December 18, 2009

Cartes d'Art - Setting the Record for How Long I Can Spend in a Shop

I love Saint Germain. No, not Boulevard Saint Germain so much, with all those frou-frou shops. I love the area more down toward Saint Sulpice where everything is gloriously charming.

I don’t even remember how it happened, but a couple of years ago I came across this wonderful little shop in the 6ème called Cartes d’Art and now I’m ashamed to admit how much I spend on cards there. But I don’t even have to buy anything to feel good in this shop. It satisfies the writer in me; it makes me want to write, whether it’s a note to a friend, an observation in the metro, or a diary entry.

That is because they sell more than just their own darling signature post cards. They also sell their very own lines of notepads and notebooks splattered with all the cutest French characters and sayings you could imagine. It’s enough to make me buy a new cahier every time I see the latest designs – even if I haven’t filled the last one! The shop carries other lines of cards too, just not in their entirety. It is clear, though, that the buyers look for cards with similar charm to that of Cartes d’Art because I cannot stress how super mignons they all are! If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend this little shop on this quiet but charming street.

9 rue du Dragon
75006 Paris

December 1, 2009

Café Charlot, rue de Bretagne

So there is this charming little café nestled in the heart of the Marais that I just can’t get enough of. I first discovered the place when I lived just a couple of blocks away and would pass a corner space under construction every day. Being a lover, as we’ve already established, of all things food (well, almost), I was excited when I saw that the space was possibly going to be a new neighborhood boulangerie, as the sign over the corner entrance was one of those wonderful old Boulangerie signs. Day after day, I watched the progress, every day hoping that it would open before I was set to move away.

When I eventually realized that it was not in fact going to be a Boulangerie but rather a café, I can’t say I was disappointed. Tant mieux if it was going to be a place for me to pop down for a tasty dinner or just a drink with a friend! I finally had the chance to make my inaugural visit one day when my friend and I had spent the morning at Carreau du Temple looking for famous people attending Stella McCartney’s fashion show. Exhausted after chasing Anna Wintour et al, we found we needed a French breakfast, so at my suggestion we headed to Café Charlot. That first time I finally made it inside after all those months of anticipation, I was mesmerized by its ambiance. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not the Plaza Athenée or something. The attraction of it for me is that it’s just that: me… the precise way I would design a café, with its white subway tiles all over, fan light fixtures, and beautiful yet understated bar. I had a delicious croissant with possibly the best hot chocolate I have ever had. It was like a melted candy bar very much reminiscent of Angelina’s hot chocolate l’Africain only better.

Photo by M. Zimbeck

In subsequent trips to Café Charlot, I have taken a slightly less indulgent hot drink. The first time I ordered it, I was pleasantly surprised when my order of mint tea came out in a traditional Moroccan tea pot with traditional tea cozy and, of course, real mint leaves. As if I needed one more reason to love this place.

Photo by MuFoo
Café Charlot is a great place to get breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or just to take a drink. If you’re in need of a place to work, you can always take your laptop and take advantage of their free WiFi. Enjoy!

Café Charlot
38, rue de Bretagne 
75004 Paris 
Tél.: 01 44 54 03 30
Metro: St. Sebastien Froissart – République – Arts et Métiers
Open daily from 7am to 2am

November 12, 2009

Montmartre Shop Trait

So I went on a typical Julia adventure recently… I traversed at least four arrondissements on foot during a five-hour period. I permitted myself a map for the first part of my journey toward the Sacré Coeur, but beyond that it was all but my goal to get lost. I am familiar enough with the area that I did not in fact get lost, but did manage to stumble upon some really adorable shops, many of which I have likely passed before but somehow never noticed. I wound down the curving streets of Montmarte shaded by golden-leafed trees, past Chez Plumeau with its I-don’t-even-know-what-instrument-that-is musician in front and ended up at the carousel at the Abbesses metro station. I wanted to head to the lower part of rue Lépic (for a treat I’ll write about another day), so I made a right and followed the vibrant road.

Eventually, I came upon a charming little shop sandwiched called Trait between a restaurant and fruit stand, the storefront so small it almost went unnoticed. Since I am a sucker for cute Paris postcards, the likes of which I saw on an outdoor rack, the store did indeed catch my eye and ultimately lured me in with its pretty Japanese-looking windsocks and bags and colorful papers. Being a lover of pretty paper, notebooks, and stylish business accessories, this place was heaven for me! The narrow shop’s walls are lined with papers in delicious colors, adorable greeting cards, chic passport holders, plain and patterned notebooks, and elegant address books… just to name a few. I was so taken aback by the beauty of all of their products that I noted many of the brands.

Madame Mo makes Japanese-inspired products ranging from the lovely windsocks that caught my eye to “Norens”, which are printed curtains, to postcards and greeting cards. Atelier lzc (also available en français: Atelier lzc) makes whimsical French- and Japanese-inspired designs of stickers, trays, bottles, and more. Another one of my favorites was the business accessories by Alife Design. They craft simple yet beautiful business and credit card holders, agendas, and passport protectors.

Surprisingly, I made it out of the store without making a single purchase, but I now know the first place I’ll go when I need some new stationery or just when I need some beautiful inspiration.

52 rue des Abbesses
75018 Paris
Tél. :

35 rue Jussieu
Paris 75005
Tél. :

October 27, 2009

Found: Halloween Treats in Paris!

Paris is amazing for the senses- every one of them. I can’t think of any other place I’ve ever been that is more of a hotspot of stimulation, whether it’s the honking cars, the scent of fresh pastries baking nearby, the metro trains screeching to a halt, a crusty piece of bread in hand, or the glistening lights of the city’s countless monuments. One thing I try to do being the eternal tourist that I am and therefore photographing all the time, is to capture what I see to then be able to share it with others. Wouldn’t it be grand if we could capture smells and feelings to share with others?
Having the sweet tooth that I do, I think it only appropriate to talk sweets in this inaugural post. Taste buds rejoice upon entrance in France, as every mouthful of food consumed here seems a harmonious fusion of flavors not replicated elsewhere. As Halloween will soon be upon us, and my nostalgia for days of dressing up in custom costumes made by Mom creeps into my daily thoughts, what excitement you can imagine I felt when I saw a small but charming patisserie in the 12th arrondissement paying homage to one of America’s favorite holidays. Ghosts and jack-o-lanterns gracing one of France’s most famous art forms? I couldn’t believe it. It’s true, they aren’t nearly as pretty as the traditional tartes and gateaux (see photo), but for the short life of the treat after purchase, it was a joyous melding of my two favorite worlds: home and Paris.

Honoré Pâtissier
237 Rue de Charenton
75012 Paris
Tél :