L’appartement Leboncoin

fullsizerender-1French classifieds website Leboncoin has created an apartment in Paris, furnished entirely with things bought on the site.

Open until 19 November, it features different animations each day, including DIY workshops and “job-dating”.

Today was a vide dressing, with bloggers selling clothes, shoes and accessories-perfect for me as I can never resist a fashion bargain!

And on the last day-19 November, everything in the apartment will be up for sale.

So whether its a cushion, lamp or even a sofa you’re after (there’s a bed, too), be sure to pay it a visit.
L’appartement Leboncoin is at 3 Rue Française, 75001 Paris.

Cookies and ice cream

August in Paris is hot, hot hot. And when temperatures just keep rising, it’s the perfect excuse to indulge in ice cream. Probably the only time, in fact, when eating two ice creams in one day feels entirely justified.

And Paris is not short of ice cream options. You don’t have to walk far along the banks of the Seine to come across an ice cream truck or a pop-up cafe selling a multitude of flavours.

Then there’s Amorino and Berthillon, and the chocolate shops that roll out their ice cream carts – Jeff de Bruges is a particular favourite of mine for the mint choc-chip ice cream.

Although sometimes, an ice cream on its own just won’t cut it, which is how I discovered the fabulous cookies glacés from cookie purveyor La Fabrique Cookies.

Wandering down Rue de Lévis in the 17th arrondissement on the hunt for an ice cream, I was spoilt for choice yet distracted by the idea of cookies. Should I get a cookie and an ice cream? Could I? Particularly when I’d had cake for breakfast that morning.

And then I found the answer: ice cream sandwiched between two cookies, for the bargain price of 3 euros. I went for the salted caramel cookie and lemon ice cream option. With the exception of the first bite when I thought I might actually lose a tooth (top tip, wait until the frozen cookie softens a bit), it was every bit as fabulous as the sales girl assured me it would be. Highly recommended.

La Fabrique Cookies, 25 Rue de Lévis 75017.

Things I’ve learnt from living in France #1

No matter how good you think your French is, you will always make mistakes, misunderstand what you read or hear, and say the wrong things. Probably more often than you would like.

A survey of my fellow expats told me I’m not alone on this one. Here are some of my favourites.

JL what
“I was reading L’Étranger by Camus and I couldn’t figure out why some random guy kept asking the protagonist if he wanted to open la bière when the latter’s mother had just keeled over. Then it eventually transpired that la bière is another word for  ‘coffin’. But I figured that as it’s supposed to be an absurdist novel, it was being just that.”

“In a restaurant, I tried to convey the idea that I don’t like fizzy drinks. I’m still not entirely sure what I did say, but I think I mispronounced bubbles as balls – cue many shocked faces and much hilarity from not only my table, but the one next to us, too.”

“I told a friend’s housemate I was making a hachis parmentier (kind of like a shepherd’s pie for us Brits), promising that it would be so good, he’d want to eat all of it. Except I mispronounced it as haschich. So obviously he was thrilled at the idea of an enormous marijuana pie. And no, my humble meat and potato dish didn’t live up to his expectations”

“It turns out that there is no feminine form of ‘chiots’ – puppies. Because ‘chiottes’ is actually a slang word for toilets. And not a very nice one at that. You can imagine what kind of reaction ‘J’adore les chiottes” gets when in refined company….”

What’s your worst faux pas? Don’t be shy now…

Flowers and fragrance

When it’s sunny and you’ve been stuck in the office all day, there’s nothing better than breaking up the journey home with a bit of culture.

The Fragrance Foundation France has put on a photography exhibition at Jardins du Palais Royal in the heart of Paris, a stone’s throw from the Louvre.

Entitled Le Parfum dans tous les sens (French speakers will appreciate the word play here), it’s made up of 50 panels. Walk one way and you’ll be taken through the major steps involved creating and industrialising a perfume, retrace your steps and an ‘artistic adventure’ awaits.

The exhibition isn’t just visual – scent devices attached to the panels means you can smell different fragrance notes, including rose and lavender.

Le Parfum dans tous les sens is on at Jardins du Palais Royal, in Paris’s 1st arrondissement  – from 28 May to 14th June. Open 7am to 11pm. Free

Nice day for cake

If you’re looking for somewhere to go for coffee and cake in Paris, than look no further than The Sugarplum Cake Shop.

Located in Paris’s fifth arrondissement, this is the place to come if you want a really big slice of cake. You’ve been warned – the slices are huge.

My favourite is the Nutella cake, below, which needs no introduction. It’s probably best shared between two people, but since I took my laptop along to do some writing, I ate it all by myself. I had to have a lie down afterwards, mind you.


The Sugar Plum Cake Shop also makes cakes to oder for special occasions. Perhaps I could get one for next year’s milestone birthday.

The Sugar Plum Cake Shop- 68 rue du Cardinal Lemoine 75005 Paris, open Tuesday to Sunday from midday to 19h.

Paris’s first €1 cafe

 When I heard that a new cafe had opened in Paris where every item on the menu costs €1, I had to go and check it out. Technically it’s in a suburb, but it’s in the very bourgeois Boulogne-Billancourt and on the metro line, which is good enough for me.

Finding cheap food in Paris is no easy feat, and finding cheap food that actually tastes good is even harder. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve shelled out upwards of €5 for a small and dissatisfying sandwich. But now, thanks to the Oup’s cafe, which opened last month, that €5 could get me a slice of pizza, a bagel, a pepsi, a cappuccino and a bar of milka.

I went along with a friend after work, having purposely eaten a light lunch in preparation for the feast I was anticipating. Unfortunately, as we arrived about an hour before closing, there was very little left. No pizza and no bagels, which of course means I’ll have to go back on a Saturday (I imagine it does a roaring trade at lunchtime). I did however manage to nab the last salmon and dill ciabatta, which was surprisingly tasty, and also opted for a hot chocolate, which was pretty close to perfect.

To congratulate ourselves on the money we’d saved, my friend and I went to a bar and ordered a carafe of wine. Well, when in France…

Oup’s cafe is located at 84 rue de Billancourt, Boulogne (métro : Boulogne – Pont de Saint-Cloud or Marcel Sembat).


Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris’ Grand Palais

If anyone is in Paris between now and August 3, I highly recommend that you go and see the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Grand Palais.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, has attracted over one million visitors on its world tour, and has already stopped at San Francisco, London and Melbourne, among other cities.

The exhibition features over 140 outfits created by the ‘enfant terrible’ of fashion, including his iconic marinière striped tops and his conical corsets made famous by Madonna.

Particularly noteworthy are the animated mannequins that blink and move their eyes. The one pictured below proclaims to be the ‘true’ Jean Paul Gaultier, and, among other things, chats to you about his inspiration, his muses, equality of the sexes and cougars (not the feline variety).

I guarantee that this exhibition will a) Make you wish you were rich enough to by haute-couture, and b) Make you want to buy stripes. A must see.