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Tricolour by nightfall

Life slowly returns to the norm. After a weekend glued to the news feed and radio and what’s not, Monday was yet another day at work and we went about our days as usual. There are raids taking place all over the country and just this morning, a pretty massive operation took place just north of Paris which took out a few more persons who had intended to cause more harm if they had been able to. Some undoubtedly feel unsafe to wander the streets at the moment, others less so, because we don’t want to live our lives dictated by fear.

French tricolour

French tricolour

The French tricolours are on display everywhere. There’s something oddly soothing in seeing these symbolic colours at public spaces, a reminder of solidarity and that we are going to weather this turbulent time together, emerging with resilient spirits. These past few days have seen the motto of Paris – “Fluctuat nec mergitur”, tossed by the waves but does not sink – being evoked time and time again. How apt.

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Autumnal colours

Shades of crimson and golden and the hues in between… they are exquisitely beautiful and yet, I am not photographing enough of Paris in its autumn colours. I could think of many spots which I should go but I am paralysed by an inertia anchored by a strange lethargy that I couldn’t quite put my fingers on. With some encouragement from F, we went out for a stroll, breathing in the crisp, chilled air of a November evening.

Autumnal

Autumnal

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Mori Yoshida

Mori Yoshida came up on my radar earlier this year, when I was researching this year’s crop of galette des rois but didn’t quite make the cut (it was a tough decision!). Its location is really not far from where we live, yet somehow I am only stepping into its door recently. With friends are coming over for dinner, I wanted to share some treats with them, plus I feel less guilty about picking up 5-6 different items in one go ;)

Mori Yoshida

Mori Yoshida

Helmed by a young Japanese pastry chef which gave its shop his name, its sleek interior the image of perfect Japanese minimalism, its space clean and airy, and of course, its display shelves hunger-provoking. I admit, I walked in with some expectation of Japanese flavours (think matcha, yuzu, azuki) in his pastries but lo and behold, French classics and fruity creations reign the day.

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13… A Baker’s Dozen

The trouble with Paris is there are way too many delicious spots for me to make the round. Each week I add yet another couple of places to try to my ever-growing list, so there’s never any moment where I thought “I have nowhere else new to check out anymore”. If anything, I wish I have a bigger eating out budget…

13 A Baker's Dozen

13 A Baker's Dozen

13 A Baker’s Dozen is a charming spot which has been hiding not-so-quietly in the Cour des Saints Pères. After being there with C recently, I can attest that while the high praises raised expectations, Laurel and her team surpassed them. Very easily at that too. A warm welcome greeted us to this packed dining room on a Saturday afternoon, and looking around, my stomach started to grumble and I couldn’t wait to dig into the “Fancy Brunch” I’ve been eyeing.

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We came, we ate, we went home happy

Growing up, prowling the pasar malam at least once a week for food was pretty much a given. Cheap yet delicious street food easily attracted the throng, and at some stalls, show up late and you can forget about tasting their goods. I miss the hustle and bustle of food preparation by the street, the perfection achieved by stall owners who have run their business for (often) decades. I also often chide my younger self for taking such wonderful thing for granted.

Le Food Market

Le Food Market

With the advent of globalisation, food truck and street food have arrived in Paris, although often with a price tag that had me mentally calculating how much more food I could buy at the same value and I’m not even taking into account currency exchange – just the figure! On the other hand, the joy that I get from reliving my childhood habit is kinda priceless, so who cares if I’m not one of the cool kids and I pay a wee bit more? Luckily, Le Food Market came along.

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A new life for Musée de l’Homme

I never knew Musée de l’Homme in its past incarnation. For as long as I can remember – well, six years apparently – it has been closed for renovation. Unbeknownst to me, I have actually seen a good portion of its (former) collection of Asian, African, American and Oceanian ethnography appropriated to fill the legacy project of a certain Monsieur Chirac. How lucky for Musée du Quai Branly and what uncertain time it left Musée de l’Homme, as its European ethnographic collection was also packed away to Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM) in Marseille.

Musée de l'Homme

Musée de l'Homme

From emptying corridors came opportunity to change its mission. Musée de l’Homme evolved and is making a come back with fresh look and a restart. Housed within Palais de Chaillot, I need not have to emphasise what great view it has of the Eiffel Tower, do I? Thanks to my friend Céline, F and I got a sneak peak of it today before the museum opens its door to the public on Saturday, 17 October, and for the first three days, entry to the museum will be free.

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Randomly: Porte de France

In the southeast corner of the 13ème lies a growing neighbourhood: contemporary block architecture dominates, the façade of each building are attention-grabbing in a different way than the Haussmanmians, and there’s not a lot that’s conventional about many of these structures. From twisted floors to glass-filled walls, from disorderly-placed windows to size-varied windows, from unicolour walls to multi-colours panes, uniformity is not the name of the game and yet they all blend in quite harmoniously with one another.

Porte de France

Porte de France

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Randomly: Marais

I was running late meeting C but my way out from the metro station was blocked by tourists. This is quickly becoming a pet peeve in the month of August. With fewer Parisians and more visitors in town, the escalators are perpetually blocked. Folks, if you are not walking, stand to the right please!

Randomly: Marais

Randomly: Marais

C teased that I’m becoming a Parisian. A good, hearty lunch at L’As du Falafel went a long way to soothe my annoyance, and a leisurely walk to rediscover Marais restored me to good humour. We found hidden corners away from prying eyes and delicious shops that I mentally note to visit when I’m not absolutely stuffed, while chit-chatting the afternoon away.

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Jean Paul Gaultier at Grand Palais

I love my museum passes. Main perk? I can drop in to any exhibition I’d like to see at any time and not even have to worry about the queue. Downside? I get complacent and put off certain visits until near the end of the exhibition period. Which was exactly what happened with that of Jean Paul Gaultier – days before it closes!

JPG @ Grand Palais

JPG @ Grand Palais

Admittedly, I had not really planned to go and see it, and was thinking I’d give it a miss. Afterall, I know next to zero about fashion and trends, and with a bunch of things happening in the day-to-day, this exhibition was placed low on the priority list. However, my curiosity was piqued when friends who have seen it found it well-curated, along with a very cryptic hint that it is “special”.

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Hidden Paris: Passage Bourg l’Abbé to Passage du Grand Cerf

I prowled around the passages couverts from time to time but clearly I haven’t explored enough of them. In the 2ème, between rue de Palestro and rue Dussoubs, lies two passages briefly-separated by rue Saint-Denis: Passage Bourg l’Abbé and Passage du Grand Cerf. Built just three years apart in early 19th century, they have been well-preserved and a delight to visit.

Passages

Passages

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SAaM: gua bao with a twist

My memory of large banquet dinners while growing up: they were noisy affairs, with a menu that was pretty much the same from one dinner to another, in large multi-purpose halls that were too stuffy for a crowd of several hundred, most of whom I did not know nor recognise but they’d all inevitably identified me as my great-grandparents’ great-granddaughter, or my grandparents’ granddaughter. (Ah yes, I was never my own person back then…) One of the messier dish to eat would be braised pig’s trotter, served with pacman-like buns on the side, and we were supposed to make our own bun sandwiches by stuffing the braised meat – or fat, if you were too slow on the uptake – then chomped away.

SAaM buns

SAaM buns

It was an upgraded version of these gua bao which awaited us at SAaM when my friends and I popped over recently for a food- and gab-fest. Five versions of buns were served in this small but quaint eatery, not overly crowded for a Saturday lunch, with four staff holding the fort between the front house and the open kitchen. Each has been given a Korean twist, although still as messy to eat as I remember from all the years gone by. ;)

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Hero: Korean fried chicken and cocktails

The mercury climbed past 33°C and the air was still. If I could have gone to work in tank top and shorts, I would have – hey, we don’t have air-conditioning in the office – but since that wasn’t an option, a summer frock was my best bet although it may have pushed the limit on “workplace-appropriate attire”… ;)

Hero Paris

Hero Paris

I was out with Vivian and her friend, B, for a catch-up session and to check out Hero, a recent addition to the dining scene in Paris. The restaurant was not as busy as we thought it’d be, but in that heat, most people were probably (illegally) dipping their feet in one of the many fountains around the city. That, and I guess quite a few people would have also left for the summer vacation?

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An afternoon at Parc de Sceaux

We just got back from Portugal and days later, as it was sunny outside, we were already escaping from Paris, even if only for a few hours. Not too far though, just a bit south of the city, to Parc de Sceaux. It is easily accessible with RER B, and as F prefers biking, he makes good use of the coulée verte running from Montparnasse straight towards the park, leaving him to cycle leisurely and surrounded by greenery.

Parc de Sceaux

Parc de Sceaux

Parc de Sceaux was designed by the famous André Le Nôtre, who also created the impressive gardens of Versailles and St Germain-en-Laye, among others. Symmetrical French gardens, fountains, canals, orangerie – all these elements are proudly displayed in the park. On a beautiful day, it makes a perfect temporary escapade.

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A taste of Singapore, in Paris

Something caught my eye when I clicked through this week’s Paris event listing. Did it say there’s a small Singaporean street food market at the Berges de Seine for a few days? I immediately forwarded the article to Wee Ling and managed to persuade F that we should check it out. He agreed. *Happy dance*

Saveurs de Singapour

Saveurs de Singapour

I arrived just ahead of my meeting time with F, so I scoped around to see what’s there. A tent from which you get your food vouchers from – purchase strictly by cash so find an ATM beforehand! – followed by a few tents where food were served from, and a large tent as “main kitchen” I guess. And I spotted signs reading “satay”, “chicken rice”, “bak kut teh”, “Indian mee goreng” and “bandung/chendol”. Starting to get hungry!

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Randomly: Quartier du Jardin des Plantes

It was too beautiful a day to head home straight away after our visit to the Panthéon. F and I let our feet did the choosing, and found ourselves heading westward, passing École Polytechnique, walking along rue Monge before weaving past a few smaller streets to arrive at the entrance of the Jardin des Plantes. And oh, finding the Russian restaurant which we went to when we first met had now been replaced with a Portuguese canteen. That’s Paris for you: so much that’s familiar yet things change all the time.

Quartier du Jardin des Plantes

Quartier du Jardin des Plantes

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Postcards: Panthéon Paris (FR)

As a mausoleum goes, the Panthéon is a gorgeous one. Recently, four heroes and heroines of the Resistance were newly interred by the President of the Republic – although two of them were symbolic interments – and as part of the celebration, the Panthéon was free to visit over a few days. We took advantage of it to visit the building itself, rather than jostling through the long queues at the crypt.

Panthéon

Panthéon

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Postcards: Saint Étienne du Mont (FR)

Despite my propensity to peek into churches, big or small, as I come across them, for some reason, I have never stepped into the Saint Étienne du Mont. Semi-hidden in the shadow of the Panthéon, the church, or rather its steps, is becoming pretty well-known after Gil set off in vintage car for his adventures in Midnight in Paris. Shall we pop over for a quick visit?

Saint Étienne du Mont

Saint Étienne du Mont

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Siseng

It appears I’ve been flitting in and out several “hip” eating places lately, and Siseng Asian Food Bar is one of them. Each time, I feel just as awkward as ever besides the stylish folks (although I do question the decision of a man stepping in with a bathrobe from a hotel as his coat – F was there too so he can attest to this!) until the food was set in front of me. Then, all else was forgotten and my taste-buds got to monopolise my thoughts.

Siseng

Siseng

After New York, London and Hong Kong, bao burger has landed in Paris, thanks to Siseng. White, pillowy steamed buns replace the traditional sesame burger buns, and two different versions are available: bao burger kaï – marinated chicken burger with coleslaw, red pepper confit and a sauce of basil and coconut milk, or bao burger 5 épices – 5 spiced-marinated beef steak with rocket, spinach, onion confit, onion rings and a sauce of caramelised tamarind. They were juicy and the Asian-fusion flavour combination hit the right spots for me personally. The mid-week lunch menu comes with a serving of sweet potato fries, which makes a nice change from the usual french fries, and housedrink of the day for €15.

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Randomly: Spring

It’s late April. Bar the blooming magnolias, cherry blossoms and daffodils, there hasn’t been quite as much splashes of colour as I’d come to expect at this time of the year. Even many trees are still fairly bare despite the relatively mild weather. It seems the longer I live in Europe, the harder time I have in deciphering the changing season. Or is my memory too kind to the past?

Spring in Paris

Spring in Paris

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Berges de Seine

It was a sunny midweek afternoon, my friends and I had had a good lunch at Ellsworth and we were in no hurry to get anywhere. As we strolled and chatted, we found ourselves heading for the Berges de Seine, which serves as riverbank walk, public space, exhibition hall, outdoor gym, patio-ed restaurants and games room, all rolled into one.

Berges de Seine

Berges de Seine

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Ellsworth

It seems la rentrée is not the only time of the year when we ponder which among the many new restaurants to eat in; there has been a spate of openings of late and by the Palais Royal, Ellsworth popped up on the ground floor of a building that’s currently under works (I thought I’ve got the address wrong when I first noticed the scaffolds) just steps away from its sister restaurant, Verjus, and helmed by Hannah Kowalenko, formerly a sous-chef at the latter.

Ellsworth

It was A’s birthday and as a treat, together with a couple of friends, we headed over for a celebratory lunch. The menu was small (just what I like in places I eat) with three options per course, and priced at an affordable €18 for 2-course and €24 for 3-course meal. FYI, in the evening, Ellsworth transforms into a tapas place with small plates to share, and come Sunday, there’s even brunch to be had. Could this be some kind of square peg for the city?

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Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration

What is the common denominator between an immigrant, an expatriate, a foreigner, an alien and a non-citizen? Me. And countless others like me. We who fit the aforementioned, albeit with situations that vary in thousand shades of paperwork grade. Time and time again, the debate, in particular the pitting of an immigrant against an expatriate, can be painfully divisive. Just search for “immigrant vs expat” and you’ll see all kind of perception attached to these words, of social standing, origin, wealth, skin colour, intention. The fight is ugly.

Museum of Immigration History

Museum of Immigration History

The topic of immigration is a sensitive one and the question of integration has been contentiously thrashed out, in public and in private alike. At times of economic hardship, the subject is paraded – not only in France, mind – like an evil which must be stopped (UKIP’s Nigel Farage would like everyone to go back to where they came from, thank you very much) and the rhetorics filled with “selected truths”. My visit over the weekend to the Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration (i.e. Museum of Immigration History) was therefore an interesting one, one where I get to explore briefly the stories of the people who make France the nation it is today.

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La Chambre aux Oiseaux

A cosy canteen with a touch of vintage chic, that’s how I’d describe La Chambre aux Oiseaux. Upon S’s suggestion and initiative on making the reservation a couple of weeks in advance, we met on a slightly overcast Saturday afternoon for brunch in this café just off the Canal St Martin. They run two seatings for brunch, at 11.30am and at 1.30pm, and they were busy during both services. Clearly a favourite among many of the crowd of very fashionably dressed Parisians – yours truly not included given how carelessly my wardrobe is put together… – and for good reasons: the service is friendly, the food is delicious, and the ambiance is homey.

La chambre aux oiseaux

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Randomly: rue Bichat

Brunch reservation was 10 minutes away and S hasn’t arrived yet either. Not one to stand outside a café idly, I took a short stroll along rue Bichat and see what may be hidden on this street, in a neighbourhood that I don’t know very well. Not that I got very far though; I didn’t even get to peek into the windows of Helmut Newcake, the only other address I know a bit further along this street.

rue Bichat

rue Bichat

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Gwon’s Dining

For anyone looking for a good and classy Korean restaurant in Paris, with a menu that has more than bibimbap or garlicky fried chicken – don’t get me wrong, those are good Korean staple dishes, but don’t you want to try something new? – search no more. You should book a table at Gwon’s. It’s perfect for a date night. ;)

Gwong's

Gwong's

Truth be told, we’d meant to eat here for a while now. Located mere minutes walk from home, there was no good excuse not to, especially since each time we peered through their windows, the place was busy and filled with Korean diners. However, its upmarket setting means it carries a price tag that says “for a splurge”, so we’ve been saving it for an occasion which finally arrived: the completion of the Paris Semi Marathon.

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Early spring, abloom

Spring finally arrived in Paris. It has been a touch unfortunate that it came adist sustained peaks of pollution in the past week; such a shame that we could not be out and about to enjoy the sunshine and the blossoms without worrying about scratchy throat and allergic reactions. But, ah yes, but, as soon as the count dropped slightly, off we went for a stroll to visit the Iron Lady.

Spring in Paris

Spring in Paris

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Dining Izakaya – 6036

Last year, Chef Haruka Casters – formerly of Abri, where I had great meals with family and friends but a nightmare to get into nowadays – striked out on her own and opened up a small, 14-seats izakaya in Belleville. Its name 6036 represents the distance, in miles, separating Paris and Tokyo, but here, the two food cultures are closely wed to make an interesting Franco-Japanese meal, tapas style.

Izakaya 6036

Izakaya 6036

The menu here changes regularly but there are seemingly some staples (onigiri, cold cuts of Galice and Belotta, St Nectaire or Comté, macha crème brûlée), others rotated and appear every so often, and some depending on the season. A good mix, I would say, for a menu of approximately 10-12 items: 7-9 savoury, 1 cheese and 2 desserts. On the late November night we were there with a few friends, we tasted 10 of the 12 items possible, skipping out on the soup and the carbonara.

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Niki de Saint Phalle

We made a last ditch effort to catch the exhibition of Niki de Saint Phalle at the Grand Palais today. My colleague S saw it recently and absolutely loved it. I don’t know anything about Saint Phalle, except some of her sculptures are permanently installed by the Centre Pompidou and her style of work is so distinctive that I immediately recognised it when I saw “La Tempérance” in Luxembourg City.

(Note to self: I should write about Luxembourg City one of these days, as this blog contains only two measly P365 posts about it.)

Niki de St Phalle

Niki de St Phalle

I had expected to see more of her characteristic colourful and bountiful figures, and I ended up getting to know a lot more about the artist – sculptor, painter, filmmaker; the sources of inspiration – albeit painful ones in some cases – of her works; and some very personal story brought forth to the surface. I learned that art was “a way of taming those dragons which have always appeared in [her] work” and she wanted “to show everything; [her] heart, [her] emotions”.

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Postcards: Louvre (FR)

While going through my stash of photos taken last year – way too many of them! – so I can select a few for printing, I noticed I’ve a good few photos taken while I was at the Louvre or in the vicinity. There are probably more lost in some of the folders that I don’t have time to give much scrutiny to…

Louvre

Louvre

I must admit that I don’t go there as often as I’d like to because I’m not a fan of the massive crowd that jostles to get in and see only the “highlights” when there are so many other gems to look out for. I make special efforts to go there, however, when I get to go on THATLou hunt with Daisy. Now, she’s the woman who knows it inside out! ;)

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Neige d’Été

When I stumbled across an article recently that pointed to a new praiseworthy restaurant in my neighbourhood (mere 5 minutes walk from home is a bonus!) it’s a no-brainer that I should check it out. Taking advantage of the fact that we have visitors to entertain over the new year period, we need no further excuse to try snagging a table. What’s nice – for once, we were not working so we could even opt for the more budget-friendly lunch menu.

Neige d'Été

Neige d'Été

Neige d’Été (a somewhat whimsical “summer snow”) is discreetly located, with nary a sign pointing to its existence, until you’re right at the entrance and see the name palely etched across the glass of the door. Its interior – work of Japanese architect Shinku Noda – of minimalist features with shades of white is punctuated by occasional colours from the bouquet of fresh flower near the door and earthy tones of the settees. It felt a tad delicate to step in. Even the cutleries were hidden from sight – check the drawer in front of you but be careful not to spill everything onto your lap!

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