Category Archives: Saint Germain des Pres

Paris In Winter


Well bonjour!! Thanks for taking my call after I so rudely ghosted you. I seem to be spending a lot more time on Instagram (@maihem)  than I do on this blog, which I suppose is a sign of the times. However, my husband asked that I post about our recent week in Paris, and it seemed the least I could do. This one’s for you, mon amour!

Paris calls to me in all seasons, but I have a particular weakness for her in winter, when the days and queues are short. The light, though elusive, is especially golden, and reveals the silhouettes of the trees normally clothed in foliage. The beauty is more austere than in other seasons, but no less compelling.

When I lived in Paris, the one inquiry I dreaded from friends was where they should stay. I was ill-equipped to answer, as we spent very few nights in hotels  before we moved into  our apartment. I have returned several times since we moved, however, and can now recommend several hotels, all of which I have stayed on more than one occasion and found to be consistently good.

The Marriott Renaissance Arc de Triomphe is short on atmosphere but was a great hotel for us the times we were there on business. It is surrounded by fun shops and is conveniently located in the 16th.


I have loved Hotel Le Saint both times I stayed there. This is a small boutique hotel located in the swank neighborhood of Saint -Germain -Des -Pres in the 7th. The quiet street is a short walk from the lively Boulevard St. Germain, lined with stores and cafes and bars. The rooms are generously sized and very comfortable.

Who wouldn’t love staying in a boutique hotel just off of the picture-perfect Place des Voges in the Marais? La Pavillon de la Reine is a lovely 17th century building with fifty-six rooms, a quiet bar, and an enchanting terrace perfect for tea or cocktails. I love the calm, unstuffy elegance of this place. An added bonus is that you will never have trouble  finding your way back to the hotel because of the frequent signs pointing to the famous Place des Voges.


This was taken when I was there in August- not quite as verdant in winter!

None of these hotels are inexpensive; however, we were always able to use credit card points or to find special deals on travel sites. Obviously there are many less- spendy places to stay in Paris- I am just sharing my experiences, which were all wonderful.

It’s always tempting to return to old favorite restaurants in Paris, but this time we made a concerted effort to try some new (or new to us) places to eat. Our favorite discovery was Le Rigmarole, a tiny place in the 11th opened in October by a French-American chef. The tasting menu was original and vibrant and crazy delicious. I am sure it will quickly get harder to book, and will also become more expensive than the reasonable 49 euros currently charged for the tasting menu. Go toute suite!

Another exciting find was Le Grand Bain, tucked away in the (sort of) gritty Belleville neighborhood. Despite our early 8:00 reservation, the place was packed with (mostly French) people enjoying the creative small plates. Two dishes we wanted were already sold out, which happens in these small restaurants that cook their food fresh and in limited quantities. Our waiter was most helpful in steering us toward other choices, and we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner.

For some reason we rarely ate Asian food when we lived in Paris, despite the abundance of good Asian offerings. This time we popped into a very popular Japanese restaurant in Saint Germain called Ippudo. Ramen and pork buns were the perfect antidote to the cold weather and to our empty bellies.


I was even able to find a spicy one, which is not easy to do in Paris!

We did make the required return visit to one of our enduring favorites, Ellsworth, where we have dined many times and never been disappointed. Americans Braden Perkins and his wife Laura Adrian moved to Paris in 2007 and soon opened Verjus (another of our darlings) and then Ellsworth, both of which were received  with much approval by Parisians and tourists alike. The Ellsworth menu is shared plates from a fairly limited menu that packs a lot of flavor and food into a small space. The only savory to remain a constant on the changing menu is the fried chicken with pickles, and we wouldn’t dream of not ordering it. This time the raw scallops made my eyes roll back in my head.


Hey- looks aren’t everything.

The malt ice cream with crispy bits is a regular among the desserts and for good reason.

I understand that the owners are in the process of opening a third restaurant, so we will have another place to add to our rotation. This reporter looks forward to giving you the scoop on it as soon as she possibly can. I’m here for you. mes amis.

We only had six days, but we hit several museums, a few parks, walked our Fit Bits into ecstasy, saw some old friends, and drank way too much vin rouge. It was glorious.



Don’t go changin’, Paris. I”ll be back.


Filed under Arc de Triomphe, Belleville, Paris, Paris dining, Paris hotels, Paris in winter, Paris photos, Place de Vosges, Saint Germain des Pres, Uncategorized

Color Me Happy

It was a bee-u-tee-ful Wednesday in Paris! Colors popped out at me where none had been seen for days.


excuse me but may I have your tote and the mustard coat that goes so well with it thanks




even the bees were happy

even the bees were happy

Valentines Day is much more understated than it is at home. This window is about as over the top as it gets.





The weather was fabulous, but I am also happy because tomorrow we go spend a long weekend with my older daughter, Claire, in Madrid. And for icing on the cake- we will celebrate my birthday together on Friday! Hip hip hooray! Who wouldn’t be happy about that?

I hope to be posting from Spain, but in the meantime….


from “Ah-ha to Zig-Zag” by Maira Kalman

Thank you and good day.


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Filed under fashion, flowers, gardens, Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, Paris in winter, Saint Germain des Pres, Uncategorized

Food Tour in Saint- Germain

I have been so happy to have my good friend Laura visit me this week from Houston. And look what she brought with her!


We have had a wonderful time running around Paris in the sunshine. Early September in Paris is one hundred times nicer than in Houston, where it still feels like summer.

Wednesday we took a food tour in Saint- Germain. How could that be anything but fabulous? I had taken a food tour in Montmartre several years ago and throughly enjoyed it, so when I saw this one advertised by the same company, Paris By Mouth, I knew it was the perfect way to spend a morning with my foodie friend.

Our tour met at the famous Poilane bakery, where our guide bought bread, apple tarts, and their famous “punitions”- butter cookies. Although the shop is tiny, they were very sweet to let us come in and take pictures.



love the wheat door handles

love the wheat door handles

and the wind mill light fixture

and the wind mill light fixture

beautiful and delicious bread

beautiful and delicious bread


please to leave "le chien" outside

please to leave “le chien” outside

back room has a chandelier made of bread

back room has a chandelier made of bread

Next stop was to the shop of master chocolatier Patrick Roger, who creates chocolate sculptures as well as chocolate candies.





back to school chocolates

back to school chocolates


We sampled six different chocolates while we were there. My favorites were the Szechuan ginger and the lemon basil.

Our guide took us next to the Saint- Germain market, an old covered market. The cheese counter was owned by a woman called Twiggy who was happy to practice her English with us. Our guide bought six cheeses- two goat, two sheep, and two cow. I was crazy over one that had truffle mixed into it. Oh my gosh yum.


We also bought a little meat from a very jolly butcher.


he was quite chatty with our guide

he was quite chatty with our guide

Finally, we took all of our treats to a small wine shop, where we sat down in the back room to sample our cheese and meat with a bottle of red and a bottle of white.



Our final stop was to a relative new-comer to Paris, a shop that makes tiny cream puffs to order. The pastry is brought over several times a day from where it is made, and the cream is piped in when you order it.



I had caramel cream put into mine, but you could also order plain or chocolate cream. Or one of each- it’s Paris.

After our three and a half hour tour, we were happy and definitely didn’t need any lunch.

I highly recommend the Paris By Mouth food tours. You don’t have to be a big walker, but you do need to enjoy talking about and eating lots of delicious food in gorgeous Paris neighborhoods. Which pretty much seems like that would be anybody with a pulse, right?

A bientôt , mes amis!


Poilâne bakery at 8 rue du Cherche Midi, 75006
Patrick Roger chocolate 2-4 Place Saint Sulpice, 75006
Marché Couvert (covered market) de Saint-Germain at 4/6 rue Lobineau, 75006
La Dernière Goutte wine shop at 6 rue Bourbon le Château, 75006
La Maison de Chou pastry shop at 7 rue de Furstenberg, 75006



Filed under chocolate, food markets, Paris, pastries, Saint Germain des Pres, Uncategorized

When We Weren’t Eating (ok- so we ate a little)

My sister-in-law appreciates the finer things in life as much as I do, so of course I had to take her across the river to Saint Germain. We had a great time peering in shop windows and occasionally even going inside the stores for a closer look. I even took her to the discount pharmacy, where I warned her that she had to push, search, and purchase as quickly as possible.  She had done her homework and read up on French beauty products to try, so we were in and out before any homicidal tendencies bubbled to the surface. Fortunately it’s still cool here, so the inside temperature wasn’t 85 degrees, as it can get in there during the summer.

The morning was gorgeous.


I showed her my favorite bus stop.



We made our way to the Luxembourg Gardens and ate leftover sandwiches in the sunshine.





The beekeepers were busy harvesting honey from the bee boxes.





Next I showed her a design wonder of the Left Bank. This Hermes store, opened at 17 rue de Sevres in November of 2011, completely blows me away. The entrance is a discreet doorway into what appears to be a handsome apartment building. When inside the space opens up into an old swimming pool from 1935. The old mosaic tile and wrought iron has been preserved, and large contemporary structures made of ash add style and warmth to what was potentially a cold, vast space.




My pictures do not do it justice, but this article describes the design and has great photographs.

I took her to the Bon Marche and the little park that sits just in front of it.


Of course, the afternoon would not have been complete without a flower cone from Amarino gelato.





Tired, happy, and carrying large plastic bottles of make-up remover from the pharmacy, we boarded our bus and went back home.

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Filed under gardens, Hermes, Paris, pharmacies, Saint Germain des Pres, shopping

Saint- Germain- des -Pres

On my last visit to Paris I met a friend for lunch in St.- Germain- des -Pres.  I had some time to kill before she arrived, so I wandered around taking pictures.  I made a special effort to see the neighborhood through the eyes of a tourist, and to notice the beauty that sometimes fades to the background when I see it every day.


I love the little sign on the top left, advertising that this modern hotel had the convenience of gas on every floor!




If you think this bakery is cute, check out their delivery bike!






Mark and I  ate at this restaurant, Fish La Boissonnerie, on the trendy Rue de Seine, and loved it.  Check it out if you are in the hood.



Such a fun morning in one of my very favorite neighborhoods in Paris.

My friend and I decided we would lunch at the Cafe de Flore.  Because we could.  And we did.



Filed under Paris outings, Paris photos, Saint Germain des Pres, Uncategorized