Sunday, 22 November 2015

ode to paris

Ode to Paris - three little words & other than that I've been unable to write anything else. No words come to mind or too many words. Some cliches - & Paris has many - seem, well, cliche while some of seem suddenly make sense to me & extend beyond their usual meaning. Paris will always be Paris is one of them. Because in the midst of all the shock, horror & sadness the city has been going through these past days, Paris is still as beautiful as ever & maybe even more so. It's not going to break or fall. Will it change? Probably. Things seem to have changed already, the pace is different, slower, the solidarity is stronger, the need for solidarity even stronger than the solidarity itself, there's eye contact & there's fear, no matter how hard everybody tries to not let this rule our lives. 

We've been through these changes already in January when we last had terrorist attacks. And I know already that it's not going to last. It can't. People have to move on & normality is the best way to do so. Right now we're lingering somewhere in between grasping for some sort of normal to come back while we can't yet let go of what has happened and I don't think we should. At least not yet. I don't want to forget the many victims whose lives were so brutally taken away from them. And the thought of them seeing inhumanity & senselessness as the very last things before closing their eyes fills me with sadness.

The fear is more present this time than it was in January, far more present, in all of our minds I think. This will happen again and not only in Paris. Its happening already again and again all over the world & we seem so unprepared & unarmed to tackle it. I don't have any of the answers to how we can fight terrorism. I can't even seem to find anybody who has. So while I somehow wait for what will happen next & try to go on with my life & reassure my children, I walk through the streets of Paris to remind myself that it's still here & despite the fear, there's beauty around every corner. These pictures were taken on one of these recent strolls.

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Saturday, 7 November 2015

cuillier coffee house

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Coffee revolution continues in Paris. As I already said in another blog post, luckily the French also know how to make a non-bloody revolution, in fact a rather tasty one which is a nice change not to mention the fact that this city really needed cosy places where you can get real coffee.

I've tried several places over the last few months, but this is one of my personal favourites, a place where I can see myself coming back and hold on, a coffee place where I actually had coffee. But I'd like to say to all teadrinkers like me out there that they serve delicious tea too - from the Dammann Freres - something a good coffe place should never forget to put on their menu. And of course, there's hot chocolate.

Everything seems to come together at Cuillier Coffee House: the design with its beautiful lines, light & earthy colours, the warm welcome you get when you arrive in a very inviting yet relaxed way, not to mention the perfect location: Montmartre right next to Place des Abbesses. Oh and of course coffee, but not only. We had lunch first and indulged in some of their salty tartines. My husband went for the one with Marteaux sausage (surprise....), capers, tomatoes, zucchini & chives while I chose the one with piquillos, artichoke, feta, cherry tomatoes & savoury.

As delicious as it sounds & looks. The tartines are likely to change with the seasons, but there's always something salty for you to try as well as a selection of sweets such as madeleines & different cakes. Yes, I'm coming to the coffee part.

Standing next to barista Thomas, but don't worry I didn't touch anything. Looks like you need an engineer degree to use this machine although probably easier than it seems. My husband had two delicious, very different espressos. The first one was very special, Chelchele from Ethiopia, an intense & surprising taste that he really enjoyed & then a second one, milder, Cuillier's signature "blend 21" currently composed of Zapotal, Chelchele & finca San Juan, but likely to change depending on arrivals. We took one of those home with us (they are sold in bags of 250g).

And I don't drink coffee, but I actually had one right at this place. That's my first ever cappuccino right there on the picture below. And I'd like to say that I drank it & was surprised at how much I liked it. What I found very pleasant, compared to when you're drinking tea, is the way the taste stays with you for so much longer. My husband calls it coffee for kids and maybe he's right, but we can't all be coffee amateurs & you've got to have something for everybody, real coffee lovers & debutants like me.

And a last picture of this beautiful, handpainted sign:

Cuillier - 19 rue Yvonne le Tac - 75018 Paris is open Monday to Friday 8am-6pm & on weekends from 9am to 6pm. They serve breakfast, lunch, snacks & sweets and yes, coffee. More here

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Monday, 2 November 2015

autumn colours at parc de bagatelle

What are your bets about? In my family we sometimes bet on who's right regarding the name of an actor, the lyrics of a song or what year something took place. That's not how Marie-Antoinette plays. When she bets with her brother-in-law the Compte d'Artois (Louis XVI's brother), they bet about whether you can build a château within three months. Turns out you can. Chateau de Bagatelle & its surrounding park was built within 63 days making the Comte the winner of the bet with a little help from 800 workers and at the cost of 3 million lives. Oops, good thing I re-read my sentences. Make that 3 million livres, not lives.

As you can see on the pictures, Château de Bagatelle is more of a mansion than a castle. The French call it maison de plaisance, a place where you go on weekends to hunt & party with your friends, but not only. The place was quite famous for its libertinage as well. Bagatelle comes from the Italian word bagatella meaning "hey, just a little decorative nothing" & above the main entrance you can still read these words: "Parvus sed aptus" small but sufficient.

Constructed in a very simple neoclassical style it is complete with an orangery (where classical concerts are sometimes held during summer), a magnificent rose garden with more than 1200 varieties, a nymph pond, an English-style garden, well pretty much all the basics you need for a little nothing. And why not throw in a few peacocks, swans & parakeets.

Parc de Bagatelle is located in Bois de Boulogne right outside of Paris. More info on this website where you can check the opening hours that vary greatly depending on the season. Entrance is free November-May & costs 3 to 6 euros the rest of the year.

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