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Europe Food Travel

A Quick Trip to Paris – Part Two

During this last trip to Paris, I decided to use my limited free time to just walk around and visit some of my favorite haunts in the city – no, not clothing stores – dessert shops! I consumed what was likely a highly irresponsible number of sweets during my stay and I can only hope that I managed to walk off some of the calories.

My first stop, literally hours after I arrived on the Eurostar? The fantastic Michel Chaudun.

Chaudun

Michel Chaudun

Michel Chaudun is my favorite destination for pure chocolate in Paris. Macarons, or cakes, or caramels, I might go somewhere else – but for chocolate, Chaudun in my opinion is king. He has his own shop – a small space on Rue Université, in the 7th.

Inside, were many lovely treats – including two chocolate handbags (yes that’s a Kelly in the back, complete with Hermes ribbon!).

Michel Chaudun bags

Rows and rows of chocolates and truffles…

MC chocolates

…and also some chocolate sausages! I’ve seen these in the store for years and always am tempted to bring one home, but am afraid of customs!

MC sausages

The number one item I recommend at Michel Chaudun are their chocolate “pave” boxes. These are incredible little morsels of chocolate that just melt in your mouth. Words really can’t describe them – they need to be eaten for one to fully understand the experience. I took home a very small box and ate it within a day. You can see the delicate size of the paves below (compare them with the toothpick).

Michel Chaudun Pave

However, I will say that the paves in my experience go bad quickly. I once bought a ~28 euro box and opened it two weeks later to find them covered in mold. So you should consume them within a week max of opening, and they should be kept in the fridge.

Luckily, Chaudun’s other offerings are a bit more hardy, so I bought a few bags of snacks to enjoy over the week, and a bag of almonds for Mr. Feather!

Michel Chaudun

One of my favorite treats in the world are orangettes – chocolate covered orange peels. I buy them wherever I find them, and I’m happy to report that Michel Chadun’s were excellent (as were his chocolate covered almonds).

Chaudun treats

The next sweets stop for was a new destination for me – Sadaharu Aoki, located in the 6th in St. Germain.

Sadaharu Aoki

I was excited to try out Sadaharu Aoki because I love it when French pastries have a strong Asian influence – whether it’s in the fillings, or in the level of sweetness (usually less). Inside the shop were rows of rainbow colored pastries, with fillings ranging from traditional chocolate/vanilla, to plum, yuzu, and matcha. Continue Reading

Europe Food Interview

Interview with Carin, Part Two

My hands down favorite thing about writing Feather Factor have been the interviews. Through them, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many fantastic people from all around the world that I admire – and I often wonder months after I’ve had someone on here about how they are doing.

One of these people was Carin, who some of you remember was a beautiful editorial assistant at Elle Decor Sweden. After Carin’s interview I had a few readers ask about her and whether she had a blog, which she didn’t at the time. Half a year later though, Carin emailed me – she had moved to Paris, and had started a blog! I was so interested in her move, and awed by the photos on her blog, that I had to ask her back. So please welcome Carin again – and enjoy her beautiful photos!

Carin in Paris

Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?

My name is Carin and right now I’m living in Paris, France. I came to the city of lights to learn the French language, indulge in amazing food, yummy treats and to discover a whole new city. I quit my job and left both family, friends and boyfriend back home to make this little dream happen for myself – and I’m so happy that I did.

Window display at Laduree

Since we last talked…you have moved to Paris! What brought about this decision…and were you scared?

Actually it was after the trip to Paris, about a year ago, and the last time we talked, that I made this decision. Or well started to think about an actual move… It took some time for me to actually make the decision and stick with it. During the trip, in March 2011, everything just felt right, I didn’t want to go back home. When I came back to Stockholm (where I usually live) I started thinking about spending some more time in this beautiful city.

The word scared is really an understatement to describe my feelings about this trip and this decision at the time. I know it may seem very silly to some people, since it’s only for a shorter period of time, but this was a big thing for me. Although, after a while I managed to push away those scared feelings and now I couldn’t be happier over the fact that I did. Once here, it’s not scary at all. It just feels right!

A Paris ice cream line

What’s been the most happily surprising thing you’ve discovered since moving to Paris?

I don’t know if this is surprising but it really was an eye opening experience for me and it’s one of the things I will try to carry with me wherever I go from now on. I love how the French people enjoy life. I love how they enjoy themselves even though there’s no special occasion! I love that there’s a five meter line outside every patisserie and boulangerie in the city on a normal Tuesday just because they want something delicious. I love that so many people go to their boucherie to buy their meat, to the vegetable stand to buy their vegetables and fruit, and to the crémerie to pick up some cheese. I think that you make the smaller, normal things in life, a bit more special this way. Perhaps it sounds like such a cliché but I’ve fallen for this mentality completely. Why shouldn’t you let yourself indulge or treat yourself to something nice when you can?

Champ de Mars

Brunch at Les Fous de L’Ile

How about anything that you found out was harder/more difficult to get adjusted to than you thought?

Since it’s within Europe the culture is generally quite similar to what I’m used to (although completely different in some ways)… Many people were shocked when I told them that I was going to live in Paris when I didn’t know a single word in French except bonjour and merci. I think it’s still extremely common for people to believe that no one in Paris speaks English, which is not the case at all. I’ve come to realize that it’s actually often quite hard to get to practice your French in this city, because as soon as they hear that you’re not French they want to practice their English as much as you want to practice your French.

Although I won’t lie. I’ve encountered the people who lived up to the stereotype as well. But often times I think it’s just a question of how you approach a person. I found out that the right way is to greet the person you want to get in contact with, with a: “Bonjour” (this is a must) and then, if you want to speak English nicely ask: “Vous parlez anglais?” which means: “Do you speak English?”. I can understand that you can get annoyed when people just come up and grab you and say: “Do you know where this place is?” while pointing to their map (which have happened to me several times now). Perhaps it’s just me who’s gotten too influenced by the French people, but I prefer starting the conversation with a “hello” or “bonjour” before asking your question.

Even on a cloudy day...Paris is beautiful

Has your style changed since you moved there? Do you really think that Parisian women “dress better”? If so, what would be your advice to dress more like a Parisian?

I actually made a promise to myself before I left which was: to dress more creatively. Unfortunately I have not fulfilled this promise yet, but I blame the rain and the bad weather that’s been here in Paris for the last couple of weeks. And the before that, I blame the cold. So it’s still on my list!

The boring (and simple) answer to the question how to dress more “Parisian” is: wear black. And lots of black. Because it seems like everyone is wearing black in this city for some reason. My beige coat and I seem to be quite alone in this colourless city (and beige isn’t even that much of a colour to begin with). But perhaps it’s because of the bad weather, although I doubt it…

Even though Parisians tend to wear black most of the time, they often do it with style. Yes, Paris is a very stylish city but of course it depends on which person you’re looking at and which areas and neighbourhoods you visit – as with every city I’m sure. I can’t wait until it gets a bit warmer here and everybody takes of their outerwear, I’m hoping for some great inspiration!

Hermes Kelly during Fashion Week

Chanel flap during Fashion Week

Any new items that you’ve picked up during your stay there? 

I haven’t picked up anything special so far… And by special, I mean bags. But I have my eyes open and if I’m really lucky I’ll perhaps find what I’m looking for before my days here are over! I can tell you this though: it’s really hard keeping your wallet from losing every single cent in a city like this, I see a million things that I fall in love with every single day. …So well yes, a couple of things have made its way into my possession over these past few months but not the thing (bag) I want the most.

Dogs playing in the fountain

Jardin des Tuileries

Now that you are almost moving back…how do you feel? Are you glad to be moving home…and what do you want to take in/experience/do before you move?

No is the simple answer to your question. I’m not happy to be moving back home. And I’m not really sure how I’ll cope with the fact that I’m actually going home when the time comes and I have to pack up my bags and leave my adorable little apartment, which I’ve grown to love more than my place back home. I’ve made friends here, the people in my neighbourhood now know me (and finally accept me!), I have my routines, and my likes and dislikes. It will be so hard to give all this up…

I have a little list of the things I absolutely want to do before I go home again. Although it just keeps getting longer and longer since I’m adding more and more stuff onto it instead of ticking them off… But aside from everything I physically want to visit and see before I go home I also want to soak up as much of the good energy here as I possibly can. Some things, like enjoying myself even though there’s no special occasion, I really want to take with me wherever I go in life.

Walking by the Plaza Athénée

Windows at Christian Dior

Can you describe your dream day in Paris? Starting from the morning…to evening…including walks, where you would eat, etc.

Oh, this is fun! I just made another promise to myself: my answer to this question has to become reality before I leave!

I would start my day with croissants (yes, plural), jam, orange juice and a cup of tea at a small café somewhere nice. It doesn’t have to be any special café, just one that looks cosy and inviting, and that serves good croissants – bien sûr!

Green chairs at the Jardin du Luxembourg

Next I would visit La Grande Epicerie, which is a huge grocery store, located next to the very famous department store Le Bon Marche in the 6th arrondissement, that has everything imaginable. I don’t need to buy anything when I’m here (although that’s a plus) I just love browsing around in this amazing store. From La Grande Epicerie I would stroll around Rue de Grenelle, Rue du Bac, Rue du Four and Rue Bonaparte just to end up at Place Saint-Sulplice where you’re only a few steps from the gorgeous Jardin du Luxembourg.

I would buy a good magazine or bring a good book, find my way to the back of the Jardin du Luxembourg (if you’re walking in from the Place Saint-Sulplice direction) grab one of those green chairs and just relax for a couple of minutes, or even hours.

A meat dish at Les Cocottes

After that it’s lunchtime. And for me this is not a hard choice. I would start walking, or take the bus, to the 7th arrondissement, to Rue Saint-Dominique to be more exact. There I would drop by either one of the restaurants Café Constant or Les Cocottes, which are two of my favourite places in all of Paris.

When I’ve finished my lunch I would continue to the 8th arrondissement, taking the path closest to the Eiffel Tower to get a magnificent view while walking towards my goal. I would find my way to Avenue Montaigne and admire every single display window along this beautiful street.

After spending way too much time dreaming about beautiful (and very expensive) things I would cross Avenue des Champs-Elysées to get to the corner of Avenue Matignon and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. From there I would follow Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré/Rue Saint-Honoré all the way to Jardin du Palais Royale – of course with the mandatory “stopping at every window display along the street”. I would also pick up a couple of treats along my way, perhaps a macaron or two, preferably from Pierre Hermé, Ladurée or Hugo & Victor. Then I would find a nice spot at Jardin du Palais Royale and just take a moment to relax.

Some pastries from Comme à Lisbonne

After my little sugar break I would stroll along the Seine, passing Pont Neuf and Île de la Cité, only to find myself ready for my next sugar stop on Rue du Roi de Sicile in the neighbourhood Le Marais. There I would have to options: taste the best ice cream I’ve ever had outside of Italy, from Pozzetto, or indulge in a dreamy pastry from their next door neighbour Comme à Lisbonne.

When I’ve picked my poison I would grab it and start walking towards Île Saint-Louis (the smaller of the two islands in central Paris), go down the stairs from Quai d’Orléans, which would take me down to the border of the Seine. I would sit there, enjoy the evening sun and look out over this amazing city and just be really happy that I am where I am at the moment.

For dinner I would go to L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (where you should book a table in advance to be on the safe side), located on Rue de Montalembert in the 6th arrondissement, and just enjoy the fantastic food that they have to offer.

… It’s going to be a pretty busy day.

Photographers at Fashion Week snapping Nicky Hilton

You were taking photos at Paris Fashion Week.What were some of the favorite styles you saw? Is it a bit funny, watching people pose for photos and all the photographers? 

Fashion Week was one of my favourite experiences in Paris so far. I think that I had just as much fun as the other people had even though I didn’t go in to see one single show. It really was a madhouse outside the locations. People say that about fashion week but I didn’t believe them until I saw it with my own eyes. Although it was of course a very exciting and absolutely gorgeous madhouse… I couldn’t help myself from literally laughing out loud when I saw this spectacle for the first time. There were people dressed up to their teeth, photographers running in huge groups around one person trying to capture the very best shot and their targets walking back and forth to show off their best angle.

Anna dello Russo, Vogue Japan

There were even people dressed up just as much as Anna dello Russo, who weren’t even invited to the show but just wanted to catch the eye of a photographer. Then you realize how big this street style obsession really has become. But I’m all for it since it’s so much fun! It was also amazing to see the people you admire and just read about in real life for the very first time, for example: Garance Doré, André Leon Talley, Nina Garcia, Anna dello Russo, Natalia Vodianova, Nicky Hilton, Scott Schuman, Joe Zee and Grace Coddington.

Bright colors at Fashion Week

I loved that the city came alive and for once, most of the people dared to wear colour (even though it rained most of the time). It was like watching a runway show happening right in front of your eyes with all the people going to the shows as the models. I can safely say that the fashion I saw, didn’t disappoint. I think I saw more bags, jewellery, coats, outfits, shoes and bags again, that I wanted to just grab and run away with than ever before in my life! Let’s just say that I’m definitely coming back again.

Chocolate cake and reading for some alone time

Paris sunset over the Seine

Finally – please share something else surprising about yourself…that has emerged since your move to Paris!

I really enjoy being by myself. I don’t know if that’s super surprising (or even exciting to know) but when I left home I was quite nervous about having only myself and being totally alone in the beginning of my stay, since it takes some time to meet new people and make new friends. But it was not a problem at all; it was quite the opposite actually! Even now, and even though I’ve made a lot of new friends I love to be by myself sometimes. I think it’s really important to appreciate the time you have with yourself and learn to really enjoy those precious moments. Sometimes there’s simply nothing better than to just sit down somewhere; in a park, at a café or by the Seine and just be alone with your own thoughts.

 

Isn’t Carin so lovely? And how fantastic was her description of a “dream day” in Paris? She sounds like the perfect person that I’d want to spend a day in Paris with – or anywhere else! As as an only child, I definitely related to the words around alone time – one of the most wonderful feelings is being completely at ease by yourself. Thank you Carin for sharing some of your Paris experience and your stunning photographs with us! For more of Carin and Paris, make sure to check out her blog, Paris in Four Months.

Europe Food Travel

Sweets from Paris

In a transparent effort to gain further brownie points, my husband brought back some favorite sweets along with my Kelly when he returned from Paris. Below are three names that always bring joy: Pierre Herme, Laduree and Feodora.

Aren’t the boxes lovely? I love pretty packaging and containers and always keep them if I think I might have some ill defined use for them later – but now I probably have literally over twenty Laduree boxes in our apartment rattling around. Any suggestions for uses?

The goodies, unmasked. Pierre Herme is hands down my favorite macaron shop and I much prefer it to Laduree, which I know is blasphemy to some. Both are of course delicious but Herme just has more innovative flavors in my opinion. My favorites include Isaphan (rose, lychee and raspberry) Mogador (chocolate and passion fruit) and Mosaic (pistachio, cinnamon and cherries). Mogador is year round but the others are seasonal. That’s the only problem with Pierre Herme – they have a bunch of seasonal flavors which sometimes never come back. I spent an entire summer bothering the lone concession in Selfridges about a green tea matcha flavor I had a few years ago until they finally decided to dial up the Paris HQ, just to rid themselves of me. It wasn’t coming back that year 🙁

Finally, Feodora (the truffles to the right) is actually a German brand which can be found throughout Europe, and they make the most amazing egg liquor truffles for Easter – I am obsessed! It’s kind of like cookie dough batter that’s alcoholic on the inside, really dreamy. If you ever see these I’d encourage you to try them. I also have a soft spot for Feodora as one of their most popular and year round products are these chocolate cat tongues, which I find slightly eccentric.

Meow!

What are some of your favorite sweets to indulge in? And those who’ve had both – how do you weigh in on the Pierre Herme vs. Laduree debate?

Europe Food Travel

Paris – Part 3: Passage 53 and Chanel

Today I wanted to share Part 3 of Paris with you all (Part 1 and Part 2 here). Before we did our shopping, Mr. Feather and I had lunch at an amazing restaurant called Passage 53, which serves French food with a Japanese touch. The restaurant was recently awarded its second Michelin star (may be about to get a third soon) and I would really recommend it for lunch – four courses were quite affordable too by Paris standards, I think less than 60 euro each per person). Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of all the food except for the dessert below – I am so happy when there’s lots of dessert at restaurants because I have a total sweet tooth.

Passage 53 is in the Passage des Panoramas which is the oldest covered passageway in Paris! There are tons of affordable and delicious looking dining options inside.

There are also a ton of really lovely, unique shops! I saw more than a few stamp shops, I thought this giant vintage suitcase with all these used stamps below was so cool:

There was also a very interesting doll shop that sold all kinds of doll parts including empty doll heads, eyes, hair, etc. Here are all the different eyes that you could buy to put in your doll – to be honest, while the shop was definitely cool I was a little scared. It seemed like somewhere Hannibal Lecter would shop (come closer, Clarice…).

After eating, Mr. Feather and I headed back to the Vendome area to do some shopping (we walked – it’s a very nice walk, around a mile or so). You know that I had a wonderful time at Hermes, but to be honest, the best shopping experience I had was at Chanel!

Chanel Rue Cambon flagship

After the crazy crowds at 24 Faubourg I was a little scared of visiting the Chanel flagship at Rue Cambon. It was indeed really crowded. But as soon as I walked in, it was such a great experience. A lovely sales associate immediately went up to us and asked if I was looking for anything special. I replied that I just wanted to walk around, and she said of course, would we mind if she walked us around the store and had some refreshments brought over as well?

After I got my green tea (hey, tea is 8 euros at Laduree – I take free whenever I can), we ended up in ready to wear, where they have racks and racks organized by your size. I was DYING! Everything was so gorgeous, I was well past my 8th iteration of “OMG, I love it, I love it, so pretty, DEAR LORD look at the PRICE, why didn’t I listen to my parents and study engineering so I could have started the next Facebook and thus could BUY THIS JACKET” when Mr. Feather began to yawn conspicuously and mutter worrisome sounding phrases such as, “fiscal responsibility” and “when are we going to see some cultural sights.” So I quickly moved onto shoes and accessories…where I eventually fell in love with these sweet shoes. They are not as jaw droppingly beautiful as a Lesage tweed jacket but hopefully they will be more durable…!

By the way – most luxury shops in Paris will deliver to your hotel, free of charge (not the case in other European cities I’ve found), and so I would definitely take advantage of this – it leaves you free to walk around and the bags appear nicely in your room at the end of the day! I have never had an issue with this.

I have been looking for the perfect pair of slightly cowboy + slightly Isabel Marant-ish plus totally comfortable boots in a particular tan shade for the longest time – I finally found them at Chanel! I would recommend these little boots very much, very stylish and comfortable.

Next to some oxford heels that came in the mail while I was gone..

Just leaving you all with a little totally unrelated anecdote. I love the camellia that Chanel includes on its packaging and when we came back, I was searching for it in my luggage. It turns out Mr. Feather stuck it on the fridge! I took a photo for you all and then noticed it was next to this obscure magnet from Lacock, Wiltshire. I got this magnet when I was once stuck in Bath, England for a long time for business related reasons (don’t ask). One weekend I was so bored that I decided to go on a Harry Potter England tour… even though I don’t even watch Harry Potter! Apparently Lacock is where some of the movies are filmed – since everybody was oohing and aahing I decided I might as well get a magnet!

Okay, I hope you all enjoyed Part 3 of Paris! Look out for Part 4 sometime soon 🙂