Summertime sadness? Somewhat uncertain

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Talking about the weather is generally seen as a time-filler; that awkward smalltalk you’re forced to engage in with the granny at the busstop, waiting for your number to pick you up. But in their way, climatic conversations kinda make the world go round – we like to share what we got up to during our weekends in the sun, complain endlessly when we’re caught in the rain and leap for joy when school is cancelled because of the 2cm of snow on the ground (#onlyinEngland). And doesn’t the weather have a natural impact on our food choices? People try as much to eat seasonally, swapping their strawberries for pumpkin as soon as the first auburn leaves crackle underfoot. BBQ in November? I don’t think so.

Which brings me to something I’ve been pondering today – am I sad to see summer go? It came so late here in Paris, where normally even in late-May you’d see les femmes chics getting out their espadrilles. But we were weighed down with a seemingly endless cloud of humidity and tropical wetness that drove everyone insanely crazy. After a few weeks then stuck in a heatwave, we’re now in a kind of limbo of will-it-won’t-it. Today we went to Les Fermes de Gally to pick some fruit and vegetables, trapped under a grey sky yet dripping in the thick moisture. I need weather that is actually going to commit – autumn, I’m waiting for you with arms wide open.

*Apples, variety of squash, squash blossoms (so excited to cook with these!), green peppers, apples, carrots and salad all hand-picked this morning by us at Les Fermes de Gally.

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Weekend break in Normandy

This weekend we went to Normandy in the north of France for an impromptu weekend away. A friend of ours was staying there and invited us up, and as I’d taken the Friday off work (just because I wanted to), it was perfect timing. We were in a small village/town called St Maurice en Cotentin which took 3 1/2hrs to drive up to.

The idea of a stay-cation really appeals to me – firstly, there are so many interesting places to see in France apart from Paris. A few weeks ago we spent a week in Bordeaux and it was lush to be able to visist wine country at St. Emilion and be able to go to the beach in the space of an hour! Secondly when you don’t have oodles of cash to spare but want a break, why not see more of the country you’re in? There’s always going to be something to surprise you.

We drove up on Friday early afternoon and arrived around dusk. For Normandy we were surprised it was so warm but clearly not complaining! Saturday morning we all went to the local market to buy some goodies for a home-made lunch that Louis made sous-vide. For starters we had chicken enrobed in a spicy coating with grilled peaches, salad and mozzarella; the main was salmon cooked with vanilla pods and mini leeks, and for dessert there were a selection of mini pastries from the boulangerie (I didn’t take photos of everything though, too busy eating!)

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As the sun was shining bright and we had Pokémons to hunt, we took a trip to the beach in the afternoon. The tide was low so there was a lot of bare, wet sand around. We sat for a few hours on the dunes though, shooting the breeze and all that jazz. Good times. You could actually the coast of Jersey from where we were! Or maybe it was Guernsey.. Anyway, in the evening we went to see a firework show in one of the local towns. I have never been that close to fireworks in my life – the lights were blinding, the bangs definitely deafening and we all had bits of cardboard from the explosions scattered in our hair 🙂 it was a beautiful sight though!!

Sunday was very chilly and drizzly, so I guess we got the best of both worlds. We spent the morning at the Maison des Biscuits, literally the ‘house of biscuits’, which is a speciality shop selling cakes, biscuits, chocolates, jams, preserves, local beers, honey etc. I bought a small box of chocolates to share with my colleagues at work, whereas Louis bought €50 worth of meringues and biscuits!!! The thought of all that sugar literally makes me cringe, I have no idea how we will ever get rid of them! All in all though it was a pretty sweet weekend, (no pun intended :P), and the intense change of landscape was so relaxing. I didn’t grow up around the water so it’s never been something I miss but I guess that makes it all the more lovely when I get to spend a few days in its presence. (Plus I got to top up my tan which I wasn’t expecting, bonus!)

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Aman x

Home improvements

Coucou tout le monde!

I don’t know about you guys, but I know that trying to get creative in the kitchen with limited space and resources is a bitch. We constantly bemoan the fact that ours is so ill-equipped: it lacks adequate counter space, there’s no freaking oven, and we don’t have enough cupboards to store our food. Well, we didn’t.

We made the decision last week to order a kitchen unit of 8 cupboard units AND an oven!!! We used this French website where you can literally buy everything -from an Xbox to washing machines – for a lot cheaper than the going retail price. In a way it was kind of risky because we obviously weren’t able to look at the material and quality of the kitchen in the flesh, but having bought stuff before from the site we knew we could trust it. And guess what, it paid off.

Louis, the goddamn angel, mounted all the units himself over 2 days. He cleared out our old worktop table, scrubbed from top to bottom and got pretty handy with an electric drill. I guess men are useful for some things eh! The result as you can see is amazing – there were colours ranging from bright red to aubergine but this wooden tone with a charcoal surface top was the best looking.

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All we had on the right-hand side before was a table, microwave-oven and a shelf!

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Mwah!

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Seeing as we’re both big foodies, cooking never feels like a chore. The thing I’m most excited to do when I get home from work is cook a tasty (and usually healthy) meal. An apology to the feminists out there, but I’m so excited to spend even more time in the kitchen.

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See the oven in the centre?! Hallelujah!

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The teapot and steam-bubble stickers add a playful touch – plus we can write on them with chalk!

We also did a bigggg general clean and sort out of the entire flat – we’ve ended up throwing out so much junk, clothes and useless furniture that it feels like you can breathe again. Life admin – done. High-five for teamwork!

Big kids, big city – brunch and other grown-up activities

TGIM…said no person, ever. Though I’m pretty stoked it’s Monday night, because that means we’re that much closer to the weekend! Speaking of, I just passed one of the best weekends in a long time. Me and my love went brunching, walking, photographing, thrifting, yoga-ing (well it was only me who yoga-ed) and baking.

This weekend was ‘my weekend’, meaning that Louis would do whatever I had in mind, so we spent our time doing our favourite activity – eating! On Saturday we went into Paris (something I haven’t done on the weekends for a loooong time ever since I started working in the city) and found the cutest spot to grab brunch, a cafe/restaurant called Twinkie.

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I chose this place because they offer FOUR different kinds of brunch (American, English, Scandinavian and Greek, drool). We both chose the Scandinavian menu which firstly came with a basket of mixed breads with jam, marmalade and Nutella. We both got large filter coffees, an OJ for Louis and carrot and orange juice for me. The real deal came shortly – eggs benedict with bacon, dripping in Hollandaise sauce and a fresh salad on the side. This was the best thing in life.

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Actually, maybe the best thing in life was the tiny little milk bottle the waiter brought over for me – see, he’s right there above my fork!!

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Don’t mind my tomato face, I got abit camera shy! Does anyone have a remedy for that by the way, y’know the kinda timid feeling you get when you bust out the huge Nikon camera in a restaurant. Or maybe it’s just me and I need to give less of a shit.

I thought the service here was great – all the waiters were attentive and polite, the food was served very quickly and the food itself was top. I loved the minimalist décor too, the bare walls gave it an unfinished feel and it felt spacious due to the light colours of the wood and walls. Upon leaving, we noticed that pretty much the whole road had interesting restaurants and cafes, like this Kurdish bistro just next door to Twinkie.

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Everyone looks so chilled, this is definitely on the list for ‘my’ next weekend.

Our Sunday was spent in much the same way, except that we drove to a town about 15m away from us called Marly le Roi. Back in the day of Louis XIV, this place used to have its own castle and one of the most beautiful gardens which unfortunately were destroyed during the Revolution. The park has been restored but we didn’t visit it as I had a yoga class scheduled later on, however if the weather still holds up this weekend I think we’ll pay another visit and check it out.

The main reason we went to Marly was because they were holding a vide-grenier, literally meaning ’empty attic’ which is basically a yard sale. This wasn’t like the professional marché aux puces that you find in Paris, more on the side of local families selling items and clothes no longer needed. We did a tour of the stalls and ended up going back to the first one we passed and buying this lovely bowl for a whopping 2 euros

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I envision myself serving tomato and mozzarella salads in this bowl, but seeing as though winter is coming (hehe) I’m probably not going to be eating salad any time soon. Fruit? Or maybe I’ll just stare at it empty because it’s so darn pretty.

After mooching around the yard sale, we decided we were hungry and got to searching for the vieille ville, or the old town, of Marly le Roi. This was the definition of quaint – pastels colours, winding narrow roads, cobbled streets, you get the drift.

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We ended up choosing a creperie for lunch – best choice we’ve ever made to be honest. Louis and I both agreed their crepes were even better than those we had in Brittany…! They were gloriously thin and crispy, not like the doughy, thick ones we’ve been used to, (which up until that point suited us just fine,) and now I don’t think we can ever go back to mediocre crepes. Again we chose the same crepe (I swear we don’t plan this), which was mushrooms, cheese a fried egg and a yummy sausage!

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On the same road there were some more restaurants which were all full and had mouth-watering smells emitting from them. There was Mexican, Creole, Indian, Italian, French, a burger restaurant, and a tea salon, just to name a few. I cannot wait to try them all out!

A weekend well spent makes the working days so much more bearable, all I keep thinking about is the fun time we spent and how we’ll discover new things the next time. And then I’ll be able to say once more, TGIF!

Head in the clouds: a week in Megève

Hello beautiful people, it’s been a while hasn’t it! I’m not sure where I’ve been actually. I was lacking in inspiration these past few weeks hence my absence but I feel like I’m getting my groove back. With fall just round the corner (God I’m saying fall now, who am I?), I’m looking forward to a change. If I’m really honest I’m so sick of summer. September has always felt like the real ‘new year’ to me because it’s when we all come out of our R&R and get back into mission mode. Despite nature slowly dying all around us, it’s the time when we throw ourselves back into the world. And I for one feel like I need a revolution. What is my new mission? TBD, but for the moment I want to round off the near-end of summer with a recap of my gorgeous week away in the Alps.

Louis and I managed to get away from the capital for a week to the fresh, sunny mountains in a little town called Megève. This is really a winter destination as the skiing on the peaks is meant to be incredible, and looking at those slopes in the clear gaze of summer it is obvious why. Having realised that I’ve never actually visited the mountains before (the French scoff at all our ‘hills’ in the UK), I was so excited to visit this place.

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The peaks of Mont Blanc in the background as we took the cable-car up Mont d’Arbois (and then walked down!)

 

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Beautiful landscape. I heart mountains!

 

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Rolling fields

 

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Louis getting creative using the macro lens on a pretty butterfly.

 

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Coucou!

 

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Tourist attraction! Basically serves as a taxi too

 

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Who would’ve thought this pretty chalet is a casino?!

 

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Some light shopping dear?

 

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Only Parisians dress this smart to go hiking 😛

 

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Spotted

 

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We got lost on the hike and ended up walking down designated ski slopes! I guess we’ll just have to go again in winter for snowy photos 😉

 

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Yes it was the height of summer – but we still had to get charcuterie for a raclette!

 

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En ville

 

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Our chalet! There were two other apartments within the building along with ours

 

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Beautiful herds around every corner

 

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Sunny sunny days

 

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Local goodies

 

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Megeve from above

 

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Off into the wild

Weekend break in Brittany (part 2)

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As the sun was slowly starting to descend, we decided to take a walk right to the very edge of town where land stopped and water began. This was glorious. We walked for about two hours, taking in the last rays of a gorgeous day, salty wind rushing past us and sticking to our tongues and lots of hand holding. Once we reached the furthest tip, we saw the scatter of islands in the distance which, I didn’t believe at all at the time, are reachable when the tide is at its lowest and the beach is exposed, giving way to access.

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(On the left is high tide and the right is low tide – would you ever believe you could cross the sea?!?!)

Using the handy chart located at the steps that descend into the sea, we (i.e. Louis) calculated that the best time to go would be the following day at 12.30pm. As we walked back, we were awestruck by the immense houses and the fact that a little Breton man was playing his bagpipes in the open air just 50 metres away from us. The air was so serene and calm, life was pretty darn good in that moment.

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One of the idyllic islands we came across as we crossed low tide – and suddenly the sun came out at just the right moment!

 

Dinner that night was pizza from a local pizzeria, not a lot of great things to say about that but we didn’t mind. Saturday morning we rose early to check out the market at Dinard and it was insanely packed with market-goers. After the road-rage of trying to find a parking space, we bought a ton of seafood, fruits, vegetables, cheese and bread. French cuisine really does have it all sometimes. That afternoon was relaxed with no real agenda – as much as we wanted to sight-see, we also wanted to do absolutely nothing. Back at the house we chilled out on the beach with some beers and in the evening cooked up king prawns, langoustines, potatoes and a big salad. Divine.

Sunday was our final day. Last days almost don’t count as holiday time because you have 1000 things to clean and tidy up. Almost. After we swept, scrubbed and drove out of our petite maison, we made a little detour on the drive back – to Mont St Michel! How exciting, it was basically two holidays in one!! From Saint-Jact-de-la-Mer, it took us exactly one hour to drive up to the enoooormous car park at the Mont. From there, we hopped on a free shuttle bus that operates 24/7 for visitors and got to take a look around.

It's me!

It’s me!

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Arriving at 5.30pm, the tide was still out when we made our entrance into the Mont (literally ‘mount’.) The site is basically the tiniest village ever, not even village – hill! And people live there! Did you know the Mont has like 54 official residents? Crazy I know, but it’s obvious where the attraction comes from. The place was full of charm, as you make your way through the main ‘street’, you see restaurants and gift shops lining the way. We were just out of time to visit the Abbey because it closed at 6pm which we were pretty gutted about (also, if the Mont itself is open 24/7, surely the Abbey should be too!) but we saw some beautiful views from as top as we could get!

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We grabbed something to eat and made our way back to the car for another 4-hour drive back home. It’s times like these when I’m glad I don’t have a driving license 😉 So, verdict? One of the best weekend breaks! I’ve been craving for such a long time to explore more of France because there really is so much more to see than Paris, as fabulous as it is. I’m hoping I can take another long weekend again this summer, fingers crossed my boss says yes!

Weekend break in Brittany (part 1)

Monday was the fourth and final public holiday in France for the month of May. That’s right, FOURTH. Everyone goes crazy waiting for May to arrive (cue the Justine Timberlake meme…) because we just basically never go to work. Last weekend I made the most of our public holiday on the Thursday and booked the Friday off work to enjoy a long weekend somewhere out of Paris, and that ended up being Brittany!

I didn’t really know what to expect from the region, as all I’ve ever heard people say when they describe Brittany is ‘it rains.’ I was however looking forward to a real change of scenery, being outdoors and living the country life for a few days. I wasn’t disappointed.

We stayed in a small village called Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer which is right on the coast and has some small islands surrounding it which you can reach by walking at low-tide (I’m sure there are some technical names for all of that but as if I have any idea). Our location turned out perfect, as we were only a 30m drive from the popular town St-Malo, and about a 15m drive away from the towns Dinan and Dinard.

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As we were four, we rented an adorable little house through AirBnb that had a maritime theme running through and was less than a 5 minute walk away to a little beach! Louis was adamant about going fishing, so the morning we arrived we stopped off at a specialist shop to buy some equipment and that evening we threw our lines into the sea. We came home so very empty-handed, as did all the other fishermen so I guess it’s not a great area for a catch, but it was still so much fun nevertheless. I’d always wanted to try fishing and as long as you have a beer in the other hand and the sun on your face, it’s not the worst way to spend an afternoon.

We quickly popped into Saint Malo for lunch, trying out a traditional restaurant creperie Louis had looked up called Le Tournesol (The Sunflower). If you know even one thing about Brittany, it’s that this is where crepes were invented and rule supreme. Lunch was so rich and filling, and technically it was a galette not a crepe, both of which I could eat all day!

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The following day we spent the afternoon in Dinan, an adorable medieval town brimming with oak-beams and cobbled streets. We had anexceptional lunch here at a rustic restaurant called Le Lycorn (The Unicorn). The interor was so warming, filled with deep colours and dark woods. We all said we want to come back in winter and have a hearty raclette by the fireside! The girls got mussels in different broths, whilst the guys shared a …. which is basically meat on a hook, covered in an alcohol of your choosing and set on fire. It was incredible. Safe to say everyone was bursting by the end of it.

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We walked around the town a little, trying to burn some calories but ended up building up a thirst. We walked past a cafe called, appropriately so judging by the fact it was about 4pm, Tea Time. As you can understand, we really had no other option than to go inside and grab a table. The owners, I assume husband and wife, were so helpful in recommending different teas and flavours to suit our tastes and I was so delighted by the level of interest and genuine desire to hep us. After filling our cup, we slowly made our way back to the house and got out the fishing rods once more. However we were no luckier than the last time!

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