtaposing history where it started out as a marshland that was then built up to house the aristocracy around Place des Vosges and then it morphed into the Jewish neighborhood in Paris and then, all of a sudden in the 1970s it was the center of homosexuality.
Today, as I walk down the old cobblestone streets, all of these contrasting histories pop out at me with the old synagogue on Rue Pavée and the rainbow flags on Rue de la Saint Croix de la Brettonerie, the elegant and royal architecture of Place des Vosges and now all of the trendy boutiques and restaurants that make Le Marais what it is today.
Rue des Rosiers, Place des Vosges and the menu at Clasico Argentino (photos by SLW)
The area is packed to the gills with exciting doors to pop into, however, below I am sharing a selection of my personal Marais favorites: