Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Looking through

I walk by this courtyard and wonder at what's inside. 
All walled in, it looks prim and proper but 
I'm certain there are tales for waiting ears.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Watch out the grass is sleeping

 You'd never guess it, but this man here is the rabid gardian (watchman) of the Place des Vosges.  Let me tell you why. There is a funny rule here that the grass that grows in the park needs to rest. Yes,  rest.  The Place des Vosges has different patches of grassy areas where theoretically people could spread a blanket and soak up the sun. Every so often though, they'll close off one patch so that the grass could rest and grow. Most people are really good at following this rule. And when they get stubborn, the gardian is there to make sure they leave the grass alone! I didn't really believe this till I saw him in action.

A few minutes before taking this picture below, tons of people were literally sprawled on this patch. But, the gardian arrived and chased everybody off with his whistle. Pretty impressive feat huh? Unfortunately I wasn't fast enough to take a picture of him in action and in hindsight, maybe its better I didn't, because I don't want to get kicked off the park!

Luckily for us, there were other patches of grass where we could sit or lie down.  And on such a beautiful day, it would be criminal not to linger and enjoy as much as we can.

There were even two ducks enjoying the cool waters of this fountain. Isn't that sweet?

Here they are enjoying some sun on their backs.

Rabid gardian aside, I love this place. Its probably one of the prettiest squares, I've seen in the city.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Its never too early for a treat

Remember Meert? A patisserie shop I discovered earlier on in the year? I love love love their vanilla gaufre cookies but hard as it is to believe, I wasn't completely convinced by their chocolates. Well, I just found out that on weekends, they have a small selection of freshly baked mini-cakes, including a mini-chocolate one that's apparently, too die for.  So in the name of research (its hard, but someone's got to do it right?!), I took myself there to buy one or two.  

They were delicious! Its actually resembles a teacake in consistency and there are little chocolate bits hidden within the cake. Its not too sweet yet not too bitter.  Its just right and perfect with tea or coffee.  I can see why these little cakes sell out fast.  The good thing about them too is that you can store them in the freezer and they keep really well. A sweet treat saved for another day is always a good one in my book!

Of course while I was there, I couldn't resist taking home another teacake.  This time, it was their version of glazed orange tea cake.  Little confession: I'm actually allergic to oranges but cannot for the life of me resist orange cakes.  So when I saw that Meert had one, I just had to try that too.

I'm happy to report that its absolutely fantastic. One can really taste the fresh oranges used while the body of the cake was all moist and soft. And did I mention that its glazed too? Absolutely yummy! Unlike the chocolate ones however, the orange cake doesn't keep well. It has to be consumed right away. I think that's not going to be a problem for me.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Salon du Vintage

check out that fur coat!

Friends, I can definitely tell you that vintage is here to stay. This weekend was the spring edition of the bi-annual Salon du Vintage in Paris and it was jampacked with literally thousands of vintageophiles.  Ten minutes after taking these pictures, it got to be too crowded for me to take another photo.  I seriously do not know how that happened. I suppose I should count myself lucky to have even been able to take them!

Population wise, there was a wide spectrum of people walking around. Lots of vintage loving girls, obviously, dressed to the nines with retro and vintage finds. But there were also lots of regularly dressed folks, middle aged couples and families complete with poor sweating children in their strollers.  I think most people had an eye out for clothes.  Everywhere I turned people were eyeing clothes or trying them on. Nothing would deter them from going through the racks and racks of clothes. It was amazing to see.

But while the majority of stands featured clothes and accessories, there were also stands that carried retro furniture --lighting fixtures, tables and kitchenware and
60s-70s era chairs  were for some reason, the prominent features of 2 stands. Here
and here.

All told, still an interesting experience but I think for the next one, I'm going to go either really early or just before they close! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

H & M and Marni

 I had a few hours free this morning and what did I decide to do? I decided to queue, along with what seemed like hundreds of like minded individuals, over at H and M to await the unveiling of their collaboration with Marni. As far as queues go, it wasn't too bad. I was in line outside the store for about an hour and to prevent general chaos from descending, we were let in by groups of 35.  Once inside we were given 10 minutes inside the designated Marni zone to choose and we were limited to 5 articles.  I realize how crazy this sounds but as I had made it to that point, it seemed even crazier to just up and leave.  I suppose its organized this way so as not to have general chaos but once inside the zone, it was a free for all. People grabbing stuff off the racks, with some becoming really aggressive.

I wanted to take more photos inside but only managed to snap one whilst holding on to my Marni of choice.
Once the ten alloted ten minutes was up, we were literally herded out of the zone to make room for the next set of people. Whew!

Whoever started this trend of designer collaborations with high street brands particularly H&M has to be patting himself in the back now.  Its such a genius idea really. It makes certain designer brands more accessible  while upping the cachet of high street. The thing I realized once I had left the zone and could observe the people to my heart's content is how varied the people inside were. You literally had all sorts of women--young fashionistas, old to be my mother types,  working women  and social wise- I think they came from all strata.  There were a number of women there who looked like they could clearly afford the "real"Marni but had nonetheless been in line and had grabbed stuff for themselves. One woman even did the queue twice!!  Is it because they're Marni fans and as such, will buy at any price? Are they looking for a deal?

I remember last December when Marks and Spencer re-opened people queued 3 hours to get in!  I remember thinking, what a crazy thing to do. And I found myself this morning, a fine one too, after days of rain, standing outside H&M. What makes any of us, otherwise sane and reasonable people, queue outside a store, for clothes? This isn't the first time, nor I think will it be the last.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this one..

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A sweet taste of Algeria

From the outside, this cafe doesn't stand out from all the other cafes that line the streets of Paris. But the  cold as well as the wonderfully steaming cups of mint tea being drank with gusto by the cafe's regulars convinced me to step inside. 
And what a wonderful surprise it was inside! You are greeted with the delicious aroma of sugary  pastries and mint tea. Tesnime  is an algerian patisserie and tea salon.  They serve a wide variety of Algerian sweets, each one more mouthwatering than the other.  I couldn't help but take pictures even before choosing which tasty morsel to try first.

Here are pastries based on pistachios and almonds..
Algerian version of the baklava with the honey still melting off the pastries

Chocolatey desserts with different nuts..

It was extremely hard to choose which ones to bring home.  And I've forgotten what they're called, those that did come home with me. But what I remember well is the taste.  They are redolent with the taste of honey and spices and they are hearty too with none of the fluffiness of French pastries.  Washed down with a steaming cup of mint tea, this afternoon's gouter  made me think of warm exotic lands.