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Gourmet Shopping in Paris

La Grande Epicerie

The food section of Le Bon Marché department store is a veritable paradise for foodies. It carries a vast selection of all types of exquisitely laid out products imaginable. The best French and international brands are featured here, and the establishment this year launched its own brand. The basement has a beautiful wine cellar divided according to the different French DOs, and a restaurant – Le Balthasar. Some areas, like the cheese and fish sections, have a bar counter and tasting tables. Also on sale are themed gift hampers (retro, aperitif, picnic, Breton, girly, etc.) which you can customise to your taste.


Probably the most famous brand of macarons worldwide and, no wonder – they are super! They come in chic boxes running from €17.10 for six pieces to €127.65 for 55 pieces. The range of flavours includes delicate macarons, such as fleur d’oranger or rose petal; sweet, like the chocolate or salted caramel, and original ones like the smooth fruit and spices or the Marie-Antoinette tea. They have various tea rooms at different spots in Paris with truly delightful retro-romanticist interior design. If you don’t have the time to drop in on on one of their establishments, you can get hold of a box of macarons just before you board your flight, as they have very handy booths at the Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports. You can even buy them online.


This exclusive gourmet store has various branches around the city, although perhaps the most emblematic one is in the Place de la Madeleine. It comprises a pastry shop, a bakery and a food department with the best cheeses, foie gras, caviar, cold meats and seafood, among other delicacies, in addition to cava, wine and champagne. You can also eat right there in the interior, or out on the terrace.

La Maison Plisson

In the République neighbourhood, this food store and restaurant with a terrace is ideal for the bobos (bourgeois, bohemian) of Paris. The decoration is as impeccable as the selection of French and European wares, with the accent on organic, craft produce.The owners have roamed the various regions of France in search of the best producers and conducted blind tastings to ensure they’re getting the finest wines. The premises house a butchery, pork butchery, fruiterer's, bakery and cheese section and, in the basement, wines and packaged foods.

Mariage Frères

These tea specialists carry over 500 tea varieties from the world over, some with suggestive names like Neige de Jade, White Himalaya or Dragon. Whether classic or rare, they are all excellent quality. Their passion for this beverage encompasses their whole universe, with offerings such as tea sets, and tea-scented incense or candles. Their establishment in Le Marais quarter is priceless – colonial in style and with refined service – although they have other shops across Paris.

E. Dehillerin

The city’s oldest kitchenware store is a veritable culinary museum, with all kinds of pots, casseroles, frying pans, cocottes, pastry moulds and other cooking utensils. Particularly striking are the retro-style copper pots, although here you can find the most unexpected oddities, such as a duck press.

À la Mère de Famille

The oldest chocolate and sweet shop in Paris, founded in 1761 in the emblematic Montmartre, is a must-visit mecca for the sweet-toothed. Sweets, biscuits, macarons, candied fruit and a wide variety of enticing confectionery which you are advised to succumb to. They published a beautiful book which has a Spanish version by Lunwerg.

Text and photos by Isabel Loscertales of Gastronomistas.com

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A Gypsy Route Through Paris

Jazz was of course born in the United States. However, if you care to read the finer print, you will discover that something happened in the 1930s in Europe which was to revolutionise American jazz. In the gypsy camps on the outskirts of Paris – now the city’s 18th arrondissement – the young Django Reinhardt improvised a fusion of swing and traditional Eastern European music on his banjo. He taught himself, paying special attention to finger position, and inadvertently invented jazz manouche or gypsy jazz, a genre which elicits virtuosity in the playing and is pleasant on the ear.

Django lost two fingers on his left hand when his caravan caught fire, prompting him to develop an unusual way of playing the guitar. His original style, agility and speed at producing notes earned him the epithet of “father of gypsy jazz”. Together with the violinist, Stéphane Grappelli, he created the legendary Quintette du Hot Club de France, the first gypsy jazz club.

The Festival Django Reinhardt was first inaugurated a few years after his death. It was held at Samois-sur-Seine, 50 kilometres south of Paris, where he spent his final years and where he is buried. The 38th edition of the festival will be held from 6 to 9 July 2017 and, although last year it had to be moved to the Fontainebleau Chateau gardens – 50 kilometres from Paris and well connected by public transport – the original essence of the festival has survived intact. The venue is a place of pilgrimage for Django devotees and the world’s hub of gypsy jazz. This year’s lineup will see the likes of bassist Avishai Cohen, Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca, the guitar virtuoso trio of Jean-Luc Ponty, Biréli Lagrène and Kyle Eastwood, Woody Allen’s pet gypsy jazz favourite, Stephane Wrembel and the Django Memories Project, made up of the prestigious musicians who produced the soundtrack of the recently premiered film, Django. But, at this festival the music overspills the stage – artists and devotees from across the globe hold jam sessions all over the fair grounds, beating out gypsy rhythms and reliving Django Reinhardt’s musicality.

If after that “authentic gypsy encampment” you are game for more, we have made the following selection from among the many gypsy jazz clubs Paris has to offer.

La Chope des Puces

This is unquestionably the temple of Django Reinhardt in Paris. The resident guitarist, Ninine Garcia, who hails from one of the top Parisian manouche families, leads the jam session every weekend from 12.30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Located in the Marché aux Puces, guests share a table – to taste traditional French cuisine – in a very squashed vital space, among guitars, violins and photos hanging on the walls recalling the master. Tucked away in the back room is a guitar workshop and a manouche jazz school. A venue that oozes genuine charm! 122 rue des Rosiers, Saint-Ouen

MONK – La Taverne de Cluny

Located in the heart of the Latin Quarter, MONK is a bar devoted to the world of beer. It boasts over 50 types of bottled beer, and 10 types of draught. But La Taverne de Cluny is also a jazz club. Every Thursday and Sunday, the small stage in this typically French bar, with upholstered little tables and chairs, fills up to the sound of top-notch gypsy jazz produced by such reputable artists as Christophe Brunard, Sébastien Giniaux and Samy Daussat, among others. A must-visit spot!  51, rue de la Harpe

Café Artistique l’Apostrophe

This small, cosy musical café located just a few metres from the Canal Saint-Martinin the 10th arrondissement provides live music from Wednesday to Saturday. Over the last four years, the programme has been featuring gypsy jazz concerts from 8.30 p.m. on Fridays. L’Apostrophe has been graced by all the leading lights of the Parisian manouche scene, as well as gypsy jazz guitarists from the United States, Britain and Brazil, among others. Albert Bello, Spain’s top gypsy jazz exponent and the director of Festival Django L’H, the only festival in Spain dedicated to Django Reinhardt, has also performed there. And, the first Thursday of each month sees a jazz jam with the vocals supplied by Barbie Camion. 23 rue de la Grange aux Belles

Aux Petits Joueurs

Aux Petits Joueurs is a restaurant in the 19th arrondissement, a bistro in the purest French style where you can taste salads with hot goat’s-milk cheese, cheese boards, duck confit, tarte tatin and crepes, to name just the ABC of French cuisine. The restaurant features a jazz concert, ranging from Latin music to gypsy jazz, each day of the week except Mondays – when it is closed. The venue has seen performances by the leading figures of this genre, notably Adrien Moignard, Sébastien Giniaux and Pierre Manetti, among many others. Tuesdays and Wednesdays feature jam sessions at which some artists invite others, and it all ends up in a full-blown manouche festival. 59 rue Mouzaïa

Les Idiots

A highly popular micro-bar, among other reasons for their reasonable prices – quite a feat in Paris – and their homemade meals. Located on the Boulevard de Ménilmontant, it is a favourite haunt amongbobos(from “bourgeois, bohemian”). A young, relaxed atmosphere frequented by veritable hordes of guests. The limited capacity does not deter them from hosting jazz sessions, led by guitarist Michael Gimenez and with the participation of various gypsy jazz artists, in a corner of the bar each Monday from 9 p.m. to 11.30 p.m. 115 boulevard de Ménilmontant

Book your Vueling to Paris and get into the swing of the gypsy jazz featured across the city.

Text by Teresa Vallbona

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The Velvet Underground Reigns in Paris

Who would have thought that, when they made their debut on stage at the Café Bizarre in New York, the young Lou Reed and John Cale would end up being the stars of an exhibition paying tribute to their band in Paris? That was back in 1965 when, having first called themselves The Warlocks and then The Falling Spikes, they had finally settled on a name that would identify and enshrine them for posterity. Incidentally, The Velvet Underground was the title of a book on sado-masochism written by Michael Leigh which had fallen into their hands by sheer chance. Nothing unusual, however, considering that drugs, prostitution, transvestism and homosexuality were rife in their New York haunts and would become the subject of many of their song lyrics, a fact which rattled more than one music producer.

Andy Warhol, a great one for moving in the New York underground and absorbing it into his parties and his works, particularly in the film pieces he shot with Paul Morrissey, was enthralled with the music of this upcoming band and added them to the prevailing fauna in The Factory. What’s more, he even took the bold step of taking over as manager of the group and in 1967 released his first production, The Velvet Underground & Nico, for which he did the cover design. Indeed, I am referring to the famous cover with the banana sticker, a veritable icon in the art world. But, the album’s value lies not only in its wrapping. Its content includes some genuine musical pearls like Sunday Morning, I’m Waiting for the Man, Venus in Furs and Heroin.One of the upshots of their collaboration with the pop artist par excellence were the videos he recorded with them, which ranged from ghoulish to arty, in which he enveloped the band in light and colour.

While the album was not a super-hit – only some 30,000 copies were sold – the band decided to  break with the core of Andy Warhol and The Factory to pursue their career as musicians. The Velvet Underground remained active until 1973, when differences between the leaders were responsible for precipitating a break-up – John Cale having had a more academic music training, while Lou Reed had followed a more rebellious line. They actually started moving in and out of the band, until they eventually decided to break up altogether.

Despite their short career and meagre success, at least as far as album sales is concerned, The Velvet Underground was one of the most influential bands of New York. Heirs to the beat generation legacy, they played a crucial role in New York’s counter-culture, far removed from the psychedelic hippie culture of the seventies that reigned in San Francisco, the other major hub of creativity in the United States. Among those who inherited their destructured sound and coarse lyrics were Ramones, The Voidoids, Dead Boys, The Heartbreakers, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Bauhaus, The Contortions, Bush Tetras, Teenage Jesus and The Jerks, DNA, Sonic Youth, Spacemen 3 and Nirvana.

The Philharmonie de Paris is hosting a tribute to this band in the form of an exhibition entitled, The Velvet Underground. New York Extravaganza, which runs until 12 August. Audiovisual material has been carefully curated, with six films being purpose produced for the occasion, also featuring television file pictures, photos and portraits of the band members, objects from private collections and works by contemporary and later artists who were seduced by the charms of the band. This whole ensemble is designed to recount the story of the group and its lasting legacy. But, there is more – the exhibition will be supported by a parallel set of activities, including conferences, screenings and concerts.

Go back down memory lane and relive one of the outstanding rock bands of New York’s counter-culture by taking a getaway to Paris. Check out your Vueling here.


Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

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Julio Cortázar and Rayuela's Paris

Even the experts consider it an ‘antinovel’, there is no doubt that Rayuela influenced many generations since it was released and, because of it, Julio Cortázar became a literary benchmark whose centenary of his birth is celebrated this year. If Maga and this unparalleled adventure in Paris also fascinated you, our route through the French capital will help you remembering the most remarkable moments in Horacio Oliveira’s history.

"¿Will I find Maga? Many times I just had to look out coming by rue de Seine, the arch that takes you to Quai de Conti, and only the olive and ash light floating on the river let me distinguish the forms, its tiny shape by Pont des Arts, sometimes walking from side to side, sometimes stopped at the iron parapet, leaned against the water. And it was so natural to cross the street, ascend the steps on the bridge, get in the tiny waist and get closer to Maga smiling unsurprisingly, convinced like me that a chance encounter was the less casual in our life, and that people who arrange dates is the same that needs ruled paper to write each other or that pushes from the bottom the tooth paste

Quai de Conti: The novel, like our route, starts at rue de Seine, Quai de Conti and Pont des Arts, places where Horacio y Maga met each other, with a special symbolism for the author considering the centric location of this part of the route that take us along the left side of Seine river. Our protagonist also mentions the library Mazarine, located at the other side of the arch and the most antique library in the country.

Pont des Arts: As a connection between Institut de France and Louvre (previously known as Arts Palace), you can find the centric iron bridge where Oliveira got drunk at the first part of the book. Now full of lockers promising everlasting love, the panoramic views over Cité island and all the bridges is one of the most beautiful pictures you can take of the city.

Louvre Museum: Even Rayuela is full of cultural references, when we are talking about visual arts Louvre museum is the only reference Cortázar gives us about this city on this field. The most visited arts museum in the world appears on our way after taking Pont des Arts. This place is a must to anyone because of its wide collection and masterpieces such as “La Gioconda” by Leonardo da Vinci and a stunning building including, since the 80s, a great glass pyramid that you should visit.

Rue du Jour: The latest partners of Horacio at the city, homeless people, feed themselves thanks to the soup dish that they receive here. By the church Saint Eustache, people in need receives food at this street, located at Les Halles, a gardened area right in the city centre where there are two more places we will pass by.

"Au chien qui fume" restaurant: Located at Rue du Pont Neuf, this is one of the cafés named at chapter 132 and is also a meeting point for Etienne and Horacio on the way to the hospital to visit Morelli. This is a typical French restaurant, with an elegant and traditional decoration and a careful cuisine selection. Following this street we find the next stop…

Pont Neuf: Even it name means new bridge, it’s completely the opposite, and it’s the oldest. Here we say goodbye to Horacio and Maga in this route. Made of arches, the bridge took almost 30 years on the making and during the 18th century it was the centre of crime and commerce in the city. Passing by the bridge we will go back to the left side of the Seine, where we will stay.

Rue Dauphine: Even it’s part of a dispensable chapter, Pola, Horacio’s French lover, lives in this street. The street starts after Pont Neuf, and it was named after France’s dauphine, Henri IV’s son.

Rue de la Huchette: This is another place where Horacio thinks his lover can be at. A must-visit pedestrian street with many famous places like the theatre Huchette and Caveau de la Huchette. We pass through from the boulevard Saint-Michel until we reach Rue du Petit-Pont, before we get to the Notre-Dame cathedral.

Notre Dame: Chance makes the protagonists meet again at this iconic landmark of the city, one of the most beautiful and most visited French gothic cathedrals, which was finished on 1345 and is located at the Cité island. Who hasn’t heard about Notre Dame and its famous hunchback? Either as the Quasimodo by Victor Hugo or by Disney, the gargoyles are part of the collective imaginary

Rue du Sommerard: The street where Horacio Oliveira lives and one of the oldest in the city, which during the Roman age took to the baths at Cluny. Next to the famous Saint-Germain Boulevard, Sommerand is nonetheless more relaxed and perfect to take a relaxed walk.

Rue Valette: This is a magic place for our protagonists, in one of the hotels here they consummate the relationship for the first time and here is also where Horacio took Pola. Rue Valette is at the quarter of Sorbonne University and follows the Rue de Carmes, the meeting point for students.

Rue Monge: One of the places where is believed Maga lived after separation and the death of his son Rocamadour. This is a important street located at the university area on the Paris district nº 5.

Rue Monsieur Le Prince: The incomprehensible chance also takes place at this street, which used to be a road and leads to the Edmond Rostand Square along the Saint-Michel Boulevard. Notice also that Polidor restaurant, where the story of Cortazar’s "62 A Model Kit" takes place, is also here. We pass by this place if we go to Odeon.

Rue l’Odéon: Remember here, with Horacio, parts of his relation with Maga, eating at Carrefour de l’Odeon and riding the bike by Montparnasse. The impressive Odeon theatre gives the name to this street and neighbourhood, full of life by night and day, where we can find all kinds of bars, cafés and restaurants. From here, take Saint-Sulpice Street to arrive to the next stop.

Rue de Tournon: This is the street where we walk back to Madame Trépat house, with Horacio. Even traditionally it was full of old bookstores, many luxury fashion shops moved here on the past few years. It’s one of the most prestigious streets, from the Senate and across Saint-Sulpice street, which lead us to the end of this route. Mario Vargas Llosa lived here too.

Montparnasse cemetery: The last stop in this route is also the location at the last chapter of Rayuela, where Horacio takes a little paper and also where Julio Cortázar was buried. At the hearth of Montparnasse neighbourhood, this was inaugurated on 1824 and is the second in the city, with many remarkable people resting here along with the author, such as Simone de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett or Jean Paul Sartre.

Image from Henri Marion

A place well worth discovering! Check out our flights here.

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