I’ve just been flicking through photos of this year’s Fete de Réveillon – my first since moving to Paris. After spending five cosy days at home in London over Christmas, the female contingent of my family – mama, grandma, aunty, sister, cousin – arrived in Paris to see in the New Year together.
From gospel concerts at Église de Saint-Germain-des-Prés to massages at the Paris Mosque Hammam, it’s incredible to think how much we managed to squeeze into 3 days. What’s even more impressive is how much of that time was spent lunching, toasting, wining and dining in some of the city’s loveliest spots.
The sub-zero wintry weather offered plausible validation to our frequent culinary pit stops. And the bitter cold winds allowed for copious goblets of cinnamon-scented vin chaud to be consumed under the premise of ‘medicinal purposes only.’
The first haven from the cold was Le Bistro du Peintre, which serves up traditional, hearty French cuisine. Situated on Avenue Ledru Rollin in the Bastille quartier, it’s a charming bistro with very reasonable price points.
We spent New Years Eve at Bizz’art, a restaurant-bar-concert venue on the Canal Saint Martin. It was a special soirée which involved a 3-course meal, a glass of champagne and a live soul band who belted out everything from Aretha Franklin to Jill Scott. It was a wonderful evening and, if she’d had her way, I’m quite sure that my grandma would have been the last woman on the dancefloor.
Despite all our culinary adventures, my family were quite taken with one bistro in particular. Café Divan happens to be just below my apartment and very soon became the preferred coffee-break-people-watching-grab-a-bite-to-eat haunt.
Between the 5 of us, we may very well have tasted everything on menu. Our constant revisits perhaps give an indication to our appraisal of the food. Our favourites included the salmon croustillant with shrimp butter, creamy parmesan gnocchi gratin and a fluffy pain perdu (French toast) topped with caramel salé and vanilla ice cream. After posting this, I think I’ll be taking a trip downstairs to refresh my memory and taste buds.
On January 1st we headed to the Paris Mosquée for an oriental spa day. For around €30 we had unlimited use of the hammam, a ‘gommage’ exfoliation rub down, a 10-minute massage and a sweet mint tea. It was the perfect detox treat.
The following day was my 25th birthday and, at the risk of transforming into icicles, we ventured out to the Bastille Richard Lenoir Sunday market. Seeing the array of cheeses, charcuterie, olives, pastries through the fresh eyes of my family made me once again relish my adopted home.
La Mosquee – 39, rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire 75005 Paris * Métro Place Monge
[The hammam is open to women on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday]
Le Bistro du Peintre – 116 Avenue Ledru Rollin 75011 Paris * Métro – Ledru Rollin
Bizz’art – 167 Quai Valmy 75010 Paris * Métro – Louis Blanc
Café Divan – 60 rue de la Roquette 75011 Paris * Métro – Bastille
What’s playing today?
Que Sera Sera by Sly & the Family Stone