Monday, 7 January 2008

Winter in Paris

I am undoubtedly not alone in finding a winter in Paris to be deeply romantic. Spending our days perusing markets for fromage and baguette to savour in our little apartment, far away from the hordes of tourists, was nothing short of heavenly. We discovered the lesser known but ever so delightful museums and galleries in our neighbourhood. Frequenting the same bakeries for our morning pastries and coffee and the same bars for our evening glass of wine made Paris start to feel like home.

Around the corner from our apartment

Our little apartment overlooked the rooftops, a short walk from Montmartre and Sacre Coeur and the most wonderful markets lined with charcuteries, fromageries and pâtisseries. Best of all just next door was the perfect neighbourhood bar. It became an evening routine to pop in for a drink or watch the soccer before going out to dine or back upstairs to prepare the day’s market gastronomic delights. The charming barman would give us little complimentary treats each night, perhaps some orange filled chocolates or a taste of a cinnamon scented spirit prepared on the premises. It was also the perfect place to grab a quick baguette filled with pâté or sausage to sustain us as we set out to explore Paris on foot. It was all too easy to imagine living in this beautiful city forever.

View from our apartment window

Parisian Markets

Apart from the wonderful array of produce in our neighbourhood, the market we were repeatedly drawn to was the Rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter. Cheese shops and florists bursting with blooms spill out along this idyllic street and tucked between them are small bistros serving classic French fare at reasonable prices. Even at 8pm in winter the street is filled with shoppers seeking out the best produce. It’s a delightful sight seeing hundreds of Parisians making their way home on foot or by metro with a baguette tucked under their arm. Rue Mouffetard was the perfect place to seek out Toulouse sausage for a warming winter casserole to be eaten in front of the television with plenty of baguette or a little pâté to nibble with wine as we prepared dinner.

Dining out

With such a brilliant cornucopia of produce available we rarely dined out. As we wandered the city on foot, we would however stop for an espresso or two sipped at the bar or a slice of tart that looked particularly enticing in a pâtisserie window.

When we did dine out we favoured unpretentious neighbourhood bistros. The type that features herby roast legs of lamb, steak and frites and duck confit followed by the simplest crème brulee and accompanied with plenty of wine.

In the evening I was particularly attracted to the sort of older bistros where young Parissien couples repeatedly send the waiter away when he comes for their order because they can’t draw their eyes away from each other long enough to look at the menu. When they do finally order and the food descends on the table it’s something utterly delicious and rustic like a platter groaning with roast chicken for two with the crispest potatoes and buttery green beans. At lunch I favoured those neighbourhood bistros packed with locals where businessmen meet their wives for lunch and linger over a cheese platter far longer then they intended. I can understand why people say it’s easy to fall in love in Paris but what I never knew before is that when you’re in love there’s no better place to be.


Peter M said...

The 1st time I was in Paris was a February and yes, the old bistros are best.

Thank you for the postcard from Paris.

glamah16 said...

How beautiful. Brings back so many memeories of the time when I was a student.I really must go back.

Bellini Valli said...

I would like to revist Paris again Truffle. I'm sure it has changed since I was 18. Love all you photos. Thanks for sharing your journey through Paris.

Wendy said...

I didn't expect to be stunned by Paris but I really was. Not sure I could put my finger on exactly what seduced me but your pictures bring back all the feelings.
Sounds like you are having a wonderful time. So very very happy for you. :)
Happy New Year.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Lucky, lucky, lucky girl.

Johanna said...

beautiful photos and I love your descriptions of the couples in restaurants - I love paris and would love to visit again so it is lovely to vicariously visit with you :-)

Nora B. said...

Oh, how wonderfully romantic, yet gatronomic, Truffle. Makes me wish I was jumping on a plane to Paris, with the man of course. It's wonderful to hear that you both had such a terrific vacation together and at the perfect place too.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Yes, you've captured much of Paris' romance here.

Lucy said...

Happy New Year, Truffle.

Paris is somewhere you think you'll find too cliched, too over-blown with its own self-importance, but in reality it is the most beautiful, understated and yes, even romantic, city in the world.

Lovely images. Keep 'em coming...

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

This post gave me goose bumps Truffle! Wonderful photos and you're so spot on. I'd prefer eating in with all the wonderful produce that you can get hold of in Paris and like you when eating out I'd prefer the simple bistro over any posh restaurant.
Wonderful post! Reminded me of the first post that I read which drew me in to read regularly.

Deborah Dowd said...

I would be so impressed with your beautiful pictures if I wasn't so jealous! How lucky you are for such a rich experince and how great that you share it with all of us!

Cynthia said...

I am enjoying this virtual food trip to Paris with you :)

Big Boys Oven said...

oh those gateux are so lovely! great that you share them...tq!

katiez said...

How wonderful! And your photos are beautiful! I've always preferred to travel in cool weather and off season. I'd much rather sit and sip hot chocolate in winter than a luke warm Perrier in summer. Okay, now I'm farsick!

winedeb said...

Thank you so much for sharing. It has been about 10 years since I was there, in the spring, and I yearn daily to return. I have been to France twice in my life and when I am there I never want to leave, so magical!

thanh7580 said...

I've been dying to go to Paris for about a year now. Your post has just killed me a little bit more. It looks like such a wonderful city and your descriptions has fully captured my imagination.

Antonia said...

What a lovely blog. I just love your photos and description of your time in Paris. I lived there for a year and your post makes me desperate to go back. I lived just off the rue Cler, home to a fantastic food market and host of specialist food shops. Pure heaven!

Truffle said...

Peter M - they're really lovely, aren't they?

Thanks for reading :)

glamah16 - I'll definitely encourage a return visit. I'd forgotten how much I loved Paris until this trip.

Bellini Valli - I think it's certainly worth another trip. I'm not sure how much Paris has changed since my last visit but the things I was searching for certainly have! My first trips were all about the tourist attractions but this time I just wanted to relax and eat well.

Wendy - that's so kind of you! Thanks for the lovely comment. Happy New Year to you too!

JennDZ - I certainly feel very lucky. It was a wonderful trip. Thanks for popping by!

Johanna - thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Nora B. - that's so lovely of you! Thanks very much!

Susan - I'm so glad you think so! Thanks so much!

Lucy - Happy New Year to you too! I couldn't agree with you more!

Amanda- Thank you so much for the kind comments. You've made my day :)

Deborah Dowd - thanks so much! It's such a joy sharing it with all of you so thank you for reading!

Cynthia- thanks so much for following along!

Big Boys Oven - they're gorgeous, aren't they? Glad you like them!

Katiez- I agree completely. It's very romantic in winter and certainly makes it a lot easier to indulge in all that rich fare!

winedeb - it certainly draws you in, doesn't it? Thank you so much for reading :)

thanh7580 - thanks so much. I hope you make it there very soon!

Antonia- thanks for visiting! I'm envious of you being able to live there for a year. Sounds wonderful!