Friday Five

1. This combination of light and lattice that makes my heart go boom:

La Tour

(That lens flare ain’t Photoshopped, either.)

2. I have this thing with doors:

Doors of Paris

That something as simple as a door could be so elegantly designed just because is just one of the many reasons I love this city.

3. Looking up from the gardens of the Musée Rodin, admiring the view:

Haussmann

As if there isn’t enough to marvel over in the actual museum gardens, the periphery has to be lined with classically lovely Parisian architecture, too.

4. This decadent dessert that was almost (almost!) too pretty to eat:

Religieuse, Hotel Plaza Athénée

My mom and I splashed out one afternoon, and I treated us to tea and dessert at the Plaza Athénée. (You know, the hotel where Carrie stayed with The Russian.) And then because we hadn’t indulged enough, we went across the street to Louis Vuitton. As you do.

5. The best way to spend €7, as far as I’m concerned:

Tuilpes, Rue Cler

Why can’t there be more flower shops in Philadelphia? Rue Cler has about four in two blocks, and every bouquet is affordable, to boot.

Have a wonderful weekend, kiddos! For those of you sick of seeing Paris photos, I’m almost done, I promise!

March in Paris, pt. 4: Le Marais

Rue des Rosiers

Café Scene

Mon Amour

Jardin de l'hotel de Lamoignon

Somewhere in Le Marais

Gallery

Croissants

In Flight

Somewhere in Le Marais

Aux Merveilleux

Antique Store

Blue Door, Le Marais

It’s not that I don’t like Le Marais, but it isn’t a neighborhood I’ve spent a lot of time in, so I’m not overly familiar. I like that it feels different from the rest of the city; there are fewer grand Haussmann buildings here, and the streets feel older, more historic and medieval. But if I’m being honest, I never feel a pull towards the 3eme the way I do with other neighborhoods. Our macaron making class was held at La Cuisine Paris, right along the Quai de l’Hôtel de Ville, so it made sense for us to spend the morning and early afternoon in the quartrier. My mom was disappointed that in the 16 years since her last visit, the last remaining vestiges of what was once the true “Jewish quarter” have all but disappeared, save for a few bakeries and falafel shops along Rue des Rosiers. Doors with ancient mezuzahs still affixed to the door frame, or stars of David carved over the entry had long ago been turned into clothing stores. We had falafel for lunch and strolled through the Place des Vosges, fighting off the bitter cold of this particular day.

The macaron class itself was the highlight of the day, though. All of the classes at La Cuisine Paris are taught in English, and ours was led by a French pastry chef (Romain, a total dreamboat) who had worked at both Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. There were only eight of us in the class, which made instructions easier to follow and everything more hands-on, and the two hours flew by in a whirlwind of boiling sugar, powdered food coloring, and my inability to remember directions clearly resulting in one giant macaron shell on my silpat (two inches apart, merde!). Having survived the course (with edible results!), I can safely say there is a reason macarons are so expensive; that is not an undertaking for the timid, unskilled, or impatient. Mon dieu. Don’t let me deter you, though! It was such a fun experience and I want to do it all over again with Jamal the next time we go, because I know he’ll excel at it. And ladies, if there is anything sexier than your man making macarons for you in Paris, I don’t know what it is.

Oh! Did you know the French created a verb specifically to describe the function of folding the meringue/boiling sugar/food coloring mixture into the almond flour? It’s macaronage, and it’s one more reason I love the French language, even if my own macaronage skills could use more work (my wrists get all floppy the moment I hold a spatula, likely from fear).

March in Paris, pt. 3: Light & Museums

Light, Avenue de la Motte-Picquet

Light, Place de la Concorde

Light, Tuileries

Light, Tuileries

Light, Tuileries

The Floor Scrapers

Musée d'Orsay

Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

The light in this town is going to give me a heart attack one day. I’d round a corner, or come up from the metro, or it would be overcast all morning and then: LIGHT. Glorious, blanketing, hazy, early-Spring sunlight, so different from the light in June or December. I can’t help but gasp every time I see a sun-soaked street, or the light filtering through the Eiffel Tower. I’m worried one day it will all be too overwhelming, and I won’t be able to take it, and my heart is just going to burst. Death by Paris.

We went to four museums this trip: the l’Orangerie and the d’Orsay in the same evening (the latter is open until 10pm on Thursdays, and they are directly across the river from each other), the Rodin the next morning, and the Louvre later in the trip. We struggled with how much to do, because it was so tempting to just sit in the Tuileries all night and stare into space, or linger too long at a café. The Parisians are so good at balance; it’s one of their skills among many that I’d love to steal. Sure, you have places to go and things to see. But the light is so gorgeous right now, maybe you should stay to enjoy it just a while longer. Pourquoi pas?

March in Paris, pt. 2: Montmartre

Morning

Rue des Abbesses

Breakfast, Rue des Abbesses

Blue Door, Rue la Vieuville

Fountain

L'Amour est Mort

Sacré-Cœur

Bread run, Rue Caulaincourt

Gate, Rue Caulaincourt

Long Lunch, Le Nazir

Salade du Berger, Le Nazir

The siren call of my old neighborhood became impossible to resist after only one day.

So I gave in, and we took the 80 bus from the 7eme to Place de Clichy. In terms of favorite bus routes, the 80 is my favorite. It snakes all the way up to Montmartre from the left bank, taking the swanky Avenue Montaigne, around the 8eme, past Saint-Lazare, and all the way up to my little village on the hill via Rue Caulaincourt. Between that route and the 95, which plops you more centrally in Saint-Germain, I could get anywhere I needed to go when I lived there. I like the buses more than the metro; the metro is generally more efficient, and, given Parisian traffic, undoubtedly faster, but you get to see the city from the bus. And there is nothing like taking the 80 south and crossing the Pont de l’Alma and seeing the Eiffel Tower from your seat. Like, pop! There she is!

So we went to Montmartre, and walked and walked and walked. Because that is what you do there. You climb the winding, steep streets, you make your way to the top of Sacré-Cœur to take in the view. We stopped in the church itself (something I admittedly hadn’t done in years) and got to hear mass in about six different languages (the priest switched from Spanish, to French, to Italian, to Hebrew, to Arabic while we made our way around the periphery of the monument). We rewarded ourselves with lunch at Le Nazir, my favorite salad with a poached egg and copious lardons and baked wheels of goat cheese thankfully unchanged. I showed my mom my old apartment, giving my sweet little balcony a wistful wave from the street.

On our way to Ladurée near Madeline (we took the metro) my mom said to me, “I can see why you love it. It’s a fabulous neighborhood.” And it so is. And not just because you get an impressive thigh workout just from exploring, either. That little pocket of the lower part of la butte was my home, and will be again one day, too.

March in Paris, pt. 1

Rue des Sèvres

Avocado Vinaigrette, La Terrasse

Tuilps, Rue Cler

Rue Cler

Fleuriste

Rue Edmond Valentin

Blue Door, Avenue Bosquet

Oh, this city. Every time I come I find new things to fall in love with, new angles to photograph, new perspectives and changes in light that thrill my heart to no end. There is something calming about returning, almost as if everything up to the moment just before the wheels of the plane touch down on French soil had been a little off balance, and with each trip back my equilibrium is restored. Walking the streets, getting acquainted with our new neighborhood (even as jetlagged as we were the first day) I felt a warming comfort, a homecoming as visceral as ever. The nervous, fluttering excitement that precedes a trip had been replaced long, long ago with a sense of rightness, of feeling whole again. My French came back to me fluidly, like riding a bike.

Three years ago, also in March, Jamal and I stumbled love-drunk into a restaurant on Avenue de la Motte-Picquet after just getting engaged minutes before, and ordered one of everything off the menu. A simple avocado, drenched in house-made vinaigrette, had stuck in our minds ever since, though we’ve never been able to replicate the exact tanginess of the dijon, or find avocados as creamy. I’m happy to report that, like everything else wonderful about Paris, that avocado is still has amazing as I remembered it. A dish so nice we ate it twice on this trip. (It helped that we stayed directly across the street.)

What else? I took significantly fewer photos this trip than I have previously, in an effort to be more present and soak it all in out from behind my viewfinder. I still took hundreds of photos, though, but this time I didn’t worry about making sure I got every single shot. I took a lot more photos of people, too! More to share this week.

I missed you guys! Tell me, what’s been going on?

Le Saint Régis

Le Saint Regis

Le Saint Regis

Le Saint Regis

Le Saint Regis

Le Saint Regis

Today marks a very special occasion: it’s my mom’s birthday today! Joyeux Anniversaire, maman! I can’t wait to celebrate you in Paris in just two short weeks! Macarons, and shopping, and museum-hopping, and ducking into charming cafés like this one.

A shameful admission: I’ve never actually been inside the Café Saint Régis before. Stalked it from the outside every visit for the past three years since I first stumbled upon this dark, vintage gem at the tip of the Île Saint-Louis? Oui, bien sûr. Crossed the threshold and asked for a table? Non. Not yet, anyway. I’m planning on rectifying this in just two weeks (two weeks!) when my feet hit Parisian soil. It seems cozy and inviting, and maybe just a little touristy, but I don’t care. The waiters with their starched white shirts and black ties, the subway tile and orange-y filament bulbs, be still my heart! And if the reviews online are to be believed, be still my stomach, too.

Boom

Last year, the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater put on a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s comedies, and arguably one of his best. Also, and I suppose this is a rather shallow thing to care about, but the posters were gorgeous, and they were everywhere. Really, every shop and cafe had one hanging in the window, and for good reason. I mean, look:

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Perfect, right? The floating woman, the curl of colored smokey dust around her, the pastel-colored gradient, all worked to reinforce the dreamy, suspended reality of the play itself. I found myself stopping almost once a day to stare at it on my way to work, the bus, Trader Joe’s, enthralled.

And then the play’s run ended, and the posters came down, and I more or less forgot about it. Until yesterday, when, for some reason, I had the urge to whip up a small inspirational quote poster in Photoshop for my desk (“Nothing will make you feel better except doing the work,” which would hopefully inspire me to FINISH THIS NOVEL JFC), and started searching for textures and brushes that would accomplish essentially the exact same look and feel as the Philly Shakespeare posters. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, etc. etc.

In my searching, I came across these stunning, captivating images of exploding dust by photographer Marcel Christ. And suddenly the play posters made so much sense:

Marcel Christ

Marcel Christ

Marcel Christ

Marcel Christ

Marcel Christ

Marcel Christ

Aren’t these just insane? They remind me of micro-versions of the annual Holi festival in India, but also somehow seem infinite and disarming in their scale. They could be as vast as a universe, or tiny handfuls. Needless to say I struck gold, and have been happily editing away, trying to find the right combination of spacing and font weight for the ultimate inspirational print. I’ll keep you posted!