TGV Est Européen Opens.

The long-awaited TGV East (TGV Est Européen) finally opened today to the public, reducing travel time from Paris to Strasbourg from 4 hours to 2 hours and 20 minutes, and to Frankfurt from 6 hours and 15 minutes to 3 hours and 50 minutes. The destinations of the new TGV Est Européen line is show below, taken from SNCF’s TGV Est Européen website:

tgv map from tgvesteuropeen.com.

Tickets are also quite reasonable, with tickets from Paris-Strasbourg starting at around 25€ one-way. If you do understand a bit of French, some tickets can be booked directly on SNCF’s own website by clicking here.

Parisian Coffee Table Books.

In my previous entry I wrote about the bookstore Assouline in Paris. While visiting the bookstore I was fascinated by their selection of specialty books that have an exclusive look, beginning with the packaging. I did inquire about these books for this particular entry, and here they are for my readers.

Chanel.

chanel books by assouline.

This special three-volume collection on Chanel features perfumes, fine jewelry and fashion comes complete with storage in an outer slipcase made in Chanel’s signature quilted leather. Available in the US direct from Assouline for US$550.

The Legend of Cannes.

“the legend of cannes” by assouline.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the world-famous film festival, Assouline released a special boxed-version of the book “The Legend of Cannes” that features 100 illustrations of the film festival with text by journalist Henry-Jean Servat. The special boxed version in a movie reel case is priced at 99 Euros and not available in the US.

MetroTrek: Paris.

When we think of Paris, we tend to think of things like the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Élysées, the Louvre and perhaps the cafés on the Left Bank of the river Seine. However, there is much more to Paris than just your basic tourist attractions. Having been to Paris numerous times, I frequently end up exploring the city on foot as well as on the métro, as it’s truly great to just get lost in the city (literally); you will find so much more than what’s in your guidebook. If it’s your first time to Paris, you might want to spend a day doing something outside of your standard itinerary. I decided to do exactly that in Paris. Here are some of the highlights:

Walk Along the Canal St-Martin:

view of the canal st-martin, paris.

I never knew there was a canal in Paris until the movie Amélie. After seeing the movie I just had to visit this place near the Place de la République. I remembered my first visit was during a drizzly morning, but this time around I was blessed with abundant amounts of sunshine. Many relaxed alongside the canal with a baguette and a drink — what a way to spend a wonderful Sunday.

Métro: République (lines 3, 5, 8, 9, 11)

view of the canal st-martin, paris.

Window-shop in the St-Germain.

inside the assouline bookstore, paris.

St-Germain on the Left Bank is not only known for its famous cafés like the Café de Flore and the Les Deux Magots, but also known for its antique shops just steps away from the church. Many of the objects are of course out of our price range, but it’s still great to look at and appreciate.

There are also other great shops like Assouline, which specializes in books on fashion, photography, art and design. There is a special line of “luxury books” that can be collectors’ items in itself, such as a set of 40 books that are contained in a custom-designed Coach carrying case, or another with a Goyard suitcase, which are priced around the US$3,000 range each. You must visit and see for youself.

assouline bookstore, paris.

Assouline
35, rue Bonaparte
75006 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 43 29 23 20
closed Sundays

Métro: St-Germain-des-Prés (line 4)

Dine at Le Grand Venise.

dinner at le grand venise, paris.

This one was a recommendation from a friend of mine, who has frequented this particular restaurant when she lived in Paris. The restaurant is family-owned, and there is true personal attention when it comes to food. Prior to the main course, we started with a generous basket full of fresh organic vegetables such as tomatoes, red bell peppers and radishes with a plate of mozarella cheese and bread served with salted butter. There’s even a special plate of homemade gorgonzola and mascarpone cheese mix that was just divine.

Then came the chinchinettes. This antipasti we ordered turned out to be (at a minimum) ten platters of many varieties of food. It was literally enough to feed ten. My favorite was the eggplant with fried red onions and the lentils. These were not meant to be finished, as we were barely half-way through the meal, as the main course was next with spaghetti and a four-cheese ravioli. Finally, we ended the meal with a generous amount of caramel ice cream as pictured below. This place is not to be missed!

caramel ice cream at le grand venise, paris.

Le Grand Venise
171, rue de la Convention
75015 Paris
+33 (0)1 45 32 49 71
Price: around 100 Euros per person.

Métro: Convention (line 12)

Shop at Le Bon Marché.

shopping at le bon marché, paris.

The Bon Marché is the only department store left on the Left Bank. Owned by the LVMH Group, this store only has the best to offer. But shopping should not be the only thing on the agenda when you visit the store. There are special exhibitions in the store at nearly any given time of year that are attractions in itself. The current exhibition is on the 60th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival, which is going on as we speak.

Next door to the main store is the La Grande Epicerie de Paris, which is the grocery store section of the Bon Marché. Sometimes I think the term ‘grocery store’ doesn’t do this place justice. Walk in and you will find a variety of pastries, fresh fruits and vegetables, dried foods and more. There’s even a good selection of wines from all over France and the world with knowledgeable staff to answer your questions.

24, rue de Sèvres
75007 Paris
+33 (0)1 44 39 80 00
closed Sundays

Métro: Sèvres-Babylone (lines 10, 12)

Discover the Métro.

métro: cité

Taking the métro is fun. From the touristy line 1 to the newly inaugurated tramway line T3, the possibilities are endless. If you do decide to travel on the métro, there are a few ticket options. I normally try to either buy the carnet of 10 tickets for 10.90 Euro, or if I am staying for a few days, I will try to buy an unlimited ride pass called the Carte Orange, which can be purchased for either a week (for Monday-Sunday travel) or a calendar month. It is only available on the French version of the site, but you can still purchase it as a foreigner.

To buy the Carte Orange, however, you will need to have a Carte Orange ID with photo in order to benefit from the special fare. The station agent can provide you with the card when you buy the pass, and all you will need to do is write your name on the card and affix the picture in the area provided, peel the adhesive label and stick it over the card and you are done. Don’t forget to write the number of your card on the ticket!

carte orange id card.