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Beat the Heat – Five of The Best Ice Creams of Paris

28 Aug

The “canicule”, the canicular days, seem to mostly be over but we still have around 27°C (about 80°F) here, which gives us a very good excuse to continue trying out the very best of Parisian ice cream creations.

Above you see the Amorino ice cream parlour opposite the Centre Pompidou, after a much-needed half hour cloudburst a few days ago.

But now the sun is back, and with the city being one of the centers, or THE center, of fashion, talking of French ice cream artists, I have to start with Pierre Hermé.

French Vogue referred to him as “the Picasso of Pastry”, but calling him “the Karl of Pastry” and in every case, “the Godfather of sweet delights” would neither go amiss. More on him and his wife, Austrian designer Barbara Rihl, in an upcoming post, but for now I can tell you that 1) should you visit Paris, try his macarons or you will miss out on your taste buds doing the Cha Cha (seriously, I thought I had tried all of the best macarons, but his are the epitome of macaron-mastery) and b) his ice cream creations equally wonderful.

On a recent trip to one of the Pierre Hermé boutiques, I tried the caramel-and-salted-butter version of his Miss Gla’Gla ice cream (above, in its chic silver packaging), ice cream sandwiches fit for kings and queens, and I also enjoyed one of his 2012 macaron creations, the “Mosäic”, a vanilla macaron with pistachio cream, flavoured with cinnamon and griottes (morello cherries). Bliss!

Pierre Hermè ice cream is also sold at Galeries Lafayette.

Back to Amorino. First, have a look at this:

Looks really nice, isn’t it? May I introduce you to one of Amorino’s (addresses here) specialities, the “Foccacina”. The Foccacina consists of two scoops of ice cream you may choose yourself (I had mascarpone with caramelized figs and Cantaloupe melon, a 2012 Amorino novelty) hugged by a delicate, freshly made warm bakers-biscuit-doughnut-like shell which tastes of Panettone.

Founded in 2002, Amorino’s ice cream truly tastes like real Italian gelato. Also, Amorino does not use artificial colourings or flavors.

What’s more, there are many different ways to enjoy your Amorino gelato: In a foccacina, as did I, on freshly-made warm Belgian waffles or in a cornetto with the ice cream shaped into a beautiful rose form.

And speaking of rose-shaped gelati, “Gelati d’Alberto” also offers them. I fell in love with them a few years ago.

Legend has it that Caterina de Medici brought Italian ice cream to Paris, when she arrived, about 500 years ago. And did you know that it is said that in 1686, Sicilian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, perfected the first ice cream machine?

Ice cream making is an ancient craft, dating back to the ancient Romans and Egyptians, serving frozen treats, but  until now, one of the loveliest ways to serve ice cream is in rose form. For Gelati d’Alberto’s ice cream, 12, rue des Lombards, find the full address and map here.

If you are looking for the most original ice cream spot: Glaces-glazed‘s Citroën food truck, find its current locations on facebook or on their blog (now you can only get their ice cream at Colette) and additional points of sale here. All the flavours are to die for – but if you live in Paris you can even get a subscription for additional members-only Glaces-glazed creations like Black Sugar Sex Magic (black chocolate, wasabi, ginger), Tunnel of Love (woodland strawberry, sansho pepper) or Kaoua (Brazilian coffee, cardamom).

And you may find French ice cream with the greatest touch of nostalgia at A la mère de famille”.

Founded in 1761 “A la mère de famille” is Heaven for everyone with a sweet tooth. Not only will you discover all sorts of French sweet delicacies, and all of these are truly fabulous, but there you will also find the very best marrons glacés (sweet syrup candied, glazed chestnuts). My suggestion: add them to cupcake dough and glaze the baked cupcakes with icing sugar frosting, sprinkle with thinly chopped marrons glacés…

Find all addresses of the A la mère de famille boutiques here.

Thunderstorms over Paris

21 Aug

After many days of sweltering heat, today Paris is bracing itself for heavy thunderstorms predicted for late afternoon / evening.

Have your camera ready and you might see Paris in a light – or rather lightning – in which you have never seen it before.

Last summer, one day at sundown, I was walking along the Seine direction Pont Neuf when suddenly dark clouds started gathering astonishingly fast and the city got hit by massive thunderstorms.

While the sun was setting, countless lightning bolts flooded the city with the most unreal shades of purple, orange, pink and blue.

Everyone stopped and stared and even the Parisians themselves took out their camera phones and photographed the beautiful scenery.

I will never forget the sight when the Eiffel Tower was hit by lightning, it just took your breath away. But no worries, no one got hurt.

If you are in Paris today I will keep my fingers crossed that you may witness a similar spectacle, I promise you will never forget the beauty of it.

Have a nice day wherever you currently are

La Mer à Paris – Paris Plages at the Bassin de la Villette

13 Aug


I am njoying a warm evening in Switzerland before returning to Paris tomorrow.

One of the highlights that I am looking forward to is visiting Paris Plages again; two beaches right in the city of Paris.

Held from July 20 to August 19, 2012, and already in its 11th year, Paris Plages is well-known and loved by many. I recommend to skip the Pont Neuf Plage though and head right to Paris Plage at La Villette Bassin.

This is by far the more charming Plage, it is less crowded, has a more relaxed feel to it and an especially large area dedicated to children’s entertainment. Still it is spacious enough for adults sans children to enjoy calm and relaxing beach-time without too much of a hullabaloo.

It is the perfect gathering place for people of all ages for trying out new activities, for socializing, eating, drinking and simply for having fun.

Villette Plage for grown-ups

Restaurants, shuttle boats, ballroom dance classes (mostly attended by the not-so-young- anymore-but-young-at-hearts) where people of every age stop by, admiring the, mostly, graceful dancers. Just look at people’s faces in the picture below; if you want to see happy and loved-up couples, you will find them there.

There will also be a performance of Molière’s “Le malade imaginaire” on water on  August 15 – 17. For the more nautically-inclined there is the Nautical Centre at the Quai de la Loire where you can also book boat rides, there are pedal boats (big favourite for many, me included), typical French Petanque games, table football – and to start your day in a serene mood, you may attend one of the Tai-chi classes held every morning from 10 am to 12 pm (also at Paris Plage Pont Neuf).

I’ve taken the “aerial view” picture from atop the canal’s highest bridge, from which you have a great view over the whole Plage.

Villette Plage for children

Slides, Zip Wires, beach games, water zorbs, a pirate ship, science workshops in collaboration with la Cité de la Science, a mini-golf course and more.

Find detailed information about both Paris Plages here (in English and French) and details about the canal and the different events around it here (in French only).

Wishing you a great Summer holiday in Paris!

Rock en Seine

9 Aug

Official Rock en Seine Poster

Rock en Seine – is there a better reason for Parisians to head back to Paris after a long holiday?

Join them for this star-studded music festival held at the beautiful Domaine de Saint-Cloud, a former nature preserve and today a vast park with French Château (of course…), Rock en Seine will entertain the crowds for three days, August 24 – 26, 2012.

The 3-day passes are already sold out, but single-day passes are still available here.

The Black Keys, Placebo, Green Day, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and The Dandy Warhols will heat up the Summer days and nights even more, supported by the bands responsible for some of the most catchy tunes in the last months: Mark Sheeran, Foster the People, Miike Snow, Yeti Lane and the ethereal, yet deep sound of cult Icelanders Sigur Rós.

Some of our (not really insider anymore) voice crushes are also performing: dEus, Owlle, the Black Seeds (check out “Frostbite”), Bass Drum of Death (name reminds me of Death Cab for Cutie, but they’re definitely good festival material), Kimbra and her magical voice,  and of course Granville, solid, easy-going Summer music.

And, since we’re talking French Robot Mixeurs here, I have to mention: The Bots! Nice name – fun sound.

Find detailed instructions on how to get to the festival / map here.

Now let’s hope for good weather to round up the festival season.

Ps. Did you notice the great retro-style illustrations on the Rock en Seine web page? They’re by graphic designer Thomas Baas and I think they deserve to be highlighted, check out his Portfolio here.

Picnic in the Streets of Paris

1 Jul

Paris Picnic

Paris is bathing in the sunlight today and we’re preparing for a lazy Summer afternoon. If you happen to be in town right now, escape the big city hustle and bustle and join the picnic in Rue Montmartre. The whole quarter is coming together for a Summertime picnic in the charming pedestrian area. Bring your own food and drinks, tables and chairs will be provided.

Hope to see you there.

From 12:00 h – 16:00 h, Rue Montmartre, 2nd arrondissement, 75002 Paris.

Frame Notre Dame with Bananas and Roses

12 Oct

Notre Dame Bananas

While visiting Paris it is almost mandatory to add a photo of Notre Dame to your collection.

Make your photos unique by snapping them through a special frame. E.g. the Eiffel Tower through the metal construction of the Passerelle Debilly (especially nice at dusk when the bridge is illuminated) or through the flowers of the Musée du Quai Branly and Notre Dame through a lush wreath of violet and yellow flowers with red roses and a finish of banana leaves.

The banana plant and roses frame with Notre Dame peeking through is at Square René Viviani (see this map for location and metro stations), which is a beautiful little square, with lots of greenery and many benches inviting you to sit down and take a little break. The square has a rather eventful history involving a tale of a curse by pagan witches, it has been a cemetery once, you can find remains from the 19th century restoration of Notre Dame around and you may also come across Paris’ oldest tree, which is about 400 years old. Learn more of all this on Wikipedia.

NotDame booths across the street

Despite some of the rather spooky elements in the square’s history, this mini-park offers a wonderfully relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. Continue your walk along the Seine into the direction of the Louvre or visit the Île de la Cité to discover Notre Dame up close.

You may come across the little Pont de l’Archevêché, leading up to Notre Dame, the pont is adorned with thousands of love locks. Couples proclaim and immortalize their love by attaching to the bridge padlocks with their names on them. Every now and then the city tries to remove these love tokens (also from other bridges like the famous Pont des Arts), but the lovebirds from allover the world never give up and  it seems that the “cadenas d’amour” will stay for yet another time to come.

Love Locks Pont

Unlike the padlocks, the autumnal leaves are not staying, hurry up and snap your very special framed photo now, to eternalize your very own love for Paris.

All Posts Are Now Also Sorted by Arrondissement

22 Aug

Bonjour!

To facilitate looking up my articles by Parisian arrondissement I have now categorized them for you.

Wherever in Paris you want to go, this new search function gives you an easy overview on all the mentioned places and adresses located in the same area.

Also, I haven’t just listed the twenty arrondissements by their numbers, but also added to each a well-known place, momument or similar, to make knowing what is where a breeze.

My arrondissement categories are:

1st arr. (Louvre)

2nd arr. (Bourse / Stock Exchange)

3rd arr. (Temple & northern Marais)

4th arr. (Hôtel de Ville, Notre-Dame & southern Marais)

5th arr. (Panthéon & Quartier Latin)

6th arr. (Jardins du Luxembourg)

7th arr. (Eiffel Tower)

8th arr. (Champs-Elysées)

9th arr. (Galeries Lafayette)

10th arr. (Gare du Nord / de l’Est)

11th arr. (Place de la République)

12th arr. (Bercy)

13th arr. (Paris Rive Gauche & main Chinatown)

14th arr. (Gare Montparnasse)

15th arr. (Vaugirard & High-Rise District)

16th arr. (Passy & Ave. Foch)

17th arr. (Place de Clichy)

18th arr. (Montmartre)

19th arr. (Buttes-Chaumont)

20th arr. (Ménilmontant & Père Lachaise)