Rose and shine

kim-rose-4It’s on my friends. Forget conquering Williams and centuries of bloodshed on the battlefields, when it comes to epic contests between France and England, we only have to look towards this month’s rugby six nations championship to really sort the men out from the boys. Sport not your thing, huh? Odd. But no need to worry, there’s a much less bloody battle that takes every day for us Brits living amongst the French, on the level of our most basic sustenance. When it comes to breakfast, it’s time to pick your side.

kim-rose-6Whether you’re just a visitor to France, or have decided to take the leap to secure something more permanent, we’ve all dreamt of those lazy breakfasts on a French café terrace taking our time over a croissant and a café au lait. During a short break, it doesn’t get old and for a week you don’t tire of putting away as many pains au chocolat as your conscience can handle. But live here for a while and that little marmite-coated voice starts to become more and more persistent.

kim-rose-1But here’s the rub; living in France’s capital, it becomes quite a cloak-and-dagger affair favouring the British breakfast fayre when every bakery on every corner screams ‘pastries!’ as loud as their buttery-crumbed cries can muster. But sometimes, just once in a while, that croissant-filled utopia just doesn’t appeal and the thought of dipping things into a big bowl of coffee for a moment seems like a crazy way to combine liquid and carbohydrate breakfast pleasure. Sometimes all that will suffice is a steaming hot bowl of porridge. Thankfully I’ve found British breakfast heaven over here meaning that I can enjoy that hallowed Sunday brunch experience without wistfully wishing the pastry on my plate was a thick slab of marmite-slicked doorstep white instead.

kim-rose-2Rose Bakery can be found on one of my favourite streets in Paris, rue des Martyrs, snaking up towards the 18th arondissement not far from Sacre Coeur. At the weekends breakfast can be a very busy affair (so arrive early, they don’t take bookings) but you’ll be treated to a menu of Anglicised petit dejeuner classics including muesli, scrambled eggs and delightful eggs benedict. It’s also a chance to try and introduce your Francophile mates to the strange world of marmite (the French name should work in your favour) – watching their faces contort in disgusted delight is quite the Sunday morning pick-me-up.

kim-rose-5You can also choose from more lunch-y options from the homemade salads and savouries on offer, or if breakfast is something for you that other folk do, head over in the afternoon for a slice of cake (sold by weight) and a cuppa proper tea. Just like a proper breakfast of boiled eggs and soldiers, if you want to get afternoon tea right, us Brits have the upper hand when it comes to cake, and Rose (named after the British owner, er, Rose) makes sure the French don’t forget it.

Those who don’t have the time for a queue-up sit-down affair, you’ll find plenty of goodies on offer to recreate the authentic British bakery experience at home, on offer in their swanky new takeaway bit. This blog has been bought to you fuelled by their frankly incredible carrot cake (not cheap, but sooo good), I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s been worth it…

Rose Bakery, 46 Rue des Martyrs, 75009, open 7/7

Sunday morning glory

IMG_1966Ah, Sundays in Paris. I’ve been here for nearly six years and I still haven’t worked out where everyone gets to. It’s like somebody pulled out the plug just under those large taps in that crazy fountain at Châtelet and sucked the residents into some sort of French Bermuda triangle for the daylight hours. Worse than that, my brain still hasn’t learned the trick of remembering to go to the supermarket a day before that laziest of weekend days, leaving my cupboard barer than Mother Hubbard’s and those overpriced corner shops the only available option if I want to eat something other than a pasta sandwich.

Kim respire 1But it’s not as desperate as all that, as I discovered when I lived in the southern part of the 18th arrondissement a few years ago and fell upon Rue des Martyrs, to this day one of my favourite roads in the capital. Here all the punters were, pushing their strollers, enjoying the view and stocking up on supplies from the many shops that were open. On a Sunday. Rarer than a Frenchman raving about English food. Not only were they having a fine old time, but they were brazenly wandering about in the middle of the road, the road seemingly closed to traffic, Paris’ cars terrorising pedestrians in another part of town.

IMG_1969Popping my eyes back into their sockets, I scooped up some bounty for lunch and headed back home to do some research. Had the local residents protested their hearts out until the shops were forced to open? Or was I in an alternative dream world in which Paris was actually behaving the way I wanted it to for once?

Well, neither of the above. This miraculous happening was also playing out in many other parts of the city, as part of an initiative known as Paris Respire, or ‘Paris Breathes’, in which certain roads and quarters are closed off to traffic, meaning that flâneurs, cyclists, dog walkers and rollerskaters can circulate in complete peace and tranquility, without losing the skin off their heels crossing a zebra crossing thanks to an impatient motorist. With hordes of potential customers passing their premises, many shops decided to open to take advantage of this stellar opportunity, and thus you’ve got until 13h to stock up on food, booze or even clothes; whatever is your retail poison.

IMG_1968There are 14 areas in total, sometimes a mere street as in this case, in other arrondissements you might find a whole neighbourhood throwing out the vehicles and welcoming your custom with open arms, with the Marais and Montmatre being two of the most popular. Down by the Seine you get to breathe properly for once too, with lengthy stretches of the banks proving to be a hotspot for leisurely joggers, afternoon strolls and intense marathon training.

Kim respire 2In the summer four more areas follow suit, including Rue de la Roquette and parts of the Canal Saint Martin, so when the sun’s turned up to full, your only Sunday challenge is to get round all of them before the colder weather kicks it in to touch. So whether you’ve been trying to work out how to sate that roasted rotisserie chicken addiction that plagues your post Saturday night recovery, or your feather brain has forgotten to buy a present for your afternoon birthday party host, then here’s your answer.

If anything, some of these parts of the city are the best places to find those darling independent shops you thought every man and his dog shopped at in France (no, supermarkets rule here too, just like everywhere else), and even if your wallet stays securely bolted together, the scenery if more than worth it. More than that sacred lie-in until noon perhaps?