Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Made for Children

Just a small neighborhood park in the 4th, with two ping-pong tables
I think Paris is a city tailor-made for a family trip (although this visit was so cold that we didn't get to take in as much as there is to offer). Where else can you go where every neighborhood has a carousel, some with two on opposing corners? Where else do you have parks that have weekly puppet shows, pony rides, way better playgrounds than most in the States, in-ground trampolines, and wooden sailboats to push around in a fountain? The above shots are from a Christmas Market on the Champs Elysees, and the Jardin des Tuileries. I also think it's perfect for families because there is something to suit everyone's interests--from the museums to shopping to eating to playing--there is great range in each category. And did I tell you how much warmer the Parisians are when you're with a child? They're kind of like travelling with a VIP. All of a sudden, the typically chilly waiter is bringing you treats and pen and paper. Later this week I will do a couple of neighborhood guides, in case I've convinced you to go.
We loved this store called Si Tu Veux, in an arcade of shops called Galerie Vivienne. We've been lucky enough to be in lots of kids shops all over, and this one is one of the most special we've seen. I loved their reading nooks, and the games they had out for kids to play with while their parents shop. And I especially loved the way each object had a hand-written comment or description next to the price.  It's also just up the road from one of our favorite restaurants, Le Grand Colbert.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Sunday in Paris

Most shops are closed on Sunday, which means most museums are mobbed, especially when it's super cold outside. Clara's dad is super obsessed with flea markets and antique shops (well actually, any kind of shopping suits him), so I thought we should check out a flea market we'd never been to--the Porte de Vanves one. It was easy to get to--just a block's walk from the metro station--and was really great. Lots of deals and lots of inexpensive finds, and lots of things we'd never seen before. I picked up a little vintage souvenir doll for Clara for 1 euro, although I had passed several stands with them being sold for 20-25. The only mistake of the day was that I had thought the big flea market, Clignancourt, was open on Mondays, and Matt could go there the next day. Well, I guess officially it is, but according to our interior designer friend who owns the apartment we were staying in, Sunday is the day to go. I think I saved us alot of money with that mistake.
Our local pastry shop, Pain de Sucre, which happens to be a destination for many, has maybe the best croissant ever. 
We picked up a vintage book at a library sale last year, called Rosalie The Bird Market Turtle , and it's all about the bird market in Paris. Then we brought the This is Paris book with us on this trip, and it talks about the Sunday bird market too. So we went to see if it's still happening, and it is! Not only were there lovely birds, but also the food they sold for the birds couldn't have been prettier. Huge bunches of dried millet, fresh herbs. Certainly a far cry from Petco.
It really was too cold and wet to enjoy the parks, where normally we could spend an entire day, but with carousels everywhere, we still were able to get in some 'just for Clara' moments. 
The best part of staying in an apartment--being able to make your own cup of tea.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Paris in a Haze

 at Cafe Janou they have this huge basket of walnuts and a huge bowl of olives at the bar...

We landed around noon on Saturday, and by the time we got through the airport and into town, it was 2pm. We were starving, so Mike, the owner of the apartment we are staying in, sent us on a walk through the Marais (the neighborhood we are in), to a delightful cafe called Cafe Janou. It was late afternoon on a Saturday, and was super boisterous and filled with locals. We had a pot au feu that was so good, and Clara had some baked mussels. Afterwards Matt and Clara went back to the apartment to rest, and I walked around the Marais. That night, Mike gave us his reservation at the restaurant L'Ami Jean, as he couldn't make it, and the three of us had an amazing meal there. It's another bistro, albeit a very beloved one, so difficult to get into, especially on a weekend. Our favorite thing there was the basket of salamis, sausages, rillette...and the rice pudding, which I usually don't like. The waiter said it was the best in the world, and of course I was skeptical--but it was. It came with two sides, a salted caramel sauce, and a topping like a granola, and I ate entirely too much. Even though this restaurant was packed, and would seem to be a non-family kind of place, they had a little canister of pencils and a drawing for Clara to color, and fawned over her. Pretty much our experience at any restaurant we go to--she is like a VIP badge.