Monday, June 20, 2016

Blé Sucré & Belleville

Blé Sucré is on so many lists as the best croissant in Paris that I had to taste them for myself :) The tiny shop has a few tables outside if you want to have a coffee and eat facing the park, but I didn't want my croissant accompanied by the melody of screeching children, so I took mine to go. This is a pâtisserie not a boulangerie, which means they offer pastries but do not sell bread. If you want a baguette, go elsewhere, but come here for the madeleines, the pain au chocolat, or the croissants. The croissants here are HUGE by Parisian standards, easily twice as big as others.
The airy light layers and satisfying crunchy flakiness make for the best of combinations, and I added these croissants to my favorites list along with all the others who came before I did :)
Not far away is another kind of pâtisserie, La Rose de Tunis, specializing in North African sweets infused with honey, nuts, and spices. This one is in Belleville in the 11th, but there are other locations in the 15th and 18th, as well as in other cities throughout Europe. There is always a line out the door, so be prepared to wait for your sweet treats.

Since I went to the Yelp event at Les Piaules, I wanted to explore the Belleville area a bit more along Blvd Belleville with all the streetside vendors making freshly grilled breads filled with your choice of meat, tomatoes, onions; think of it as an alternative to pizza:)

The stores sell products I've never seen before, like Rose jam!
There were also markets that sell products I knew very well,
like roasted ducks and char siu.
Off Rue Belleville, which intersects Blvd Belleville, the famous graffiti of Rue Denoyez adds color

 and art to everything from the storefronts to the plant holders.
Some artists were working as I passed by, but this area will be transforming in the next few years to "modernize" the street and about 30 of the local workshops and artists will be displaced despite a petition with over 10,000 signatures trying to preserve the character of this street.
The most surprising thing I saw in the neighborhood wasn't the rose jam or the graffiti, but a Lamborghini, the only one I've ever seen in Paris :)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Les Piaules

Yelp Elite events in Paris are all fun, but the one last week at Les Piaules was one of my favorites:) Les Piaules translates to "little room" or crashpad" so it's a perfect name for a hostel! Les Piaules is also a local hangout offering free wifi, 3€ ($3.30 USD) craft beer, and weekly events like live music and movies. This is one of the rare places that comfortably and easily allows tourists to mingle with people in the neighborhood.

A spacious outside terrace lets everyone take advantage of the rare days when it doesn't rain, but comfortable sofas and stuffed chairs inside by the fireplace offer a cozy haven when the weather is chilly or wet.
Rooms come in a variety of sizes and prices, ranging from private double rooms with its own bathroom, to a shared dormitory for eight with shared bathroom. Prices range from around 35-120€ ($40-140 USD) depending on the season and space. This is one of the 4 bed dorms, with privacy blackout curtains, individual sockets, a private locker, and reading lamps.
The sense of humor of the owners is evident in the hallway signs :)
If you want to escape your room, and don't want to relax in the bar, the rooftop is reserved for guests of the hostel with panoramic views of Montparnasse to Sacré Coeur.
Even on a gray day, the sunset over Paris rooftops is a picture worthy way to say goodnight :)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

European Heritage Festival

Living in the center of town means that musicians meander beneath my windows when there is a festival, so this year's European Heritage Festival began when I saw and heard this :)

I walked the two blocks to the center of my neighborhood to see all the booths.
 France was of course represented by wine and champagne,

local honey,
 as well as handmade soaps.
 Italy was prominent with masks,
glass jewelry,
glass gifts,
 and of course food.
 Poland had a handcraft stand along with a food stand.
Spain displayed and sold their famous jamon
 at prices befitting the high quality of pork fed only acorns and aged for 2 years.
Most stands had both crafts and food like Romania's,
 which had a line around the stand for the grilled meats.
Sweden showed off warm clothes.
 Poland displayed their handmade bags.
Belgium sold their waffles and beers.
England had tea and jam,
 and Scotland sold their famous marmalade.
 Musicians roamed the streets all afternoon,
making it a street celebration all day long :)

Monday, February 29, 2016

Shopping at La Trésorerie

One of the advantages of walking in Paris is that you may find places you would miss using any other mode of transportation. The slower pace of life here can take some adjustment, especially for people from cities in the US, but there are rewards of pleasurable discoveries like La Trésorerie (they are working on an English version of their website, but they have people who speak English answering their phone lines). Prices are reasonable, neither the lowest and nor the highest for brand names and types of products; you may find lower prices in the big department stores during sales, but this place will have less crowds and better service.

I don't really have room for any more pots and pans, but it's always fun to browse:)
Tea and coffee sets and cups give you an option of making a beverage at home.
They have utensils from butter spreaders to zesters.
If you need extra hooks, they have those too.
Lights, tables, throws, curtains,
and coordinated linens to enhance your decor.
They even have practical things like cleaning supplies and tools.
The most practical part of this store was their attached cafe,
with Swedish snacks and sweets to sustain you as you shop:)