Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Scene from a movie, bis

Maybe this beautiful weather we've been having is the reason for the movies currently being shot in town because on my way to check out a brocante, I ran into another scene being shot!  As always, curiosity won out and I stopped to look. This time though, I didn't recognize the two actors.  And unlike the last time, there wasn't anybody forthcoming enough to share any information.

Still and all, I managed to sneak in a few shots..

the male actor looking pensively into the background...

They were filming what seemed to be a heated discussion between the two with the girl storming off afterwards

I didn't recognize her either but she's extremely thin, the way most actresses are

Anybody know who they are?

As for the brocante, it was unfortunately not as interesting as others I've been to.  Fortunately there was another one much more interesting that I will tell you about in another post! Stay tuned!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter and its chocolates

I'm sure its not too late to wish everyone a Happy Easter! 

All over the city the chocolate shops went all out with their window displays to celebrate this most wonderful of feast days.  Here are a few that caught my attention...

Chocolat noir et blanc

Chocolat au lait

Don't you just love the detail on this window?

An orange bunny 

Even Tintin got involved

Don't they just make you feel like splurging on one of these treats?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Scene from a movie

 We were going to the BHV (Bazar de Hotel de Ville), a rather big all around department store to return some nails I'd bought (which were the wrong size!) when we were stopped by a young man with a serious mien (and headphones). I thought he was going to ask for directions, but no, we were asked to stop because they were about the film a scene on the street we were at.  It was then that I noticed the big cameras, lights and cables that littered the street.

This piqued my curiosity so I did what I was asked, all the while craning my neck to catch a glimpse of the scene. As far as I could tell, the action was taking place inside a pharmacie. Hmm...and since the first guy I asked was rather cagey about who was there, I crossed the street (the better to check out what was going on) and asked another person. This time, he was more forthcoming and he said they were shooting a film called Paris-Manhattan which was going to hit the theaters in Dec.

 I didn't actually expect to see anyone famous, but just as we were about to leave, the actors came out of the pharmacie. So the scene extended outside onto the street and I saw Patrick Bruel. He's a rather popular actor-singer, (at least with the girls), who projects an easy going charm in his appearances. Unfortunately my camera didn't quite capture his visage and all I got was this shot of him on his bike, as moves away from the pharmacie!

This is what he actually looks like....
Photo courtesy of
Its funny what one encounters while running the most banal of errands. I wonder when I'm going to see Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Maybe while buying bread?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

To the market we go

Before moving to Paris, I wasn't much into food markets or cooking for that matter. I'm quite happy to eat and to eat well  at that, but the whole process of coming up with the plate on the table, is one that I was quite happy to skip.   Having your own hearth and home changes everything though.  Cooking is still a chore for me but it helps a lot that its quite easy to find fresh produce with which to make our family meals.  Today, I discovered the Marche de Place d'Aligre. It is one of the biggest of Paris' markets and consists of the open air market with its numerous stands selling fruits and vegetables and the covered portion.  Its one of the biggest markets in Paris and one of the few remaining ones with a covered area still in use as a market.

The name by which it is known now is a bit misleading as the actual name of the marche is Marche Couvert Beauvau. Aligre was the name of a benefactor of an old hospital which became the site of a square called Square Trousseau. This part of the 12th arrondissement is renowned for its tradition of artisanal furniture thanks to all the ateliers that could once be found here in the area. There are still a number of them to be found in the little side streets that branch off from the big avenue. 

The Marche itself is a huge affair with produce coming from everywhere. Asian and African fruits and vegetables are well represented here.  It is also significantly cheaper than other markets and the stands vie with each other for the customers. It makes for a loud but friendly cacophony and locals rub shoulders with the increasing number of tourists who come to experience a Parisian market. 

I was a bit overwhelmed by all the vegetables and fruits so lavishly displayed. There is even a stand of organically grown vegetables and fruits.  I wonder where they got their pineapples. This stand was easily one of the busiest in the market.

 Loads and loads of deliciously succulent and plump strawberries called gariguettes.  They are in season right now and are served everywhere as the dessert du jour.

All around the market, there are a number of nice little restaurants which have all set out their tables and chairs outside, the better to take advantage of this unseasonable sunshine and warmth.

Even La Gazetta, a cool restaurant with a Swedish chef and Nordic inspired cuisine, have set up their own terrace.

A wonderful area worth many repeated visits. Never has going to the market been more fun!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Merienda time

A friend needed a bit of a break from work and I didn't need much prompting to go with her.  In my book, any reason is a good reason for a merienda or gouter break.  We headed off towards the Marais, as is our wont but this time, our destination wasn't the usual cafe or tea place I'd gotten accustomed to. Instead, we headed towards the Swedish cultural center.  The center is housed in a lovely hotel particulier called Hotel de Marle which was built towards the end of the 15h century. The center has been in residence since 1971.

Its a lovely place with a big courtyard where they'd cleverly set up chairs and tables for their cafe.  Normally its packed but as the day proved to be fresh with a brisk wind, only two people were brave enough to sit outside. More prudent souls like ourselves headed inside where we were welcomed by the aroma of freshly baked bread and cakes.  The atmosphere is casually friendly and convivial with paper lanterns providing much of the light. Folks line up and point to their cake of choice and then grab one of the tables. 
Of course, I went for a cup of hot chocolate and a slice of cake. The chocolate was served steaming hot with a more than generous dollop of chantilly cream. Delicious...

 But the real stars of the cafe, as far as I'm concerned are their wonderful cakes. They are freshly baked everyday on site and flavors depend on the season. Their best seller is their carrot cake and unfortunately somebody had grabbed the last slice so I had to go with another choice. Luckily, their banana chocolate cake more than made up for missing the carrot cake. It was just yummy. It hit just the right balance between the chocolate and banana and there was a flavorful explosion in the mouth.  This, I thought to myself, as I devoured my cake, was what we're talking about when we say merienda time!

A shot of their cakes, the empty plate was the carrot one

Monday, April 11, 2011

Happy Monday

I've been wanting a little flower pot for the longest time but have not gotten around to it till now. Actually it was an unexpected little present which makes this little beauty even more special. Now I don't actually know if I've got a green thumb, my gardening experience being pretty much limited to viewing gardens but I'm so happy to give it a try!

I love hortensias. They've got cheerful little faces and I adore the two tone color pink color on mine. I decided to put mine right outside our dining room window sill.  The pink splash against the iron grill and the trees outside makes for a cheerful view. And its crazy how from one minute to the other, all the trees on our street have decided to suddenly bud in full force. Ah spring!

Here's to a lovely week everyone!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Man Booker International Prize

Once upon a time, I devoured books like there was no tomorrow. I literally went everywhere with one in my bag.  Now with the many demands on my time, I hardly have any time to read. And it pains me that there aren't enough hours in the day for me to squeeze an hour or two for this favorite activity of mine.  Maybe if I slept less, I'd find that elusive hour.  

I'm so out of the literary loop that it came as a complete surprise to me to hear that the long list for the Man Booker International Prize had already been announced. A quick check on their website reveals the thirteen authors, or should I say, twelve because John Le Carre has withdrawn himself from the list.

The Man Booker International Prize is separate and distinct from the Man Booker Prize because the former recognizes the writer's entire body of work and is awarded to the author who has most contributed to fiction in the world stage. Its a pretty big deal. Looking over this list, there is certainly no shortage of heavyweights and there are several who've already won the Booker Prize.

I think I'm going to bet my money on Philip Pullman. Simply because I loved the Dark Materials Trilogy. That ought to silence all critics who say fantasy and speculative fiction are secondary genres in fiction!

Who's your pick among the thirteen?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Making up for last week's rain

After we finished our walk along the Coulee Verte, we found ourselves in the 12th arrondissement.  The heart of this largely residential arrondissement is arguable the Place Felix Eboue with its magnificent fountain of lions. The two major streets of the 12th criss-cross here and becomes a busy hub for the residents when they gather for the twice weekly market. The market features a dizzying array of vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry and seafood. There are even several cheese stands to choose from.  It is reputed to be the longest and oldest marche in Paris.

That weekend though, the space was turned over to a huge brocante of over 250 stands.  And unlike last week, it was a beautiful day so everyone was in a great mood, perusing the different wares.  I wasn't really expecting to find anything as the sellers were mostly professional ones selling major items like furniture and silverware.

So I meandered about taking a few pictures here and there...notably this man's collection of apothecary jars

This stand's beautiful chimney cover... when I spotted it, I had a pang of regret that our chimney has been bricked over ....
 It wasn't till almost at the very end that I spotted something that made me gasp in surprise. Well, it was more like a squeak of surprise since it was totally unexpected. Do you remember the stand from last week's brocante selling the old mini lamps? Well, there he was with his crates of lamps! Unfortunately his wares were significantly diminished but I did manage to find a pretty one.  Just take a look? Isn't this just adorable? I love how the fact that its all glass reduces the kitsch factor. Now if I just have to find oil and we're good to go. That and make sure our house is insured!

The lamp alone made my day and I was happy to go home but I had one more unexpected find and its this pretty crocheted collar necklace sewn with glass beads. Its so pretty and I can perfectly imagine it sprucing up my basic shirts.

Here it is hanging from my vintage frame

A close up shot of my lovely collar
 Needless to say, I went home happy and pleased as Punch!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A secret

Today, I'm going to let you in one of the city's best kept secrets....

Come along, I promise you won't be disappointed.
It begins right above where the Viaduc des Arts begin

I want to take you to La Coulee Verte, this magical strip of planted area built high on top of an ancient railway track.  Where the Opera Bastille now stands used to be the end of the line that ran until 1969. Its here that you will appreciate the city planners genius because instead of completely destroying the line, they took off the tracks and created a pathway planted with the most gorgeous chestnut trees, cherry blossoms, fragrant roses, bamboo and other flowers whose names I wish I knew.  In addition, they created little pockets where one can sit on a bench and take deep lungfuls of air that suddenly feel cleaner just because we're higher up.

Its not very long, only 4.5 kilometers long but once up there, you have a feeling of being outside the city.  Paris with all its noise and stress suddenly seems very far away. Here on the Coulee Verte, you can stroll and linger and not have to scurry to and fro as is our wont during our every day lives. Or you can sit quietly immersed in a good book as the sun warms your face.

I love cherry blossoms and here they are in their full glory...

 A peaceful little pond albeit missing a few fishes

Its funny to be this high above the street...

Ah, it ends in a pretty little park complete with a foot bridge.  Time to lie in the grass and catch a few winks...