Bar à iode – Seafood Paradise!

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To say that it’s a hidden gem in the heart of Paris does not even begin to cover le bar à iode. It ranks high on my list because these are one of those rare moments when quality, price point and service come together in perfect balance. Honestly, it doesn’t get better than this! However, in all fairness, I have yet to try L’ilot which embodies the same concepts but was sadly closed for the summer vacation period when we had attempted to get our hands on one of their highly praised seafood platters. Alors! A la prochaine!

So what exactly makes bar à iode so exciting? Let’s just say that Paris is not exactly seafood haven as the city is completely landlocked which is why fresh, high quality seafood is so expensive. This is also why finding a place like bar à iode is such a game changer. Prepare yourself for large, copious platters, much like the ones you get in Bretagne, Normandie etc…but for the SAME PRICE IN PARIS.

On this particular night, we had the petit iode platter which usually comprises of 4 fine de claire oysters, a portion of whelks, periwinkles, a portion of grey shrimps (also known as crangon crangon – funny name, isn’t it?) and a portion of cocktail shrimps. Since neither of us are huge fans of periwinkles, we asked the waiter to leave those out and give us extra whelks instead. It was done at no extra cost nor fuss!
We ordered 6 extra Cancales oysters, a squid carpaccio, dessert to share and a bottle of Riesling for only 59 euros!

Not only was the food highly satisfactory, but the service was also top notch, especially considering the amount of customers they had to handle.
We went on a Saturday night and of course, they were fully booked, save the terrace which they reserve for walk-in customers only. Despite this fact, we were still very well taken care of and frankly, there isn’t much more to say than, “What are you still waiting for?” Go and enjoy the rest of your summer with some fine de claire oysters and a bottle of sweet Riesling on the Boulevard Saint-Germain!

Address: 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005 Paris

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 12-3pm and 7-11pm

Check out the bar à iode website for the menu and/or further information!

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Hidden Retreat In The Heart Of Paris

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Firstly, who would have ever thought that such a charming, exotic yet peaceful place could exist smack-bang in the middle of Paris?

And yet it does.

In the form of the Muslim Institute of the Great Mosque of Paris.

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This is definitely not your typical Haussmann building but a dazzling work of Moorish style architecture built by 450 North African craftsmen and artists. The intricacy of the mosaic that covers almost every wall is insane as well as the vibrancy of the colours!

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The Great Mosque is made up of:

  1. The Court of Honour
  2. The Great Patio
  3. The Prayer Room
  4. The Minbar
  5. Le Minaret
  6. The Library
  7. The Hall of Honour

The star of the show is, of course, the Court of Honour (the gardens) with luxurious fountains, pools and the gorgeous turquoise tiled floors give the impression of walking on water.

Entrance fee is at 3 euros per person and the mosque is open every day from 9:00-12:00 and 14:00-18:00 except on Fridays and Muslim holidays. For futher information, feel free to consult their website!

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The cafe just next door is a lovely way to finish off the afternoon with a glass of hot mint tea at just 2 euros each! Please note that no alcohol is served at this establishment which doesn’t take away from the fun whatsoever! The terrace is aesthetically pleasing and calm yet “hidden” in a sense, giving the place an air of intimacy.

What did kill the good vibes a little was perhaps the waiter who was grumpy and not at all helpful but maybe we just caught him on an off day!

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Follow this hottie! IG: stellabanfalvi

 

The Hardware Societe – From Melbourne to Paris

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Perhaps I haven’t posted very many restaurant/bar/cafe reviews on my blog but I have been discovering at least one new spot every week. The dining scene in Paris is like a dream come true! I’m always stumbling across some quaint little place tucked away neatly in an alley.

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Today was a sunny all day brunch restaurant called ‘The Hardware Société’ that a friend of mine had suggested. Don’t let the unsuspecting exterior fool you! It’s an Alice through the rabbit hole moment; once inside, you will be met with warm smiles from the staff and a flurry of activity.

The food matches the service in every way! I ordered the grilled mushrooms which came with a delicious dollop of pumpkin on the side, a sprinkling of peanuts that added to the delicious flavour of the mushrooms and two slices of bread. My friend ordered a popular dish comprised of baked eggs and a cauliflower purée. Needless to say, the presentation was top-notch and the prices were reasonable! I paid 14,50 euros for my meal and 4 euros for a cappucino making it a grand total of only 18,50 euros!

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So, if you’re ever in Montmartre and looking for a fantastic brunch joint, be sure to pop into the Hardware Société for a fantastic meal that will not disappoint!

The Hardware Société
10 Rue Lamarck, 75018 Paris
01 42 51 69 03
Follow The Hardware Société on Instagram

Parisian Fashion & Beauty Trends

One of my favourite pastimes is people-watching and as a professional people-watcher, you notice things. Paris has made this sport even more convenient and easily accessible with its thousands of outdoor terraces. In fact, they are so dedicated to the idea of sitting outside that the cold can’t even stop them! The solution? Heaters, heaters, and more heaters. So I hereby present you with five Parisian fashion and beauty trends! (Please do not hesitate to correct me if I’m wrong.)

  1. Green Stan Smiths
    I don’t understand this trend but everyone else seems to. Let’s move on.
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  2. Red lipstick
    The red lip has become an emblem of Paris. I remember wearing red lipstick in London…stuck out like a sore thumb and made me feel VERY self-conscious it did but in Paris, you just blend in.
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  3. Less makeup is more makeup
    As mentioned above, the red lip may be symbolic for Parisian women but did I mention that its an EITHER OR situation? Either a smoky eye and a nude lip or a bold lip and bare eyes. You can’t have both because it’s all about looking NATURAL and EFFORTLESS.
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    (Christen Dominique Youtube)
  4. I-just-woke-up hair
    Again. It’s all about looking effortless. Great example is Caroline de Maigret.
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  5. Tights and trainers
    A common look I see is the green Stan Smiths, black tights with shorts, skirts or dresses. Not sure if this is exclusive to Paris but it’s present.
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  6. Multi-coloured trousers
    Something I’ve always admired about French men is their ability to pull off trousers of any colour.
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  7. The basic colour palette: white, black, grey, navy blue, beige
    But…the rule of thumb is to just stick with the basic colour palette! Simple, chic and stylish. I don’t see a lot of patterns and motifs so best to stay with plain colours as well!

 

 

 

The Parisian Dream: Realistic?

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Where does your mind wander off to when you hear the words ‘Paris’ or ‘France’? Does it conjure up images of endless pavements filled with sprawling terraces, the melodic chitchat of French and romantic fumes of cigarette smoke on a lazy summer’s day? Does your mind drift off into the streets of Montmartre while Edith Piaf’s ‘La Vie en Rose’ plays in the background? Or do you smell freshly baked baguettes instead?

If so, you’re not too far off but you’re not seeing the full picture either. More often than not, tourists and first-timers are shown the shiny side of town. Eiffel Tower, Galeries Lafayettes, Arc de Triomphe, Le Louvre, La Seine, Champs Elysées et tous les incontournables! And do you know what? That’s okay because it is part of what makes up the true essence of Paris.

What’s not okay is thinking that that’s all there is to this city. What about Chinatown aka the 13th arrondissement? The slums around Paris? The colourful graffiti and the kebab restaurants that can be spotted here and there but especially around Gare du Nord? All the places that tour groups avoid because they’re not always pretty?

Perhaps it’s just where I used to live, but people often seem to have a rather distorted image of what a Parisian lifestyle truly entails. You have French bureaucracy (which is your worst nightmare and that’s putting it lightly), you have some interesting people to put up with, not speaking French will render even the simplest tasks impossible or highly complicated and the transportation is a mess.

BUT

You have delicious bread. A friend of mine once said, “If it’s not made in France, it’s not a baguette.” I thought it was just arrogance….until now, and while I’m on the topic of food, what about the countless gastronomic restaurants that make this city a chef’s dream? The museums and exhibitions are top notch and there is ALWAYS one happening somewhere. Summertime is when you sit along the Seine and share a bottle of crisp rosé with friends, laughing about life. The architecture is gorgeous, for the most part, and the shopping is great!

I guess what I’m trying to say, and this goes for everything in life, is that one should always try to be as realistic as possible. This way, fewer people would be susceptible to the “Paris Syndrome” (It’s a real thing!). Falling in love with anything or anyone requires you to accept the flaws just as much as you accepted the beautiful and the positive!

Chateau de Chantilly

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If I had to sum up Chateau de Chantilly, I’d say it is a modest version of Versailles. The chateau, just 45 minutes away from Gare du Nord station in Paris, is a beauty surrounded by a moat with acres of gorgeous greenery and an enormous stable house (Les Grandes Ecuries or The Great Stables) just behind.

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Walking from Chantilly train station, however, you’d most likely reach the stables first. These impressive stables could house up to 240 horses and 500 hounds back in the day and is considered a masterpiece of 18th century architecture. Today, this impressive space has been turned into a horse museum (Musée Vivante de Cheval/Living Museum of the Horse) and filled with a variety of equestrian equipment that look very much like torture devices. Truth be told, the horse museum was not exactly my favourite part of the visit but the sheer size and grandiosity of the building is indeed breathtaking. The first part of the visit stops at a little cafe serving sandwiches, refreshments and crepes so that you’re ready for the next part of the trip which involves crossing the road over to the gardens and the chateau itself.

The gardens itself are so large that you’d need more than the little afternoon I had given myself to escape the hectic ambiance of central Paris. Still, I managed to poke my nose into L’île d’amour. How magical would it be in summer ? The November fog gives the place an almost eery feel, very reminiscent of a 19th century vampire movie.

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Inside, the Chateau is set up very similarly to Versailles. You’ll walk through rooms and rooms lavishly decorated with fancy armchairs, ornated tables and grand chandeliers that sparkle and glisten even hundreds of years later. What sets it apart completely, however, is the Musée Condé that houses the second largest collection of art after the Louvre. In here, you will find gorgeous pieces such as The Three Graces by Raphael and other works of art by famous artists such as Nicolas Poussin as well as my personal favourite: Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci by Piero di Cosimo. Also, can we just take a minute to talk about the library?! #Goals.

 

All in all, a calm and tranquil afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of Paris. Just don’t wear white trainers, haha!

Before I sign off, here is some practical information. The chateau, the stables and the gardens make up the Domaine de Chantilly. To visit the entirety of this domain, take an entire day off and bring 17 euros unless you are handicapped, a student, between 3-17 or unemployed, in which case you pay only 10 euros. If you only want to visit the gardens, it is 5 euros during low season instead of the usual 8 euros but I am definitely going back next Summer to finish my tour of the gardens! See you then!

For more information about tickets and opening times: https://newdomainedechantilly.tickeasy.com/fr-FR/accueil

 

Christian Dior Exhibition, Paris

I’d known about this exhibition since I came to Paris for vacation back in July but just never had the chance to do it until four months later! Crazy to think that so much has occurred in this short space of time…I moved to a new country, found myself a new job, a new apartment and cut ties with people who were just bringing in negative energy…So finally, I had some time to take a turn in the Museum of Decorative Arts!

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It was a Wednesday afternoon, roughly an hour before closing so there was no line. The staff recommend a minimum of two hours to fully enjoy the exhibition but I’d say an hour is sufficient; 1.5-2 hours if you really want to linger on the details with a friend. I paid only 8 euros for my ticket as I am under 26. Full price is 11 euros but you save 90 cents if you purchase online. If you are lazy, like I am, I wouldn’t bother. However, they sometimes do let people with tickets in first.

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All I can say is that it is pure magic. From the first step you take into this exhibition, you are swept away into this world of dreams. You are under the spell of Dior and it reminded me why I wanted to work in the luxury industry in the first place. The core of it all was never the status or the money; it was always about the passion that they put into their art and the freedom of self-expression. The byproduct of an educated society climbing to the top of Maslow’s pyramid towards self-actualization.

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The flow of the exhibition itself was smooth and logical. We started at the beginning, as we always do, with the man himself. Christian Dior’s life story, the difficulties he had suffered, how he got into fashion illustration, how the maison came to be, the success he experienced, his sudden death and his successors who followed. As I have always been fascinated with the occult and the supernatural, one thing really stood out to me and that was a prediction a palm reader had made for Christian Dior.

“You will be penniless, but women will be good to you, and it is thanks to them that you will succeed.”

Women still are good to Christian Dior today, purchasing iconic Lady Dior handbags and Miss Dior perfumes.

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Personally, Dior will always be a part of that ’50s glamour when women were sexy without trying too hard or showing too much. What also makes Dior so distinguishable, for me, is that waistline. Whether it be a dress, a suit or even a coat, Dior always found a way to show off and accentuate the curves of the feminine figure.

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For anyone who wants to go to the exhibition, do not consider the photos to be spoilers. It is worth the visit!