Il y a une probleme…?

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So, three months is coming to an end. Not quite, as I still am able to get up from Café tables without locking my shoes around the chair legs…There is so much to say, but not yet. It’s not over yet. I have a full day of lovely “Kate” things to do first. 🙂

However, I thought I would write a little something on packing. Not before a trip, but how you get it all back in at the end. 🙂

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Rule #1: You must believe it’s all going to fit.

Rule #2: You might need a drink, to settle the panic, as well as lighten the weight. 😉

Rule #3: Buying an extra bag is completely within your rights. I recommend Longchamp. 🙂

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Rule #4: If this doesn’t quite work with weight, you go to the post office. 🙂

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(So pretty, and efficient!)

Rule #5: You can toss all toiletries that are on their last legs and congratulate yourself.
(Though, you might curse yourself when you realize you’ve replaced these things already with your new products…)

Luckily, I come from a family of packaging engineers. Wish me luck!

Update coming soon…:)

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2145…

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2230…
Rule #6: Sometimes, when it’s cold, you need to wear two coats! 😉

Thank you to everyone for your support!
More interesting posts soon!! 🙂

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La Pharmacie

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All hail the French pharmacy. Not only can you find medications for headaches, fill prescriptions, and solutions for any ailment, but also, beauty products. I remember asking Sarah what I should do if I ran out of my favorite moisturizer. “I’m sure there is a French brand you could become addicted to…and then never find again.” (Hilarious…but, sadly true.) While I hope that a lot of these products don’t fit into the latter category, they certainly fit into the former.

The French take their skin care routines very seriously, we know this. They have beautiful glowing skin. However, what exactly are they using? I may have stalked followed some girls just to see what they were buying. (Sometimes in bulk!).

These products represent a treasure hunt. They might not have the fanciest packaging, but they are well tested. During this trip, and over the years, I have come to regard these as some of my absolute favorites!

1. Labello

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Quite simply one of the best product lines for lip balm. It’s so creamy, and feels wonderful. The classic one is perfect under bright lipstick or for bedtime. The cherry is a fantastic color reformulated and the color is not as dark. It’s flattering on everyone. The day I saw a French girl at a soirée in Paris pull this out of her pocket, I was beyond thrilled. The olive and lemon is an addictive scent, and I often wear it alone just because of the way it smells. Bryan brought it from Germany and I’ve never seen it since! And the pink pearl and shine is great to wear alone, over other lipsticks, and bonus, an on the go highlighter…just enough light catching-not glittery. 🙂

2. Bourjois

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No matter how many mascaras I try, (and since they have to be replaced every four months…) I always go back to Bourjois when I am here. This particular one was not my usual, but more of an ‘impulse buy…near the register’. However, I love it. Volume, non-gloopy, and a great brush! They used to sell this line of maquillage at Sephora, and it was a sad day for me when it vanished.

3. Bioderma Créaline H2O

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Since becoming a fanatic of the new eyeliner by Nars, I had not found a product that was successful at removing it. There had to be a product…so I did some research. Apparently, this is a cleansing water for sensitive skin that is also an excellent make-up remover. It’s revered by make-up artists who need to change looks for runways or photo shoots without irritating the skin. I love it because it really works, it’s cheap, it doesn’t irritate my eyes. 🙂

4. Le Petit Marseillais

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Just a small selection of the best bodywash on the planet. There are so many different scents, from flowers to citrus, or the ones more geared towards men, which I happen to also really like. The formulas do not really linger, so I never really feel competition with perfume. And yes, it is worth buying a bunch and shipping them home. 🙂 Cent percent.

5. La Roche-Posay Toleraine Riche

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This company is really wonderful. There are very few additives, and it is designed for sensitive skin. This is soothing protective cream, and it really does an amazing job at moisturizing. Plus, I think they sell it at the drug stores back home. 🙂 Love!

6. La Roche-Posay Hydreane Riche

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Same company, different product line. The Hydreane line is really great for super dry areas, if your nose hurts because you have a cold, or windburn. Since Clinique stopped making Comfort on Call, I needed a new sensitive skin healer. This is working great, and I know it will be come in handy with all that pesky wind on Lake Shore Drive.

7. Klorane Dry Shampoo

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It took me a long time to get on board with this idea. I know all of the drawbacks to daily hair washing, but wasn’t really interested. I woke up one day and had a leisurely morning. Made breakfast, watched some TV, and just relaxed. Well, when I had decided what I wanted to do that day, I went to take a shower and the water was shut off. As this is Paris, one cannot go out looking like a slouch. Unless that’s the look you’re going for, bien sûr. Needless to say, I was stuck inside until 5pm. Never again. This is an amazing product, and actually gives my fine hair more volume than it has the first day of styling. Fantastic!!

8. Boiron-Homéostick

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Yes, another lip balm. 🙂 This one I feel is more of a lip treatment. You can put it on whilst getting ready, and by the time you want to apply lipstick, it’s completely revitalized your lips. Especially important lately with all of the on trend dark lipsticks. Bonus: it’s the only lip balm I can honestly say that upon application, there will be no red wine stains on les lèvres. 🙂

9. Avène Eau Thermale

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Perfect spray that is designed to soothe skin that has been irritated for a variety of reasons. It’s also a great pick me up in the afternoon. Works wonders to set make-up too. And Thermal Spring water from France, oui, bien sûr!

10. Avène Eau Thermale – Très Haute Protection

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Since I have a great enjoyment of ‘Café-life’, and walking like un flâneur, I go through a lot more sunscreen than I used to. (Sleeping during the day.) A lot can be said for many types of sunscreens. I personally really like the Neutrogena Dry-touch, but alas, I have found another product to love whilst I am here. 🙂 And again, the thermal spring water…how refreshing. 🙂

There is un pharmacie on almost every street or two, and in every neighborhood. They all have their own charms. Some are quite small, with limited selection, others very large. The things they have in common are the pharmacists who work there. Everyone I have met is incredibly friendly and helpful. They are all eager to assist you to find the right product.

The two that I enjoy the most, if I had to choose:

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Pharmacie de la Marie
6 rue des Archives, 4th
Metro: #1 Hôtel de Ville

Not only are the shelves stocked to the ceiling with every product line, they also have a huge selection of miniatures or travel sizes of most of their best sellers. You know I love that!

City-Pharma
26 Rue de Four, 6th
Metro: Saint-Germain des Prés

This place is an always crowded Mecca of discounted products. There are also value packs of almost everything! Great value in Saint-Germain, especially after €5,50 Café Crème at Café de Flore. 🙂

I hope this was entertaining. I love products, and to quote my mother, “Kate, no one is this ugly.” But it’s certainly fun to experiment. And who doesn’t need more thermal spring water in their lives? 🙂

Breizh Café et L’Épicerie

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Each time I tried to go to this Café, it was either the wrong day (Monday), or the wrong time (aka, lunch and dinner.) So, I thought, an off-time on a Sunday was the best choice.

This is a crêperie specializing in galettes de blé noir, or buckwheat crêpes. The owner is from Bretagne, and the quality of the ingredients shine though the organic galettes.

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I had been wanting to also check out L’Épicerie next door. It sells all wonderful things from Bretagne. For instance, the irresistible butter by Jean-Yves Bordier, as well as yogurt, sea salt, cheese, oysters, confiture, caramels, spices, and a cave of ciders.

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20121125-235350.jpgSince I was just one person, I had the good fortune to find a spot at the big chopping block table in l’Epicerie! You sit on wooden crates, which is pretty smart, because in such a small space, you can stash all of your stuff inside your seat. 🙂

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Galette complet: ognion. With caramelized onions, it was delicious. Especially since you can taste all of the butter in every bite. I did my part and washed it all down with cidre. 🙂

For dessert, the most wonderful thing I’ve eaten in a long time: a crêpe made with caramel beurre sel, or salted butter caramel, topped with Chantilly aka whipped cream.

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The whole meal was very interactive since we were all seated facing each other in a square. Definitely a solution to dining alone that is not just sitting at the bar. Brilliant. 🙂

Breizh Café
109/111 rue Vieille du Temple
Metro: #8 Filles du Calvaire

Le Bon Marché

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In the spirit of the holiday shopping weekend, I thought I would share with you all the beautiful window decorations at Le Bon Marché, one of the most wonderful and well-known department stores in Paris. This year marks it’s 160th anniversary!

To be honest, I was going to talk to you about the hours I spent at La Grande Epicerie, the amazing affiliated (but has it’s own building) emporium dedicated to la bouche (mouth). Yum! I went there to stock up on fleur de sel de Guerande, and le Beurre Bordier, but I became too wrapped into the wine tasting, sampling of items and life at the cheese counter to take any photos.

However, on my way out, I walked past these windows, designed by Tom Dixon…so my post changed. 🙂

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It was a collection dedicated to the Left Bank, interspersed with les oiseaux (birds), and their elegant cages. Except, the shoes, bags and diamonds were on display.

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The 3-D replicated rooftops made me want to recreate this in my own house. Every other window was longer, and had moving mechanical birds, lights and music.

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Birds all carrying musical instruments on a mechanical runway…

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I couldn’t tell if the lights in the windows of the buildings were on sensors, or timed, but the whole concept was magical.

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In front of the mechanical display windows, there were large rooftops of Paris built on the street, with a wooden walkway in between. It allowed everyone to feel like part of the display.

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I was probably outside for about an hour, lèche-vitrine and watching the lifelike displays…until the whole concept of beautiful things in cages, in store windows set to music in this gorgeous setting got to me…

I was lured inside (well done, Tom) and found a Bordeaux wine colored, limited edition Chanel lipstick.

Ah, Noël…:)

Le Bon Marché
24 Rue de Sèvres
Metro: #10 Sèvres-Babylone

La Grande Epicerie (aka Fine foods and picnic heaven)
38 Rue de Sèvres
Metro: #10 Sèvres-Babylone or Vaneau

La Cuisine Paris

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Happy Thanksgiving, family and friends!! I hope you are all enjoying delicious meals, with a lot of flavor, and no drama. 🙂 I know that this time of year, we spend time, with those we love. I did not make it back for this holiday, so I decided to spend it doing something I love, and then share it with all of you!!

I booked this cooking class on a whim. I thought it would be great to be with other people, all celebrating Thanksgiving, in another country. The menu was centered around fall, but was not traditional. It was a chance to meet new friends, and learn new skills! 🙂

The Menu:

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Yes, I realize it is folded and butter stained…so here it is in print:
Appetizer:
Gougères (Cheese puffs)

Main course:
Roasted coquelet with French herbs
Bechamel sauce
Potimarron gratin (roasted pumpkin with a quiche filling and grated cheese on top…!!)
Potato vanilla purée
Fig Chutney
Mesclun salad with pears, green beans, blue cheese and hazelnut

And Dessert:
Caramel Walnut Tartlets
Profiteroles

Yes, we made ALL of these things! The only thing we didn’t make was the ice cream for the profiteroles.

The class was hands-on, but there was one giant island where you learn and work together. Our Chef, Justin, was very engaging and his passion for teaching was very apparent.

He gave us so many tips and hints along the way, it was incredible. When things are added, or why they are not. Gradually, verses all at once. Timing and heat, measurements and practical knowledge. Art, and science. Plus, I learned how to properly fill and use a pastry bag!

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Pâte Choux (Think: Profiteroles, Eclairs, Paris Brest, and Gougères) 1 egg at a time.

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“You control the pastry bag…not the other way around…”

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Too thick…

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Making Gougères

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Preparing les coquelets

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The biggest bowl of potato purée I’ve ever seen! (Mashed potatoes!)

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Dishes, trivets and boxes, oh my!

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Champagne reward for all our hard work!

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Dinner table overlooking the Seine…and un bouquiniste.

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Profiteroles 🙂

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Caramel Walnut tartlets

I can’t wait to make these things at home. I wish I had more photos, but at the moment, the memory on my phone is full. (Always at inopportune moments!! For example, a full table??)

I will say, that the people I met and shared this lovely fall holiday with around the kitchen, and the table were just wonderful. I do not know why people pick days or times, but our class was great, and we all had so much fun!

La Cuisine offers many different types of classes, from pastry courses, to baguette making. They also do market tours, where you go with the chef to a specific market (based on the day), purchase what is in season, and make a completely impromptu meal. Sounds fantastic!! When in Paris, I would recommend this establishment 100%. There are lots of things to eat in this city, but getting hands-on experience, and an appreciation of the treats in a patisserie is, priceless.

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Also, I am now in possession of a discount card to E. Dehillerin for life!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! Bon Appétit!! 🙂

La Cusine Paris
80, Quai de l’Hôtel de Ville
Metro: #1 Hôtel de Ville or #7 Pont Marie

Meilleur Café de la Ville

Years ago, I didn’t like coffee. Non. After working nights for a couple years it became a necessity, but only in the white chocolate peppermint mocha variety. As more time went by, I put less and less into each cup. (A lot of this was based on availability). Visiting Paris I always had espresso. It was necessary and a good excuse to use a WC. Then I was gifted my Nespresso maker…and I forgot all about the café served in Paris.

Living in Chicago has really spoiled me as well. There are so many places, Intelligentsia, Filter, the Wormhole (to name a few) that make outstanding coffee. Most of the time, it’s so good you can drink it black. Well balanced, and not too acidic, depending on the variety.

When I arrived in Paris almost three months ago, with my dreams of sitting in cafés, and people watching, I knew in the back of my mind that the coffee wasn’t all it could be. It all came back to me: these are not Italian espressos. This being said, I usually always have an espresso after meals and they can be quite good. Usually it’s a good sign if you see Illy as the brand of coffee they are using, but not always a guarantee.

So, I made a point to find some really great coffee* in this lovely city. I have followed many recommendations, and I decided to post several that I agreed with. 🙂 Enjoy! 🙂

Le Caféothèque
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This café, which overlooks the Seine, gathers coffee beans from all over the world, and roasts them on the premises. The front of the cafe is for the coffee bean roasting and grinding, as well as where to get some to take home. As you go in, the space seems to have expanded. There is a lounge area, so you could sit in a large group, if lively discussion was needed. And then the second part is more the table and chair variety. The decoration was very eclectic, and seemed to reflect the origins of the coffee. 20121121-220011.jpg20121121-220020.jpg
When I sat down, I found the menu covered the corners of the world. I decided on coffee from Guatemala. Espresso first, and then a cappuccino.** I wasn’t going to have one, but as this menu shows you, the proportions of espresso were higher. 🙂 Never knew…:) 20121121-220506.jpg
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The flavor was really great, strong and complex. That’s about all I know. 🙂 I’m not an expert, I just know it was good!!

Kooka Boora

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One of the winding cobblestoned streets leading to Montmartre is the storied Rue des Martyrs. Atop this street, overlooking Place Lino Ventura, is a wonderful place called Kooka Boora.

It’s a café that serves Australian coffee. I know. Well, I know nothing…it this is Australian coffee, then I need to import some of their coffee beans! It was absolutely fantastic. The service was wonderful. It is the same price to drink at the bar or at a table!

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The slice of ‘carrot cake’ I decided to try was out of this world. (Or maybe just 23 hours away by plane? 🙂 ) It was a cross between a spice cake with the grated carrots, and without frosting. The ginger lingered and it was pitch perfect for the fall afternoon.

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Café et Thés Verlet

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This lovely café is right on the Rue Saint Honoré. It is near the Palais Royal, and has been a coffee roaster since 1880. You can put together bags for take away, and they sell many varieties of tea as well, but I was on a coffee specific mission.

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The coffee beans are presented in an extensive menu. They are ground on the spot, and then your drink is made. I chose a blend from Kenya, and it was really well done.

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Love the little leaf saucers. 🙂

Coutume Café

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This café, in the 7th, looks like a smaller warehouse that is a laboratory.

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It has a long bar area, and all of the devices are on display for coffee making. You can also get your own beaker of water. Awesome.

20121121-231759.jpgThe prepare it four ways: espresso machine, siphon, conical drip and by an apparatus that makes cold-drip coffee. Apparently it is a long process, but the best way to extract the flavors from the beans.

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Of all the coffee they sell, (packaged into bags with labels of periodic table elements!) their proprietary blend is not for sale. I tried to get my hands on it, but it was explained to me that it’s a mix of many of the different coffees. I will have to develop a more sophisticated palate and conduct my own experiments. 🙂

So, in conclusion, after all the places I tried, these four made my list. Kooka Boora made the best coffee I’ve ever had in my entire life. I enjoyed getting a choice at

Continue reading

Le Café d’Avant

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Timing is a pretty incredible thing, isn’t it? On a walk through le Quartier Latin, I found myself without an umbrella at a critical moment, and outside of this cafe at lunchtime!

I ducked in and got the last table, in the back.

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Clearly taken after lunch. 🙂

It was a tiny little spot, but certainly popular with either locals or perhaps professors from nearby schools. It seems like most people came in for the prix-fixe, since items kept disappearing from the chalkboard. 🙂

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I ordered and settled in with my magazine and what turned out to be a wonderful meal! I started with fresh cheese ravioli with tomatoes and un pichet of Côtés du Rhône.

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The bread came in miniature buckets. 🙂

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If someone decided to open a tiny jam, I guess this would be a good second use. 😉

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I decided on the clafoutis de poivre for dessert, and it was wonderful. I didn’t realize you could do this with pears, (I’ve only had cherry) but, brilliant idea.

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And of course, café. 🙂 Note the mismatched colors of the cup and saucer. Looking around, I didn’t see the same combination. It brought a lot of color to the tables on the rainy day. 🙂

Not that I will be purposefully traveling without my umbrella, but it’s nice to know that sometimes timing is everything. 🙂

Le Café d’Avant
35 Rue du Claude Bernard
Metro: Censier-Daubenton
Free WIFI

Beaujolais Nouveau

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Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived once again! Made from Gamay grapes in the Beaujolais region, it is only fermented for about 6 weeks.

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Released at 12:01 on the third Thursday of November, it’s apparently quite the business that goes about transporting the bottles around the world.

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While I did not attend any celebrations this year (as the Metro doesn’t care about Beaujolais day…) I sampled it on the actual Thursday, daytime, and Metro supported. 🙂

My good friend Martin came for a visit this weekend, and we had a great time tasting as many different labels as we could! 🙂 We called it, “Beaujolais Weekend.” Each day was dedicated to one of our birthdays, since we will not be able to celebrate on the actual days.

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Martin, supporting Beaujolais and Movember!

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With dinner at Le Petit Château d’Eau.

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Sold from the Boulanger Arnaud Delmontel, along with a tiny loaf of bread made with the wine! (Yes, it was purple.)

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From a shop in Montparnasse!

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Purchased in Montmartre and enjoyed on the steps of Sacre Coeur. 🙂

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And, after…:)

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend too!

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Late entry. 😉

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Yes, another. I’m drinking the cheap stuff until it’s unavailable! 🙂

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Homecoming wine with Bryan!! 🙂

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Brought by Megan to Galena! 🙂 4 new labels!

Deyrolle

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Certain experiences shape and enhance our memories during childhood. I was very lucky to have moved around and traveled. But…If I had grown up in Chicago, I think my family would have gone to Marshall Fields every year to see the Christmas tree, or not have gone to Wrigley Field for the first time *cough* this year. If it was NYC, I would have wanted to go ice skating or to Coney Island and be much more skilled at eye liner. If I imagine my make believe childhood in Paris correctly, our parents would have taken us (Laura and I) for chocolat chaud at Angelina, we would have been enrolled in “Les Petits Cordons Bleus” classes on les weekends, picked out toys at Si te Veux, and gone to this store…

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Going into Deyrolle, felt like entering another world. I sort of forgot who I was too, or at least how old I was. It brought out all those feelings of curiosity without neuroses…sort of. 😉

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Well, ok…not quite. I mean, it’s not like I am running to the zoo (um, no) to test my safe distances between certain animals. However, there aren’t many times you can safely stand underneath a giraffe without perhaps getting pushed, or being face to face with a tiger. Although, it is sad, and touching that they aren’t actually living. But, they will live here forever.

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You almost didn’t want to turn your back on them, just in case they were actually still alive, waiting for nightfall. Very Night at the Museum.

The first floor has very posh gardening supplies from the Prince Jardinier line, as well as champagne bucket looking pots, vintage school room maps and playing cards, candles and perfume.

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(And very helpful sales clerks 😉 )

The second floor was devoted to taxidermy and curiosities. All of the animals reside upstairs, and I am sorry there are not more pictures of them but they weren’t allowed. ( I bought postcards to take photos from those. Really didn’t want to be kicked out!)

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Have you ever turned a corner and almost run into a small bear? How about when you gasp aloud and you hear a little French petite say to her mother, “Maman, hehe, elle a peur!” (She’s scared!) *ahem* Run along there kiddo.

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There were cabinets upon glass cabinets of curiosities, starfish, full skeletons of lobsters and other crustacea painstakingly assembled and meticulously placed in glass display boxes.

I was not interested in the back room on the second floor which were butterfly (again, *shudder*, why??) collections and other insects. However, the drawers you see in these photos hold glass eyes needed for taxidermy. Yikes! 🙂

After a devastating fire swept through the store in February of 2008, everyone came together to assist the owner, Prince Louis Albert de Broglie (the private collectors, celebrities, museums, fashion houses) to raise money for restoration. People took it quite personally that their beloved memory was gone.

Deyrolle has been returned to its amazing imagination igniting state. If you are in Paris, try to get here…but maybe not after dark. 😉

Deyrolle
46, Rue du Bac
Metro: Rue du Bac (#12)

Café de l’Époque

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Sunday is a special day in Paris. Certainly, it is still the weekend and there is time to catch up with family and friends. The idea of brunch has caught the eyes of certain restaurants, but not all. Most of the open air markets are available for grocery-type shopping, as there are none open on Monday. However, away from these markets are non-bustling streets, uncrowded cafés, and a general feeling of relaxation.

I walked to Café de l’Époque on a sunny fall day. I took a trip backwards through all of les passages, and stopped at Gallerie Véro Dodat for lunch.

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While it is accessible from the street, it was much more fun to go through the curved velvet curtained entrance inside the Gallerie.

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The inside was really pretty, and comfortable. There were long banquets as well as free standing tables. The menu was, of course, on a chalkboard. The waitress was extremely nice even though she was very busy. The lighting reminded me of the Cité metro stop. This place had some of my favorite sounds – all that café clatter from the bar back constantly washing and drying dishes. 🙂

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I had an entrecôte with a béarnaise sauce on the side. Delicious.

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If one was going to the Louvre, this would be a great place to escape the crowds.

It was a very relaxing day…and this café definitely captured the idea. Of course, on any given Sunday in Paris, you are well within your rights to do nothing at all. 🙂

Café de l’Époque
2 rue du Bouli
(Corner of Rue Croix des Petites Champs)
Metro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre