The romantic idea of living in Paris was born when we were travelling, and it lived up to expectation. Walks in the early morning for baguettes and pain au chocolates, rosé in the park, and des petit cafés became de rigueur. At times our stumbling french seemed almost passable, the shopkeepers near our apartment would wave hello, and we started to feel almost, like locals. Riding a bike in heels with a scarf wrapped jauntily around your neck will make you feel French, but being north american is a hard thing to shake. Our lust to consume was endemic; be it wine, cheese, or shopping. We just couldn’t seem to control ourselves! How do the french do it? It still baffles the mind to have so much restraint in a country with so many patisseries!
Although I can recommend half a dozen restaurants in Paris, most of the time we’ve cooked at home. We’ve been living near rue de Bac, befriending all the important people (the butcher “Mes cousin Canadien!!”, the cheese lady, the green grocer, and the wine man).
Pan seared frois gras is easy to make, and rabbits are better left as pets (the bones!!)
Butter from the fromagerie, Barthélemy. 51 Rue de Grenelle, 75007
No School for the kids!?
There’s lots of Paris the kids have enjoyed, but having them out of school has been a challenge. Why was it so much easier the last time we traveled? Is it their ages (9,7,6)? At times they became somewhat un-enchanted with Paris. Although an amusement park is always a huge hit, “Not another museum!!” can be heard in unison more often then not when an outing is suggested. Who knows why they loved the Louvre (the blood and gore?), and weren’t enamoured with Dorsay.Kate with Van Gogh at the Dorsay.
A guy sleeping? No, Ash and an art instilation at the Pompidou. The Pompidou is one of our favourites museums, often has a kids exhibit, and has a cafe with one of the best views in the city (The desserts are worth the trip to the Philip Stark designed cafe alone).
Ash and Kate on “mom’s favourite ride” at Park d’Acclimation. The park is a french wonder where kids can take french cooking lessons, learn some japanese calligraphy, eat “barbapapa” (cotton candy) and go on carnival rides. Only in France!
Everything is closed on Sunday?!??? What will we do? It turns out that forced relaxing is actually a great French invention. Entertain friends at home with all the goodies we got from the market, or gather up the kids, pack a picnic, and head to one of the parks around town. We’ve visited almost all of them. Some are surprisingly relaxed where you can spread your blanket and play sports (Champ de Mars and Mont Souris). At others, like the Jardin Luxembourg, don’t be surprised if the grass police show up if you have dared to set foot on the luscious carpet of green (“C’est INTERDIT!!!).
Park Mont Souris.
I’ve felt seventeen again! For the last few weeks I’ve been taking art classes at the Parson’s school of Art. Most of the class was made up of kids from around the world. They were closer in age to Gwen then me, but hanging out with seventeen year olds was great. Drawing, painting, art history, and art critism and I got an A-
What we had understood as some ‘light exterior construction’ on the exterior of our building turned into a major renovation. The downside: guys in every window and serious banging, the upside: a huge deck that surrounded our building for sunset.
Restaurants:If you want great food in Paris you need to make a little effort. Here are two websites that are a must when finding a good restaurant:
http://www.lefooding.com (in French with a smattering of english)
For a good all-around website on what’s hot in Paris, check out:
Jardin Luxembourg has a great playground for 3-12 year old (open everyday in the summer until 7pm, weekends and wednesdays only in the winter). If they get tired of that, rent a little sailboat in the pond, take a pony ride, or watch the marionettes.
Jardin Tuileries: good playground for the 6-8year olds, it also has trampolines 2euros for five minutes.
Best Parks for spreading a blanket and playing ball:
When you just need to escape the cement, try these parks to feel a little green under your toes: Champ de Mars (the grass under the Eiffel tower) , Mont souris, or Parc Monceau (although no balls allowed).
Parc D’Acclimation It almost seems impossible to get around a corner in Paris without running into a merry-go-round, but this park has it all with children’s ateliers for cooking classes, swings, flying fox, grass, water park and good mini amusement park.
Wading through crowds can be exhausting, so plan ahead and go early or late to the big monuements. Here are a few other museums that are crowd avoiders:
Musee des arts et Metier a museum that highlights the history of man made machines, from telescopes, to televisions, airplanes and moon rovers housed in a beautiful old church. a favourite of everyones and no crowds!
Pompidou:the famous blue inside out building with cool escalator and a great collection of contemporary art. Don’t forget to stop for dessert at the rooftop cafe designed by Philip Stark and with one of the best views of Paris.
Palais Tokyo has contemporary art and a cool spot for lunch at their new restaurant.
Museum National D’Histoire is housed on the beautiful green oasis in Jardin des Plantes *Much of the museum is in french,but is stunning, and the children’s area is bilingual. The park also has a small zoo.
The Rodin Museum, Paris. Rodin’s former house is situated in a lovely garden right in the middle of Paris. Bring your baguette and wine and enjoy the peaceful green picnic.
Almost every trendy store is on both sides of the seine (in the six arridisment or the Marais), but if you only have a few hours to hit the stores, you can’t go wrong with the Bon Marche for the cool kids stuff.
It also has an amazing food floor (that rival’s only Harrods in London) and perfect to pick up a few items for you picnic at the Jardin Luxembourg
*Final important note for shopping. A country wide sale (“Les Soldes) happens twice a year in late June or mid January where EVERYTHING is on sale up to 50% off (its a countrywide liquidation!!) and almost worth a trip on its own to Paris.
Marche Volant: in every arrondissement, merchants and farmers descend on the city with an abundance of the freshest produce, cheeses, and meats.
Two favourite morning food markets:
Marché Bastille Located on Boulevard Richard Lenoir, between Rue Amelot and Rue St-Sabin.Open Thursday from 7:00 am to 2:30 pm and Sunday from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. Metro: Bastille
Place Jean Lorrain
Open Wednesday from 7:00 am to 2:30 pm and Saturday from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm
Marches des Puces: If you are on the hunt for a leopard coat, 1940’s gymanstic equipment, french copper pots, or antique silverware this group of markets is a thrifshoppers dream.
Our favourite: Marche des serpette for 1940-80’s retro furniture and Marche St. Ouen for odds and ends, obscure antique maps, and beautiful silver cutlery.