Poppy in Paris: The Best of Winter in the City
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Working as an au pair in Paris, Poppy Pearce explores the city in her free time. She documents her favorite finds– exhibitions, restaurants, boutiques, day trips– in an exclusive Bonjour Paris column. Find the first edition here.
Restaurant of the Month
49 Passage des Panoramas, 2nd arrondissement
Metro: Richelieu – Drouot (Lines 8 and 9)
One of my favorite areas of Paris is the tightly compacted area on the Rive Droite that houses the Louvre, Jardin des Tuileries, Place Vendome, Palais Garnier, and the Palais Royal. This is undoubtedly the most luxurious and opulent area of Paris, with hotels such as the Ritz and designer stores lining the streets. At this time of year, the Christmas decorations are still lighting up the district with a magical vibe. After a few hours exploring, head to the Passage des Panoramas, stemming off from Boulevard Montmartre, to fuel up at Adar Paris.
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Built in 1799, the 133-meter Passage des Panoramas was the first covered passageway in Paris, playing host to the boutiques of independent craftsmen and superb eateries. A walk along Passage des Panoramas transports you back in time, as its old-fashioned grandeur has remained unchanged since the 19th century. Adar Paris, a marvelous Israeli-style restaurant and deli, occupies number 49 Passage des Panoramas. Renowned in his field, Chef Tamir Nahmias completed a stint at the famous Fulgurances in the 11th arrondissement. The menu is short, with just four options for each course, which allows the kitchen team to perfect their finely chosen specialties. You have the choice to be seated at one of the tables lining the buzzing passage or inside the warm and friendly 15-seater room. On the food menu, expect to find dishes containing Middle Eastern ingredients such as dates, tahini, hummus, baba ganoush, and pistachio. And on the drinks menu, expect fine wines and Israeli beers.
If you are not looking for a sit-down meal, then head over to Adar’s deli at the sister location of 11 Rue Faidherbe in the 11th arrondissement. The deli offers many delicious takeaway options including dates stuffed with marzipan and orange blossom, bacon, omelet, labné, mushroom and spinach sandwiches, or simple loaves of bread.
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Cafe of the Month
208 Av. du Maine, 14th arrondissement
Metro: Alesia (Line 4)
If you are searching for extraordinary patisseries that treat the eyes as much as the tastebuds, then Wonderland Pâtisserie in the 14th is the place to go. The imagination of chef Rodolphe Groizard, who won the title of ‘Best Pâtissier of the East’ in 2017, is a wonder and shines through as you browse the many treats on offer.
This pâtisserie offers many delicacies, from chocolate chip cookies to edible baobab trees and sitars. On my first trip to this amazing place, I tried the “The Fantasia” – a carousel with three horses constructed with basil strawberry jam, chocolate mousse, salted caramel, grilled pistachios, and speculoos. I am yet to find another spot in Paris that provides such creative and breathtaking delights.
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While there, pair your patisserie with unique flavored ice cream. Cassis and violet petals, anyone? Or how about lemongrass, coconut milk, and ginger? And to drink, try an “organic potion” such as the love potion or dreams potion created by Le Magicien Bio, an award-winning French brand that aims to harness the healthy “magic” of nature through delicious elixirs.
And if you’re not in the mood for something sweet, perhaps try Wonderland Patissereie’s take on the croque-monsieur: toasted hazelnut bread with morbier cheese, pastrami, cream, grilled mushrooms, smoked mashed potatoes, and parmesan. A true delight! Soups, tartines, and salads are also on the lunchtime menu, and each option is just as impressive as the last.
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Exhibition of the Month
Paris et Nulle Part Ailleurs
Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration
293 Av. Daumesnil, 12th arrondissement
Metro: Porte Dorée (Line 8)
This month I visited the Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration in Porte Dorée for the first time. It is located in a beautiful part of Paris, situated on the edge of the green and expansive Bois de Vincennes. A lovely day can be spent visiting these Vincennes woods, the Paris Zoological Park, Parc Floral and the Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration (which also contains a tropical aquarium on the lower level).
The museum is relatively modest in size but contains a rich and comprehensive collection of data, statistics, images, and artifacts focusing on the history of French immigration policy and the social integration of ethnic minorities into France. Zar Kedadouche, an Algerian immigrant, first had the concept for the museum in 1989. French historians Pierre Milza and Gérard Noiriel initially agreed, but in 1993 the project was abandoned. The 1998 French World Cup victory united the French once more, and former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin swiftly authorized its establishment. Until President Jacques Chirac was reelected in 2002, years went by and optimism about the museum’s opening evaporated. Finally, in an effort to “contribute to the acknowledgment of the integration of immigrants into French society and develop thoughts and attitudes on immigration in France,” Jacques Toubon was given the task of making the museum public. In the midst of political turmoil, which resulted in the resignation of eight out of the 12 experts participating in the project, it opened without a formal ceremony in late 2007 under President Nicolas Sarkozy.
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The museum is situated within the Palais de la Porte Dorée which was built in 1931 as a Colonial International Exhibition museum. Thus, the Musee de l’Histoire de l’Immigration also informs the public about the origins of France’s colonial history and provides education on the topic. The building itself is a marvel, with large and opulent frescoes flooding the floors and walls of the interior. The museum typically houses a permanent exhibition, a temporary exhibition, and the magnificent adjoining aquarium. It is the temporary exhibition, “Paris et Nulle Part Ailleurs,” that particularly caught my eye this month.
“Paris et Nulle Part Ailleurs,” which translates to “Paris and Nowhere Else,” transported me to the post-war years of Paris, between the years 1945 and 1972. This was a period that saw the creation of revolutionary artistic perspectives in the fields of abstraction, figuration, and kinetic art. Paris was regarded as the world capital of art– for many, it still is– and thus budding artists believed that in order to achieve, they must work, study and live in Paris. Though some artists did indeed arrive in Paris solely for this reason, others arrived in Paris after fleeing a political regime or hostile society. Whether they stayed for a short period, or settled there permanently, of the 15,000 artists working in Paris during these years, 60 to 65% were immigrants, and thus their influence on the Parisian art scene is significant.
The exhibition walks you through the lives and works of 24 specific artists who all traveled to Paris from various regions of the world: Europe, Africa, Latin America, the United States, and Asia. Though their styles and stories all differ enormously, one common similarity stands out – how issues of migration play into their work. This is shown throughout the four stages of the exhibition: exile, the fusion of one’s culture of origin and that of the host, the reaction to the differences of the new world, and the building of a universal language without borders.
I was particularly impressed by the final stage. In the 1950s and 1960s, artists developed a style of “art for all,” a style that transcended language barriers and cultural differences and exists within the use of bright colors and bold shapes. In an effort to bring the art and the audience closer together, these immersive works such as that of Jesus Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez show the development of optical and kinetic art and how they can connect with the viewer, regardless of race or social backgrounds.
Until 22 January 2023.
Full price: 8 €. Reduced price: 5 €
@poppy_pearce and its free if you’re under 26 🥳 #paris #exhibition #exposition #expo #expositionparis #art #exhibitionparis #fyp #pourtoi #travel #museum #gallery ♬ Sweater Weather (Sped Up) – The Neighbourhood
Fashion of the Month
Before arriving in Paris, I had a big wardrobe rethink. I was about to move to the fashion capital of the world, and I had to look the part. I tried to pack what I thought I should be wearing in Paris – lots of black clothing, with pops of red, and elegant shoes. On arrival however, I noticed something different: sure, black is seen a lot, but the most worn item of clothing is the most clichè of them all – the marinière. Whether in the form of a t-shirt, a sweater or a knitted jumper, this top with horizontal blue and white stripes is easy to spot, and the history is very interesting.
In the middle of the 19th century, sailors in the French Navy were the first to don this iconic striped top, as it was the official undershirt of the French navy. A large portion of the sailors in the French Navy came from Brittany, distinguished by the rugged coast of the Atlantic Ocean, and as such the tops became known as “Breton Jerseys.” Rumor has it that these tops were not only made to insulate the sailor from the brutal Atlantic, but also designed with stripes to make an overboard sailor easier to spot from the ship’s deck.
The production of these Breton Jerseys was tightly regulated by the French Navy so as to keep the uniform consistent throughout the country. These tops were originally produced by individual tailors before being commercialized by the Navy and produced in large factories by companies such as Saint James. In March 1858, the French Navy’s uniform regulation read as such: “Le corps de la chemise devra compter 21 rayures blanches, chacune deux fois plus large que les 20 à 21 rayures bleu indigo.” So a true marinière must display 21 white stripes, with each white stripe twice the width of the 21 navy blue stripes.
It was Coco Chanel who brought the marinière from the French coastal towns into the world of high-end fashion in the capital. On holiday in one such nautical town during the First World War, Chanel was inspired by these unique tops, and what she produced was revolutionary to the fashion world. In her boutique in Normandy, Chanel released the “Navy Style”; for men, a long top to keep warm, and for women, a relaxed top for casual wear. This design went against all that was hot in the fashion world, and contrasted greatly to the stylish corsets and intricacy of the time. It was the first time that a uniform was brought into the luxe arena and changed the face of fashion forever, with Chanel becoming identified by this Breton stripe.
Fast forward 200 years since their creation and the iconic marinière is available to buy from many highstreet clothing stores such as Zara, Mango and Monoprix.
If you wish to dress as elegantly as a Parisian, here are links to purchase some of my favorite marinières from French brands.
Marinière Minquidame coupe droite, en coton léger | SAINT JAMES® Site officiel – Saint James (saint-james.com)
Marinière en coton bio Bleu Foncé Monoprix Femme – Monoprix.fr
T-shirt marinière à bouton | Claudie Pierlot
Marinière mixte Meridien coupe droite, en coton épais | SAINT JAMES® Site officiel – Saint James (saint-james.com)
Marinière en coton issu de l’agriculture biologique Ecru Monoprix Homme – Monoprix.fr
Hidden Gem of the Month
Salle Ovale at BnF Richelieu
12 Rue Vivienne, 2nd arrondissement
Metro: Bourse (Line 3)
This past month I have spent many a relaxing afternoon in the Salle Ovale of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF) Richelieu. Thanks to the renowned French architect Pierre-François-Henri Labroust (from the École des Beaux-Arts school of architecture), this grandiose library provides a sublime location for reading, working, or simply unwinding. There is something I find particularly comforting about being in a library; perhaps it’s a feeling of nostalgia thinking back fondly to my time at university. Though, no library at my university compared to the beauty of BnF Richelieu!
Originally built in the 17th century as a palace for Cardinal Mazarin, the king began to use the building as his private library in 1721. The building was inaccessible to the public for two centuries, and then, after 12 years of restoration, the library opened to the public in September 2022, and the renovation is magnificent.
The building, both from its exterior and interior, is an awe-inspiring masterpiece. On arrival at BnF Richelieu, you are greeted with a large inner courtyard lined with palm trees that provide shade to the benches below. But just wait until you walk inside and see the main reading room.
Architect Jean-Louis Pascal began designing and constructing the Salle Ovale in 1897. Alfred Recoura finished the work in 1932, and Albert Lebrun, the president of the republic, formally opened it in December 1936. It served as both the INHA library’s reading room and the Richelieu location of the BnF’s bibliographic reference room from 1999 and 2016. It was then closed for major restoration and reopened again in 2022.
The Salle Ovale is free for the public to enter and use, but it is necessary to acquire a library card for students and researchers to use the other reading rooms. Among the 20,000 books freely available around the room, there are 9,000 comics and childrens books meaning that this is a wonderful place to discover either alone or with family, regardless of age. Around the periphery of the room are interactive virtual reality devices and video games which encourage children and adults alike to discover the wonder of the 22 million further documents that the library keeps. The library also offers free wifi so I took my laptop to one of the 160 reading places to catch up with some emails and finish some work, all while having to keep pinching myself that I was able to work in such a beautiful setting.
On the ground floor, along from the Salle Ovale, there is also a wonderful little café and a gift shop with posters, books and other souvenirs. I found the staff there to be very welcoming and eager to help. BnF Richelieu site also hosts a small museum containing over 700 objects from antiquity such as the Gutenberg Bible, the seat of Dagobert, scores of great composers, antique maps and rare engravings. There is also a space for temporary exhibitions, with the current exhibition showcasing the life and work of Molière.
Lead photo credit : Snow in Paris. Photo credit: madras91/ Flickr
More in adar, Cafe, Coco Chanel, fashion, mariniére, Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration, navy, Paris et Nulle Part Ailleurs, passage des panoramas, Poppy in Paris, restaurant, salle ovale, Wonderland Pâtisserie