All posts filed under: France

Shopping in Paris

When in Paris: Food, Wine & Cookware Shops (so that you can bring the flavours of Paris home)

How to bring back Paris with you to London? You can’t very well shove the eiffel tower in your handbag (and why would you want to?) but there is lots of Parisian deliciousness that you can bring to your front door. What we perceive as luxury – great patisserie, brilliant lacquered duck confit in jars, (dare I say it) foie gras, great wine – are all everyday in France. Not to mention the petite copper canele moulds, gorgeous pans, staub pots, and all of the divinity that a Parisian cookware shop can involve. Here is my guide for the shops that you mustn’t miss when in Paris. It is not an exhaustive list, but these are the places that I hit when I visit, and I add to it all the time. If you have any that I have not listed, please leave details in the comments below. FOOD & WINE  G Detou I found G Detou by accident. Aiming for the nearby metro station, I spied this shop with gorgeous tins stacked high beneath …

Overnight Christmas Shopping Trip to Paris: Where to Go & What to Do

A quick jaunt on the Eurostar, 2 hours 15 minutes later we were alighting at Gare du Nord. Our hotel, just a few stops away, and near my favourite spot Le Marais, saw us briefly, we had lots of Paris to see and to do. We were in Paris to do some Christmas shopping. An old friend and I took the trip. Both food obsessed and fond of a glass of wine or a cocktail, we had marked out our maps with places we wanted to visit. We hadn’t much time but we were ambitious. Paris is home to fantastic cookware shops, fromageries, wine shops, patisseries and so many great chocolate shops. So many things that would put the sparkle in any day and especially Christmas. To start, we hit Le Marais. Le Marché des Enfants Rouges to be precise. A 10 minute walk and we were at the gorgeous bustling market. The market itself is rammed with cosy and delicious places to eat. Lots to buy too. Greengrocers are selling clementines (check: in the …

Living Like a Local in Paris

Travelling is wonderful. You may have cottoned on to the fact that I enjoy a little of it every now and then. A lot of it more precisely. People ask why, they wonder how I can do it all. They also wonder why I do it all. Why do I do it? I love getting an insight into another culture. I love getting under the skin of how people eat, how they shop for food, what they shop for and how they cook it at home. I love gathering recipes and bringing them home. I love being inspired by how other people operate, being immersed in a whole different thing for a little while gives you great perspective on your own existence. Hotels are great, I love them and the luxury they provide. But after a few days I get antsy. I miss my kitchen and I miss being able to cook.  My kitchen keeps me calm, and cooking keeps me sane. When I am stressed or sad my first instinct is to cook. So, …

Where to Eat in Paris: Brasserie Balzar

Food is changing everywhere all the time. That’s life, and that’s a good thing, in the main. You’re as likely to find Scandinavian inspired haute cuisine in Paris now as a soufflé, so it takes a little research to find somewhere that does the old school classics and does them well. When in Paris, and especially when in Paris in January. I want French Onion Soup. I need French Onion Soup. I need it’s comforting rich beefy stock and sweet sleepy slippery onions beneath their heavy cheese blanket. I need to pierce that cheese and bread with my spoon and drag some soup out, savouring every gentle spoonful before diving back in. It helps if I can then follow this with a fresh rich steak tartare, sharp with mustard and capers, and creamy with egg. Spreading it on toast, all the while not really wanting to talk but to watch everything going on. Watching the waiters, the other tables, sipping some wine, soaking it all in. Enjoying Paris, enjoying the characters, the families eating Sunday …

Where to Eat in Paris: Les Papilles

When I travel, one of my first pit stops is twitter, where I ask the hivemind for recommendations. Results are mainly successful, sometimes bizarre, but always a brilliant starting point when travelling and wanting to eat well. Particularly when you want to eat as locals do and off the tourist track. When I recently asked for recommendations for Paris, two people I really rate resounded “You have to go to Les Papilles”, so I took that as an order and I did. Les Papilles is part epicerie, part wine shop, mainly restaurant. It is wooden and warm with a big round table in a bay window / alcove at the back and all other tables seemingly proceeding towards it, lining a long counter and shelves of wine with occasional food bits lining the walls.  There is also a downstairs area with a huge table, and lots more wine. The menu is fixed, you have it or you don’t, although a vegetarian friend in Paris has told me that they can prepare a vegetarian menu if …

Paris Break: Living it Up at Hotel La Tremoille

Paris Part 2! Last weekend I journeyed a speedy 2 hours on the eurostar early Friday morning and found myself in Paris for a bistro lunch, caviar & champagne late afternoon snack and a brasserie dinner. We had a sneaky indulgent champagne breakfast on the eurostar too – we couldn’t resist. I love it and that was just Friday too. We stayed at Hotel La Tremoille in the 8th, an old school hotel with some modern twists. It was perfectly central allowing us leisurely strolls along the Seine. There was even a local caviar shop and truffle shop and restaurant. Tres luxurious. Part of our package was a Baguette to Bistro walk led by Meg of Context Travel and Paris by Mouth, a fun, informative and really delicious morning tour of St Germaine taking in a lovely boulangerie, cheese shop and chocolate shop. The highlight for me was the cheese tasting. We visited one of the oldest cheese shops in Paris, Androuet (now also in London). Proud and rich in history there were stories of …

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Lyon: A Bouchon Lunch at Cafe des Federations

How lovely to visit Lyon again for the Bocuse D’Or last week. It’s such a warm city, charming and obsessed with food. I am definitely the last and so I always feel at home there. My trip last August was brief, and there was one bouchon I neglected to hit, Café des Federations. I didn’t miss it this time. I was there on a grey Thursday. I wandered by the Saone and meandered up the narrow streets, suitcase in tow. My French isn’t great, but it’s enough to get me by, and stumblingly, I secured a table for one for lunch. I love solo lunches, I can’t think of anything nicer than lovely food, intimate ecelctic surroundings, some delicious wine and a great book, whilst cosy in a corner with the occasional bit of people watching between chapters. It’s fairly uncommon here in London, not so in France. At the banquette ahead of me were two other solo female diners, one young Japanese lady, in town also for the Bocuse D’Or, and a wonderful elderly …

Eating Lyon: Bernachon

Chocolate is not a treat or a sweet but true gourmet food. Maurice Bernachon When Claude Bosi (chef-proprietor at 2* Hibiscus) starts giving tips on where you should eat in Lyon, you take notice. So happily he did exactly that, just a few days before I went to Lyon, in a piece in the Financial Times. I was a little smug (just a tiny bit – promise), when I discovered that the market we were planning to go to, and Le Bec, which we had already booked were on his list. Bernachon wasn’t on my radar, however, so I looked it up and added it to the list. Bernachon is like a museum for edible treats. A mini cathedral to food. You could hear a pin drop. The best of chocolate, sweet and excellent savoury treats. Before you even enter the shop, you’re salivating. Glorious cakes, springy brioche, perfect quenelles, macarons, chocolates, swoon. It has the air of a Sloane St designer shop, only here we are not paying homage to Jimmy Choo or Prada, here the macaron and chocolates …

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Eating Lyon: Le Garet, the perfect bouchon

Lyon has a promising culinary reputation. Reputed to be the gastronomic heart of France, friends and natives had talked it up and I was worried it may not live up to my increasing expectations. I quickly secured a reservation at 2* Le Bec, the reviews are exceptional and it looks exciting, but much to my misfortune, they had water damage on the day I was to dine ,and were closed. 3 restaurant La Mere Brazier was also high on my list, but sadly (for me) they were closed for summer holidays. Paul Bocuse was mentioned but I had already decided to save that for my next trip, the prices are lofty, and the reviews mixed. I’ll visit another time with another food obsessive. So, what to do? In truth, I was always more excited about the Lyonnaise Bouchons, peculiar to Lyon and serving traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. Bouchons were always going to be the heart of the trip and there was a few I wanted to try out. The highlight of these was a recommendation from …

Marché St Antoine: Food Market, Lyon

Ah, the glory of the French food market. Fresh produce, glorious flavours, bright colours, the smells of the fruit and lack of smell from the fish. As the heart of gastronomic France, you would expect Lyon to have a very good one, and it does. In fact it has several, but time was restrictive on my two night Eurostar trip their last week, so I chose one in the heart of the city by the Rhone, the Quai St Antoine Food Market. It winds along the river gently. Starting at 4 or 5 am and running until midday in the heart of the city, it’s a very popular and well sourced market. Everything was fantastic, the selection was varied, and better than all of that, in the main it was local. All kinds of tomatoes begged to be picked up, flat peaches radiated perfume and I swooned at the first bite. Bounties of herbs, garlic and fresh beans. Bright pink radishes with their green leafy hat, baskets of saucisson and legs of ham. Dripping gravy …

A Postcard from Lyon

Whoooooosh! I am not sure if that is the sounds of the Eurostar, or the TGV (super fast French trains), or my trip to Lyon, but it all seemed to go by far too quickly. It seems like weeks ago that I boarded the Eurostar and travelled to Lyon, but it was only Tuesday morning. We travelled swiftly from grey wet London, current home of the bad hair day and soggy feet, to sparkling hot Lyon, home of bright intense sunshine, great wine and food, and a peep of sunburn. My Irish skin could barely handle the 34 degree heat that awaited us. I love travelling by train. I could spend days and weeks travelling Europe by train, and anywhere else for that matter, it’s my perfect means of travel. The Lyon trip was a baby train journey but enjoyable nonetheless, taking a piddly 5 hours and allowing us a break for a glass of wine in Lille. A perfect two night break all in all. It was just lovely, holed up with my book, …

A Lille Adventure

There’s a few perks to this little sideline of mine. We get invited to lots of things, we get sent things, or at least people offer to send us things. Some are crazy (surgical instruments anyone?) but sometimes we get invited to great events, nice restaurants and receive some products that I would actually like to try and would buy normally. I only ever write about them if they’re of interest. Otherwise, what’s the point? This brings me nicely to last Saturday, a gorgeous sunny day which I spent in Lille in Northern France, in the company of fellow food bloggers, exploring the culinary landscape, courtesy of Eurostar, who, via the medium of our friend the internet, are raising awareness of their Little Breaks. I know that the Eurostar can bring me to France in less than a couple of hours, but it never occurred to me to do a day trip as it always seemed too far away. Crazy, when as a Londoner I will cheerfully sojourn 2 hours South for a couple of …

Parisian Local Food Market

While in Paris, I wandered into a local weekly food market by chance. It was fantastic and depressing. Why don’t we have these? Local people buying their weekly groceries, it was so relaxed and bountiful. The quality was fantastic and prices very reasonable. If we had one here people would travel miles to it. There were several fruit and veg stalls, a few cheese stalls, fish stalls, a charcuterie, boucherie, really everything you would need. The supermarket nearby was empty, why would you go? And to top it, it was surrounded by lovely food shops, 2 charcuteries, a chocolatiers, a boulangerie, to name but a few. Bring back proper food markets to the UK, I say! There should be one in every town.

Artery Hardening Travel

I have just come back from a fantastic week in Paris. I started with a music festival with some friends – the wonderfully titled Rock en Seine. As it’s a french festival, it was a food and wine as well as music experience. Food stalls served moules frite, andouillete, crepes, cous cous, paella and much more. French wine and tartiflette blended well with the chimes of Arcade Fire, the Shins, CSS Jarvis & Bjork. We followed this with three days idle wandering, popping in and out of patisseries, fromageries, boulangeries, whatever took our fancy. Occasional cultural interludes included the Picasso museum where I had a delicious raspberry and white chocolate tart (this is a food blog after all!). So, clearly, a weeks over indulgence and artery hardening will not fit in this little blog post. So, what were the highlights? Having followed Fanny at Foodbeams adventures I had to pay a visit to Pierre Hermé. Wow, it was breathtaking, such beautiful desserts. I didn’t know where to start and wandered around for a bit then …