|The Paris skyline as seen from the roof of Printemps|
One of the blogs I find most inspiring, is the very fantastic Not Quite Nigella. On her blog today, Lorraine had announced a competition to win one of four Fauchon Tea, Chocolate & Butter Caramel Packs. To win a pack, Lorraine wants to know what you love about France and why. The question posed by Lorraine really got me thinking about what it is that I love so much about France, being on the 6 week countdown to my fourth trip back to France in the space of about six years. What is it that lures me back each time I plan a trip?
|View from the bedroom window in my lovely friend's very gorgeous apartment|
|Glimpses of Pei Pyramids in the courtyard of the Louvre|
You've probably heard the old saying that Paris offers a remedy for broken hearts. While maybe not devastatingly broken hearted, I found myself in Paris about six years ago certainly foot loose and fancy free. I was a year or two on from a breakup and I was by no means looking for love. My career was blossoming, I had just bought my own apartment and I looking forward to a big catch up and spending time in France with one of my very best friends, la belle femme, who had moved to Paris from Canberra. Finding love in Paris was the last thing on my mind.
|Boulangerie in the Marais|
I'm not sure if it was the aromas wafting from the Fromagerie in Charles de Galle airport or the warm early morning light hitting the wrought iron flourishes on the rows of Haussmann apartment balconies but within hours of landing, I was under Paris' spell. Yes it could have been the jet lag after a direct 24 hour flight, but I wasn't tired. I felt drugged, like everything was unfolding in a grainy old film. From the art to the architecture I was in sensory overload. It must have been to protect my sensory sanity, but whenever I think of those first few days in Paris, I see the streets, the views, the scenes of daily life in black and white. There is, however, one exception. I see the food, the markets and the wine in colour.
|Street market in Convention, in full colour|
|Figs absolutely bursting with ripeness after a long, hot summer|
|The most delicious, gnarled heirloom tomatoes|
|French bread... the same taste can never be found outside France|
While the beautiful, complex, polished meals of the brasseries, cafes and restaurants captured my imagination, it was the produce in the markets the captured my heart. Each and every stall looked as though it had been arranged by and was ready to be painted by Monet or Cezanne. The stall holders were wise, warm and bursting to share their knowledge. There were redcurrants, raspberries, cold water seafood varieties, rich oozing cheeses, heirloom tomatoes and the bread, oh the bread. I was smitten. I was in love. I had no time for the handsome business suited gentlemen chasing la belle femme and I around the Musée de l'Orangerie, stalking us in the supermarché or flirting and fawning with us over menus, train tickets, magazine purchases..... I was deeply involved in an unfolding love affair with Paris and her food.
|My love of French cheese goes beyond words|
|La belle femme, selecting a suitable match for all the cheese we bought|
|La belle femme's helpful reminders for negotiating|
the market. How to get a coffee, water and
what you wanted.
|Dinner at Melac|