A few weeks ago I traded one grand city for another. Joined by two other freelance friends, Christine & Kathy, we strolled through one arrondissement to the next over five days to take in Paris. We couldn’t have picked a better week to be free from our day to day distractions and fuel up on our collective creative energy, especially since magic seems to surround Paris in the springtime. With the weather on our side and the backdrop of the city of lights we took it one day at a time and drew inspiration from every corner of the city.We rented a three bedroom apartment on the border of Saint Germain and the Latin Quarter as our central base. A 30 minute walk, which passes through the Louvre, led us to the 1st arrondissement for coffee at Telescope Cafe, then stopped at Rue Herod to pick up quality textiles, be stunned by the zebra stripes outside the Palais Royal and finish off the day with dinner at Verjus – and that was just day 1! During the trip we shared our dreams and owned up to our individual fears over simple meals and bottles of wine but mostly we opened ourselves to the allure of Paris and its endless array of crafts, markets and tableware.
Our trip culminated on the day of our Context market walk through Le Marche Rue D’Aligre. The stunning & seasonal produce was enough to incite madness. Never have I seen wild asparagus (which resembles a thin feathery fern) or a whole almond with its unattractive fuzzy green exterior. The rows upon rows of in season tomatoes were also begging to be bought and tasted. We went home with arms shaking from the bags full of our market haul but bubbling with excitement for what became a truly Parisian inspired vegetarian feast.
Kathy, a food stylist & home economist by trade, ruled the kitchen and prepared us a grand freestyle feast using the most basic of spices: salt and black pepper. A drizzle of oil here with a splash of lemon juice there then voila – a table full of dishes each more stunning than the next. Christine and I, true to our professions, could not put our camera down! I won’t forget that freestyle meal we enjoyed in our apartment; the slight breeze coming in through the window, the piquant tomatoes alive in my mouth complemented by a light French white wine, the increasingly fragrant scent of the days old peonies and of course the beautiful company I kept.
None of us brought a Paris travel guide for this trip. Instead we relied on tips from friends, our own research and a very handy style guide to the best places to shop around the city. These are some of the places that’s worth visiting:
Le marché aux Puces de Vanves – this antiques flea market is more manageable in size than Saint Ouen but still pretty touristy, the prices reflect this but everything is up for haggling
Le Marche Rue D’Aligre – vibrant food market in the 12th arrondissement
E.Dehillerin – I could imagine Julia Child rummaging around in this classic shop during her time in Paris