It doesn’t feel like Christmas at the moment in Paris with the unusually warm weather we’re having, but I still couldn’t resist popping into the Galeries Lafayette to have a look at this year’s tree.
After last year’s upside-down Christmas tree this season they have gone for a gold and glitter extravaganza – a cosmic tree made from meteorites under a shower of stars. It’s always a pleasure to admire the gorgeous glass dome, and impossible not to love Paris when she’s at her glamorous and over the top best for Christmas.
- Galeries Lafayette, 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris. Metro: Chausée d’Antin Lafayette, Havre Caumartin, Opera, Auber
- Open Mon – Sat 9:30 – 20:00 (21:00 on Thursday)
This weekend it was the turn of 120 artists living and working in the 9th and 18th arrondissements – between approximately Anvers and Abbesses – to open their workshops, galleries, shops and sometimes even their homes to the public. Organised by the artists association ‘d’Anvers aux Abbesses’ it takes place each year on the 3rd weekend of November, and this year celebrates it’s 20th anniversary.
It’s a wonderful way to spend a day – you get to explore areas that you may not otherwise visit, to step into hidden courtyards, down tiny stairways into workshops, or go up the stairs into apartments and studios, all filled with amazing works of contemporary art. More than that, it’s a chance to meet the artists, to talk to them about their work, buy works if you wish and show them your support.
The association organizing the weekend provides a free, easy to follow map with a list of all the artists and their mediums. You can wander around and visit as many or as few as you like, in any order. The area around Montmartre is also full of lively cafés and restaurants and there are plenty of places to stop and relax between visits. On a beautiful crisp, sunny day like today, Paris is at her creative and beautiful best.
Anvers aux Abbesses artists association website (in French)
It’s hard to resist a view of the beautiful rooftops of Paris. I recently discovered perhaps my new favourite place to enjoy the sunshine and some amazing views of the city, complete with gold domes galore. On the top of the Printemps department store, there is a small café with a spectacular roof terrace giving you amazing views right across the city. If you’re not in the mood for eating, you can still go up there and take some great photos.
If you’re in the mood for something a bit more glamourous, and are there around lunchtime, head to the Brasserie Printemps on the 6th floor of the Printemps de la Mode. Set under a magnificent glass dome built in 1923, you can have a delicious lunch here in spectacular surroundings.
Menu and prices
- Printemps Haussmann, 64 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris. metro: Havre Caumartin
The café with the roof terrace is on the top of the Printemps de la Maison, and is called Deli Cieux. The food is ok, not very exciting and a bit overpriced. If you’re looking to eat, lunch is much better downstairs in the brasserie.
Brasserie Printemps open Monday through Saturday for lunch.
Much as I love French pastries, sometimes it’s really nice to have a taste of home. Rose Bakery has managed the seemingly impossible and seduced the Parisians with their British cakes, lunches and brunches. It was the carrot cake that initially made them popular, and people keep coming back for the fresh, organic, homemade food and juices. All the ingredients are sourced locally and change with the seasons, or even daily depending on what is delivered. The kitchenware is handmade and comes from a cooperative in Norfolk. The food is simple, fresh and delicious.
Part café, part grocery shop, you can eat in or take away. Weekend brunches and lunch times are especially popular, go early if you want to be sure to find a table. The atmosphere is relaxed and laid back and the decor minimalist.
There are now 3 Rose Bakeries in Paris, the original one here on rue des Martyrs, one in the Marais and one inside the Bon Marché department store. They are also a great place to pick up English teabags, Marigold bouillon (which I have not managed to find anywhere else in Paris) and some great recipe books.
- 46 rue des Martyrs, 75009 Paris. metro: St Georges
- 30 rue Debelleyme, 75003 Paris. metro: Filles du Calvaire
- le Bon Marché, 24 rue de Sevres, 75007 Paris. metro Sevres Babylone
Imagine a tiny shop, filled with jewel coloured cakes, each more beautiful than the last. Then imagine the best of French patisserie, infused with Japanese flavours – green tea, yuzu, wasabi or sesame. To me it’s a match made in heaven.
Sadaharu Aoki has been living and working in Paris for the past 20 years. He has 3 shops (the one at Port Royal is also a tea room) and a stand at Lafayette Gourmet, as well as supplying many of the couture houses during fashion week.
I’m a die hard fan of Pierre Hermé macaroons, but I have to admit that Sadaharu Aoki’s are amazingly delicious too. I love the flavours he uses, particularly the wasabi, earl grey and thé matcha. Slightly firmer than Pierre Hermé’s, the flavours are intense and beautiful.
Drop into one of his shops if you get a chance, they are a visual feast and a wonderful treat for your taste buds!
- Sadaharu Aoki, 35 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris / 56 Bd de Port Royal, 75005 Paris 25 rue Pérignon, 75015 Paris / Lafayette Gourmet, Bd Haussmann, 75009 Paris
Where to find Sadaharu Aoki in Paris
Even though I don’t go to the Galeries Lafayette very often, (I much prefer the Bon Marché on the Left Bank), I couldn’t resist popping in to have a look at their Christmas tree which is getting quite a lot of attention at the moment. It’s hanging upside down in the spectacular art nouveau glass dome in the centre of the building.
The dome was inaugurated in 1912 and is incredibly beautiful with or without the Christmas tree. The Galeries Lafayette is a luxury department store selling all the major brands and more, and has a gourmet food section on the other side of the boulevard which is also well worth a visit. But be warned, they receive over 100 000 visitors a day!
- Galeries Lafayette, 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris. Metro: Chausée d’Antin Lafayette, Trinité, Opera, Auber
- Open Mon – Sat 9:30 – 20:00 (21:00 on Thursday)
Galeries Lafayette website
The Opera Garnier, built in 1875, is as spectacular inside as outside.
Even if you’re not a fan of visiting historic buildings, or an opera fan, I still highly recommend you go and look at the ceiling in the main auditorium. Painted by Marc Chagall in 1964, it caused a huge scandal when it was unveiled. Divided into five main colours, it pays homage to the great composers and their works. Surprising in this setting, and incredibly beautiful, it’s worth a visit just to be able to look at this, even if only for a few minutes.
I would happily visit again and again just to enjoy the beauty of this amazing work of art in such an incredible setting.
Open daily from 10:00 to 16:30. Check that they are not rehearsing, in which case you won’t be able to go into the auditorium. Tickets cost 10€.
- Palais Garnier, 75009 Paris. Metro: Opera