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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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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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La Petite Ceinture of 15ème

It could be the weather, it could be work, it could be a combination of multiple things. Whatever the underlying causes, I’m more a homebody lately than the overly perky urban explorer that I could be. Luckily, F wouldn’t let me languish about at home for more than what’s healthy, and we’d end up taking some short walks somewhere around town. A couple of weekends ago, we explored a small portion of the old railway belt of Paris, called La Petite Ceinture, in the neighbourhood.

La Petite Ceinture

La Petite Ceinture

Parts of the disused railway line, which once encircled Paris in its entirety, are now officially open to public for walks and jogs, although a large part of it remains out of bound – not that it deters the most ardent urban adventurers from accessing and actually enjoying beautifully wild paths in Paris that tempts me to follow their footsteps at some point!

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Hidden Paris: Villa Santos-Dumont

What does one do on a sunny Saturday afternoon? Well, F and I went out for a walk of rediscovery. Early last year, we have came across streets neatly tucked away from the public eyes – quaint, lush, calm – the little pieces of paradise anyone would wish to have in a bustling city like Paris. We certainly would love to live on one of these hidden-yet-within-Paris streets with a village charm. Today, let me introduce you to villa Santos-Dumont (formerly villa Chauvelot), named after a Franco-Brazilian aviator.

Villa Santos-Dumont

Villa Santos-Dumont

Villa Santos-Dumont is a serene and picturesque cobblestoned impasse that branched out from rue Santos-Dumont in the 15th arrondissement, a short walk away from Parc Georges Brassens. Brassens himself famously lived on 42 rue Santos-Dumont, after a 22-year stay on 9 impasse Florimont, another few minutes walk away from here.

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Project 365 – Week 46

I have a couple more posts on Malaysia to come, then we’ll be back to talking more about Paris and other random things. In a way I’m rather pleased that I’ve managed to write up about the various trips before I forget more of the details, even if they are already a little later than usual. You don’t mind it too much, do you? ;)

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Window decoration

11 Nov: This has got to win some sort of window-dressing award! It’s like someone has gone to a bric-a-brac and came back with a random selection of things – Kennedy-like bust, miniature pig to go above its head, a selection of transportation methods and plushies as company… I’m still not completely sure how to interpret the pig over one’s head thing though. Do you have any theory?

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Project 365 – Week 44

It feels like we’ve suddenly plunged into winter this week. It started wet, then windy, followed by arctic chill for a couple of days, and back into wet and windy weekend. Not too much fun for my friend who was playing tourist in the city. And as if wet and windy in Paris was not bad enough, F and I headed up northwest to Brest to visit our friends at the weekend. Oh, gosh, it has been a long time since I was that soaked!

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Road sign

28 Oct: Here’s a fun fact: in Paris, while there are “no entry” sign aplenty, there is none of “stop”. Another fun fact: many of the “no entry” sign has been used as canvases for street art. I’ve started coming across “Kiss Kiss” (that’s my nickname for it) on a rather regular basis since my return from southeast Asia, so I wonder if this is the current batch of no-entry-art. Previous batches have been “The Handyman” (man carrying a bar), and “Witch Hunt” (man in the stocks).

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Project 365 – Week 42

Now that we’re settling back in to the daily grind, our social calendar also starts to fill itself up quickly. We’ll be seeing friends and family, in Paris and elsewhere, and significantly my oldest and best friend will be here in a week for a visit. I have so much to show and to share with her, that I don’t really quite know where to start. Since la rentrée there are many interesting exhibitions to see, new places to eat, etc. I need to make a list and let her choose what she’d like to do most.

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Notre Dame Cathedral

14 Oct: Paris is beautiful, and even more so in autumn. For F, it’s the softer lights of the sky that make autumn an enchanting season of the year. For me, it’s the colours surrounding us. There’s something about golden leaves on the trees and a variety of hues between vermillion and tangerine to spread some seasonal colours – quite a difference from the multi-coloured summer blooms. I also love stepping on the drying leaves, hearing the rustles under my feet while daydreaming as I walk. Even the slight nip in the air doesn’t bother me when I get into this little world of my own.

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Project 365 – Week 41

It is somewhat disorientating to be back in Paris when I’m still in semi-Asian mode. You know, like wanting to eat noodles or nasi lemak first thing in the morning, craving for dim sum in the afternoon, longing for late-night supper, lamenting the lack of time to play more with my niece and my nephew, missing my family in general… Poor F had had an overdose of Asian food though (my family was feeding him ALL the time) and had decreed that we would be eating European fare for the coming weeks.

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Happy Hours

7 Oct: Many bars around Paris have some kind of happy hours offer nowadays, but sadly, not at my favourite cocktail hangout… and sometimes, I wish happy hours in Paris can be more like the happy hours in I used to enjoy in Milan. Strictly speaking, it’s not happy hours per se, but l’aperitivo, the time for a pre-dinner drink. Traditionally a good selection of snacks/food are also available and usually included in the price of the drink. Classic options include olives, chips, pizza and pasta but some upscale places would even serve fruits, antipasti, savoury pastries and more!

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Project 365 – Week 31

This week, I discovered that being a translator is probably not a career alternative I should pursue. My friends, in the spirit of keeping things bilingual for their wedding, had asked me to help out with certain tasks (e.g. translating wedding ceremony programme, speeches), and working from English into French, oh dear… I am lucky I have other wonderful friends around me who helped to proofread my translations, and I also roped F into translating some particularly tricky texts. What would I do without them?

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Street art

29 Jul: This piece of street art reminds me of the sculpture of Le Passe-Muraille to commemorate Marcel Aymé that can be found in Montmartre. The main differences? This is on the other side of the wall, thus forming a continuation of sort to the sculpture, and this is a very modern take, for I don’t think hoodie fits into the setting of Aymé’s story. Disclaimer: I don’t know if the artist intended this as an echo to Le Passe-Muraille. Total speculation on my part.

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Project 365 – Week 30

I’m beginning to think every week is a crazy week somehow. It’s the same ol’ complaint: so much to do, so little time. Clearly I haven’t yet figure out how to stop the time-drain that I bemoaned about a fortnight ago… On a more positive note, I’m getting a couple of sightseeing days in Brittany next weekend when I’m in the region for my friends’ wedding. Frankly, I’m superstoked about the prospect of this getaway, even if it’s a very short one!

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Wall-E

22 Jul: Last year, thanks to a promo, I got myself an annual pass to the Disneyland Paris. However, after that one visit with my siblings – where I didn’t go on a single rollercoaster ride – I haven’t been back until now. My inner child certainly loved this day out, squeeing in joy, humming repetitive songs, and making impressions of Eeeeee-vaaaaa and Waaaaaall-Eeeeeee. I finally tried a few of the newer rides that were not there before from, I don’t know, 2004, when I last really ran around Disneyland from one ride to another. Crush’s Coaster in my new favourite ride ;)

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Project 365 – Week 14

What a weekend. As you know, yesterday morning has been all about the brunch with Jean Imbert and it was a good, high start to the day (I’m sure it’s not just the coffee/ caffeine talking). Frédéric and I were also at the cinema twice in two days, cycled around town, and in whatever extra time I managed to steal, I blogged for April last year too. Yup, time to play catch-up, so keep an eye in the next couple of weeks for more posts, including those related to Iceland!

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Peacock at Parc Floral

1 Apr: It was yet another day I played tourist with Nancy and we headed out east to the Bois de Vincennes. After consulting the map and a quick check of our watches, we knew we didn’t have time to do much so we kept to visiting the Parc Floral while we were in the area. That was when we passed by this peacock which was seemingly oblivious to the attention it was getting. This was officially my first live peacock sighting in greater Parisian area. I wonder if there are any in Paris itself…

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Project 365 – Week 10

This has been a week of small victories. Getting my carte vitale, progressing positively with my project at work, celebrating the anniversary of my move to Paris, semi-plotting meet-ups with friends who live elsewhere (including Malaysia and Australia!) and pencilling in diary the dates to host them. I love it when things run smoothly. Only one big last administration hurdle for the year looms big – I’m heading to the Préfécture in a few days. Fingers crossed, all will be well.

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Walking down spiral stairs

4 Mar: One of the busiest day yet. It really was home -> work -> home kind of day, without any time for detour. Luckily F offered to cook dinner and deal with all the washing up. And so you are stucked with a photo from Sunday actually. We took advantage of the free monument visit Sunday and went to the Arc de Triomphe. On our way down, I couldn’t resist taking a pause to grab a couple of photos. Since it was relatively dark, I needed longer exposure time, resulting in the ghost-like moving feet as other visitors walked past me to descend the monument.

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Project 365 – Week 9

Another gear has kicked in at work and the next two months will be full-throttle busy. I’m not yet sure how it will affect this project, but don’t be surprised if the photos are shot mostly between places I pass between home and lab instead of other Parisian neighbourhoods. The blame for lack of leisure reading now sits squarely on work too. I’m doing so much project-related reading that I have little wish to read more while at home…

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Paris snowy rooftop

25 Feb: It snowed overnight so first thing I did upon arriving at work this morning was to head straight for the top floor of the building. As it was still snowing at that time, the view was not as crisp and clear as I’d like. You could just about make out where the Eiffel Tower and the dome of the Invalides are in the shot. Oh how I wish I have an office on this floor of the building…

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Project 365 – Week 1

In 2012, I took a break from Project 365 after running it for a couple of years – that of 2010 as a personal project known to a handful few friends, and that of 2011 hosted on this very blog itself. During the break, I found myself spending significantly less time exploring parts of Paris which I don’t yet know well, which is a shame really.

It’s time to be more pro-active again, and hopefully with Project 365, I’ll get that extra dose of motivation to be out and about, particularly when it is dark/wet/dull outside and certain neighbourhoods lie just a little far/inconvenient to reach from where I am. Instead of updating photo daily, I will do so as a weekly photo blog post. Enjoy!

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Tour Eiffel from Centre Pompidou

30 Dec: Nico was visiting us and we took the opportunity to hit Dalí retrospective at the Centre Pompidou. We took advantage of late night opening hours to avoid long queues, and while waiting to enter, we were treated to the beautiful view of Paris by night. Eiffel Tower quite easily dominated the skyline.

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Day 341: View on way home

Remember I mentioned not so long ago that, in Paris, you could throw a coin somewhere and you’d probably hit a monument? Something along that line anyway. Well, I found out today that if I walk back to my new place from across the road as opposed to the side I usually take, I am treated to a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower. If it’s on the hour after sunset, then the tower is also sparkling pretty.

Not much is going on otherwise. I haven’t been feeling well for a good few days now, and the grey grey sky outside that’s on feature a lot lately is not helping much. I hope this is not going to be all that I have to look forward to for the next 2-3 months or it is going to send me straight to the world of winter blues. Paris, I’m counting on you to keep me amused and happy!

Day 295: Salon du Chocolat 2011

Gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme chocolates!

One of my favourite events of the year has got to be Salon du Chocolat. An annual event held at Porte de Versailles, in the past, I have travelled specifically to Paris so I can splurge on amazing goodies at the salon. This year, well, I live here now. No excuse to not go. ;)

This year, it’s busier than ever. I don’t remember the salon being packed at 10.30am in the past, but it is now. Anything wonderful that can be created using chocolate, can be found here. Dresses, replicas of Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower, beloved carton characters – they are all somewhere in the exhibition hall this weekend!

My haul this year? Quite reasonable compared to the past. At least I believe so, hehehe. A couple of bottles of chocolate wine, some chocolate selections, a couple of boxes of pralines, and discounted Gü products.

Day 233: Eiffel Tower, again

I’m doing a lot of river crossing this weekend.

Today, instead of walking, I was on the métro (Line 6) and between the stops of Bir-Hakeim and Passy, for some reason, the driver decided to go slow when crossing River Seine by way of Pont de Bir-Hakeim. It afforded me a few precious seconds to quickly whipped out my camera and grab this shot. Unfortunately the threat of rain that I mentioned yesterday was making itself known, and the sky looked quite ominous, don’t you agree?

What you can’t see from this photo is that the bridge stands on one end of Île aux Cygnes, a narrow man-made island built in 1827 to protect the adjacent Port de Grenelle. Only one walkway can be found on this isle – the Allée des Cygnes. The walkway connects the bridge to a replica of Statue of Liberty at the other end of the isle. The statue, which faces west towards its sister in the Big Apple since 1937, is scaled at one-fourth of the one on Liberty Island.

Day 179: Pasteur

That’s quite a dashing bust, don’t you think? Standing at rue du Docteur Roux, the building behind the bust is the first building of the Institut Pasteur and today, the site of Musée Pasteur. There’s no prize for guessing that the bust belongs to the famed microbiologist Louis Pasteur.

I’ve been told that Pasteur’s body is interred in a vault of the Institut Pasteur. Not only that, his apartment of his later years is also preserved. Since I’m around the area for conference in these few days, if I could sneak a little time, I should consider paying a homage to the man who had given so much of his discoveries to the advancement of immunology and disease prevention.

Day 162: Cupcake ramblings

Looking at these cupcakes at a shop window, I feel a pang of longing – I can’t tell you how much I miss having an oven in my kitchen. Nearly 3 months now without one, it goes without saying that I haven’t been baking, roasting or grilling anything. No quick breakfast muffins, no shepherd’s pie, no roasted vegetables… Good thing this city is full of cakes and tartes and quiches, so it’s not all lost.

One thing though – the price tag. I would quite happily fork out a small fortune for a fantastic piece of pastry, especially when it’s something that I could not made easily myself (read: I am rubbish at delicate cakes and tarts) but for cupcakes which is not too complicated at all, I am soooo not willing to pay anything between €3-4 for one. That’s even enough for me to buy the basic ingredients to make a dozen or two of cupcakes (minus the fancy icings) already!

Ps: I’m not claiming I could whip up the best cupcakes ever though, ok? ;)

Day 151: Brisas

I was back walking along Port de Javel this evening. The installation of steel sculptures by Carmona are still there, so I circled around a few of them to try to take a few more pictures. I end up choosing “Brisas” (meaning breezes) for the blog upon reflecting on the weather forecast that is to come.

I’ll be away for a long weekend break in a couple of days, participating in my first pont ritual ever. The weather forecast is looking good for now but it also appears we’re due for some wind and rain by the end of the weekend. I hope that’s just erroneous forecast. I want a full, sunny long weekend. Afterall, when I was busy slaving away working during the weekends in April, every threat of thunderstorm had been met with pretty blue skies, causing a massive tug of will between being good and staying in to work, and to sit out and have a long picnic.

Day 137: A view from Pont du Garigliano

Visitors to Paris tend to stay within the central area of the city – let’s face it, there are so much to do one need not venture further out in any case – and as a result, perhaps the only tall buildings they would have noticed are Tour Montparnasse and those at La Défense (and you can spot them right from Champs-Élysées). Otherwise, Parisian architecture seems rarely topping the sixth or seventh storey in height, much less constructed with plenty of steels, metals and glasses.

Down by Port de Javel, standing on Pont du Garigliano, one may not recognise Paris if not for the Tour Eiffel which stands beyond the horizon of tall modern buildings. It is still quite pretty here, with less human traffic (at least that was the case when I was out there this evening) and the feeling that the dynamism of Paris is something that I would need a lot of time to fully understand. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I would be able to find time somehow to soak all the knowledge in.

Day 132: Rusty Steel Carnival

A new series of sculpted installation (made from rusty steel) has just been peppered along Ports de Paris which opened today. Such serendipitious coincidence that I went awandering near Parc André Citroën and came across a few of them. I haven’t time to check all of them out though. Accordingly they could be found along River Seine running from the park to the Eiffel Tower.

Created by Edgardo Carmona, the pieces by the quay-side gates of the park include the artistics (carnival musician, bike juggler, ribbon gymnast), the day-to-day (umbrella blown with the wind) and the amusing (man with beer – after a late night out maybe – and dog, both peeing to a lamp post). I wonder what else are installed upriver from here.

Day 119: Église Saint-Pierre-de-Montrouge

The Church of Saint-Pierre-de-Montrouge sits very dominantly at Alésia, pretty much right above the metro station, and the first time I had a glimpse of it a few weeks ago was totally by chance. I was travelling to Porte d’Orléans, the terminus of line 4, but wasn’t paying attention so when I noticed just about everyone in my carriage getting off, I naturally assumed we’ve came to the end of line. To say I was momentarily disorientated was putting it mildly.

Passing by it again this evening (I was at a cinema nearby with Ani – we went to see Detective Dee – Chinese movie!) I thought I should take a shot of it. In particular, to show off the entertwining symbol of SP for Saint Pierre. Afterall, it could easily be looked at as PS and if you think Da Vinci Code and its link to Paris (in the little world of Dan Brown), I wonder if he knew about this church and would write anything about it as part of the story plot?

Day 79: Jour du Macaron

There’s so much to tell today and I don’t know where to start. Or how to keep it short-ish. Just know that it has been a gloriously warm Sunday and I wish everyday is as wonderful as this.

Only one museum visited this morning – Chloé and I went to the Musée des Arts et Métiers where we caught live demonstrations of Pascaline calculator and Faucault’s Pendulum – before our stomach rumbled and we got very lucky to get a table at Breizh Café without reservation. A galette Breton and a sweet crepe each, yum. Sitting outside at the terrace for a bit of a tan while eating delicious brunch – bonus of the day.

That was not all. Today is Jour du Macaron as well, so we made it to Pierre Hermé’s shop near Pasteur (the queue at the shop near St Sulpice was crazy long and we didn’t even try to go there) for some treats. The flavours I picked: fig, sweetbriar and foie gras; white truffle and hazelnut; and “dépaysé” which combined matcha green tea, azuki bean, lime and ginger. Two words to describe them all – flavoursome, delectable.

As the Salon du Livre was also running this weekend, I went over to check it out. Free entry with my Paris public library card – nice! I bought a couple of books, including Dessine-moi un parisien by Olivier Magny (who keeps an entertaining blog of Stuff Parisians Like), which he also kindly autographed. I would have like to stay and chat with him for a bit, but my French was failing me…

The day was capped off with dinner at Chloé’s where the girls and I were served raclette with potato, salad and saucissons. Even though we were stuffed in the end, we incorporated a little twist to dessert, by serving roti bakar, Malaysian style.

I am having the time of my life :D


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