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Where to eat in Paris

19 Mar

You’ve booked your trip to Paris and got your sightseeing plan all mapped out. Eiffel tower, check. Louvre, check. But as evening falls, you wonder – where should I eat?

The city boasts thousands of restaurants so choosing a good one can be a tricky task. Websites and Paris guides present a ‘definitive’ list of which restaurants you should be eating in, such as the Guardian’s one here.

However, they usually won’t have tried and tested them and the prices are out of the average person’s range.

So here’s my selection of some of my favourite restaurants you won’t find in the guide books. They may not be Michelin starred or incredibly quirky, but they do fit my key criteria of being very tasty and very reasonable.

Mediterranean cuisine
Le 7eme Sud
159 rue de Grenelle 75007, metro: Ecole Militaire

7eme sud restaurnt

7eme Sud: Mediterranean treats

This has long been my favourite restaurant in Paris and is responsible for introducing me to the joys of spicy pasta as a child. My current addiction is fuelled by the need to recreate their exact arrabiata dish.

Tagines, greek salads and pasta dishes; the menu features the best of Mediterranean cuisine and has something for everyone. I’ve sampled many of their mains over the years and keep coming back for more. The tiramisu is also to die for.

The cosy decor and relaxed atmosphere make it the perfect place to spend an evening catching up over a glass of wine.

Asian cuisine
Baan Thai
15 Rue de la Ferronnerie 75001, metro: Chatelet

spring rolls

Unlimited spring rolls - nom nom

I only recently discovered this restaurant and was very pleasantly surprised. You can’t go wrong with their traditional and delicious all-you-can-eat buffet for 20 euros.

The food is excellent; a choice of seven different mains and all the spring rolls and soup you can possibly digest. Heaven. I sampled everything, topping it off with a banana cake fresh from the oven – before rolling home.

Plus, it’s reportedly the tastiest Thai eatery in Paris according to my Thai friend.

French cuisine
Le Petit Lyon
24 rue Vintimille 75009, metro: Blanche

confit de canard

Classic confit de canard

Good French food is almost guaranteed in Paris. But Le Petit Lyon has made it onto my list because of how authentic the bistrot is.

With a menu featuring pigs trotters, tripe and snails, this is the place for those seeking a true taste of France. Or if the thought makes you feel queasy, they also make a succulent steak au poivre with home cut chips or a confit de canard with herby potatoes. The chips and pepper sauce were so good, I physically licked my plate clean.

Tucked away in a quiet street in the Pigalle area, it’s surprisingly a tourist-free zone. The checkered table cloths and old men philosophising over a galleon of wine in the corner will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

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Take a tour of famous Paris film locations

10 Mar

Paris’s iconic landmarks and cobbled streets make the perfect film backdrop. With over 900 film shoots taking place in the capital every year, it’s a director’s dream.

From well-known sights to hidden gems, film buffs can easily retrace the steps of their favourite movie characters. Get your walking shoes on and take a trip around some of the city’s most famous film locations with our guided tour.

Here are our top five must-see places:

Le pont Bir-Hakeim
from Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’
(metro: Bir-Hakeim)

The Bir-Hakeim bridge inception

The Bir-Hakeim bridge

Begin your day with a walk across the Seine on the Pont Bir-Hakeim. This double-decker bridge saw Ellen Page and Leonardo Dicaprio bend the laws of physics in one of ‘Inception”s eerie dream sequences. You might not be able to move the bridge with your mind, but you will get a good view of Paris. For the romantics amongst you, it’s also where Marlon Brando meets Maria Schneider in ‘Last Tango in Paris.’

Montmartre – Café des Deux Moulins
from Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Amélie Poulain’
15 rue Lepic (metro: Blanche)

CAFE des deux moulins amelie poulain

Amélie's Café des Deux Moulins

Next stop: the winding streets of Montmartre for a bite to eat in Amélie Poulain’s legendary café. The décor may have changed, but the authentic French atmosphere and service have remained the same. Fans of the film will delight in this tourist haven – and don’t forget to sample her trademark crême brulée for dessert.

L’Avenue des Champs Elysées
From Stanley Donan’s ‘Funny Face’
(metro: Charles de Gaulle)

Now it’s time to conquer Paris’s most famous sights. Look no further than the musical number ‘Bonjour, Paris!’ from ‘Funny Face.’ Make like Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire: march down the Champs Elysées from the Arc de Triomphe down to la Place de la Concorde, through the Tuileries then down by the banks of the Seine. Extra points if you can name all the sights in this clip:

L’Hôtel du Nord
From Marcel Carné’s ‘Hôtel du Nord’
102 quai de Jemmapes (metro: République)

hotel du nord marcel carne

L'Hôtel du Nord

Relive the 1938 French classic in the Hôtel du Nord‘s restaurant. The ideal venue for a candlelit evening meal, the iconic hotel has retained all its glamour and charm. Relax on the terrace with some traditional French food after a hard day’s exploring. Nestled along the Canal Saint-Martin’s banks, the area is also perfect for an evening stroll.

L’Eglise Saint-Étienne-du-Mont
From Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’
(metro: Cardinal Lemoine)

saint etienne du mont midnight in paris

Saint-Etienne-du-Mont

Finish your tour as the clock strikes twelve, sitting on the steps of the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church. Owen Wilson combed the whole of Paris in Woody Allen’s ode to the city, yet this church is one of the lesser known sights from the film. Home to the tombs of Racine and Pascal, you too can bask in the nocturnal joie de vivre celebrated in ‘Midnight in Paris.’

Want more walks? The Mairie de Paris has put together walking tour suggestions for cinephiles to relive their favourite movies, from ‘Hugo Cabret’ to ‘La Mome.’

Life’s a cabaret for Christian Louboutin

9 Mar

Louboutin + Crazy Horse = shoe heaven

Iconic shoe designer Christian Louboutin has teamed up with Parisian hotspot the Crazy Horse for their new show “Feu.”

The club:

crazy horse club paris

Crazy Horse logo

The cabaret is famed for its leggy dancers performing raunchy routines in barely-there costumes. Yet the legendary nightspot (which charges 125 euros per head with a ‘generous’ half bottle of champers thrown in) is no strip club. Celebrated for its glamour, futuristic light shows as well as collaborations with well-known choreographers ensure it stays firmly in the performance art category.

The club has been going since 1951. Having been lucky enough to step inside its gilded walls and film the dancers for its previous show “Desirs”, I can reveal ‘le Crazy’ is well worth a visit.

crazy horse dancers

Glamour and seduction: Crazy Horse dancers

crazy horse dancers lights

Striking the balance between stripping and art

The show:

Louboutin has created four unique tableaux for “Feu”, which take inspiration from everything from art installations to hip-hop. The main focus is – of course – the legs and the feet. The shoe king was involved in everything from the routines to the set design, not forgetting the shoes.

Each ‘act’ has its own shoe concept – from strappy silver ‘half shoes’ to black curved spiked pairs, they’re sure to steal the limelight from the dancers and give a whole new meaning to the term ‘stripper shoes!’ “Feu” opened on March 4.

The shoes:

red soled louboutin shoe

The much-coveted black Louboutins

Louboutin’s trademark red soles are beloved by celebrities and fashionistas the world over. But the hefty price tag means most girls can only dream of owning a pair. To satisfy the public’s collective lust, London’s Design Museum is hosting the first UK Christian Louboutin retrospective starting May 1st.

Not only can you drool over 20 years’ worth of shoes and inspiration, but you’ll be able to follow the construction process from start to finish. Shoe-tastic.

The perfect macaroon

4 Mar

Mmmm macaroons. This French delicacy is the creme of the crop when it comes to teatime snacks. The British may have finger sandwiches and scones, but the French do macaroons to perfection.

A mountain of macaroons

A macaroon is an almond biscuit sandwiched together with ganache or fruit preserves. They come in a rainbow assortment of colours and flavours, from chocolate to rose via lemon and almond.

These bite-sized treats are available at every good patisserie, but for the official stamp of quality look no further than Ladurée. In 1862, Ernest Louis Laduree opened the original bakery at 16 rue Royale in Paris. Upon his wife’s advice, it was soon transformed into the venue par excellence for socialites to gossip over a cup of tea.

laduree patisserie france

The Ladurée logo

Pierre Lafontaine, Ernest’s heir, whisked up the first macaroon and the rest is history. Ladurée now has branches all over Europe and has evolved into France’s top bakery/tearoom/shop/restaurant/chocolatier.

Ladurée macaroons are so amazing because they are: A-beautiful, B- luxurious and C-delicious.

A box of macaroons makes the perfect souvenir gift from your trip to Paris – handy, since you can even pick them up from CDG airport.

If you’re not heading to Paris any time soon, here’s how to recreate the mini treats in your own home courtesy of the Daily Mail Online. Follow head chef Philippe Andrieu’s recipe for a chic tea party.

laduree macaroons

Too good to eat

INGREDIENTS

480g icing sugar
280g ground almonds
7 egg whites
A few drops of flavoured food colouring such as strawberry

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Mix the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor until you have a fine powder. Sift to remove any lumps.
3. Beat the egg whites, adding the food colouring as you go. Quickly and carefully add the almond-sugar mixture.
4. With a wooden spoon, mix from the centre of the bowl outwards, turning the container as you go. You want to achieve a smooth, lightly coloured mixture.
5. Using a piping bag with a centimetre-wide nozzle, pipe three centimetre-wide macaroons onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
6. Cook for eight to nine minutes, leaving the door of the oven slightly ajar.
7. Remove the macaroons from the oven. Pour a little water between the baking tray and the greaseproof paper – this makes the macaroons easier to lift off when they have cooled.
8. Sandwich the macaroons using marmalade, raspberry jam or whipped cream to serve.

TIP: Leave the finished macaroons for 24 hours in the fridge. This allows the flavours and texture to develop and intensify

VOILA!

Musée Rodin

3 Mar

Time for some art.

If you’re after a spot of culture this Spring, look no further than the Musée Rodin. Tucked away in Paris’s 7th arrondissement, a few streets from the Musée D’Orsay, it’s the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon.

The Musée Rodin's gardens

The museum contains the largest collection of Rodin’s sculptures, which have been on display to the public since 1919. Allegorical and mythologically inspired works are dotted around the Hotel Biron’s gardens and within the 18th century mansion itself. Chances are you won’t know much about the classically inspired sculptor (1840-1917) so the museum provides a crash course on the artist.

But it’s the museum’s garden which makes the place unmissable. Stroll along the 3 hectares of shady pathways admiring the sculptures, have a spot of lunch in the outdoor cafe or you could even play a game of ‘pétanque’ in the sun.

The Thinker, lost in thought

The Gates of Hell and The Burghers of Calais are amongst his most recognised works. Not to mention the iconic The Thinker. Rodin placed his sculptures around the elaborate gardens because he believed: “Nature and Antiquity are the two great sources of life for an artist. In any event, Antiquity implies nature. It is its truth and its smile.”

Plus, the museum’s temporary exhibition of 300 drawings, ‘Capturing the model’, shows Rodin’s talent in a different light. Discover his obsession with the human form and movement in the drawings which took up the latter part of his career.

Visiting the museum for the first time since having seen the delightful ‘Midnight in Paris’, I couldn’t help but think of this scene… Hopefully you won’t be visiting with a friend as pedantic as Paul, and the tour guide won’t be Carla Bruni-Sarkozy either. You do get a nice glimpse of the garden in this clip though!

Musée Rodin, Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5.45pm. ‘Capturing the model’ runs til 1 April.

A musical ode to Paris

22 Jan

What better than a tune to bring back memories of a place?

Lise – ‘Paris’:

Quirky French singer Lise puts her own musical stamp on Paris. Lovely video and a lovely girl (whom I was lucky enough to meet.)

Joe Dassin – ‘Champs Elysees’:

This classic French anthem makes me want to skip along the Champs with a grin on my face.


Patrick Bruel – ‘Mon Amant de Saint-Jean’:

A great cover of the original song, with a nostalgic nod to happier times.

Le Lapin Agile

18 Sep

In need of some good old fashioned fun? Look no further than famous Paris nightspot Le Lapin Agile.

This quaint cottage nestled on the Montmartre hillside is a little frequented gem, more visited by tourists searching for an authentic french experience than locals. After years of living in Paris, I finally ventured through the Cabaret’s doors, dubious about what was in store.

Le Lapin Agile - a right song and dance


Le Lapin Agile has been going strong since 1860, with traditional French singers performing every night from 9pm til 2am. Visitors are ushered into a small, dark room and seated on benches around the walls. Then a motley crew of about ten singers march in to take their places at the middle table.

On the menu: old fashioned French tunes – from classics like Brassens, Aznavour and Piaf that French oldies know all the words to, to popular folk songs and shanties. It feels like stepping back in time to a more innocent era.

The idea is that (after a complementary cherry liquor or two) you’re encouraged to sing along as the troupe mingle amongst the audience, accompanied by various instruments.

lapin agile

Lapin Agile: famous since 1860


Unfortunately most of us were tourists and could only hum along (although a lively Chinese man did give it a good go) , but the whole atmosphere was so entertaining that the evening flew by. The place prides itself on keeping french traditions alive, and it certainly isn’t dull.

The Cabaret screams nostalgia, from the decor and artwork on its walls to the rustic feel of the performance. It seems incredible that a place like this remains so popular today, and that the format hasn’t changed. It’s well worth a visit before the rest of the world catches up with it.

And since many famous singers and poets were apparently discovered here, you might spot the next big thing in la ‘chanson francaise.’

Le Lapin Agile, Tuesday-Sunday, 24 EUROS plus drink, metro Lamark (12).