Snowy Paris

Aaaah, many Parisians were happy over the festive season as it was the first snowy winter Paris has seen in a long time. And why happy you say? Because of the "F" word - yes folks, we're talking "Fashion". It was a chance to show off and wear all those big winter coats and furry hats, those long winter knee high boots and mostly a time to feel real European and a tad crazy from the minus something degrees! Below are my snapshots of the city under snow....

mmm....could this be Karl Lagerfeld walking along rue de Grenelle?

Place du Palais de Bourbon and rue de Bourgogne

Seine River next to Gare de l 'Est

Don't you just want to cuddle up to this thing?!

The Eiffel Tower from Invalides

The irritating Velibs - Paris's latest mode of transport

Thomas Jefferson's feet at passerelle de Solferino

Esplande des Invalides

and just for fun!

December De-Lights

The winter has officially nipped Paris in the bum - yes it's freezing here folks! But do not fear as there is plenty happening to keep us all feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside. For starters, 'tis the season of festivities and shopping (well, that's pretty much all year round for Paris) so with Christmas and Hanukkah in the air the city of lights is simply oozing with more lights making walking around the city at night a feast for the eyes. However, for those searching a feast for their bellies, a brisk walk along the lower part of the Champs Elysees will greet you with a very cool Christmas market with every second hut selling Belgian waffles, pancakes and crepes...and I'm talking serious nuttela here.The shops are open generally 7 days a week during the holiday season and the streets are packed with avid shoppers, my favorite is the Marais neighborhood where even a friendly 'pere noel' will stop to give directons to lost tourists (and who said the French weren't friendly?)During the 8 days of Hanukkah, a candle is lit at different landmarks around the city one of which is at the Eiffel Tower. Expect to hear lots of music, dancing on the street and free donuts being handed out!After a night of indulging in these 'forbidden' holiday delights, I recommend a bit of exercise in the form of ice-skating. As tradition has it every December, in front of Hotel de Ville a little slab of pleasure comes to life with an ice-skating rink, merry-go-rounds, and of course more food. This is a must for the romantic at heart. Though if you're not the skating type, it can still be quite amusing to spend an afternoon with your loved one watching skaters fall on their bums....

Champs Elysees Christmas market - nearest metro is Champs Elysees Clemenceau (lines 1 and 13) in the 8th arondissement.
Ice-skating - nearest metro is Hotel de Ville (lines 1 and 11) in the 4th arondissement.

Rose Bakery

I just discovered probably the friendliest cafe in Paris! This place called Rose Bakery is a great spot to enjoy a nice hot cuppa, a wholesome lunch, catch up on some work, read a book or even a great spot to meet new people! There is a cool welcoming vibe where most of the staff are English speakers and wear natural smiles - wait, are we really in Paris?! (...just kidding of course...). This is the regular and beloved spot for my dear new fellow South-African-Paris-based friend who I met there for the first time over a yummy hot chocolate. The tables as covered with paper table-cloths that serve as a canvas on which to scribble ones thoughts of the day - which I think is pretty cool, as after all, great thoughts come by with great cups of hot-anythings.... What I loved most about this place was that there was no sign on the door - but instead huge glass doors showing off a naturally bright, warm beige and silver, cave-like cafe - and everyone knows this is Rose Bakery! Apparently there is a RB in London and 2 in Paris. The one I visited was in the colorful Marais district found at 30 rue Debelleyme in the 3rd arondissment - nearest metros are Filles du Calvaire and Saint Sebastien Froissart (the other is located at 46 rue des Martyrs in the 9th). Might I add, it's also into organic products - which is a huge plus! And what's really nice too, is that their customers seem to be the loyal-make-myself-chez-moi type or the highflyers seeking a place to relax and just be!

La Palette

To break away from all the touristic traps and enjoy a typically Parisian glass of wine in a typically old-fashion traditional Parisian bar - stroll over to La Palette.
This Latin quarter cafe (located on the left bank in the Saint Germain Des Prés area) is always bustling with the bohemian chic who come to socialize over a number bottles of wine and nibble on some ham and cheese 'croque monsieur'. The out door terrace literally overflows with the locals and laughter while waiters dressed in traditional black and white uniforms weave from table to table.

The wine list is apparently still the same over the last few decades with the most popular whites being the Sauvignon, Saint Véran, Pouilly Fumé, Chablis, Champagne and the reds being the generic-Bordeaux, Brouilly, Saint Emilion, Graves, Morgon. One can either order by the glass or the bottle (I say go for the bottle!)

You must take a peak inside or maybe even go stand and drink at the bar's counter just to appreciate the decor. It is classified as "classe" which means no alterations or renovations are allowed hence safe-guarding its authenticity of the 1920's. You kinda get the sensation that you are standing in a black & white movie, photograph or an old oil on canvas painting of the Paris back-in-the day of Picasso!

Situated at the heart of the art galleries district sitting charmingly on the corner of Rue de seine and Rue Jacques Callot.

43 Rue de Seine 75006 Paris
Metro : Odeon (lines 4/10)

Grand Palais

The Awesome Grandeur of Grand Palais

Nestled in the 8th arrondisse- ment in probably one of the most beautiful junctions in Paris is a building one can't miss, The Grand Palais ("Grand Palace"). This massive glass and cast iron exhibition hall is a real feast for the cultural-seeking-eye - simply stunning and totally worth a pop-in! What I love about this place is that while it's "arty" its also has that glorious, industrial, kick-ass feel to the place. I say this because its exterior is a blend of classical lively façade with rebellious art nouveau ironwork and its inside is so belittling, beautiful and vast in pistachio greens and mustard yellows. Every year (this year being the second year running) the Grand Palais hosts "Monumenta" in which they invite a leading artist to create and exhibit 'monumental' works of art to 'flirt' with the ginormous space and its energy – I love this concept! Indecently, I went to check out the second artist to display there, American-born revolutionary sculpture Richard Serra's work titled Promenade – which takes the form of a spectacular landscape of steel – whopping slabs of steel might I add! It's on display until June 15, 2008).

The Grand Palace has been a public exhibition hall for more than 100 years and hosted many other grand events from antique car shows to fashion extravaganzas for some of Paris’s top designers, including Dior, Chanel, and Yves Saint Laurent.

I even found a youtube link to Chanel's Haute Couture Spring Printemps '08 Paris show at the Grand Palais, check it out:

Before you rush off for a visit, note that there are actually three different areas in the Grand Palais, each with a different entrance: the Palais de la Découverte (a science museum) is at the Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, the Galeries National du Grand Palais (an exposition hall) has an entrance at the Clémenceau Square and the entrance to the Nef du Grand Palais (this event hall I wrote about) is at the Avenue Winston Churchill (opposite the Petit Palais). Nearest metro is Champs Elysees Clemenceau line 1 & 13

By the way, did you know that the Grand Palais is the largest existing ironwork and glass structure in the world? This place just gets even cooler!

This is me caught posing next to one of Richard Serra's steel slabs on display.

Lafayette Gourmet truck

Forget Starbucks! (if that's possible) - Gallaries Lafayette has come up with the cutest little red truck - called Alto Cafe - parked just outside the department store's main entrance with coffee-on-the-go for sale to shoppers passing by. The little red truck comes equipped with snaks, chocolates and drinks. Though I know it doesn't sound too exciting, but the idea is cute and it is perfectly positioned for the shoppers needing that bit of a sugar-rush. There is something just so damn Parisian about this little red sugar truck! It seems the French know just how to combine the art of 'cafe' with that of shopping, resulting in a 'tres-chic' time-out experience. Located at 40, Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement. Nearest metro is Chaussée d'Antin La Fayette


A hidden cinematic corner

Strictly for movie lovers! Walking along Grand Boulevard one can find a "passage" called "Passage Jouffroy" which a walk all the way until the end leads you to a little ally on the left called Galerie des Livres (Book Gallery) and yes folks, you guessed it, its all about books! I was drawn into one shop in particular called "Cinedoc" – which specializes in everything to do with the world of cinema from books, to posters to photographs to old press clipping and some classic collectors DVDs - and it's amazing! It's a very modest little place that offers plenty for movie lovers with even a section dedicated to Bollywood. Cinedoc has been around for 20 years and apparently, according to the shop employees, is the only one of its kind in Paris. I warn you that this little place can draw you in for quite a while rummaging through their stock. Running across the shop is a long table covered with alpha- betically filed envelopes which contain images and photographs of cinematic icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Robert De Niro and Marilyn Monroe – each image sells for around 20 euros. As for the abundance of books adorning the shelves, unfortunately most of them are in French, but there is a small corner dedicated to books in English.

Man, there is even that 'old movie' smell gracing the air…

Cinedoc can be found at 45-53 Passage Jouffroy in the 9th arrondissement. Nearest metro is Grand Boulevard line 9 .