Café, crêpe and a Carrousel – perfectly co-ordinated at the Hotel de Ville

Outings are all the better when everything is easily combined to suit all those concerned. Case in point, the Hotel de Ville.  Lovers of glorious architecture can stare upward and be gob-smacked by the beauty of the Hotel itself, city hall as it might be known in other parts of the world.  The vertically challenged can ride the Carrousel that sits on the square in front, followed by freshly made chocolate crêpes that drip down their fronts and smear deliciousness across their rosy cheeks.  Then a mere saunter across the Rue de Rivoli  for cafés and hot chocolates where the chairs and the decor are perfectly co-ordinated and blend in with the colours of the Carrousel.

Everywhere you turn in Paris is a little corner of heaven.

Les manèges enchantés – a le Parisien

A city for lovers, for foodies, for dreamers.

And, with all the carrousel rides to be found across the city, Paris is a magical roundabout of a city for children.

From Montmartre to Chatelet, the Hotel de Ville and across to the Eiffel Tower, the magic just never fades. Not for young, nor for old.

Sans commentaire – Monday morning

Indulging in Pavlova

I don’t get homesick often.  But when it does arrive, it is a gentle creeping in, riding in on the back of clouds that blow in from the Atlantic.

Pounding the rain-soaked footpaths of the Rue de Rivoli this morning had me dreaming of Oz, of balmy summer evenings sipping champagne by the harbour, oohing and aahing at fireworks  in the company of friends.

I’m off to toast those friends from afar and indulge in a slice of oh-so-Australian summer tradition, Pavlova.

Happy Australia Day.

BERRY PAVLOVA
4 egg whites
2 cups castor sugar
2 tsp white vinegar
4 tbsp boiling water
4 tsp cornflour (maizena)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp vanilla essence

FRESH WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING
1 500 ml thickened whipping cream (crème fermière)
Icing sugar to taste

BERRIES
500gms fresh berries, when in season (or in winter – frozen ‘cocktail de fruits rouges)
1 tsp castor sugar sprinkled onto berries and lightly tossed

Preheat oven to 200C. Line a 30cm (12in) tray with baking paper and draw a 20cm circle on the paper. Place the sugar, boiling water, vinegar and egg whites into a large bowl. Beat until mixture is stiff enough to hold it’s own peaks. Sift the cornflour and baking powder into the bowl, then add the vanilla and fold in lightly.

Pile the meringue onto the baking tray within the circle.  Place into the oven and reduce the heat to 150C for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat further to 100C for an hour longer. After that, turn off the oven and leave the Pavlova in the oven overnight to dry out.

To serve, top the Pavlova with the whipped cream and the berries.

Escape to the winter grey of the Calvados

There’s no escaping the grey in France during winter. 

From October through till April, everywhere you look,  cloud lingers low and there’s a dampness in the air.   The sun makes the rarest of appearances, her warm glow tucked away, out of sight.  People wrap up heavy to match the sombre colour of the skyline. 

Not someone to be bothered by winter, I embrace it.  My favourite season came like a built-in wardrobe with coats and chunky scarves, gloves, pink cheeks that glow when everyone returns to the warm air from the chill outside.  Hot chocolates and vin chaud, cider and galettes.

It also happens to be the time when I most prefer the ocean.  And when it all comes together like a Saturday trifecta, there’s only one thing to do.  Jump in the car and head to the Calvados.  Unlike the summer rush, it’s mostly void of tourists. With the exception of a few cars making their return to the UK, there are no crowds lounging about the harbour, no long waits to get into one of the quaint, fisherman restaurants.  The waters are calm, the beaches littered with pebbles and shells waiting to be collected by pint-sized fingers.

The grey slate buildings blend perfectly with the sky, the ocean, the lunch, and the quiet harbour.  It’s a little corner of heaven, and my favourite escape.

A little French Christmas chocolate cheer

As the saying goes, the best things in life aren’t free.  Whoever thought up that line never finished it off properly. I’m a firm believer that should have done have been ‘the best things in life aren’t free, they’re chocolate’. 

In France, chocolate is an art all to itself, and there is no time more ideal to discover it than during the festive season when the creations of the master designers adorn the windows and leave me drooling for more.

Wishing everyone much Happiness for the holidays.

Snowed out near Paris

The Internet is full of chatter about people snowed in, unable to fly for the holidays, stuck in Paris, and unsure of what may become of their travel plans.

We’re stuck at the other end of the spectrum.  Snowed out. 

Twelve miles to the west of Paris, the snow remains thick.  Slush belongs only on the pond, and holidays that might have been filled with outings to museums have become adventures down les pistes!  A mammoth hill in the village where the car just can’t make it up and over icy roads, day after day snow that is thicker than most places locally hit, and we are snowed out of pre-arranged activities. 

With the forecast predicting more, we’re looking at being snowed out for a while longer.