Monday, 29 February 2016

rive gauche strikes back

c u i l l e r   c o f f e e   h o u s e   -   p a r t   2

Coffee revolution in Paris is still going strong. I've talked about it before here & there. I've even mentioned the Cuillier Coffee House in another blog post right here but that was in Montmartre. Because all these new places popping up across the city seem to concentrate around the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th & 18th arrondissement, basically rive droite - the right bank of the Seine - while not much is happening rive gauche a part from Shakespeare & Company's newly opened cafe. And happily this new Cuillier place that I'll tell you more about.

Why? I don't have the answer but that's not going to prevent me from putting forward a theory, one that is highly unscientific, based purely on assumptions. Because what's the fun in having a blog if you can't do that. The short version would be that the Hipsters won over the Bohemians, but it's a little more complicated than that especially since I'm not even sure there are any Bohemians left in Paris..

The Seine river divides Paris in two parts, rive gauche - called the left bank in English - is the southern bank while rive droite - right bank - is situated on the northern part. But the terms are more than just geographical descriptions. When you mention rive gauche to Parisians and people familiar with the city's history, the term is associated with a particular era where all the artists, writers in particular, philosophers - Hemingway, Sartre, Rimbaud, Verlaine and the list is long - as well as painters such as Picasso used to live in this part of Paris. At this period of time bohemianism, art, creativity, literature, free love & anti-establishment where the characteristics of this area.

The right bank? Establishment, classicism, wealth. A caricature would say money versus culture. But that was once. Not anymore. Parisians used to debate which side their heart belonged to, I don't hear these discussions anymore and so many changes have happened since that it's become difficult to draw a clear line between two parts of Paris based only on the separation by the Seine.

A city evolves and what was once young & dynamic on the left bank somehow turned into something different: expensive & aristocratic (dare I say bourgeois...) Too expensive for a lot of young people and so it seems to me that the new place for creativity & novelties has moved to the right bank where arrondissements such as the 10th, 11th & 18th are more affordable. Yesterday's left bank bohemians might just have been replaced by the right bank's hipsters, today's term for those who claim not to be following the cultural mainstream (what mainstream is and whether this is actually true is an entirely different discussion).

But as I said, Paris is changing constantly and maybe rive gauche is finally waking up again? Perhaps Cuillier Coffee House is just one of many new cool coffee shops that will open on the left bank taking the coffee revolution across the Seine?

At this point you're probably thinking oh come on, she went to have a few muffins & we get a demographic essay? So yes kinda, I like to point out just how intellectual this blog is. Or B): maybe there are no limits to what I will write to justify a large intake of cake.

And cake there was, delicious muffins. We chose one with pistachio and although it had the shape of a muffin it very much resembled a financier in its texture, not too sweet & rich in pistachio. The other muffin was even better: coconut & orange. Not your usual muffins and great to finally try something different than blueberry & chocolate muffins. Supplied by Broken Biscuits patisserie I strongly suggest you try one of them when you go or why not two like we did...

Since we went there for breakfast we also had a bowl each of their delicious granola, a cappuccino for me and a latte for my friend Ying. As you might have noticed by now I'm not a coffee expert. Apart from cappuccino I only drink tea so you'll have to check that part out for yourself. The friendly staff will help you choose the right coffee I'm sure, so nice to be served by baristas not taking themselves too seriously. Bonus: walking away with a few good addresses to try out in Paris.

What was left once we finished. Actually not true, somehow that last bit of muffin disappeared too.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

cite de trevise & other corners of the 9th arrondissement

s h u t t e r s ,  s i l e n t  s t r e e t s  &  a  s a u c e r

Once in a while I remember I have a blog, a terribly neglected one. And I think about what to post and while trying too hard to find some incredible hidden gem that no one else but me has yet discovered I end up thinking... a lot... and posting... nothing. 

But as the saying goes, sometimes what you're looking for is right under your nose, in this case 5 minutes away from where I've been living for the past 5 years. The 9th arrondissement is a neighbourhood in Paris that you rarely see in tourist guides except for Palais Garnier and the famous department store Galeries Lafayette but walk with me through some of its lesser-known streets, across the beautiful Cité de Trévise and into a saucer, yep.

I wasn't even going in that direction when I ended up in Cité de Trévise and to be honest I had never heard of it. It's nothing grand, it's basically just a little street with a square in the middle, a quiet corner of Paris, but at the same time very much how I imagine a shutter & door heaven would look like if there was one. If you take the time to look around, you will notice plenty of beautiful architectural features and the care people living here seem to pay to the slightest details.

Cité de Trévise runs between rue Bleue (blue street) & rue Richer. It was built in 1840 to offer a haven of tranquility in an otherwise bustling area of the city. All neo-renaissance style you will find a little square in the middle of the street with a fountain carried by three nymphs. The cité, named after Edouard Mortier, the duke of Trévise, used to be closed by large metal gates but today it's open for everyone. Apparently Alexandre Dumas used to live here, in number 1 & 3.

No shutters on this house but I think blue doors like this one counts double.

When I went there it was almost empty except for the mail woman on her morning route. If I had been less shy I would have asked her to follow along into all the hidden courtyards but I didn't. Chances are she would have looked very strangely at me and said no but just imagine if she hadn't.

Anyway, this was when I decided to follow my initial plan and head over to the very cute Café Soucoupe (soucoupe being saucer in English and this one looking more like a unidentified flying one of a kind) but walking in a straight line or directly from point a to point b is rather difficult in Paris, also it's hard to see what the point in that would be. If so I would have also missed the Ambroise Thomas passage & rue Gabriel Laumain that you can see right here below. Although they are called streets, they feel much more like little cités.

This street? No idea where that was, somewhere along the way.

About Café Soucoupe, I've been trying to test a new café each time I have a Friday off & this one has been on my list for quite some time. Besides having a very original and incredibly cute (& photogenic) shop front, the interior is cosy & welcoming, the staff friendly & the menu varied & tasty. I ordered tea & a cookie but had a hard time choosing as all of their homemade cakes looked delicious. I definitely want to come back for lunch & taste their organic products. All dishes are prepared on site prices are very reasonable.

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