A day out in Paris: an art exhibition, exploring the Christmas market, great food and strange fashion.
What to do
The exhibition du moment is Claude Monet at the Grand Palais. Over 200 of Monet’s best paintings have been reunited in this special showcase, including some of his best loved works such as “Les Coquelicots.”People waited in line outside for hours, yet once inside the rooms were so full you had to queue to see each painting. Impatient art lovers forget their manners and there was much pushing, sneaky queuing and swearing in true French fashion. And that was just me. Read The Telegraph’s review to see what you’re missing. The exhibition ends 24 January.
The Christmas market at the end of the Champs Elysees is well worth a browse. Selling everything from furry hats to watches, rich tourists left laden with gifts. The best part is no doubt the food; from sweet treats to cheeses and sausages, the air is thick with tempting smells. There is even a special ice sculpture exhibit and fairground slides for little ones. It certainly puts Cardiff’s measly craft and food stalls to shame. Unfortunately, it is very popular with tourists, and the crowds can be off-putting.
You can’t get much more French than Le Relais de l’Entrecote.The famous bistrot had tourists waiting in line outside until the doors opened at 7pm. Alarmingly, there is no menu. Ushered to your seats like children in a school canteen, you are served a small and flimsy salad for starters. But then comes the main course; juicy steak and homemade frites allumettes with a rich basil sauce. As soon as your last mouthful is finished, the brisk and no-nonsense waitresses dump a second portion on your plates, despite any protests you may have. Even with a dessert and a coffee, you’re out within the hour and the second seating begins. The efficient service and excellent food have earned the restaurant its top reputation much like the famous Chartier. I defy you to find a more French menu anywhere. For very reasonable prices, these eateries pride themselves on giving tourists and locals alike a classic taste of France.
Doudounes appear to be the height of cool. I have been informed by a current lyceen that owning one, especially an expensive one, gives you cool status in school. About eight years ago, we banished them to the backs of our wardrobes after years of wearing unflattering knee-length ones which made us look like Michelin men.Now they are back and invading Paris. In all colours and price ranges – because, yes, there are designer doudounes de luxe which cost hundreds if not thousands of euros – they are sported by people of all ages and backgrounds. You cannot walk down the street without being assaulted by an army of doudounes… it’s enough to contemplate buying one, except I know I’d look like a prize wally upon returning to the UK.