KONG and Peter Lindbergh

Over the past two months I have had ups and downs living in Paris; missing home, my friends and family, but thankfully, this weekend my mum came from London to visit, which really rejuvenated me.

Le Vallée Village

We went to the ‘chic outlet shopping village’ located in the outskirts of Paris, a stop away from Disneyland on the RER. The one in the UK, Bicester Village, is much bigger with more brands, but looks just the same at the French one, although here, it supposedly evokes the rural towns and villages of the Ile-de-France region. You can find discounted prices at most designer stores such as Sandro, Maje, Burberry and Ralph Lauren. Most stores are factory shops, and some even have the new collections in store with a small discount.

Walking through the village we couldn’t resist the smell of rich hot chocolate from the various cafés, so we had a quick stop before returning back to central Paris.

How to order a coffee…

I overheard a couple of older French ladies calling for the “garçon” but I haven’t reached that age yet where I feel it’s acceptable, so I just go with “excusez-moi. ”

And my reaction when I got my hot chocolate…

It might seem I am keeping a food and restaurant diary, but honestly, I think this food is worth sharing. If you ever take a trip to Paris, I recommend trying these places!

Walking past these two restaurants nearly everyday, I have wanted to go for a while. Located in a triangle (Le Hibou is the central one where I went for my birthday) on one side of it is Les Editeurs where writers such as Hemingway used to come to write over indulging in typical French food.

I have been told that it is very hard to get a table, at Le Comptoir du Relais, (the third of the trio of good restaurants in Odéon) which just made me want to go even more. Turns out if you go just before the rush hour of weekend lunchtime, you can get a table for two outside. Sitting so close to people at other tables, I couldn’t help but look over to see what they were eating when their food arrived. It all looked very appealing even though I couldn’t put my finger on what everything was… I might just have to return to this place.

Carette is one of Paris’s prettiest pâtisseries. Angelina’s was always my favourite tea house, with what I thought was the best hot chocolate in Paris, but now I think Carette is just as good. Carette has a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, attentive service and tasty, attractive dishes. The interior is a mix of classicism and Twenties modernism, making you feel like you are sipping the perfect hot chocolate and eating cakes with the society of 1927 when Carette first opened in Trocadéro.

KONG is a restaurant, bar and club that is stylish, newly renovated with modern art décor. The cuisine, cocktails and entertaining music attract young clientele to the 5th floor of the Haussmann building at Pont Neuf, which opened in 2003.  The glass roof sparkles with different views of Paris such as Pont Neuf, the Samaritan Art Deco building and the headquarters of Louis Vuitton.

The atmosphere of the bar combines the comfort of a cocktail bar with the refinement and elegance of a luxury hotel bar, which later turns into a nightclub with a live DJ. Attractive, hosts and hostesses lead you to your table where other beautiful women in fashionable dresses take your order, and serve your food and drinks.

I thought after all the food, drinks and shops we’ve been to, we should do something more cultural. Perhaps not the most obvious choice, although an advisable visit if you are a fan of photography, we visited the Gagosian Gallery. We’ve been to all the touristy sights in Paris, so I wanted to go to a gallery that wouldn’t be crowded with tourists especially on a Saturday evening.

Peter Lindbergh has taken inspiration for his photography from modern dance, early German and East European cinema and photography, as well as his own personal history, resulting in a bold, elemental photographic language. With a minimum of artifice, spare styling and openness to improvisation, he allows the innate character and natural beauty of his female subjects to emerge.

He is most famous for his editorial photographs for VOGUE, Harper’s Bazaar and Interview magazine, denoting glamour with a “raw vérité approach” enhanced by his use of contrasting black and white. Set in both rural and industrial landscapes, the women in his photographs are distinguished by the beauty that is purposeful, self-possessed and uninhabited. “I don’t think real beauty can exist without truth. This idea disqualifies today’s excessive retouching.”

Beautiful depictions of women in motion allude to modern dance and editorial portraits of models in which the subjects’ clothing and setting are secondary to their expressiveness and movement.

Mila Jovovich, 2000 is photographed in a dark turtleneck against a black background so that her elegant head and fixed gaze stand out in strong graphic contrast.

“Eschewing the established standards and artifice of fashion photography, Lindberg has found artfulness in the conditions of reality, shot through with a grand cinematic sensibility.”

A Typical Parisian Sunday

With my new boots on, hardly market type attire (although when in Paris one is always dressed up) we went to Boulevard Raspail where every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday the middle island of the Boulevard turns into a fruit, vegetable and clothing market.

A great way to tackle my French and learn the lesser-known words of fruit and vegetables and talk to the vendors for cooking tips!

Instead of creating something at home with all the fresh ingredients we just brought from the market, we decided to take advantage of the good weather and our last few hours together and have brunch at Les Deux Magots, a perfect choice as it is close to my flat, has great food and is the ideal location for people watching.

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