Café Gourmand

There is a new fashion in restaurants in Paris that I cannot get enough of: it’s called a café gourmand. We all know that having a dessert after a big steak could be viewed as slightly indulgent, so to get around any guilt that a huge slice of cake might entail, the Parisians have come up with the idea of a “café gourmand” (literally a greedy coffee).

A café gourmand normally consists of an ordinary “café express” plus 2 or 3 tiny little pots of different sweets — often a macaroon, a little crème brulée and maybe something with chocolate in it. Perfect to share with friends or with a “gourmand” little one. Ask your waiter what the café gourmand of the day is — in a lot of cafés the little pots of goodness change on a daily basis, alternatively you can just let yourself be surprised.

Alice à Paris

Here is yet another gem of a boutique/brand for boys and girls that is a great representation of French children’s clothing style. In this case, without a hefty price tag attached to it!

The brand is called Alice à Paris and has three shops around Paris (funny that, no?).  There isn’t a huge selection, but each piece is fabulously well designed. All the clothes are made out of lovely, simple fabrics with that extra little French flair, which is hard to recreate anywhere else than in this city.

If you don’t happen to be in Paris, you can also have a virtual browse on the online shop.

Le Bonbon au Palais

I am one of those rare people who doesn’t like sweets and chocolate (unlike Courtney, who has a chocolate box full of fabulous looking chocolates which comes out after every dinner).  It has never occurred to me to wander down the sweet aisle in a supermarket… but my daughters are very, very different from me!

Nowadays when I am in a supermarket I am actively circumventing the bonbon aisle, because if I don’t I will be stuck there for hours explaining that I really don’t think it is a great idea to buy a cartload of sweets every time we shop. But, there is a place that I do like to take them to every once in a while. It is a little sweet shop called “Le Bonbon au Palais” in the 5th arrondissement. The owner has travelled the whole of France to find the best bonbons from every region. The collection is pretty impressive.

The goodies are displayed in big glass vases and the shop is decorated like a 1950′s school room. It is so French, so old-school and so pretty that I get carried away every time we go and buy loads more than I planned! (more…)

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Natural History

ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:

Velib’

Kids and the City

If you have any spare time between the 3rd and 5th of June and happen to be in Paris, do check out the children’s fair “Kids in the City” on rue Francs Bourgeois in the 3rd. The fair was put together by the lovely Estelle who also runs Nordinary — one of my favourite webshops here in France.

She has managed to group together some of the best and innovative brands in France and all will have a little stand at the fair, some with collections designed exclusively for the event. You will also be able to pick up some yummy cupcakes and some bonbons from my favourite sweet shop Le Bonbon au Palais.

I am really looking forward to discovering lots of new companies,  many of whom I have never heard of.

See you there!

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MerciSweden in ParisMarché des Enfants Rouge

ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:

Velib’

Wowo

Since the arrival of the Bonton “Mega” Store on boulevard Beaumarchais, the “North Marais” in the 3rd (around Rue Vielle Du Temple and Rue de Bretagne) has become a very dangerous place for parents (specifically mothers) to visit. One beautiful little children’s boutique is opening up one after the other.

One of my favourite new arrivals is Wowo situated right across the road from Bonton. I have been following the Wowo brand for a long while but their boutique was just a little bit too far off the beaten track for me to vist. Now that it is in a 10 minute radius from my flat, I have no more excuses. The ’70s style that the brand prides itself on exudes joy and the clothes are fabulously comfortable and well made.

The shop has only just opened and the stock is only slowly trickling in but it already promises to be a must-stop shop, if you are indeed in the market for funky kids clothes whilst visiting Paris. I have to admit I always am…

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Sweden in ParisPink FlamingoNew Bonton store

Parc de Belleville

The Parc de Belleville used to be just a normal city park, nothing to write home about. But thanks to strict safety laws, the play area in the park had to be closed down and it re-opened last year with a completely new play structure that is worth a visit, especially if you have boys with a surplus of energy!

It is called the “village en bois” — the wooden village — and is built on a side of a hill so you have to climb up a fair few steps (hence the before mentioned energy burning). On the way down the children are rewarded by a massively long slide that goes all the way down again.

The whole play structure is divided into three parts, depending on the age of the children. There is a whole philosophy behind this structure — city children don’t often have the chance to push themselves physically and learn how far they can go. This structure is designed for children to push themselves a little bit further than they would normally do and learn to be more confident. When you are done exploring the play area (it isn’t huge) I highly recommend climbing to the top of the hill, as you will be rewarded with one of the best views all over Paris…

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Les 400 Coups

The Argonaute

A girlfriend of mine came to visit us in Paris with her 2 boys who were 8 and 10. I was at a complete loss on how to entertain them. Playing with my girls entertained them mildly,  but when their mother and I suggested hitting the shops we had a bit of a mutiny on our hands…and who could blame them?

So I did a bit of research and it turns out there is a ton of fun things for boys to do in Paris, that I had never, ever heard about… one of them was the Argonaute, a  1950s submarine that was decommissioned in the ’80s and is now a museum. I had never been inside a submarine before and to see how a crew lived underwater for weeks on end and how a submarine works was fascinating. (more…)

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Butte de ChaumontParc de la VilletteLa Maison des Petits at 104

Butte de Chaumont

FINALLY we have been having a few days of sunny weather here in Paris.  And as we live in a typical Parisian apartment with no outdoor space, the main thing I have been yearning for is a spot of grass I can plop myself and my 2 girls on to enjoy some rays of sunshine.

Finding that is easier said than done, as most Parisian parks are made out of gravel, and grass is generally off-limits to walk or sit on.

So I decided to get off the beaten track of the centre of Paris and head over to the Butte de Chaumont, a park in the 19th arrondissement.  It is lovely!  It was built about 150 years ago on what used to be the city’s gallows and wasteland.  Today it looks like a Gothic dreamscape — complete with waterfalls, a temple and a grotto. (more…)

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Parc de la VilletteThe ArgonauteLa Maison des Petits at 104

Le Petit Bazar

In an arrondissement far, far away from my usual stomping ground, I stumbled upon a great little place: Le Petit Bazar.

It’s a shop, a tea room, a space for ateliers and courses — a concept dreamed up by two friends… These girls decided to change careers and dedicate themselves to something both were passionate about: an organic, healthy lifestyle and all things kid related. Together they started le Petit Bazar about 18 months ago and it has been a great success story so far. Most of the clothes on sale are organic and/or fair trade and also very lovely. There is a great selection of toys on offer and also some vintage kids furniture. To top it all off, you can sit down for a cup of tea and let your little one roam the premises.

It is such a fab  idea to unite a kids concept shop with a tea room and a space from which you can run ateliers. I do hope they open some more Petit Bazars all over Paris! (more…)

Brocantes Popincourt

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Just around the corner from me is a little collection of about 8-10 little brocantes shops which, surprisingly, not that many people know about… and they are fabulous. I think about 90 per cent of all the furniture I have bought in recent years comes from there. Each shop is owned by someone different, with its own distinctive style and they have beautiful French names: La Garçonnière, La Maison, La Chose, Alasinglinglin, Belle Lurette…

Some shops specialise in ’70s furniture, others have everything from 18th century to contemporary pieces. Some  specialise in mirrors and wall hangings, other have big wooden tables from old French farm houses. It is also a great place to pick up vintage crystal champagne coupes or old fashioned porcelain. If you love vintage furniture you are almost certain to find a gem in these places. (more…)

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Rue Keller

If you are ever in the 11th arrondissement in Paris,  rue Keller is a great street to visit for a little bit of off-the-beaten-track retail therapy. is lined with loads of cute autonomous boutiques, reasonably priced lively restaurants and bars, and little art galleries.

Anne Willi, the adult and children’s clothes designer, has her flagship on rue Keller. I especially love her kid’s collection. Her designs are not classically French — they have a very northern European feel to them, and every item is intelligently designed and crafted.

Another little shop I love is the design shop Lou Lou Addict. It is one of these shops were the owner has fantastic taste and has chosen each piece on display for good reason. (Even if you cannot make it over to rue Keller check out the Lou Lou Addict online shop.)

Dorothy’s Gallery is a great little art gallery which at the moment has a very topical exhibition on: an exhibition all about Obama in Paris!

And another one of my fav’s is Klok — a maternity and baby shop. They have wonderfully high-end maternity wear, and cute baby and toddler clothes. They are not exactly cheap but the maternity clothes are especially very well designed. They stock furniture like the Leander cradle and bed and beautiful baby bags and accessories.

- Emilie

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Brocantes PopincourtLilli BulleMum and Babe

Petit Pan

Wandering the streets of Paris, on my never ending quest to find fun and stylish kids’ clothes, accessories and furniture, I stumbled across Petit Pan. Petit Pan specializes in vintage furniture and old-style fabrics which have been out of print for generations. Their articles are produced in China by ethical companies using traditional methods, so there is a very strong Asian influence on their products. My daughter absolutely loves the animal kites, and I absolutely love the bed linen and bedroom bits and bobs.

I have also fallen for their new shop which sells sheets of delicately printed paper and fabric (all in their unique, colorful style). I want to buy all of it and just have it in case I may need it sometime in the far away future…..

The Petit Pan shops are in the centre of Paris, but their products are stocked all over the world and you can also browse their online boutique!

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COSParis PlageNiou

New Bonton store

It is hard to believe but Merci, one of Paris’ most fashionable concept stores has been out-trumped by a kid’s store. Just a stone’s throw away from Merci on the corner where the boulevard Beaumarchais turns into the boulevard Filles du Calvaire, Bonton has opened up a 800 M² new flagship shop. It is absolutely fabulous! On over 3 floors you can find clothes, clothes and even more clothes, a book shop (with a GREAT selection of books), a bakery, a sweets bar, a hair dresser, a deco area and I don’t even remember what else.

Rebecca (who used to write for us from Washington and who has, luckily for me, moved back to Paris) and I went to the opening and had a blast. The Prosecco was flowing, there was a huge counter full of hams and cheeses and little sandwiches. It was a great way of discovering the shop and the new Bonton summer collection. (more…)

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Le Marchand D’EtoilesMarché des Enfants RougeWowo

Getting around in Paris

I am often asked about transportation around Paris. The city is actually relatively small compared to LA or London (relative is an important part of this sentence), so my favourite way of getting around is on foot. It is the perfect way to discover the city… if you have the time.

If not, here are some pointers for the other modes of transportation:

Buses: The buses in Paris are getting better and better and it is really easy to used them if you are travelling with a buggy. You can access the bus routes online or even download an application onto an Iphone.

Velib‘: The Velib’ scheme was only started a couple of years ago, but it is now difficult to imagine the city without these bicycles. Most Parisians have an annual pass, but it is easy to rent a bike for a day or a even just a few hours with a credit card. The instructions for the credit card rental are a bit tricky, but don’t despair, it is worth trying to figure it out. There are some great applications for iphones which will direct you to the nearest Velib’ station and let you know if if there are any spare bikes. Read more here.

Metro: The metro system in Paris is easy to use and takes you everywhere. There is only one type of ticket for journeys within Paris, so you don’t have to worry about traveling outside a zone. Do be warned, the metro is absolutely not buggy friendly. There are stairs everywhere and small entrance gates that are difficult to navigate with a buggy.

Taxi: Paris does not have the best taxi system in the world. It is hard to flag one down on the street and the easiest way to get one is by finding a taxi queue which can be found along most bigger boulevards. Taxis don’t have car seats available. The thing to note is that you are allowed to jump to the front of the queue if you have a small child with you.

Antoine et Lili

quai-de-valmy_3The Antoine and Lili flagship stores must be some of the cutest rows of shops I have ever seen. I was walking past them today and they were so bright and cheerful on a grey winter’s day!

They can be found along the canal St Martin, an area which, for a long time now, has been attracting lots of little shops and restaurants. If the rumours are to be believed the Antoine et Lili shops were actually the first independent shops to open up in this area, turning the area into a trendy little spot.

Anyway, if you are in Paris and like kitsch and bright colours, Antoine et Lili is a must. The kid’s store especially is a bright, bright space with great toys, presents and clothes from the world over. It is definitely not minimalist, but colourful and loud! I also love the homewares shop were you can find great Mexican waxcloths and fabulous melamine plates for the whole family. (more…)

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