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Blé Sucré is on so many lists as the best croissant in Paris that I had to taste them for myself 🙂 The tiny shop has a few tables outside if you want to have a coffee and eat facing the park, but I didn’t want my croissant accompanied by the melody of screeching children, so I took mine to go. This is a pâtisserie not a boulangerie, which means they offer pastries but do not sell bread. If you want a baguette, go elsewhere, but come here for the madeleines, the pain au chocolat, or the croissants. The croissants here are HUGE by Parisian standards, easily twice as big as others.

The airy light layers and satisfying crunchy flakiness make for the best of combinations, and I added these croissants to my favorites list along with all the others who came before I did 🙂

Not far away is another kind of pâtisserie, La Rose de Tunis, specializing in North African sweets infused with honey, nuts, and spices. This one is in Belleville in the 11th, but there are other locations in the 15th and 18th, as well as in other cities throughout Europe. There is always a line out the door, so be prepared to wait for your sweet treats.

Since I went to the Yelp event at Les Piaules, I wanted to explore the Belleville area a bit more along Blvd Belleville with all the streetside vendors making freshly grilled breads filled with your choice of meat, tomatoes, onions; think of it as an alternative to pizza:)

The stores sell products I’ve never seen before, like Rose jam!

There were also markets that sell products I knew very well,

like roasted ducks and char siu.

Off Rue Belleville, which intersects Blvd Belleville, the famous graffiti of Rue Denoyez adds color

 and art to everything from the storefronts to the plant holders.

Some artists were working as I passed by, but this area will be transforming in the next few years to “modernize” the street and about 30 of the local workshops and artists will be displaced despite a petition with over 10,000 signatures trying to preserve the character of this street.

The most surprising thing I saw in the neighborhood wasn’t the rose jam or the graffiti, but a Lamborghini, the only one I’ve ever seen in Paris 🙂

Yelp Elite events in Paris are all fun, but the one last week at Les Piaules was one of my favorites:) Les Piaules translates to “little room” or crashpad” so it’s a perfect name for a hostel! Les Piaules is also a local hangout offering free wifi, 3€ ($3.30 USD) craft beer, and weekly events like live music and movies. This is one of the rare places that comfortably and easily allows tourists to mingle with people in the neighborhood.

A spacious outside terrace lets everyone take advantage of the rare days when it doesn’t rain, but comfortable sofas and stuffed chairs inside by the fireplace offer a cozy haven when the weather is chilly or wet.

Rooms come in a variety of sizes and prices, ranging from private double rooms with its own bathroom, to a shared dormitory for eight with shared bathroom. Prices range from around 35-120€ ($40-140 USD) depending on the season and space. This is one of the 4 bed dorms, with privacy blackout curtains, individual sockets, a private locker, and reading lamps.

The sense of humor of the owners is evident in the hallway signs 🙂

If you want to escape your room, and don’t want to relax in the bar, the rooftop is reserved for guests of the hostel with panoramic views of Montparnasse to Sacré Coeur.

Even on a gray day, the sunset over Paris rooftops is a picture worthy way to say goodnight 🙂

One of the advantages of walking in Paris is that you may find places you would miss using any other mode of transportation. The slower pace of life here can take some adjustment, especially for people from cities in the US, but there are rewards of pleasurable discoveries like La Trésorerie (they are working on an English version of their website, but they have people who speak English answering their phone lines). Prices are reasonable, neither the lowest and nor the highest for brand names and types of products; you may find lower prices in the big department stores during sales, but this place will have less crowds and better service.

I don’t really have room for any more pots and pans, but it’s always fun to browse:)

Tea and coffee sets and cups give you an option of making a beverage at home.

They have utensils from butter spreaders to zesters.

If you need extra hooks, they have those too.

Lights, tables, throws, curtains,

and coordinated linens to enhance your decor.

They even have practical things like cleaning supplies and tools.

The most practical part of this store was their attached cafe,

with Swedish snacks and sweets to sustain you as you shop:)

Even though it may seem charming to walk the streets of Paris with an umbrella, I prefer to spend cold rainy days indoors, so I’ve spent most of the Winters here hibernating in my heated home. The lure of shopping with friends in a warm covered market got me to venture out a bit to the Marché Saint Martin. We were seeking something to bring to a goûter, or the afternoon snack between lunch and dinner. Even though my three friends were all French natives, no one had ever been to this market, so we meandered and shopped the stalls as tourists:)

Fresh vegetables for crudites,

 cheese from cows, sheep, and goats,

 and bread made with pumpkin seeds, nuts, and sesame.

 It wouldn’t be a French market without wine,

 and local beef.

 If you don’t want to cook, you can buy prepared food to warm up at home,

 or snacks to nibble on as you await dinner.

 The center area was full of bins of oysters,

 or you can opt for seafood, already cooked and ready to eat.

Some of the stalls were closed on Saturday, like the one selling pastries, but you can always have fresh fruit for dessert 🙂

It would take several lifetimes to find all the neighborhood treasures in Paris. The only way to really get to know where they are in any quartier is to live, work, or attend school in the area. I am lucky enough to have friends who have done the hunting for me, and found Les Parigots, which literally translates to “The Parisians”, near Place de la République.

This warm comfortable café is what most Americans think of when imagining a meal among the neighborhood natives. For those of you who want to eat in a classic casual place away from tourists, Les Parigots has two added incentives for Anglophone visitors: they serve food all afternoon, without a mid afternoon break between lunch and dinner; and they have an English menu printed on the reverse of their French one. Even with the restaurant completely full, I did not hear one word of English, so I’m not sure why they had the translated menu, perhaps having it printed avoided having the servers trying to explain the menu to any non French speakers. The menu choices include enough variety for vegetarians, meat lovers, and fish eaters, all very reasonably priced for quality ingredients.

The front room has views of the street, and behind the bar, there is a back area for larger groups. We opted for sidewalk view and ordered 4 kirs to start and a 46 ml carafe of red Samur to share with our meal, totaling about 40 Euros or $50 USD for all our drinks for the four of us.

Two of my friends ordered the mushroom risotto, made with shiitakes, served with a side arugula salad and confit walnuts for 16 Euros, or about $18 USD. I found the rice needed salt, but since a salt cellar was on the table alongside a pepper grinder, it was no problem to add it.

I ordered the hand cut beef tartare, which came with crispy excellent fries, and a nicely dressed side salad for 16 Euros, or about $18 USD. Condiments were offered on the side, including Worcestershire, tabasco, mustard, and ketchup, so I happily mixed my tartare to my taste. The meat was tender, lightened by bits of Granny Smith apple, and although I appreciate cheese, I picked out the cubes in the tartare to eat with my salad rather than my tartare.

The other meat lover at lunch ordered the steak for 25 Euros or $30 USD which she requested bleu (very rare) but warm. It came bleu but not warm, and it was such a large piece of meat that it took her 30 minutes more than the rest of us to finish her meal.

Since everything is made in house, the desserts were creations that allowed the chef to be fanciful, like this grapefruit “pie” on a cookie crust,

and this “soup” of clementines with cardamon and bits of meringue; both desserts were 8 Euros or $9 USD, and both were refreshingly light ways to end a meal.

The best part of any meal is the company 🙂

Not far from the shopping area near the Opéra is a great little bistro called the Bon Georges, which reopens today after their holiday hiatus:) They have a great lunch menu for 19 Euros ($21 USD), but the daily specials tempted @ALadyInFrance and me too much to resist.

I chose the fish, a delicate merlan, or whiting, perfectly done with a crispy skin, braised endives, and a tomato relish.

She chose the tarragon chicken breast special, but it was so dry, even the sauces couldn’t save it.

The fries accompanying her dish were fantastic, crisp, obviously home made, and she was generous enough to share 🙂

Jennie opted for a dessert to end the meal on a sweet note:)

The total with a glass of wine was 70 Euros ($80) for both of us, and service was so friendly and pleasant that we left a bit more for the waitress who not only hung our coats, but got an extra chair for our handbags!

The Musée Rodin reopened this year with over 7 acres of gardens and sculptures. You can easily spend a day here wandering around contemplating the meaning of life 🙂

The temporary exhibit usually has a very short line, but the permanent exhibit line stretched down to the edge of the sculpture garden. Entry fees range from about 3-11 Euros ($4-13 USD), with the first Sunday of every month free, but be prepared for lines on sunny days. These days there are security checks for all museums, so leave your backpacks at home.

There are sculptures along the side of the garden which are protected from the elements due to their fragile nature.

The sturdier sculptures are scattered throughout the garden.

 

This gives you an idea of the scale of the garden area; this view is looking back at the building with the permanent exhibitions,

and this is one of the pathways from the permanent exhibition to the rotunda,

with a pond surrounded by sculptures.

One of the nice things about having sculptures outdoors is that you can literally touch them.

The Eiffel Tower is hidden by the fog, just behind the “Thinking Man”, as obscure as his thoughts…

Comfort food is whatever makes you feel better, and I’ve been missing the US lately, so I craved an American burger. Everyone has recommended Le Camion Qui Fume, or the “Smoking Truck”  the first food truck here in Paris, started by a Californian, so I braved the wait at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, or French National Library, for a taste.

The line starts on the left as you order and pay, then you shift to the right side to pick up according to your name; at 1pm it was an hour wait total.

Keep in mind if you go later to avoid the lines, they may be out of certain choices, so if you don’t want to wait, get there when they open.

For between 9-14 Euros ($11-$16) you can get a burger, or burger and sides at one of their locations.

There are three condiment choices for the fries, but I didn’t want any of them….

There are no tables or chairs at the truck, but at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, there are plenty of places to sit on benches or steps, and everyone created their own”picnic” nearby.

I went with the only French friend who was still here in August, who wanted TWO burgers (one to eat, and one to take home), one classic, with cheddar, pickles, onions, tomato, lettuce, and mayonnaise,

and one Barbecue with cheddar, caramelized onions, bacon, barbeque sauce, and mayonnaise (I thought it was weird to combine barbecue sauce with cheese). The fries are crisp, salted, and nearly everyone chose them as their side dish. The burgers are small by US standards, so you can order a double patty for an extra 5 Euros or $6, if you have an American appetite and don’t want two burgers. I was perfectly happy with my burger and side, but I eat like a French person now:)

I chose the Campagne, or mushroom, caramelized onion, Swiss Etivaz cheese, and mayonnaise. I was thrilled to see they toasted the inside of the soft bun 🙂

and I was even happier that there was some pink in the juicy meat! The combination of ingredients made this the best American burger I’ve eaten in Paris!

Even the coleslaw was outstanding, with real zing, and completely fresh authentic ingredients!

A view of the Seine from the steps of the library made this the perfect lunch spot.

The library itself is huge

with four modern buildings that reached sky high, as well as lower levels that went underground.

The green atrium in the center of the library was a green reminder of what books were made of in olden times, as well as providing some natural elements to the concrete and glass 🙂

August in Paris means the locals are gone and the tourists are in town; it also means finding any place to shop or eat on a Sunday becomes even more of a challenge than usual, requiring the detective skills of Sherlock Holmes. After a bit of research, Sherlock @John8600 pointed me in the direction of Hokkaido. Even though it’s Summer, the days are rainy and cool enough that eating ramen is still a pleasurable experience, at least it is for me, a Southern California transplant:)

I got the Champon Ramen, which was packed with vegetables and a few thin slices of pork in a clear broth. The vegetables were very fresh, and the noodles were decent. After eating the ramen at Dosanko Larmen, I had hoped for soup comparable in depth of flavor, but the broth here did not have much flavor and even after using the condiments on the table, I couldn’t doctor it up enough to take more than a few sips. The portion is huge (for Paris) so if you want a filling dish, this would fit the bill.

The menu special of 11 Euros included 5 gyoza which were very good; crisp on one side, tender tasty filling, and not greasy. I would definitely order these again, but maybe instead of ramen, I would try one of their noodle or rice dishes, both of which looked good on other tables. Service was very pleasant, and even though it was packed, the food came out rapidly.

Even when it’s not Sunday or August, finding a place that is open between the usual lunch and dinner hours here of 3pm-7pm, is so challenging that restaurants advertise if they are open “nonstop” as an enticement. Udon Jubey usually has lines out the door during the peak meal times, so if you don’t want to wait, or want to eat during the afternoon, this is an excellent choice.

I think that until you’ve tried something done well, you can’t really say you don’t like it. I used to say that I did not like udon, but this bowl changed my mind 🙂 The springy noodles in the flavorful broth with the green onions and seaweed are a classic preparation, yet I had never tasted such a symphony of simplicity; every note was perfect, and the music of slurping sounds could be heard throughout the restaurant.

As part of their set menu of 16 Euros, you get the udon and a choice of sides like this Katsu and omelette slices over shredded cabbage

with a small bowl of chicken rice with pickles. The Katsu was crisp with a nice sauce, and the rice had the benefit of richer flavors from being cooked with broth.

The small portion of Katsu with the set menu was so good, I went back for a full katsu on another visit, which was almost more than I could eat; I saw plates of tempura which looked tempting too, but I had no room to eat anymore!

Besides the warm service, and the delightful food, they had something on the tables which literally made me smile: bottles of red pepper condiment 🙂

The Museum of Architecture has so many models of old and new that I couldn’t fit all the photos I took in one post, so here is part 2; this is the other half of the ground floor of the old as well as the upper floor of the modern. Enjoy!

A close up.

The other half of the ground floor (the photos in yesterday’s post) can be seen and entered through several openings.

This archway

had incredible details underneath, like this in the center,

and this on the sides underneath the arch.

The intricate work standing from a few feet away,

is even more amazing up close.

There is an elevator or stairs to the upper level of modern architecture.

The Radio France Building and

the Citroen Building, both exist in present day Paris.

Resorts built into the natural landscape, skyscrapers, and temporary structures built for exhibition from all over the world, fill the upper level. There are also many video presentations about how certain structures were designed and built; I saw many students with notebooks, taking notes.

The upper floor also has a smaller exhibition of frescoes and wall paintings.

The most impressive sight was seeing three of Paris’ great buildings through the windows of the Museum of Architecture. If the weather is nice, there is a ground floor cafe with a terrace overlooking the Eiffel Tower where you can enjoy a bite or a drink outside; a priceless way to spend some time in Paris 🙂

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