Posts Tagged ‘Amy Thomas’

Monday 18th July 2016
Today we took a trip out to Montrouge (a pretty little village in the southern suburbs of Paris) and then a relaxing afternoon at the Parc Montsouris. It was the warmest day of the tour so far, and at 35 degrees for most of the day we tried to find some shaded areas.
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Montrouge is a growing commuter town with a number of lovely local shops and cafes.
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Parc Montsouris is one of four large urban public parks in Paris. The others are Bois de Boulogne and two of our favourite places in the city, the Bois de Vincennes and the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Parc Montsouris may be a new spot to add to our ‘favourite places’ list as it was beautiful and calm despite being popular and pretty busy.
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That evening we ate at Samsara before taking in more of the local area (bars, parks and views).
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Paris really is a beautiful city and even with a large section of the population struggling to survive amongst the rich and beautiful, the growing concerns about racial hatred and the recent attacks on their way of life, the atmosphere is open and friendly, warm and welcoming and I hope to spend more time living in this fantastically inspiring place.
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Street Art 75011, Paris 2016

Tuesday 19th July 2016
Our last full day in Paris started with a trip to Au Pain et des Idees (another fantastic patisserie recommended in Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas).
IMG_7130 The choice was incredible; fresh breads and tarts adorned the display cases and baskets inside this old-fashioned looking bakery, but it was the original flavor combinations that excited me the most; Le croissant au thé Matcha & à l’eau de rose looked beautiful and the choices seemed endless. We were greeted with a big smile and made our decisions; Alexis opted for L’escargot chocolat pistache & I decided that the Pain au chocolat et almond was the one for me. We took our treats to a nearby bench overlooking Canal Saint Martin and savoured the moment. Flakey, buttery, rich and decadent – another excellent recommendation.

We couldn’t resist one final stop at Belushi’s Canal as this is where Sacre Noir first found our feet on the non-Scottish gig circuit. The view from the terrace is one of my favourites in Paris and the staff are always so lovely. All along the canal, workers were preparing for this year’s Paris Plage; installing zip-wires and sand-pits, showers and pop-up bars and cafes for the locals to enjoy, but right at that moment it was probably one of the most serene spots in Paris.
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Wednesday 20th July 2016
Time to say goodbye to my favourite city, before heading back to the UK.
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We met with a family friend for morning coffee and as always it’s great to spend time with friends who we don’t get to see very often.
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The Eurostar back to London was running late due to the previous night’s vandalism and over-crowding at passport control (to be fair to the Eurostar staff, if people had completed their boarding / landing cards before getting to security, things might have moved along a little quicker). Regardless, we were only delayed by half an hour and arrived safely in London before the evening rush hour really kicked in.
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We made our way to our hotel (Earls Court Garden Hotel; great location but a little noisy as our room seemed to back on to the Underground line), got changed and headed out for coffee and something to eat.

Our first stop was Café du Coin (it only seemed right to try to extend our Parisian experience for as long as possible) – a lovely café at the end of our street which serves salads and simple plates as well as coffee and pastry treats. We settled for coffee before making our way to GBK for some very fine veggie burgers, milkshake, fries, onion rings and elderflower presse. Both the food & service were really very lovely and despite being a chain restaurant the atmosphere was relaxed and not dis-similar to an independent diner (if such a thing still exsists).

We had a good walk around Earls Court & then it was time for bed.
Everything seemed a little strange, waking up in Paris & going to sleep in London, but we definitely felt excited knowing we had a great gig lined up the following night at The Troubadour.

Days off in Paris
Monday 20th
The morning after the night before (when the night before involved playing a concert in Paris) turned quickly into the early afternoon…needless to say we slept quite late. After morning coffees we decided to walk into the Marais in search of Les Pates Vivantes (one of our favourite restaurants in Paris). When we arrived and discovered it was closed we walked to the next street and stopped at a little café for falafel & hummus. Sitting outside having lunch, with the sun shining and the Marais buzzing; tourists and locals, dancing around one another, making their way to wherever it was they were heading, I was feeling very lucky. There is such a sense of romance in the streets of Paris and it’s easy to get swept away with the mode of the city, so after lunch we stopped by the beautiful Parfums de Nicolaï and indulged in a little retail therapy (when in Rome, or even Paris).

A treat from Paris

A treat from Paris

In the evening we discovered a lovely little park “aussi mignon comme tout” just a few blocks from our apartment. Right on the edge of Bagnolet, Séverine Square is pretty small but has lots of benches and shaded areas, large trees and well-tended flowerbeds. It’s definitely a park for locals; a suburban park with kids play areas and picnic tables, what more could you want.

Tuesday 21st
Today we ventured out to the Albert Khan gardens & museum. We tried to go last year, only to discover it was closed, but having heard good things about the space we made our way back. Across the city by METRO, it seems like the easiest thing in the world. I do love the Paris system of I journey = 1 price, unlike in London where they have a zonal system and it can cost a fortune to get from 1 end to the other. It turns out that a visit to the Albert Kahn gardens was a great tip! We spent a very peaceful few hours wandering around the statue garden, admiring the structures and different types of plants (we even saw a red squirrel), before visiting the exhibition “In search of Albert Kahn” which was really interesting.

flower in the Albert Khan garden

flower in the Albert Khan garden

Albert Kahn (1860-1940) was convinced that shared knowledge of foreign societies would encourage respect and promote peaceful relations amongst them. He was a very rich man and from 1888 he set up the series of bursaries (Autour du Monde), he opened the first centre for preventive medicine and established forums for discussion and research in France (National Committee for Social and Political Studies).
Between 1909 to 1931, Albert Khan commissioned photographers and filmmakers to record life in over 50 countries. Some of the images seemed very familiar, almost as if someone had used a filter on a current image (Venice looked particularly unchanged in the 100 years between the photograph in his archives and ones I took a few years ago).

Feeling very cultured we left and headed for the Jardin du Luxembourg (one of Alexis’s favourite places in the city). We sat in the sun and watched the boats in the pond (testing my flag knowledge – which is not great) and the kids terrorizing the fish and ducks with their punting sticks. Everyone always seems so happy at the Jardin du Luxembourg (except those duck I suppose).

Enjoying the Paris sunshine

Enjoying the Paris sunshine

In the evening we caught up with friends. We met at La Rotonde Stalingrad for a few drinks on the terrace before wandering down the Plage. I love moments like this in Paris; it almost feels like you belong in a place when you get to hang out with the locals. There were ‘congratulations’ to be given and ‘cheers to absent friends’ to be had, as well as a distant ‘happy birthday’ to be wished… a good evening all round.

Sending birthday wishes from Paris

Sending birthday wishes from Paris

It was late before we realized we hadn’t eaten, so we said out goodbyes and headed into town for something to eat (midnight in Paris is a perfectly acceptable time to order food, or even a coffee apparently).

Wednesday 22nd
In the morning we searched out a cafe recommended by Alexis’s dad, ‘Cream’ – an “on-trend café” which only plays analogue music. It was lovely & just a short walk from out apartment “halfway up the hill in Belleville”. The coffee was nice, strong and not expensive at all and the LP closest to the record player was Fleetwood Mac.

Coffee at Cream, Paris

Coffee at Cream, Paris

We sat outside on the small decked area to make the most of the morning sunshine (Scots abroad eh) and planned the rest of the day. Next stop Père Lachaise, which was situated at the bottom of the street. So back up the hill we go, this time looking out for an Amy Thomas bakery tip also located on the same street as our apartment.

If every we move to Paris this is the street to stay in – everything is right here!

Amy Thomas is a blogger who’s ‘Paris, My Sweet’ book I am currently reading. It’s about her life between NYC & Paris and her love of all things sweet. Amy’s tip, La Flûte Gana was closed “summer holiday 4th July to 4th August”… just our luck, however in Paris this is never a big deal as there is always another great bakery near by. With cakes in hand (tart au citron & some kind of dark chocolate mouse creation) we made our way via Père Lachaise to Pigalle / Montmartre and the top of another hill to Sacre Coeur.

View from Sacre Coeur

View from Sacre Coeur

We headed out in the evening to a Paris / British meet up at a bar near the Pantheon, which was arranged by our friend Carole. Every month she arranges an evening where people get together to practice speaking English and tonight the meet up was at a very ‘British’ pub in the city. Chatting on the boulevard in front of the bar it was obvious that everyone was lovely; a mixed bunch from all over the world. The conversation flowed along with the real ale and cider, bringing tales of trips to the UK & life in Paris and before we knew it the sun had set on our beautiful surroundings and it was time to once again find a late night meal before heading back to our tiny apartment.

NEXT GIG:                 Thursday 23rd July 2015 @ La Dame De Canton with AsOne
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