Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Paris 2015: Food, My Hotel, and more about What They Were Wearing

First up: food!!!

Waiting for my Sole Meuniere at Brasserie Balzar. A Kir Royale
and a bit of tasty cheese stuff...

I personally find it pretty difficult to eat badly in Paris; if you go someplace where you only understand a fraction of what's going on, and where there are lots of people from the neighborhood, the food is bound to be at least acceptable.

My last day, I was wandering pretty aimlessly near the Marais, and I spotted a nice looking restaurant, so I decided (since it was nearing 1 p.m., and I was peckish), to stop in for lunch. The formule (set price menu) looked interesting...

A lovely woman seated me, and gave me directions to the toilet. When I wandered back, bemused, she explained that the door slid rather than swung! On such small details swings (or slides?)  many a language lesson!

The lunch special was "Salmon in Wok." I get my own, personal little wok, with a nest of noodles in the bottom, a half-dozen pieces of salmon (about the size of a phone charger), and a bunch of vegetables, along with some elusive and delectable sauce. Arguable among the very best foods I've EVER eaten!

I finished with coffee and Crepes Suzettes; WHY NOT????

L'Adresse - that's the name of the cafe!
84, Boulevard Maxime Gorki

I even love the coffee in Paris! I've heard all sorts of negative remarks about the coffee there, but that has NOT been my experience...

About my hotel: the Hotel des Grands Hommes, Place du Pantheon, Paris 5

Belovedest and I stayed here 18 years ago, when we first went to Paris. That was back in the day when you had to pick a hotel from a guide book, and then telephone them or fax to get a reservation. What a different world now!

I need to stay in hotels from time to time, if only to keep my "decoration-challenged" brain alert to all of the possibilities. I'm a big fan of pattern mixing, but I don't know that I would have ever thought to put this carpet with this wallpaper! And the fake-book nightstand is charming, too.

This was the view laying on the bed. The door to the left is into the (really quite large) bathroom, and the mirrored doors to the right conceal the television and the mini bar. There's another pair of mirrored doors to the left of the bathroom door, where the closet is found. 

This room was quite dominated by the queen-sized bed, but it would be, theoretically, workable for 2 people who were determined to be organized. B and I could do it, if we unpacked immediately into the closet, and then stashed luggage. We would then have to put dirty laundry someplace immediately every evening, and manage the purchases we made very carefully. Despite the best space management, one person would have to get in and out of bed over the foot of the bed, as the small table blocks access to the "far from the door" side of the bed. Not a major sacrifice, really.

But the decor! I would never dream of hanging images on a figural wallpaper like this, but it works fine here:

And double sconce lamps, with dangly sparkly bits? Sure, why not?

On to what I saw people wearing!

Yes, people in Paris wear scarves ALL THE TIME. Literally 95% of the people you see, including children, will be wearing scarves as soon as the weather dips into the 60's Fahrenheit.

This year, I noticed for the first time that quite a few people were wearing scarves which matched their coat, and which were solid. Lots of bulky/chunky scarves, with chin(s) tucked in...

Navy scarf – Acne Studios; cream scarf – J. Crew; oatmeal scarf – Nordstrom;
 camel infinity scarf – Halogen; gray scarf – Nordstrom; brown scarf - Nordstrom

For the past few years, I've often seen younger women wearing opaque tights with jeans - it's become so ubiquitous that I ever see it in Chicago. But this is the first time that I can remember seeing walking shorts worn with tights! This is pretty cool for me, given my fondness for all things that smack of the tomboy... Most of the time, this look was indeed styled in a very boyish, yet feminine, way. I love this look...

Sweater – L.L.Bean; white shirt – Acne Studios; bermuda shorts – J. Crew; 
 tights – H&M; flats – French Sole

And there's nothing incongruous about showing J. Crew clothes when talking about Paris; there is an entire J. Crew section at Bon Marche (as well as a section of their children's clothes, Crew Cuts).

Despite all warnings from the trend watchers, I saw very few fringed handbags, and almost no ponchos. But I DID see tons of fluffy, fringy, eyelashy, and thread-y sweaters around...

Navy marled cardigan – Olive + Oak; black & gold sweater – Koko; 
cowl-neck sweater – Dex;  red fringed cardigan – H&M

Since we're smack in the heart of winter holidays, it wasn't surprising to see quite a bit of metallics around, but there was a surprisingly large volume of silver goodies everywhere. I, personally, was all over this; I am currently typing this with silver finger nails...

Sequined sweater – DKNY; Ignite the Night nail polish – Essie; Teen Cage Riot
 nail polish - Smith & Cult; Winter Mews nail polish - Nails Inc.; silver tee –
 J. Crew; sequined sneakers – Keds; ballet flats – SoftWalk; ombre glitter 
sneakers – Keds metallic socks - Smartwool

There's a certain subversive pleasure in the thought of wearing "Teen Cage Riot" nail polish...

I leave you, and we leave Paris, with this inexplicable image.  The stories that could come from this - Boyfriend #1 coming in the front door, while boyfriend #2 goes out the window?

There was no sign of damage or distress here, so we are free to image without feeling of worry or guilt.

It is so quintessentially French, n'est-ce pas?



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  1. I think the thick tights and walking shorts is a good look..........just on someone younger and slimmer than me lol! I do however like the plain scarves and have started to build myself a collection.

  2. I see a beautiful color palette in your last photo. blush, petrol blue/gray, caramel!

  3. Maybe it is just someone repairing the roof?

  4. I read fashion blogs so I hear about the most current trends, but I don't always see those trends translated into real life. To be fashionable, without looking ridiculous, I tend to look around me and wear what I see real life people wearing. If I should see fringe and ponchos showing up in real life, I might consider them for myself, but I doubt I will be the first in my circle of friends to wear them.

  5. I really enjoy the formule in Paris. As many employees receive a lunch stipend from the employer, it is in the interest of the restaurant to keep the prices within limits ensuring a steady lunchtime clientele. I am thrilled to see our grey/silver wardrobe is Paris fashionable. I too am typing with silver nails. I want a pair of silver Keds. I have to smile as I bought Maman a grey sweater very much like the Dex one. She too will be Paris worthy (autofill wants Praiseworthy). Aren't you glad to "always have Paris?"

  6. Thank you for sharing our trip so generously with us. I particularly appreciate that you went on your own. Do you notice a difference in what you do and how do it when you travel by yourself? Shorts with tights have been au courant in London for at least 3 years and it is popular here on young people, sometimes without tights even in December!

    Deb from Vancouver

    1. I meant share "your" trip!

      Deb from Vancouver

  7. The salmon in a wok sounds amazing....the hotel decor is rather over the top but in its own way, totally charming. Thank you for reporting on the fashions currently worn in Paris. Our weather is cool and scarves are definitely needed to keep warm. Not Hermes squares in silk but wool and cashmere.
    Happy Holidays!

  8. The window with the rope-type ladder is the fire station, so maybe les pompiers were practicing something. Thanks for the photos.

  9. Tights with walking shorts were also a trend back in the early 90's. I had a tailored safari-style "romper" that I wore with a boyfriend blazer, tights, and ballet flats. Even a matching blazer and walking shorts "suit".
    I think tights are a wonderful option for anyone, as age has not been kind to my legs. And the new microfleece tights are amazingly cozy.

    1. OH, I LOVED my suit - deep blue, but not navy, linen, with linebacker shoulder pads, and knee-length, cuffed walking shorts. Liz Claiborne.... sigh.....

  10. How would you know if someone were wearing tights with jeans?

  11. In the 'ladder apartment' lives a cat named Saffie. She is marmalade, with white socks and bib. Each fine morning she goes down the ladder to where she can jump onto a nearby roof and enjoy the sun in a quiet corner, all the while keeping a watchful eye on any birds in cautious enough to pause. At lunchtime, when she hears the fridge door open, she scoots back home for some fresh milk and a biscuity snack. In the late afternoons she goes down the ladder again to patrol the neighbouring eaves and upper storeys, before neatly doing her business just below he window sill of the grumpy loudmouth on the third floor (who once tried to kick her in the courtyard). And then it's up the ladder and home again for a tasty morsel bought specially from the boucherie, before curling up for a sound night's sleep. Bon soir, petite!

    1. Perfect! Do we have an illustrator for the children's book in the making?

  12. Most of the young girls around here wear short shorts with out the tights. Not always flattering....I had trouble buying a coat this year that was NOT puffy! I am puffy enough without the added fiberfill! LOL! I need to invest in a few solid scarves. Loving the Paris posts!

  13. Fun to see some of my longtime favourites, like Balzar!

    The ladder is, I would guess, part of a moving company's work (or possibly a renovator's). It's much faster and efficient than carrying things down winding stairwells or trying to comandeer the lone, very slow and miniscule elevator. I've seen chairs, tables, etc. moved this way, as well as boxes- and another common sight is the crane moving in a sofa or armoire you just can't get them through the older building's doors.

    The people in Montréal dress just like this, always the scarf. I call it the flag of the city, and it has permitted me to indulge my textile passion freely.

  14. I love reading your blog! You've helped me narrow my clothing choices and showed me how packing can be a fun, efficient process. I'm taking my daughter to Paris in March and staying at your favorite hotel. Do you have recommendations for dining around the hotel? Thank you!

    1. OH YEAH! Just down the main street - the Rue Soufflot - is the Comptoir de Pantheon. I eat breakfast there every day I'm staying at that hotel, because I'd rather be out of the hotel early. But if you like to eat breakfast in your room, or in the hotel, Hotel des Grandes Hommes has a great breakfast, and they also serve it in your room...

      But back to the Comptoir - they're busy EVERY MINUTE they're open, so I have to believe that the food is good.

      I love Brasserie Balzar, down on the Rue des Ecoles. Some people thing it's too touristy, but if I had to pick one restaurant in Paris in which I was going to eat all of my meals, it would be there. They have excellent (expensive) sole meuniere, and great steaks. Their house wine is very drinkable, their desserts are great (coffee gourmand - which is coffee with a couple of tasty small desserts, is worth ordering everywhere you see it.) And the staff is adorable...

      Just behind the hotel is the Cafe de la Nouvelle Mairie. Excellent wines, many by the glass. Wonderful food. Tremendously busy, and closed on weekends. (you know they're good when they can get away with that!)

      Do me a MASSIVE favor and tell the hotel that you found them through The Vivienne Files, please?

      happy hugs,

    2. Thank you, thank you! Yes, I will be sure to tell them. This will be my daughter's first time to Paris and a special graduation/18th birthday/I'm so proud of you trip. Yay!