Monday, January 31, 2011

The Bretagne Region

Pennarch Beach
Saint Thugien Beach
Douarnenez Port
Region's pastry, the Kouign amann
A 13th Century ChurchA typical home, circa 1870
Langouste à la Crème at L'Etrave Restaurant

La Bretagne, or Brittany in English, is a region in the north-western region of France that is home to about 4,365,000 people. The region boasts beautiful coastlines, serene views and the best seafood money can buy. About 5hours and 50 mins away by car from Paris, La Bretagne is a great getaway spot during the summer. You won't find the crazy crowds that you find in the south, but for a reason. In the peak of summer (July-August), the sea remains at about 17 degrees Celcius!

Just like Barcelona and their Catalan language, Brittany also has its own. Its called Breton and is a Celtic language that is closer to Welsh than it is to French. In fact, it sounds NOTHING like French! Some words I picked up: Kouign amann (see picture above, it is a pastry that consists of lots of butter and lots of sugar) and kenavo (which means good bye).

Other than the vast nature and picturesque views of the sea, what I appreciate most about Bretagne is its food. Like I mentioned in my earlier blog, this is where the french crêpe is originated. I had a creamy scallop crêpe to die for, followed by my usual caramel au beurre salé. The restaurant L'Etrave is known for its seafood. Here, you can expect only the best of quality, and warm hospitality that Parisians are not so used to :p

So, if you love nature and want to experience la campagne (the countryside), attempt to be different from other tourists and make your way here. Reserve a chambre d'hote (a bed and breakfast), rent a bicycle and bask in the beauty...

Photos by Me

Grégoire Toi + Moi

Love this!

Courtesy of Youtube

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Cobblestone Street at Sentier

When I first moved to Paris in 2008, this was one of the first neighborhoods that I discovered. It confirmed everything that I imagined Paris to be. Cobblestone streets, little restaurants, bakeries and ice cream shops, and super trendy urban shopping, all accessible by walking. Part of the 2eme arrondissement, it has long be known as Paris's textile industry district until today. For a guaranteed "wow, I'm in Paris" feeling, take the 3 line and get off at Sentier. Walk down rue des Petits Carreaux which then becomes rue Montorgueil, and explore the streets in between.

I must say that the cafés and restaurants on this stretch isn't great for food, but super for people watching. The price of apartments in the area have skyrocketed, and most of the people who live here have probably been around for a long time. Apartment rentals for short stay are also available, and although it isn't ideal since its close to Les Halles (a forum styled shopping area where teenagers love to hang out and sometimes cause trouble), it is quite a central location for tourists.

So, on a sunny day, come here and savor the sights of florists and fruit markets. Walk all the way down until you reach Les Halles, then turn back and take the train from the Sentier or Etienne Marcel station rather than the Les Halles station. It is a great neighborhood to bask in Parisian lifestyle and to not worry too much about bumping into a tourist from your country.. ;)

Photos by AG
Metro: Sentier, Etienne Marcel, Les Halles

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cirque du Soleil Saltimbanco

Last Friday, I attended for the first time in my life, a Cirque du Soleil show. Saltimbanco was in town for 3 days, and I grabbed 2 carré d'or tickets as soon as I could. I was so excited, I screamed so loud in the car that J had to calm me down. I felt like a 5 year old in FAO Schwarz, every sentence that came out of my mouth ended with a squeal.

As soon as the spectacle started, it was hard to keep my mouth closed. I was thinking, "wow these people must be on shrooms 24/7", "damn they must all be realllyy good in bed", "is that a woman? a man? a kid?", and "ohhh they all look like candy!" The scene was brought to life by characters in very colorful leotards who speak a foreign language.

"Saltimbanco -from the Italian "saltare in banco", which literally means "to jump on a bench"-explores the urban experience in all its myriad forms: the people who live there, their idiosyncrasies and likenesses, families and groups, the hustle and bustle of the street and the towering heights of skyscrapers. Between whirlwind and lull, prowess and poetry, Saltimbanco takes spectators on an allegorical and acrobatic journey into the heart of the city. Saltimbanco is a Cirque du Soleil signature show inspired by the urban fabric of the metropolis and its colorful inhabitants. Decidedly baroque in its visual vocabulary, the show's eclectic cast of characters draws spectators into a fanciful, dreamlike world, an imaginary city where diversity is a cause for hope."


Photos by Me

Friday, January 14, 2011

Café Angelina

Café Angelina, a tea salon founded in 1903, sits grandly opposite the Jardin de Tuileries and next to the renowned Hotel Meurice. Here, you can sit on Louis 16 style chairs, sip on the best hot chocolate in Paris, and get completely immersed in Parisian lifestyle.

Usually during tourist season (pretty much throughout the year), you'll find a long line for the tea salon. This kills a little the "Parisian lifestyle" ambience that I mentioned, but you can beat the crowd by coming in the morning before 10:30am. It helps too if it is rainy out. In the worst case, you can takeaway a cup of hot chocolate for €4.20 and a pain au chocolat and find a seat in the gardens right opposite. Make sure you have a bottle of water in handy, as the hot chocolate is really thick! Thick enough to dip churros in ;)

My personal favorite is their chocolate chaud au chocolat blanc (white chocolate hot chocolate). Not to be found anywhere else so far, it costs quite a lot, €6.80 for a single pot. So worth it! Pair it together with their €3.00 pain au chocolat and you are in Parisian breakfast heaven.

226 Rue de Rivoli
75001 Paris
Photos by Me

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Sale 2011

Doors open at 8am, and will end Tuesday, 15th February. Based on experience, safe to say that you will find up to 70% off. Last winter, even Chanel had sales up to 30% off! Be careful of pickpockets and happy shopping everyone!!

Photos courtesy of Google Image

Monday, January 10, 2011

La Bocca Della Verita Ristorante

On a recent trip to Kuala Lumpur, J and I realized how much Malaysians just LOVE Italian food. Italian restaurants are coming up like mushrooms in KL, and that is the reason why I decided to write a blog on this quaint little restaurant in the heart of the St Germain district in Paris.

I can totally understand, when its cold and windy, you just don't feel like having small portions of food in big beautiful plates in a fancy French restaurant. All you want is to put on your comfiest pair of jeans and have a huge plate of pasta, or any kind of carbs really. This restaurant, situated on a paved road in a calm and quiet corner of St Germain, would fit the bill. Fancy enough to put on a little black dress for dinner, yet warm and inviting enough for "comfy clothes" during lunchtime.

Surprisingly, its menu that had quite a choice of truffled plates will not break the bank. Starters go up to €19, the first main plate up to €35 and pastas up to €32. I had a lovely time savoring my tortelloni with cream of white truffles, and J his spaghetti with mussels. The staff was wonderful- warm, friendly and bilingual. It was the perfect spot for a Sunday lunch date with the man of my dreams..

Photos by Me
2/4 rue du Sabot
75006 Paris

Sunday, January 9, 2011

BVLGARI at the Grand Palais

Bulgari, an iconic Italian jeweller, shows off "125 years of Italian magnificence" from 10th December 2010 until 12th January 2011 in the chic exhibition hall of the Grand Palais. On a very rainy Friday, jetlegged and groggy, I forced myself to go by buying tickets online. (€12.00 for ticket, +€0.50 for home printed e-ticket.) Ticket in hand, there was no way I'd wiggle my way out! JB met me there, and we spent a good 1.5-2.0 hours oohing and aahing at the biggest diamond porn show I have ever attended.

My eyes have been trained to look at anything that sparkles, and sparkling things did I see! The exhibition was an ensemble of the house's collection from the 1930s up until now, as well as pieces owned by individuals. Most of these individuals are Italian actresses and well, super rich people around the world. I must say that the designs became tackier and tackier towards the 1990s, my favorite collections remain those from the 30s, 40s, and 50s.

There wasn't a crowd outside and I could've easily bought tickets at the counter, but it was quite a scene inside the exhibition. We spent a good chunk of our time there crawling inch by inch in line in order to get the closest views of the rocks. If you are one that appreciates sparkly things, do go, and hurry up it ends in a couple of days!

Photos by Me
Last 2 photos courtesy of Google Images