Petit Paris: Fish

Image credit: Fishing in a fish print, available [here]

There is a current culinary craze hitting Paris, and it's not meat, or burgers for that matter. No, it's all about fish. So I thought I'd give you a little run down of the most recent fish restaurants to open, where you can taste the delights of the sea and have a change from those meat-heavy dishes that the city is so famous for.

Fish Club

I'm going to talk about the most recent first, as this place literally popped open two weeks ago to quite a fanfare, which is no surprise considering it was launched by the team behind the Experimental Cocktail Club, Curio Parlor and Beef Club. Fish Club is a Peruvian-style fish tapas bar, so expect oysters, crab and lots of raw fish (ceviche). It also serves lovely cocktails, is decorated like a chic beach hut and has a terrace - perfect for warm sunny days.

58 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Le Mary Celeste

Owned by the founders of Candelaria and Le Glass, this place has a simple, but sweet concept. Cocktails and oysters, easy. Of course if you don't like oysters, this won't be the place for you, but if you do, and you like nothing better than slurping down oysters while sipping on a tasty cocktail or glass of cold white wine (my mouth is watering, just writing this) then I suggest you book a table there now.

1 rue Commines

Lobster Bar

Inspired by the humble hot dog, chef Mathieu Mercier decided have a little fun with what he could put in a bun. So he opened Paris' first lobster bar, serving up lobsters in hot dogs. It's a tad strange I know, but somehow it seems to work. Each lobster dog is dished up with tarragon and mayo sauce with a side helping of fries and a salad. It is a little steep at €26 a serving, but you're paying for the experience - the place also looks like an old ship, with wooden benches and white wood panelling, which will make you feel like you've embarked on a voyage out to sea.

41, rue Coquilliere

And a few of my other favourite fish and seafood restaurants are Japanese Rice & Fish, Huitrerie Regis, a teeny tiny place with only four or five tables and Fish La Boissonerie, which although I haven't been, is meant to be very good.

Petit Paris: Brocantes

It's been a little while since I've written a Petit Paris, which are basically little Paris tips I think might be useful, or just places I've discovered since living here. I've been meaning to write about the brocantes for a little while, as I've haven't been to nearly enough since I moved here and finally went to one on Saturday.

Brocantes (flea markets in English) spring up all over Paris, they are so frequent that there are various websites dedicated to them that give dates of where and when one will pop up next. Over the weekend there was one in the 20th just next to the Pere Lachaise, Paris' largest and most famous cemetery, where Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Proust and Modigliani among others are buried. The brocante stretched all the way down Boulevard de Menilmontant, where stalls upon stalls of furniture, lights, ceramics, kitchenware and jewellery were bursting at the seams with hidden treasures. I bought two glass jars, costing €4 each, which I cleaned up and have used to store tea in one and used corks in the other. I also found some lovely brown glass bottles, complete with stoppers, but they were a bit pricey. I could have haggled, but I felt content with the jars, for now...

There are a couple of good sites, first the Paris Mairie (Paris' City Hall) and Brocabrac, where you type in the city you're in and it gives you all the times, locations and what's for sale.

Happy hunting.

[photography by Marissa Cox]


Petit Paris: Exercise

David Hockney's A Bigger Splash
I've been meaning to write a practical post about exercise for a little while now since I've actually started doing some. It took me weeks to get started. In January it was either too cold, too dark - it didn't get light in Paris til gone 9am - now it's around 8am (I think, as if I'm honest, I haven't seen 7am in a while) - or I was waking up with a headache having either drunk too much, might I say, very good red French wine the night before, or I stayed up too late browsing blogs - my new favourite past time. I finally persuaded my boyfriend to accompany me to Decathlon - Paris' mecca for all things sporty - to pick up a set of weights - I freelance from home so the idea here was that I would do a few reps in the morning before I sit down to my laptop (this has happened twice) - an exercise ball, because everyone attempting to exercise from home should have one, apparently, and a swimming costume and hat - for you can't go swimming in a public pool in Paris without one. Yes, even the men have to wear hats. So last month with hat and cosie in hand, I braved the still biting cold and ventured to our nearest pool.

Swimming in Paris is not like swimming in London. I have been kicked, slapped and splashed so many times, I've actually started to find it funny. Luckily I'm a strong swimmer so it doesn't faze me too much, but swimming here is far from relaxing. And if you think Parisian men are arrogant, just wait to you see them in the pool. They are in constant competition with each other - who can swim the fastest - cajoling each other on, and if one goes without waiting their turn, there'll be trouble. Yes, the pools here are so packed at certain hours, you have to cue in the pool to swim. Then there are older women who insist on doing back crawl, crawling along at such a pace they might as well be treading water.

Anyway, if I haven't put you off swimming (it's really not that bad, you get used to it, and it's good exercise) or any other exercise for that matter, here are a few top tips.

+ Nageurs - this website has everything you need to know about swimming pools in Paris and France, from where they are - there are around two in each arrondissement and how big they are to their opening hours. If you get really into it, you can even post how many metres you swim. 
+ Decathlon - as I said before this is Paris' mecca for all things sporty. They sell everything here and it's cheap
+ Good old-fashioned gyms - gyms are quite expensive in Paris, so make sure you're going to use it before you sign up. Club Med is one of the most popular and they have them everywhere, and Fitness Price is also good, and they usually do deals in the new year. 
+ Yoga - most gyms offer yoga classes, but there are also yoga studios dotted about. Try Le Centre Uma.
+ Bikram Yoga - this is another thing I've been meaning to try. It's pricey, but most studios offer a deal of 10 days straight (of course you need the time to do it every day) for just €35 - the only problem is you'll probably be hooked by the end of it, and that's when they get your money. Try Bikram Yoga Paris.
+ Dance Studios - I've danced on and off for years, mainly ballet, so will probably take up some more dance classes soon. From what I've found, Le Studio de Lea looks like a good option and they have lots of choices.
+ You can also play tennis - here's a good list of where all the courts are, and here's the website to book them.

Petit Paris: Exhibitions

There are some brilliant exhibitions on in Paris at the moment, so here are my top three, which are good if you're here for Paris Fashion Week and want to look at something other than fashion, yet doesn't steer too far from the path.

I went to a private view at the Jeu de Paume on Monday night to celebrate the launch of their new photography shows: Adrian Paci and Laure Albin Guillot. Laure Albin Guillot's work was particularly interesting as she was ahead of her time. She was a successful female photographer working in the early 20th century, who made a name for herself in the 20s with her classical nudes. But it was her studies of micrography or 'Micrographie decorative' that brought her international recognition. Inspired by Japonism she photographed microscopic preparations and framed many of them in lacquered wood to create decorative art. A series of these are lit up in the gallery and look more like beautiful paintings or even small stained-glass windows than photographs.

As her career developed she moved into a more commercial realm, began working with fashion photography, was appointed director of both the photographic archives of the national Beaux-Arts authority and the Cinematique Nationale, and she published a book on photography in advertising, one of the only books of its kind produced by a French photographer at the time - no mean feat considering she was a woman working in a male-dominated profession.




British artist, Linder Sterling, who began making art in the 70s inspired by punk music, was wearing meat dresses long before Lady Gaga as a feminist protest against men. The Musee d'Art Moderne is hosting her first retrospective, 'Femme/Object' - a collection of 200 of her collages that she made by tearing images from pornographic and women's housekeeping and beauty magazines. Her work got her noticed by the fashion industry and couple of years ago she collaborated with Richard Nicoll on a performance art that was captured on film by Linder's friend, acclaimed fashion photographer, Tim Walker.




The last one I wanted to mention is Mannequin: Le Corp de la Mode at Les Docks - an exhibition suitably (for PFW) all about models, the history of their profession and their role in fashion. It brings together nearly 120 images dating back to the beginning of the 19th century up until modern day. Amongst the photos are famous images shot by Helmut Newton, Juergen Teller and Guy Bourdin.

Kate Moss by Corinne Day, 1990

Centre Commercial

I spotted Centre Commercial on Miss Moss and couldn't not give it a mention here, as I haven't heard of it before, and it seems to sell all sorts of amazingness. Just look at the interiors below - the made-to-look unfinished walls, white wooden floors and designer lighting, and the vintage pieces dotted about the place and for sale. And then there's the simple styling. They sell lots of navajo-inspired clothes, denim, leather bags, quirky shoes, and stock brands like French/Italian knitwear brand, Maison Olga, Guatemala-born hand-made shoe brand Osborn and French label Christine Phung. Make sure you add Centre Commercial to your list of shops to visit when you're in Paris.





Petit Paris: Best Burgers

In a recent post I mentioned that a French friend had told me there was a new craze for all things American in Paris, a craze that has obviously spilled over into the food, and like London, burger joints are springing up all over the place. So I thought I'd give you a little run down of my favourite places to get some meat and two buns from that I've found so far. Let me know what I've missed!

La Maison Mere

La Maison Mere is a tad snooty, which could have something to do with their reputation for being a Paris Fashion Week haunt and having been featured in everything from French Vogue to Grazia (the staff are even sponsored by Levis), so don't go there on a Sunday lunchtime (let alone for dinner) without a reservation and expect to be seated. (I know, I've been turned away before). Attitude aside this diner is a good dinner spot and provides an even better brunch/hangover cure, dishing up tasty burgers - there's a whole section of the menu dedicated to the many varieties. I'd stick to the good old-fashioned cheeseburger, unless you're feeling a little adventurous, then go for the Fish Burger. If you're not sure what to have, you also have the choice of a plate of three different mini burgers.

Image credit: [here]


Loulou's

I had my very first Parisian burger at Loulou's, so this spot has a special place in my heart. Loulou the 'friendly diner' is as you can guess from the photo below, an American-style diner, kitted out with all American memorabilia that comes complete with an American food menu. My burger was a little on the pink side for my liking - I hadn't yet learnt the term 'bien-cuit' (French for well done) - but it delicious nonetheless and so were the chips. I think I had the Hamburger, but this place has over ten burger choices on the menu, with the option of adding extras such as chorizo and pastrami.

Image credit [here]


Hotel Amour 

Hotel Amour is a fashionable hotel and hipster haunt (what the French like to call 'Bobo') that was opened three years ago by Le Baron owners, Andre and Emmanuel Delavenne. It's, as the name suggests, situated just south of Pigalle - Paris' light district, and each room is decked out in an alluring, risqué design. But it's not the rooms I'm interested in, it's the cute bistro-style restaurant that serves up tasty burgers. And half the restaurant is sat under a giant conservatory, making it a great date destination. This is also a good place to come if La Maison Mere is booked up, as it's conveniently next door.

Image credit: [here]


Cantine California

I still haven't eaten here, but I have it on good authority that Cantine California dishes up the best burgers in Paris (I will let you know once I've tried them). Set up by an American/Canadian from San Francisco, who's married to a French woman, Cantine California is a French food truck that has brought America's street food trend to the boulevards of Paris. All the burgers are organic and are named after something American (of course) - there's 'The Dude's Burger' and the 'Cali'Classic Burger', personally I can't wait to get my chops around 'Obama's Burger AKA PanchoVilla'.

Image credit: [here]





Petit Paris

I'm still catching up from being away in London, so I thought I'd show you a few of the things I love about living in Paris:

No where does wrought iron balconies quite like Paris, and the windows wouldn't be French without shutters. We have them on all the windows of our flat, but they're not quite as beautiful as the ones below.

I live 10 minutes south of Sacre-Coeur and every time I walk up our street I see it perched on the hill surveying its city. At the top you have the most amazing view of Paris' rooftops.

Cafe culture is big in Paris. They don't have pubs like in London, so everyone sits out front on round tables and wicker chairs watching the world go by. The only unfortunate thing is that the French are not experts in coffee-making (despite being experts in every other culinary aspect) so if you do go to one of the traditional cafes I'd advise you against ordering a coffee (go for chocolat chaud), especially a cappuccino - you'll get a tiny cup of weak coffee with a mountain of froth on top. My advice is go to one of these that I wrote about earlier - the Aussies are slowly sneaking in and changing how Paris serves coffee, just like they did in London. Here's a great article in the FT about the burgeoning coffee trend.

What do you like about Paris?

Image credits [here]

Petit Paris: Concept Stores

You can't come to Paris without visiting a few of the city's concept stores. So here are my top five:

I think I visited Merci every time I came to Paris last year (which was a lot). Merci is a mecca for the style-conscious wanting to live in well-designed surroundings. I could spend hours in there browsing the clothes, flicking through the stationary and perusing the kitchenware, and then heading into one of the cafes for tea and cake. In fact I might ask if I can move in.

Image credit [here]
Wait is a vintage-style concept store from the founders of sunglasses brand, Waiting for the Sun, with a space that feels like you're walking into someone's living room. Complete with large sofa, rugs and wooden beams, it's actually their headquarters and office that they've fashioned into a shop, selling surfboards, bags, fragrances and vintage ware. The main thing that caught my eye was the vitage side-board and globe, which are very similar to the ones I have at home.

Image credit [here]
The Space was set up by two Brits - one of the girls inherited the shop from her grandmother, who was gifted the property by Elizabeth Taylor no less. It's a cosy store, with an old-world feel to it (see piano) and is perfect for magpies seeking out new treasures.

Image credit [here]


BABEL is Paris' newest concept store - it opened just after Christmas next to Canal Saint Martin in the 10th arrondissement - Paris' Bobo area (a bit like the capital's Dalston). With two large floor-to-ceiling windows, it's not unlike Merci Merci in style, but sports a slightly cosier feel with candles burning and armchairs dotted about. The owner, Vanessa Doger also teamed up with Taiwan-born Chen Costya, of 37m2 fame who is serving up Bubble Tea, a local Taiwanese drink made of tea mixed with fruit and milk, and pastries from Zen Zoo.

Image credit: Babel
I can't make a list of Parisian concept stores without mentioning the uber cool Colette that's a Paris Fashion Week favourite. The three-storey shop is Paris' most famous concept store and houses a cafe, small gallery space with a monthly rotation of exhibitions, books and music, and a cherry-picked selection of designs by brands such as Band of Outsiders, Carven, Maison Martin Margiela and Simone Rocha.

Image credit: Colette












Petit Paris: Bones

I've just heard about new restaurant Bones that's now on my to-try list. Set up by Australian-born chef James Henry, of Au Passage (also on the list) fame, it as the name suggests, has an emphasis on raw, stripped-back-to-the-bone ingredients. I also love the rustic look of the place with its industrial lamps, unfinished walls and wooden tables - typically French. With any new opening this place is of course booked up for the next few weeks, but I may pop along to sample the pig-suckling sandwiches that are served at the bar.

Photo: Le Fooding

Petit Paris: Cafes

I had my favourite cafe haunts in London, so I've been slowly trying out and making a list of good cafes to meet for coffee in, in Paris. One thing I've found out, in the few months that I've been here, is that the French don't make good coffee. Ask for a cappuccino in a typical Parisian-style cafe or brasserie and you'll get a weenie cup piled high with a mountain of foam. So I've been seeking out cafes that, to be honest resemble the sort I liked to wile away hours in, in London whilst sipping on a good cup of strong coffee made from either Monmouth or Square Mile beans. Here are a few of the best I've found and sat in so far. They are all also good for freelancers. Kooka Boora especially is usually overrun with desk-less souls happily tapping away on laptops.

62, rue de Martyrs. Metro: Pigalle. [mage credit: here]

24, rue de Vinaigriers, 75010. Metro: Gare de l'est. [image credit: here]

5 rue Villedo, 75001. Metro: Pyramides. [image credit: here]