What to do in Paris in spring

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My short guide of what’s hot and cool this spring in Paris.

Shopping at Merci

I have already recommended you Merci as one of the coolest shops I have ever been to. It is true it’s not a cheap place (sometimes I am so surprised with its prices I have to check twice) but there is nothing more pleasant on a nice Saturday morning than browsing among their eclectic collections of furniture, clothes, plants, books, perfumes, bedding stuff and whatever else hip Parisians want at this moment. This season Merci promotes creating your own little home garden in special flexible plant containers. They are made of fabrics, are 100% recyclable and are available in different sizes and colours. You can find more about this concept here.

If you get tired after your shopping or want to check what the coolest people in the city wear this season you can try one of three Merci’s cafés. Used Book Café, located between bookstalls with over 10 000 books, is perfect for breakfast or an afternoon tea with scones and fruits.
Ciné Café is a good choice for a light lunch or a glass of carrot and ginger juice after your shopping and it’s always full of the chicest Parisians.
Booking is not necessary for any of the above places but as they get quite busy, especially on Saturdays, be prepared for some waiting.

Walk across the river

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Temperatures are rising, sun is shining – spring is perfect for a little walk across Seine. It’s especially nice on Sundays when busy roads across the river on the right bank are close for traffic in the mornings and early afternoons.

The area of Voie Georges-Pompidou (close to the Louis-Philippe bridge) has finally been renovated and is now a perfect spot for a little picnic. Just buy what you need in the little shops in Marais (i.e. sandwiches from a boulangerie at 31 rue Vieille-du-Temple, cakes from a wonderful Korcarz patisserie at 29 rue des Rosiers and wine from Caves du Marais at 22 rue François Miron) and choose one of the wooden tables, benches or chairs provided there to enjoy your meal with one of the best view over Île de la Cité.

If you have time for a longer walk we recommend to stroll from Pont Louise-Philippe towards Louvre, crossing over through Pont Des Invalides and finishing with a rest at the Place Dauphine on Île de la Cité.
The Dauphine Square has also undertook some renovation works and has recently been re-discovered by young and hip Parisians who meet there with their friends for a game of le boule or a slow casual weekend lunch. One of my favourite spot for people watching.

Parisian lunch

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Looking for best places for your lunch in Paris? These would be my choices:
–       Le Loir dans la Théière – it’s very close to being my perfect bistro/café. A simple, unpretentious place hidden a bit in a little Marais street but always busy with locals and tourists.  Their cakes, displayed on a large table in the eating area, are already legendary and are almost worth a visit to Paris themselves.
–       Le Garde Robe – the friendliest place in the whole Paris! It offers cheap, healthy and seasonal lunches and nibbles served with a glass of wonderful fresh vegetable/fruit juice and a great collection of France’s best organic wines. Their cheese board is the best I have had for ages – ask especially for the special cheese coated in nuts. There is something in Le Garde Robe which makes you instantly happy – it maybe the friendliness of the waitresses, their beautiful food or just the location in the heart of the 1st arrondissement… Whatever it is I want it now!

Romantic dinner

A visit to Paris without at least one romantic dinner wouldn’t be complete, of course if you taken with you someone to share it with. It’s true it’s not a cheap pleasure but it’s always an experience of a lifetime worth (almost) any money.

If you are looking for an ultimate culinary experience and wouldn’t like to pay a fortune try my favourite restaurant of all times – Ze Kitchen. They combine Asian cooking and French finesse to take fusion food to a completely new level.
They surprise me each time and make me try the most unusual flavours – wasabi ice-cream (incredible!), snail broth, chocolate miso marmalades and it’s always incredible.

For a more traditional approach to cooking check l’Atelier Maître Albert, their roasted meats and chickens can’t be compared with anything you have eaten before and the chocolate dessert is so good I have to be stopped from ordering a second portion. It’s also beautifully located close to the river, in a quiet street at the back of Notre Dame – perfect for a nice romantic stroll at Seine afterwards.

And if you are in Paris celebrating a special occasion you may want to try one of Paris’s most famous restaurant – Le Grand Véfour. I have to admit I haven’t yet found an excuse to dine in this culinary temple but all the reviews describe it as a place which brings you to a state of a permanent bliss. The only problem is that this experience doesn’t come cheap… but if you have an occasion worth it then well, you only live once!

I hope I inspired you with some ideas for spring in Paris.
For more check:
–       Paris in 4 months and their daily stories from La Ville-Lumière
–       Breakfast in Paris for Paris in eyes of a watercolour artists
–       And HiP Paris blog to learn what’s hot in the French capital at the moment

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You can also check our previous posts and guides on Paris:
– Guides to Paris part I, II and III
– Our previous post about Merci
– And Le Garde Robe

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It’s time for Paris again…

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I am going to Paris again! I am very excited and already thinking about all the places I am going to visit and then share with you. Check us next week to learn how to survive in Paris on budget, where to find gluten free friendly places there and what’s hot in the world’s most romantic city now.

Stay well and join us next week x

My perfect beef casserole

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Winter doesn’t want to give up this year and there is no better way to warm up during these cold days than making and eating a nice casserole.
I have always loved stews and over years I reached a good level of perfection in making them. The recipe below is based on my experience and was created by combining few methods together and choosing what works best. You can treat this as a base for any beef type casseroles and add other ingredients you like.

You will need:
600g diced beef meet (i.e. brisket or anything else your butcher recommends)
500 ml red wine
2 carrots
10 – 15 baby onions or few shallots
250ml Chicken stock
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Fresh parsley leaves

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Gluten-free in Provence

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I have recently been exposed to the problem of gluten allergies or intolerances and I understand how difficult it is to travel if you suffer from one of these. So to help those who need to avoid eating gluten but don’t want to give up on their active lifestyles I decided to post gluten-free friendly guides to cities I visit too. I hope this will help to raise awareness to the problem also.

I am starting with few tips for those who would like to travel to Provence but are afraid that their dietary requirements will limit their options there.
Good news is that there is no need to worry – most of the restaurants owners take a lot of pride in their places, they know well what goes into their food and will try to offer and serve you dishes you can eat. They are also often aware and understanding of the problem already so don’t be shy with mentioning about your gluten intolerance.

The meal you will have most problems with, especially if you want to eat it out, is breakfast. The French love starting their day with a baguette or croissant and it’s hard to find any other option unless you are fine with just coffee au lait.
We haven’t found any supermarket or shop with a ‘free from’ section either so it’s probably best to take your gluten-free breads and cereals with you and eat in your apartment.
The food markets like Wednesday market in Tourrettes-sur-Loup or opened daily Condamine Market in Monaco offer a wonderful selection of fruits, perfect for un petit-dejeuner.

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Winter Walks in Côte d’Azur

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Spectacular views, Provençal sunshine, wild nature, sea and mountains – the land between Nice and Menton is a hiking heaven.
There are around 60 walking/climbing routes officially created, maintained and indicated in the Côte d’Azur/Alpine region. You can find out more about all of them from brochures available at tourist offices (Les Guides Randoxygene), unfortunately only in French.
Below few routes I tried and checked for you, they are spectacular any time of the year and safe and easy in winter even for beginners. You won’t need any special equipment but it’s useful to have a warm jacket, especially if you plan to climb and comfortable walking shoes. So leave you heels for the evening, pack something to eat and let’s go.

1.    Trophee d’ Auguste

Distance – around 6.5km
Difficulty – medium/easy
Duration – 3h30

The trophy is a huge monument Augustus, the founder and first Emperor of the Roman Empire, built in La Turbie to celebrate his victory over the Lugurian tribes of the area. The views from the village, especially over Monaco, are one of the best in the whole Riviera.
The walk starts and finishes at the Monaco railway station – take the east exit to Boulevard Princess Charlotte and turn left to Avenue d’Alsace and then through rue Pascal to Boulevard Moneghetti and through Chemin de Turbie (partly via stairs) cutting Route de Moyenne Corniche. Then follow signs to La Turbie (the path is well indicated) and the trophy. More information about the Trophy and how to access it (there is a fee applied) can be found here.
On the way back choose the road going to Monaco from the east (through Avenue de la Pinede or Chemin de la Batterie) via an old Roman road.
If you want you walk a bit off the track to Tête de Chien (just follow the signs from La Turbie, one way should take around 20 minutes) – the view from the top is simply remarkable.

There won’t be many places on the way to stop for a snack or meal but La Turbie is a relatively large town with plenty of restaurants and shops. You can also depending on the time start or finish your expedition with lunch at Monaco i.e. at the food hall of Condamine Market – best prices in the whole Principality and great local food. We particularly like socca from the little corner shop eaten with few glasses of rose from next door Bar ‘Le Zinc’.

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Continue reading about our walking paths