Bonjour Paris Part 3

Green chairs in Jardin du Luxembourg, ParisGreen spaces abound in cosmopolitan Paris. From tiny squares filled with laughing children, embracing couples, and tired tourists to sprawling parks dotted with iconic metal green chairs and their sunbathing occupants. Everyone has a favourite.

Two of the biggest and most famous happen to be Jardin du Luxembourg and the Tuileries Gardens. And I count these among my MUST stops while in Paris.

The first dates back to the 17th century and was constructed as a royal residence. The palace still stands as a crowning jewel of the park, but its real treasure are the beautiful fountains and statues sprinkled among the lawns and tree-lined alleys. It’s worth the hunt to find them all!

This is a place were real Parisians come to play and relax. Whether listening to live orchestra or pushing sailboats across a circular basin, it’s a little piece of heaven for old and young alike. I usually stop at the nearby Grand Epicerie to stock up on cheese (Comte is my current favourite), and baguette. And with those in hand I head for a quiet corner to put my feet up and watch the world go by. Listening to the orchestra in Jardin du Luxembourg, ParisPalace du Luxembourg, ParisWater basin with sail boats in Jardin du Luxembourg, ParisPalm tree in Jardin du Luxembourg, ParisFor a stroll along the dusty paths of the Tuileries Gardens you have to cross the river from the Left Bank. Or, post a lengthy museum visit, head straight out of the Louvre toward the masses of tourists swirling in front of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. The magnificent green gardens lie just beyond and provide some of the most memorable photo opportunities in Paris (the iconic Louvre Pyramid and the Eiffel Tower are only two of your background options)!

These gardens also began their existence as part of the royal residence of the French monarchy in the 17th century. The strewn green chairs, the reflective pools, and flower filled beds all appear very similar to the Jardin. But to me, the Tuileries have a more formal feeling. This is where you come to see and be seen. It’s not by chance that the manicured lawns and gravel alleys appear in photos during Paris Fashion Week every year and that many films have made use of the sprawling elegance of the area.

Chic shopping districts like Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Faubourg Saint-Honoré are only steps away. And  mouthwatering macarons from Ladurée or hot chocolate from Angelina’s are available to-go for an impromptu posh picnic on the grass. I’ve enjoyed my share during this trip.

So if your time in Paris is limited make sure to head for this fabulous green heart of the city. I guarantee you’ll find what you’re looking for.Bridge to the Louvre Palace, ParisRoof and facade of the Louvre Palace, ParisWater sprinklers in the Tuileries Gardens, ParisView of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in the Tuileries Gardens, ParisAlley in the Tuileries Gardens, ParisGreen chairs in the Tuileries Gardens, Paris Pond with statue in the Tuileries Gardens, ParisCarrousel, ParisCaroussel at the Tuileries Gardens, ParisAnd I couldn’t leave off my travel blog without the image that sums up the city for me, the Eiffel Tower. I glimpsed it often while roaming around Paris, and each time I was filled with joy which reminded me that I was in my favourite place on earth!Eiffel Tower from the roof of Printemps, ParisThank you for coming along on this trip. I hope you have enjoyed it. Let me know what your favourite part was!

Bonjour Paris Part 2

Colonne de Juliet, Place de la Bastille, ParisJust steps from Place de la Bastille and the Colonne de Juliet commemorating the Revolution of 1830 (otherwise known as the Second Revolution or the July Revolution) sprawls a twice weekly market. Known as the Richard Lenoir or the Bastille Market, it is one of my favourite shopping destinations when I plan my culinary escapades in Paris.

Fresh and hot food vendors set up shop from 8am to 3pm every Thursday and Sunday. In a matter of hours a quiet boulevard is transformed by the colour, sounds, smells, and excitement of enthusiastic merchants, hungry shoppers, and curious tourists seeking the perfect shot of “real Paris”.

Although you can find all sorts of things at the market, from socks and batteries to kitschy Paris souvenirs, I’m here for the food and not just the fresh fruits and veg. The vendors at this market set up full refrigerated displays of artisan cheese and baked goods and gourmet meats, containers of spices, nuts, and olives, and the most beautiful flowers to grace any French home. And if all the sights make your belly grumble ready-made roasted chickens and glazed potatoes, bubbling paellas, and sweet crepes can be picked up for a quick nibble. It’s a veritable feast! Richard Lenoir Market, Bastille, ParisFresh fruit and vegetables at the Bastille market in ParisWild asparagus at the Bastille market in ParisOrganic bread at the Bastille market, ParisPalmier cookies at the Bastille Market in ParisPain au chocolat, Bastille Market in ParisFlower vendor at the Bastille market in ParisPeony close up at the Bastille Market in ParisPeony detail Bastille MarketFish monger stall at the Bastille market, ParisBasket with crabs at Paris Bastille MarketSnails for sale at the Bastille Market in ParisMaking crepes at the Bastille Market in ParisTubs of spices - Bastille Market in ParisArtisan cheese stall at the Bastille Market | ParisWhen I’m looking for something unique to bring home from Paris, nothing beats the famed French flea markets. And my favourite has to be the Marche aux Puces de St-Ouen also known as Clignancourt, a sprawling seven hectare mecca of trinkets and treasures just outside the 18th arrondissement.

The market houses approximately 3000 vendors and is actually made up of a number of smaller bazaars that wind through alleyways, streets, and covered halls, each one  with its own specialty. You can find just about anything from the useful to the banal (I’m not sure who needs a full sized stuffed zebra). Bargaining is encouraged, preferably in French, but English is spoken when necessary, especially if you look like a serious buyer. Photos are prohibited in some places but regardless I always ask permission before snapping away. “Puis-je prendre des photos, s’il vous plaît?” was my regular mantra around Paris.

Mostly though, I tend to put down my camera and remember that the flea markets are a magical wonderland, and if I look hard enough I just might find the perfect looking glass!

Alleyway at Marche aux Puces St Ouen in Paris | Clignancourt ippBrown dauschaund on the streets of ParisAntique ram's head sculpture at Clignancourt in ParisMerchandise in a stall at the Marche aux Puces St Ouen |Clignancourt in ParisCurios at the Marche aux Puces St Ouen | Clignancourt in ParisFlea market stalls at the Marche aux Puces St Ouen | Clignancourt in ParisAntique furniture at the Marche aux Puces St Ouen | Clignancourt in ParisDisplay of old keys at the Marche aux Puces St Ouen | Clignancourt in ParisDisplay tables at the Marche aux Puces St Ouen | Clignancourt in ParisVintage paper cutouts, Marche aux Puces St Ouen, Paris | ClignancourtFlea market stalls, Marche aux Puces St Ouen, Paris | Clignancourt My gorgeous friend Catherine, who joined me for a few days, walked away with a silver ladle for just a few Euros and memories worth much more.Catherine, Poa Studio owner, and her silver ladle, Marche aux Puces St Ouen, Paris | ClignancourtI hope you tune into Paris Part 3 where I finish my beautiful adventure.

Bonjour Paris Part 1

rooftops of Paris | Cobblestones and CappuccinosIt’s been about two weeks since my return from Paris, and I can’t believe I’m just getting around to sharing my beautiful adventure with all of you. My only excuse is a bad case of jet lag and the dreaded cold I seem to pick up every time I travel.

However, if you follow my Instagram or Twitter accounts, you would have gotten a preview of the amazing time I had. Although I’m excited to be home, Paris is a city that I absolutely adore and am always sad to leave behind. A city which can’t be summarized in a few paragraphs or pictures. It is a feeling. Something magical that surrounds you as you step onto the narrow cobblestone streets or the grand Haussmann boulevards. The romance of the people, the quiet cafes, the steady flow of the Seine and the clouds rolling by as you gaze out the window of a tiny studio apartment under the iconic rooftops of Paris.

Today I want to share with you two of my favourite neighbourhoods in Paris, the Marais and the 2nd arrondisment. As well as the gorgeous oasis of Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis in the middle of the Seine, the home of the world famous Cathedral of Notre Dame. I hope you fall in love as much as I have! Rooftops of Paris | Cobblestones and CappuccinosIvy covered building in Paris | Cobblestones and CappuccinosMeert Chocolatier ParisBistrot De L'Oulette ParisSteet signs in Marais District | ParisCreperie Suzette ParisCrepe Picasso, 3 cheese crepe at Creperie SuzetteArcades near Places des Vosges in ParisRelaxing at Place des Vosges in ParisMan and woman sitting on a bench in Places des Vosges | ParisMusee Carnavalet garden in ParisMusee Carnavalet building and garden in ParisRue des Petits Peres sign in ParisCafe front and flowers on the streets of ParisBicycles in the Marais, ParisEnjoying a gelato from Amorino in ParisStreet view of Le Brasserie de L'Ile Saint Louis in ParisScenic view of Ile Saint Louis and the Seine in ParisPeople sitting on the bank of the Seine | ParisBalcony detail in ParisView of the back of Notre Dame across the Seine | ParisExterior front of Notre Dame Cathedral in ParisSkyward view of the side of Notre Dame Cathedral in ParisCrowds gathered in front of Cathedral Notre Dame in ParisGreenery growing on the side of an apartment in ParisCouple relaxing on a bench in L'Ile Saint Louis in ParisFloor Mosaic at Galerie VivienneBrunch in ParisStreet view of Rue des Barres in ParisIn my next installment, I will be sharing two of my favourite markets in Paris…stay tuned!

A Bountiful Country – Malta Part 2

Restaurant selection Citadel Victoria Gozo (Malta)It took me a while to narrow down the images of Malta that I wished to share with all of you. I returned from my trip with hundreds of beautiful photos in which I attempted to capture the beauty and richness of this country. Around every corner and in every town, I found visual treasures that I wanted to bring back with me.  Images that would transport me back to those sun-filled, relaxing days when I’m buried under one of our snowy Canadian blankets in the middle of January. And in the end, I had to separate my posts about Malta into two parts so that I could share this incredible country with all of you.

In the previous post, I shared the wonders of Valletta. In this one, I have combined some of images from around Malta and it’s sister island Gozo.

First, my trip to the tranquil island of Gozo, thought to be the mythical home of Calypso, the enchantress from Homer’s Odyssey. A tiny island with an unspoiled landscape surrounded by a crystal blue sea, it is a popular vacation escape for the Maltese and for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.Canada door sign Gozo (Malta)Fish-dinner-Xlendi-Bay, Gozo (Malta)Azure-Window-in-Gozo (Malta)Street in Gozo (Malta)Next up, the noble city of Mdina also known as the Silent City. It’s narrow streets are lined with medieval and baroque architecture and twist within the borders of the ancient fortified walls. But it’s history dates much further back. It’s believed that Apostle St Paul lived here in 60 AD after becoming shipwrecked on the shores of Malta. This was my favourite city on the island, especially after I had the privilege to walk its lantern lit streets at midnight in one of my most surreal experiences of the trip.Climbing-bush-Mdina (Malta)Narrow street in the Silent City, Mdina MaltaStreet-in-Mdina MaltaPiazza-San-Paul-Mdina MaltaPiazza San Paul Mdina MaltaStray cat in the Silent City Mdina MaltaHistoric building in Mdina MaltaThe Mosta Dome is the third largest church dome in Europe and the church’s congregation is the luckiest. During WWII, a bomb dropped by a German bomber pierced the dome and fell among the 300 people gathered for evening mass. By some miracle the explosive never detonated and everyone was able to safely escape. Mosta Dome in Mosta MaltaChurch-in-MostaOnce the capital of Malta, Birgu’s medieval fortified city and Grand Harbour are a stunning place to relive the past and enjoy the present, especially when you’re the lucky owner of a personal yacht!Reenactors-in-Birgu (Vittoriosa) MaltaRe-enactment in Birgu (Vittoriosa) MaltaYacht launch in Birgu (Vittoriosa) MaltaYachts in the harbour Birgu (Vittoriosa) MaltaBlack-yacht-in-Birgu MaltaFor a taste of the traditional village life we headed to the southern fishing village of Marsaxlokk. Dating to the 9th century BC when Phoenicians first landed on the shores of Malta, the area also saw an invasion by Turks during the Great Seige. Now the most popular reason for visitors to come to Marsaxlokk is the Sunday Fish Market where local fishermen sell their freshest catch and the colourful “eye” boats known as luzzu bob in the water.Cobblestones-and-Cappuccinos in Birgu (Vittoriosa) MaltaMarsaxlokk Malta fishing boatsFishing boat in Marsaxlokk MaltaFishing nets Marsaxlokk MaltaFresh fish at Sunday fish market in Marsaxlokk MaltaCatch-of-the-day-in-Marsaxlokk MaltaMarsaxlokk Fish MarketAnd I couldn’t miss the opportunity to check out Popeye’s Village!Popeyes village MaltaCobblestones and Cappuccinos in Popeye's Village MaltaAs beautiful as Malta is and as memorable as the trip had been, it was my two fellow wanderlusters and our escapades that made my Mediterranean vacation truly unforgettable. Thank you!Cobblestones and Cappuccinos in MaltaIf you missed Part 1 of my Malta posts, check it out here.


Charming Valletta – Malta Part 1

View of Sliema from Hastings Gardens Valletta Malta has spent a long time on my bucket list and I’m thrilled to say that it has lived up to every expectation (and has now moved to the “Must Visit Again” list). This minuscule country is in fact a series of islands that seamlessly blend European culture, Mediterranean food, and  an unbelievable historical and archaeological footprint. And let’s not forget all that sunshine, over 300 days per year!

Strolling through Malta’s beautiful 17th century capital city, I wasn’t surprised that it placed in the top 5 Best European Destinations for 2015. The diminutive UNESCO world heritage site offers everything a tourist can desire and more. I felt like I stepped back in time strolling through the narrow, undulating streets lined with tall honey-coloured buildings which provided cool shade on the hottest of days. The colourful balconies dotting the facades provided perfect camera fodder for some gallery-worthy vacation photos.

St Paul Street VallettaColourful hanging laundry with a cat on the windowsill in Valletta MaltaHarbour Club restaurant Valletta MaltaRed window frames Valletta MaltaEstablished in 1837 and brought to Valletta in 1944, Caffe Cordina is a daily must stop for locals and tourists alike. Whether you gather under the umbrellas on Victoria Square or slip into its baroque tea room, it is a place to relax and savour what life in Malta has to offer. Tea Room Caffe Cordina in Valletta MaltaPastry counter Caffe Cordina in Valletta MaltaPastries Caffe Cordina in Valletta MaltaService counter Caffe Cordina in VallettaCaffe Cordina Victoria Square in VallettaHot chocolate Caffe Cordina in Valletta MaltaTables Caffe Cordina VallettaCat on outdoor table at Caffe Cordina in Valletta MaltaValletta is a canvas, painting itself with a brush of both modern and timeless design. Decreed by it’s founder to be “a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen”, it is truly a place to work and play.  Malta Fashion Week Posters VallettaMalta Fashion Week Posters Valletta MaltaCobblestones and Cappuccinos outside a restaurant in Valletta MaltaInterior garden Grandmaster's Palace Valletta MaltaLion statues Grandmaster's Palace VallettaTemple at Lower Barrakka Gardens in Valletta MaltaUpper Barrakka Garden VallettaValletta waterfront cruise shipSiege Bell Memorial VallettaBalcony sculpture Valletta MaltaLion fountain St George Square Valletta MaltaA treasure trove of secrets are hidden in plain sight waiting to be discovered. Stepping through the doors of the stunning St. John’s Co-cathedral or the Grandmaster’s Palace, I was dazzled by the quantity of riches both monetary and historical that are hidden behind the walls.Vaulted ceiling St John Co-Cathedral VallettaVaulted ceiling St. John Co-CathedralHall Grandmaster's Palace VallettaHerald Emblem Valletta MaltaI found pleasure around every corner, and in every nook and cranny. And the food was only the beginning….Tiko Tiko Bar Valletta Grilled Octopus Salad from Elias Greek Restaurant in Valletta Round about harbourfront VallettaOutside New Parliament Building VallettaRepublic Street Valletta MaltaPig door knocker on the streets of Valletta MaltaExterior Building facade VallettaTraditional Exterior Building facade Valletta MaltaShop fronts on Republic Street VallettaMetal Scroll work with Maltese Cross in VallettaVegetable truck Floriana MaltaSunset Argotti Botanical Garden VallettaAnd no day in Malta was complete without a generous dose of gelato. Afterall, there had to be a reward for all that walking!Amorino Gelato cones on Republic Street in Valletta

Stay tuned for Part 2!