A Little Piece of Mine

River Dance: The Seine in Summer

When the sun finally deigns to shine brightly in the city, Parisiens collectively burst out of their French doors and hit the cafe terraces. While the usual suspects on famous avenues, traffic-ringed corners and shady rues continue to pull in punters, it’s a bunch of pop-up bars and cafes on the riverfront way down in the unglam 13th arrondissement that are really buzzing. The Batofar, the floating benchmark for electro and techno which has been moored here for ages, has long thrown its deckchairs overboard onto the cobbled banks of the Seine when the days and nights warm up. Now it’s got company. Lots of company. Since the opening of Les Docks – Cité de la Mode et du Design on the quai d’Austerlitz in 2012, the area has slowly morphed from plain Jane into place to be. Come the weekend, the array of steamer chairs, lounges, benches, stools, low tables and deck chairs belonging to the summer-only cabana cafes are crammed with sunseekers ordering up pizzas, burgers, tapas, salads, cocktails and beers in plastic glasses. Just like the beach–without the sand or surf. If you do fancy a dip, there’s always the Piscine Josephine Baker, a glass-walled 25m pool on a barge moored permanently close by. A retractable glass roof opens to the sky in summer months and there’s a sun deck with Seine vista. No cocktails or cool soundtrack, though, and queues are the norm. Come for the chilled-out ‘less Paris more Berlin’ river cafe vibe, the Art Ludique Musée in the Cité complex, with its current Super Heros expo of drawings, paintings, graphics and sculptures from the big animation houses, the open air cinema screenings, or Saturday yoga sessions on the Wanderlust terrace.

Summer Seine

Glove Box: Causse Gantier

The first crusty caveman to wrap his fists in animal hide had no inkling of his ongoing contribution to the fashion world. His little innovation went on to became an emblem of power and rank, favoured by kings and queens, popes and plutocrats. Gloves were crafted in kid leather, doe skin, silk and linen. For a while there, even chicken and dog skin were in vogue. French glove maker Causse Gantier, who’s been in the business since 1892, has a stable encompassing python, lambskin, crocodile, iguana, ostrich, crocodile, stag and peccary (a sort of wild pig). Some 40 craftspeople work at the company’s headquarters in Millau carrying out 100 different processes to fashion just one glove. They dampen, stretch, cut, mark, trim, decorate, sew and delicately stitch to create some 25,000 pairs a year—fingerless models (like those permanently glued to the hands of Karl Lagerfeld), as well as long fingered, low-cut or elbow-length versions festooned with embroidery, lace, buckles, frogging, studs, a single pearl or nothing at all. Their seriously slick Paris boutique designed by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, featuring a wall of metal rods sprouting gloved metal hands and lofty layers of wooden drawers housing myriad sizes and colours, is a testament to Causse’s time-honoured mission to produce luxury hand bijoux. Elizabeth I, who had a wardrobe mistress just for her vast glove collection, would no doubt approve. Fittingly, as the last remaining workshop in what was once the glove making capital of France, Causse Gantier was offically added to the UNESCO list of rare artistic crafts in 2012. Causse Gantier, 12, rue de Castiglione 75001

Cause GantierImage by Causse Gantier

Quick Word: Bite-sized thoughts

Under a Cloud: Kumo

Lamenting the propensity for sad old black umbrellas on the streets of Paris and beyond, designer Mathilde Fiessenger and photographer Paul Frey resolved to do something about it. They set up Kumo (‘cloud’ in Japanese), convincing a few artistic French chums, including Morse, Frédérique Vernillet, Adèle Beauvineau and Check Morris, to create dramatic designs to grace their fabric canopies. Cocktail Droit is a riot of pineapples, planes and umbrella-toting cocktails, Ces Dames is sombre black on top with sirens sun-baking and sashaying on the white underside, and Pluie Tropicale has cheeky monkeys and roaring tigers up top to drive off rain drops. The parasols with their beechwood handles are all proudly made in France, and make it just that much nicer to come in out of the rain…or sun. From €120, including delivery.


Cooking the Books in Paris

Chefs and the food obsessed from all over descend on La Librairie Gourmande to hunt out tomes dedicated to cooking, culinary arts and techniques, wine, food styling, table design, flower arranging, and food-themed dictionaries. That hard to find book about butchering goats and rabbits. It’s here, along with ones about sausages,  truffles, gingerbread houses, and beer making.  Lebanese recipes rub up against Spanish, French, Indian, British, Catalan, Scandinavian, and Italian. You’ll find devotions to couscous, to medieval cooking, to Monet’s kitchen and Van Gogh’s table at the Auberge Ravoux, as well as the musings of modern day celebrity chefs. 92-96, rue Montmartre, 75002

L’Appetit Vient en Lisant, publisher Agnès Viénot’s shop, is a trove of old, rare and new cookbooks. There are wonderful flights of fancy—recipes inspired by characters such as Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg, and Charlie Chaplin’s little tramp, by romantic moments in Hollywood films (Pulp Fiction, Gone with the Wind…), by the imaginings of Lewis Carroll, and Herman Melville, by Italian films (Sicilian arancini, Venetian polenta), and the fables of La Fontaine (rhubarb cake, and acacia blossom omelette). Plus…works by the revered Antonin Carême, Grimod de La Reynière, and Urbain Dubois, and a series of tasty guides to the cafés, bars, markets, restaurants, tea and snack shops in Istanbul, Naples, Brussels, Lisbonne. Marrakesh, and London. 1, rue Frédéric Sauton, 75005

For anyone with an ounce of interest in French gastronomic history, Librairie Rémi Flachard is a gem.  Brillat Savarin, Grimod de La Reynière, Escoffier, M.Flachard has seen (and sold) them all, from ancient leather bound volumes expounding on the fine art of carving a roast to presidential menus and letters between like-minded food lovers of long ago. 9, rue du Bac, 75007

Quick Word: Bite-sized thoughts

Bake That: Café Marlette

In 2009, sisters Margot and Scarlette Joubert cooked up the idea to bag organic ingredients to make breads, cakes and biscuits for cooks who were too time poor to bake, and non-cooks whose idea of homebaked bread was oven thawing a frozen loaf. They looked to their childhood home of the Île de Ré, a photogenic collection of white-washed houses, old ports, pine forests and sandy beaches, to furnish as many ingredients as possible; the naturally ground flours come from buckwheat, barley, and wheat grown on an organic farm down the road from their workshop in La Rochelle, the salt is the famed fleur de sel d’Ile Ré, while certain spices, sugars, dried fruits, and chocolate hail from sustainable, eco-friendly ventures outside the region. Costa Rica, for example, supplies the cane sugar for the gluten-free, golden-coloured rapadura cake. The sisters are nit-picky about what they put in their feed bags, pushing a healthy, wholegrain approach. The Marlette sachets for buckwheat blinis, orange gingerbread, English scones, fennel bread, apricot and fig cereal bars etc (just add the eggs, butter or milk) can be found on the shelves of  gourmet stores throughout Paris, but thesedays you can also try before you buy at Café Marlette. The Joubert’s comfy little shopfront just down from Pigalle serves up wholesome breakfasts (boiled egg with rustic own bread toasties), brunch (pancakes with honey and berries, or a side of smoked salmon), and sweet treats (gluten-free chocolate fondant), as well as daily soup, salad, and sandwich choices. Coutume coffee and Løv Organic teas also on the menu. 51 rue des Martyrs, 75009, Closed Mon.

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 15.59.22

Quick Word: Bite-sized thoughts

Chill Factor: Pierre Hermé

Pastry princeling Pierre Hermé is best known for his macarons, but seems he’s an ice cream maven too. Thus we have Miss Gla’Gla, a new take on the old ice cream sandwich which sees macaron biscuits deputising for the traditional wafers. Miss Gla’Gla Montebello features swirls of pistachio ice cream and strawberry sorbet between pale green macarons, Isaphan is a mix of rose and raspeberry sorbets wedged between his famous Isaphan macaron, Mogador throws milk chocolate ice cream, passionfruit sorbet and caramelised roasted pineapple together with fruity macaron sheets, Miléna combines zingy fresh mint ice cream and red berry sorbet. Then there’s Infiniment gang of three: Citron (ice cream and almond paste made from sunny Menton lemons with lemony macaron), Vanille (vanilla ice cream and almond paste with vanilla macaron) and Café (coffee ice cream, almond paste and macaron). Summer in a sandwich. Thoughtfully, M. Hermé has tubs of  ice creams and sorbets on hand, which come in specially insulated packaging guaranteed to maintain an ice cream friendly temperature for approximately 45 minutes. Perfect for that spontaneous ice cream-only picnic. Miss Gla’Gla at €6.90, tubs (235ml & 940ml) from €7.50.

Pierre Herme