Paris gets better and better

The past few days have been amazing, I feel like my time in Paris keeps getting better and better and I'm not just talking about my social calendar, it's the weather. Spring must be on its way because we are getting so much sun and daylight lasts a little longer. The Seine River has also stopped flooding and the boats have started to operate as per usual. Daytime strolls feels and looks warmer and people just seems to be happier. 

Graduation ceremony

The major highlight of all my events within the past days was the glorious day of graduation ceremony from the prestigious Sorbonne. Also known as the day where I became “the idiot who woke up late”! I’m eternally grateful for my dear friends who texted and called to wake me up. You can gather from this story that it wasn’t the first time they had to do that and this only makes me appreciate them even more. Cue group hug :)

Sorbonne’s grand amphitheatre

It was such a privilege to be allowed into the beautiful Sorbonne’s grand amphitheatre for this occasion to receive our certificates.

Lunch at Breakfast in America

After the ceremony, we head out to a celebratory lunch. We figured there had been enough French grammar drilling between all of us at the Sorbonne, it’s time for a treat, the American Diner way. Good thing we arrived just before the line gets long like the picture above.

I had fluffy pancakes with maple syrup and bottomless black coffee. The simplest thing makes me so happy and this was a particularly feel-good day.

Dinner at Candelaria

Still in the name of celebration, I went with Jackie for Mexican tacos at Candelaria. Great service, guacamole, margarita slushie and cocktails. Thank you Jackie for the drinks!

With 33 Avenue at Le Pain Quotidien

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Malou from 33 Avenue for the first time. Her blog reveals the wonderful world of travel of a married woman with child who still managed to find time holding a respectable specialized career whilst juggling everything efficiently.

Malou resides in Zurich but visits Paris with her daughter, Sophie, every chance they get. We spent a good 2-hour in the café over hot chocolates and just talking about her travelling experience during her single college days and now. I was also admiring her beautiful accessories and how she’s ever so stylish even with a toddler in tow.

Galerie Vivienne

There are a few hidden passages in Paris and Galerie Vivienne is the first one I’ve ever visited. This mosaic-floored passage felt very old world and romantic and I really love wandering in and out of all the boutiques and the vintage stores. It felt special to walk underneath the canopy-styled roofs. I can’t wait to discover the rest of Paris' hidden passages.

Valentine’s Day

My first Valentine's Day in Paris was wonderful. Even though it was a foggy and rainy day, Carin made the perfect Valentine’s date. We celebrated by indulging in our favourite dish of Les Cocottes. I must thank Carin for introducing me to all Christian Constant’s establishments which have become staples in my Paris-must and she also posted a beautiful write up and the most exquisite photographs of her date with me which you can check out right here.

Nuts about Ice Cream

After our very delicious meals, having dessert felt obligatory especially since the two of us possess deep, unfaltering love for ice-cream so we decided to head to Berthillon in Île Saint-Louis. We had a great time debating which ice-cream brand wins our votes and this involved having two more dates at Pozzetto and Häagen-Dazs (not all on the same day of course!) In saying that, my waistline is now one size wider thanks to all the ice cream I have been eating this past week.

Home make-over

I also had a chance to do a tiny home make-over to create a better study space. It was just a matter of shifting furniture and reorganising but I’m very happy with how it looks now. It’s amazing how a tiny change can do so much.

Dinner at Verjus

Home makeover felt like such a workout so I felt like I deserve a treat and headed to Verjus Wine Bar with Carin to try their butter-milk fried chicken and shoe-string fries. We were both of the same opinion of our experience here, here's the link to Carin's post to discover more about the restaurant.

Evening walk

We also decided to walk home since the weather held and the city was lit beautifully as usual. Chose a longer route by going into the Louvre, along the Seine, behind Notre Dame… Parisian nights like these are the best.

I love walking behind Notre Dame

Saturday night with the girls

Both of Milsters's sister and best friend are in town visiting so she hosted an evening out and kindly invited Carin and I to join them for cocktails at that new hip bar Little Red Door. Note: that little red door doesn’t function and it took us few minutes to figure it out and enter through the side door haha.

Then we headed to La Briciola for some good, thin-crusted pizza. I’m heading to Italy very soon and apparently these are the kinds of deliciousness I should be expecting in Italy. I am so excited already!

Good morning Eiffel

Breakfast with Edna

I also had the chance to spend a wonderful morning with Edna for breakfast in her neighbourhood where Eiffel Tower is just a block away – whoosh! – and she also took me to possibly the biggest supermarket I have seen within Paris. We spent the morning walking and eating pain au chocolat at the boulangerie and just talked about everything there is about Paris, travel and her world-wide adventures. It was great fun!

Salvador Dali at Centre de Pompidou

Okay I have to admit that I didn’t really enjoy this particular exhibition mainly because I didn’t understand Salvadore Dali’s interpretation of ‘surrealism’ but at least it got me ticking off my art-once-a-week checklist.

I also got to see the sun set view from the top floor of Centre de Pompidou and to see the sun light washes over Paris slowly was just incredible. That was the one aspect I enjoyed most from this visit.

I won another argument (in French of course)

My dear friend and I arrived 30-minutes early to our film session at the cinema and as we bought our tickets, I asked one of the staff if I was allowed to bring hot coffee from outside vendors into the cinema and she said “of course!” This was a delight as you normally wouldn't be allowed to do so in Sydney cinemas. So off we went to Starbucks and brought back a large-sized coffee. As we were about to walk into the cinema, a man (from the ticketing counter) called us over and told me (in a rude unpleasant way!) that my drink was not allowed even after I explained to him that the lady beside him said it was okay. So I walked over to the lady and asked her “Excuse me Madame. I asked you before if it was okay to bring in hot coffee from outside into the cinema and you said it was fine, but this man is telling me otherwise.” The lady agreed with me and ensured us we should just get in.

Now before you start thinking of me as an angry woman trolling through the city, I feel like living in Paris has helped me to be braver whenever I face “that-ain’t-right!” situations and expressing my thoughts in French had been very helpful. I walked away from the counter with my coffee into the cinema and watched as the two exchanged mutters on what’s okay and what’s not.

By the way we watched Les Miserables film in which I cried many times during. 

Travel plan

Now as of a few hours ago I have just booked the last bit of reservation for my February-March travel plan. I will depart Paris in a couple of days to explore Italy, French Riviera, Spain and Iceland so you will see me posting a lot of travel photographs. 

Again I must apologize for doing such a big weekly recount but thanks to Instagram and Facebook, you can find more regular updates of my daily adventures and here’s a collage of pictures from the recent days.

Thank you so much for reading and have a wonderful day.

My very Parisian week

The past week that just gone by had been utterly enjoyable. I really feel like Paris had been spoiling me with so many activities but left me with not much time to blog about them separately so here are the low-downs of my last 7 days which was filled with a lot of good food, meetings with amazing people, art exhibition, celebrating Chinese New Year, lots of strollings and my first French argument where I felt very French (because I spoke French haha)

Les Cocottes

Les Cocottes is my go-to place whenever I have overseas visitors and every person I've taken there, loved it. The owner, Christian Constant, owns 2 other restaurants on the same street and each of these three is just 2 doors away from the other, divided by style and price range but they are all great. The one dish that I will always recommend from Les Cocottes is the langoustine ravioli (shown in the picture below).

So when Jackie told me she's never been to Les Cocottes, I took this chance to get to know her more and learn about her journey in Paris plus it's my turn to do the ordering on her behalf. We spent the evening with great food and shared a bottle of white wine. Jackie is a current MBA student focusing on luxury brand management at the prestigious Essec Business School. She gave me a lot of insight into her study program and what it consisted of (lots hard work!) and I learnt many interesting facts about luxury brands.

Eiffel Tower

Since the restaurant is situated so close to the Eiffel Tower, it only makes it easier to give ourselves a reason to walk off dinner whilst waiting for the light show.

Van Cleef & Arpels on 22 Place Vendôme

I visited the Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition at Les Arts Décoratifs. It was such a fascinating experience to see a vast collection of these coveted jewels under one roof, learning about the history of this highly influential empire and admiring (with dropped jaw) the magnificent crown of Princess Charlene of Monaco. I should let you know that I give myself a pat on the back when I do at least one art-related activity per week. The above is a photograph of Van Cleef & Arpels first store in Paris which has opened since 1906.

Lunch date with Daisy de Plume

On the one day when the sky was unbelievably blue in Paris this week, I took a nice long walk and the day got even better when it came to lunchtime as I had a date with Daisy de Plume, the founder of THATLou and the organizer of my recent treasure hunt at Musee d’Orsay. She’s just as wonderful as I once described her to be and proved by our 2-hour lunch! (We had so much to talk about that we lost track of time) You can read more about this fantastic lady here and here.

My first angry experience – in French!

I visited Darty, a store that sells general appliances, to buy a hair curling iron. I found what I wanted to buy and was ready to pay for it and leave. After repeatedly demanding to 5 different staff in 3 different floors and 30 minutes of waiting, I got really impatient. So I took the display version of the hair curler I wanted which was attached to a huge square plastic holder, brought the whole thing to the cashier and said “I want to buy this”. The manager halted me and said “you can’t do that, put it back! And you must wait!” With all my furiousness, I responded, “No! I have waited for a long time, asked a lot people and no one came! I’m not going to wait anymore and I will also not put this back!” To my surprise, the guy turned his attitude 180 degrees and became very nice and polite. He took the hair curler display from my hands, walked me to a cashier, got me to pay then served me my new, boxed hair curler appliance. I walked out thinking “that’s interesting”.  Is that how the French operate?

My exam results

So I successfully spoke my mind out in French when frustrated but when it came to exam time, I get nervous and when exam results are out, I get scared to leave my bed. But it turned out I passed yay! and this called for a little celebration with great friends.

Rice & Fish Restaurant

Yummy prawns sushi at Rice & Fish (22 Rue Greneta 75002 Paris)

Comme à Lisbonne

And these delicious Portuguese tarts from Comme à Lisbonne.

Friday night comfort food

Friday night called for comfort food and I have Jackie now on speed dial haha. We went to Bon Mua Restaurant (36 Rue de Trévise 75009 Paris), which is officially my hiding place whenever I wanted my comfort food of Vietnamese grilled pork chops. The pork chops here are on par with I find in my usual Asian hunts in Sydney. I have high expectation when it comes to pork chops so trust me when I say it’s good.

Brunch at Ladurée

I’m a major fan of French toast and really wanted to try the ones from Ladurée. I was delighted when Faye said yes to another dessert date. She’s not sick of me yet! I only have the nicest things to say about my French toast. It was fluffy, light and delicious and can see myself coming to Ladurée strictly for this specific item many times in the future. I can’t deny how pretty Ladurée is in all their presentation. Please click here to see Faye's post about our date and her thoughts on Ladurée's desserts.

Avenue des Champs-Élysées

Saturday Strolls

After our delicious brunch, Faye and I continued to walk along Avenue des Champs-Élysées and turned into Rue Saint Honoré. It was such a lovely day and I was really glad to have such a cool, sweet and adorable companion with me.

Roberto Cavalli and Repetto

Happy Chinese New Year

Paris doesn’t have a designated “Chinatown” like most major cities. Any district which have a grouped area of Chinese residents, supermarkets and restaurants can be classified as “Chinatown”. I chose to visit Porte d’Italie in the 13th arrondissement as it seemed to be the most recommended area to see lively festivities. It warmed me to see abundance of red lanterns and people shopping to prepare for Chinese New Year's Feasts.

Raclette, French steamboat?

My friends from church kindly invited me over for a dinner feast of Raclette, which I can only describe as French steamboat but instead of using broth and seafood, we used lots and lots of cheese and can mix and match the types of cheese and toppings. It was a lot of fun! Dessert was raclette marshmallows and chocolate. What an amazing (French) way to celebrate Chinese New Year.

The Seine River

For the whole week, the water level of the Seine River had been really high. The cruise boats have stopped operating and you can't really walk alongside the river.

Okay that was a lot to recap in one week. As I said earlier, Paris had been spoiling me with the most enjoyable activities but it gives me the dilemma of not having enough time to update my blog more regularly. So here’s a collage of what I’ve been posting in my Instagram account and Facebook page from the past days. You are most welcomed to find me under “willsheloveparis” to get more regular updates.

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you will have the most enjoyable week ahead.

Perfect weekend in Paris

I’m so grateful that my February calendar flicked open with the most hectic but enjoyable dates!

The most delightful view from the rooftop of Printemps.

Friday 1st was spent with a dear friend whom I met in French class at the Sorbonne. Together we attempted to tackle the Paris’ sales and roamed through Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. Lots of catching up, Japanese noodles and Taiwanese bubble tea followed suit.

Saturday started early with a 90-minutes line up at Grand Palais to see the Edward Hopper exhibition which had been worth the wait. I’m feeling rather proud as this had been the first art showcase I saw right after proclaiming what a non-art aficionado I really am in my treasure hunt post and yet I really enjoyed (read: understood) the works and the artist’s journey.

Clueless me wouldn't have heard of this exhibition if it wasn't for an invitation from Milsters who I was dying to meet having followed her blog, Little Pieces of Light, for a long time now. After getting to know more about her during the queue, I can safely say Milsters is a petite ball of fire who I can talk incessantly of. She is a well-cultured Ivy-League graduate, who adores and clearly knows her art history and whose life and careers are brightly coloured with round the globe adventures.

After the exhibition we headed straight to Le Marais and joined Carin and Edna to celebrate Candlemas. In France, this day is also known as Crêpes Day so we spoiled ourselves accordingly with Breton Crêpes and cider at Breizh Café. I went ga-ga over my glorious salted caramel crêpe. Delish!

I’ve come to appreciate Sundays out of all days. It’s the perfect day to laze in cafés and have that long dragged brunch. I invited the sweet and adorable Faye from Farfelue for a dessert meet-up to have our first meeting. It was a pleasure getting to know her more, learning about her positive experience in Paris and most importantly sharing our infatuation with desserts. She hauled me into Un Dimanche À Paris – translates into “a Sunday in Paris”. Ha! It’s so literal isn’t it?

The lemon meringue tart was delicious with the perfect tang and went well countering my thick hot chocolate drink.

It’s worth mentioning that the waiters here were really hospitable, pleasant, polite and friendly. One of them charmingly forced us to speak French in the good intention to get us practicing our French. Not many waiters do that in Paris, a lot of the places I go too will just greet in English because they assumed “it’s faster that way”.

Aside from shopping, catching-up, art exhibitions, making new friends, gorging on crepes, desserts and hot chocolates, I also indulged in hours and hours of strolling. Along the Seine River, backstreets of Saint Germain des Prés, crossing through Place de la Concorde to Jardin de Tuileries and straight onto Place Vendôme and onto Rue Saint Honoré where I saw the most beautiful window display at Hermès.

Now to me, this recount brought about the idea of my perfect weekend in Paris. Can you share with me your idea of the perfect weekend in Paris?

Treasure Hunt At The Musée d’Orsay

Having lived in Paris for 6 months, you would think that I must have already visited at least a few museums. Nope. So I’m just going to put it out there. I am absolutely clueless when it comes to art. For me, tackling museums in Paris is a “must-do” but feels more of a chore than fun.

Well last night, this perspective changed thanks to my participation in Treasure Hunt at Musée d’Orsay – THATd’Or. This had been a private event hosted by AFMO’s Avant Garde and organized by Daisy de Plume, the founder of Treasure Hunt at the Louvre, more familiarly known as THATLou.

The rule of the hunt was actually simple albeit challenging. We were put into teams of 3-4 then given a map of the museum and a questionnaire which had 24 treasures with images and blocks of text giving insights into the actual work of arts. The goal is to see as many treasures as possible and prove it by filling in the date the art was acquired or who donated it.

Daisy built last night’s hunt on Motion and Movement theme so I mustn’t forget to mention some “bonus points” involved shamelessly demanding strangers to take our pictures while posing to resemble pieces of dancing arts.

What made this especially fun was how you couldn’t help become instinctively competitive. There’s this urge of wanting to race the others however there were A LOT of strict rulings: no running was allowed and your team must remain together at all times and not be more than 3 meters apart, oof! It was hard. I was panting by the time we had to return to checkpoint because we had gone up and down the 5 levels of the museum. Yet I was itching to go back up and around a bit more because my team didn’t manage to find all the treasures and you know what? I was furiously curious.

The team with the most points won tickets to the upcoming Easter treasure hunt at the Louvre. Alas my team didn’t win but still, I was left yearning to revisit the museum, complete the questionnaire AND to take my time looking at everything else which caught my attention during the hunt.

So has this experience changed my thoughts on museums? Yes! Did I have fun? Hells yes!

Not only did the hunt stimulate my artless soul, it also gave me more understanding of each treasure. It was also a great way to meet new people and realised I’m not the only clueless person in Paris.

I talked to Daisy during the post-hunt drinks and found her to be the most down-to-earth person you could ever imagine. Her humility was heart-warming and you couldn’t help but like her instantly. On top of that, she was extremely organised and I am grateful to be included in the program despite joining at the last minute.

Right now I’m busy stalking Daisy’s blog because I’m totally keen on participating in the next scheduled treasure hunt at the Louvre. If you can relate to me and are looking for more interesting way to visit museums, check out her site as well and see if it could be something for you.

Parisian NYE

I hope you all have had a wonderful first day of 2013. I wanted to share with you how New Year's Eve in Paris looked like as it is one of the special days that lots of people dream to experience including myself. Let me start by saying that the first time I heard of "no fireworks in Paris on new year's eves", I was a little disappointed. Coming from Sydney which is known for its world's best NYE fireworks, my jaw hung. Really? Why not? Why not explode millions of dollars in the air in the form of pretty sparkles to welcome the New Year? Well as it turns out, fireworks in France are reserved for Bastille Day, the national celebration day, which falls annually on 14 July to commemorate the beginning of French Revolution. Since I was curious to see how else New Year's Eve is done in Paris, I did some research and also went around to feel the ambience.

I started my new year's eve adventure by visiting my local market, Marché Maubert, to see what the stocks are like because I read somewhere in my research that the French treat themselves on luxurious homemade meals and hold private dinners at their homes. That sounds really lovely and boy did these fresh inventories look their best or what!

Then I went to one of my favourite spots, Trocadero, and saw the Christmas Market plus the ice skating rink were still running. The area had more crowds than usual and since it was quite tough to find my way through the crowds, I had to get away really quickly.

Next stop is Boulevard Haussmann's shopping area. Do Parisians also shop on New Year's Eve? Yes they do. The area was jam-packed with mad shoppers. Fighting my way through the crowds reminded me of the time I used to live in Lafayette Maison. So glad I no longer do.

Some Parisians spend their New Year's Eve sitting down on the stairs of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. It was such a shame the weather didn't hold as it would have been quite lovely to see. The Christmas lights were very pretty.

The smaller streets quietened down and restaurants started to empty after 9pm because that's the time to head down to Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

The above shows how Avenue des Champs Élysées looked like at around 11pm. Cars were still allowed to drive along the avenue whereas on the sidewalks, people were scrambling to find shelter and bunched up together. I saw a lot of miserable faces and it was icy cold too. I kept wondering how close to midnight will the police finally stop the traffic and allow people to step on the road. There were countless people coming out of the metro exits and they were squeezed together like canned sardines. Lots of them were quite frustrated and some began to push their way out which made it worse. The police actioned for caution and whatever they did made a very loud choir-like scream come from the ascending commuters. At this point I felt rather unsafe so I decided that Champs-Elysees would not be my midnight spot.

Instead I turned right into Avenue Montaigne and walked along my favourite street of Paris which was so beautifully adorned with lights and Christmas trees. I walked past the gorgeous Plaza Athénée and followed the shooting light from the one and only.

I walked towards the end of the road where the Eiffel Tower was fully visible and that's where I stood at the stroke of midnight. Due to rain I managed to only take pictures at 00:00 with my iPhone and uploaded it onto Instagram. You are most welcome to visit my instagram if you'd like to see it.

As subtle as it may seemed, I'm really glad to have experienced New Year's Eve in Paris. I understand different cultures celebrate things differently but this only made me appreciate my hometown even more. Conclusion: Paris wins on foiegras & macarons but New Year's Eve? Sydney wins!